False claims on voting machines obscure real flaws

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The aftermath of the 2020 election put an intense spotlight on voting machines as supporters of former President Donald Trump claimed victory was stolen from him. While the theories were unproven — and many outlandish and blatantly false — election security experts say there are real concerns that need to be addressed.

In Georgia, for example, election security expert J. Alex Halderman says he’s identified “multiple severe security flaws” in the state’s touchscreen voting machines, according to a sworn declaration in a court case.

Halderman told The Associated Press in a phone interview that while he’s seen no evidence the vulnerabilities were exploited to change the outcome of the 2020 election, “there remain serious risks that policymakers and the public need to be aware of” that should be addressed immediately to protect future elections.

Trump loyalists — pushing the slogan “Stop the Steal” — held rallies, posted on social media and filed lawsuits in key states, often with false claims about Dominion Voting Systems voting machines. Almost all of the legal challenges casting doubt on the outcome of the election have been dismissed or withdrawn and many claims of fraud debunked. State and federal election officials have said there’s no evidence of widespread fraud. And Dominion has fought back forcefully, filing defamation lawsuits against high-profile Trump allies.

As an election security researcher, it’s been frustrating to watch the proliferation of misinformation, said Matt Blaze, a professor of computer science and law at Georgetown University. For years, he said, concerns raised by election security experts were dismissed as unimportant.

“All of a sudden, people are going the other way, saying the existence of a flaw not only is something that should be fixed, it means the election was actually stolen,” he said. “That’s not true either.”

David Cross is an attorney for plaintiffs in a long-running lawsuit filed by proponents of hand-marked paper ballots. His clients’ concerns about Georgia’s electronic voting machines long preceded the 2020 election, but he says they’re now grappling with how to expose…

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