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Can cybersecurity save the November elections?

Stacy Collett | Sept. 7, 2016
The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s disclosure earlier this month that foreign hackers had infiltrated voter registration systems in Illinois and Arizona

The integrity of votes must also be examined. Does the name a voter chooses on the ballot match the paper print-out? Does it match the electronic version stored in the voting machine? Even the voting controversies in the Florida election recount of 2000 had rules, processes and oversight of paper voting, Harkins says. Remember the hanging chads? “What’s the logical equivalent of that” for digital voting?”

Optics vs. reality

The optics of the voter database breaches may be worse than the hacks themselves, says Dimitri Sirota, CEO of BigID. “Today, a foreign agent can't completely alter elections because of how the vote count is fragmented across states and polls,” he says. However, “they can certainly subvert confidence in the election.” In fact, the discoveries may be a deliberate attempt to get discovered, he adds.

Illinois has perhaps the simplest solution for diverting future election hacking. The state’s voting machines aren’t connected to the internet, said Ken Menzel, general counsel for the elections board, in a television interview. “By keeping that system off the internet, you go a long way to protect it from internet hackers.”


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