The next presidential election is still more than a year away, but international efforts are already underway to disrupt it. That’s the finding in a new Senate Intelligence Committee report released Thursday.
The bipartisan report says Russia has been working since 2014 to interfere in US elections and that it targeted all 50 states in 2016 by “exploiting seams” between federal oversight and state election systems.
“We know that there were Russian IP addresses that attempted to enter our voter registry,” said Connecticut’s Secretary of the State Denise Merrill.
Merrill said their attempts were unsuccessful.
“That doesn’t mean that they couldn’t get in another time,” she pointed out.
During his testimony on Capitol Hill this week, former FBI Director Robert Mueller said the US should be prepared for it to happen again.
“It wasn’t a single attempt, they’re doing it as we sit here. And they expect to do it during the next campaign,” Mueller said.
A recently released intelligence report shows that other countries are obtaining the same sophisticated system as Russia.
“The cost of defending against them is one that is the price of our democracy,” said U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D – Connecticut).
Blumenthal said the federal government needs to devote $500 million dollars to election security.
One cyber security expert agrees, the solution isn’t cheap.
“We’re in a world now where you have to spend money on security. It’s no longer optional,” said Tim Weber of ADNET Technologies.
Merrill said Connecticut has received $5 million so far.
“That’s almost a down payment, frankly,” she said, pointing out that the federal government hasn’t spent money to upgrade voting systems since the 2000 presidential election.
The Senate Intelligence Committee found no evidence that any votes were changed or that voting machines were manipulated in the 2016 election.
Locally, the Hartford Republican Registrar of Voters said she hopes any policy changes are done at the state level than in Washington, D.C.
“It’s more personal, it’s closer,” said Sheila Hall. “That can tie up funds and delay getting the things we need in a timely fashion.”
Merrill said she and all of the country’s secretary of the states now have top security clearance and meet constantly about securing the 2020 presidential election.
“Guaranteed that they’re going to try because they were successful in the past and that’s the hallmark of any cyberattack,” said Weber.
That’s something, he says, the state and the country can count on.