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Voting Machines Connected to the Internet: First Denied, Now Admitted

Published: December 20, 2020
What is a sure-fire way to ensure that voting systems are not hacked? Do not connect them to the internet.
Senator Patrick Colbeck witnessed computers at the TCF Center in Detroit connected to the internet (Image: YouTube / Screenshot)

What’s a sure-fire solution to guarantee that voting machines won’t get hacked? Just don’t connect them to the Internet. Without connectivity, hackers will be unable to infiltrate the network, undermine security protocols, reprogram software or, create any other sort of unwanted disruptions. 

For months, elections infrastructure officials have assured the public that the voting machines deployed during the 2020 U.S. elections were disconnected from the Internet and secure. A joint statement by these authorities claimed: “The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history.”

At a Senate hearing held last Wednesday, Christopher Krebs, a former senior cybersecurity official, admitted that some voting machines were indeed connected to the Internet. “Some may have modems that are typically disabled but in certain states, I believe in Wisconsin, some are temporarily activated to transmit some counts.”

Krebs added: “As you move out from election day, there will be tabulators that may have internet connections to transmit the vote from the precinct to the county level to the state. Again, security controls [are] in place and as long as you have that paper, you can’t hack paper, you can run that process after.”

Krebs talked about the importance of paper ballots and how they should not be phased out of the election process. This was in response to Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee who wanted to ensure that there was a “statistically-valid” paper trail for auditing results. 

Christopher Krebs admitted that voting machines were connected to the Internet. Image: Screenshot/

President Donald Trump fired Krebs because he disagreed with Krebs’ assertion that the 2020 election was not compromised. Trump said that there were “massive improprieties and fraud — including dead people voting, poll watchers not allowed into polling locations, ‘glitches’ in the voting machines which changed votes from Trump to Biden, late voting, and many more.” 

Sworn testimonies

Michigan Senator Patrick Colbeck, an aerospace engineer, told The Gateway Pundit, right after the November election, that all computers at the TCF Center in Detroit were connected to the Internet. He witnessed this when he was a poll watcher on the night of the counting. 

The Senator had requested an election official to scroll over the LAN connection icon on his computer to reveal if the terminal was connected online, but the official refused to do it. When he went around to check evidence for physical connections, he was “actively discouraged” by the Internet technicians on site. 

In a sworn testimony, Senator Colbeck described what he found at the TCF Center on Nov. 3 and Nov. 4. He details his experience in this video interview. “All the tabulator computers were connected via Ethernet cables to a network router. And that router, in turn, was connected to another router that was connected to the adjudicators. Those were connected to another router/firewall which was connected to the internet, which was connected to the local data center,” Colbeck told The Epoch Times

If one terminal on a network is connected to the Internet, all the other terminals are connected. 

Connected and then neglected

In 2109, a group of election security experts discovered that 35 election systems in various states, including swing states like Wisconsin and Michigan, were left connected to the Internet for up to and over a year. 

The researchers, led by Kevin Skoglund, told Vice that the “jurisdictions were not aware that their systems were online,” and that the election officials didn’t have a clue about the actual status of the machines. They simply repeated the voting machine officials’ claim that no systems are connected.

The procedure followed during elections was that the votes are stored on “memory cards inside the voting machines at polling places.” When the polling is concluded and votes are counted, election workers transport these drives to county election offices. But, in the case of some counties, the results are transmitted online to the offices. The server that receives the results is called an SFTP server; these are generally connected online after being secured behind a CISCO firewall.

When results are mailed online, the systems are connected for a very brief period of time. They are then disconnected immediately. At least, that is the protocol. Researchers, in this instance, have found systems left connected to the Internet for months after the votes were transmitted, with absolutely no oversight.

In these cases, hackers can easily gain access to the servers and manipulate results. The researchers, for this study, had reviewed Election Systems & Software, one of the top voting machine companies in the U.S. 

On Dec. 15, Dominion CEO, John Poulos, said during a state Senate committee hearing in Michigan that some of the voting machines were capable of being connected to the Internet. “For the few jurisdictions, less than 1 percent of our customer base, an external cellular modem is required.”

Poulos said that the systems are designed to be a closed network, i.e., no connections to the Internet. When Sen. Ed McBroom asked: “Is there something, though, that would prohibit that from occurring,” he admitted that there was not. The degree of openness is hinted at in this video, where an election worker explains how Dominion would “get permission to take over the computer” in order to remotely fix the terminal’s problems.

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