Can Russia Hack The Electors' Vote? Even Vladimir Putin Isn't That Powerful
Hacking has come up frequently in this election cycle, between calls of a rigged election in the lead-up to Nov. 8 and recounts filed afterward. Now, it's the Electoral College's turn, so maybe you have questions about that, too. Could Russia hack the electors' vote, after all the worries that they would be able to hack the general election? In this case, fortunately, the traditional and archaic aspects of the Electoral College and the way it works save it from being hacked into by outside parties. In this case, paper ballots delivered by hand is quite a comfort.
The idea that the election results were going to be somehow fraudulent became a rallying call for both sides of the political spectrum this election cycle. The Right claimed that there would be widespread voter fraud, while the Left claimed that Russia was trying to swing the election in favor of Donald Trump. While Russia did successfully hack into the DNC's servers, which likely did have at least some effect on the outcome of the election, there is no proof that they were able to somehow modify the candidates' vote totals on Election Day. Furthermore, the latest news from the recount efforts in the Rust Belt states is that there has been no significant change.
All the fears of hacking center around one necessary element: The vote has to be electronic in order to be hacked. The Electoral College, however, in no way functions electronically. The electors will meet in their respective states on Dec. 19, the time at which they will prepare paper copies of the Certificate of Vote. The electors then sign and seal six copies of this certificate along with the Certificates of Ascertainment, which were prepared in advance of the electors' meetings. Once the process is complete, they send out the packages of certificates to six government officials, including the president of the Senate (i.e., the vice president) and archivist of the United States. Then, Congress will meet on Jan. 6 to officially count the votes.
Basically, unless you believe that more than half of the electors are secret Russian spies or that Russia could somehow intercept the voting certificates while they're being sent by carrier or registered mail, there is literally no way that Russia could hack the electoral vote. For all of its ceremonial excess, there is at least one benefit to keeping around an old, traditional system like the Electoral College.