Jul 13, 2019

Election system runs on outdated, vulnerable operating system

ExpressVote XL, Philly's first new voting machines since 2002. Photo: Matt Rourke/AP

The majority of 10,000 election jurisdictions nationwide use Windows 7 or an older operating system for voting or tallying — archaic systems vulnerable to hackers, AP reports.

Why it matters: Private vendors, and state finances, determine the security level of election systems, which lack federal requirements or oversight.

What they're saying: J. Alex Halderman, a University of Michigan professor and election security expert, said the country risks repeating "mistakes that we made over the last ... decade-and-a-half when states bought voting machines but didn't keep the software up-to-date."

What's next: Windows 7 reaches its "end of life" Jan. 14, meaning Microsoft stops technical support and patches, although security updates will be provided for a fee through 2023.

  • AP's 50-state survey found that battleground states using Windows 7 include Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, Iowa, Indiana, Arizona and North Carolina.

Go deeper

Inside election security's biggest event

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The DEF CON hacker conference's Voting Village event has become a testing ground for our national debate over voting security, referenced by Senate reports, several congressmen and even a presidential candidate (albeit incorrectly, see below). This year's version, happening next week, comes with some upgrades.

The big picture: Now in its third year, the event is traditionally one of the only places where many security researchers get a chance to audit the security of election systems.

Go deeperArrowAug 1, 2019

Senate Intel releases 1st volume of report on 2016 Russian interference

Sens. Mark Warner and Richard Burr. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

The Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday released the first part of its redacted report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, focusing on "Russian efforts against election infrastructure."

Driving the news: The release of the report comes one day after former special counsel Robert Mueller testified before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees, warning that Russia would continue its interference efforts in the future. Despite his statement, Republican senators this week blocked a package of election security measures designed to protect election systems in 2020.

Go deeperArrowJul 25, 2019

Democratic caucuses' phone-in plan opens new risks

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Democrats in Iowa and Nevada want to boost participation in their 2020 caucuses by opening them up to telephone voting. Hacking-spooked Democrats have worked to protect the process from interference, but some experts still see notable risks.

Why it matters: Security concerns have long troubled digital voting systems. Many of the same problems with online voting carry over to telephone voting.

Go deeperArrowAug 1, 2019