State Officials Launch Investigation After Russian Buys State Election Software System Co.

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Despite the best efforts of President Donald Trump, the United States remains strongly democratic. Citizens are free to express their views, and such an expression underlies the entire government through multi-choice elections.

Lately though, U.S. election systems have faced intense scrutiny because of foreign interference. Now, there is another reason to be concerned, at least if you live in Maryland.

According to state officials, in 2015, the company behind the state’s elections software was purchased by Russian investor Vladimir Potanin. He poured an investment — the largest the company in question is able to boast — into AltPoint Capital Partners, which finances ByteGrid LLC, Maryland’s elections software provider. That company’s software covers voter registration, candidacy, election management, and election night results.

Maryland officials have made clear that there is no indication that the affiliation is representative of any kind of breach; however, for obvious reasons, concern remains. If a foreign interest sways a race one way or the other, there are both immediate ramifications and longer lasting ramifications. The will of the American people is thwarted in the short run, and in the long run, more and more Americans may feel shut out of the electoral system.

To address concerns, Maryland’s attorney general Brian Frosh has launched an investigation into the specifics of the sale. The State Board of Elections will also be completing “all due diligence [necessary] to give the voters of Maryland confidence in the integrity of the election system.” In addition, state legislative leaders — briefed recently about the sale by the FBI — have sought investigative assistance from the Department of Homeland Security’s Election Task Force.

State legislative leaders, including Senate President Thomas Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch, were joined in their efforts to address the issue by Maryland’s governor, Larry Hogan.

Hogan noted:

‘We are fast approaching an election in November, and even the appearance of the potential for bad actors to have any influence on our election infrastructure could undermine public trust in the integrity of our election system.’

The three of them all signed onto the letter requesting investigative help from the Department of Homeland Security.

Although the news of a suspicion warranting Russian interest behind Maryland state electoral systems came just after Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted twelve Russian intelligence officers for election meddling and revealed a host of new information about the 2016 Russian meddling operation, state officials said the developments weren’t directly connected.

How this news pans out remains to be seen.

Featured Image via Mikhail Svetlov/ Getty Images