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2016 Presidential Election Recount: Is Hacking An Election Possible? Trump Voters High On Oxy And Smart Phones Hack Voting Machines

November 30, 2016

Trump is calling foul in Green Party Jill Stein’s campaign to launch a recount in swing states Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. While some online argue election fraud doesn’t exist, others say that hacking can’t be found unless someone looks for it. For those who don’t believe Russia impacted the US 2016 Presidential Election, just ask the US government what it thinks. The Obama administration has officially declared Russian interference:

The Obama administration on Friday officially accused Russia of attempting to interfere in the 2016 elections, including by hacking the computers of the Democratic National Committee and other political organizations.

The denunciation, made by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security, came as pressure was growing from within the administration and some lawmakers to publicly name Moscow and hold it accountable for actions apparently aimed at sowing discord around the election.

“The U.S. Intelligence Community is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from U.S. persons and institutions, including from U.S. political organizations,” said a joint statement from the two agencies. “. . . These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the U.S. election process.”

So, if the US Intelligence Community determines there was a hack, then Russian hacking can be real, can’t it?

The Foreign Policy Research Institute and PropOrNot, a nonpartisan group of researchers, independently provided reports to The Washington Post that detailed a sophisticated, multi-pronged disinformation campaign designed to propagate two specific messages: first, that Hillary Clinton was deathly ill and was secretly plotting to turn America into a plutocracy run by “shadowy financiers”; and second, that the world was on the brink of a war with Russia. The groups traced 200 of the biggest fake news websites to the Russian government, as well as a group of botnets and human “trolls”, which planted stories and reached at least 15 million Americans. (For a sense of scale, more than 135 million people voted in 2016. Clinton appears likely to win the popular vote by more than two million ballots despite decisively losing the electoral college.)

These messages would have presumably turned unwitting and undecided voters towards Donald Trump, who painted himself as a financially independent outsider who openly wanted to reset relations with Vladimir Putin, a controversial and bellicose international figure whom Trump has nevertheless praised as a “great man”. While it is unclear whether Putin specifically hoped to facilitate Trump’s election, Clint Watts, a fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, said that the campaign served a broader, long-term purpose. “They want to essentially erode faith in the U.S. government or U.S. government interests,” he told the Post. “This was their standard mode during the Cold War. The problem is that this was hard to do before social media.”

According to Wisconsin, no hack was committed:

The Wisconsin Elections Commission has found no evidence that any of its voting machines were hacked during the Nov. 8 election, a spokesman said Saturday.

Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein on Friday filed a petition to have a state recount on the sole grounds that data experts believe there may have been a cyberattack. They have no evidence, but contend that Democrat Hillary Clinton performed better where paper ballots, rather than electronic ones were used.

The Washington Times asked commission spokesman Reid Magney if there has been any indication of hacking.

“No evidence of hacking,” Mr. Magney said in an email.

Of course, keep in mind here that no total recount has been finalized in Wisconsin, so there is no evidence to support Mr. Magney’s lack of evidence in determining no hacking happened. In short, there is no evidence to prove hacking did or didn’t happen until a recount happens, so anything else is premature. However, and here is the big qualifier, hacking Wisconsin’s machines requires little more than a screwdriver. In fact, Wisconsin voting machines are so outdated from a security standpoint that they are outlawed in other states:

Stein’s attorneys called University of Michigan computer scientist J. Alex Halderman as their first witness during Tuesday’s hearing. He said he believes optical scanner machines that most Wisconsin municipalities use to tabulate votes could be hacked with a screwdriver or with portable media containing malware.

Hacking with a screwdriver is about as low tech as you can get. Don’t know how Wisconsin could presume no hacking took place when all that it would take is a screwdriver, or even a phone or something similar that could hack into the machines.

There is the argument that you had to be drunk or stoned to vote for Trump, that hacking didn’t play the same part in the election as drunk or high people voting, which has been proven by factual analysis:

Drunk, Stoned And Suicidal Voted For Trump

Drunk, Stoned And Suicidal Voted For Trump

Basically, there are huge problems with the Trump election, not the least of which can be influenced by things that seem fantastically overreaching, but have been proven as fact, such as Russian hackers working inside Presidential campaigns to influence the US Presidential elections. True. U.S. Government validating Russian interference…true. Drunk and high voting for Trump: true.

