Election security experts testifying before a House committee found little consensus on whether hackers could get into voting machines, but agreed they have disrupted the process regardless.
Numerous reports on cyberattacks “have voters questioning whether their vote will actually count, which in my opinion is more damaging than the potential for hacking,” Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler told the House Science, Space and Technology Committee.
The committee met to discuss what steps, if any, the federal government should take to help secure election systems after the email breach of the Democratic National Committee and voter registration database breaches in Illinois and Arizona with alleged ties to Russia. Lawmakers questioned experts on the integrity of the electoral process.
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“This is the worst situation we could be talking about going into an election,” Schedler said.
The decentralized nature of the election process—and each state’s unique ballots and systems—helps secure it, according to Schedler.
“It makes it very difficult for any player to go in and disrupt a federal, national election,” he said.
No voting machines are connected to the internet and they are kept securely with strict chains of custody, said David Becker, executive director of The Center for Election Innovation and Research. Additionally, more than 75 percent of voters use a paper ballot or machines that have a paper trail, he explained.
More states are embracing paper, such as paper ballots scanned by optical readers, in part because it’s easier to audit, he said.
“Even if there was a grand conspiracy, a post-election audit would almost certainly discover it before results became official,” Becker said.
But a widespread attack wouldn’t be necessary, according to Dan Wallach, Rice University Department of Computer Science professor.
“It’s sufficient for them to go after …