The Brennan Center for Justice released a new report, “Voting System Failures: A Database Solution.” The report–inspired by tales of failed voting machines and lost votes–suggests a simple solution to the mayhem: a “new and better regulatory structure to ensure that voting system defects are caught early, officials in affected jurisdictions are notified immediately, and action is taken to make certain that they will be corrected for all such systems, wherever they are used in the United States.”

Specifically, the Brennan Center calls for the creation of an accessible national clearinghouse that tracks reports of voting system malfunctions. The key elements of the envisioned clearinghouse are:

  1. A Publicly Available, Searchable Centralized Database. Election officials currently rely on voting system vendors for information about malfunctions, defects, and other problems. The 4,600 separate jurisdictions that administer elections would benefit greatly from the shared knowledge of election officials, vendors, and voters.
  2. Vendor Reporting Requirements. Vendors rarely have a legal obligation to notify election officials or the public about problems with their systems. Reporting requirements would increase product transparency and better equip election officials to deal with product defects and vulnerabilities.
  3. A Federal Agency with Investigatory Powers. There is no mechanism to prevent the same failures–with the same machines–from occurring repeatedly in different jurisdictions. It is critical to empower an appropriate government agency to investigate allegations, to enforce record keeping, and to ensure that action is taken to address failures or vulnerabilities.
  4. Enforcement Mechanisms. That same government agency must also have the power to levy civil penalties on vendors who fail to meet reporting requirements or do not remedy known vulnerabilities with their systems.

Read the full report here.

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