Of all the disturbing questions raised by Russia’s interference in last year’s election, the most alarming may be how a foreign power might hack into the nation’s voting infrastructure. So far there’s no evidence that Russian cyberattacks altered U.S. vote totals in any way. But recent disclosures make clear that Russian intelligence intrusions were much broader and deeper than initially known. And the U.S. election system, while it has strengths, remains vulnerable on several fronts. Aging voting machines, the absence of a paper trail in some states, and spotty audits are all weaknesses that could be exploited in 2018 and 2020. … While most states—36 all told—use machines that produce a paper record, that still leaves 14 states that still operate machines with no voter verifiable paper trail. The absence of paper makes it virtually impossible to cross-check and confirm results after the fact.
And even states that use voting machines with paper trails don’t make full use of them. Only 26 states require paper audits, according to the Brennan Center. Some security experts, moreover, argue that American voting systems are much more vulnerable than they appear. University of Michigan computer science and engineering professor J. Alex Halderman told the Intelligence Committee Wednesday that he knows America’s voting machines are vulnerable, because he and his colleagues have attacked them repeatedly.
“While some states are doing well with security, others are alarmingly vulnerable,” Halderman testified. Voting machines are not actually walled off from the internet, Halderman added, as ballots must be programmed via master computers before Election Day. Halderman placed the cost of replacing aging voting machines at $130 million to $400 million, and the cost of instituting robust post-election audits in all states at less than $20 million—a relative pittance.
Halderman warned that there’s no doubt that Russia has the technical ability to commit hostile attacks against the U.S. election system. He echoed former FBI Director James Comey’s prediction before the same committee earlier this month that Russia will be back. Said Halderman: “If we fail to act, I think it’s only a matter of time before a major election is disrupted or stolen as the result of a cyberattack.”
Full Article: Keeping Russia Out of the Voting Booth.