A controversial database used to check whether voters are registered in more than one state has been suspended until security safeguards are put in place.
Use of the Interstate Crosscheck program was put on hold as part of the settlement of a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas on behalf of nearly 1,000 voters whose partial Social Security numbers were exposed by Florida officials through an open records request.
Kansas began operating the multistate program 14 years ago but it has not been used since 2017, when a federal audit discovered its security vulnerabilities.
Pennsylvania continues to be a hotspot in the ongoing national campaign to create voting systems that are better able to fend off hacking attempts next year.
Jill Stein, the 2016 Green Party presidential candidate, recently asked a federal judge to declare state officials in violation of a court-approved agreement because they certified a voting system that doesn't generate a readable paper ballot.
And a Republican county official, after being told by state officials he would soon face legal action, changed his mind and said he would support purchasing new voting machines.
Pennsylvania's voting systems carry significance far beyond the state's borders for several reasons. Until recently, it was one of just a handful of states in which votes were still stored electronically without printed ballots. Election security experts say in order to have the best shot at surviving a hacking attempt, voting systems must generate a paper record for each ballot.
Four out of five counties in Texas have election websites that are not properly secured against hackers, the state's League of Women Voters says.
And the central flaw is alarmingly simple for anyone to detect, involving just a single letter. Of the 254 counties charged with administering elections in the nation's second biggest state, 201 have websites that have "http" at the start of their URL web addresses rather than the more secure "https," the League said in a recent report.
With the presidency on the ballot in less than a year, fears of another attempt by Russia or other foreign powers to interfere in the election seem to grow with each passing day.
But in the battlegrounds where the outcome will be decided — the 13 states almost certain to be most hotly contested by both parties — election security has been tightening and the opportunities for a successful hacking of American democracy are being greatly reduced, a review of the procedures and equipment on course to be used in each state in November 2020 makes clear.
"There's been a huge amount of progress since 2016," says Elaine Kamarck, an election security expert at the Brookings Institution. James Clapper, a former director of national intelligence, says his assessment of the fight against election interference results in feeling "confident that a lot has been done to make it better."
In fact, many who work on the issue now cite the public's perception that our election systems are vulnerable as a problem at least as great as the actual threat.