Reports are coming in that the software being used by most voting machines nationwide is antiquated, and very vulnerable to hacking and tampering during the 2020 elections!
An Associated Press analysis has found that the vast majority of 10,000 election jurisdictions nationwide use Windows 7 or an older operating system to create ballots, program voting machines, tally votes and report counts.
That’s significant because Windows 7 reached its “end of life” on Jan. 14, meaning Microsoft stops providing technical support and producing “patches” to fix software vulnerabilities, which hackers can exploit. In a statement to the AP, Microsoft said it would offer continued Windows 7 security updates for a fee through 2023.
Critics say the situation is an example of what happens when private companies ultimately determine the security level of election systems with a lack of federal requirements or oversight. Vendors say they have been making consistent improvements in election systems. And many state officials say they are wary of federal involvement in state and local elections.
The AP surveyed all 50 states, the District of Columbia and territories, and found multiple battleground states affected by the end of Windows 7 support, including Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, Iowa, Indiana, Arizona and North Carolina. Also affected are Michigan and Georgia, which acquired new systems in late 2019.
Besides the issues with outdated software, in Aug 2019, a team of independent security experts found that, contrary to popular belief, many digital voting machines were connected to the internet, sometimes for months on end. This, the experts feared, could give hackers a window through which to manipulate votes.
The company that makes the machines that the researchers found to be flawed is called Election Systems & Software (ES&S) (company officials have disputed this characterization of its systems). About 70 million Americans’ votes are counted using one of ES&S’ machines, which make up about half of the election equipment market, according to ProPublica.
As November’s presidential election looms, there is a lot for Americans to be concerned about. Secure vote-counting systems should be a given! The question is, do our leaders have the will to make sure we get that?
There’s still time, though it’s quickly running out!