As the November election approaches, York County’s voting machines reportedly are outdated, vulnerable to hacking and lacking a commonly used safety feature that might reveal meddling or mistakes. In fact, most Pennsylvania counties are in the same boat, according to Department of State, which is giving them until 2020 to upgrade their machines. The switch won’t be cheap, and no one is sure who’s going end up footing the bill, estimated to be about $125 million statewide. York County’s machines are 12 years old and replaced lever-operated voting booths that had been in use for more than half a century. … The risks associated with York County’s machines range in severity — from simple programming errors like the county saw last year, to hacking that can change vote counts, according to Marian Schneider, president of Verified Voting and former deputy secretary for Elections and Voting under the Wolf administration.
For instance, in any precinct voting machines are partnered with a computer that runs the voting software and stores data. If that computer is connected to any network whatsoever, Schneider said, the situation is problematic. “If it’s connected to anything, it’s prone to cyber attacks,” she said.
However, even if the computer is not connected, the risk of being hacked is “never zero,” Schneider added. With access to machine software, a skilled hacker can still manipulate data.
Preventing such attacks is difficult, even with countermeasures, she said. This is why counties should “shift from prevention to detection and recovery.”
“It’s not going to be easy,” Schneider said. “But nothing worthwhile is every easy. And taking these precautions will build up voter confidence.”