The Insecurity of 2020 Voting Machines

Computers and technology make life so much easier, at least that’s what they keep telling us. Have you ever called into some company about your bill or a product only find that they are having problems with their computers and are unable to help you?

Over the past decade or so, I’ve heard many a person long for the good old days before computers. There may be some sense of reason for that, but we forget how difficult it was to do business or purchase items back then.

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One of the reasons I’ve heard some say they long for the good days is because of all of the security issues that we’ve heard about since the turn of the century. But consider the fact that in the 1870s to 1900s, long before the electronic age, thieves found it easy to steal by robbing stagecoaches. Consider this:

In my home state, Arizona had 129 stage robberies between 1875 and 1903, with the worst cases occurring in the area around Tombstone and the Black Canyon Stage Line, from Phoenix to Prescott, which follows Interstate 17 today. Of the roughly 200 stage robbers, 80 have been identified—79 men and one woman.

If it wasn’t stagecoaches, bad guys were robbing trains and banks. When one takes a good hard look at the good old days, in some ways, they weren’t so good after all.

We still hear about bank robberies, along with robberies of convenience stores, grocery stores, liquor stores and more. If anything, people in general have become more corrupt, violent and willing to break the law to accomplish their goal.

Today, computer crimes seem to have become the norm. We hear about banks, financial institutions, stores, government agencies and individuals being hacked by those trying to steal information.

Computer crimes have also invaded the political world. Consider the political furor created when Eric Snowden copied and leaked tons of confidential electronic files from the CIA and made them public via WikiLeaks.

Then in 2012, we heard a number of reports of electronic voting machines that automatically changed votes cast for Republican Mitt Romney to Democrat Barack Obama. Going into the 2016 elections, more areas in the nation had converted to electronic voting machines which raised concern about their security and ability to be hacked.

The 2020 election is only about 13 months away and the concerns about the security of electronic voting machines has again risen to the forefront and according to a recent report, there a huge reason to be concerned:

The voting machines that the US will use in the 2020 election are still vulnerable to hacks. A group of ethical hackers tested a bunch of those voting machines and election systems (most of which they bought on eBay). They were able to crack into every machine, The Washington Post reports. Their tests took place this summer at a Def Con cybersecurity conference, but the group visited Washington to share their findings yesterday.

A number of flaws allowed the hackers to access the machines, including weak default passwords and shoddy encryption. The group says the machines could be hacked by anyone with access to them, and if poll workers make mistakes or take shortcuts, the machines could be infiltrated by remote hackers.

This isn’t the first time we’ve been told the machines are susceptible to hacks. This summer we learned that key election systems may have been exposed online for months, and at least one voting machine maker sold states systems with remote access. With the 2020 election quickly approaching, states have little time to secure their systems.

Are electronic voting machines more susceptible to corruption than the days of paper ballots? If you lived in places like Chicago back in the good old days, you say no as it was a common practice for some to stuff the ballot boxes with fraudulent votes.

Could the issue of vulnerability play a role in the 2020 elections? It could and based on recent history, any voting machine hacking would most likely help Democrats, not Republicans.