Schiff: 'Negligence' to Have Voting Systems That Don't Leave a Paper Trail

By Susan Jones | August 31, 2016 | 8:45 AM EDT

Concern about Russian hacking is prompting calls for all election systems to come with a "paper trail." (AP File Photo)

( - Failure to have a "paper trail" on Election Day is "pretty much negligence," Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said on Tuesday.

He was commenting on reports that Russian hackers broke into voter registration databases in Arizona and Illinois earlier this summer.

"It's certainly plain that Russia has the capability to do these kind of hacks, has the incentive and the motivation, has a history of doing these kinds of hacks. And it's not really a question about whether Russia can hack into election systems; they have the ability to do it. The question is just whether they will do it. And that's an intolerable situation," Schiff told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell.

"I think, given the state of where we are (in the) cyber world, for a secretary of state anywhere in the country not to have a paper trail is pretty much negligence because you could throw into question elections by the capability they have, particularly with online voting, but even those voting machines that don't leave a paper trail. That's a very dangerous situation for us to be in electorally."

Schiff said creating a paper trail is "not complicated." 

"And I think the secretaries of state around the country have had ample notice that they ought to move to these systems. We have tried in Congress to mandate that unsuccessfully. But particularly in this kind of wild west that we're in, and where we have evidence of foreign governments seeking to potentially influence elections, then I think it's all the more incumbent that we take every possible precaution.

"We don't want to the go through another contested election like 2000, let alone one where we may have a foreign government trying to interfere with our democracy."

Schiff said he believes Russia could interfere to some degree with the actual vote count, particularly with online military voting.

"But there are other ways they could also interfere with the election process, some in terms of potentially manipulating voter databases, voter registration files, but also -- and this is probably the most pernicious -- by manipulating data itself. By, for example, planting documents, dumping documents that are false."

Schiff gave the example of hackers photographing fake documents intended to show that someone (Hillary Clinton) committed criminal acts. He said it would be hard to prove such documents were fake after the fact. "And that's the kind of really malicious interference that keeps me up at night."


Also See:
Reid Asks FBI to Investigate Possible 'Russian Government Tampering in Our Presidential Election'

WH May Designate Some State Voting Systems As 'Pieces of Critical Infrastructure'