Lawmakers and experts will discuss election security Thursday, 10 months before the U.S. presidential election. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
Jan. 9 (UPI) -- The heads of the three largest voting equipment manufacturers will testify Thursday in the House to answer lawmakers' concerns about election security and the machines' vulnerability to hackers.
Tom Burt of ES&S, John Poulous of Dominion Voting Systems and Julie Mathis of Hart InterCivic will appear before the House administration committee at 10 a.m. EST.
The hearing comes as congressional Democrats and Republicans debate how best to avert potential interference in November's presidential election.
The committee last year voted along party lines to approve three major bills, each of which were subsequently passed by the House. The most comprehensive of the three, the Securing America's Federal Elections Act, has stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate.
The latter's provisions would mandate that states use voting equipment that includes a paper hard copy and institute strict cybersecurity guidelines.
In prepared remarks, Burt said requiring paper receipts in electronic voting is a must.
"If Congress can pass legislation that requires a paper record for every voter and establishes a mandated security testing program for the people making voting machines, the general public's faith in the process of casting a ballot can be restored," he wrote. "That's not just a good thing, it's essential to the future of America."
The committee's ranking Republican, Rep. Rodney Davis of Illinois, hoped to steer Thursday's discussion away from the more contentious provisions of the Securing America's Federal Elections Act.
"Instead of getting into a winded debate today between paper vs. electronic or state vs. federal, let's instead focus our efforts on areas within our federal reach that need improvement, areas where we may come to a bipartisan agreement as we've seen in the past," Davis wrote in prepared remarks.
Another scheduled witness, Georgetown University law professor and computer expert Matt Blaze, warned that cybersecurity risks for U.S. electronic voting infrastructure aren't merely "hypothetical or speculative."
"Many of the software and hardware technologies that support U.S. elections today have been shown to suffer from serious and easily exploitable security vulnerabilities that could be used by an adversary to alter vote tallies or cast doubt on the integrity of election results," he wrote.