Local officials consistently play down suspicions about the long lines at polling places on Election Day 2016 that led some discouraged voters in heavily Democratic Durham County, N.C., to leave without casting a ballot. Minor glitches in the way new electronic poll books were put to use had simply gummed things up, according to local elections officials there. Elections Board Chairman William Brian Jr. assured Durham residents that “an extensive investigation” showed there was nothing to worry about with the county’s new registration software. He was wrong. What Brian and other election officials across eight states didn’t know until the leak of a classified intelligence is that Russian operatives hacked into the Florida headquarters of VR Systems, Inc., the vendor that sold them digital products to manage voter registrations. … David Jefferson, a computer scientist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California who has acted in his personal capacity in trying to safeguard election integrity, said he believes it is “absolutely possible” that the Russians affected last year’s election. “And we have done almost nothing to seriously examine that,” he said. “The Russians really were engaged in a pattern of attacks against the machinery of the election, and not merely a pattern of propaganda or information warfare and selective leaking,” said Alex Halderman, a University of Michigan computer science professor. “The question is, how far did they get in that pattern of attacks, and were they successful?”
… “If we don’t fix our badly broken system before the next major presidential election, we’re going to be hacked into,” said Barbara Simons, author of “Broken Ballots,” a 2012 book about election security published by Stanford University. “It might not just be Russia. It might be North Korea, China, Iran or partisans.”
… Lawrence Livermore’s Jefferson voiced frustration with the “defensive” refrain of denials from state and local election officials, including the National Association of Secretaries of State. “Election officials do not talk about vulnerabilities,” Jefferson said, “because that would give the advantage to the attacker. And they don’t want to undermine public confidence in elections.”
Halderman said Homeland Security officials told him they were unaware of a single county in any state that had conducted post-election forensic examinations of their voting equipment.
… “This scenario is what we witnessed on the ground in North Carolina on Election Day,” said Susan Greenhalgh, a spokeswoman for the election watchdog group Verified Voting. “If attackers wanted to impact an election through an attack on a vendor like VR Systems,” she said, “they could manipulate or delete voter records impacting a voter’s ability to cast a regular ballot. Or, they could cause the E-Pollbooks (electronic databases of voters) to malfunction, hampering the check-in process and creating long lines.”