Midterms cyber concern: One in 5 Individuals might not vote over safety worries, survey says

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Nearly one in five Americans will not vote or are highly unlikely to vote in Tuesday’s midterm elections over concerns about the integrity of U.S. voting systems, according to new research.

Technology company Unisys surveyed more than 1,000 people in the U.S. on a number of security issues during August and September 2018. Some 19 percent of respondents said they “will not vote” or “have a high likelihood” of not voting in the midterm elections, citing concerns over “outside actors” compromising voting systems.

More than 13,000 people in 13 countries took part in the 2018 Unisys Security Index. In the U.S., 86 percent of respondents expressed concern about voting systems being compromised by outsiders.

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Unisys also cited data from FairVote, which says that only about 40 percent of the voting eligible population vote in midterm elections, compared to about 60 percent in presidential election years. Security concerns could, therefore, push the 40 percent number even lower, particularly among younger voters, according to Unisys.

Unisys Chief Trust Officer Tom Patterson told Fox News that resiliency and transparency are key to voter confidence. “Resilience in voting is accomplished by updating equipment and layering on systems like independent testing, paper trails, electronic auditing, enhanced security monitoring, and clear reporting of issues to a group empowered to quickly and fairly address them,” he explained via email. “Transparency is accomplished by clearly communicating these steps to the voting public, in a trusted and non-partisan fashion. By working together at the state and Federal levels toward greater resilience, it’s possible to restore voter confidence.”

The security expert believes that, at the federal level, great strides have been made around voting security since the last general election. The issue has been categorized as a “critical infrastructure” sector making it eligible for greater security assistance from groups like the Department of Homeland Security’s National Protection and Programs Directorate and the FBI, he explained.

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“Equally important has been the strong cooperation at the state and local levels on addressing this key issue, with help from the private sector and proven security experts, providing education, testing, training, information sharing, and enhanced cyber intelligence capabilities,” Patterson added. “As these groups continue to work together continued progress will be made, and as that progress is transparently shared with the voting public, confidence can be restored.”

Nonetheless, voting security remains firmly in the spotlight.

Citing DHS election threat reports, the Boston Globe reported this week that foreign hackers have targeted voter registration databases, election officials and networks across the U.S.

Documents show that more than 160 reports of suspected election meddling have been recorded by U.S. government agencies since Aug. 1, the report says, and the pace of suspicious activity has been increasing. Most of the recent incidents are described as “foreign-based.”

The Department of Homeland Security told Fox News that election officials are sharing more data with the Department about the cyber attacks targeting their systems, which should not be seen as a spike in attacks.

A Department of Homeland Security spokesman also noted that the attacks are not unique to election infrastructure. “As we have consistently said, while we are aware of cyber actors targeting election infrastructure, the tactics used in these activities are common and not unique to election systems,” he explained. “To be clear, we have not attributed any of this activity to a nation-state, nor do we have any reason to believe it to be part of a broader campaign.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

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