Make Them Hear You! Hacking the Elections

Make Them Hear You! is a weekly feature on KGNU, produced by Chris Mohr, letting listeners know how they can have their voices heard on issues up before Congress. You can hear it Wednesday mornings at 8.20am during the Morning Magazine.
The Department of Homeland Security has just notified 21 states, including Colorado, of Russian efforts to hack their election systems in 2016.

“We need Congress and the president to help states with their security systems for elections and ensure funding for more secure equipment where needed, and we need it to happen now,” Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill said. “Rather than investigating this attack on our democracy from a hostile foreign power, the Trump administration has formed a commission to prove that he won the popular vote, an idea that has been entirely discredited by numerous studies. Meanwhile, the cyber threat to our election systems remains and state election officials needed to know what was really going on so that we could respond and put in place any possible additional security measures.”

In Illinois, votes weren’t altered, but personal information for tens of thousands of voters was exposed. Hackers had gained access to the state’s voter database, and 90,000 records were ultimately compromised.

Time magazine reported that “congressional investigators are probing whether any of this stolen private information made its way to the Trump campaign.”

In Arizona, The Post reports “Russian hackers stole the username and password of an election official in Gila County, state officials said.”

Colorado was targeted but not breached, yet.

Our Secretary of State, Wayne W. Williams, downplayed the hacking threat, but a Cybersecurity expert wrote in a post, “This kind of method of hacking is very common and is used as a way to identify vulnerable targets. The actual damage often doesn’t take place until much later after malware does its work, the real hack happens, or not at all if discovered. Make no mistake, just because they didn’t do anything this time doesn’t mean it’s not useful to them. A breach is definitely a hack. Under no circumstance should you consider this harmless. People don’t attempt to breach voting systems for harmless reasons.”

The bipartisan SAVE Act has been introduced by Martin Heinrich and Susan Collins and has been passed on to the Rules & Administration Committee. With 21 state elections databases targeted last year, this committee can address the safety of our national voting systems by considering safer, hack-resistant paper ballots. If you have thoughts about Senate Bill 2035, the SAVE Act, you can contact your Senators and write to the two chairs of the Senate R & A committee, Richard Shelby and Amy Klobuchar.

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