An historian studied the troubled election results, and she dubbed Trump’s supporter the “Oxo Electorate,” a group of people with higher rates of overdose and death, coupled with low income and very poor expected outcomes:

After “recovering from the shock,” she began comparing the drug-overdose death rate with voter performance in critical states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

What she found was striking.

Six of the nine Ohio counties that flipped from Democrat to Republican in 2016 logged overdose death rates far above the national rate of 14.7 people per 100,000. Nearly every Ohio county with an overdose death rate above 20 per 100,000 saw voting gains of 10% or more for Trump compared with Romney and/or drops of 10% or more for Hillary Clinton compared to President Barack Obama in 2012. Only Butler County, home to Miami University, and Hamilton County, the jurisdiction for Cincinnati, did not conform to this pattern.

Twenty-nine of 33 Pennsylvania counties with overdose death rates above 20 per 100,000 conformed to the same pattern and/or flipped from Democrat to Republican entirely. (You can see Frydl’s comparison of county vote totals and overdose death rates here.)

The phenomenon led Frydl to dub such voters the “Oxy electorate.”

Perhaps the recount will find that machines weren’t hacked, but that those who were suicidal or high on oxy turned out in huge numbers to vote. Which is more of a farce? Tough to tell, but when you add in the antics of the Electoral College, we may have just welcomed the Ringling Brothers into our political elite.

It’s all too easy to say that the disenfranchised are not responsible for their problems, the they are the consummate victims, and that is what has been preached. Drug use then naturally supposedly follows, coupled with issues of social degradation. In other words, the uneducated white male has now been supposedly marginalized to the point that he can’t succeed because factory jobs and mining jobs are gone.

“The people in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and the steel belt that voted for Trump were aware that the steel mills closed in 1983,” she said. “They were aware of that in 2012 when they voted for Obama. There is something specific to the opioid crisis in the last four years that is a social policy failure that deserves to be treated as discrete.”

Frydl, who has written a history of the drug war in America, believes that the Obama administration’s response to the opioid crisis signaled to many addiction-ravaged areas that “their suffering was not registering with the Democratic Party establishment.”

The administration’s landmark bipartisan bill passed earlier this year to address the crisis, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, was seen as modest, at best. Attorney General Eric Holder failed to hold Purdue Pharma, widely considered to be the main source for opioid overprescribing in the 1990s and 2000s, or other pharmaceutical companies to account for their part in the crisis, Frydl said. And even as the government cracked down on legal prescription drugs, heroin from Mexico and synthetic opioids from China flooded in to meet demand.

After decades of systemic economic decline and the government’s failure to address the subsequent public-health crisis, Trump’s outsider campaign was perfectly primed to capitalize on the so-called Oxy electorate’s fears about foreign influence and loss of status.

I have heard this argument before. There are books about the so-called feminizing of schools, leading to loss of social status for boys, mainly white boys. These arguments mainly focus on the fact that boys are failing in school because rules are too strict, too feminine, too much making boys sit still. The Washington Post article published in 2015 by a mother whose son isn’t doing well  in school, hardly making her an unbiased investigate, says “too much sitting still.”

The lack of movement and rigid restrictions associated with modern schooling are killing my son’s soul.

Does that sound dramatic to you? Perhaps. After all, most of us go through school and somehow survive more or less intact. But if you really think about it, you might remember what you hated about school. You might remember that it took you years after school to rediscover your own soul and passions, and the courage to pursue them.

The stress of school, of trying to fit into an environment that asks him to suppress the best parts of himself, recently had my son in tears. Again.

He hasn’t been allowed outside at school all week; it’s too cold. Yet this son has spent happy hours outside at home this week, all bundled up, moving snow with the toy snowplow, creating “snowmobile trails” in our yard with his sled and shoveling both our walk and our neighbors. Because he wants to.

