Are Arizona elections safe from hackers?

Tabulation machines used to count ballots at the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office. /Photo by Jerod MacDonald-Evoy/ Arizona Mirror

 

By Jerod MacDonald-Evoy | Arizona Mirror

In November, Arizona voters will be casting their ballots and deciding who will lead the state at the Capitol and represent it in the U.S. Senate, but new research and revelations have cast doubt in some minds about the security of voting systems.

“The people building these machines generally have no background in this stuff,” Dan Petro, senior security associate for Tempe based cybersecurity firm Bishop Fox said about electronic voting machines.

Last year hackers at DEFCON were able to hack into electronic voting machines in less than an hour. This year, it didn’t even take 10 minutes.

If hackers tried something similar on Election Day, it’s effectiveness would be limited: In addition to the likelihood one would get caught by tampering with an election machine in a polling place, any such manipulation would only affect a small number of votes.

Cybersecurity experts like Petro aren’t concerned with the hardware of the machine, but its software.

This summer, voting machine manufacturer Election Systems and Software admitted they had installed backdoor software on their machines, something they had previously denied doing.

The state of Arizona contracts with ES&S, as do other some Arizona counties. Some cities, including Glendale and Tucson, also contract with ES&S.

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