Investigative report finds some Florida election systems are hooked up to the internet, despite official denials


Radioactivity with Rob Lorei

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Rob interviews investigative journalist Kim Zetter, author of the VICE News investigative report: “Florida Election Systems Have Been Left Exposed Online Despite Official Denials”.



Exclusive research finds that 35 backend election systems in 10 states have been connected to the internet for months or years at a time despite official promises that they’ve been kept offline and safe from hackers

The months-long investigation by VICE’s Motherboard reveals voting machines used by media to receive early polling results might not be as secure as previously thought

Read the full investigation:

Brooklyn, NY (August 8, 2019) – A new investigation by VICE’s Motherboard reveals that 35 critical backend election systems in 10 states have been connected to the internet over the last year, including in three critical swing states, making them vulnerable to hackers. These systems include nine Wisconsin counties, four Michigan counties, and seven Florida counties—all states that are perennial battlegrounds in presidential elections. At least19 of the systems, including one in Florida’s Miami-Dade County, were still connected to the internet this week.

For years, election officials and voting machine vendors have insisted that critical election systems are never connected to the internet and therefore can’t be hacked. Motherboard and a group of election security experts have found that some of the systems are connected to the internet for months at a time, and year-round for others.

Gaining access through the firewall to these systems could potentially allow a hacker to alter election results that media use to call races or subvert the election-management system to distribute malware to voting machines. Misconfigured firewalls are one of the most common ways hackers penetrate supposedly protected systems. The recent massive hack of sensitive Capital One customer data is a prime example of a breach enabled by a poorly configured firewall.


One of the most dense states for online election systems was Florida, where the researchers found a number of connected systems that they believe belong to Bradford, Charlotte, Flagler, Wakulla, Miami-Dade, and Pasco counties, and one other county they’re unable to identity from the IP address.

Florida is known for its knuckle-biting elections. Trump won the state by just 1.2 percentage points in 2016, and in 2018 the state had senate and gubernatorial races that were too close to call on election night. Miami-Dade county in particular, with 1.4 million registered voters, is one of the most intensely watched counties in federal elections—it was using ES&S machines with embedded modems in the 2016 elections.

None of this implies that the election systems in Miami-Dade or any other Florida county were manipulated in the 2016 elections. But the findings highlight what is at stake with critical election systems online.

The full investigation is on VICE’s Motherboard:


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