New bill would require paper ballots to secure election results

The bill, submitted by nine senators on Tuesday, would also mandate election audits.

Marrian Zhou Staff Reporter
Marrian Zhou is a Beijing-born Californian living in New York City. She joined CNET as a staff reporter upon graduation from Columbia Journalism School. When Marrian is not reporting, she is probably binge watching, playing saxophone or eating hot pot.
Marrian Zhou
2 min read
Caution Sign - 2018 Election Ahead

Lawmakers want to use paper ballots in an effort to secure this year's midterm elections.

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The Russians can't hack paper.

On Tuesday, nine Senators introduced a bill that would require state and local governments to use paper ballots in an effort to secure elections from hackers. The bill would also require rigorous audits for all federal elections to ensure that results match the votes.

"Leaving the fate of America's democracy up to hackable election machines is like leaving your front door open, unlocked and putting up a sign that says 'out of town,'" Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, said in a release. "Any failure to secure our elections amounts to disenfranchising American voters."

The Protecting American Votes and Elections Act of 2018 was drafted amid intense scrutiny of voting systems ahead of the mid-term elections in November. Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election has elevated concern over the security of the country's voting systems. 

The senators said rigorous audits will ensure votes are legitimate. Currently, 22 states don't require post-election audits, according to the release.

Using paper ballots will also save money, even when the costs of manpower to tally the votes is included, Wyden's office said. "We believe paper ballots would be significantly less expensive than purchasing new insecure voting machines," Wyden's office said in an email.

In addition to Wyden, the bill was sponsored by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (New York), Sen. Ed Markey (Massachusetts), Sen. Jeff Merkley (Oregon), Sen. Patty Murray (Washington), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts), Sen. Brian Schatz (Hawaii), Sen. Cory Booker (New Jersey) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (Connecticut). All are Democrats.

First published on August 21, 12:39 p.m. PT.

Updates, 1:10 p.m. PT: Adds three more Senators have joined to support the bill.