Locke: Chances of election tampering 'are slim'

Cary Ashby • Aug 7, 2018 at 4:00 AM

Sharon Locke, Huron County board of elections director, agrees with federal authorities that the country needs to be proactive about election security.

“I think we need to be on the offensive, absolutely. I don’t think that it (election tampering) can’t ever happen, but I think the chances of it happening are slim because our secretary of state is so on the ball with it. We’re already addressing it; we are taking measures right now to follow his directives. He advised us what we need to do,” she said.

“I feel very comfortable we are taking all the steps possible to minimize that risk.”

Dan Coats, director of national intelligence, said in a recent interview with National Public Radio that President Donald Trump “has specifically directed us to make the matter of the election meddling and securing our election process a top priority.”

“And we have done that and are doing that and will continue to do so,” Coates added.

Locke said she thinks election security has become a national issue “absolutely because of the Russian tampering” and is in response to what happened with the 2016 presidential election.

“There is proof that they did try to tamper,” she added. “The mid-terms are big, just like the presidential election.”

While Locke stressed that all elections are important, she said mid-term elections get as much national attention as presidential races.

Coats addressed the danger of possible Russian involvement in the mid-term elections with the White House press corps during a live-televised briefing Thursday. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, FBI Director Christopher A. Wray and National Security Agency Director Paul Nakasone also attended.

“In regards to Russian involvement in the mid-term elections, we continue to see a pervasive messaging campaign by Russia to try to weaken and divide the United States,” Coats said, according to The Washington Post.

Coats said other entities also have the capability to wreak havoc on the election and could be considering an influence campaign.

“We’re here to tell the American people that we acknowledged the threat, it is real. It is continuing and we’re doing everything we can to have an election the American people can have trust in,” he said.

Lawmakers and independent analysts have said the U.S. voting systems are more secure against hackers thanks to action at the federal and state levels — and that the Russians haven’t targeted those systems to the degree they did in 2016.

“Obviously with cybersecurity, anything you do is never going to eliminate it 100 percent because what you do today, they’ve found a way around it tomorrow. It’s ever-evolving; it’s ever-changing,” Locke said.

Locke has been the board of elections director for nearly 11 1/2 years. In that time, she said she hasn’t had any lack of confidence in local election security.

“For two reasons: Our voting registration is on a standalone server and our tabulation system is on a standalone server. They’re not connected to the internet — not connected to any outside network (and they’re) not connected to any other county network. There is no internet on those servers,” she added, citing standard procedures for boards of election. “I feel very confident it would be very difficult for them to tamper with it.” 

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