Election Hacking: Solutions Needed, Not Partisan Blame Games

“It took me only a few minutes to see how to hack it.”

We have known for some time that state voting machines are incredibly vulnerable to cyberattack. Is this breaking news? No. White hat hackers (ethical hackers) in recent history have demonstrated time and time again just how easy it is to hack into the machines.

So what is being done about it?

At the nation’s largest cybersecurity conference over the weekend, DEF CON, attendees were invited to hack a number of voting machines used across the country. What many found was that these machines are actually very easy to hack into.

It took me only a few minutes to see how to hack (the voting machine).
Attendee at DEF CON

One hacker, quoted above, said the voting machines currently used in Georgia can be hacked within minutes.

“[The hacker] went on to list a number of actions he hoped states would take to help secure machines, including increasing testing opportunities for outside hackers and transparency in voting machine design,” The Hill reports.

Hackers at the conference made suggestions and hope to build broader awareness, but who is listening to them? Many people wait with bated breath for the answer to this question.

Here’s the problem.

Politics in the US runs a predictable cycle. A problem is identified, politicians, pundits, and the media then spend the 24-hour news cycle debating who is to blame, a new problem arises, cycle repeats.

But there is something that is always missing. That’s right. The solution.

Politics in the US runs a predictable cycle... But there is something that is always missing... The solution.

Knowing what we know about how vulnerable voting machines are, why are we not talking about preventive measures? Why aren’t lawmakers demanding greater security from the companies that make these machines?

US lawmakers say the intelligence community (IC) is largely in agreement that Russian hackers tried to interfere in our elections, though heads of the IC say there is no evidence the outcome was at all impacted by these efforts.

Russia is considered by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to be a great adversary of the US. That hasn’t changed in years. They have overwhelmingly passed additional sanctions on Russia over their alleged attempts to hack US elections.

So what now?

Why aren't lawmakers demanding greater security measures from the companies that make these machines?

Whether it was Russia-sponsored hackers or someone else, why aren’t there actual calls to make election machines more secure? Seriously. What lawmaker or pundit is demanding real solutions to the core problem right now?

This is what happens when US lawmakers care more about scoring points with the media elite than their constituents. This is what happens when policy is driven by knee-jerk, reactionary actions rather than substantive debate.

Politicians are notorious for kicking the can down the road, including on issues like cybersecurity. Voters in 2020 can expect to hear the same reports of attempts to hack into our voting machines, because guess what? The political elite are not actually doing anything about it.

Photo Credit: Rob Crandall / shutterstock.com