Letter to Governor Newsom and the Legislature on Voting Equipment Security

Voting Equipment Security

Report #247, March 2019

OVERVIEW

The Little Hoover Commission sent a letter to the Governor and Legislature, available here, on Monday, March 4, 2019, calling upon lawmakers to fortify the state’s approach to voting equipment security.

During the course of its study, the Commission learned of many actions California takes to secure its elections, including implementing rigorous certification standards, requiring a paper trail for every vote cast, and recently establishing an Office of Cybersecurity to keep up with evolving security threats.

The Commission found, however, there are bigger, more aggressive steps the state could take in securing its voting equipment. “In this era when foreign interference, human error, and machine malfunctions dominate headlines, it’s more important than ever to remember the adage that security is a process, not a product,” said Little Hoover Commission Chairman Pedro Nava. “Though the state takes a number of important security measures, it must be more ambitious in making sure every Californian’s vote counts.”

The Commission identified the following key issues that policymakers must consider when securing the state’s voting equipment:

  • California must ensure every county’s voting equipment is as secure as possible, but the Commission found old and outdated voting equipment threatens election integrity.
  • California must prove to voters that the election results are legitimate, but more work is needed to better implement safeguards to catch and correct intentional or accidental discrepancies between how Californians voted and reported winners.
  • California’s “bottom-up” election system is valued for its ability to adapt to local needs, but the state lacks statewide goals for election system innovation.

The Little Hoover Commission is an independent state agency charged with recommending ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of state programs. The Commission’s recommendations are submitted to the Governor and the Legislature for their consideration and action. The letter report is available at www.lhc.ca.gov.