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Can Voting Machines Be Hacked? – Counterpoint


The voting machines used to pick the next President can be hacked in under 10 seconds. You need to know this.

From Spenser Starke:
There is a whole lot of information on this topic that couldn’t be included because of time, but I thought I would include some of that here. First of all, I urge you to go watch Hacking Democracy – it’s incredibly eye-opening. The voting machines now have widely not changed since then, and are now reportedly even more vulnerable than they were, according to a conversation I had with Black Box Voting.

There are also a whole list of other ways a voting machine can be hacked, none of which were included here. For example, with the newer machines that connect to WiFi, a hacker could be out in the parking lot changing votes on any number of machines inside the precinct. In addition, according to the Princeton study, the code could actually be spread like a virus from computer to computer using the memory card as its conduit. They said “an infected machine could infect its original memory card…”

Furthermore, the infected memory card, inserted into another voting machine, would infect that machine and then its memory card, and so on. In normal election procedures, memory cards are taken out of all voting machines and placed into one machine, which acts as an “accumulator” for tallying the total votes in a precinct. “By planting a virus far enough in advance, [a hacker] can ensure that a significant number of machines can steal votes on election day” even if the criminal had access to only one voting machine.” The code could then be set to delete itself after the election is over, further removing all traces of foul play. In a talk with hackivist Philip Anderson, he relayed some fascinating information I couldn’t include in full in the video. Here’s a few of his thoughts on the matter:

“DieBold themselves put a version of the key needed to access the disk drive on their website. People have reproduced these keys using 3d printers, machining, etc just based on the photos. The second part of this answer involves looking beyond the specific machines used in Hacking Democracy. There are dozens of competing voting systems, some that use WiFi, SD, SIM cards, and other methods to tabulate, communicate with other devices, and monitor the elections. Each type of machine has specific threat vectors and ways to penetrate the “security”…I use that lightly because as I’m sure you’ve read some of these systems are essentially lacking any basic hardening.”

“…There hasn’t been any public release by DieBold saying the code has been updated. This question’s actually more important when discussing the broader issue of open-source vs. closed-source(proprietary) code used in our electoral process. The sheer fact that we don’t know if the system has been updated, or see the updating progress, or even the underlying rationale by the company is very disturbing. If you watched my interview with Lee Camp you saw our short discussion about breathalyzers and how proprietary code may have unfairly punished thousands of people. My position on this point is simple…all aspects of an electronic voting system, both hardware and software, must be fully open-source, and a reasonable amount of time must be allowed allowed for auditing and testing by the community before any widespread roll-out.”

I truly think this is an important issue, no matter what side of the aisle you’re on. In my opinion, it has the possibility of undermining the entire foundation of the democratic republic we were founded on. As always, if you find anything I missed, have anything to add to the story, or want to talk more about this issue, feel free to tweet me @spenserstarke on Twitter. Stay curious!

Hacking Democracy [Documentary]
Fractional Voting (Blackbox)
UC Berkeley Report
John Hopkins Report:
Premier Election Solutions (Diebold)
Bloomberg’s How to Hack an Election
MIT Technology Review- How To Hack An Election in One Minute
Gizmodo – How To Steal An Election
Philip Anderson Interview on Redacted Tonight- Hacking Voting Machines
ES&S Voting Machines Security Report (2007)
ES&S Unsecure (2007)
Washington Post Article by Bruce Schneier
Tracking of Voting Machines Across US
Brennan Center for Justice (NYU Law) 2015 Study