Central Iowa voting locations taking precautions amid fears of security concerns

Still, experts say cyber hacks are highly unlikely

By Orko Manna | omanna@weareiowa.com

Published 10/20 2016 10:28PM

Updated 10/20 2016 10:28PM

DALLAS COUNTY - During this year's presidential race, there has been a lot of talk about voter fraud and security at the polls. But how likely is a cyber hack to occur?

Some Iowan voters fear that the contentious nature of the race could lead to foreign countries and even groups here in the U.S. to influence the election with a cyber hack. But experts say, with the right controls, that is not likely.
"The more serious concern is making sure that there's not someone who's not able to get into the systems and change those votes once they've occurred," said cyber security and privacy expert Rebecca Herold.
When it comes to voting, most Iowans don't think twice about submitting their choices. But when using a machine and when ballots are counted online, there could be a threat of your vote being tampered with.
"Typically we want to make sure that the connections that go to that central voting system are properly controlled," Herold said.
Herold says one major way election officials can prevent issues is by upgrading their software.
"If they're on a very old system, oftentimes that system has not been updated, you know, over the years so it might have vulnerabilities that could allow someone to perhaps be able to get into the system wirelessly," Herold said.
Herold also says poll workers who have access to the machines should have a two-fold authentication system.
Kim Owen has worked on elections in Dallas County since 2012. She says they started planning one year in advance and that they are ready for November 8th.
"I prepare the numbers on how results might come through and then we test it through the machine, and if it doesn't come out correctly then we have to go and find out why, and so that's all taken care of so then on Election Day, things will come out correctly," said Owen, who serves as the Deputy Auditor for Dallas County.
Owen is not concerned about hackers - and experts say it is highly unlikely they could influence the election.
But Herold says, "the probability of those things happening will vary based on how much security checks were made on those systems prior to voting day."
Some voters tell Local 5 they are not concerned about their votes being tampered with. Security experts say hackers cannot really influence the outcome of elections because voting in decentralized, meaning cities, counties and states all manage the votes.
Experts also say the most hackers could do is create a little bit of chaos at the polls, but the election system itself is strong enough to handle any shocks.


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