Some key swing states have declined an offer from the Homeland Security Department to scan voting systems for hackers ahead of the presidential elections. As suspected Russian-sponsored attackers compromise Democratic Party and other U.S. political data allegedly to sway voter opinion, some security experts say it wouldn’t even take the resources of a foreign nation to manipulate actual votes using this country’s antiquated tallying systems. Against this backdrop, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson during an Aug. 15 call with state election officials, offered states DHS services that can inspect voting systems for bugs and other hacker entryways. Earlier in the month, he also suggested the federal government label election systems as official U.S. critical infrastructure, like the power grid. But some battleground states, including Georgia and Pennsylvania, say they will rely on in-house security crews to maintain the integrity of voter data.
“The question remains whether the federal government will subvert the Constitution to achieve the goal of federalizing elections under the guise of security,” Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp told Nextgov in an email. “Designating voting systems or any other election system as critical infrastructure would be a vast federal overreach, the cost of which would not equally improve the security of elections in the United States.”
Georgia, where some projections show presidential contenders Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump neck and neck, reportedly could use a vote machine reboot. “Georgia, which is running electronic-only machines—there’s no paper trail. … And the machines they’re using are more than a decade old, so the hardware is falling apart. And the operating system they’re using is Windows 2000, which hasn’t been updated for security for years, which means it’s a sitting duck,” Zeynep Tufekci, a University of North Carolina information and library science professor, told NPR on Saturday.
… Because of hacking concerns, many states are keeping a paper trail to audit the vote count, but not all. In addition to Georgia, parts of Pennsylvania, another tossup state, do not maintain paper backups in the event of a hack, Tufekci said.