This morning, as always, my son was up and dressed before the rest of the household; he likes time to play Minecraft before school starts. But he also cleaned the dirty glass on the woodstove, started the fire and brought wood into the house. Because he wants to.

And it hit me this morning: He would have done great in Little House on the Prairie time.

Not exactly hard facts there, hearkening to a “simpler time,” when all that was required was building a fire. Take out the video game Minecraft to be sure, because that’s not part of the Little House on the Prairie hoax, and then for, sure, you have a well-adjusted kid who will succeed if you take him in a time machine back to the 1800’s. The disenfranchised white male has no responsibility for his own lack of achievement, no responsibility for addiction behaviors, no responsibility for failing in school, and in fact, no accountability in general. People are then surprised and doing strange things like linking male underachievement to a “national emergency,” and then trying to dumb down their expectations in order to appeal to boys who don’t thrive. It’s a form of reverse gender discrimination that’s baffling. How can any group of people achieve more if no one expects them to?

 Young men in Great Britain, Australia, and Canada have also fallen behind. But in stark contrast to the United States, these countries are energetically, even desperately, looking for ways to help boys improve. Why? They view widespread male underachievement as a national threat: A country with too many languishing males risks losing its economic edge. So these nations have established dozens of boy-focused commissions, task forces, and working groups. Using evidence and not ideology as their guide, officials in these countries don’t hesitate to recommend sex-specific solutions. The British Parliamentary Boys’ Reading Commission urges, “Every teacher should have an up-to-date knowledge of reading material that will appeal to disengaged boys.” A Canadian report on improving boys’ literacy recommends active classrooms “that capitalize on the boys’ spirit of competition”— games, contests, debates. An Australian studyfound that adolescent males, across racial and socioeconomic lines, shared a common complaint, “School doesn’t offer the courses that most boys want to do, mainly courses and course work that prepare them for employment.”

Young white men, those who voted for Trump, those who are suicidal, high on oxy, drinking too much, unemployed, under educated, blame women for their lack of achievement and then  gravitate toward Trump who advocated “grabbing [women] by their pussy.” Hooray, paybacks. Take that, You Women! You have a pussy! Not a surprise for we women, but I begin to wonder how much of this gender-based disenfranchisement isn’t really the problem rather the symptom.

Why do boys have to be treated in a specific ways in order to thrive? Why are young white men so fragile? Why is it such a threat to point out that this election is deeply flawed if there was Russian hacking, any hacking, voter suppression, and then an instant denial of any problems? Why is it a problem to point out that the electorate that came out in droves is deeply troubled, addicted, broke, and pushing for change without wanting to take any responsibility? Men have ruled America for the last 200 years, why is now women’s faults that the men are underachieving?

As of this morning, Wednesday, November 30, 2016, Wisconsin is performing a recount, but a judge won’t force clerks to count by hand. How tampering would be found that way, I have no idea, because the allegation is the the machines were faulty.

Pennsylvania requires voters request a recount, and voters have requested a recount, so it looks like one will go through for Pennsylvania:

According to a spokesman for Stein’s campaign, voters have filed some 780 petitions in 260 election districts in Allegheny, Berks, Bucks, Centre, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties. That means that about 3 percent of precincts in Pennsylvania will be recounted.

The Stein campaign wants to go farther than that. It wants a full hand recount of the votes in counties that use opti-scan machines, which are similar to machines that scan standardized tests. These machines have a paper trail, and county officials say a recount would involve recounting the paper ballots.

In addition, Stein wants county officials in the other two-thirds of the state, including Philadelphia and the suburban counties, to conduct “forensic analyses” on their electronic machines that do not provide a paper trail to determine whether or not there may have been a security breach.

Why not conduct an analysis. People mention there is “no proof” hacking occurred, so why check? Others argue that a basic check of three states is good for the electoral system, just a routine audit. Audits of the voting electorate are not something bad, and Al Gore’s campaign had pushed for recounts, so why vilify a woman when she does it? Why is Jill Stein not allowed to ask for a recount? She was a presidential candidate. She ran for office. She is not invisible, and that’s a bad thing? She is entitled to the same process audit that Trump said he wanted to use, but now that he thinks he won, Trump wants every woman to concede? An audit is allowed, and Trump alleges that illegal votes were cast in other states but is not asking for an audit.

