Last week Jeanette Manfra, acting undersecretary of cyber security for the Homeland Security Department, told the Senate Intelligence Committee that “Russian hackers targeted 21 U.S. state election systems in the 2016 presidential race” and that “a small number were breached but there was no evidence any votes were manipulated.”
As has been well-reported:
U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded the Kremlin orchestrated a wide-ranging influence operation that included email hacking and online propaganda to discredit Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump, a Republican, win the White House in November.
Manfra also said, according to a story in Governing magazine, “that none of the digital intrusions affected the parts of the electoral system that counted votes, but that they expect Russia to keep trying.”
While she and other officials testifying argued that “U.S. elections are resilient to hacking in part because they are decentralized and largely operated on the state and local level,” some members of the committee were quick to point out that it wouldn’t take very many votes to impact the outcome of an election.
“A sophisticated actor could hack an election simply by focusing on certain counties,” Maine Senator Angus King said. “I don’t think it works just to say it’s a big system and diversity will protect us.”
At this point it would appear Russian hackers are analyzing data they have collected in order to determine how to compromise the integrity of the voting system at some future date.
Give me a paper ballot, a pencil, and a cardboard box any day.