Election officials say Nevada systems secure | NevadaAppeal.com

Election officials say Nevada systems secure

With the election just weeks away reports are again turning up about hackers trying to get into state election and voter registration systems.

Wayne Thorley, Elections Deputy to the Secretary of State’s office, said those two systems are separate in Nevada. He said according to the FBI, those hackers aren’t so much trying to get into actual state voting systems as they are into the voter registration systems.

A Homeland Security official told the AP hackers have targeted registration systems in 20 states in the past few months. FBI Director James Comey told Congress this past week the agency is looking “very very hard” at Russian hackers he said might be trying to disrupt the election.

“The hackers are interested in identity theft,” Thorley said. “Those registration systems are a treasure trove of personal information they could sell.”

He said compared to some other states that manage registration at the state level, Nevada is safe.

“We don’t have a statewide voter registration system in Nevada,” he said.

Thorley said each county maintains its own registration list and uploads changes nightly to the Secretary of State’s office through a secure server.

Arizona and Illinois both had their registration systems hacked but theirs are statewide registration systems. In Arizona, Thorley said a county clerk’s user name and password were compromised and used by a hacker.

As for the actual voting system, he said, Nevada’s voting machines aren’t connected to the Internet.

“There’s no ability to remotely gain access to the voting system,” Thorley said.

Actually changing the outcome of an election would require physical access to voting machines — numerous machines, not just one. He said there are strict controls on those machines including a lock on the drawer holding the data card that records votes and a tamper-resistant seal that would be broken if anyone opened it. In addition, poll workers watch for any suspicious activity around the machines on election day.

Nationally, according to the FBI, the decentralized nature of elections in the U.S. — they’re managed by state and local governments — and the fact most aren’t connected to the internet makes it extremely hard to alter the outcome of any election.