This week, leaders from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) testified to Congress that the Russian government hacked into electronic systems connected with the 2016 election in at least 21 states. Though they acknowledged that some systems had been breached and even altered, they also said that hackers were unable to change the vote counts. While it is certainly reassuring to know that vote counts weren’t tampered with (it’s a message they’ve stressed in light of previous leaks, too,) there’s one problem with the DHS’s proclamation: the agency hasn’t actually conducted any audits to confirm this belief. … With all due respect to the DHS, the government didn’t expect their systems to be as vulnerable to hacking as it has already proven to be. If hackers were able to get into voter systems, how can we be so confident that that’s as far as they got without – you know – actually checking?
Susan Greenhalgh, a representative from Verified Voting, an independent organization with the mission of safeguarding electronic voting told the Daily Beast, “I think there’s a presumption amongst both the general public and lawmakers that DHS did some sort of investigation. It didn’t happen. That doesn’t mean that something [nefarious] happened, but it also means it wasn’t investigated.”
That’s a point worth reiterating before this article starts sounding alarmist: a lack of a vote count audit does not by any means indicate that Russia did successfully alter vote counts. Perhaps intelligence agencies have other information that leads them to believe that Russia failed to change any votes.
At the same time, I also suspect that the U.S. government wouldn’t even want to find out that votes had been meddled with since that would further discredit the legitimacy of the current administration. Moreover, that’s the kind of information that would seriously shake citizens’ faith in the entire system, threatening to topple it. How sound is a democracy if you can’t trust that the votes are being co