Fears Of Hacked US Election Ebb Away

The US government assertions that Russia has been attempting to destabilise the election and accusations by Republican candidate Donald Trump that the process was rigged have come to nothing as Trump becomes the next President of the US.

Despite concerns about possible attempts to hack or otherwise tamper with the US election, voting appears to have gone smoothly, with no attacks or intrusions as Donald Trump will become the 45th US president after a stunning victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

The Department of Homeland Security said it had no reports of election-related cyber breaches.

In Indianapolis, a team of cybersecurity experts spent Tuesday 8th November monitoring for any cybersecurity issues linked to the election, but found none.

“All is clear on the digital front,” said J.J. Thompson, CEO of Indianapolis-based Rook Security. He was one of more than 25 security staffers, law enforcement and government workers who spent the day poised to deal with any hacker attacks on Indiana’s state voting system.

Despite the lack of actual incidents, exit polling showed voters were much less confident that their ballots would be counted accurately than in years past.

About one in six voters said they were not confident that their vote would be accurately counted, according to exit polls from the National Election Pool Survey by Edison Research. More than three-quarters of Trump supporters and more than nine in 10 Clinton voters said they were confident their votes would be counted accurately.

That is in contrast to 2008, when fewer than one in ten voters said they were not confident their vote would be counted accurately.

State Issues but no Cyber Issues

There were always two ways that electronic issues could have affected the election: system breakdowns and actual cyber-attacks.

It doesn’t appear that there were any attacks attempted. That could either be that no one tried or it could be that the work the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies put into helping states protect their election infrastructure paid off.

“All the discussions this year about security gave states another measure of protection,” said Pamela Smith, president of Verified Voting, a non-partisan, non-profit organization that advocates for elections accuracy.

That work also helped minimize the effects caused by breakdowns of voting machines or crashes of registration databases. In Smith's experience, the resiliency of the voting system after something goes wrong is what keeps small problems small.

Colorado goes down - for 29 min

For example, in Colorado, the state’s electronic voter registration system went down for 29 minutes, from 2:47 p.m. to 3:16 p.m. local time, according to Secretary of State's spokeswoman Lynn Bartels.

Voting continued during the outage, though while the registration system was out, clerks were not be able to process mail-in ballots and in-person voters had to use provisional ballots. Once the system was back up and running normal voting resumed.

“It’s very possible that things like what happened in Colorado could have been worse had there not been this emphasis on checking these systems. Instead of it being 29 minutes it could have been much longer,” Verified Voting's Smith said.

Electronic poll-books, used to check voter registration, went down in Durham County, NC, but voters were still able to vote using paper back-up copies of the poll-books.

In three Virginia precincts, voting machine problems caused lines. However, there was no evidence that was anything more than machine error. In several precincts in New Jersey there were reports of “only one machine working,” with election officials sending out more equipment, said Smith.

The issue was believed to be linked to simple machine malfunction, “more likely age than anything else,” Smith said. While not a hack, some online misinformation was sent under a Twitter handle of @CNN Politics. The real CNN account handle is @CNNPolitics.

The account tweeted false first exit poll numbers from Florida, putting Trump far ahead of Clinton. The account was quickly suspended. Twitter declined to comment on the account or the suspension.

Nationally, the Department of Homeland Security, FBI and other federal and state law enforcement agencies had incident response teams ready to take action. Election Protection  staffed hotlines for voters and had an election geek squad ready to answer technical questions from jurisdictions. Individual state election offices also convened their own SWAT teams, though most did not publicly discuss their plans.

The high level of readiness came in part due to US government assertions that Russia has been attempting to destabilise the election and accusations by Republican candidate Donald Trump that the process was rigged.

USA Today:      ‘How The Russians Won An American Election’ - Opinion By Ronald Marks:
 

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