There are a number of obvious ways like compromising the election software that voters use to vote, but that is likely to be hard to do.
They are spreading disinformation which may cause Americans to not trust the election process and therefore not vote. That is much easier to do and some of our elected politicians are helping them do this.
They might compromise the voting management software that the counties use to tabulate and report on the vote. We saw a recent incident with that from one of the leading voting software vendors. There is no indication that this hack was based in Russia, but that is certainly possible.
But then there is the easy way to compromise things.
Spam and malicious emails.
One clerk in rural Texas, Hamilton county, has been sending out spam and infected emails recently. Their email system was compromised.
What if that happened to a big county? Or several? Or many?
In this case, voters got official looking emails with an attachment and in the email was a supposed password for the attachment. Some people, I am sure, are likely to open an attachment like that. It contained malware.
A recent study showed that way too many election entities were using home grown, old, obsolete or insecure email systems and many were not using email security best practices.
This county clerk only has 3 people in the office. Combine Covid with this mess and the office basically stopped.
Homeland Security (DHS) has been working with election officials to improve things but with many small jurisdictions, they don’t have the money or the resources to tackle the problem, even if the DHS part is free.
Unfortunately, the bad guys, whether nation state or others, are likely going to take the easiest route to cause problems and that is not likely to be trying to change the ballot in 10,000 voting jurisdictions.
They may just try the tried and true method of spam. After all, that has been working for decades. Credit: Propublica