2018 Midterm Elections Security: Intel Agencies Say, 'We Are Ready!'
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WASHINGTON – With the 2018 midterm elections less than a month away and early voting already underway in some states, what is the Trump administration doing to protect our American voting process?
Department of Homeland Security officials told CBN News the election interference that overshadowed the 2016 presidential race hasn't stopped.
While it's not as intense this time around, hacking and social media manipulation are still prevalent.
One thing is for sure: This midterm election is being described as one of the most watched and important in history.
Although voters aren't choosing a president, the Trump administration is a crucial factor.
The majority on Capitol Hill could certainly swing, with 33 United States Senate seats and all 435 House seats up for grabs.
There are also 36 races for governor, and three more in US territories as well.
Homeland Security's Preparedness Plan
Homeland Security and other intelligence agencies have ongoing operations in all 50 states bracing for whatever foreign adversaries will bring.
"We have information sharing analysis center. We have sensors, network intrusion sensors out. Ninety percent who vote in this election will be voting in an area that is covered by a sensor," US Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen said during a cybersecurity summit in the nation's capital.
Nielsen says teams are conducting vulnerability assessments and scans of voting machines.
She adds more than a thousand state and local election jurisdictions are working together to share information faster.
It's important to note, however, that's a small number given there are some 10,000 local election jurisdictions.
"Some are hiring third parties; some are working with us," said Nielsen. "There are some states utilizing the National Guard. There are a variety of ways you can bring capability and capacity up to speed. Each state is doing it a little bit differently."
On Election Day, DHS will set up a situational awareness room, a virtual place where election officials throughout the country can share information quickly.
It was just weeks ago, Vice President Mike Pence sounded the alarm on China's election interference.
"To put it bluntly, President Trump's leadership is working and China wants a different American president," said Pence.
Cybersecurity experts say that while the Russians have received the attention, the Chinese have operated under the radar, with a strategic long-term plan to influence the 2020 presidential election.
Whether its Russia, China, Iran, North Korea or anyone else, intelligence officials say they are ready.
"I think this is going to be the most secure election in the modern era because of the amount of work we've done with state and local election officials who by the Constitution and by law are responsible for administering federal elections," said Christopher Krebs, undersecretary for the Department of Homeland Security's National Protection and Programs Directorate.
Even so, cyber experts say it's still possible we could see a so-called "October surprise," a political term for a late-breaking scandal that changes the course of an election.
What Can Voters Do?
Experts say voters need to make sure they know their rights.
Voters who are registered should know where they cast their votes prior to Election Day.
If you get to the polling area and something goes wrong, always ask for that provisional ballot and cast your vote.
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