Friday, February 9, 2018

How to Keep the Russians out of the Voter Rolls

Jeanette Manfra, the head of cybersecurity at the Department of Homeland Security, informs us that “the Russians successfully penetrated the voter registration rolls of several U.S. states prior to the 2016 presidential election.” [1] While there “is no evidence that any of the registration rolls were altered in any fashion,” Jeh Johnson, who was DHS secretary during the Russian intrusions, was right to say, “’2016 was a wake-up call and now it’s incumbent upon states and the Feds to do something about it before our democracy is attacked again.’”

Now the phrase “do something” always seems to your humble servant to be more of a plaintive cry than a positive suggestion. When issued as a command, it gives the appearance of fecklessness. For it ought to be abundantly clear to all of us that we should “do something.” But it will have to be a something that is directed at the problem. Washing the dishes won’t solve anything, nor will a game of shuffleboard.

So what should we “do”?

No prognosticator I, but I think we can expect that a “solution” will be found in enhanced protective measures. Our sundry governments (provided they get around to “doing” anything at all) will install new systems to be operated by professionals specially trained for the purpose. And then we will be told that all is well, that they’ll never get past us this time. Of course, the details will be unavailable to the general public for security reasons, and we will be asked to rest in the confidence that “they’ve” taken care of it. Then, if the Russians get through again, it will be due to factors “unforeseen.”

There is an alternative, however.

One doesn’t need the spirit of adventure to surmise that the Russians were able to hack into our voter registration rolls by using the internet. It stands to reason, therefore, that we could prevent such hacking by storing the voter rolls exclusively on computers that have no internet connection. Or, perhaps even better: store the information on old-fashioned paper. That way, if the Russians want to tamper with our voter rolls, they’ll have to send agents physically into the United States, where it will be easier to catch them.

Maybe that will work.