Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Why a Massive Election Day Hack Is Unlikely

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Why a Massive Election Day Hack Is Unlikely

Article excerpt

Could malicious hackers or foreign operatives actually interfere with voting on Nov. 8 and influence the outcome on Election Day?

Probably not. But it's still a question many technical and election experts are asking, Washington is worried about, and both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are talking about in the final stages of a presidential campaign already marked by unprecedented warnings of fraud at the polls.

In a statement earlier this month, the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said the US "is confident that the Russian government directed the recent compromises of emails from US persons and institutions ... to interfere with the US election process." Separately, in August, the FBI reported breaches into Illinois and Arizona's voter registration databases and cautioned other states to bolster cybersecurity protections against of Nov. 8.

The Russian allegations sparked a heated exchange during Wednesday's final debate after Mrs. Clinton claimed that Russian operatives "hacked American websites ... to influence our election" in favor of her Republican opponent. Mr. Trump, who has not blamed Moscow for hacking into Democratic National Committee computer networks, did say he would condemn Russian interference in US elections. "By Russia or anybody else," he said.

During an event on Wednesday at the Atlantic Council think tank in Washington, a panel of cybersecurity and election experts said troubles at the polls originated long before this election season.

"It goes back perhaps as long as there have been elections, and the idea of influencing elections is nothing new to national and international players," said Daniel Chiu, deputy director of the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council.

Here's what we learned at the event:

1. Paperless voting complicates the audit process

Five states - South Carolina, New Jersey, Delaware, Georgia, and Louisiana - rely on electronic voting machines that do not include any paper trail, according to the election watchdog Verified Voting. Without that physical record, experts said, it's essentially impossible to double check the results, as officials did in the 2000 presidential election. …

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