Voters need confidence in system

Our View

With the integrity of the United States voting system so much a topic both before and after the 2016 presidential election, the incentive should be in place for all of the 50 states to examine their individual systems, identify those systems’ strengths and problems, and fix whatever might be identified as being problematic.

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale has announced commendably that his office plans to perform such an examination this year.

While 2017 might have been a better time to launch such a project, because last year was a municipal election year that had few statewide or national implications, getting the job done by the end of the coming summer could provide a vote of confidence for this year’s November balloting.

All Pennsylvania U.S. House and state House seats will be on the fall ballots, as well as one Pennsylvania U.S. Senate seat and some state Senate seats.

Additionally, this is a gubernatorial election year for the Keystone State.

In the end, voters should feel confident that when the votes are counted, the election results are correct and that suspicions about anything being amiss have no justifiable place.

In announcing his plans for a performance audit of the Pennsylvania Department of State’s voter registry, DePasquale said his intention is “to make sure our system is secure as possible.”

He said the audit would be done based around that.

The auditor general referred to what he indicated was “pretty clear evidence” that the Russians had attempted to hack Pennsylvania’s election system.

A Jan. 8 report by the online news and information service Capitolwire said DePasquale’s concerns are shared by elected state officials of both parties, regardless of their views concerning the investigation by U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller into whether there was collusion between Russia and associates of President Donald Trump during the 2016 election.

Although DePasquale said he wasn’t ready yet to say what the audit would examine specifically about the voter registry, he made the point — one that should be a source of confidence to state residents — that his office is working with Gov. Tom Wolf’s office and a bipartisan group of state senators to determine the audit’s scope.

It’s to be hoped that nothing occurs to derail the audit.

“We are trying to find the right way to go about this and try to minimize the politics involved,” DePasquale added.

He’s correct that politics should be out of the realm of the audit.

Pennsylvania wasn’t the only state allegedly targeted by the Russians in 2016. According to the federal Department of Homeland Security, 20 other states also have been determined to have been targets.

According to Wolf, no evidence has surfaced that Pennsylvania’s system was breached, but no one should be naive and think that the Russians wouldn’t attempt to enter the system during some election or elections in the future.

Beyond that, it’s right to question who else might have such disruptive designs.

The integrity of Pennsylvania’s elections should not be an issue, going forward. The audit DePasquale proposes should go a long way toward helping to ensure that, although it’s impossible to predict what some devious or disruptive entity might try to do in the years ahead.

For now, no elected official or voter of this state should oppose the initiative that’s on DePasquale’s new agenda.