Not that anyone living in the reality-based world needed more convincing, but the recent indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officials charged with interfering in the 2016 election, and President Trump’s apparent alliance with Russian President Vladimir Putin in denying the hacks, underscores the seriousness of this attack on the United States’ democracy. Prior to the indictment, the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee said in May that the Russian government “conducted an unprecedented, coordinated cyber campaign against state election infrastructure.” Trump’s willful blindness to the Russian cyberattacks means the U.S. remains vulnerable to interference in future elections. All the more reason why states, including Pennsylvania, must move to protect our voting system from such attacks.
Pennsylvania is particularly susceptible to attack. Most voting machines in the state – including in Philadelphia – are old and do not provide a paper record to safeguard against fraud. After Texas, Pennsylvania has the most registered voters using machines with no paper trail, according to Verified Voting, a nonpartisan group promoting trustworthy voting systems. (New Jersey and Delaware voting machines also lack paper records.)
A former National Security Agency engineer said Pennsylvania is a ripe target since it is a battleground state. “If I was a 400-pound hacker, I would target Pennsylvania,” said Ben Johnson, chief security strategist at Carbon Black, a cybersecurity firm, referencing Trump’s ridiculous 2016 comment that the hackers could be someone “sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds.”