US government invests $350m in election security systems

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The US government has unveiled new funds to help states safeguard voting systems from cyber attacks. 

This is the first time that Congress has taken action to increase the security of voting systems following the allegations that Russian hackers interfered in the 2016 presidential campaign

The $380m funding, included in a major new federal spending bill, would provide US states with grants that could be used to purchase more secure voting machines, improve cyber security training ahead of elections and to conduct audits following an election.    

With the upcoming midterm elections set take place in November, US intelligence officials have repeatedly warned that they could be targeted by Russia or other malicious parties.  However, it is still unclear as to whether the new funds would be made available to states before or after the 2018 midterm elections. 

The funding could also be helpful to the states that do not currently have a paper ballot backup count of votes cast on electronic machines.  Security experts believe that having such a system in place is key to ensuring that no votes have been tampered with.  Currently five of the fifty states have no paper backup systems and eight states have several electoral districts without them as well.  

According to the Department of Homeland Security, 21 of the 50 states had their election systems probed by Russian hackers in 2016 and a small number of networks were compromised though there is no evidence that any votes were altered. 

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