On Conspiracy Theories and Election Hacking [Updated]

…There is no definitive proof votes were altered in the 2016 election. Full stop.

But there’s even more we don’t know.

“We truly do not know, and we are making no attempt to find out,” Marks reiterated. “It’s because we don’t want to find out. And it’s not Robert Mueller’s responsibility. It’s not Congress’ responsibility. It’s the responsibility of the people. It’s the responsibility of the press.”

…“I don’t think we’ll ever know,” said Gregory Miller, founder of the OSET Institute, a nonprofit advocating for open-source election software. “It’s impossible to believe, without question, that votes or tallies weren’t manipulated.”

Miller, who has testified before Congress and worked with the Obama White House on election cybersecurity, explained the difference between voting machines and tallying machines, and reiterated countless times over the course of an hour that there are no verifiable, accurate, secure, and transparent systems in America.

As it specifically relates to vote-tallying systems, which Miller called the “honeypot of the elections systems,” the experts agree that changing tallies wouldn’t be difficult at all.

…Then, in May 2018, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s Unclassified First Installment in Russia Report said “The Committee has not seen any evidence that vote tallies were manipulated or that voter registration information was deleted or modified,” adding:

The Committee has limited information about whether, and to what extent, state and local officials carried out forensic or other examination of election infrastructure systems in order to confirm whether election-related systems were compromised. It is possible that additional activity occurred and has not yet been uncovered.

…“If votes were changed, they were done in a way that is hard to detect,” he explained. “But no one has done any analysis to determine it. And the reason for the wild speculations is because the people responsible for analyzing the data aren’t interested in doing so.”

…”There is a difference between ‘voting machines’ and ‘election systems.’ This often leads to confusion,” Miller explained. “The voting machines are the most visible part of the process. But the transaction of the ballot that we call an ‘election system’ involves the voter registration system or poll books, the voting machines, a system for tabulating or counting votes, and the system for reporting these votes.”

…People familiar with voting systems explained that all voting machines can be hacked even when they don’t have a modem or web access, because almost every widely used system in America is “internet-adjacent.”

They use memory cards and electronic files that contain software that was loaded on an internet-connected computer. The central tabulators transmit results over local area networks. They accept flash drives from computers that are connected to the internet. They are configured by vendors who use internet connections, making them all vulnerable.

…Miller explained that the reports of hacking may not simply have been attempts to access data at all. He explained how hackers may have been trolling for the digital blueprint for a GEMS server used by Georgia and county election officials across the country, which could, if acquired, have given Putin’s plotters access to thousands of vote tallying machines.

“There is a widespread belief that not being connected to the internet is a measure of security,” said Miller. “But many of these vote-tallying machines are not dedicated machines only used for counting ballots. Many of them are used for issuing fishing licenses and building permits. It would take a half-second for someone to infect a machine with a USB thumb drive.”

On Conspiracy Theories and Election Hacking [Updated]

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