Around one year ago, Liz Howard, the deputy commissioner of elections in Virginia had felt good about being prepared for the fall’s approaching voting. Localities looked ready and the state legislature had just passed mandatory post-election audits. “And then,” she recalled. “DEFCON happened.” At an annual worldwide hacking convention in Las Vegas – scheduled this year during the second week in August – intruders in a simulation made their way into the commonwealth’s electronic touch-screen voting machines used in roughly two dozen jurisdictions. … Some swing states, like Pennsylvania, are racing to upgrade all of their equipment in time for 2020. But that leaves the commonwealth – host of a U.S. Senate and gubernatorial contest – vulnerable in 2018. In Georgia, a commission is still studying a replacement for its touch-screen voting machines and hasn’t yet decided how to precisely spend its $10 million federal grant, according to McClatchy.
This posture is alarming the most worrisome critics, like Barbara Simons, a former IBM researcher and author of a new book asking, “Will Your Vote Count?” “The midterm is vulnerable to attack. There’s nothing we can do about it. It’s too late – if Putin wants to attack our midterm, he will,” Simons told Yahoo this week.
While some states are certainly more secure than others, Simons takes the most dour and extreme view that anything involving a computer is insecure.
“That includes paper-ballot-based systems because almost all of them are tabulated by scanners, and the scanners basically are computers. That means we can’t trust any of these outcomes. We have to check them. We have to verify them. … Oh, I’m damn scared.”