State and local officials hastened to reassure Americans this week that the nation’s election systems are secure after the country’s top intelligence official accused Iran of sending threatening emails to voters in several states and the United States said Russia obtained voter information from at least one county.
U.S. officials and cybersecurity experts said the activity did not appear to include penetration of voting systems or access to voter registration databases, or the hacking of equipment that could be tampered with to alter election results.
“Arizona’s voter registration database remains secure,” said C. Murphy Hebert, a spokeswoman for the secretary of state’s office in Arizona, one of the states where Democratic voters reported receiving the threatening emails. “Some information in the voter record is publicly available in Arizona through a public record request, including party registration and, up until recently, emails. We are vigilantly monitoring all election systems.”
Federal and state officials said they have fortified election systems since 2016, when Russian hackers scanned election-related websites and software nationwide for vulnerabilities.
Multiple investigations found that no votes or voting machines were compromised by the Russians four years ago, and election administrators said that even more safeguards are in place now to prevent such an occurrence.
In addition, the threat has further declined this year with the surge of mail voting brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, because the vast majority of Americans are expected to cast paper ballots, which are harder to tamper with and easier to audit and recount, cybersecurity experts said.
Some experts and security advocates, however, said measures implemented since 2016 are insufficient and point to lingering risks such as poorly secured voting equipment and, in some states, the reporting of results from precincts and counties over phone lines. Congressional Democrats have called for…