America’s Voting Machines Are a Disaster in the Making


Almost from the start, however, the digital machines proved to be both vulnerable and unreliable. Many were built on 1990s-era software, making them easy targets for anyone who knew their way around computers. To demonstrate the potential for vote tampering, a group of computer scientists at Princeton hacked the machines in their lab, reprogramming one model to play Pac-Man. After voting machine manufacturers dismissed their findings, saying would-be hackers could never gain access to voting machines in the real world, one of the Princeton researchers took photographs of unguarded machines at local voting halls and posted them to his blog—a tradition he has maintained in every subsequent election. “When I go to vote, I realize that the people who most recently installed the software in that machine get to decide if it’s cheating or not,” says Andrew Appel, another of the Princeton researchers. “And the results may or may not have any relation to what the voters voted.”

New Republic

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