Is SD's Midterm Election Secure from Hacking?
Monday, July 23, 2018
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Only 18 states and territories have requested on-site risk and vulnerability assessments of their voting systems, despite the midterm election approaching and repeated warnings those systems could be compromised.
After hearing that, Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota, who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee's Cybersecurity Subcommittee, became a co-sponsor of the Secure Elections Act to provide more money to states to improve safeguards.
But even if it passes, the funding most likely won't reach states in time for the midterms.
Heather Smith, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota says 92 million Americans eligible to vote did not do so in 2016, and trust in the system is often cited as a reason.
"Our system of democracy is contingent on people being able to vote and for them, feeling like their vote does actually count and does get counted," she states.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, only 13 states said they intended to use the federal dollars appropriated back in March to buy new voting machines. Another 22 had no plans to replace voting machines before the midterm election.
So far, there's no proof that tampering with voting machines has changed an election outcome.
But Homeland Security also told Congress it believes Russians have "scanned" every state, looking for database vulnerabilities.
Experts say Internet connections and staffing issues at the local level make databases the weak link in the U.S. election system.
Smith says many of South Dakota's 66 counties reported some difficulties in the most recent election.
"We've seen problems in South Dakota during the last primary in June, where there were eight counties that were using electronic poll-book systems and they were hit with some kind of computer glitch,” she relates. “If you have eight counties in South Dakota, that's a lot of counties that had difficulties with voting."
A 2018 report lists South Dakota as one of four states where people say they don't register to vote because they don't know where or how, and miss the deadlines.
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