With only a week left before the 2018 midterm elections, fewer than half of U.S. states have submitted to a Department of Homeland Security assessment of their vulnerabilities to vote hacking. Under the department’s National Protection and Programs Directorate, the agency branch that coordinates cyber protection of U.S. infrastructure, a team of DHS officials are prepared to examine statewide election systems. They can check for cybersecurity vulnerabilities and run in-person exercises like phishing tests to ensure election officials are prepared to guard against attempts to hack their email accounts. The Department of Homeland Security has already provided or is scheduled to provide the service, which is free for states that request it, to only 21 states, a department spokesman told ABC News, concerning election experts who fear some states may not be aware of potential vulnerabilities.
“The first thing that every state should be doing, and frankly not just the state but the counties to the extent that they can, is to do a threat analysis to understand what the vulnerabilities in their systems are,” said Larry Norden, of the Brennan Center for Justice’s Democracy Program. “Our election infrastructure is very complex, and it’s not always obvious where they are.”
Concerns over vote hacking have never been higher following Russia’s broad campaign to influence the 2016 election, which included attempts to infiltrate more than a dozen voter registration systems, but elections are managed by state and local officials, and DHS can only offer help to states.