The extent of vulnerability isn’t just hypothetical; late last summer, Virginia decertified thousands of insecure WinVote machines. As one security researcher described it, “anyone within a half mile could have modified every vote, undetected” without “any technical expertise.” The vendor had gone out of business years prior.
The WinVote systems are an extreme case, but not an isolated one. Other voting machine models have potentially vulnerable wireless components; Virginia’s just the only one where a test proved how bad the situation was.
The worst part about the current state of voting machines is that they don’t even require outside interference to undo an election. “They’re all computers. They run on tens of thousands of lines of code,” says Norden. “It’s impossible to have a perfectly secure, perfectly reliable computer.”
That’s true, but in fairness, most computers aren’t quite this imperfect, either.