Frightening Fun With Voting Machines

Just how frighteningly insecure are touch-screen voting machines? They’re so insecure, it turns out, that you can reprogram them to play Pac-Man instead, without any noticeable exterior tampering done to the machine.

Two guys from the University of Michigan and Princeton University did just that with a voting machine that was used as recently as 2008 in the Virginia state primaries. In fact, in ’08, this particular model of machine was “used in 161 jurisdictions with almost 9 million registered voters.”

Here’s the truly scary part: “We received the machine with the original tamper-evident seals intact. The software can be replaced without breaking any of these seals, simply by removing screws and opening the case.”

If it wasn’t for the fact that the voter would be staring confusedly at a Pac-Man game on the screen rather than a ballot, no one using the machine would have any idea it had been completely reprogrammed.

At any rate, here’s the Pac-Man voting machine in action:

While that video was simultaneously horrifying and awesome, the next one’s simply horrifying. Here’s the same model of voting machine modified to steal votes:


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