The 2016 election may have indeed been hacked: report

A new report describes how various Election Day issues could have been caused by hackers — maybe from Russia

By Matthew Rozsa
September 1, 2017 4:58PM (UTC)
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(Getty/Michael Reaves)

A new report suggests that the voting process may have been tampered with by hackers — either Russian or otherwise — during the 2016 presidential election.

Counties in states like Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia experienced difficulties with their electronic poll books, which made it difficult for registered voters to cast their ballots on Election Day, according to The New York Times. One of the companies that provided the software used in those books, VR Systems, had been penetrated by Russian hackers several months earlier, although there is no evidence that that incident was connected to the technical issues on Election Day.


Nevertheless, that background along with the other Russian election-related chicanery has caused many cybersecurity experts to feel concerned that meddling occurred in the 21 states whose election systems were under attack by the Russian hackers.

According to The New York Times:

Beyond VR Systems, hackers breached at least two other providers of critical election services well ahead of the 2016 voting, said current and former intelligence officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because the information is classified. The officials would not disclose the names of the companies.

Intelligence officials in January reassured Americans that there was no indication that Russian hackers had altered the vote count on Election Day, the bottom-line outcome. But the assurances stopped there.

The report, issued by the Director of National Intelligence in January, acknowledged that, while it could prove that "Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election," the declassified version of the report "does not and cannot include the full supporting information, including specific intelligence and sources and methods."


Because each state conducts its elections using separate laws and voting systems, it would be logistically quite challenging to investigate whether the elections were tampered with by Russia or any other hackers.

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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2016 Presidential Election Arizona Donald Trump Georgia North Carolina Russia Virginia