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State Elections Systems Hacked, Officials Still Don’t Know How

by Countable | 8.25.17

What’s the story?

Remember those reports that upwards of 39 state election systems were hacked prior to the 2016 presidential election? Well, states would really like to know if they’re on that list so they can start properly preparing for the 2018 mid-term elections, but according to Reuters, DHS won’t tell them.

Why does it matter?

At a recent four day conference of the National Association of State Election Directors, president Judd Choate told Reuters that the information of which states were affected probably won’t ever be made public because state officials don’t even know yet:

"You’re absolutely never going to learn it, because we don’t even know it."

Two states — Arizona and Illinois, have confirmed that they were hacked, but at 10 months out from the election no other states have been informed as far as Choate knows.

DHS confirmed with Reuters that they had been in communication with the companies that provide election systems. The department’s concerns are twofold — protecting proprietary information and sharing classified information:

"[DHS is working] to determine how best to share this information while protecting the integrity of investigations and the confidentiality of system owners."

According to Reuters, "Information about cyber attacks is typically guarded by a high classification because it may involve nation-state involvement or contain sensitive sources and methods."

Following the election, the federal government declared state election systems "critical infrastructure," which gives DHS more latitude to help states address cyber concerns. But for the time being, election systems will remain in the hands of the states, who have varying degrees of capacity and resources to deal with cyber threats. Without information and enough time to formulate systems and plans, America’s state-run election infrastructure may be caught flat-footed again.

What do you think?

Should states be informed as soon as possible if they are on the list of states that were hacked? Should the public be informed what states were hacked as well? Should Congress require DHS to inform states both if they were hacked and what measures to take to prevent further cyber intrusions before the end of the year, so states have as much time as possible to prepare before 2018 mid-terms? How are states supposed to oversee election security if they can’t know all the details of what happened when their systems were hacked?

Use the Take Action button to tell your reps what you think!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: Wikimedia / Creative Commons)

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(102)
  • Judith
    08/25/2017
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    This is egregious! Not only do you have an obligation to tell the States that were hacked that they were hacked, you have an obligation to work with them to FIX THE PROBLEM before anymore elections take place! We have NOTHING if we don't have fair and legitimate elections. The fact that this band of morons is in the White House likely based on collusion and probable hacking of electronic voting machines demands action now! Time to remove these machines from use and go back to paper ballots! We are worse than a banana republic at this point with regard to our elections. Even banana republics have a means of nullifying and redoing elections when evidence of tampering is found, but not us. And apparently we don't even have the wherewithal to fix what we know is broken. This is disgraceful!!

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  • Thelaststripper
    08/25/2017
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    Stop all electronic voting and go back to paper voting.

    Like (40)
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  • lmwalz
    08/25/2017
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    In my opinion, I think the American people have a right to see a list of the states where election systems were hacked. Moreover, our citizens deserve government representatives who will vigorously fight to defend our right to elect our leaders. This should be an issue of bipartisan support. I'm a Democrat and do not necessarily agree with the concept of "states' rights" as it aligns with Republican values, however, I believe our country's democracy is under attack by several individuals or groups across the globe, and the states have a right to know if their systems were affected. Our enemies (both foreign and domestic) can see clear evidence of weakness in our government and our society. Trump's win might as well have been a declaration of 'hunting season' on the US and democracy. The very foundation of our freedom, the democratic system and in turn the constitution, is under attack. Not only must we stop these hackers and inform our citizenry of the extent of the interference, but our elected leaders have a duty to put aside party politics and consider what is in the best interests of protecting our democracy. As long as the American people fear external interfearence in our election system, we will never truly be free.

    Like (35)
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  • Deirdre
    08/25/2017
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    Yes states should be informed so that they can correct the problem.

    Like (29)
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  • Rachel
    08/25/2017
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    IMO, the delay is meant to give Trump a reason to postpone elections. This is authoritarianism taking hold before our eyes.