Trump tweeted there was “serious voter fraud,” but won’t ask for a recount:

Serious voter fraud in Virginia, New Hampshire and California – so why isn’t the media reporting on this? Serious bias – big problem!

The media can’t push for a recount, and the only way to check for fraud is to do a recount. Strange that Trump is so afraid of a recount.

Voter fraud, Russian hacks, ballots that haven’t been counted. Life is stranger than fiction, but Germany has now declared that there is evidence of Russia interfering with elections and Germany is concerned for its own elections:

The head of Germany’s foreign intelligence service has warned that next year’s general election could be targeted by Russian hackers intent on spreading misinformation and undermining the democratic process.

Bruno Kahl, president of the Bundesnachrichtendienst, said Russia may have been behind attempts during the US presidential campaign to interfere with the vote.

“We have evidence that cyber-attacks are taking place that have no purpose other than to elicit political uncertainty,” he told the Süddeutsche Zeitung in his first interview since he was appointed five months ago.

“The perpetrators are interested in delegitimising the democratic process as such, regardless of who that ends up helping. We have indications that [the attacks] come from the Russian region.

If there was a hacking attempt, why not check it? A Michigan election expert argues that hacking can happen, but really, checking results of an election should be automatic, not vilified.

Election security experts still agree with Halderman’s underlying argument: that auditing elections would help to settle dangerous, persistent uncertainty in a system potentially plagued by hackers. They’re not as taxing as a full recount. And, importantly, they shouldn’t solely be deployed as an emergency provision in contested elections, but rather a default part of the process. MIT’s Rivest quotes his computer scientist colleague at George Washington University, Poorvi Vora: “Brush your teeth. Eat your spinach. Audit your elections.”

So, is hacking a possibility? Sure is. We would be foolish to ignore it’s a possibility. How does one hack a voting machine? Easy. Microsoft doesn’t have security updates for the operating system the voting machines run.

The list of those problems is what you’d expect from any computer or, more specifically, any computer that’s a decade or older. Most of these machines are running Windows XP, for which Microsoft hasn’t released a security patch since April 2014. Though there’s no evidence of direct voting machine interference to date, researchers have demonstrated that many of them are susceptible to malware or, equally if not more alarming, a well-timed denial of service attack.

It’s not a tough concept for anyone who uses computer to grasp. In fact, most people wouldn’t use a home computer without a security update, but they sure as hell vote with them. The argument that voting machines are safe was disproved last summer, when voting machines were found to be so outdated that it invalidated votes:

The extent of vulnerability isn’t just hypothetical; late last summer, Virginia decertified thousands of insecure WinVote machines. As one security researcher described it, “anyone within a half mile could have modified every vote, undetected” without “any technical expertise.” The vendor had gone out of business years prior. 

The WinVote systems are an extreme case, but not an isolated one. Other voting machine models have potentially vulnerable wireless components; Virginia’s just the only one where a test proved how bad the situation was.

The worst part about the current state of voting machines is that they don’t even require outside interference to undo an election. “They’re all computers. They run on tens of thousands of lines of code,” says Norden. “It’s impossible to have a perfectly secure, perfectly reliable computer.”

If voting machines were known to be so unreliable that votes were tossed, why wasn’t something done about it BEFORE the election? It comes down to cash, and the fact that no one wants to check. This comment, published last fall, is eerily prescient:

“The money’s not there right now,” says Norden. “We interviewed election officials who told us what they were hearing from their state legislators and others who would be funding this type of equipment, and they say come back to us after there’s some kind of crisis.”

