Progressive groups call on county to reject funding for new voting machines due to security flaw

Progressive groups call on county to reject funding for new voting machines due to security flaw

Editor’s note: This press release was provided by Indivisible Westchester, multiple town, city and village Indivisible chapters and Progressive Women of Pelham.

To the Westchester County Board of Legislators, County Executive George Latimer, Deputy County Executive Ken Jenkins and Budget Director Larry Soule:

The undersigned organizations firmly believe that the Board of Legislators should not approve monies from any source for Dominion ImageCast Evolution (ICE) voting machines, including the approval of a $6 million bond.

The purchase of these machines is fiscally reckless, particularly at a time when New York faces huge budget cuts across the board. It goes without saying that the pandemic has wreaked havoc with the County budget due to tremendous loss of revenue and these voting machines cost approximately a third more than separate ballot marking devices and scanners. It is an unnecessary and unwise purchase.

The ICE machines proposed for purchase are used for in person voting. However, the trend, accelerated by the pandemic, is to vote by mail. Governor Cuomo has indicated through his statements at press conferences and effectuated through Executive Orders that he will not make New Yorkers choose between their health and exercising their ability to vote. Based upon an interpretation of the current election law, the Governor has issued  emergency Executive Orders which permit any New Yorker to vote in the June 23rd primaries by absentee ballot. There can be no doubt that, if the pandemic persists through the Fall, either the State Legislature will pass legislation or Governor Cuomo will use his emergency powers to permit absentee voting by all registered voters for Village elections in September 2020 and the general election in November 2020. In fact, the national trend is to permit vote by mail.

New York currently is an excuse based absentee ballot state.  However, the State is poised to adopt a constitutional amendment, which will permit no excuse absentee voting for any elections that occur after November 2021.

Consequently, there is no need to shore up any perceived lack of machines to facilitate in person voting with a large scale purchase of unnecessary machines now. Instead, the Board of Elections should approach the Board of Legislators to discuss the purchase of machinery necessary to facilitate absentee voting, such as high speed central scanners to count absentee ballots, machines to open ballot envelopes, and so forth. If any voting machines are needed, a stop gap purchase of the precinct version of the Dominion machines and the Dominion ballot marking device, currently in use on Election Day, should be sufficient. The Board of Elections should concentrate on becoming proficient at handling large scale absentee voting, instead of purchasing unnecessary machines to facilitate in person voting.

In addition, the ICE machines have a known security flaw which we have related to you previously. The shared paper path used by voters (with and without disabilities) is the location of the security flaw. The ICE can print additional votes not intended by the voter. Due to this flaw, the machine does not produce a reliable paper trail for audits. The State Board of Elections has implicitly acknowledged the flaw by adopting required, post-election auditing procedures solely for the ICE to ascertain whether the machine printed when it should not have.

If the Democrats win the House and Senate in this Fall’s election, it is likely that this machine will be outlawed for use in federal elections. The ICE meets neither the standards for voting equipment in HR 1, which passed the House in 2019, nor the Senate bills sponsored by Amy Klobuchar and Ron Wyden. The federal bills reject these types of machines because of their security flaws.