The biggest threat to the electoral process may be the one offering to protect it! Leading up to November 8, there’s been increased attention on the security of our voting system. But not all of that panic is warranted, writes the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS). Obviously, there are very real concerns about cyberattacks or even partisan hacks playing a major role in the election. But there may be a far greater problem in the solution the Obama administration is floating: nationalized elections.
In the last several weeks, the Department of Homeland Security has been trying to exert more power over the voting process by offering them federal “help.” (Help from a government that presided over the greatest technological laughingstock of HealthCare.gov? No thanks!) Washington can’t even launch a simple website, let alone safeguard the future of American democracy. Still, the president’s team is trying to centralize the authority of the election by offering to “authenticate” the state and local results.
Nice try, says NASS. The greatest weapon Americans have in the fight against a “rigged election” is the decentralization the White House is criticizing. In a letter to Congress, the bipartisan group reminds members:
“Voting systems are spread out in a highly-decentralized structure covering more than 9,000 election jurisdictions and hundreds of thousands of polling locations. Machines are standalone and do NOT connect to the Internet. There are multiple layers of physical and technical security surrounding our systems. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson and FBI Director James Comey have both publicly stated that our process makes it highly unlikely that hackers can hijack election outcomes, as there is no central point of entry and NO NATIONAL SYSTEM to be attacked. In fact, there is no evidence that ballot manipulation has ever occurred in the U.S. via cyberattack.”
What’s more, voting systems “have their own fail-safes and contingency solutions that would make it highly difficult to leverage them for changing outcomes. Poll books, printed records, back-ups and back-ups of back-ups all provide layers of security around this part of the process.” For now, the group warns Congress, it’s important not to fall into the trap of thinking that the election isn’t safe. “There is no evidence that ballot manipulation has ever occurred in the U.S. via cyber attack,” the letter points out. And if the federal government stays out of it, there’s a much better chance that streak will continue!
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