Jackson, Miss. (Clarion Ledger) –
Despite thousands of attempts to hack into it, Mississippi’s voting data remains inviolate, Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann said Wednesday.
The real threat, Hosemann said, is people not voting or being misinformed from garbage info floating around in social media.
“You’re not going to lose your vote unless you don’t go vote — unless you don’t go get in your truck and go cast your vote,” Hosemann said.
Hosemann on Wednesday held a news briefing in advance of the Nov. 6 elections. He talked about cyber security, low voter turnout, a new vote in honor of a soldier program and other efforts to increase voter participation.
Hosemann said Mississippi, like other states, sees continuous attempts to hack into state and local voter data and systems — “thousands per month.” But he said the state, working with Homeland Security, the FBI, National Security Administration and other agencies fends off such attempts and that voting remains secure:
- Voting machines in Mississippi are not hooked up to the internet and cannot be hacked, and data systems have redundant firewalls and other security.
- Hosemann said he spends more time on cyber security than any other issue in his office. He said he has “top secret” clearance and meets or communicates with federal authorities frequently. He said he is not allowed to provide much information about cyber threats, but has urged federal authorities to let the public know more about it.
- Hackers at one point got names and email addresses of former secretary of state employees and tried to trick county clerks into opening email “invoices” to gain access to systems. He said security systems thwarted this.
- Another type of cyber attack is disinformation about candidates or issues on social media. “We see Facebook posts, emails, derogatory remarks or spurious things about individual candidates that are false,” Hosemann said. “It’s most important that you filter out those things, don’t believe everything on the internet. Don’t retweet them. Don’t pass it on when it’s unsubstantiated. Don’t do that.”
Voter apathy, vote for soldiers
Hosemann said this year’s midterm primaries saw historically low voter turnout, a little over 13 percent of the state’s 1.8 million registered voters cast ballots.
“That’s the lowest we’ve had in my memory,” said Hosemann. “… Above all else go vote.”
Hosemann said he is continuing to travel to schools statewide for the Promote the Vote program. For years, he said, school kids holding mock elections before the real ones have picked the winners. “I tell them, ask Momma who she voted for, ask Daddy who he voted for … Don’t let them put their feet under the table on election night unless they’ve cast their ballots.”
Hosemann has started a new “Vote in Honor of a Soldier” program and web page to help spur turnout. The website — now operational — allows people to dedicate their ballot to a soldier or veteran, either anonymously or by using their name. The voter can name the soldier or veteran and write a brief description on the sites “Honor Wall.”
Absentee voting for the Nov. 6 election began on Monday.
The deadline to register to vote in person is Oct. 8. Applications sent by mail must be postmarked no later than Oct. 9. You may register in person at your circuit clerk’s office, municipal clerk’s office, Department of Public Safety and any state or federal agency offering government services, such as the Department of Human Services.
Clerk’s offices will be open from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Oct. 6, for in-person voter registration and will be open the same hours the two Saturdays before the election for absentee voting.
A mail in registration form can be downloaded from www.yallvote.sos.ms.gov where one can also:
- Check registration status.
- Update your address or name if you are a registered voter.
- Obtain a sample ballot.
- Check your polling place for election day.
Overseas military and others can also find assistance from the Federal Assistance Voting Program at www.fvap.gov.