By Pat Warren

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Russian interference in the 2016 election has Maryland election officials on guard for 2018.

Maryland was targeted at least once in the 2016 election, allegedly by Russian hackers.

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If voting machines are tampered with in the 2018 election, the whole democratic process could come falling down, according to one state official.

Alarms were sounded after the 2016 election that showed while Maryland machines were not tampered with, there was suspicious activity in the online voter registration system.

Elections director Linda Lamone was about the issue that arose.

“We identified sometime early last fall some suspicious activity on that voter registration application. Probably anyone who has a website knows people scan it all the time, and we monitor that,” she said.

In June 2017, former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson testified before the House Intelligence Committee about Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.

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“The Russian government at the direction of Vladimir Putin himself orchestrated cyber attacks on our nation for the purpose of influencing our election,” Johnson said.

Maryland elections officials, federal authorities and state lawmakers are working to protect the state’s system from hackers. Among the proposals in the General Assembly are restricting electronic marking of absentee ballots, reporting security incidents within seven days and imposing reporting requirements for online political advertising.

Meanwhile, the system itself is being safeguarded.

Elections officials say while hackers did probe the online absentees ballot requests, they didn’t breach it.

Maryland’s online data is encrypted and monitored around the clock.

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