“Is this a bad joke?”, asks the executive director of the Coalition for Good Governance Marilyn Marks after discovering that the majority of electronic voting machines to be used in the 2020 election are still running Windows 7; an operating system that will be unsupported in January of that year.
Microsoft will no longer be offering any free patches for Windows 7, but will continue to provide patches for a fee until 2023. It is, however, not clear who will be paying for these patches, with either vendors or states on the line.
“This is a very serious concern,” said J. Alex Halderman, renowned election security expert and professor at the University of Michigan. The AP survey found multiple states, including Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, Iowa, Indiana, Arizona North Carolina, Michigan, and Georgia, were affected by the issue. These are important battleground states that may decide the presidency.
The use of election systems that still run on Windows 7 “is of concern, and it should be of concern,” said U.S. Election Assistance Commission Chair Christy McCormick.
It has been proven that Russia attempted to influence the 2016 presidential election, and it is widely believed that similar attempts will be made in 2020.
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., asked what the EAC -the Election Assistance Commission- is doing to address a “looming election cybersecurity crisis” that lays the “red carpet” out to hackers.
“Congress must pass legislation giving the federal government the authority to mandate basic cybersecurity for election infrastructure,” Wyden said.
Some companies will be moving to Windows 10, but it is unclear as to whether certification will be available before the election.