The Committee on House Administration Democrats released a report on Thursday that identified 18 states with election systems that are most vulnerable to being hacked. The 18 states were classified into three tiers based on vulnerabilities and whether or not they are using federal assistance to address those shortcomings.
In September, officials in 21 states were notified of potential hacking attempts by Russians that officials at the time said were just “attempts.” However, in February, Jeanette Manfra, the head of cybersecurity at the Department of Homeland Security, told NBC News that an “exceptionally small” number of the states were actually successfully penetrated.
There is no evidence that actual votes were altered in any way.
Congress has appropriated $380 million to the Election Assistance Commission to give to states to enhance election security. The report from the Democrats says an additional $1.4 billion will be needed to over ten years for states to be able to take all the steps required to secure their election systems. The report noted that no bills that are currently being considered in the House contain additional funding for election security.
The 18 states were classified into the following tiers:
Tier 1: States that have the most serious election security vulnerabilities. These states rely exclusively on electronic voting machines that do not have a paper record. It is nearly impossible to determine if paperless voting machines have been hacked and if vote tallies have been altered.
Tier 2: States that have significant election security vulnerabilities but may not be planning on using federal assistance to address their biggest issues.
Tier 3: States that have significant election security vulnerabilities and are using their federal funds to address those issues, though they need additional assistance to fully upgrade their election infrastructure.
“It is now well-known that Russian hackers targeted voter registration databases in at least 21 states and attempted to access credentials of election technology vendors and election officials,” the report says. “If these attacks had succeeded, hackers could have deleted voter registration records, altered poll books, caused chaos on Election Day, and potentially swayed the results of the election. Moreover, the Intelligence Community has warned that foreign actors will likely continue to seek to interfere in our elections.”
The report says replacing paperless voting machines with machines that provide a paper trail is one of the most significant steps a state can take to improve election security. An additional step recommended in the report is a post-election audit of the paper ballots. Increased cybersecurity training and upgrading IT infrastructure were also recommended.
Voters that do not have any paper backup have repeatedly been shown to be highly vulnerable to an attack, the report says.
Read the full report here.
Photo by Emily Leayman/Patch
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