Pennsylvania is taking election hacking seriously, spending federal money on new electoral systems. But are those systems secure?
According to a recent report on the Associated Press, many of the new systems run on outdated software which is vulnerable to hackers.
The majority of the election jurisdictions nationwide use Windows 7 or older operating systems to create ballots and program voting machines. But Windows 7 reaches “end of life” on January 14th.
“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,” says the AP report.
States at risk
The AP says they surveyed all 50 states and found many affected by the end of Windows 7 support, including Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, Iowa, Indiana, Arizona and North Carolina, Michigan, and Georgia.’
The new election system manufacturers
The election technology industry contains three key players who make up 92% of new election systems used across the country, says the AP: Election Systems and Software LLC; Dominion Voting Systems Inc.; and Hart InterCivic Inc.
Dominion systems aren’t affected by upcoming Windows software issues, though the AP says it has systems acquired from no-longer-existing companies that may be.
Where hacking can come into play
Hackers typically target older systems which aren’t supported by Microsoft’s monthly patches.
“The use of election systems that still run on Windows 7 ‘is of concern, and it should be of concern,’ said U.S. Election Assistance Commission Chair Christy McCormick. EAC develops election system guidelines.” — AP report