US warns of election infrastructure vulnerabilities


The Department of Homeland Security is warning that the voting infrastructure put in place for the US presidential election – which is under way today – is vulnerable to cyber attack. 

In a report entitled Cyber Threats and Vulnerabilities to US Election Infrastructure, obtained by Fox News, the DHS says “multiple elements of US election infrastructure are potentially vulnerable to cyber intrusions”.

The risks varies from country to county, says the DHS, adding: “Targeted intrusions against individual voter registration databases are possible. Additionally, with illicit access, manipulation of voter data, or disruptions to their availability, may impact a voter’s ability to vote on Election Day.”

It adds: “Vulnerabilities in the public-facing Internet portion could be used to display inaccurate vote results to the public and media. Election Day results are not the official results of the state or local jurisdiction.”

While there have been no reports so far of voter irregularities, one of the candidates – Donald Trump of the Republican Party – has for months claimed that the election is “rigged”.

Trump has not elaborated on what he exactly means by this, possibly for legal reasons, as directly accusing his opponent Hillary Clinton and her Democratic Party would probably not pass without litigation.

In any case, US President Barack Obama has dismissed Trump’s claims of a rigged election.

Meanwhile, statistics show that record numbers of voters went to the polls weeks and months early, a practice which is allowed in the US, and a slight majority of those early voters is said to favour Clinton.

However, the final result is not a foregone conclusion as both candidates are more less level in most of the opinion polls, with Clinton about 1 or 2 per cent ahead in the average of all polls.

Both candidates have a chance to win, since the US presidential election is won not by popular vote as one might expect, but by electoral college votes. The system could be said to be similar to UK’s “first past the post” system, in which the party with the most number of MPs wins, rather than the party with the most number of individual votes, which would be something like “proportional representation”, something many smaller parties have argued for.

Early voting data is what are considered “critical US states” shows there has been a high voter turnout among the Latino community compared with previous elections.

But now that the polls have opened, it’s difficult to predict which way things will go, and authorities have changed the way exit polls are done and information about them is publicised so as not to affect voter turnout and behaviour on a day when so many people remain undecided about what to do.

However, one company might be worth looking at. Votecastr is about to start displaying real-time projections of how candidates are doing. As Politico reports, Votecastr will begin posting projections at 8am Eastern time on election day.