Election Security Concerns Trigger Re-Examination of Voting Machines in Pennsylvania

Citizens for Better Elections, Free Speech For People, National Election Defense Coalition, and Protect Our Vote Philly Filed a Petition to the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Outlining 11 Deficiencies with the ExpressVote XL, Triggering a Mandatory Re-Examination

PHILADELPHIA, PA (July 17, 2019) – A petition filed Tuesday on behalf of registered electors of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will trigger a mandatory re-examination of the ES&S ExpressVote XL electronic voting machine.  The new voting machines were approved by the Philadelphia City Commissioners February 20, 2019. According to the petition, the voting machines fail to meet election standards set by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  According to Pennsylvania law, the Secretary of the Commonwealth is required to re-examine the machines upon proper request.

“The problems with the ExpressVote XL are not minor technical violations of the law. They fundamentally harm the security, privacy, verifiability, and accessibility of elections,” said Kevin Skoglund, Chief Technologist of Citizens for Better Elections. “This petition has signatures from 200 voters from across the Commonwealth who are concerned about these harms.”

“Governor Wolf was right. Every vote in Pennsylvania should be on a paper ballot that voters can verify,” said Rich Garella, a member of Protect Our Vote Philly. “These ExpressVote XL machines would take away our right to know our votes count. They defeat the whole purpose of upgrading.”

“The ExpressVote XL voting machine doesn’t meet federal and state standards, and it’s too exposed to tampering,” said Ron Fein, Legal Director of Free Speech For People. “The machine never should have been certified, but the Secretary can fix that mistake now. These issues are too important to leave unsettled as we approach the 2020 election.”

“Pennsylvania is taking great pains to replace its unauditable, unverifiable touchscreen voting machines and switch to voter-verified paper ballots which are absolutely essential to detect vote counting errors or malicious hacking, said Susan Greenhalgh, Vice-President of Programs for the National Election Defense Coalition. “But according to the Secretary’s original review, the ballot summary card of the Expressvote XL is difficult if not impossible to verify, meaning Pennsylvania could be throwing good money after bad, in buying another system that cannot be effectively verified and audited.”

The petition details eleven deficiencies where the ES&S ExpressVote XL voting machines violate Pennsylvania election law.  These deficiencies include: insufficient protection against tampering with ballot cards; chronological ballot storage that fails to protect absolute secrecy of the voter; solid white ballot cards that do not distinguish the appropriate party affiliation or independent status on the card; ballot cards that lack attached serially numbered perforated stubs or a facsimile of the signature of the members of the county board printed on the ballot card stub; ballot cards that lack a square opposite the name in which to place any mark to facilitate a recount or vote audit; the failure to list political parties with arrows to indicate positions on the ballot card; the fact that there is no way for a voter to start over with a new ballot without both the voter and election officials violating state law; the failure to allow poll workers to comply with booth and ballot secrecy; poor  accessibility; and the machine’s inability to produce a voter-verifiable paper ballot as required by a settlement in a federal lawsuit.

Each of these deficiencies are fully articulated in the petition alongside the relevant laws.  The petition grants the Secretary of the Commonwealth the option to forgo re-examination and preemptively decertify the ExpressVote XL based on the evidence presented in the petition.

If the machines are decertified, Pennsylvania counties including Philadelphia and Northampton will have to restart their selection processes, choosing from the remaining certified voting systems.

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