The head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation sought to calm fears that Russians or others could electronically sabotage the nation’s election in November, saying the 50-state voting system is so dispersed and “clunky” it would be difficult for hackers to affect the outcome. Appearing at a panel with other senior US intelligence officials on Thursday, FBI Director James Comey was asked about the concerns that hackers acting on behalf of the Russian government might try to manipulate the presidential election. Such concerns have grown in recent weeks, after the FBI issued an alert to state officials about the possibility of hackers penetrating state election computer systems. In Arizona, a hacker obtained one of two credentials needed to access the state’s voter-registration system.
The FBI is also investigating a number of computer data thefts from Democratic Party organisations, in which the leading suspects are Russian intelligence operatives, according to officials close to the case.
Mr. Comey wouldn’t discuss those investigations, but he tried to reassure participants at the Intelligence and National Security Summit that there is a big difference between accessing voter-registration records and hacking into actual vote-counting systems.
“The beauty of the American voting system is that it is dispersed among the 50 states, and it is clunky as heck,” said Mr. Comey. “A lot of people have found that challenging over the years, but the beauty of that is it’s not exactly a swift part of the internet of things, and so it is hard for an actor to reach our voting process.”