In July, as The New York Times reported, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report detailing Russian interference efforts during the 2016 presidential election. According to the bipartisan committee, the Kremlin targeted election systems in all 50 states.
There is no evidence that any votes were changed, but “Russian cyberactors were in a position to delete or change voter data,” according to the memo.
In his testimony before Congress, former special counsel Robert Mueller warned that Russia and other adversaries of the United States would seek to interfere in the 2020 election, telling lawmakers that official Moscow is interfering “as we sit here.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has nevertheless blocked election security legislation, describing concerns raised by Democrats in Congress as conspiracy theories and arguing that Congress has done more than enough to protect the integrity of American elections.
Voting machines are notoriously easy to hack. Experts have been warning about their vulnerabilities for years, and even demonstrating how easily a capable bad actor could hack one.
As The Guardian reported, in August 2018, during the Def Con conference in Las Vegas, an 11-year-old child hacked a voting machine in 10 minutes.
Although it is not nearly as easy to change recorded votes as it is to hack the machine, according to the publication, the demonstration showed just how vulnerable to cyber attacks U.S. elections really are.
Watch the voting machine used in US swing states get hacked to rig an election. @Jhalderm, @UMich, and @nytimes demonstrate why every voting district needs an auditable paper ballot. Voting machines are *known* to be insecure. https://t.co/juvU7K3Qdl pic.twitter.com/prsrOGK17z
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) July 27, 2019
In a Saturday op-ed penned for The Hill, cybersecurity expert Adam K. Levin issued a dire warning, writing that the 2020 election is “set to be hacked, if we don’t act fast.”
In his column, Levin — a former director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs and chairman and founder of CyberScout — asked, “will the 2020 election be hacked?”
“In a word: Yes,” the expert wrote, explaining that the American election system remains vulnerable to outside attacks, urging elected officials to act fast.
“Instead of discussing the nation’s Voter ID laws, we need to focus on securing the vote,” he wrote, pointing out that Trump won in 2016 thanks to 80,000 votes spread across just three key states, which shows how little it takes for a foreign adversary to swing an election.
— Adam Levin (@Adam_K_Levin) August 23, 2019
“We are not talking about a blunderbuss approach to hacking the election here. Plausible outcomes can be constructed. It’s been known to happen before,” Levin argued.
The cybersecurity expert revealed that some of his colleagues believe that it is already too late to protect the election system and secure that the 2020 presidential election is protected, but said that he does not share their opinion.
According to Levin, “the time to delay to score political points has passed, and now is the time for action.”