Election security advocates criticize Pa. over re-examination of voting machines

Centre County introduced new ES&S voting machines in the primary on May 21, 2019. (Min Xian/WPSU)

Centre County introduced new ES&S voting machines in the primary on May 21, 2019. (Min Xian/WPSU)

This article originally appeared on PA Post.

Election security advocates are criticizing the Pennsylvania Department of State over the way it re-examined an electronic voting machine from a leading contractor in the state and the U.S.

“We are profoundly disappointed that the Secretary’s office has conducted this re-examination in secret, without transparency or public engagement, which we believe to be in contravention of the requirements of the Commonwealth and the provisions of the Stein settlement,” Susan Greenhalgh, vice-president of programs for the National Election Defense Coalition, said in a news release. “We are examining our options for further action.”

Several other groups, including Protect Our Vote Philly and the Pennsylvania-based Citizens for Better Elections, joined in criticizing the state department.

In July, Greenhalgh and other election security advocates submitted a petition to the Department of State, requesting a re-examination of the ES&S ExpressVote XL electronic voting machine. The petition included 200 signatures from voters across the state and 10 main objections, including that the system’s software makes it susceptible to ballot tampering, and that the system does not meet several other aspects of state law governing electronic voting systems.

The Department of State said some of the objections were legal issues not covered by the re-examination process. But the department re-examined the system for some of the issues the groups raised. The department concluded in a Tuesday report that the system can be safely used by voters provided it is implemented under proper conditions.

A Department of State spokesperson provided a copy of the re-examination report but didn’t immediately respond to the criticisms from the election security groups.

ES&S told the Philadelphia Inquirer in July that it stood behind the security of its system.

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