    Like (21)
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  • Ticktock
    08/25/2017
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    Yes, however by notifying the states would be admitting that the election in 2016 was influenced by an foreign State. The Department of Homeland Security if admitting this would be contradictory to Trump's personal beliefs. By delaying the notification of the states hacked DHS is supporting Trump's assertion that Russia did not hack our election and delaying our ability to take defensive measures to prevent hacking in the future. The sanctions that have been placed on Russia are justified. Trump and the Republicans in Congress should be kicked out of office. Remember this in 2018 & 2020!

    Like (19)
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  • Marc
    08/25/2017
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    Sooo, what the heck is trump's high falooten (sp) committee doin other than tryin to figger out how to suppress the vote????

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  • William
    08/25/2017
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    I just read a story which I find hard to believe. Per the story, DHS has information on outsider hacking of states election systems and refuses to share information with the states. DHS is refusing to even identify those states which have been hacked. The integrity of state election systems is critical to the function of our democracy. I urge you to pressure DHS to work closely with the appropriate personnel in each state, providing whatever information and assistance necessary to protect state systems from future hacking.

    Like (13)
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  • GatewayJohn
    08/25/2017
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    No reason to withhold this information unless you are colluding with the hackers

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  • Michele
    08/25/2017
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    Of course they should be informed. Otherwise how can they prepare for future attacks? Only someone who has benefitted from previous hacking would be against that. I wonder who that would be.

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  • Jeff
    08/26/2017
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    Use block chain technology for voting and this will not be an issue. Each person will be able to track their vote and the votes of everyone else anonymously on a public ledger. And yes, paper ballots get hacked, it's called election fraud and it's been around a very long time. I don't think most people know what "hacking" actually means, but it requires a certain amount of human intervention to exploit any system these days (Google "social engineering"). Block chain technology removes the most exploitable variable (people) while keeping votes entirely public and traceable, and leaving the individual people private (essentially a voter ID system). I recommend you all do some research. As for the issue itself, this absolutely cannot stand, and Washington seems to be begging for a revolution to happen.

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  • Joanne
    08/25/2017
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    DHS MUST advise states if their election systems were hacked immediately and help fix the problem. This MUST be done before the 2018 elections!!!

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  • Jenduster
    08/26/2017
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    We have the right to know which states were hacked and the best means of preventing it in the future. Our right to fair and equal elections is being destroyed-first through Citizens United which allows corporations to essentially buy a candidate, and now this. Hard to even call the United States a democracy anymore.

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  • bart
    08/26/2017
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    This is a big deal. We need an investigation like, now.

    Like (4)
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  • Marylynn
    08/26/2017
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    What part did the Liar in Chief play in this hacking? Remember his comment asking Russia to find Hillary's deleted emails. It wouldn't be stretch for him to encourage them to hack into the states voting system to ensure that he'd win the election. I certainly hope that this is being reviewed by the ongoing investigations taking place right now. I agree, we need to stop using electronic voting systems and go back to paper ballots that can't be changed by a hacker. We've become too dependent on computers and ultimately they will be our downfall.

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  • Dee
    08/25/2017
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    States and people have the right to know if their vote and voting information was compromised.. go back to paper ballots for the next few elections.

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  • Kodiwodi
    08/25/2017
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    Paper ballots don't get hacked.

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  • Katherine
    08/25/2017
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    Huge problem

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  • James
    08/25/2017
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    Go to paper ballots nationwide and that hacking problem will be solved! We use paper ballots in my state and the only problems we face are people registering twice or attempting to register dead people but that is not wide spread like other states! And require a photo ID! A state ID here costs just ten dollars! Don't tell me that anyone can't afford that! Actually one can get that free with a birth certificate! Everyone born here or naturalized has one of those!

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  • John
    08/25/2017
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    Electronic is easy...easy to be hacked that is. Sometimes the use of technology in areas where they can't be sufficiently protected is just dumb.

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