Massachusetts voting system not vulnerable to hacking, officials say

From inside a vault, Northboro town clerk Andy Dowd pulled out a vote-counting machine.

It has buttons and a screen like a computer, but no connectivity cables.

“Right now, (with) our option there’s no way to connect this to the internet,” Dowd told WCVB.

As with all voting-counting machines in Massachusetts, election results are printed out at each precinct and then called in by phone or hand-delivered.

“It may sound odd in this day and age that we can’t access from the internet, but we do benefit from the security of not having it out there on the web,” Dowd said.

On Monday, The Intercept published a top-secret National Security Agency report that said a Russian military intelligence agency attacked a U.S. software company.

The report claim the attackers used a phony email from the hacked company to send spear-phishing emails to local elections officials during October and November.

The report did not say the alleged hack led to any election results being changed.

The Kremlin denied the accusations.

“I think the report is basically a cautionary tale,” said William Galvin, who as secretary of the commonwealth oversees Massachusetts elections.

Galvin said because Massachusetts uses paper ballots and unconnected machines for voting and voter registration, the system is not vulnerable to hacking. He said there is reason to be concerned, however, because this incident might lead other hackers to attempt similar attacks.

He said a successful hack anywhere in the U.S. could lead to voting chaos nationwide.

“If you had a big election with many people standing in line, would people be driven away? Would people decide they’re going to have to make a different choice? It just raises a lot of questions that I think are worthy of discussion,” he said.


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