Some 13 weeks till Election Day, and “The warning lights are blinking red,” says the U.S. director of national intelligence. “I cannot emphasize enough the vulnerability,” says Senator Marco Rubio. “We could be just a moment away from it going to the next level,” says the FBI director. On Thursday, the Trump administration’s national security team held a joint press conference to underscore the threat. They’re all worried about foreign countries meddling in the midterms, just as Russia did in 2016. And with good reason: Although election security hasn’t been a notable priority for this administration — it has evidently held just two meetings on the topic since taking office — there’s every reason to think more attacks are imminent. What’s the proper response? Precaution, not panic. In particular, three problems need attention.
One is that the nuts and bolts of the electoral machinery remain vulnerable. Americans vote at some 100,000 polling places, spread out across more than 8,000 voting districts. Each state oversees elections in its own way, and each piece of the system — registration rolls, back-office computers, even voting machines — is a potential target for hackers. Making matters worse, many states rely on outdated equipment or software; a report last year found that 41 states use databases that are at least a decade old.
Improving all this could take years. But states can in the meantime limit potential damage. For starters, they can ensure that local election officials have security training. They should also require that polling stations preserve paper records where possible, and that voter rolls and poll books have backups. Most important, they should conduct risk-limiting audits after the polls close to ensure that paper ballots match electronic results. Congress could help by forgoing petty fights over funding such efforts.
Full Article: How to Protect the Midterms From Hackers – Bloomberg.