Election officials to legislators: No major problem with voting fraud in TN — for now

At a Senate State and Local Government Committee hearing Tuesday, Tennessee election officials tried to allay legislator fears that the state’s voting records are vulnerable to hacking, reports WPLN. At the same time, they acknowledged there’s a significant risk that outside groups could try to disrupt future elections.

Secretary of State Tre Hargett, election coordinator Mark Goins and others (said)… that they are preparing against the possibility that someone could attempt to muddle voter rolls or election results, in an attempt to sow confusion about the outcome of a close race.

But they say the chances of such an attack succeeding are much lower than many Tennesseans realize. They note that the entire voting process is closely watched by Republicans and Democrats, and they say records are scrutinized for signs that final results have been tampered with.

“There’s a certification process,” Goins says. “We do have a verification process.”

President Donald Trump brought the specter of election tampering to a national conversation in the fall of 2016, when polls showed he was likely to lose to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. The president continued to fuel such fears after the election, claiming without supporting evidence that Clinton had received more votes only because millions had cast ballots illegally.

Election experts and the public officials who oversee voting say there’s little chance the widespread, in-person voter fraud that Trump alleges could succeed.

The bigger risk is that voting rolls could be altered to suppress turnout, or hackers could tap into the websites where unofficial results are posted on election night.

“If we said someone had won a race by a thousand votes and then all of a sudden we made a correction, showing them losing by a thousand votes, people watching the returns would think, ‘What happened?'” Hargett said. “That is what would erode confidence on election night, frankly.”

…Last year, Tennessee election officials found about 40 potential cases of improper voting out of more than 4 million ballots cast in the general and primary elections. Only a handful were found to be serious enough to warrant prosecution.

Still, officials say there are threats to the system. Last year, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security told 21 states that they’d found evidence Russian hackers had tried to infiltrate their voting systems in the lead-up to the election. But so far, it appears they succeeded in only two, and there’s no evidence the intrusions affected the outcome.

“The story that’s not being told is the system worked in the overwhelmingly majority of those states,” says Goins. “In those 19 states, when they tried to turn the door, the alarm went off and they got turned away.”

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