July 19, 2019
Best of the States
AP Exclusive: Outdated software makes even new election systems vulnerable to hackers
The source’s text said there was something “really troubling” to pass along.
Tami Abdollah, Washington national security reporter, had just returned to covering cybersecurity – a topic she has followed off-and-on since 2015. What the source told her was big: New election systems purchased across the United States were running on outdated Windows 7 systems, making them vulnerable to hackers.
It was a great tip, but it required a lot of work to determine the scope of the problem. The result was an exclusive text and video package that received huge play and raised alarm among state and national lawmakers. Abdollah revealed that the vast majority of 10,000 election jurisdictions nationwide use Windows 7 or an older operating system to create ballots, program voting machines, tally votes and report counts.
For combining source reporting with meticulous research to break major news on one of the biggest issues ahead of the 2020 election, Abdollah wins this week’s Best of the States award.