Voting Machines In Elections

Voting machine in elections have created problems for honest elections in that the source code used to run the machines is not available for inspection.  As a consequence, anything can be in the software such as fractional vote counting where the machine is programmed to give candidates other than 0 or 1 vote.  Because of this the machine can be programmed to be biased for a preferred candidate, and operators and voters will not know the difference.  Machines are also hooked up to the internet or a thumb-drive as a minimum when summarizing and reporting votes.  Some machines have WiFi cards built in and can be connected whenever they are programmed to connect, even while voting is happening.  While hooked to the internet, the machines are vulnerable to being hacked and the votes being altered.  Some machines have USB ports on them which can be accessed by thumb drives that contain software that can alter the computer software.  Voting machines have administrative accounts on them to allow administrators to install and configure election software.  The security on these administrative accounts is poor, apparently by design.  It is easy for hackers to access these accounts and have access to administrative level privileges over the voting software and data.  Computers are so versatile and election security is so poor that it is easy for an election manager to find ways to alter the vote.  For example, in Maricopa County, AZ in 2022 the election administrator printed ballots formatted for 19 inch paper on 20 inch paper.  The scanners that scanned the ballots and counted them were set up to read ballots on 20 inch paper, and the scanners had trouble reading the ballots formatted for 19 inch paper, and the scanners rejected half of the ballots, thus creating long lines and unread ballots that disenfranchised many voters.  Many other things can be done with computers such as counting fractional votes, creating fake paper copies of votes while actually counting different data, and allowing remote access to manipulate ballots in real time.  There were tests run back in the '70s on voting machine security that uncovered many of the same flaws with election computers that we experience today.  Rather than trying to honestly fix machine vulnerabilities and ensuring an honest elections, the vulnerabilities have been exploited and made worse.  Since a computer can be made to do about anything, without the most stringent controls and software audits, there can never be completely honest elections.  Since vendors will not allow software audits of their "proprietary software", and computers are vulnerable to hacking in so many ways, we can never guarantee free and fair elections with computers, so voting machines should be removed completely and we should return to paper ballots, even if it costs more.

James Johnson

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