HAMILTON — A self-described cyber security expert implicated in an alleged breach of a Colorado election system is touring Montana counties this week, the latest push by some Republican lawmakers to return the state to the days of hand-counting all its ballots.
The local drive is part of a national effort spawned by unfounded voter fraud theories, but experts warn that eliminating ballot-processing machines could return elections to the days of widespread disenfranchisement and fraud that prompted the switch to machine-counting more than a century ago.
Despite no documented instances of the machines being manipulated or hacked during any election, they’ve become top targets of right-wing activists who believe the 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald Trump. Lawmakers in at least six other states have introduced legislation to prohibit the use of machines during elections, and at least one such bill draft has been requested for Montana’s 2023 legislative session.
People are also reading…
Seated in a gray polo shirt and a white Maserati baseball cap, Mark Cook on Monday spent well over two hours telling the Ravalli County Commissioners that their election system is in jeopardy.
Cook said his expertise entails helping software companies uncover vulnerabilities in their systems. Following the contention over the results of the 2020 election, he said he began looking at the infrastructure of election systems across the country, and was “absolutely shocked” when he quickly discovered major security flaws.
“I started seeing the vendor was keeping this a secret, they wouldn’t release the source code they wouldn’t let anyone see this stuff,” Cook said, referring to the proprietary source code used by the companies that develop tabulators. “Then they were starting to prosecute people that were looking at it and investigating it. And I thought, oh my gosh, this is the biggest…