Washington — Secretary of State Ruth Johnson says Michigan’s election systems were not affected by the recent hacking of the databases for voter registration systems in Arizona and Illinois.
The FBI, which is investigating the cyberattacks, sent a warning to other state election systems this week about the breaches, prompting Johnson’s office to consult with technology experts with the state Department of Technology, Management and Budget, said Fred Woodhams, spokesman for the Bureau of Elections.
“Our systems were not compromised and did not appear to be targeted. We are continuing to work with DTMB staff to review and update our security measures,” Woodhams said.
In Michigan, voter information is maintained at the state level, and county and local clerks also maintain their own voter lists, so “redundancy is built into the system,” he noted. “I also want to add that our system is fully encrypted with the latest database security measures.”
The hacking raised concerns among law enforcement and election officials that voters’ personal information could have been illegally obtained, and not because of any threat to the systems that tabulate votes and determine election outcomes.
Michigan cities and townships use an optical-scan voting system, in which voters mark a paper ballot and feed it into a tabulator that scans the ballot and tallies the votes. If election results are ever in question, people can go back and hand count the paper ballots, according to Johnson’s office.
U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township, was Michigan’s secretary of state for eight years and now chairs the U.S. House Administration Committee, which oversees federal elections.
Following the hacks in Arizona and Illinois, Miller stressed that paper ballots remain the most “tried and true” method of voting — limiting the threat of security breaches .
“Today, with more and more cyber warfare being initiated by hostile actors, we face ever-increasing risks associated with electronic systems, especially given budgetary restrictions challenging states’ ability to properly maintain and protect them against hackers,” she said.
“Absent the ability to guarantee the integrity of our electronic systems, states need to employ systems that give voters the assurances they deserve. Our democracy depends on an elections process that is open to all eligible voters, auditable and secure.”