PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Could Monday night’s debacle in Iowa happen in Pennsylvania?
“It’s a great reminder to us, frankly, that there are serious risks with having apps and internet or phone-based voting, even reporting of results as they were doing in Iowa,” said Chris Deluzio, policy director for Pitt Cyber at the University of Pittsburgh.
Deluzio, the lead security expert at the Blue Ribbon Commission on Pennsylvania’s Election Security, told KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Tuesday that Pennsylvania is not likely to experience Iowa’s problems.
“We aren’t relying on apps to transmit results from each precinct to each county. So Pennsylvania voters ought to rest a little bit easy that we don’t have some of the same vulnerabilities that we saw bear out in Iowa. But there are still threats.”
For example, any connection to the internet includes risks.
“The internet, those types of devices are very susceptible, the device itself, being hacked, the WiFi network perhaps being compromised, the cellular network,” said Deluzio.
While Pennsylvania voting and vote counting does not rely on apps and the internet, the state does have voter registration and absentee ballot requests made online.
“We ought to be doing some things here in Pennsylvania and across the country, wherever we are facing the public on the internet, to make sure those systems are secure and have good, strong backups,” said Deluzio.
The first results on election night are unofficial, transmitted on-line, but now all counties must have a paper back-up through new voting machines required to be installed by the primary.
That, too, can make for an interesting election night.
“I worry that this April is really the first election for so many counties in the commonwealth, including Allegheny County, to use new machines. So it will be new to voters, new to poll workers, election officials,” said Deluzio.
State election officials denied similarities with Iowa and noted to KDKA that the caucuses are run by party officials, not trained state election officials.
One final result from Iowa: it makes it more likely than ever that the Pennsylvania primary will be a battleground for candidates.