CT Election Officials Say a Hack Nearly Pointless

After the FBI notified election officials nationwide of a hack on election databases in Arizona and Illinois, many went on alert, on the lookout for specific IP addresses.

In Connecticut, state election officials said the IP addresses in question haven't yet shown up on state servers, but added that the information obtained in Illinois, a list of more than 200,000 and their voting data like addresses and phone numbers, are already publicly available in Connecticut.

"I think someone said it was like hacking the phone book," quipped Secretary of the State Denise Merrill.

She explained that Connecticut has perhaps the most decentralized voting and registration system in the country with 169 cities and towns that act as their own districts. Built into that system is an entirely paper based trove of voter cards, ballots, and backups.

“When you go into vote and you go to register on the list, it’s all still on paper so there is no simple database that’s containing all of the information," Merrill said.

Voter lists themselves are already public records and campaigns purchase lists from the Secretary of the State every year.

Local registrars, like Jim Stevenson and Tim Becker in Manchester, wonder what a hacker could really get from a hack of even a local election computer.

"They would get, you know, name, address, phone number, DMV information such as license number, which is already made available if someone wanted to come in through Freedom of Information,” said Stevenson, the Democratic Registrar of Voters.

Even the machines used to digitally tabulate election results aren't connected to the internet in cities and towns.

Melissa Russell, a Bethlehem Registrar of Voters, with the Registrars of Voters Association of Connecticut reiterated the point that physical record keeping in Connecticut places the state at an advantage.

We also have the advantage of a paper ballot system, where we can look at every vote cast in the case of any discrepancy to make sure our elections equipment has performed accurately.

Becker, the GOP registrar in Manchester, explained how state law mandates that each town keep individual paper records for voters, meaning altering results or hacking, would be a tall task.

“They would have to destroy the fire proof cabinets in 169 cities and towns to actually mess with our voter list.”

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