HomeLearning CenterIllegal Attempts to Access Voting Machines Didn’t Stop with Jan. 6 Insurrection

Illegal Attempts to Access Voting Machines Didn’t Stop with Jan. 6 Insurrection

While the Janu­ary 6 commit­tee has rightly focused on the crim­inal conspir­acy to over­turn the 2020 elec­tion, it is crit­ical to remem­ber that this threat is ongo­ing, and many of the people implic­ated continue to work to under­mine future elec­tions. One of the most troub­ling connec­tions can be found in the persist­ent effort to illeg­ally access elec­tion systems that could be used in 2022 and 2024. Increased secur­ity fund­ing is needed to protect upcom­ing elec­tions, espe­cially from insider threats.

Among others, wealthy Repub­lican busi­ness­men like Mike Lindell, founder and CEO of MyPil­low Inc., and Patrick Byrne, former CEO of Over­stock.com, have been active in the effort to over­turn the 2020 pres­id­en­tial elec­tion and are also support­ing those work­ing to gain unau­thor­ized access to elec­tion systems. While the attempts to access these systems are most imme­di­ately a concern because false claims about them have been used to spread disin­form­a­tion about the 2020 race, the efforts also pose a secur­ity risk to future elec­tions.

Secur­ity experts have long warned that giving mali­cious actors direct access to elec­tion system hard­ware is partic­u­larly danger­ous and could risk the integ­rity of elec­tions. That’s why after improp­erly accessed voting equip­ment was discovered in three states — Color­ado, Michigan, and Pennsylvania — offi­cials either seized or decer­ti­fied the equip­ment so that it could not be used in future elec­tions. When such activ­ity was recently discovered in a fourth state — Geor­gia — the secret­ary of state announced an invest­ig­a­tion and said he had already replaced key elec­tion soft­ware used in the relev­ant county.

Who is behind the effort to gain this unau­thor­ized access? In many cases, the very same people involved in the effort to over­turn the 2020 elec­tion. Perhaps most prom­in­ently, Lindell, who has been a voci­fer­ous advoc­ate for over­turn­ing the 2020 elec­tion, is also closely connec­ted to many of the people who have accessed county voting systems around the coun­try. Earlier this year, Politico repor­ted that the Janu­ary 6 commit­tee subpoenaed his phone records. He was seen at the White House after the Janu­ary 6 attack with a paper with the words “Insur­rec­tion Act” and “martial law if neces­sary” on it.

Brennan Center for Justice

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