The first meeting of the Trump administration’s new advisory committee on election integrity consisted mainly of voter-fraud fear-mongering. … Hans von Spakovsky, a committee member and senior legal fellow at the right-learning Heritage Foundation, pointed to his organization’s database of 1,071 documented cases of voter fraud over the last several decades, neglecting to mention that figure constitutes just .0008 percent of the people who voted in the 2016 election alone. Together, they painted a picture of a pervasive and insidious threat to free and fair elections, despite the mountains of research showing that actual voter fraud is scarce. But amid all the conjecture came one nugget of actual truth, offered by Judge Alan King of Jefferson County, Alabama. Not only did Judge King, one of the committee’s few Democrats, state that he’d never seen a single instance of voter fraud in all his years as head of elections in Jefferson County, he was also the lone member of the committee to use his opening remarks to raise the critically important issue of outdated voting technology. Unlike phantom zombie voters, that issue poses a real, and well-documented, threat to people’s voting rights.
“These voting machines are outdated. There’s no money there. Counties don’t have money. States don’t have money. We need money,” King said. “We can discuss a lot of things about voting, but … unless the technology is keeping up with voting, then we’re not using our time very wisely in my opinion.”
As King noted, much of the country’s voting technology is a decade or more old, purchased after the Help America Vote Act sent $2 billion to the states to upgrade election equipment, after dangling chads helped make a hash of the 2000 contest between Al Gore and George W. Bush. Many states haven’t upgraded since; a 2015 study by New York University Law School’s Brennan Center for Justice foundthat during the 2016 election, 43 states planned on using voting systems that were more than 10 years old.
That makes these tools especially vulnerable to attack, because the software that runs them—including Windows XP—is often no longer supported.