voting

States Still Don’t Know if Russians Hacked Their Voting Systems

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What happened to all those reports that the Russians had hacked the electoral system?  Did that all just go away?  Not exactly.  You would think that the individual states where this is reported to have happened would at least know what’s going on.  But they have been cut out of the loop.  The National Association of State Election directors’ president, Judd Choate, told Reuters that the federal government hasn’t told state election officials whether or not their voting platforms were targets.  The worst part of this is that the information is unlikely to become public even if it does become known.  And I mean, of course the federal government is keeping this quiet.  It benefits them.  Or more specifically, it benefits one person.

The Department of Homeland Security hasn’t denied that officials are holding off on notifying individual states, but it says that they’re being cautious.  Homeland Security wants to protect the “integrity of the investigations and the confidentiality of system owners”.  So they’ve notified the owners and operators of the systems, but not the states or even election officials.  So what gives? Communication with the federal government has improved, especially since President Obama labeled the voting systems as “critical infrastructure”.  But, it’s clear that the current administration doesn’t feel the same way.

Voters cast their votes during the U.S. presidential election in Ohio
Voters cast their votes during the U.S. presidential election in Elyria, Ohio, U.S. November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk/File Photo – RTX2STRU

This is a huge issue.  It speaks to the lack of information-sharing between state and federal officials as it relates to voting and cyber threats.  All of the elections in the United States are run by state and local governments.  Which means, that the playing field isn’t level when it comes to technical knowledge and ability.  Homeland Security told Congress, back in June, that 21 states were targeted during the presidential race.  Twenty-one!  How is that even possible?  Seriously.  That’s almost half.

Senator Mark Warner, who is the top Democrat on the U.S senate Intelligence Committee, has expressed his frustration at Homeland Security, due to their refusal to identify which states had been targeted.  Which is a pretty big thing.  Arizona and Illinois had confirmed last year that hackers had targeted their voter registration systems.  So it’s not a big leap to think that the voting system could have been targeted as well.

voting

Homeland Security says that they’re working with senior state election officials “to determine how best to share this information while protecting the integrity of the investigations and the confidentiality of the system owners”.  Why do the system owners need protection?  Presumably, there are procurement laws in America which require an open and transparent purchasing process.  So, when purchasing an election system, there has to be some kind of transparency to know who the company is who created the system.  Or does it not work that way?  If not, then I think there’s another problem with all of this.  It’s not like the states are asking Homeland Security to publish HOW the system was breached, or what method the hackers used.  They’re simply wanting to know IF their state was part of the breach.

russian hack

U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that the Kremlin orchestrated an operation that included hacking and online propaganda intended to tilt the November election in Trump’s favour.  So it kind of makes sense that the federal government isn’t really cooperating, doesn’t it?  Why would Trump cooperate with something that directly benefits him? There is concern that there might be some kind of cyber attack during the 2018 elections.  But I’m guessing that it won’t be a problem.  Why?  Well, because Trump isn’t involved.

Maybe that was a harsh, unsubstantiated statement, but I think it has to be said.  We know that Russia was involved in hacking and online propaganda.  We also know that it was done to favour Donald Trump.  What we don’t know is how many states were hacked, and what that could mean to the presidency.  We also don’t know what Trumps involvement was.  I’m not defending him.  In fact, there is a very good chance that he was involved, but at this time we don’t have any information about that.  Hopefully the information will be released.  And if not, I would hope that there would be some kind of justice.  But I’m not convinced of that.  I’m not convinced that those at the federal level are able, or willing to do what is right in order to ensure that this gets taken care of properly.