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State Officials to Congress: Stop the ‘Rigged Election’ Talk

Donald Trump
AP
• September 26, 2016 4:08 pm

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State officials warned members of Congress against eroding public confidence in the electoral process with talk of a "rigged election" amid heightened concerns over cyber attacks by Russian-linked hackers.

The National Association of Secretaries of State penned an open letter to lawmakers Monday vowing that November’s elections are safeguarded against breaches given the decentralized structure of voting systems.

"States are on high alert and will continue to vigilantly monitor their election systems for ongoing cyber threats and vulnerabilities," the association wrote. "Fortunately, we have an infrastructure in place that will enable election officials to deal with problems in both the short and long-run."

In 42 days, Americans will cast their ballot at hundreds of thousands of polling locations that function offline and are independent of any sort of national database. The association, composed of a bipartisan group of election administrators, said officials at more than 9,000 jurisdictions across the U.S. will subsequently count those votes, making it "highly unlikely that hackers can hijack election outcomes."

The association assured that voting systems "have their own fail-safes and contingency solutions that would make it highly difficult to leverage them for changing outcomes," while "poll books, printed records, back-ups, and back-ups of back-ups all provide multiple layers of security around this part of the process."

"There is no evidence that ballot manipulation has ever occurred in the U.S. via cyber attack," the letter said.

The FBI warned local election officials last month to ramp up cyber security measures after uncovering evidence that hackers breached state election networks in Arizona and Illinois. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced soon after that his agency was considering classifying election systems as critical infrastructure.

The association said while there is not a single legislative fix to prevent breaches, lawmakers should avoid "unnecessarily" damaging public confidence in the Democratic process.

"In the short-term, our goal is to avoid distractions and work together with our federal partners to secure the systems that are in place for the November election," the letter said.

"Our collective imperative must be to ensure that actions to protect our elections do not create undue alarm or mistrust that will threaten voters’ confidence in the outcomes," it continued.