Adding to the suspicion surrounding the 2016 presidential election is a new report stating that there were nearly 150,000 attempts to infiltrate South Carolina’s voter registration system on Election Day 2016. These attempts were all likely carried out by automated computer systems as opposed to actual human prompted individual processes.
There is not, apparently, any indication that any of these attempts were successful. Neither is there any breakdown in the data provided by South Carolina election officials of where the hack attempts came from, although they might not have such information.
The data was revealed by authorities in the context of an overall review of South Carolina’s election system. It is important to note that the attempts to hack South Carolina’s voter registration system aren’t restricted to Election Day 2016. For example, as illustrated in the chart below, there were a total of 149,832 attempts to hack South Carolina’s voter registration system on Election Day, and about a month later, on December 13, 2016, there were a total of 113,372.
Outside of a temporary spike in March of this year, the total number of attempts to hack into South Carolina’s voter registration record system has been going down each month, but it remains in the tens of thousands.
Although there remains no indication that hackers were successful in altering actual final vote totals, which many have feared, Russian hackers targeted voter databases in dozens of states, attempting to delete or alter voter data in some cases. Of course, if someone’s voter registration is rendered invalid, that person can no longer vote.
Bloomberg reports that, even though their efforts to alter actual electoral data were not successful, Obama Administration officials “believed that the Russians were possibly preparing to delete voter registration information or slow vote tallying in order to undermine confidence in the election.” As the publication also notes, that the hacking effort is an effort that “went far beyond the carefully timed release of private communications by individuals and parties,” which undermined Hillary Clinton’s campaign in the months leading up to Election Day.
One example case where hacking efforts such as those reported in South Carolina fit into the larger narrative of Russian efforts to sway the outcome of the 2016 presidential election is that of Illinois. Illinois’ state voter registration database was compromised in July 2016, but in order to actually affect the outcome of the election, hackers would have needed to access the voter registration databases of each individual county in Illinois.
The Russians have three years to figure out how to do that.