The best defense against Russian hackers may be our low-tech elections


KENNESAW, Ga. (Sep 8, 2016) — Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean that they aren’t out to get you. But by the same token, just because they’re out to get you doesn’t mean you need to be paranoid.

Donald Trump had already set us on a dark conspiracy pathway this election season, when he announced in August that the only way he could lose Pennsylvania was “if, in certain sections of the state, they cheat.”

The system, the Republican presidential candidate has testified repeatedly, is rigged.

Now comes the news that U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies have launched an inquiry into what they think is a covert Russian operation to sow public distrust in the November presidential election. ...

“People seemed to be freaking out because their votes were being counted by a computer,” said Cathy Cox, who as secretary of state pushed for the upgrade. She’s now president of Young Harris College. ...

That said, you can count Merle King among those who decline to panic when that targeting is expanded to election data. King is executive director of the Center for Election Systems at Kennesaw State University, which oversees the operation of the state’s voting machines and the ballots programmed within.

He has been more than frustrated these last few weeks. “It often takes me half an hour to explain why a 20-second sound bite is incorrect,” he said. “That’s a part of the challenge.”

King divides attempts to undermine the U.S. election system into three categories:

  • Efforts to discredit the winner. That’s where Trump’s comments fall. “Though ‘loser talk’ usually doesn’t happen til after the election,” King said. ...
  • Then there are efforts to disrupt elections – not the voting process itself, but the all of the systems associated with balloting. Voting registration and records, and election-night reporting – the kind of stuff foreshadowed by hacks in Illinois and Arizona. ...
  • And then there are attempts to alter the outcomes of elections. Possible? Perhaps. Probable – especially at a national level? No. ...

Name of Publication:
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Link to Article:


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