Exercises that simulate a hacking attempt. Assistance from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, with higher-level security clearances for top state officials. A Washington National Guard contingent ramping up to go on alert. In years past, you might have mistaken these preparations as defense against a foreign invasion. But in Washington, in 2018, this is what officials are doing to safeguard the state’s elections systems. Roughly a year after Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential elections, federal officials announced that Russian hackers had targeted the election systems of at least 21 states, including Washington.
In Washington’s case, hackers scanned voter-registration systems looking for weak spots. No breach was made.
But now Washington officials face a landscape of threats as they prepare for the Aug. 7 primary and Nov. 6 general election — and what will likely be a divisive 2020 presidential election.
The efforts come as states across the nation work to shore up their voter-registration rolls, vote-tabulation systems and election procedures.