Harris County taking a closer look at election security

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Harris County taking a closer look at election security, Deborah Wrigley reports. (KTRK)

Across the country, concerns have been raised about the integrity of the electronic ballot box -- which is how most votes are now cast in the US.

Part of the concerns involve the fear of potential hacks from foreign powers. The threat anxiety increased after the Democratic National Committee emails were hacked and released, allegedly by Russian hackers. Then there was Donald Trump's statement that he believed the election was rigged, before a single vote has been cast.

Here in Harris County, Clerk Stan Stanart says the e-slate system, which has been in use for 15 years, is secure.

Stanart, a former software engineer, says the device itself is so basic, malware would have no effect.

"The operating system on these machines is so lame, they wouldn't know what to do with it," he said.

The devices are not connected to the internet, which could open the door to hackers. Votes are recorded on data cars on each machine. They are collected and transferred to a sealed box and delivered to the clerk's offices on election night. Should anyone attempt to tamper with one of the voting machines, Stanart said, "Be assured there are a lot of eyes on the process, be assured we're watching, and be assured we won't stand for voter fraud in Harris County."

Rice University Political Science Professor Mark Jones has bigger concerns.

"So far, states haven't involved themselves in elections," Jones said. By states, he means foreign powers.

"If the North Koreans or the Russians say 'we want to undermine the legitimacy of the next US President, be it Clinton or Trump, they could pretty easily do it if they wanted to," he said.

That is why the US Election Commission is especially involved in this year's vote. It also has voters, like Todd Thomas of Houston concerned.

Thomas works in information technology, and he knows about cyber threats.

"It's a concern," he said. "But people have sacrificed their lives to give us the right to vote. I'm going to vote, and nothing will keep me from that."

If you want to review the sample ballot, go to HarrisVotes.com

Early voting begins October 24.
Related Topics:
politicshacking2016 electionHarris County
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