FBI Director James Comey has warned that Russia will try once again to influence U.S. elections, possibly as early as next year. To prepare, the federal government has declared elections to be a part of the nation’s critical infrastructure that demands special attention. But the federal government’s focus has state and local election officials, who are very protective of how they do things now, extremely nervous. They’re mainly concerned that the federal government will tell them how to run their elections — even down to where polling sites should be located — in the name of security.
Denise Merrill, Connecticut’s secretary of state and president of the National Association of Secretaries of State, said this could jeopardize the best protection the nation already has against outside manipulation of elections.
“Because our system is highly decentralized there’s no way to disrupt the voting process in any large-scale meaningful way through cyber attacks because there’s no national system to attack,” she said Tuesday at a hearing before the U.S. Election Assistance Commission on the impact of the critical infrastructure designation.
Merrill noted that while two states — Arizona and Illinois — had their voter registration systems infiltrated last year by Russian hackers, no records were deleted or changed. And she said no actual votes were affected, despite signs that Russia had scanned election systems in at least 20 states.