Indiana election officials respond to FBI warning, concern grows over election system disruptions

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Indiana election officials met with technology personnel, the state’s election vendor and officials from the Indiana Department of Homeland Security Tuesday, after an unprecedented warning from the FBI, alerting local officials nationwide of attempts to hack election systems in several states.

U.S. intelligence officials are reportedly investigating whether Russia is behind a broader attempt to disrupt the presidential election by tampering with local election systems, which has happened in Arizona and Illinois.

“I couldn’t take anything any more seriously,” Connie Lawson said, Indiana Secretary of State. “We’re looking at our system to make sure that they can’t use that same protocol and get into our system.”

Lawson said Indiana officials have been briefed by the FBI about technical details involving the hacks in Arizona and Illinois.

But the scope of the investigation is much broader, as Election Day draws near.

“If Moscow is behind efforts to influence U.S. elections, such actions would be an outrageous violation of international rules of behavior and cannot be tolerated,” Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) told CBS4 in a statement, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. “Not only must the United States be vigilant in defending ourselves against such interference and attacks, we also must continue to question the motives of Russian leaders who would condone such misbehavior.”

In Indiana, Lawson said Indiana’s votes on Election Day aren’t recorded online, adding that years of security preparation and different voting systems between the state’s 92 counties has ensured an added layer of protection.

“It would be virtually impossible for even a sophisticated hacker to get into all of those systems,” she said.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has said publicly he’s worried about the integrity of the system nationwide, warning of potential election fraud.

“I’m afraid the election’s going to be rigged,” he said at a recent rally. “I’m going to be honest.”

Democratic president nominee Hillary Clinton addressed the recent reports Monday evening.

“I was relieved that our national security professionals made the point about Russian interference with our elections,” she told reporters. “It’s almost unthinkable.”

Federal officials have offered resources to states like Indiana to help monitor and prevent a cyber attack.

And Lawson has recently been appointed to a newly formed election security task force, created by the Department of Homeland Security, to ensure states have the proper resources and information leading up to Election Day.

“We don’t want any voter to have any doubt that we haven’t done everything that we can do,” Lawson said. “And I think they can rest assured the vote they cast in the state of Indiana will be counted and will be counted properly.”

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