One in four will consider not voting in elections due to cybersecurity

U.S. voters
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One in four American voters say they will consider not voting in upcoming elections due to concerns over cybersecurity, according to a new poll conducted by a cybersecurity firm.

The 27 percent of voters who agreed with that statement mark a 7 percent rise over a similar poll conducted in September.

The poll, conducted by the firm Carbon Black, surveyed 5,000 respondents and has a margin of error of just under two percent. 

“There is no question, none, that the U.S. voting process is vulnerable,” Carbon Black Chief Executive Patrick Morley told The Hill.

Concerns over election cybersecurity could include hackers stealing personal information from voter rolls — something federal authorities believe Russia attempted and even accomplished during the 2016 elections.

“We have evidence of election-related systems in 21 states that were targeted,” Jeanette Manfra, acting deputy undersecretary for cybersecurity and communications at Homeland Security’s National Protection and Programs Directorate, revealed last month at a Senate Intelligence Hearing.

Before the election, it had been disclosed that hackers attributed to the Russian government had successfully breached election rolls in two states.

Morley believes that poor security of voting machines may also contribute to elections concerns, although there is no current evidence this type of hack was attempted anywhere during the 2016 election.

The CEO said these polling results showed evidence that the federal government needed to take a more active role in elections.

“Smaller organizations are typically much less prepared to stop a hacker than large organizations. The only way to solve a security problem is top down,” he said.

Currently, elections are run locally. Many states have fiercely pushed back against any hint of federal involvement in elections, including offers of voluntary, optional assistance in cybersecurity.

There will, nonetheless, be more optional federal resources available for states in upcoming elections. Department of Homeland Security announced after the last election it now considers elections critical infrastructure, opening up similar programs to state elections programs it offers to the financial sector, telecommunications, the power grid and other enterprises considered too valuable to lose to any sort of attack.

Other results from the Carbon Black poll show that less than half — 44 percent — of voters believe states are capable of protecting their elections-related data. Fifty-four percent said they now feel elections are less secure than they previously thought before the election. And 45 percent believe that the midterm elections will be influenced by cyberattacks.

The National Association of Secretaries of State pushed back against the survey, noting that Carbon Black would stand to benefit from any efforts to ramp up cybersecurity. 

“American voters deserve fair and impartial research on elections, just as much as they deserve fair and impartial elections,” the association wrote in a statement. 

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