Survey: Fears over election security will stop Americans from voting in midterms

Survey: Fears over election security will stop Americans from voting in midterms
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Nearly 1 in 5 Americans is unlikely to vote in the upcoming midterm elections, largely over worries of foreign interference, according to a new survey.

The 2018 Unisys Security Index, released Wednesday, found that a vast majority of the respondents — 86 percent — said they feared that U.S. voting systems could be manipulated by outside actors.

The survey also found that 19 percent of American respondents "will not vote" or "have a high likelihood" of not voting next month.

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Out of those concerned about election security, Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 were the most likely to say that they would not vote, with 31 percent of respondents in that age bracket saying they might not cast ballots.

Still, 65 percent of respondents said worries about election integrity wouldn’t keep them from casting their ballots.

Chris Krebs, the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) top cyber official, said that he wasn't "necessarily surprised" by the study results because Americans largely didn't consider election security before the 2016 elections.

He said that state and local election officials have stepped up their collaboration with federal agencies over the past two years, and that election security is largely focused on making sure that a system can withstand an attack. 

"So we need to better engage on the psychosocial confidence side of cybersecurity," Krebs said.

Fears of foreign interference in the 2018 midterm elections have been amplified after Russia was determined to have successfully meddled in the 2016 presidential election.

Officials have said they have seen no evidence of foreign adversaries interfering with election infrastructure.

However, concerns about foreign influence campaigns remain. The Justice Department last Friday unsealed the first charge against a Russian national for interfering in next month's midterm elections, and several U.S. intelligence agencies issued a joint statement warning of ongoing influence efforts from nations like Russia, China and Iran. 

Unisys conducted online surveys with at least 1,000 adults in each of several countries across the world, including Australia, Belgium, Colombia, Germany, the United Kingdom and the U.S., from Aug. 17 to Sept. 3. The margin of error for each country is 3.5 percentage points.