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If someone were to successfully alter an election’s results, these are some of the ways it could be done.
The United States has about 232 million eligible voters. For various reasons, though, only 58 percent of those voters cast their ballots in 2016. This created an opportunity for unethical voters to visit the polls multiple times.
As a hypothetical situation, imagine that you know your brother registered to vote but could not get to his polling station on election day. You could potentially go in his place. In most states, taking his vote would require getting fake identification with his name and personal information on it. While obtaining a fake ID isn’t an easy task for most people, there are ways to obtain one. Assuming that poll workers don’t know how to spot a fake, you could walk in and cast a ballot in your brother’s name and then later cast your own vote with your own legitimate identification.
Registered voters don’t fall off voting rosters when they die. In some cases, it can take years for a deceased person’s name to be removed. According to the Pew Center, there are nearly 2 million deceased individuals listed as voters.
If deceased people are still listed as registered voters, other people can assume their identities to cast votes. It works similarly to casting a vote for a living person. As long as the unethical voter can obtain a fake ID, he or she can commit voter fraud.
Fortunately, there is little evidence supporting widespread voter fraud of this type. Most people would find it difficult to obtain fake ID cards, especially for deceased individuals. Also, the consequences for voter fraud are so stiff that few people would take the chance.
Now that several states have switched to electronic voting machines, it’s possible that hackers could use technology to sway an election. As long as they had access to a voting machine and plenty of time to figure it out, a well-versed hacker could change votes to favor preferred candidates.
Before you fret too much about hackers affecting election results, remember that voting machines are not connected to the internet. A hacker can only change a voting machine’s record by tampering with it in its physical location. Security experts from Cylance showed that they could alter a voting machine’s results and paper trail by adding a hacked PC memory card. In order to influence a national election, hackers would need a coordinated effort to tamper with thousands of voting machines across many precincts and state lines.
While states struggle to find voting methods that offer higher levels of security, some groups argue that it makes more sense to help people vote through smartphone technology. According to them, more people would vote if they could do so using their smartphones instead of taking time out of their day to visit polling stations.
Unfortunately, even the most secure mobile device could open new doors to voter fraud. The Samsung Galaxy S7, for instance, has robust security features, in part because service providers like T-Mobile demand frequent software updates that counter new hacking strategies. Given enough time, though, a good hacker could find a way to alter a person’s vote. Besides, some voters would use public networks when submitting their votes. Even a novice hacker can interfere with unsecured public networks.
U.S. elections are highly decentralized, so it’s nearly impossible for a group to commit widespread voter fraud. It would require a tremendous amount of effort at state and precinct levels. Still, it is possible that someone could alter the course of history by tampering with votes. However unlikely the scenario is, the country must take every step to create secure elections with trustworthy results.Click here for reuse options!