The concept of a “rigged election” is a hot campaign topic in the run up to the 2016 presidential election, but what vulnerabilities exist in the voting process that could actually lead to a rigged election? No one is more knowledgeable on the subject than election integrity expert and C|M|LAW Professor Candice Hoke.
“All should avoid making claims of a “rigged election” unless concrete facts are set forth supporting such a dangerous allegation,” urged Hoke. “However, there is no question we always face technological, managerial and process-based issues that could potentially taint the outcome of an election. This election is no different, but our election officials learn and improve their processes by studying past elections.”
When asked what is the best voting method given the range of new technologies, Hoke recommends voter-marked paper ballots that are scanned at the precinct or cast as an absentee ballot, as paper offers the greatest protection for achieving election integrity. While paper is sometimes considered to be antiquated technology, Hoke says that if statistically-sound post-election audit processes are used, paper voter records can be checked against electronic vote counting methods to identify any vote count for irregularities. If the software or hardware has been tampered with in ways that cause miscounts, or if it has a software bug that erodes accurate counts, the voter-marked paper ballots can be counted without using electronic technology. Hoke says the voting public does not need to trust the integrity of voting system software if robust post-election audits are used. “But they must be statistically sound, random audits of ballots to provide the assurance to which the public is entitled.”
Learn more about Hoke’s thoughts on the current state of our election processes in this Q-&-A feature.
Hoke’s experience in the election process dates back more than four decades to when she first worked on a successful gubernatorial campaign in her home state of North Carolina as a volunteer campaign office manager. She went on to become the first teenager to ever serve on the state’s inaugural committee and served two terms on the North Carolina Drug Commission while attending Hollins University.
“I understood how important elections could be to change the values and direction of government,” said Hoke.
Hoke went on to graduate from Yale Law School and joined the Cleveland-Marshall faculty in 1994 after teaching for six years at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and serving as a visiting professor at Case Western Reserve University Law School. Her concern for elections was renewed in 2004, after what was widely considered a disastrous 2004 election process in parts of Ohio. In early 2005, she was instrumental in the creation of the Center for Election Integrity at Cleveland State, a partnership between the Urban and Law Colleges. The Center became nationally prominent after a 2006 primary election in which Cuyahoga County had serious issues implementing new electronic voting systems. The County Board of Elections and the County Commissioners jointly created the 3-person investigatory body, the Cuyahoga Election Review Panel (CERP), and appointed Hoke as a member. After the Panel turned in its Final Report and recommendations for reform, the Board of Elections appointed the Center Public Monitor of Cuyahoga Election Reform to assist in its implementation. That report is now used for training new election officials in many parts of the nation.
Since that time, Hoke has testified before Congress, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission and the Ohio General Assembly on post-election auditing and voting systems’ vulnerabilities and has advised Federal officials within the U.S. Departments of Homeland Security, Defense, and Justice, and the Executive Office of the President. She has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and on National Public Radio and several major television networks.
Hoke has expanded her attention to a wider swatch of cybersecurity issues and in 2015 co-founded Cleveland-Marshall’s Center for Cybersecurity and Privacy Protection with Professor Brian Ray. The interdisciplinary Center integrates technical, legal, and business perspectives and promotes creative, effective approaches to security and privacy.
“Our outreach efforts for public cybersecurity education has led to our partnering with our region’s employers to help build the security and privacy workforce,” said Hoke, who, along with Center co-director Brian Ray, was appointed to the Advisory Board of CyberOhio, a recently announced statewide initiative by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. “C|M|LAW and CSU as a whole are offering students a broad range of opportunities to develop the credentials to enable them to fill these new, exciting positions in the cyber workforce.”