Hosemann: Election‘is not rigged’

Published 10:00 am Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann made it clear that “the election is not rigged” when he made a stop in Oxford last week, addressing recent concerns across the country that voting processes could be hacked or otherwise tampered with.

Hosemann met with the Oxford Eagle Editorial Board to discuss Tuesday’s election, and other matters, but he wanted to make sure it was understood that despite what some in the Republican Party have said, Mississippi’s election process is safe.

“The Russians are not coming to steal your vote,” Hosemann said Friday. “The voting machines are secure. They are not connected to the internet and never have been connected to the internet.”

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He reiterated that during a press conference in Jackson on Tuesday.

“I think on Nov. 8 we will have the will of the people.”

Hackers are out there

Despite those assurances, Hosemann did say that hackers attempt to get into the state election system constantly.

“We had 5,000 attempts last month,” Hosemann told the Eagle. “It was more than that the month before.”

A security system, which is considered one of the best in the nation, prevents hackers from accessing voter information, such as social security numbers and birth dates and potentially the financial data of the individuals. Hosemann hired experts to attempt to hack into the system and said federal Homeland Security staffers have deemed the Mississippi system one of the most secure in the nation.

“Is it absolutely secure? Ask Secretary (Hillary) Clinton or Wikileaks or (former CIA employee Edward) Snowden. They can get into darn near anything,” Hosemann said. “I think we have done everything humanly possible to protect that data.”

Hosemann said they will eventually use a totally encrypted system.

His biggest concern, however, is voter apathy and is expecting a low voter turnout on Nov. 8.

“I’m worried to death,” Hosemann said. “People are angry. They don’t like either candidate. I’ve been all over Mississippi and they don’t want any part of it. And every time I pick up the paper they’re talking about an FBI investigation or an over-weight beauty contestant and I think there’s some more important things to talk about. I’m concerned about the turnout.”

Voter turnout was around 60 percent in Mississippi during the 2012 presidential election. Hosemann doesn’t think the state will reach that number based upon the absentee ballots that have been issued.

To date, about 71,544 absentee ballots have been requested by voters. During the 2012 general election, 106,722 absentee ballots were requested. More than 1.86 million Mississippians are registered to vote in the upcoming election. Census data estimates the state’s eligible voting age population to be about 2.26 million.

This year’s lower absentee requests could forecast a turnout of about 800,000, he said during a news conference. “That would be less than half of the eligible voters.”

He also said Voter ID has continued to go very well since it was implemented two years ago.

“Quite frankly, some of them have been issued to people who were intimidated,” Hosemann said.

The use of Voter ID has helped dispel rumors of dead people voting in Mississippi or the corruption of the system, according to Hosemann.

“The integrity of the system was reinforced when people believe they had Voter ID,” Hosemann said. “I do know people have more confidence in the system.”