Hand on computer keyboard (Shutterstock)
(Shutterstock)

This much we know: Manipulating the outcome of a U.S. election is close to impossible.

One big reason is that voting machines aren’t connected to the Internet. That makes it hard for outsiders to gain access online and change votes.

But other voting information does live on state and county servers, items like voter registration records. That’s been true for years. But local governments have experience keeping that kind of data out of the wrong hands.

“The state and local election officials — this whole notion of security is not new to them. This is something they deal with all the time,” Tim Mattice, executive director of the Elections Center, told CNN. The center trains state and local elections officials on administering elections.

Even though states and localities conduct the elections, all but four states have accepted the U.S. government’s offer of additional help with items like:

  • Implementing best practices to secure voter-registration databases and address potential threats to election systems.
  • Running “cyber hygiene scans” to assure Internet-connected systems, like official web pages that report the elections results, remain secure.
  • Assuring polling-place integrity by advising on proper voting-machine storage and overall site security.

“We have been doing it ourselves with our own state systems already, but since the [federal government] has been offering it, and it’s free, we figured belts and suspenders don’t hurt,” John Conklin, a spokesman for the New York State Board of Elections, told CBS News.

Graphic reading "Elections 2016" (State Dept./J. Maruszewski)
(State Dept./J. Maruszewski)