The votes were cast on Diebold A.T.M.-style machines. A whistle-blower who helped prepare the machines reported that secret “patches” — software intended to fix glitches — were installed late in the process without being certified by the state, as the law required.
The unexpected outcomes were likely because of heavy turnout by rural whites, prompted by a Confederate flag dispute, not faulty voting machines. Still, skeptics wonder if the patches contained malicious software that changed votes. Because the Diebold machines did not produce paper records, there is no way to put those doubts to rest.
Lesson: Electronic voting makes large-scale vote theft easy. A patch slipped onto voting machines or centralized vote tabulators can change an election’s outcome. Every piece of software must be scrutinized by neutral experts. If there is not enough time, election officials need a backup plan, such as conducting voting entirely on paper ballots.
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