Can You Trust the Election Results?

Miami-Dade election workers check voting machines for accuracy at the Miami-Dade Election Department headquarters.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Can You Trust the Election Results?

How safe are election voting machines?

What is the most important aspect of an election? Speed, accuracy and fairness are all possibilities, but arguably the most important is transparency. Transparency is how we know that elections are conducted fairly and legally. It is how people accept the election’s results.

When voting with paper ballots, transparency is pretty straightforward. Observers watch the ballots being cast and counted. The paper trail can be verified afterward. Rigging a paper-ballot election takes a lot of people and effort, and it’s difficult to hide. It would be impossible for a single person to change the results of such an election.

But collecting and counting paper ballots is slow and somewhat prone to human error and human interpretation. We saw this in the 2000 United States presidential election, where lawyers debated in court whether so-called “hanging chads” should be counted as legal votes. After that election, many began pushing for electronic voting systems to replace old-fashioned paper ballots.

Machines are certainly capable of being faster, more accurate, and more impartial than human poll workers. But switching to machines introduces a fundamental vulnerability to the election process: It removes transparency and replaces it with trust. Trust in the people who build the hardware and write the software for the voting machines, and trust in everyone who uses or interacts with those machines.

Let’s discuss that last group first. After allegations that Russia hacked the 2016 United States presidential election, people started paying more attention to voting machine security. The next year, the hacker conference DEF CON introduced what they called the “Voting Village.” There, attendees attempted to hack 25 types of voting machines and other equipment that was used in state and national elections.

“By the end of the conference, every piece of equipment in the Voting Village was effectively breached in some manner,” read a report on the first Voting Village. “Participants with little prior knowledge and only limited tools and resources were quite capable of undermining the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of these systems. … Moreover, a closer physical examination of the machines found, as expected, multiple cases of foreign-manufactured internal parts (including hardware developed in China), highlighting the serious possibility of supply chain vulnerabilities.”

It’s difficult to overstate how vulnerable these systems were. Voting machines accepted default administrator passwords that could be found on the Internet or easily guessed. Most were running ancient software with well-documented, easily exploited flaws. Physical security was nearly non-existent. Ports and card readers could be accessed with a screwdriver or the simplest lock-picking techniques. Some machines did not protect these physical interfaces at all, and they could be accessed by anyone walking by. Others could be hacked wirelessly by anyone within a few hundred feet.

“As one hacker remarked, ‘With physical access to the back of the machine for 15 seconds, an attacker can do anything’” (ibid).

Most of the machines in the Voting Village were very old—yet nearly all of the models tested were and still are in use today. And even if they were replaced with up-to-date devices, the 2019 Voting Village tested a number of current-generation models and they failed just as badly.

Voting machine security is abysmal. The threat of hackers tampering with election results is very real and present. Even a single person attacking critical machines could influence or even flip an election. But there is an even more pressing problem with electronic voting that has surfaced in the 2020 presidential vote: election fraud committed by the machine’s manufacturers.

U.S. President Donald Trump and lawyer Sidney Powell, among others, have accused Dominion Voting Systems of stealing the presidential election by programming their voting machines to alter the results. Sidney Powell says she has strong statistical evidence that Dominion machines flipped a percentage of votes for Donald Trump to Joe Biden.

Dominion, of course, denies these allegations. It states on its website that Dominion systems do not have a secret vote-flipping algorithm. On that same page, the company also addresses a claim that it has servers in Germany to count votes: “No, all votes are counted in the U.S. by local election officials—not by Dominion. Voting systems are, by design, meant to be used as closed systems that are not networked (meaning not connected to the Internet). It is technologically impossible to ‘see’ votes being counted in real-time and/or to ‘flip’ them.”

So, who is right? That may be impossible to determine. A cleverly designed program could change votes during the election, then delete itself leaving no trace, even under forensic analysis. Dominion’s claim that its systems are never connected to the Internet contradicts the company’s own training videos, which instruct workers on how to connect a cellular modem to voting machines and upload tallies to a central server. And the same video shows the machines are equipped with Ethernet ports, the purpose of which is to connect the machine to networks including the Internet. It is certainly not “technologically impossible” for hackers or the manufacturer to secretly install a wireless Internet connection. In fact, one of the machines tested in the DEF CON Voting Village featured the ability to transmit votes wirelessly in real-time.

Dominion and other manufacturers also use parts from other countries like China, which is notorious for supplying counterfeit microchips. The Nation Security Agency has a whole catalog of disguised spy equipment, including fake hardware components, and China undoubtedly has the same capabilities.

Add to all this the possibility that election officials themselves installed vote-changing software on their voting machines. It could be accomplished in seconds by individuals with official-looking flash drives.

This is the fundamental flaw with electronic voting. Transparency has been replaced with trust. Those who trust the election results must trust manufacturers like Dominion, hardware suppliers like China, and every single person who had physical or Internet access to the voting machines and servers. A betrayal of that trust at any level compromises the entire election.

Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry emphasized the threat of computer hacking 25 years ago. He pointed to the prophecy in Ezekiel 7:14, which says, “They have blown the trumpet, even to make all ready; but none goeth to the battle: for my wrath is upon all the multitude thereof.” We have written often about how this verse tells us that the United States will suffer a military attack but will be unable to respond. As Mr. Flurry noted all those years ago, this could be due to a cyberattack on the United States’ military computer systems. He quoted analyst Joseph de Courcy, who wrote, “Computer dependence is the Western world’s Achilles’ heel, and within a few years this weakness could be tested to the full.”

A presidential election is of course not a military attack, but stealing an election through voting machine tampering and other means is a bloodless coup that wrests control of the leadership of the United States for those untrustworthy enough to commit it. Trumpet Daily Radio Show host Stephen Flurry has stated many times that the radical left has declared war on President Donald Trump. And as we have seen since November 3, despite all the evidence of fraud, hardly anyone has gone to battle in defense of a fair and transparent election.

The basic issue with electronic voting is not technical, but moral: Who can you trust?