How I Hacked an Election | NYT – Opinion

All cybersecurity experts who
have given electronic voting machines any thought
agree. These machines have got to go. To show you why, I’m running a mock
election using the same dangerous and obsolete
machines still in use today. Our election will find out
whether Michigan students prefer their own university
or our arch rival Ohio State. Here we are. After the chaos of
the 2000 election, we were promised a modern
and dependable way to vote. I’m here to tell you that the
electronic voting machines Americans got to solve the
problem of voting integrity — they turned out to
be an awful idea. One vote for McCain. Huh?! That’s because people like me
can hack them all too easily. I’m a computer scientist who has
hacked a lot of electronic voting machines. I even turned one machine
into a video game console. Imagine what the Russians
and North Koreans can do. I’ve even gone to Congress
to raise the alarm. Our highly computerized election
infrastructure is vulnerable to sabotage
and even to cyber-attacks This is the same
electronic voting machine used in Georgia and parts
of Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas
and even in swing states like Virginia, Florida
and Pennsylvania. Millions of Americans voted
on paperless electronic voting machines in the 2016 election. Who are you going to vote for? Hundred percent Michigan. Obviously Michigan. Michigan. But here’s a little
secret between you and me. I’ve already hacked these worthless
machines. Step one: buy a voting machine on Ebay. Or, if you are the
North Koreans, hack the manufacturer and
steal their software code. Step two: write a virus. Step three: email your virus
to every election official responsible for
programming the voting machines with new ballots. Many of these officials
are easy to find online. Step four: sip coffee
and wait. Step five: hijack the
ballot programming and let the election
officials copy your invisible malicious code
onto the voting machines. Step six: watch your code
silently steal votes. All right, here are the results
from the electronic voting machines. Ohio State wins 131 to 108. There’s a good reason we computer scientists
are paranoid. It’s a golden age for hackers. The computer virus
that destroyed Iranian nuclear equipment — This is one of the largest data breaches in history. More than one billion
of its accounts were hacked. What chance do the people
running your local elections really have against
Russia or North Korea? OK, everyone. I hacked the voting machines. I do have the real
results, because we also counted on paper. Michigan wins! Michigan won in a landslide. And I can say this confidently
because I have the real results from the safest and
simplest solution. Paper ballots. We need to take a hard look
at the equipment that actually records and reports votes. Even though the Senate intelligence committee is finally
showing some understanding of the problem, it’s not enough. All states in this
country, the people ultimately responsible
for how we vote, In a real election,
an official could quickly scan these paper ballots and shortly after, have a
human verify the results. Paper plus audits: all elections
should be run this way. But if you don’t want to believe
me or every single expert in cybersecurity who’s
thought this through, then take it from this guy. It’s old fashioned,
but it’s always good to have a paper
backup system of voting. It’s called paper.

About the author


  1. Is there another modern country in the world that uses that kind of machines ? I don't think it is the case in the EU.

  2. In RI since the 1980's it's been a paper ballot – that gets fed to a scanner. They've changed out the scanners of course but the ballots are still preserved.

  3. It's Ink and paper in Malaysia , but the end result calculated in the computer and there was a ''blackout'' and after power came back on , the results was given to the other party . and Elections for Malaysia is around the corner , I only care about freedom to vote and clean votes , not corrupting and giving empty promises by MO1 , and justice done to the laundering of $700 million

  4. it appears that, by my estimate, Trump voters were purchased for less than $2. staggering to think that so many Americans are easy to buy. and for what? more of nothing?

  5. So Russia, Iraq, Turkey, China, Nicaragua, Syria, Cuba, etc. all have a trustworthy elections because they use paper?

  6. The Russians didn't hack our elections. Hillary Clinton cheated Senator Sanders in the primary, violating FEC laws, which should have disqualified her. But hey, Equal Justice Under Law is just a slogan.

  7. All those states highlighted use voting machines and what was the outcome in those states? I think they're redder than a firetruck! Certainly they're pretty red to begin with, but hacking voting machines assures victory for the villains — which is exactly what they are.

    Good video.

  8. This video is deceptive. Why are we worried about other countries hacking these machines when Americans here at home have been the ones guilty of doing so for years?

  9. So what he saying is that the FBI CIA are just a bunch of useless professional that they can not prevent the hacker from manipulating the election.

  10. You are so full of crap that you must have brown eyes. Scare tactics without any proof. Voting machines are test run with sample ballots before they are put into use and must pass an even vote between the candidates. Since none of them are connected to any network there is no way to influence or change the vote. You would like paper ballots like Minnesota uses? There was a poll worker who found a box of ballots in her car the next day, all for the same candidate.

