Coming up to the election on Nov. 3, Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said she is “fairly confident” that Connecticut’s election system is secure. Just in case, though, she has hired an election information security analyst to thwart social media disinformation campaigns and protect the election system from foreign interference.
This is a prudent step, considering that the state was one of those targeted by foreign actors in 2016, Merrill told The Connecticut Mirror.
But Merrill said those efforts failed, as did other attempts to seek information about Connecticut 's voting system. One major reason, she said, is that this state’s system is decentralized, spread among the 169 towns.
Still, “hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent on these efforts" aimed at confusing voters and suppressing the vote, she said.
U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy said the Russians are the most active when it comes to voter disinformation campaigns. The U.S. intelligence community is convinced that Russian President Vladimir V. Putin personally ordered a campaign of influence in 2016, with “a clear preference” for Donald Trump. Trump, however, has never accepted that analysis.
Connecticut will receive $5.4 million in federal funds to enhance the safety of in-person voting, expand mail-in voting, and protect the security and integrity of the election and the counting of ballots. Some of that money will be used to pay the security expert.
The New York Times has reported that stories are circulating of the posting on the "dark web" of voter information from Connecticut and a handful of other states. According to the stories, for each American voter in the database, the following information is said to be available: full name, date of birth, sex, date of registration, home address, ZIP Code, email address, voter ID number, and polling station number.
Merrill is concerned that stories like these, which she says are misleading, could keep Connecticut residents from casting a ballot this year.
“I just want to assure voters we are on top of this,” she said.