Hundreds of local government websites providing critical information to voters around the state are in desperate need of an overhaul, a recent report by the League of Women Voters of Texas finds.
The nonpartisan civic organization found that out of 254 county websites in Texas, the vast majority– 79 percent– use unsecured URLs, or website links with “http” instead of “https,” the latter of which encrypts user data and is more secure.
Additionally, only 9 counties used a URL that ended with a “.gov” domain, which immediately lets voters seeking information know they’re at the correct website.
The same report also found issues outside election security, including the fact that many county websites are painfully outdated and hard-to-navigate: 65 percent of websites failed to provide contact information for county election offices; only 42 percent included information for voters with special needs, and only 55 percent of county websites provided information in Spanish.
“The League of Women Voters encourages counties to inspire the trust of voters in their community by ensuring website security, by avoiding election jargon and using plain language voters can understand,” the report read.
The need to secure Texas’ election systems should be a top priority going into 2020, especially following a 2018 report that found Russian operatives comprised state websites or databases in seven states, including Texas.
So far, the process of protecting Texas’ elections has moved alarmingly slow.
This year, lawmakers passed a new law requiring counties to undergo an election security assessment. But according to KXAN, 68 counties have not begun the process, jeopardizing the security of votes in more than a quarter of Texas counties.
Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org