Election officials working to prevent cyber-attacks

Posted at 2:21 PM, Jul 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-27 16:21:00-04

Cyber-attacks are a concern for election offices preparing for the mid-term and local elections next week.

As Middle Tennessee residents are taking advantage of early voting ahead of next week’s primaries, and election workers are making sure their vote counts.

“The issues that we’ve dealt with in the past are always created outside of the election,” said Alan Farley, the Rutherford County Election Administrator. Farley said voting machines aren’t connected to the internet, so hackers can’t access them. But cyber-attacks can affect the elections process in other ways.

Farley worked to shore up the county’s elections process and others across the nation. He was part of a Harvard group that created a manual on how to protect against cyber-attacks.

“You’re looking at making sure you have two-factor authentication on your email. You have two-factor authentication on any social media that you do,” said Farley.

Hackers can also potentially target election night reporting systems or try to get voter information.

“People can actually try to hack into your voter database, and that’s the biggest concern,” said Farley.

That could prevent someone from registering or discourage them from voting. With concerns about election meddling on the national level, local offices like Davidson County are safeguarding the process beyond the ballots.

“Metro IT services will actually send a fake email that looks like it should be something that our employees might want to open. But in reality, it’s a test to remind of the types of things that they should avoid,” said Jeff Roberts, the Davidson County Election Administrator.

There’s one thing that remains consistent that hackers won’t be able to break into.

“The security of the machines, the vote total, that has never been in question,” said Farley.

Even though the voting machines aren’t connected to the internet, workers said they check them to make sure the machines weren’t tampered with so every vote counts.