FLASHBACK, NOV. 2, 2020: Will your ballot be safe? Computer experts sound warnings on America’s voting machines.
Millions of voters going to the polls Tuesday will cast their ballots on machines blasted as unreliable and inaccurate for two decades by computer scientists from Princeton University to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
Toyed with by white-hat hackers and targeted for scathing reviews from secretaries of state in California and Ohio, Direct Recording Electronic voting systems, or DREs, have startled Illinois voters by flashing the word “Republican” at the top of a ballot and forgotten what day it was in South Carolina. They were questioned in the disappearance of 12,000 votes in Bernalillo County, New Mexico, in 2002 and 18,000 votes in Sarasota County, Florida, in 2006. . . .
All election systems are for the most part black boxes: proprietary software and hardware jealously guarded by the handful of companies selling them. But state reviews and court cases opening up DRE systems of all makes and models for examination have for years flagged problems.
In New Jersey in 2008, Princeton computer scientist Andrew Appel and a five-member team got a rare look under the hood of an AVC Advantage DRE, part of a lawsuit alleging DREs could not reliably count votes
Among the findings: The system sometimes only seemed to record a vote. It sometimes did record a vote but seemed not to. It would take one screwdriver and seven minutes to insert a vote-stealing program. That kind of hack would probably be invisible, Appel concluded.
Matt Luceen didn’t vote for former President Donald Trump in 2020, but he came to Washington last week to protest President Biden’s inauguration, saying the election was flawed.
Mr. Luceen, a supporter of Sen. Bernard Sanders, said he toted signs that read “COUNT OUR VOTES BY HAND,” and “End the charade.”
“We don’t ever really put the paper into piles and count them by hand anymore,” the 34-year-old computer programmer said. “We just trust the machines, and we shouldn’t because we have documented proof that these machines are vulnerable.”
While Mr. Trump and his supporters have been explosively vocal about their distrust of the election system, discontent runs through a broad swath of voters from across the political spectrum.
In 2016, it was Democrats complaining that the election had been tainted by Russian interference. Two years later, the party complained that Stacey Abrams had been denied the Georgia governorship because of shenanigans with voting rolls.
Ms. Abrams never conceded, and Democrats — who took control of the U.S. House in those 2018 elections — made her cause a rallying cry, vowing to repair elections.
In 2020, it was Mr. Trump sowing complaints early and often.
In a December 2019 letter to Dominion Voting Systems, which has been mired in controversy after a human error involving its machines in Antrim County, Michigan, resulted in incorrect counts, Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Ron Wyden, and Amy Klobuchar and congressman Mark Pocan warned about reports of machines “switching votes,” “undisclosed vulnerabilities,” and “improbable” results that “threaten the integrity of our elections.”
“In 2018 alone, ‘voters in South Carolina [were] reporting machines that switched their votes after they’d inputted them, scanners [were] rejecting paper ballots in Missouri, and busted machines [were] causing long lines in Indiana,’” the letter reads. “In addition, researchers recently uncovered previously undisclosed vulnerabilities in “nearly three dozen backend election systems in 10 states.” And, just this year, after the Democratic candidate’s electronic tally showed he received 164 votes out of 55,000 cast in a Pennsylvania state judicial election in 2019, the county’s Republican chairwoman said, “nothing went right on Election Day. Everything went wrong. That’s a problem.”
The letter continued: “These problems threaten the integrity of our elections and demonstrate the importance of election systems that are strong, durable, and not vulnerable to attack.”
Dominion’s suing Rudy Giuliani, but not these Democrats. But an “unbiased” voting machine company that only sues Republicans has kind of blown its credibility already.