More than a hundred security researchers and computer science experts have warned in a letter to lawmakers that not enough is being done to ensure the integrity of state and federal elections. The letter, published Wednesday, argues many US states are “inadequately prepared” to respond to cybersecurity risks with upcoming elections. The hundred-plus co-signatories, including cryptographer Matthew Blaze, security expert Bruce Schneier, and PGP creator Phil Zimmermann, say the US “needs prompt action to ensure prudent elections security standards.” The experts also outlined several recommendations that would “form the basis of robust, enforceable, sensible federal standards that can restore needed confidence in American elections,” including ensuring that any electronic election machines produce a voter-verified paper ballot to establish the “official record of voter intent.”
The letter was released to coincide with a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Wednesday, where experts testified to the state of election security in the wake of several recent news reports that further detail Russia’s efforts to influence last year’s presidential election.
Among the most explosive claims include one report citing a leaked classified NSA report, which revealed the US knew about Russia’s hacking effort against dozens of state voting systems days ahead of the presidential election. Not long after, a Bloomberg report said the Obama administration used a “red phone,” dedicated to communicating with the Kremlin on cyber incidents, to warn the Russians to back off their attempts to influence or sway the election. A recent Politico report cited a security researcher who found documents that “could be used to hack an election,” including passwords, instructions for election staffers counting responses, and 6.7 million Georgia state voter records.