For once the DHS may be trying not to scare us.

By this point we’ve heard a lot about the extensive security issues in electronic voting infrastructure, although there has yet to be a known attack on voting machines themselves, and the decentralization of the process makes a widespread hack impractical.  At the beginning of October, however, the DHS reported hacks on 20 state voter registration databases, with information downloaded from systems in Illinois and Arizona.

The feds have continued to insist that no damage was done and that there is no danger to the integrity of the voting machines in any of the states targeted.  This is true, as far as it goes, but they have downplayed the obvious risk from damaged voter registration systems.  In particular the insistence that no files were deleted seems silly: a malicious hacker would not need to delete registrations to cause chaos.  Small changes to existing registrations are less likely to be noticed beforehand, and they would back up queues at the polls as people are sent for provisional ballots, which often go uncounted in the best of circumstances.  If precincts are overwhelmed with provisional ballots from compromised registration databases, the poll workers will be swamped trying to verify the registrations and the vote is even less likely to be tallied correctly.

Further, it would be possible to flip an election on corrupted registrations alone, if they’re cleverly distributed.  Anything so obvious as only targeting registered voters in one party would most likely be seen through immediately, but a more subtle GRU hacker might for instance target the registrations of Democrats and a smaller number of female Republicans.  Since any tally in a precinct plagued with corrupted registrations would probably not be seen as legitimate to begin with, this would be a long shot, but either way the hackers win.


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