This has raised a new wave of concerns that on Election Day, the votes themselves could be compromised by hackers, potentially tipping the results. Most states have returned to paper-backed voting systems in recent years, but that still leaves vulnerable a number of states that rely solely on machines.
Zeynep Tufekci, a professor at the University of North Carolina’s School of Information and Library Science, tells NPR’s Scott Simon that without these paper-backed systems, up to 15 states could be putting their election results at risk. That’s a possible reach of 60 million voters — “enough to swing an election,” Tufekci says.
On how easy it is to tamper with voting machines
Unfortunately, too easy. And this has been demonstrated again and again by security researchers around the country.
In my old workplace — at Princeton University at the Center for Information Technology Policy — we had this lounging area with comfy couches, and researchers had decorated the place with a voting machine that had been hacked to play Pac-Man instead of counting votes. … And when they hacked this, the machine had been in use in jurisdictions around the country with more than 9 million voters.
The worry is, in a lot of states that are critical to the election — swing states — they don’t even have a paper trail that you can audit with. That’s really worrisome given how crucial elections are.
On how vote-tampering might happen in the upcoming election
It’s not a straightforward thing, in the sense that the doomsday scenario where some foreign power or some domestic player hacks all of them, because the election machines we have are a patchwork of different systems. It’s kind of hard to pull off a centralized hack.
But let’s consider Georgia, which is running electronic-only machines — there’s no paper trail. … And …