- The Washington Times - Friday, November 4, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Donald Trump has spoken at length about how the 2016 election may be rigged — and make no mistake, voter fraud is a real, ongoing problem. However, the greater threat this cycle maybe in the hacking of ballot boxes.

Foreign hackers successfully penetrated voter databases in two states — Arizona and Illinois — this summer, calling into question the security of voting machines. What’s more frightening is the attacks seem to have been coordinated.

A ABC News report said nearly half of the states in the U.S. have had their voter registration systems targeted by hackers and four have been penetrated.

It’s important to note — voter registration databases different than the voter machines used on Election Day. FBI Director James B. Comey testified to Congress in September that hackers were probably looking for personal information to sell online, rather than to disrupt the presidential election.

However, in August, Rep. Adam Schiff, California Democrat, said on MSNBC that it’s not a question of whether foreign hackers can disrupt the vote count in November, but whether they will.

Researchers at the Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton University have been able to reprogram the voting machine without even breaking the “tamper evident” seals — meaning it’s possible.

Still, rigging the national election by tampering with voting machines would be nearly impossible because states and cities set up voting systems, not the federal government. The voting machine landscape is a patchwork of different systems, which makes the election hard to manipulate in a coordinated way.

But that doesn’t mean that individual states aren’t taking precautions.

Forty-six states and 35 county or local election agencies have reached out to the Department of Homeland Security to help protect their election systems from hacks, but these online scans take time and there’s been no indication from DHS that all of them have been completed.

Bottom line: Vote paper, if you can. A paper trail allows states to better verify a close election and is more tamper-resistant than insecure voting machines.

As Matthew Green, a professor at Johns Hopkins University who specializes in cryptography and cybersecurity, told The New York Times, “There is only one way to protect the voting system from a nation-state funded cyberattack: Use paper.”

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