The electoral system in the United States is based on the standard of “one person, one vote,” yet a nonpartisan organization investigating the elections has found code in vote-counting machines that allows them to alter how each vote is weighed.
Black Box Voting released a video on Oct. 31 that exposes the code found in the GEMS machines, which count votes in elections for a quarter of the United States. Investigators showed video evidence of tabulation computers being tampered with in U.S. elections.
The investigators also found functions on the vote-counting systems that hide alterations and code that divides whole votes into fractions.
“In short, it’s like having the ability to say a vote is not a whole,” said Bennie Smith, a Tennessee programmer in the investigative video, who analyzed the GEMS system.
ES&S, the company that runs the GEMS system, did not respond to questions sent through its media request form asking why the GEMS system contains code to alter how votes are weighed.
Black Box Voting published a report showing the code it discovered in the GEMS system. James Scott, co-founder and senior fellow of the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology, a cybersecurity think tank, reviewed the code and said it functions as “alter” commands.
“An adversary could not write malware more damaging, better hidden, or more capable of altering election results than the fractionalization feature already included in GEMS,” Scott said. “This is deeply disturbing.”
Scott said the code also raises the risk of an outside hacker using the built-in system to alter votes. “If this is already built into the GEMS software, then they’ve made it easy,” he said. “All a hacker needs to do is compromise credentials of someone that already has access to this software and you can use your imagination after that.”