  11. This demonstration of electronic voting machines supposedly being 'hacked' actually demonstrates nothing… The voting machines were NOT hacked… they were deliberately reprogrammed by the guy who set up the voting machines and he was responsible for administering them… that's called a SYSTEM ADMINISTRATOR… NOT A "HACKER".

    A System Administrator reprogrammed the electronic voting machines to subvert an election…. That does NOT demonstrate a vulnerability to hacking because the method of reprogramming the machines REMOTELY wasn't used to "hack" them…. but that's exactly what you're supposed to think happened.

    Despite what this video suggests these electronic voting machines aren't connected to the internet! The video stronly suggests the machines are connected to vulnerable networks that could be hacked… the video asserts you could "email a virus" to a system administrator of a voting precinct and wait for the virus to infect the network… Okay that might work assuming the system administrator falls for your phishing scam to hack his computer…. AND assuming it's the same computer he uses for system administrator access to the network of electronic voting machines. That's hardly the case… because the system administrators for these voting machines access the machines directly… the system administrator account can only be accessed on a electronic voting machine itself…. not through a computer… because this was a deliberate security feature to prevent these types of hacking vulnerabilities. The electronic voting machines have no connectivity……. and the NYT uses this highly suggestive propaganda implying these voting machines have connectivity and vulnerable to remote hacks when it's really the opposite. Electronic voting machines are as secure/vulnerable as ATM's.

  12. ofc if i buy it, ill be able to do anything w em like playin on it as shown, tho if they really are just some regular pcs linked to internet via LAN/WLAN(settings like an usual homepc) then its america`s fault being so dumb.
    but yeah we are perfect its just the machines fault…… but i tell ya an touchscreen n scanner from 2018 wont give u more security even if it has better software.

  13. You cannot widely 'hack' an election without getting caught because of data analysis. If 80% of the people in a county are democrat and the election goes to a republican there has to be a good reason reflected in the exit polls or it was clearly voter fraud.

    In close races i think the DNC has been able to steal some elections and rig primaries (like they did with Bernie Sanders), paper ballots might help deter this. Data analysis is another bulwark against voter fraud. But a paper back up, and voter ID would also help insure election integrity.

    One of the biggest statistical red flags was the 2008 election where Obama got 69 million votes. By 2012, 4 million votes had disappeared, and he only got about 65 million. That is unprecedented. But I get it, Dems think Bush stole the election from Gore so fair is fair.

  14. No need for a paper ballot. Just let the machine print a receipt of who you voted. After checking if the receipt is correct, you must drop it in the ballot box.

  15. This really proves nothing, anyone can technically hack an ATM as well as the voting machine. It's like he's implying that people can just walk up to an ATM or voting machine and just plug their laptops in.

  16. It' right to be vigilant But it is nonsense to let people who make a living self-aggrandizing themselves as the ones that can hack anything pull stunts that do NOT mean what they claim to mean. Of course, viruses mess up computers. Nobody here doesn't know that. But it is WRONG to make it look like planting that virus is five easy steps.

  17. anyone here believes the code he supposedly hacked from the manufacturer is still the code and that getting the current code is easy? Then he's assuming a large number of election officials are going to fall for email spear fishing. THEN he's skipping the fact the machines are not connected to the internet and can't be remotely accessed like some kind of voodoo mind trick. and if in fact, he means someone has to plug a keyboard and mouse into an individual machine to activate the virus.. he's just wasting our time.

    Millions voted on those machines in 2016. Notice he's NOT saying millions will use them this year nor did he say any machines were hacked ro any votes changed in 2016.

    He's right in that we shouldn't be using them but does NOT go into the reasons some counties in some states still use them. In short, if he's so concerned, he should pay for the printing of paper ballots or machines that print a record. It's almost exclusively very poor counties with very low tax revenue that still have them.

  18. Now, I lived in California for 15 years in the south bay and I LOVE San Francisco and love the whole bay area. Still, when I saw a video from San Franciso county officials showing off their big fancy printed ballots while saying voters everywhere should be insisting on the same thing, it sounded more than a little snobby. San Francisco County has a per capita income of $110,418. Every single state that still has this machine has counties that rank in the 100 lowest income counties in the entire country!!! From the poorest at $16,267 per capita to the 100th poorest at $27,342. There are 3007 counties in the US. The poorest 100 is very very poor. They do not have a big enough tax base to afford the paper system.

    There are not a lot of printing companies that are qualified to print paper ballots. The ballots themselves are expensive but much more expensive it the fact they have to be optical scan, which means all of the previously paperless counties have to buy optical scanners. The Federal government is helping but it in no way covers the actual cost. Georgia, for instance, was allocated $10 million dollars but the actual cost of a paper ballot system was projected at $30 to $40 million and the cost isn't actually borne by the state, they are borne by the individual counties.

    And to make thing worse, many of the poor counties are most vulnerable to voter suppression schemes.

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