The halfway point between the election of President Donald Trump and the 2018 midterms has come and gone, and it still isn’t fully clear what Russian hackers did to America’s state and county voter registration systems. Or what has been done to make sure a future hacking effort won’t succeed. US officials, obsessed for now with evidence that Russia’s intelligence services exploited social media to sway US voters, have taken solace in the idea that the integrity of the country’s voting is protected by the system’s acknowledged clunkiness. With its decentralized assortment of different machines, procedures, and contractors, who could possibly hack into all those many systems to change vote totals? … Most states’ elections officials still don’t have the security clearances necessary to have a thorough discussion with federal officials about what’s known about Russian, or others’, efforts to hack into their systems.
Seven states still use all electronic voting systems whose results cannot be verified because there is no paper trail. And hundreds of US counties rely on outside contractors to maintain their registration records and update the software on voting machines. Some of those contractors are small operations with few employees and minimal computer security skills.
Many local officials are reluctant to seek federal help, worried about ceding authority to outside agencies.
“We’re not doing very well,” Alex Halderman, a renowned election security expert, told BuzzFeed News. “Most of the problems that existed in 2016 are as bad or worse now, and in fact unless there is some action at a national policy level, I don’t expect things will change very much before the 2018 election.”