A major supplier of voting equipment in the United States has admitted to enabling its machines the ability to connect to the internet. 

Could this have affected voting centers in our region amid growing concerns over Russian hackers impacting U.S. elections?

This letter of admission comes from the company — Election Systems and Software — written to U.S. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon.

ES&S manufactures voting machines as well as the ones that tabulate the final results. 

FOX 24 was able to confirm both Benton and Washington county elections offices bought machines from the company in the early 2000s.

ES&S admitted to Senator Wyden it installed the remote access software — “PCanywhere — to a small number of customers between 2000 and 2006. 

Washington County Elections Coordinator – Jennifer Price – says even though the county’s machines do tabulate the results, there’s no reason for voters to worry. 

“None of the equipment that we use is hooked up to the internet at any time,” Price said. “Not the computer we use for election results. Not the equipment that is used for the polls on election night where you cast your ballot. There is no way it could be hacked or stolen or manipulated here.”

Price also adds, they always have the actual paper ballots to ensure against any tampering.

In 2006, almost 60 % of ballots cast in the U.S. were counted by ES&S systems. 

On August 1st, The United States Department of Homeland Security will conduct a regional meeting with eleven counties in Arkansas – Washington and Benton county included. 

Price says this is to specifically address the concerns of cyber security and election security here in the Natural State.