Joseph Stalin, no friend of free elections, is credited with saying it was not the people who cast the votes that decide elections. It’s the people who count them. Since the 2016 presidential election, considerable thought — but not much money — has gone into seeing if he’s wrong. According to an expert interviewed by NPR, it would cost at most $400 million to make states with vulnerable systems more secure, but a bill to do that died in Congress last month. There have been some changes in voting procedures, but whether the changes will be enough to block foreign and domestic interference with the upcoming midterm elections is simply unknown.
In 2017, the federal government informed 21 states that their systems had been targeted by hackers, beginning with Illinois. There is no publicly known evidence that hackers from Russia — or elsewhere — changed any vote.
States determine how elections are run, according to Article I, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution. The way ballots are handled suggests that some states are better protected against tampering than others.
… Since 2016, state legislatures have passed at least 500 bills related to voting, according to a report from Propublica.
There are two primary ways to affect an election — changing the actual vote count or tinkering with registration databases, said Avi Rubin, technical director of the Johns Hopkins University Information Security Institute in Baltimore.