Most major media are continuing to push back on claims by President Donald Trump’s campaign that voting machines in some key battleground states were manipulated in favor of Democratic rival Joe Biden.
But on Saturday, the president tweeted a clip of an August 2019 NBC News report featuring technology correspondent Jacob Ward who explained how easy it is for hackers to penetrate and manipulate voting machines made by top companies such as Election Systems & Software, Dominion Voting Systems, and Hart Intercivic.
Ward’s complete report, which is posted at NBC News’ website, is titled, “How hackers can target voting machines,” and was filed shortly after the world’s biggest underground hacking conference, DEFCON, ended in Las Vegas.
The segment President Trump tweeted on Saturday focused on the ease with which hackers could gain access to electronic voting machines and change their algorithms and programming.
“We were there specifically to attend something called the ‘Voting Village,’ which has gone on for three years. In this, its third year, they had assembled some of the most common voting machines in the country, both systems that are on the front end that you and I actually use to register our vote, and the back end, the tabulators and so forth that you would feed a paper ballot into or that oversee a system,” Ward explained in his report.
“What was so interesting was I assumed coming into it that the big manufacturers — companies like ES&S and Dominion — had provided these machines to the hackers to, you know, field test them,” Ward continued.
“But no. It turns out that there’s an extremely hostile relationship there and that ES&E and Dominion and other companies have basically said, ‘We don’t want to participate,’ and really have been quite aggressive in saying, ‘We don’t wanna be part of this,’” the tech correspondent said.
Because of that, Ward said, the organizers of the Voting Village turned to eBay to obtain machines, “which right there is pretty terrifying because it turns out that anybody can buy the most common machines in use on eBay.
“What was really alarming,” he went on, “was when you see these hackers — and these are people who have never seen these machines before, and have had no practice on them, for the most part, come in and engage them.”
Ward said the hackers would open the machines “and get into the guts of them.”
“We were seeing Dominion’s ImageCast system — it’s a line of tabulators that paper ballots are fed into — that had its guts all over the room,” Ward said. “It was not clear to us that this was the most recent version of the ImageCast hardware, but it’s important to note that Georgia … is about to spend over $100 million on a contract with Dominion to provide ImageCast hardware to the state in time for the next primaries and the 2020 election.”
Ward then explained that the hackers at the conference showed how easy it was to get into the machine using various ports and techniques. “All kinds of stuff that you could certainly do within six minutes behind a curtain much less if you had extra time because any of these were connected to the Web as we discovered a couple of days before so many of them are,” he added.
The tech correspondent said the organizers of Voting Village would eventually issue a report because they want people to understand how vulnerable the machines are to manipulation.
“I guess the idea is so that the companies will be forced to correct them in some way,” he said.
Sidney Powell, a former federal prosecutor who is now part of the Trump campaign’s legal team, asserted in an interview Sunday with Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo that she and others have acquired evidence including sworn affidavits claiming that Dominion systems were manipulated in several battleground states to bolster vote tallies for Biden.
“It’s really an insidious, corrupt system and I can’t tell you how livid I am with our government for not paying attention to complaints even brought by Democrats” about the systems, Powell said.
“…[T]he people who bought the Dominion system, for sure, knew exactly what they were getting,” Powell claimed. “It should never have been installed anywhere, and we are going to show the public exactly how rotten the entire state is.”
In his report, Ward said there was no rush by state governments to address security concerns related to the machines.
“The combination of seeing the incredible vulnerabilities that we saw on display in real-time at this event and the lack of institutional action around the security of the vote — all of that made for an extremely alarming weekend,” he concluded.
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