Earlier this year, the Democratic National Committee was hacked, and some of its private emails were released to the public. Last week, the FBI confirmed that hackers targeted voter registration systems in 20 states. But most voting systems are not connected to the internet, which means they’re less prone to hacking. In fact, a 2014 report by the Presidential Commission on Election Administration, says the biggest threat on Election Day is not hackers — it’s outdated equipment. This November, 42 states will use machines that are more than a decade old, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. Machines in 14 states, including Florida, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Texas and Virginia are in some cases more than 15 years old. States are increasingly reporting vulnerabilities, such as worn-out modems used to transmit election results, failing central processing units and unsupported memory cards, the National Institute of Standards and Technology reported.
Flip votes occur in older machines when a voter touches one name, but the machine registers another. Other times, these machines do not count the votes at all.
“My guess is that, in the context of [people discussing] ‘rigged elections,’ that stuff will become bigger in 2016,” said Lawrence Norden, deputy director of the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program. But machine failures will likely be seen “in the context of cybersecurity,” he said, instead of technological problems, “and that undermines the problem.”