Some kind of crisis. Looks like we have one now. Think using a Smartphone to hack a voting machine is too tough for anyone to figure out? Turns out that the State of Virginia reported that a poll worker did it by accident when playing music from the smart phone by connecting to a library’s internet:

During the site visit to Spotsylvania County, the auditor was informed of voting equipment problems experienced on Election Day at Precinct 302 that included the voting machines “crashing” and becoming inoperative individually in succession and concurrently on Election Day. The local staff believed that these failures occurred due the use of a smartphone by one of the officers of election who was streaming music using the open wireless network provided by the public library which hosted this polling location. The continuing machine failures led the polling location staff to instruct voters to turn off their cell phones upon entry to the polling location on Election Day.

To gather information about the potential connection between the use of a smartphone and the successive crashing of WinVote machines, the auditor was granted access to Spotsylvania’s voting machines which were not used in Precinct 302. The voting machines used in Precinct 302 remained under seal. Using his smartphone, the auditor was quickly able to access and connect to the wireless network hosted by these WinVote DRE machines. The auditor immediately reported this potential significant security problem to the Department of Elections.

This information was provided by the Virginia Department of Elections. Hacking a voting machine has already been done, even if by accident. The WinVote machines were supposedly tossed, but there was no other information from other states investigating their voting machines. An election official accidentally hacked a voting machine by accident, it was proven, and now people say it can’t be done, hasn’t been done, so there is no need to look for it.

It’s tough to believe election officials when past efforts didn’t offer any rudimentary efforts at security from election officials in Virginia:

Rather than decertify and decommission the vulnerable machines in 2007, the board allowed their continued use in 30 counties for the next seven years, assuring the public that the systems were nonetheless safe because they employed “strict security protocols.” Presumably, they were referring to the Wi-Fi network’s “abcde” password. There was nothing else protecting the machines.

Still don’t believe an election can be hacked easily? There is a YouTube instructional video:

Just insert a new memory card and reboot. Easy peasy, and YouTube shows us how to do it.

The real question is: does Pennsylvania use Sequoia voting machines that have YouTube instructional video demonstrating how to hack them? Sure does!

I checked the Pennsylvania, the government run website that brags about using Sequoia voting machines, and here is a direct quote from their Election Commission:

Montgomery County has used the Sequoia AVC Advantage® voting machines since 1996. We are one of the earliest counties in the nation to utilize a direct recording electronic (DRE) machine.

The Advantage has a full-faced ballot display whose single page style means no scrolling through ballot pages. A square next to the candidate’s name or referendum question is pressed when making a selection. Write-in votes are done simply by using a keyboard below the ballot display.

The voter is able to view his entire selection before pressing the cast vote button.

Why people argue that Pennsylvania’s results couldn’t have been hacked is seeming a whole lot ostrich-like.

Can I verify that removing the memory card from Sequoia machines can alter the votes, be used to hack an election? Sure can. I checked on the Sequoia manufacturer’s website, and this is on their first page:

The Sequoia AVC Edge is a touch screen direct-recording electronic voting machine. It is a multilingual voting system activated by a smart card and  records votes on internal flash memory. Voters insert a “smart-card” into the machine and then make their choices by touching an area on a computer screen, much in the same way that modern ATMs work.The votes are then recorded to internal electronic flash memory. When polls close, the votes for a particular machine are written to a PCMCIA card which is removed from the system and either physically transported to election headquarters or their contents transmitted via computer network.

So safe. So secure. No one has ever stolen a memory card. Think those cards are tough to come by? Nope, one is given to each voter, according to the manufacturer:

 A voter must have an activated smart card in order to begin voting. After the voter casts his or her ballot on the Edge, the smart card is deactivated and returned to a pollworker. This prevents one voter from voting multiple times.

Can a memory card also deactivate a whole machine without anyone knowing about it? Sure can. The only protection on these machines is a “tamper evident seal,” with no indication what makes it “tamper evident,” according to the Sequoia maker:

The cover for the poll function switch accommodates a tamper-evident seal. Also on the back of each Edge unit is a yellow “Activate” button, which can be used to switch the Edge into different operating modes. Finally, the backside of the Edge has a small LCD screen (two rows of 20 characters) that displays diagnostic and error messages

How high tech are these “tamper evident seals” on Sequoia machines? Check out the photo:





Are there any other “tamper evident seal” problems out there? New Jersey had a lawsuit based on “tamper evident seals” from Sequoia, using mainly tape. I kid you not. Tamper evident seals were a piece of tape that warned the user not to remove them.

