Top voting machine vendor admits it installed remote-access software on systems sold to states

“The nation’s top voting machine maker has admitted in a letter to a federal lawmaker that the company installed remote-access software on election-management systems it sold over a period of six years, raising questions about the security of those systems and the integrity of elections that were conducted with them,” Kim Zetter reports for Motherboard.

“In a letter sent to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) in April and obtained recently by Motherboard, Election Systems and Software acknowledged that it had ‘provided pcAnywhere remote connection software … to a small number of customers between 2000 and 2006,’ which was installed on the election-management system ES&S sold them,” Zetter reports. “The statement contradicts what the company told me and fact checkers for a story I wrote for the New York Times in February. At that time, a spokesperson said ES&S had never installed pcAnywhere on any election system it sold.”

“ES&S is the top voting machine maker in the country, a position it held in the years 2000-2006 when it was installing pcAnywhere on its systems. The company’s machines were used statewide in a number of states, and at least 60 percent of ballots cast in the US in 2006 were tabulated on ES&S election-management systems,” Zetter reports. “The company told Wyden it stopped installing pcAnywhere on systems in December 2007, after the Election Assistance Commission, which oversees the federal testing and certification of election systems used in the US, released new voting system standards. Those standards required that any election system submitted for federal testing and certification thereafter could contain only software essential for voting and tabulation… Wyden told Motherboard that installing remote-access software and modems on election equipment ‘is the worst decision for security short of leaving ballot boxes on a Moscow street corner.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Sheesh.

With today’s security technology, no country in the world is able to provide a secure Internet voting system.Harri Hursti, May 2014

Bernie Sanders camp suspicious of Microsoft’s influence in Iowa Caucus – January 28, 2016
U.S. Election Day Tech: What could possibly go wrong? – November 4, 2008
Serious security flaws found in Diebold electronic voting machines – May 15, 2006


        1. I think it would be a great America First job program to say that all their voting machine employees have to be Americans and, because the systems are not allowed to be networked, all their issues must be resolved on site by an American technician. You KNOW that the reason why they want them on the network is so they can have folks outside the country providing cheap remote support.

  1. WIndows machines of course too. Not that there are a lot of options.

    I guess no-one will ever know for sure what, if any impact these types of things may have had on the US election. It’s interesting for sure, and yeah, how do you possibly benefit from the efficiency of these machines if they are as susceptible as they seem to be.

    Apple could make a much more secure device I’m sure if they wanted.

  2. This is exactly why Australian Governments and its citizens are opposed to electronic voting systems and continue to use paper ballots. Voter fraud is Australia is virtually non-existent but then for Federal elections we have a single truly independent electoral commission where the commissioner is a bipartisan appointed position, not this nonsense of elected officials, with nationally consistent electoral rules and ballot papers regardless of whether you are voting in Albany Western Australia or Zillmere in Queensland.
    Electronic voting machines are a solution searching for a problem.

    1. Because Florida Democrats in 2000 didn’t like how many people voted for Bush on paper ballots and pushing holes in paper is too complicated for Democrats, the entire country had to shift to electronic machines so Democrats could devise ways to remotely achieve the results the voters would not provide themselves.

  3. We should be counting paper ballots in public by hand with a complete audit before certification for all elections. It is simply too important to our democracy for there to be doubts as to the accuracy and legitimacy of our elections.

    In the aftermath of the 2000 Presidential Election, the Congress passed the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) and granted states truckloads of money to up date the equipment used to tabulate election results. As they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

    What ended up happening is that a small number of companies sold overpriced Windows based computers to be used in voting. They required EULAs that forbade security audits of the systems, which goes against basic data security protocols. So you ended up with highly insecure closed Windows based voting systems that were not available for independent security audits. These systems have been repeatedly shown by various researchers to be highly vulnerable to hacking via any number of hardware specific and Windows software specific vulnerabilities.

    What is even worse is that some of these creaky old machines- many close to 20 years old running on ancient versions of Microsoft Windows- are still in use. This simply should not be.

    Prior to the widespread advent of Windows based computerized voting, the agreement between exit polling and vote tabulation was highly consistent and was considered a marker for fair elections. Since the HAVA machines were in place, there has been a high level of inconsistency between exit polling and reported computer tabulation.

    It is well known on this site that my politics lie about where a European style Social Democrat would be rather than either of the 2 major parties in the USA, but I can abide by the intent of the American voter as long as the counting was done accurately and every American qualified to vote had fair access to a polling place with accurate accounting.

    All of these machines should be thrown in the trash.

  4. This is great, now there can be a brand new special coming up for anyone looking to buy an Iraqi treasure map complete with the secret location of their weapons of mass destruction program, a bonus vote for their next election. Just send cheque of money order to Putin Enterprises, Moscow Idaho.

  5. Just an addition to Stuart Maddison.

    In Australia if there is a dispute over the final result at the state level the respective supreme courts become the Court of Disputed Results and make a decision on the final result based on the available evidence.

    If there is a problem at the federal level it goes to the High Court and that court becomes the (federal) Court of Disputed Returns. The method of decision making is a basically a mirror of the state systems.

    There is the avenue of appeal from a state judicial interpretation to the High Court but this would only happen if there was an error in law and this very rarely happens.

    At both levels there is no decision making based on politics and it is just based on procedure and jurisprudence.

    I might also add that the electoral system is a direct electoral system where each member of parliament is elected to parliament rather than voters electing delegates (electoral college members) who then choose members of the House.

    The leader of the majority party (or coalition) on the floor then becomes Prime Minister.

    In the Senate the system is based on a system of proportional representation with each state and territory (electors) electing state senators. Again, it is a directly elected system with no delegates involved.

    All electors are required to vote which reduces the influence of extreme views and it is the centre of the political system that eventually decides a result. At a leadership idiots from both parties are generally spat out of the system and moderate views are encouraged.

  6. In Oklahoma we are backward on a lot of stuff but I REALLY like the way we vote. We mark a paper ballot with a pen. There is always a record of who a person voted and there is no “punch hole” or hanging chad to cause confusion. We should NEVER move to Internet voting. If you won’t take or MAKE the time and effort to fill in a absentee ballot or go to your polling location and mark a permanent record then you are deciding you don’t want to vote.

    1. Sounds like the Okies get it RIGHT (no offense). I read news stories during the last election there were computer glitches in some counties and not all votes were properly counted. Can’t beat pen on paper …

  7. Apple is able and willing to make a securest voting machine but for a rice and it would be worth every penny, every farthing, every ruble, every dinar, every franc….

  8. I am not against paper ballots. I grew up with them, and they worked fine. A paper backup to a computerized system has some merit in terms of verification and validation of voting records.

    Electronic voting certainly opens up new paths for altering voting records – not only in terms of scale, but in terms of accessibility to remote hackers in other countries. It is much harder to materially impact a national election when paper ballots are used. But, it is important to note that paper ballots are not the perfect solution to all voting issues (and they can be more labor intensive, depending on the specific implementation). There are plenty of examples of voting irregularities (e.g., ballot box stuffing, “lost” bags of ballots, etc.) used to alter election results in the U.S.

    In the end, the overriding issue is people – people who want to interfere with and corrupt (not “meddle”) the democratic election process. Meddle is too weak of a word, given the importance of the consequences.

    1. “I am not against paper ballots. I grew up with them, and they worked fine. A paper backup to a computerized system has some merit in terms of verification and validation of voting records.”

      “But, it is important to note that paper ballots are not the perfect solution to all voting issues”

      Noting you are having it both ways contradiction, just what is the “perfect solution?” I’ll save you the time, crickets :::

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