Hand inserting a piece of paper labeled "vote" into a wood box labeled "Ballot Box." The box is secured by chains

Audit finds North Dakota voting system is secure

© iStock - viavado
Kim Jarrett

(The Center Square) - An audit of North Dakota's election system found a very low risk for voter fraud. 

The audit released Thursday by State Auditor Joshua Gallion indicates it would be nearly impossible for someone to hack the system or vote multiple times.

North Dakota residents are not required to register to vote but the Secretary of State's Office uses a technology called PollPad, which records votes to prevent a person from casting multiple ballots, according to the audit.

The system also prevents someone from using a deceased person's identity to vote, according to the audit. The only time that could happen is after absentee ballots are verified. The fraudulent ballots would have to be forged or stolen before the election and loaded into the tabulator without anyone noticing, according to the audit.

"Even if they were able to load the ballots into the tabulator, the attacker would have to know how many absentee ballots were issued for the precinct that corresponds to the fraudulent ballots," the audit said. "If the tabulated total exceeds the number of absentee ballots issued, the results would be investigated. While collusion among individuals of the 'Absentee Ballot Counting Board' will always be plausible, the number of individuals required to accomplish this exploit would make it highly improbable that their actions would go undiscovered."

It would also be very difficult for anyone to tamper with the machines, according to the audit. 

"Even if they were able to tamper with the tabulator tally on the USB drive, the attacker would have to know how many voters had checked into the precincts or absentee ballots had been processed," the audit said. "If the tabulated total does not match the number of check ins on the PollPad, the results would be investigated."

The audit also found a low risk for absentee ballot fraud. 

Secure Yeti was hired for the audit, according to the news release from Gallion's office. The company has worked with several state and federal agencies and the Department of Defense.

The audit included interviews with the secretary of state's office and IT personnel. The company also participated in a demonstration of how the voting equipment works, according to the audit.  

“We looked at any potential weaknesses in the election system of our state that could be exploited by someone with nefarious intent,” Gallion said. “The determination after extensive review from our contractor was that our election systems are incredibly secure across our state.”