people using voting machines

Use of Aging Software on Voting Machines Raises Cybersecurity Concerns

Lawmakers are concerned about the use of out-of-date software on voting systems across the United States, but no new legislation has been passed in both chambers.

In the wake of revelations of Russia’s attempts to hack into American voting machines during the 2016 election, states have invested heavily in new systems with heightened security measures.

There’s just one problem: the software on the new machines is aging out and will soon not be supported with security updates by the company who produces it.

The vast majority of 10,000 election jurisdictions across the country use Windows 7 or an older operating system to program their machines, tally votes, make ballots and report vote counts, according to an Associated Press analysis published this week.

Windows 7 is set to reach its end of life in less than six months, on Jan. 14. Microsoft will stop providing technical support and producing patches to fix security vulnerabilities, putting many of these systems at risk of being hacked, the AP reported. However, the company said it would offer security updates for an added fee through 2023.

The impending security issues have already earned attention from lawmakers. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) wrote to the federal Election Assistance Commission on July 12 to ask what the agency is doing to “address the looming cybersecurity crisis” caused by aging software.

“The continued use of out-of-date software on voting machines and the computers used to administer elections lays out the red carpet for foreign hackers,” Wyden wrote. “This is unacceptable. Now more than ever, the American people expect that the government is taking the necessary steps to secure our elections from foreign attacks.”

In his request for EAC’s knowledge of which states will likely have outdated software in the 2020 election, Wyden also notes that there are no nationwide, mandatory cybersecurity standards for elections and that the Department of Homeland Security did not collect data on which states used out-of-date software in the 2018 midterms.

“DHS revealed that it does not have that data, and, as such, has no idea how vulnerable our election infrastructure is to foreign hackers,” Wyden wrote, giving the chairwoman until July 26 to answer his questions.

Last month, the House of Representatives passed an election security bill that would give the EAC $600 million to enforce new requirements, including the use of paper ballots, updated software and the purchase of machines made in the United States.

But similar measures proposed by Wyden and his Democratic colleagues in the Senate have gotten nowhere due to Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) and other Republicans’ opposition to most federal election security legislation, The Hill reported. Blunt is the committee chair of the powerful Senate Rules Committee.

“New federal election laws would not be the right thing to do, so I assume we’d have no legislation like that come through the Rules Committee,” Blunt told The Hill.

About the Author

Haley Samsel is an Associate Content Editor for the Infrastructure Solutions Group at 1105 Media.

Featured

  • Maximizing Your Security Budget This Year

    7 Ways You Can Secure a High-Traffic Commercial Security Gate  

    Your commercial security gate is one of your most powerful tools to keep thieves off your property. Without a security gate, your commercial perimeter security plan is all for nothing. Read Now

  • Survey: Only 13 Percent of Research Institutions Are Prepared for AI

    A new survey commissioned by SHI International and Dell Technologies underscores the transformative potential of artificial intelligence (AI) while exposing significant gaps in preparedness at many research institutions. Read Now

  • Survey: 70 Percent of Organizations Have Established Dedicated SaaS Security Teams

    Seventy percent of organizations have prioritized investment in SaaS security, establishing dedicated SaaS security teams, despite economic uncertainty and workforce reductions. This was a key finding in the fourth Annual SaaS Security Survey Report: 2025 CISO Plans and Priorities released today by the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA), the world’s leading organization dedicated to defining standards, certifications, and best practices to help ensure a secure cloud computing environment. Read Now

  • Mobile Applications Are Empowering Security Personnel

    From real-time surveillance and access control management to remote monitoring and communications, a new generation of mobile applications is empowering security personnel to protect people and places. Mobile applications for physical security systems are emerging as indispensable tools to enhance safety. They also offer many features that are reshaping how modern security professionals approach their work. Read Now

Featured Cybersecurity

Webinars

New Products

  • Unified VMS

    AxxonSoft introduces version 2.0 of the Axxon One VMS. The new release features integrations with various physical security systems, making Axxon One a unified VMS. Other enhancements include new AI video analytics and intelligent search functions, hardened cybersecurity, usability and performance improvements, and expanded cloud capabilities 3

  • HD2055 Modular Barricade

    Delta Scientific’s electric HD2055 modular shallow foundation barricade is tested to ASTM M50/P1 with negative penetration from the vehicle upon impact. With a shallow foundation of only 24 inches, the HD2055 can be installed without worrying about buried power lines and other below grade obstructions. The modular make-up of the barrier also allows you to cover wider roadways by adding additional modules to the system. The HD2055 boasts an Emergency Fast Operation of 1.5 seconds giving the guard ample time to deploy under a high threat situation. 3

  • Automatic Systems V07

    Automatic Systems V07

    Automatic Systems, an industry-leading manufacturer of pedestrian and vehicle secure entrance control access systems, is pleased to announce the release of its groundbreaking V07 software. The V07 software update is designed specifically to address cybersecurity concerns and will ensure the integrity and confidentiality of Automatic Systems applications. With the new V07 software, updates will be delivered by means of an encrypted file. 3