Lawmakers are scrambling to push something — anything — through Congress that would help secure the nation’s voting systems ahead of the 2018 elections. But it might already be too late for some critical targets. By this point during the 2016 election cycle, Russian hackers had already been in the Democratic National Committee’s networks for at least three months. Members of both parties insist they can get something done before Election Day 2018, but concede that the window is rapidly closing. Voters in Texas and Illinois will take to the polls in the country’s first primaries in just over three months — a narrow timeline for implementing software patches, let alone finding the funds to overhaul creaky IT systems, swap out aging voting machines or implement state-of-the-art digital audits. “Not a lot of time, no question,” Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.), who is leading an investigation of Russia’s election-year meddling, told POLITICO.
… But it’s unclear if lawmakers will swiftly act on the committee’s advice — or if it would even help at that point.
“It’s high-time we got started, and it will be too late soon if there isn’t action,” said J. Alex Halderman, a University of Michigan computer scientist and a leading expert on digitally securing elections.
Halderman said it’s probably already too late for the midterms to make many hardware upgrades to voting equipment — such as replacing paperless, touch-screen machines with ones that produce a paper trail — and that there’s only a window of about six to nine months to make the switch in time for 2020, due to the winding procurement process involved.