Dr. J. Alex Halderman inserted a memory card infected with malicious software into an electronic voting machine. It wasn’t an actual case of election hacking, but Halderman’s demonstration served a purpose: To show two members of Congress, including U.S. Rep. John Katko, what can happen if hackers gain access to voting machines. Halderman, director of the University of Michigan’s Center for Computer Security and Society, invited Katko, R-Camillus, and U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley, an Illinois Democrat, to cast votes using the Diebold AccuVote TS voting machine. Halderman programmed a mock election: A presidential race between George Washington and Benedict Arnold. There were two votes cast for Washington and one for Arnold. But the receipt printed from the voting machine revealed the effect of the malicious software. The paper showed Arnold received two votes and Washington netted one.
Halderman explained that it’s an example of malware that can alter the results of an election. In this case, it changed the vote totals for the candidates.
The presentation highlighted concerns about the use of electronic voting machines. Halderman noted that there have been several studies conducted detailing security vulnerabilities that have been found with different models of voting machines. The Diebold AccuVote TS is one such machine, and it’s used in 18 states.