During the process of reviewing the Mueller Report, Trump went on a tweet storm spewing “no collusion, no obstruction” all over his Twitter.
Even though the President continues to attempt to convince the public that there was no obstruction of justice, the report does clearly state that Russia hacked our election in 2016. As importantly, Robert Mueller confirmed that Russia is trying to hack the 2020 election in a “sweeping and systematic fashion.”
In an attempt to defend against the hacking efforts, Senator Chuck Schumer passed the Securing America’s Federal Elections Act through the House, a bill of $600 million for states to strengthen election security by giving $175 million biannually for election infrastructure, post-election audits, safeguards in voting machines, and backing electronic ballots with paper ballots. This bill was unanimously supported by Democrats in the House–and received support from one Republican. With this support, the bill passed with a 225-184 vote. However, in the Senate, the bill was quickly shot down by Mitch McConnell, who stated that he felt the states would not have enough time to adjust their systems before the election. His apathy in closing the door on budget proposals to increase the security of systems will undoubtedly welcome inference.
In the 2016 election, 21 states were targeted by hackers, including political battlegrounds like Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin. While some systems could not be breached, states like Illinois confirmed in 2017 that the hackers did successfully breach their system and were able to steal information from the voter database. They were able to enter systems by sending phishing emails–emails that try to obtain sensitive information–to local election officials weeks before the 2016 election.
Running up to the 2020 election, millions of voting machines in America are still not equipped to withstand hacking efforts. In fact, voting machines used in Virginia are running with a Windows CE 5.0. This software is 15 years old and is defenseless against hacking efforts. Furthermore, at least one third of all local voting machines in America run on old Windows 7 software at least a decade old, despite states having agreed to change the machines every ten years.
Cybersecurity officials have stressed that paperless voting machines are not secure and that every state must have a paper alternative to combat hacking efforts. Despite such a strong advisory, as we approach the 2020 election, around 16 million Americans will be voting digitally with no paper alternative due to the unresponsiveness of the government. As of August 28, 2019, only 14 states have been seen to make efforts to revamp their machines by updating voting equipment and advancing post-election audits to combat the hacking efforts that our nation will face in 2020.
As stated by Senator Chuck Schumer, “If we lose faith in our electoral process, democracy begins to walk away from us, and we’ll be a different country.” We are less than six months away from the first primary and about one year away from the 2020 presidential election. It is imperative that we start restoring faith in our electoral processes—call your representatives, ensure that your local election system has a paper alternative, and rock the vote in 2020.