(CBS Local) — The presidential election is less than eight months away and New York resident and cybersecurity expert Hari Hursti is already sounding the horn about potential issues with voting machines around the country.
The computer hacker has been studying election interference and the problems with voting technology since the mid 2000s, and his new HBO documentary “Kill Chain: The Cyber Wars On America’s Election” demonstrates that not much has changed in the past decade.
“If someone tried to explain to me everything I learned in the last 15 years, I wouldn’t believe them” said Hursti in an interview with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “The most frightening thing is that from 2006 to now, nothing changed. The actual software that I hacked in 2005 is still in use. Those machines are still in 20 states. They’re still around. Everything is so outdated and it is so hard to make people understand the reality that this needs to be fixed or things will be getting worse.”
The documentary features several fascinating scenes of Hursti being able to hack into a voting machine to change votes, Hursti and a colleague purchasing an old voting machine from eBay, and a hackers turning off a voting machine from his laptop.
“All kind of weird things are sold on eBay. There had been a voting machine sold before, but it had been in a shady way,” said Hursti. “All of the sudden, when a massive amount of voting machines showed up on eBay, we thought let’s buy them. As we show in the movie, there are over 1,000 voting machines at this one vendor. The voting machines were free in one county if you just come and pick them up. That is a voting machine that is still being used in 20 states.”
“Kill Chain” premieres Thursday, March 26 and Hursti hopes will learn about the weakness of America’s voting technology.
“2020 is too close, if you want to make a big change, you have to start two or three years before the election, said Hursti. “Right now, everything you can do has to be done. Education is an important part. If you are eligible to vote, vote all the way down the ballot. Ask for a paper ballot and if you really care, become a poll worker. All these small things add up.”