It’s over. The voting went smoothly. As of the time of writing, there are no serious fraud allegations, nor credible evidence that anyone hacked the voting rolls or voting machines. And most important, the results are not in doubt. While we may breathe a collective sigh of relief about that, we can’t ignore the issue until the next election. The risks remain. As computer security experts have been saying for years, our newly computerized voting systems are vulnerable to attack by both individual hackers and government-sponsored cyberwarriors. It is only a matter of time before such an attack happens. Electronic voting machines can be hacked, and those machines that do not include a paper ballot that can verify each voter’s choice can be hacked undetectably. Voting rolls are also vulnerable; they are all computerized databases whose entries can be deleted or changed to sow chaos on Election Day.
The largely ad hoc system in states for collecting and tabulating individual voting results is vulnerable as well. While the difference between theoretical if demonstrable vulnerabilities and an actual attack on Election Day is considerable, we got lucky this year. Not just presidential elections are at risk, but state and local elections, too.
To be very clear, this is not about voter fraud. The risks of ineligible people voting, or people voting twice, have been repeatedly shown to be virtually nonexistent, and “solutions” to this problem are largely voter-suppression measures. Election fraud, however, is both far more feasible and much more worrisome.
Here’s my worry. On the day after an election, someone claims that a result was hacked. Maybe one of the candidates points to a wide discrepancy between the most recent polls and the actual results. Maybe an anonymous person announces that he hacked a particular brand of voting machine, describing in detail how. Or maybe it’s a system failure during Election Day: voting machines recording significantly fewer votes than there were voters, or zero votes for one candidate or another. (These are not theoretical occurrences; they have both happened in the United States before, though because of error, not malice.)
Full Article: American Elections Will Be Hacked – The New York Times.