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Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Election Systems and Software (ES&S) admitted to installing remote access software on election management systems sold to “a small number of customers between 2000 and 2006,” which could open it up to manipulation by a hacker. The admission came in a letter to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) obtained by Axios and first detailed by Kim Zetter in Motherboard.

Why it matters: Remote access meant those systems, which, among other tasks, have tabulated votes from voting machines, could have hypothetically been manipulated by a hacker.

The intrigue: Zetter wrote an earlier story for the NYT on the use of remote access software in voting machines, in which ES&S denied installing the software.

What they're saying:

  • ES&S's letter to Wyden explained the use of remote access software on these machines as an "accepted practice."
  • Sen. Wyden said, "Installing remote-access software and modems on election equipment is the WORST decision for security short of leaving ballot boxes on a Moscow street corner. Congress MUST pass my bill to require paper ballots and audits."

The impact:

  • More than 60% of votes tabulated across the country in 2006 used ES&S election management systems.
  • ES&S says the software was configured to not allow incoming connections, which significantly reduces the risk of an attack but does not outright eliminate it.
  • ES&S says it stopped installing this vulnerable software in 2007, which is when new Voluntary Voter Systems Guidelines from the Election Assistance Commission went into effect.
  • ES&S wrote in the letter that it has confirmed that the election management systems with the remote-access software installed are no longer using the application today.

Go deeper

Rahm Emanuel questioned on murder of Laquan McDonald in confirmation hearing

Rahm Emanuel during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing on Oct. 20. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel spoke about the murder of Laquan McDonald during his Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday to become the U.S. ambassador to Japan, saying that "there's not a day or a week that has gone by in the last seven years I haven't thought about this."

Catch up quick: McDonald was a Black teenager who was fatally shot 16 times by Chicago police during Emanuel's tenure as the city's mayor. The 2014 shooting triggered massive protests, both because of its nature and the fact that the officers' body-cam footage was concealed for years.

3 hours ago - World

Biden's ambassador nominee: "China is not an Olympian power"

Nick Burns testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden's nominee to serve as ambassador to China delivered a stark assessment of the challenges the U.S. faces in confronting Beijing, but stressed that the rising superpower is "not all-powerful" and the West retains "substantial" advantages.

The big picture: Nicholas Burns, a retired career diplomat and former U.S. ambassador to NATO, used his confirmation hearing Wednesday to echo the growing bipartisan consensus that China poses "the greatest threat to the security of our country and the democratic world" in the 21st century.

Scoop: U.S. and Israel to form team to solve consulate dispute

Secretary of State Antony Blinken (left) and Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (right) meet in Washington. Photo: Andrew Harnik/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. and Israel are planning to form a joint team to hold discreet negotiations on the reopening of the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem, Israeli officials say.

Why it matters: The consulate handled relations with the Palestinians for 25 years before being shut down by then President Donald Trump in 2019. Senior officials in Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's government see the consulate issue as a political hot potato that could destabilize their unwieldy coalition.