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Microsoft releases software for preventing election hacks

The tech giant says it's working with all major US voting machine companies to explore ways to use ElectionGuard.

- 01:27

Electronic voting could be protected with Microsoft election software.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images
This story is part of Elections 2020, CNET's coverage of the run-up to voting in November.

Microsoft's open-source software aimed at protecting election is now available. The company released ElectionGuard on Tuesday on GitHub, saying election tech companies can begin integrating the software into their voting systems.

In July, Microsoft demonstrated its ElectionGuard software aimed at protecting electronic voting systems from hack attacks. The tech giant says the software makes electronic voting systems more secure as concerns about cyberattacks continue to escalate. Over the past year, Microsoft warned 10,000 customers that they've been targeted or compromised by attacks from foreign nations.

Cyberattacks are being used to gain information and influence politics, Microsoft said in July. The attacks mainly come from Iran, North Korea and Russia, the company added.

ElectionGuard lets people vote directly on a screen, get a tracking code to confirm their vote was counted and not altered, and then get a physical, printed confirmation.

"ElectionGuard is accessible by design and will make voting more secure, verifiable and efficient anywhere it's used in the United States or in democratic nations around the world," Microsoft said Tuesday.

Microsoft said it's working with all major manufacturers of voting systems in the US to explore ways to incorporate ElectionGuard. Columbia University will be testing out ElectionGuard in the 2020 presidential elections, Microsoft said.

GitHub is a software development platform owned by Microsoft.

Originally published July 17. 
Update, Sept. 25: Notes that Microsoft released its ElectionGuard software to GitHub.