PA Voting System Vulnerable to Hacking

Blue Ribbon Commission Recommends New Machines

Joe DeStio
September 25, 2018 - 4:43 pm
 A blue ribbon commission on election security says Pennsylvania is one of the states most vulnerable to voting manipulation and election day technical problems.
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PITTSBURGH (Newsradio 1020 KDKA) – A blue ribbon commission on election security says Pennsylvania is one of the states most vulnerable to voting manipulation and election day technical problems. It’s making a series of interim recommendations to be in place by the 2019 general election.

“An estimated 83 percent of Pennsylvanians vote on machines that offer no auditable paper record,” according to a release by the Blue Ribbon Commission on Pennsylvania’s Election Security. Former U.S. Attorney David Hickton co-chairs the commission and heads Pitt’s Institute for Cyber Law, Policy and Security. Hickton says it’s not just the machines themselves but the system supporting them.

“The internet is used to transmit the ballot to the Department of State, says Hickton. The recording and transmission of results is done on the internet.”

The bigger threat is the private vendors hired by counties to support the system. “In Maryland it was established that one of the subcontractors was owned by Russian oligarchs,” says Hickton. “The more conventional risk is that these sub-contractors  are mom and pop operations and they might not have any cybersecurity expertise and awareness.”

The commission, co-chaired by Grove City College President Paul McNulty makes several recommendations.

Counties should replace vulnerable voting machines with systems using voter-marked paper ballots

The Pennsylvania General Assembly and federal government should help counties pay for the new machines

Greater attention needs to be paid to voting system sub-contractors which are vulnerable to hacking and security vulnerabilities.