Senate Investigators Say Russian Hackers Could Have Altered or Deleted Voter Registration Data Before the 2016 Election

The Senate Intelligence Committee revealed Tuesday that Russian hackers — who are known to have penetrated at the electronic election systems of at least 18 states — were in a position to "alter or delete" voter registration data ahead of the 2016 election at least some states.

The report, released Tuesday night, does not say which states were vulnerable to this kind of manipulation; it only says that it occurred in a "small number of states." And while it says that the hackers were "in a position" to carry out this tampering, it doesn't say if there's evidence that any registration files were altered.

It goes on to note that the hackers "did not appear to be in a position to manipulate individual votes or aggregate vote totals." While it's certainly a good thing that the hackers were unable to change vote tallies, it's a small comfort. To alter an election result, removing names from voter registration files would be sufficient if your method was well-targeted. As long as you can reliably predict how a certain group of people will vote, then removing them from the voter rolls would have the same effect as altering the vote tallies after the fact.

President Donald Trump and his allies have repeatedly downplayed the effect of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, and they have frequently cited the fact that there's no evidence final vote tallies were altered as vindication for Trump. They rarely address other ways in which the final election result may have been duplicitously affected.

It remains unclear to what extent upcoming U.S. elections will be protected from these or other types of attacks. With Trump uninterested in countering Russian aggression or investigating the meddling that occurred in 2016, it's likely that the country will be less prepared to protect itself than it otherwise would be.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.