A New York attorney and cyber security expert says it may be time for American elections to be tallied with hand-counted ballots. Alexander Urbelis, a computer hacker-turned-lawyer, says vulnerabilities in voting technologies, combined with the weaponization of personal data and rampant disinformation campaigns that underpinned the 2016 presidential election, have created “a really dangerous situation” for democracy. “We live in a state of disbelief,” Urbelis said. “Facts aren’t facts, and nothing is verifiable.” Meanwhile, Urbelis said vote tabulation equipment — such as the optical scanners widely used in Wisconsin — could be vulnerable to hacking at a local level or within the supply chain.
Urbelis cites examples of hard-coded passwords that can’t be changed by the user and evidence that Florida’s primary domain for state services is surrounded by dozens of international cybersquatters, an indication those domains — with addresses very similar to the official site — could be used to trick users into downloading viruses or giving up passwords.
Urbelis, who is scheduled to speak Thursday at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, said the result is uncertainty that threatens to undermine public trust in elections.
“It really is at root an issue of data integrity,” he said. “Can you trust the numbers you’ve been given?”