Virginia Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe, who has attacked his opponent for backing voting machine audits, said he was "very concerned" about hackable voting machines in the buildup to the 2020 election.
During a 2019 interview with HBO's Bill Maher, McAuliffe suggested that Russian hackers could target electronic voting machines in the United States, citing his issues as governor of Virginia with hackable voting machines. The former governor is singing a different tune now, attempting to smear Republican challenger Glenn Youngkin's voter integrity platform as a front for former president Donald Trump's "conspiracy theories about voting machines changing votes."
"Oh, I'm very concerned! Russia is going to be as active as they've ever been," McAuliffe said after Maher asked if the 2020 election would "be on the up-and-up." The Democrat went on to recall past issues with Virginia's voting machines, noting that "technology experts" were able to "hack into our machines from off-site" and change votes "within four minutes."
After Youngkin called for an audit to "make sure that people trust these voting machines," McAuliffe labeled the move "dangerous" and "disqualifying." McAuliffe, however, signed the state's 2017 law to require an "annual audit of ballot scanner machines," which he still supports today.
McAuliffe, who did not return a request for comment, echoed his concerns over hackable voting machines during a May 2020 "briefing" with liberal think tank Third Way. He noted that while he replaced the vulnerable electronic voting machines in Virginia, states such as Georgia still use similar machines to vote. McAuliffe argued those machines should be replaced and states should implement "paper receipts," which he called "important." Trump has centered his "rigged election" claims in part on voting machine malfunctions in Georgia.
"So I took the machine and I hired hackers, professional hackers, to come into Virginia. Listen to this. Off-site, it took them six minutes to hack into our optiscan machines. It took them another two minutes to change the vote," McAuliffe said. "So now in Virginia we have only paper receipts, which is important. I mention this to all of you on the call because this is real."
In addition to his voting machine concerns, McAuliffe spent years accusing Republicans and the Supreme Court of stealing the 2000 election. As Democratic National Committee chairman, for example, McAuliffe in 2004 said Democrats "actually won the last presidential election" because Republicans "stole the last presidential election."
McAuliffe has since claimed he is "so tired" of those who push similar rhetoric, saying stolen election claims are "hurting our country" and "hurting those young men and women in uniform." But McAuliffe just days ago defended his 2000 election claims, citing "legitimate complaints that went all the way up to the United States Supreme Court." McAuliffe also said he was "still mad over 2000" during his Third Way interview.
McAuliffe finds himself in a closer-than-expected race against Youngkin. While Biden won the state by double digits in 2020, McAuliffe leads Youngkin by just one point, according to an October Emerson College poll, which declared the race a "dead heat." The pair will square off in November.