Hillary Clinton has been spreading conspiracy theories in recent days, including a claim that 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) is a “Russian asset.” The former Secretary of State made the comments on the podcast “Campaign HQ with David Plouffe,” but that was not the only conspiracy theory she dropped during the interview.
Clinton also claimed that “10-year-olds are hacking our voting systems and the networks that connect them.”
“You know, we don’t really know to what extent the election was interfered in because nobody will look for it. We do know that in Florida a lot more happened than has been admitted publicly,” Clinton said during the podcast, referring to the 2018 gubernatorial race in Florida.
“We know we’re really vulnerable,” she continued. “Every, you know, every Hackathon that happens, you know, 10-year-olds are hacking our voting systems and the networks that connect them.”
“So, we have four big problems and we don’t have a government that is interested in protecting our elections,” she added.
The Daily Caller reported that Clinton’s claim of an 11-year-old hacking the election system came from a story last year that said the boy, according to USA Today, “successfully hacked into a replica of the website used by the Florida Secretary of State to report election results and changed them.”
The child and others were participating in a DefCon Voting Machine Hacking Village, where participants attempted to hack into replica websites in order to change their information.
The problem with the story, despite media claims it showed the vulnerability of our election system, is that the replica pages didn’t feature the same security systems as the real websites, meaning the children came nowhere close to actually “hacking our voting systems.”
Politifact rated the claim “mostly false” when Gabbard made it a few months ago.
“First, there wasn’t hacking into a replica of the election system — but rather a website made to look like Florida’s Secretary of State website that reports preliminary election results. In other words, not the system that receives and counts actual votes,” Politifact noted. “And second, what was hacked into was not even a replica — as in an exact copy of the website — because it did not contain the proprietary security features that the Secretary of State website has.”
As the Caller pointed out, Florida’s National Association of Secretaries of State released a statement after the story spread, reading, in part:
Our main concern with the approach taken by DEFCON is that it utilizes a pseudo environment which in no way replicates state election systems, networks or physical security. Providing conference attendees with unlimited physical access to voting machines, most of which are no longer in use, does not replicate accurate physical and cyber protections established by state and local governments before and on Election Day.
We are also concerned that creating “mock” election office networks and voter registration databases for participants to defend and/or hack is also unrealistic. It would be extremely difficult to replicate these systems since many states utilize unique networks and custom-built databases with new and updated security protocols.
While it is undeniable websites are vulnerable to hackers, election night reporting websites are only used to publish preliminary, unofficial results for the public and the media. The sites are not connected to vote counting equipment and could never change actual election results.