In the waning days of his campaign to win the White House, Donald Trump has been warning his supporters that the presidential vote is being “rigged” against the Republicans and in favor of rival Hillary Clinton, a Democrat. … Trump campaign officials have been quick to clarify that when Trump talks about “rigging,” he’s usually referring to what he sees as media bias against his candidacy. But all the talk of election irregularities has elevated concerns among some Americans about the security of their votes — and perhaps in one regard, with good reason. … Elections in the U.S. are run individually by the 50 states plus the District of Columbia. Secretaries of state, both Republicans and Democrats, insist their systems are secure. That message was recently echoed by Thomas Hicks, chair of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, who told members of the U.S. House of Representatives, “There’s no national system that a hacker or a bad actor can infiltrate to affect the American elections as a whole.” Hicks’ views are not shared among many cyber researchers. “I’m pretty worried,” said J. Alex Halderman, director of the Center for Computer Security and Society at the University of Michigan. “We’re facing some pretty serious threats when it comes to security and elections. I’m quite worried that in an election soon we’ll see real attacks that will either try to disrupt the election or possibly would try to change votes.”
Halderman told VOA the rise of sophisticated nation-state actors over the past decade or so has outstripped the capabilities of many civil servants at the state and local level who are directly responsible for running elections.
“Elections aren’t that sexy,” Halderman said. “We don’t like to fund tech for elections. It seems like a luxury to have new voting equipment. We need equipment that’s secure, systems that can withstand attacks by other nations. [But] it won’t come for free.”
Halderman hopes all the attention on voting-system vulnerabilities will motivate state governments to invest in cybersecurity for the 2020 elections. But he said it’s already too late to bolster security for this year’s elections, and that could cause skepticism about the results. “I just hope this election isn’t close,” he said.