By STEVE PEOPLES | February 25, 2018 3:18 pm
WASHINGTON (AP) — Will your vote be safe this year from foreign adversaries working to undermine U.S. democracy? Some of the nation’s governors aren’t so sure.
State leaders of both parties worried aloud Sunday about the security of America’s election systems against possible cyberattacks ahead of this fall’s midterm elections, aware that Russian agents targeted more than 20 states little more a year ago, and the Trump administration has taken a mostly hands-off approach to the continued interference.
U.S. intelligence leaders report Russian hackers are already working to undermine this November’s elections, which will decide the balance of power in Congress and in statehouses across the nation.
“In my lifetime, I’ve never seen anything like this. It’s scary,” Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, a Democrat, said. “The biggest concern is when you have a president and an administration that denies the problem and doesn’t acknowledge the existence of the problem, it’s hard to believe that they’re going to be offering any real solutions or funding to make our system more secure.”
Election security has been overshadowed by a near-constant string of chaos and controversy out of the White House over the last year. As most of the nation’s governors gathered in Washington for a weekend conference, issues like gun violence, Trump’s leadership and the economy dominated most hallway conversations. Yet non-partisan experts and both Democratic and Republican elected officials suggest there is no issue more critical to American democracy than the integrity of the nation’s elections, which are facing unprecedented cyberattacks.
The Trump administration has so far done little to help secure the mishmash of 10,000 local voting jurisdictions across the nation that mostly run on obsolete and imperfectly secured technology. Russian agents targeted election systems in 21 states ahead of the 2016 general election, the Department of Homeland Security says, and separately launched a social media blitz aimed at inflaming social tensions and sowing confusion.
The search for a solution has been shaped by partisan politics.
While Democratic governors lashed out at the Trump administration for ignoring the threat, some Republicans, such as Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin insisted the media are overstating the problem. Several other Republicans, however, were openly concerned about outside interference but declined to criticize the Trump administration’s inaction.