I think pink tape is enough to stop hackers, isn’t it?

New Jersey court documents from 2011 prove that an election can be rigged based on what an election official called an “accidental” programming error.

The Sequoia AVC Advantage is an old-technology direct-recording electronic voting machine. It doesn’t have a video display; the candidate names are printed on a large sheet of paper, and voters indicate their choices by pressing buttons that are underneath the paper. A “ballot definition” file in an electronic cartridge associates candidate names with the button positions.

Clearly, it had better be the case that the candidate names on the printed paper match the candidate names in the ballot-definition file in the cartridge! Otherwise, voters will press the button for (e.g.,) Cynthia Zirkle, but the computer will record a vote for Vivian Henry, as happened in a recent election in New Jersey.

How do we know that this is what happened? As I reported to the Court in Zirkle v. Henry, the AVC Advantage prints the names of candidates, and how many votes each received, on a Results Report printout on a roll of cash-register tape. The printout reads, in this case,

I23 I24 J23 J24

Cynthia Zirkle 10 Ernest Zirkle 9

Vivian Henry 34 Mark A. Henry 33

In this election, four candidates are running for two positions in a vote-for-any-two election. Here, J23 indicates that the button at column J, row 23 on the face of the AVC advantage received 34 votes. The problem was that the poster-size printed paper covering the buttons had the name Cynthia Zirkle printed at position J23. Vivian Henry’s name was printed at position I23. That is, there was a mismatch between the printed paper and the electronic ballot-definition file. Similarly, the positions of Ernest Zirkle and Mark Henry were swapped.

The Princeton auditor who found the mistakes listed above, using a Sequoia voting machine in 2011 said that the election results were chalked up to “human error;” however, if more than one election in the states that have disparate election results have already reported voting machine errors that resulted in incorrect election tallies, then “hacking” has already occurred, even if by accident with a smart phone, and even if by accident with an election official misprogramming a voting machine.

The Sequoia voting machine has problems, but what about the Diebold voting machine?

Guess what, there are internet tutorials for hacking that, too.

Two of the lead researchers in the study were able to demonstrate a number of different ways that voting machines could be hacked. They used a $1.29 microprocessor and a circuit board that costs about $8, along with a $15 remote control.

They demonstrated that the cheap hack worked from over a half-mile away.

“When the voter hits the ‘vote now’ button to register his votes, we can blank the screen and then go back and vote differently and the voter will be unaware that this has happened. Spend an extra four bucks and get a better lock, you don’t have to have state-of-the-art security, but you can do some things where it takes at least a little bit of skill to get in,” Johnson said.

As far as how easy the hack is, Johnson told Popsci that “I’ve been to high school science fairs where the kids had more sophisticated microprocessor projects.”

You can look at Politico Magazine for an article about how to hack an election, and there is information on Popular Science, as well about elections that have already been hacked. Seems hacking an election isn’t a possibility, it’s a reality, and since it’s already happened, an audit seems more than well-deserved.

Pennsylvania, currently refusing to hand count its votes, uses machines that were hacked in New Jersey elections, and the only way to determine if the machines were hacked, even if inadvertently, is to match a paper trail to the computer trail, something Pennsylvania refuses to do, even though other states have outlawed the machines, a term coined by Jill Stein:

But the tipping point came in 2006, when a major congressional race between Vern Buchanan and Christine Jennings in Florida’s 13th District imploded over the vote counts in Sarasota County—where 18,000 votes from paperless machines essentially went missing (technically deemed an “undervote”) in a race decided by less than 400 votes. Felten drew an immediate connection to the primary suspect: The ES&S iVotronic machine, one of the many ordered in Pennsylvania after they deployed their HAVA funds. Shortly after the debacle, Governor Charlie Crist announced a deadline for paper backups in every county in Florida that year; Maryland Governor Bob Erlich urged his state’s voters to cast an absentee ballot rather than put their hands on a digital touch screen—practically an unprecedented measure. By 2007, the touch screens were so unpopular that two senators, Bill Nelson of Florida and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, had introduced legislation banning digital touch screens in time for the 2012 election.

