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Hacked voter registration systems: a recipe for election chaos

Michael Kan | Oct. 6, 2016
Hacking a voter registration system could deny voters their ballots

There's certainly security risks that need to be addressed, said Tod Beardsley, research manager at security firm Rapid7. "If there's an appearance of tampering, then you can bring doubt about the election's veracity," he said.

Nevertheless, hacking an election would be far from easy, he added. For example, there's no central authority when it comes to ballot counting or voter registration. Instead, management of U.S. elections is spread out across 50 different states, and then to thousands of counties.

"The idea that Russian hackers can just come in and hack the election would take a lot of work," he said. "It's way cheaper to bribe an election official, a tried and true way of election tampering."

Los Angeles County, home to 4.8 million registered voters, also seems to be aware of the risks.

"L.A. County's voter registration system is not public-facing and is not connected to the Internet," the county clerk's office said in an email.

All voter registration data available on public-facing websites is read-only, the office added.


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