If anyone knows how easily voting can be disrupted, it’s a county election supervisor in the state of Florida. That’s one reason several dozen of them gathered in Orlando recently to discuss ways to protect against the most recent threat — cyberattacks by Russia or others intent on disrupting U.S. elections. Marion County elections supervisor Wesley Wilcox said he realizes the threat has evolved far beyond the butterfly ballots and hanging chads that upended the 2000 presidential race. And even beyond the lone hacker. “It’s no longer the teenager in his basement eating Cheetos that’s trying to get into my system,” said Wilcox. “There are now nation states that are, in a coordinated effort, trying to do something.” CIA Director Mike Pompeo is the latest intelligence official to warn the Russians will likely try to interfere in this year’s elections, as they did in 2016. And Florida was among at least 21 states that intelligence agencies say had their election systems probed by Russian hackers during the last election cycle.
… “The reality is all of us are going to be impacted at some point in time by a cyber incident. All of us,” Matt Masterson, chairman of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, told the group. His agency is working with states and localities to beef up election security.
Masterson displayed a news article about hackers targeting nuclear facilities to drive home the significance of the threat. “I share this because you’re now in good company,” he said. “As part of the nation’s critical infrastructure, you’re now in a group with nuclear facilities.”
The Department of Homeland Security last year designated elections as part of the nation’s critical infrastructure.