The New Red Scare: No Evidence of Actual Russian Tampering with Votes and Tallies

“There remains NO evidence that voting machines were hacked or that anyone tampered with the result of the election,” David Becker prominently declared in his article in Center for Election Innovation and Research.

While we know the Russians attempted to interfere with the 2016 Election, there is no proof they were able to tamper with any voting machines, the result of any election, or even voter registration records. Mr. Becker’s piece serves as a summary of what we know and do not know about this Russian scheme. The article serves as a rebut to the recently leaked NSA report, which resulted in the arrest of a government contractor. Mr. Becker noted several important points that informed persons ought to know:

Information in voter registration systems was accessed. As we’ve known since even before the election, hackers successfully accessed some voter registration data. In at least two states [Illinois and Arizona] . . . it appears the breach was caught before information was compromised. And we’ve known about the hack of VR Systems since at least October. . . .

Voter registration systems are not the systems on which ballots are cast/counted. A successful hack on a voter registration database, or on a vendor that solely works with voter registration systems and electronic pollbooks, like VR Systems, cannot, by itself, put the vote count at risk. Voter registration data is routinely backed up and stored safely, in case of any system breakdown or hack. Even if voter registration data is compromised, at exactly the right moment to create the greatest mischief, it would be detected, as it would result in longer lines and increased provisional ballot . . . .

However, certainly questions remain [emphasis added]:

  • Which local election offices were targeted by the phishing attacks outlined in the NSA analysis? This is important to assess the risk.
  • Whether voter registration systems were compromised in a way that could have affected the voting process in November? [I]f a hack had been successful, it is virtually certain that we would have seen evidence of this, but more analysis could be helpful.
  • Whether any of these attacks was successful, and if so, whether vote tallying systems were compromised? To date, there is still no evidence of this.

Mr. Becker concluded with this important point:

First, we should resist the instinct to jump to conclusions. We still have no evidence to suggest the results of the election were compromised, which continues to be exceedingly unlikely . . . There is still overwhelming evidence that Trump won the majority of the vote in those states that comprised a majority of electoral votes. Hysteria and misinformation does not help us get to the bottom of things . . .  

The reality is the media and popular press are purposely sensationalizing this story. This hysteria is designed to threaten the legitimacy of an Election, its results, and Donald Trump's Presidency just as he is starting to govern. While the Russians' attempts must be investigated, ALL the facts need to be fairly presented and accurately portrayed.