DURHAM – On election day in 2016, election officials in Durham County abandoned the use of their electronic poll books because they seemed to be spitting out bad data and prompts — voters erroneously recorded as having voted, prompts to ask for photo ID, etc. — and reverted to paper poll books. The delays resulted in an extra hour being approved for Durham County, and it’s eleventh hour vote totals put Democrat Roy Cooper ahead incumbent Republican Governor Pat McCrory by a mere 10,000 votes.
Now, new questions are being raised about whether or not those electronic poll books were…you guessed…hacked by Russians. An article in the Washington Post examines the whole range of conjecture around the events in Durham and whether it has anything to do with Russians interfering in U.S. election systems. There is no conclusion to the open questions, and previous investigations pointed to user error as the actual problem, so the reader is left to wonder if, indeed, the system was hacked, or if this is merely a case of hyperbolic fear mongering by those desperate to keep the ‘Trump/Russia’ narrative alive.
“It was a single phrase, offered without elaboration, in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report: In August 2016, hackers working for Russian military intelligence “installed malware on the company network” of an unnamed voter registration technology vendor in the United States.
The claim amounts to one of the first indications that Russians successfully executed a cyberattack against a private company supporting American election infrastructure. And it has set off a scramble for answers in North Carolina, where officials have long been concerned about the security of a voting technology company called VR Systems — so much so that the state tried to halt the use of its electronic poll books, equipment used to check in voters. […]
On Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security told The Washington Post it will conduct a forensic analysis of the laptops used in Durham County elections in 2016. [State Board attorney Josh] Lawson said North Carolina first asked the department to conduct such a review more than 18 months ago, though he added that DHS has generally been a “good partner” on election security.
“We appreciate the Department of Homeland Security’s willingness to make this a priority so the lingering questions from 2016 can be addressed in advance of 2020,” said Karen Brinson Bell, the newly appointed executive director of the State Board of Elections.
In a recent statement to The Post, VR Systems said that “we think we are the company referenced” in the Mueller report — a document produced by a team of prosecutors and FBI investigators — but denied that its network was ever breached and said its technology did not fail in Durham County in 2016. The company’s election equipment is used in at least a half-dozen states, according to its website.”
Buried in the story is the admission that even if the E-poll books were hacked, the hackers could not have changed vote totals, but merely caused delays and confusion. Read the full article here to decide for yourself how worried we should (or should not) be approaching 2020 elections.