An 11-Year-Old Hacked and Changed Election Results in Less than 10 Minutes

As concerns about the security of the United States’ elections continue to rise, Florida just underwent a disheartening test of their electronic voting. 

During a hacking convention, DEFCON 26, an 11-year-old was able to hack into Florida’s voting system and change the results of the election. 

The DEFCON organizers set up 13 websites modeled after the sites in swing states, like Florida. They recruited 39 children between ages 6 and 17 to participate in the “DEFCON Voting Machine Hacking Village.” 

The kids were tasked with changing the party names, candidate names, and the total votes candidates received. 

The challenge took 11-year-old, Emmett Brewer, less than ten minutes to complete on the model of Florida’s website. 

Candidate names were swapped out with names like “Bob da Builder” and “Kim Jong Un” by other middle school hackers. One kid changed the vote totals to impossible numbers given Florida’s population, including 12 billion.

All of these hacks were completed after only receiving an “introductory walkthrough” of the underlying source code. 

While the kids running hacker village only manipulated state websites, other DEFCON participants were able to hack the voting machines themselves. 


Hackers found that the back panel of the machine could be easily removed to reveal one part that controlled the whole machine. Through this, one hacker was able to gain serial control of the machine, implementing any changes he wanted.

He also found that the machine had no password protection. The hacker could swap out memory disks with corrupted information and no one would be able to find out. 

Hackers were only allowed ten minutes to hack the voting machines, proving that it could be completed in a window of time that would not be suspicious at the polling stations.

Using a military strength security code, one hacker was only one step away from controlling the voting machine in the ten minute window.   

This information terrified many Americans.

Although requiring paper ballots would not prevent websites from being vulnerable, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) proposed a bill requiring paper ballots for federal elections. 

Either way, election security is sure to remain a high priority as Americans work to protect democracy.