Editorial: VoTeR Center works to make elections free and fair

Eric McGill votes at polling place Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017, in Salt Lake City. The Republican mayor of the Mormon stronghold of Provo is expected to sail to victory in a special election Tuesday to replace former U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz in a congressional district where Republicans outnumber Democrats 5-to-1. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

One of the fundamental concepts of the United States of America is the right to vote. Elections, in which the people elect their representatives, are held as one of the most important aspects of our country. Because of this, there has been a push to make sure each vote cast is fair and, especially, free of fraud.

In recent years there has been a push for ballots to become electronic; as the archaic paper-and-pen system of tallying votes is both time consuming and error prone. Because of this, more and more voting centers are moving to electronic. This introduces new complications, however, particularly in the realm of data breaches and hacks.

While established in 2006, the importance of UConn’s Center for Voting Technology Research (VoTeR Center) was underscored after the now infamous hacks during the 2016 Presidential elections. The VoTeR system maintains data records for past election cycles and conduct audits and safety scans throughout the year, ensuring the system is secure from attacks.

There are government agencies responsible for monitoring voter fraud and network security, but the more independent agencies are monitoring systems, the safer and more secure our voting process will be. Though the VoTeR Center only monitors voting centers located within Connecticut, Connecticut was one of the state targeted in the Russian attack in 2016, underscoring the importance of the existence of a watchdog group.

With technology and technologic capabilities increasing exponentially each year, our state, and nation, must ensure the electronic infrastructure is safe and secure. There would be grave effects if an outside party was able to gain access to a system so critical to our country as the voting system.

Electronic voting is the future. It offers ease of access, faster results and potentially more accurate readings. This being said, there are many drawbacks to the system that must be addressed and weaknesses identified before they can be exploited by malicious groups.