Governors Defend Election Infrastructure Amid Hacking Fears

Joseph Sohm/

National Governors Association leaders cite cyber testing and the decentralized voting system.

The nation’s governors are confident Tuesday’s election won’t be thwarted by cyberattacks, according to a statement today from top leaders of the National Governors Association.

The statement stressed both the intense cyber testing of voting systems and the decentralized nature of U.S. voting systems, which would make it extremely difficult for even multiple cyber intrusions to change the overall outcome of the presidential race.

“We remain confident that any technical problems on election night will not undermine the overall integrity of the process,” reads the statement from Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, the chair and vice chair of the governor’s association.

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“NGA works daily with state officials, election administrators and cybersecurity experts who, for many years, have worked diligently to secure our election systems against disruption or compromise,” McAuliffe and Sandoval said. “Those partnerships and our close study of any potential problems have reinforced our certainty that this election will fully and accurately reflect the choices voters make.”

The statement comes amid reports that hackers have probed voter registration rolls in Illinois and Arizona and less than a month after U.S. intelligence and Homeland Security officials publicly accused Russia of election season hacks aimed at the Democratic National Committee and other political targets.

An Election Day breach or release of breached information could throw the election into confusion even if it doesn’t affect the election’s outcome, Dmitri Alperovitch, co-founder of Crowdstrike, the firm that discovered the DNC breach and first attributed it to Russian hacking groups, told reporters Thursday.

“You can imagine a scenario where, on the day of the election, some documents or emails get dumped from some election official in some county in order to try to give credence to claims that the vote has been manipulated,” he said, while also expressing confidence that Russia or another adversary could not launch an attack coordinated enough to call into question the actual election results.

“This is what I believe this has always been about, an influence, operation, psychological warfare that’s been launched by the Russians,” Alperovitch said during a press conference at the Security Innovation Network 2016 conference. “The battlefield is not the voting machines, the battlefield is the minds of the American public, the American electorate, and trying to convince them that the vote is illegitimate."