What Six Politicians Said About the Threat of Russia Hacking the U.S. Midterm Elections

July 23, 2018, 10:15 PM UTC

With the U.S. midterm elections coming up in November and the 2020 presidential election on the horizon, most politicians are not disillusioned about the threat of an even more aggressive election hacking. These fears are founded in truth: Microsoft shared earlier this month that hackers tied to the Russian military have already targeted at least three candidates running for election in 2018.

At Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference last week in Aspen, Jen Easterly, a leading cyber security defense specialist at Morgan Stanley, said that despite President Trump’s recent conflicting claims concerning Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, “there is incontrovertible evidence of a nation-state sponsored attack.” She added that the goal of the exercise was to sabotage America’s free and fair elections, attacking our “cognitive infrastructure.”

Easterly isn’t alone in her concerns. Below, six politicos who recently weighed in on the subject:

1. Hillary Clinton

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in an interview at Ozy Fest last weekend that the U.S. remains vulnerable to attack and that she has spoken to tech experts who think the next hack could be even bigger and more disruptive.

Hackers could “shut down the servers you send results to, interfere with the operations of voting machines because too many of them are linked to the Internet,” Clinton said.

2. John McCain

In an interview on MSNBC, Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) told pundits that according to intelligence he received, Russia has not slowed in their efforts to attack American democracy.

“As chairman of the Armed Services Committee, I’m telling you that they have put a lot of our capabilities in danger in this new cyber-warfare arena,” McCain said.


3. Cory Booker

Last week, Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) refuted Trump’s recent statements on the issue with a blistering one of his own.

“The attacks from Russia will continue unless met with strength,” Booker wrote. “The President is weak and complicit in the ongoing attacks. Enough!”


4. Michael McCaul

Representative Michael McCaul (R-Tex.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, told reporters in July that if Russian operatives were to interfere in the U.S. midterm elections, he believes the U.S. should respond with force in cyberspace, according to CyberScoop.

“We have the capability to shut down governments. We have the capability to conduct major offensive cyber-operations,” he said, adding that adversaries have the same power.

5. Val Demings

Representative Val Demings (D-Fla.) told John McArdle on C-Span’s Washington Journal that protecting America’s elections will be an “everyday process”. She detailed some of the efforts that the Homeland Security Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Protection Subcommittee is taking to prepare voting systems for midterms. Among them: Identifying systems that need updating and working to make sure the correct resources are allocated to do so. Paper ballots may look like a slide backwards in time, she added, but are actually more secure than a lot of the digital voting technologies of today.

6. Robin Kelly

Representative Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) wrote a letter to the Republican governor of Illinois, Bruce Rauner, to suggest speeding things up on the election security front. She called the state’s efforts thus far “deeply disturbing and cause for great concern.”