WASHINGTON, D.C. — Twenty-one Democratic lawmakers are calling for an investigation into possible election hacking and cyber attacks, after 21 states were targeted by Russian groups during the 2016 election. The lawmakers sent a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan pointing out how vulnerable many states are to digital hacking.
States were told in late September 2017, nearly a year after the 2016 election, that hackers targeted 21 state election systems, though it is not believed any votes were changed. Battleground states, including Ohio, were among those targeted, the Department of Homeland Security said.
The letter was written and signed by Marcy Kaptur, a Democrat from Toledo who represents the sprawling 9th District in northern Ohio, along with representatives from 18 of the 21 states targeted by hackers during the 2016 election.
Kaptur and her 20 cohorts say in their letter the digital attacks on the 2016 election were not a one-off occurrence. They further add that it is “easy” to hack America’s voting machines. The Democrats say that many voting machines rely on operating systems like Windows 2000 or Windows XP (released broadly in 2001), both of which pose a security risk.
“In over 40 states, elections are carried out using voting machines that were purchased more than a decade ago,” the letter from lawmakers says. “These machines are now either obsolete or at the end of their useful life.”
The lawmakers note that 20 percent of Americans are voting on machines that do not have paper back-ups. That means, if the paperless machines were hacked, “it would be nearly impossible to tell,” the letter says.
Additionally, state voter databases are also vulnerable to cyber attacks. In Illinois, nearly 90,000 voter records were targeted, with hackers attempting to delete records or alter voter details, CBS Chicago reported.
“If these attacks had been successful, hackers would have been able to alter or delete voter registration records, causing a great deal of chaos on Election Day and potentially swaying the results of the election,” the lawmakers wrote.
The lawmakers ask Ryan to request a Homeland Security and FBI briefing, for all members of Congress, for Ryan to direct relevant Congressional groups to investigate the attacks, and to start seeking bipartisan solutions to voting system vulnerabilities.
“When a sovereign nation attempts to meddle in our elections, it is an attack on our country,” the lawmakers said.
The full letter from the lawmakers can be read by clicking here.
Photo by Tara Conry/Patch