Officials from both parties had a consistent answer last year when asked about the security of voting systems: U.S. elections are so decentralized that it would be impossible for hackers to manipulate ballot counts or voter rolls on a wide scale. But the voter fraud commission established by President Donald Trump could take away that one bit of security. The commission has requested information on voters from every state and recently won a federal court challenge to push ahead with the collection, keeping it in one place. By compiling a national list of registered voters, the federal government could provide one-stop shopping for hackers and hostile foreign governments seeking to wreak havoc with elections. “Coordinating a national voter registration system located in the White House is akin to handing a zip drive to Russia,” said Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, a Democrat who has refused to send data to the commission.
The IRS, Social Security Administration, banks and internet companies, among other entities, have far more information about many citizens. Political parties and other organizations have access to some voter registration information — though that permission often comes with restrictions on how they can use it and how widely they can share it.
Still, security experts and fair election advocates say that any records stored on computers are susceptible to attacks.
“It’s creating more security vulnerabilities in our election system that don’t seem to be necessary,” said Barbara Simons, president of Verified Voting, an organization that advocates for transparent, accurate and verifiable elections.