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How to STeal an Election – Part 3, Hack the Machines

How to STeal an Election – Part 3, Hack the Machines

This Part is about possible technical attacks on the voting machines, with participation from either insiders or outsiders. This had a great deal of focus in the last election. A great many accusations were leveled against Dominion and its partners and subsidiaries.

Articles have been written that claim the voting machine software has built-in ways to cheat, including ways to manipulate votes as they are being tallied to proportionally reduce the number of votes for a candidate. Apparently, within the software, you can actually assign a “weight” to votes for different candidates such that Candidate A’s votes were only worth 80% of Candidate B’s votes in the final tally of the voting.  I have not checked this personally, but I have faith in the sources of this information.

I can’t think of any legitimate reason for a feature like this to be in voting software.

Additionally, federal officials have claimed that voting machines are not connected to the internet.  Turns out some have been. 

Why are we leasing voting machines that even have the capability to connect to the internet? We already understand the risks.

And of course, who has access to these machines? Is there an audit trail of when features are turned off and on, or when it is connected to the internet or not?

No, of course not.  Nobody gets caught because they are impossible to catch. All tracks of tampering with the machine are easily erased.

Besides this, unless you already know that cheating has occurred and the FBI brings in technicians, you must rely on the manufacturer (some have already accused either managers or technicians of being complicit, how hard would they be to recruit?) to look at the machine for tampering.  And by the way, it is will be in the voting machine leasing contract that no one except company technicians are allowed to inspect the machines.

So here are the attacks and my evaluation.

Activate the software that cheats for you – These are apparently features designed for Venezuela and other countries with institutionalized cheating, and sources have said they are present in all of the machines. They are just supposed to be turned off.   If the machine happens to be connected to the internet, then this can be attacked remotely. If not, then attacked locally by a technician or a technician impersonator.  Effectiveness – medium for machines modified locally (harder to scale that way), high for machines on the internet. Risk – low. While the counts will be off in a recount, there is no auditing trail to ensure no attacks have been made on the machine.  Technicians to turn features on or off are hardly noticed, professional attackers would never be caught.

Attack through the internet connection – Additionally, an insider could activate the wireless internet connection to the voting machine. This is illegal, but if done it would allow someone outside the facility to change the vote counts. Even if the cheating software is not turned on, it is reasonable to assume that legitimate processes can be corrupted or tampered with.  Effectiveness – High, if you are professional, i.e are wise enough to make subtle changes and cover your tracks.  Risk – close to zero, (again assuming you are a professional).  The problem is the lack of auditing or chain of custody verification.  Again the recounts will be off, but that apparently doesn’t matter, since judges have ruled to accept the count anyway.

Hack the information process, or the computers at the counting center – The police and courts generally talk about “chain of custody.”  That means that data has to be stored, data has to travel and data has to be analyzed.  At every step, the data must be verified and sworn to. The diagram below is from the Dominion Voting Machine Manual.  You can see that they try to handle a boatload of functions and workflows within their “Democracy Suite.”  Any professional worth his salt is going to find numerous opportunities to intercept, change, corrupt or otherwise influence the election within this complex system.

The combination of a professional data thief and an election official would make this nearly risk free. This level of manipulation could easily become undetectable since the voting counts could be changed to match the actual votes cast.  Effectiveness – high in a local election, medium in state or national levels. Risk – Low.  Caveat, since I have not examined this workflow, I cannot assess the risk with certainly. I am assuming any vulnerabilities can be found and exploited.

My conclusion is that hacking the machines as an outsider attacking online voting machines  (and succeeding workflow) is serious, but attacks on the machines involving an insider are serious and undetectable.   Again, never underestimate the power of an insider to screw you over.

In Part 4, I will talk about mitigation and prevention. Believe it or not, it is not that difficult.  Any security outfit worth its salt can tell you how to do this. The police and local prosecutors are familiar with “chain of custody.” 

So the final question is “How do we secure the most valuable right of a Democratic society?”

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/elections/online-vulnerable-experts-find-nearly-three-dozen-u-s-voting-n1112436

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/08/2016-elections-russia-hack-how-to-hack-an-election-in-seven-minutes-214144/

https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/26/politics/hackers-voting-machines/index.html

https://www.forbes.com/sites/thomasbrewster/2017/07/29/def-con-hacking-election-voting-machines/?sh=62c17cdf1d55

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8 Comments

  1. Tom lofgren

    Are you going to include today’s revelation of the GOP “fake electors plot” in Part 4? Trump brought up the word “rigged” way before the count. I believe the election was Trump vs anybody-but-Trump.The fact that millions more voted for “anybody” was an unexpected traumatic blow to his ego. Perhaps his perception of general unconditional acceptance rigged his sense of reality. That can happen to someone who believes he has moved God to number 2.

