Is Voting Safe?
Walking into the voting center today, I was met with what seemed to be an antiquated system. I was handed an envelope with a ballot half sticking out and then led to a semi-enclosed booth to mark my answers (#2 pencil!). Then I put the ballot back in the envelope – which did not seal BTW – and dropped it into a large box. Sounds old but it is completely safe from cyber-attack.
What is not safe is the voter registration system as that system is completely open and might have already been exploited. As it turns out, there is no need to worry as any such penetration has already happened. Of course we will not know the true impact of any such attack until the minority populations, most likely being targeted, are denied voting rights. We might not even realize that impact today and it might be years before we truly understand any such attack.
There are other attacks that can happen today and many might occur. Almost all political operations are still running routers with default admin/admin passwords and that can readily lead to significant disruptions. The tentative DDoS attacks a few weeks ago can readily be ramped up and take down…well…the entire country for an extended period of time.
Despite these threats, however, humans will still manually count paper ballots and the next president will be elected using an old, antiquated, system. The ballot counts will be collected and, even if our 4G networks are compromised, landlines will continue to work. There is a large amount of chaos that can be unleashed but, at the end of the day, the ability to actually prevent the election is not realistic.
So are we safe when it comes to voting – it all depends on your definition of safe.