SAVE Bucks Votes, whose mission is to ensure secure, accurate, voter-verifiable and auditable elections, came to the Bucks County commissioners’ public meeting Wednesday to explain to the commissioners why they need to choose a voter-hand-marked-paper-ballot system when they follow the state’s directive to replace their present insecure voting machines.
SAVE Bucks Votes had planned to have several members explain further different aspects of this issue. I was chosen by our group to speak to the insecurity and nonauditability of certain machines that the commissioners could choose. After SAVE Bucks leader spoke, the chairman of the county commissioners said, “Are there any comments different from what we just heard?” It was obvious to me that he did not want to hear anything else from a Save Bucks Vote member.
Here are the five points of what I had wanted to say:
We don’t put our money in banks that have no audit system and we don’t invest in companies that are unaudited, yet the county commissioners could choose a voting machine that machine marks a paper record and counts bar codes that the voter cannot verify, therefore, there is no way to audit the counts to know if the voters’ intended votes have chosen their elected officials.
Several concerned election security groups submitted a petition that required the state to re-examine one of the voting machines that the commissioners could choose — the ExpressVote XL — and asked for it to be decertified. The recertification process was done in secret! Conducting the examination in secret and using the same reviewers and the same consulting firm, Pennsylvania Department of State, or DOS, came to the same conclusion as it did last year. It looks as if DOS was more interested in protecting the machine than protecting the vote. The commissioners should reject the ExpressVote XL.
Another criteria the commissioners should use to disqualify machines is to look at the operating system each is based on. Microsoft Windows Operating Systems have security flaws that hackers exploit. As soon as Microsoft becomes aware of the exploit, they make a patch to deny it. Windows 7 will lose support at the beginning of 2020, so there will be no more patches and machines using it will become vulnerable. This criteria should disqualify two of the choices that the commissioners have — the Hart Intercivic Verity System and the ES&S ExpressVote and ExpressVote XL.
The commissioners say they are not going to make a decision until after the election but that the process is moving forward and that requests for proposal will be issued soon. This should be a transparent process. The RFP should not be tailored to a specific machine, like it was in Philadelphia where the selection process is being contested.
Cybersecurity experts testified that voter hand-marked paper ballots are the most secure way to create a record of the voter’s intent — that intent is the critical resource for audits and recounts. A voter putting pen to paper is creating a secure record of their intent. Whenever a machine is used, that machine — through software or hardware glitch or through hacking — can change that voter’s intent. The very bedrock foundation of a democracy is that the voters choose their elected officials, not hackers or bad programming.
Please contact the Bucks County commissioners and tell them to choose a voter-hand-marked-paper-ballot system. For commissioners’ contact information, visit www.buckscounty.org.
Jeff Cogshall is a resident of Doylestown and a SAVE Bucks Votes representative.