Even as it is consumed by political fallout from Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, Washington is still struggling to respond to what many officials see as an imminent national security threat: a network of voting systems alarmingly vulnerable to foreign attack. As hackers abroad plot increasingly brazen and sophisticated assaults, the United States’ creaky polling stations and outdated voter registration technology are not up to the task of fighting them off, according to elections officials and independent experts. Senior national security officials have repeatedly said that the U.S. should prepare for more foreign efforts to interfere with elections. On Tuesday, President Donald Trump’s top intelligence adviser warned a Senate committee that Russia is moving to build on its earlier efforts to interfere with U.S. elections, which included a sustained campaign of propaganda and the unleashing of cyberoperatives.
“There should be no doubt that Russia perceives its past efforts as successful and views the 2018 U.S. midterm elections as a potential target,” said Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence. The administration’s top national security officials have all warned about the Russian threat, although Trump, himself, continues to minimize it.
Elections officials are daunted by the challenge of fortifying their defenses. Many still use outdated software that has fewer security protections than a decade-old cellphone. Millions of Americans vote on easily corruptible machines that provide no paper trail – an essential component for auditors to verify that tampering did not take place, experts say.