INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Election Commission has approved the first voter verifiable paper audit trail for electronic voting systems, Secretary of State Connie Lawson announced Monday.

This is a security measure that allows voters to independently verify their vote was correctly recorded.

In Indiana, almost half of the counties use direct record electronic machines. There is a paper trail in the back of the machines, but it is not visible to the voter. As a security measure, paper trails that are visible to the voter are being added to electronic voting equipment.

Steuben County has yet to add this feature to voting machines, but Clerk Tangi Manahan, the election board and the county’s voting machine vendor are currently working on coming in compliance with a new law, which is 10 years away.

“The election board is in the process of figuring out what we’re going to do,” said Shelley Herbert, Steuben County deputy clerk and a former election board member.

The Legislature provided funding to equip 10 percent of electronic voting equipment with a VVPAT. Voters in some counties will start seeing the equipment at the polls this fall, said a news release from Lawson’s office. By 2029, all voting equipment in the state will be required to have a voter verifiable paper trail.

“Adding VVPATs to election equipment will help boost voter confidence and allow us to implement risk limiting audits,” Lawson said in a news release. “Together, these practices will show voters at the polls their vote is safe and secure and following up with a post-election audit will confirm their vote was counted. As we prepare for the upcoming presidential election, we will be working to protect 2020 and beyond.”

Steuben County officials have said in the past that local voting equipment is not online and therefore not vulnerable to hacking.

All election equipment used in Indiana goes through an extensive review and testing process prior to use. First the equipment must be approved by the Election Assistance Commission to meet federal requirements. Next, the Voting System Technical Oversight Program at Ball State University reviews and tests the equipment to ensure it meets Indiana standards. Once a piece of equipment has both stamps of approval, it goes to the Indiana Election Commission for approval.

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