Last week, we learned that Georgia officials destroyed election data in the midst of a lawsuit alleging that they had ignored warnings that the state’s electoral system was vulnerable to hackers. In light of this new information, Samantha Bee dedicated a segment of Full Frontal to election hacking—and bumped up the production value in the process. Bee partied like it was 1999 by making the entire segment a not-very-timely Matrix parody, assuming a vaguely Neo-like role to learn more about potential foreign interference in U.S. elections.
Of course, Neo is nothing without Morpheus, so Bee recruited cybersecurity researcher Logan Lamb to take her down the rabbit hole. Last year, Lamb stumbled upon a serious vulnerability in the Kennesaw State University’s Center for Election Systems website and discovered that he could access passwords used to log in to the central server on Election Day. What’s worse, according to Lamb, is that those passwords were four-digit PINs. “I have to put in 16 letters and digits just to get into my FreshDirect account,” pointed out Bee.
Those PINs could have been used to alter voter registration information, and the trouble with electronic voting machines is that they’re difficult to audit. To figure out a solution to this problem, Bee visited her version of the Oracle: Donna Curling and Donna Price, two of the plaintiffs in the case against Georgia officials, who presented a simple solution.
“We’re fighting to have voters vote on paper ballots,” explained one of the Donnas, because a paper trail would make it easier to check that machine totals are accurate numbers and haven’t been compromised. If The Matrix taught us anything, it’s that we can’t trust the machines, and if Bee’s segment taught us anything, it’s that it’s maybe time to stop parodying The Matrix.