The pandemic has shifted so much of American life, including the ways we vote. This year, an unprecedented number of Americans have already voted, with millions more heading to the polls today.
The influx in absentee voting has prompted a lot of questions about the process of casting and counting balloting. How will voters make sure their votes count? Will we see voter intimidation and suppression? How secure will this election be? The 2016 election was marked by foreign interference, what has been done in the last four years to make sure our election systems are safe?
Listen: What is Michigan doing to make sure this election is safe and secure?
Alex Halderman is a professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Michigan and the co-chair of the Michigan Election Security Advisory Commission. He says that Michigan has made several upgrades since 2016 to bolster election security. Halderman says security procedures vary across states, but that voters should be confident in their vote counting and that patience is key on election day.
“Around the country, it’s still a patchwork of strength and weakness. On the whole, I think voters should be quite confident that we will get the right election results, but there may be some bumps and it may take some time,” says Halderman.
The threat of foreign interference is greatly reduced from 2016, according to Halderman. He says that even if there are some disruptions, election officials have been planning and preparing for years.
“Most cybersecurity problems are likely going to localized,” says Halderman, adding that a successful election means trusting the process. “Be patient, listen to election officials and be skeptical about any rumors flying around about elections being rigged,” Halderman says.
Detroit Today student producer Clare Brennan wrote this article.