While the Russian election meddling investigation into the 2016 presidential election continues – advocates are reassuring voters about the integrity of the state's voting system. Capital Tonight's Nick Reisman explains.
ALBANY, N.Y. -- Foreign countries could potentially try to place undue influence on New York's elections, Governor Andrew Cuomo on Thursday warned in a conference call with reporters as he makes a push for cyber security and transparency in online political advertising.
“I think part of the goal is wreaking havoc. If it's not Mr. Vladimir Putin, it could be North Korea, it could be any country,” said Cuomo.
Asked if he was worried his own re-election could be targeted by Russian-backed trolls similar to what was seen in the 2016 presidential election, Cuomo said yes, but did not point to any specific evidence.
“The short answer is yes. I don't think the Russians say we're only going to interfere in federal elections. We know they were targeting 21 states,” he said.
But actual hacking of New York election results is unlikely if not impossible. State elections officials do not keep results or voter rolls in a centralized database that can be accessed online.
“All of our elections are offline. Our voter rolls are offline. Everything is totally off line. There's no way to hack those. We also have paper ballots. We're one of the states that created a paper trail,” said Jennifer Wilson, with the League of Women Voters.
There is still the concern that voters can be targeted on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter through fraudulent efforts masked as a grassroots campaign. Cuomo wants disclosure for online political ads, but that can be difficult to police.
“To some extent it's going to take national legislation to deal with these problems. But the state, give the governor credit, the Legislature credit if they actually act on this, that would be a helpful way to at least pay attention on the state level,” said Blair Horner, with NYPIRG.
The spread of so-called fake news -- hoax information that designed to intentionally mislead voters -- can still play a role in state elections. NYPIRG's Blair Horner says it's up to voters to be watchful.
“It's important for people to rely on information that comes from independent verified sources and despite the complaints from the mainstream media, it is really the best place to go to get information that is as unbiased as they come,” said Horner.
Cuomo wants to include these disclosure and cyber security measures in the state budget.