What’s causing uncertainty about election security?

Confidence levels in securing the election are low, and declining, according to an ISACA survey of more than 3,000 IT governance, risk, security and audit professionals in the US.

uncertainty election security

While federal, state and local governments continue to harden election infrastructure technical controls and security procedures, 56 percent of respondents are less confident in election security since the pandemic started—signaling the need for greater education of the electorate and training of election personnel to drive awareness and trust.

Respondents say they believe that funding, legislation, technical controls and election infrastructure are all inadequate, including 63 percent who are not confident in the resilience of election infrastructure, and 57 percent who believe that funding is not sufficient to prevent hacking of elections.

Top threats to election security

Respondents identified the following as the top threats to election security:

  • Misinformation/disinformation campaigns (73%)
  • Tampering with tabulation of voter results (64%)
  • Hacking or tampering with voter registration rolls
  • Hacking or tampering with voting machines (both 62%)

The combination of low confidence and high perception of threats requires a call to action, according to retired Brigadier General Greg Touhill, ISACA board director and president of the AppGate Federal Group. “The overwhelming majority of localities have sound election security procedures in place, but the public’s perception does not match the reality.”

“This means that governments, from the county level on up, need to clearly and robustly communicate about what they are doing to secure their election infrastructure. As the study indicates, the most real threat to the election—impacting all candidates from all parties—is misinformation and disinformation campaigns.”

uncertainty election security

How to ensure voter confidence and accountability

The survey found that respondents believed the following actions could help ensure voter confidence and accountability:

  • Educating the electorate about misinformation (65%)
  • Using electronic voting machines with paper audit trails (64%)
  • Increased training for election and election security personnel (62%)

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