Electronic Voting Systems: Are Voting Machines Safe from Tampering?


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The above video shows the Sequoia AVC Edge touch-screen DRE voting machine that Alex Halderman (University of Michigan) and Ari Feldman (Princeton University) hacked to replace the voting software with Pac-Man without breaking any tamper-evident seals.

Johnston made it clear that anyone with an 8th grade education and a small amount of equipment – easy to buy and affordable – could easily hack into a voting system by placing the easily-accessible equipment in the machine, you can control the votes remotely. Potential tampering can take place while the voting machines are  in storage prior to the election.

John Warner, a member of the team, stated: “The cost of the attack…was $10.50 in retail quantities. If you want to use the remote control to stop and start the attacks, that’s another $15. So the total cost would be $26.

Johnston stated that the machines would need to have a better design to prevent hacking and tampering from being a problem.

Have Votes Ever Been Tampered With?

As far as we know, nobody has ever successfully tampered with any of the voting devices during an actual election – at least, nobody has ever been caught hacking and tampering with the voting systems.

2012 Election and E-Voting

E-voting systems offer quick voting and counting. There is less room for human error as long as the technology is not tampered with. However, the fact that it is possible to hack into the voting systems and change votes is disquieting. There are also issues such as power outages and technology errors to think about. However, for the 2012 election, all states except Idaho will be using the electronic voting systems. Idaho will stick to the punch card system.


Verified Voting. Voting Equipment in the United StatesAccessed November 6, 2012.

Johnston, R. How I Hacked An Electronic Voting Machine. (2012) Popsci. Accessed November 6, 2012.

Mogg, T. Researchers Hack E-voting Machine, Similar to 2012 Election Day Machines. (2011). Yahoo! News. Accessed November 6, 2012.

Halderman, J., Feldman, A. PAC-MAN on the Sequoia AVC-Edge DRE voting machine. Accessed November 6, 2012.

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