Seriously: Could the 2016 Election Be Hacked?

Before we get into this, let’s put one thing on the table: There is no political partisanship here. The writer of this piece currently plans to vote for neither of major party nominees, so there is no favoritism intended or implied, unless that favoritism is for the United States of America and free, fair and honest elections. Nothing more.

But we have been both interested and disturbed by the recent comments by the Republican nominee Donald Trump about the potential for a stolen or fixed election in November for two reasons:

1- All evidence suggests it’s possible

2- Because it certainly appears possible, it gives Trump -- who has put the not un-realistic scenario on the table -- the ability to stir huge chaos afterwards even if he loses fair and square.

As Josef Stalin once said, “Those who cast the votes decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything." Or, to paraphrase for the digital world, “Those who control the electronic voting machines decide everything.”

Despite many key members of the establishment across the spectrum from the President to The New York Times to Fox News claiming the American voting system is trustworthy and safe, there are too many other people -- also from all over the political spectrum -- who say this is not the case at all. And since a lot of them are tech-savvy and, in a few cases, have proven it can be done, we think everybody should be at least a little worried.

For example -- if the well-known progressive publication Mother Jones writes that in several states where electronic voting machines leave no paper trail it will be impossible to prove Trump’s claims of fix wrong, well, then you’ve got at least contemplate whether this isn’t a point worth hearing.

Or when WIred writes that electronic voting is “a technological train wreck.” Or when the nation’s leading online political news site Politco publishes a huge expose that shows how one American computer hacker was able to game the system is seven minutes, literally calling it “child’s play.”  The Daily Beast says it would be “terrifyingly simple.”

We won’t go on and on with it, other than to share this Google search that provides a plethora of Cassandra-like warnings about how easy some machines are to rig.

Perhaps some of this is hyperbolic panic, much like the Y2K bug that ultimately proved a fly on the windshield of history. But the fact that there is no paper trail in a bunch of states that would prove a sore loser just that, is dangerous. Why ISN’T there a proper paper trail of votes, for recount and verification purposes? That alone should give everyone a moment’s pause

Nothing this election season has been normal, and we are concerned that the trend is  going to continue to election day and possibly past it. With the Supreme Court sitting at 4-4, the potential for chaos ratchets up even higher.

Do any 7CTO members have anything to do with electronic voting? Have any thoughts on the process, for better or worse? Are we unduly concerned? Or are we not concerned enough? Inquiring minds, at least this one, want to know.