One of the major concerns among voters right now is hackers. Voting machines have turned out to be alarmingly easy to penetrate, but the real problem is that voter information is vulnerable. And the FBI believes a group of hackers are targeting it.
Yahoo! News is reporting that the FBI has issued an alert that voter databases in two states, Arizona and Illinois, were targeted by foreign hackers for currently unknown reasons. It’s not clear just where the hackers are from, although Russia is widely suspected considering its attempts to interfere in the 2016 elections so far. The good news is that hackers wouldn’t have been able to influence or alter election results even if they’d breached the databases, so any claims that this might be a prelude to a rigged election are fundamentally incorrect.
However, it might be a larger point of concern. Voter data can be used in a multitude of dirty tricks designed to prevent people from voting. One common tactic that requires a voter’s address, for example, is called “caging,” which attempts to use voter names and addresses to challenge their registration by sending junk mail to their homes. If the junk mail is returned undelivered, then the residency of that voter is challenged.
The Department of Homeland Security is encouraging state election boards to bolster security ahead of the election, and it’s not clear if these are isolated incidents or signs of a wider problem. It seems unlikely, however, that this will be the last time someone tries to influence an election with hacking, directly or not.