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Posted: November 06, 2018

Election Day 2018: Voting security; why proposed security changes never happened

What to do if you are are turned away from voting

By Shelby Lin Erdman, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

With 435 U.S. House seats and 35 U.S. Senate seats up for grabs across the country on Election Day 2018, there are still lingering questions over the security of voting, ballots and polls in the wake of the 2016 presidential election.

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Major election security changes were proposed after the intelligence community confirmed that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. From fake social media campaigns, hacking of the Democratic Party leadership and possibly even interference at the state level, the massive covert Russian interference campaign sparked a federal investigation into what really happened, how it happened and how much it affected the election.

A variety of bills were also introduced by Republicans and Democrats, and many hearings were held in the House and Senate with both parties acknowledging that more needed to be done to protect the security of U.S. election systems from hacking, but in the end, no major changes were implemented to shore up and protect the integrity of the voting system and no major legislation passed Congress.

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Early this year, however, Congress budgeted $380 million in election security grants for states to address possible vulnerabilities in their election systems. 

The latest numbers show that states are using nearly two-thirds of those allocated dollars for new voting equipment and enhanced cybersecurity protections, but members of Congress say it’s not enough.

Two major bills have stalled in the Senate. Both would require paper ballots and would retire touch-screen electronic voting machines that critics warn are vulnerable to hackers, but members of Congress say it’s not enough.

“It is, in my view, inexcusable that our democracy depends on such hackable voter technology,” U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said.

There is big concern about the touchscreen machines because they’re easy to hack and can be reprogrammed to cheat in just minutes.

As for Russian election interference, White House officials said they have imposed sanctions against 217 Russian individuals and groups.

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"As of today, we do not have any activity that we're attributing on the election infrastructure to a foreign entity, but again, that can change in an hour so. It's very dynamic and we're continuing to watch," Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said.

Nielsen also said Tuesday’s election will be "the most secure election we've ever had."

The FBI, Justice Department, Department of Homeland Security and other security officials issued a statement saying there is no activity targeting election infrastructure that could be linked to Russia or another foreign entity.

The Justice Department also announced Monday that the Civil Rights Division deployed personnel in 35 jurisdictions in 19 states to monitor compliance with federal voting rights laws.

Any allegations of election fraud are handled by the 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices across the country, the DOJ said.

Cox Media Group’s Justin Gray with the DC Bureau contributed to this report.

Stephen Maturen/Getty Images
Electronic voting booths .


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