Last month, election officials in Vermont disclosed that the state had notified the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that it had detected a computer with an internet protocol address leading back to Russia snooping around its voter registration database in August. While the state said no data was altered , the incidentwas a reminder that the foreign cyberthreatis still out there, nearly two years after it dominated the conversation about the 2016 campaign. This election cycle, state and local officials who supervise elections have scrambled to add cybersecurity to portfolios that long consisted mostly of registering voters and tabulating ballots. The inflectionpoint came in September 2017, when DHS said that Russian hackers attempted to penetrate the voter registration systems in at least 21 states in 2016 and did so successfully in Illinois. With all that in mind, those state officials have becomeactive partners with the federal government, whileupgrading computer systems, replacing equipment and sharing threat information.On Tuesday, they and their voters will find out if their efforts were worthwhile.
The 2018 election will be the most secure election ever, Christopher Krebs, the DHS undersecretary who oversees cybersecurity programs, said at a Capitol Hill briefing last month. We do not say 100 percent secure, but the most secure to date and the most resilient.
But that sunny outlook from the federal level takes many different forms when looking at how states are actually approaching the first nationwide vote since election security became a mainstream issue.