Can presidential election results really be hacked?

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HARTFORD--The Department of Homeland Security is urging states to be wary of hackers who could try to infiltrate online voter registration systems after the FBI confirmed at least two states, Arizona and Illinois, had voter data breaches, although there’s no evidence of tampering.

But if hackers are targeting our democratic process, how secure are our election results?

“People should understand the risk of actually doing anything to our election results is extremely small,” said Secretary of the State Denise Merrill.

However, Merrill acknowledged cybercriminals have targeted voter systems in the past. But despite the attacks, Merrill remains confident in the system.

“It’s important to make the distinction between the database and the actual machines you vote on,” said Merrill. “The machines you vote on are not connected to the internet.”

There are more than 9,000 election jurisdictions in the country. In Connecticut, there are 169--one for each town and city.

At least one ballot box is situated at every precinct, and none are connected to the internet.

“It’s very local, it’s very decentralized,” said Merrill.

Not to mention, there’s a paper trail in Connecticut: your ballot.

“Everything is then checked and crosschecked,” said Merrill.

In Stamford, cyber security firm Blackstratus is constantly looking to identify potential online attacks.

“If we see bad IP addresses from China, because we know they’ve attacked before, if we see them coming into our clients, we’re going to alert them right away” said VP of Products Rich Murphy."

Murphy also believes U.S. elections are secure.

“The elections themselves are fine,” said Murphy. “There would have to be a very coordinated effort… at the voting machines themselves. You can’t get to them from the outside they’re isolated they aren’t on networks.”

But what hackers can do on Election Day is erode confidence in the system.

“Is anything perfect?  No,” said Merrill. “But it’s as good as it gets, and I think you can have every confidence that your votes going to be counted, certainly here in the state of Connecticut.”