  2. Ac

    Joe,
    Apparently you don’t trust the facts that the machines were not hacked and under Venezuelan masterminds. So, myth as conspiracy theory takes its place as a point in your 4 Part thesis.
    If this belief about committing election fraud has any workable possibility. And that’s a big if. Are you not aiding and abetting criminal intent. Engineering Election tampering schemes then publishing plans in a blog seems a bit risky. Unless, of coarse, you know its not possible.
    Your Republican friends cooked up this scheme originally. It was a bogus conspiracy then which has not gained traction since.
    If, another if, Dominican had aided someway with the count wouldn’t FOX looked into it aggressively. Their case with Dominican they did not win. Things would have gone much differently had FOX found something like the news it
    spread with out fact checking.
    Internet connection with the machines is said not to be possible. Yet another conspiracy myth debunked.

  3. Ben

    I remember when Dibold ( a huge Republican donor) was hired to provide digital voting machines for our state, Democrats we’re quite worried. CONservatives poo poi’s the idea that anything nefarious would happen. Now that y’all can’t win a popular vote to save your party, there’s a concern about the integrity of the machines. Funny how that works

  4. Ben

    Hey I got a couple of more ways to steal an election.
    1) gather a group of fake electors to say you won
    Or
    2) seize voting machines to prevent the actual count.

    Luckily, both these tactics failed.

  5. Ben

    “Dozens of local and state Republican leaders who showed their loyalty to Donald Trump by casting fake electoral votes for him a year ago may now face prison time in return for that devotion,”

    Interesting.

  6. Ben

    Joe,
    I found another way to steal an election that you didn’t cover. I can’t figure out how you missed all these great ideas? Usually you’re on top of these things. If you need a progressive voice on staff to help you out, holla at a brotha!

    “An arch conservative member of Arizona’s state House of Representatives has proposed a mammoth overhaul of the state’s voting procedures that would allow legislators to overturn the results of a primary or general election after months of unfounded allegations and partisan audits.”

  7. frank stetson

    We now know who really rigged the election, and how they failed, multiple times, even when they stormed the Capitol. They even have the Republican AG in AZ stonewalling bringing indictments against the villains as he tries to garner a Trump endorsement; he should be gone too.

    I have yet to see one Republican voting bill introduced that will stop Republicans from cheating in the ways they have been caught cheating. But they keep trying. Now they rig the law so their loss will not happen next time. They rig it to be more restrictive to people in lower income brackets, often the Black Democratic voters, while claiming their false flag that the election is already fraudulent when they are committing most of the fraud to begin with. They spearheaded the use of mail in votes, they lost the 2020 mail in vote so they will make mail in voting almost impossible to use. A step in the right direction of getting more Republican votes than Democratic votes by process, not by politics. Diabolical to say the least.

    They have over 60 failed court cases, a dozen failed recounts, they have destroyed hundreds of voting machines, all at the cost of the State, not the Republicans. States have paid our potentially hundreds of millions of dollars and not one conviction, most of the recounts were marginal and in Biden’s favor, it’s just a taxpayer black hole of spending for a bridge to nowhere. Did they fix that with their new voting laws. Didn’t even sniff it out as a voting integrity problem. Because The Big Lie works in their favor for garnishing new votes, new voters, and mucho donations. The Big Lie is the Big Money Maker so let’s not outlaw that…..

    It ain’t broken except where we broke it so let’s not fix that but instead focus on the unbroken and let’s break it some more in our favor.

  8. Ben

    Forgot about this one! Trump finally said the quiet part out loud. Thank goodness he is so incompetent.

    Former President Donald Trump on Sunday admitted in a written statement that he wanted his former Vice President Mike Pence to “overturn the election” and railed against efforts to put laws in place to prevent something like that from ever happening.
    “If the Vice President (Mike Pence) had ‘absolutely no right’ to change the Presidential Election results in the Senate, despite fraud and many other irregularities, how come the Democrats and RINO Republicans, like Wacky Susan Collins, are desperately trying to pass legislation that will not allow the Vice President to change the results of the election?” Trump said in the statement, continuing to peddle his lies that the 2020 election was not secure.

    “Actually, what they are saying, is that Mike Pence did have the right to change the outcome, and they now want to take that right away. Unfortunately, he didn’t exercise that power, he could have overturned the Election!”

  1. Frank and Larry, I agree with both of you! Just another trifecta of joy and harmony! I do think Frank…