Computer security expert J. Alex Halderman has seen just how vulnerable many of the nation’s voting machines are to sabotage. Pennsylvania is among the most susceptible. A decade ago, he was part of the first academic team to conduct a comprehensive security analysis of direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting machines, which are widely used throughout the state, including Bucks County. “What we found was disturbing,” Halderman said in a June 2017 Senate Intelligence Committee hearing. “We could reprogram the machine to invisibly cause any candidate to win. We also created malicious software — vote-stealing code — that could spread from machine-to-machine like a computer virus, and silently change the election outcome.” A Bucks County native and professor and director of the Center for Computer Security and Society at the University of Michigan, Halderman said cybersecurity is critical in the fight to protect American elections, “the bedrock of our democracy.”
… Most DRE machines run an old version of Windows and can be fairly easily hacked by tampering with the memory card, said Marian Schneider, president of Verified Voting, a Philadelphia-based non-governmental nonprofit. “Malware could be put in and the machine could miscount (the vote) when tabulating,” said Liz Howard, counsel with the Brennan Justice Center’s Democracy Program.
That kind of tampering would be difficult to detect, Schneider said. “No paper ballot means there’s no means to track (a vote) if there’s a question on the election or a particular vote,” Howard said.
Fifty of the state’s 67 counties, including Bucks, have voting machines that leave no paper trail. “Pennsylvania is an outlier,” Halderman said. The state, he noted, “would get an F,” when it comes to safe voting. As one of only about a dozen states using machines that have no paper record, the professor said, “Pennsylvania is holding back the whole country and putting it at risk.”