Federal vote-protection efforts lag


WASHINGTON (AP) — With the first primaries of the 2018 elections less than a month away, you might expect federal officials to be wrapping up efforts to safeguard the vote against expected Russian interference. You'd be wrong.

Federal efforts to help states button down elections systems have crawled. Just 14 states have asked for detailed vulnerability assessments offered by the Department of Homeland Security. And Congress is sitting on three bills that address election integrity, including funding to upgrade antiquated equipment.

Experts say little has been done to protect 10,000 U.S. voting jurisdictions. Russian agents targeted election systems in 21 states ahead of the 2016 general election, DHS says.

The CIA and State Department have recently said they already see indications that Russian agents are preparing a new round of election subterfuge. Texas holds the first primary of 2018 on March 6.

Eric Rosenbach of Harvard's Belfer Center said due to the Russian attack, “every other bad guy is going to come after our democracy now."

"It's not a question of whether somebody is going to try to breach the system," said Robby Mook, manager of the 2016 Clinton campaign which was stung by email thefts traced to Russian agents. "The question is: 'How resilient are we and what are we doing to protect ourselves?'"