Given the fact that Pennsylvania knowingly used voting machines that have been hacked before, one begs the question: if Pennsylvania knew it had older machines without security updates, then why use them? Security experts already determined the state with the greatest hacking risk was Pennsylvania, and because, as I mentioned above, Pennsylvania uses the Sequoia machines:

But most identified Pennsylvania as the greatest concern. There, according to Verified Voting 47 counties of 67 vote on digital voting machines without a written backup record if something were to go awry—a reality that is very much on the minds of state officials (legislation is working its way through the House to examine the issue of voting modernization.) In Pittsburgh and Philadelphia—two Democratic strongholds whose turnout typically decide the fate of the state’s outcome—around 900,000 voters will cast ballots entirely on paperless touchscreens DREs, if previous elections are any guide. Then, at least from the voters’ perspective, they will disappear into a sea of ones and zeroes.

Montgomery County, a crucial Democratic redoubt in the suburbs of Philadelphia—an area sometimes seen as having the potential to swing the entire state—is one such locality that uses a paperless electronic machine, and only one machine, for all 425 precincts: Appel’s Sequoia AVC Advantage.

New Jersey hasn’t said whether or not the employee that “accidentally” misprogrammed the voting machines was replaced. Pennsylvania’s response to identifying the risk of hacking in a system with no paper and simple reusable memory cards?

“We are very, very confident in our machines,” Val Arkoosh, the vice chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, tells me. She spoke with the staccato fervency and granular detail of someone who is thinking about this issue, and has been asked before. Yet when I asked her about Appel’s hack and the Princeton group, next door across the Delaware River, she appeared not to have heard of it. She assured me their system is secure: “We program each of our machines individually—they’re never connected to the Internet,” and an internal hard drive “creates a permanent record each time that a vote is cast.” At the end of the day, Arkoosh said, “the vote is transcribed on a thermal tape, the machines are closed to lock, the information is transferred to a standalone server that tallies the results.”

The fact that the programming alone is a problem for election coordinators is apparently of no concern to Pennsylvania or its judge that ruled there was no evidence of problem from the machines before it investigated. Still begs the question: Pennsylvania, why not do a recount if it’s already been paid for?

The fact that “hacks” thus far have been committed by poll workers doesn’t mean it can’t happen–it means it already has and it’s just a matter of finding out how frequently it happens:

In May 2006, Finnish computer security expert Harri Hursti working with the organization released a report documenting several security issues with the Diebold electronic voting terminals TSx and TS6. According to the report, “the security threats seem to enable a malicious person to compromise the equipment even years before actually using the exploit, possibly leaving the voting terminal incurably compromised.”11 In other words, a computer hacker, doubling as a poll worker, would only need a few seconds of physical access to the machines to introduce a virus to the software by putting a memory card inside of the machine. Because the memory cards are transferred from one machine to another, this could cause the machines to fail or to simply change the vote outcome by switching votes.12

It’s happened, just has it happened in the 2016 election?

It’s happened before:

In April 2005, Pennsylvania decerti ed the UniLect Patriot electronic voting machine after concluding that defects in the system were responsible for more than 10,000 uncounted votes in three di erent counties in November 2004. When the state re-examined the machines after the elections, it found that the machines often failed to register votes after the voter pressed the screen to make his or her selection. e machines were also prone to freez- ing up during use.20

In a separate incident in Berks County, Pennsylvania, involving voting machines manufactured by Danaher Controls, 111 votes were lost when the cartridges used to record votes were accidentally programmed as training cartridges during the May 2005 primary election.21 Election results showed that three races were decided by less than 111 votes. After much controversy, the Berks County Election Board ultimately voted against having a re-vote.22

For a full reporting on voting machines causing election recounts, check out this link here:

It’s happened in multiple states, and Pennsylvania is not alone. Texas. Arizona. Florida. Virginia. New Mexico. The list goes on…


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