National: Expensive, Glitchy Voting Machines Expose 2020 Hacking Risks | Kartikay Mehrotra and Margaret Newkirk/Bloomberg
The first sign something was wrong with Northampton County, Pennsylvania’s state-of-the-art voting system came on Election Day when a voter called the local Democratic Party chairman to say a touchscreen in her precinct was acting “finicky.” As she scrolled down the ballot, the tick-marks next to candidates she’d selected kept disappearing. Her experience Nov. 5 was no isolated glitch. Over the course of the day, the new election machinery, bought over the objections of cybersecurity experts, continued to malfunction. Built by Election Systems & Software, the ExpressVote XL was designed to marry touchscreen technology with a paper-trail for post-election audits. Instead, it created such chaos that poll workers had to crack open the machines, remove the ballot records and use scanners summoned from across state lines to conduct a recount that lasted until 5 a.m. In one case, it turned out a candidate that the XL showed getting just 15 votes had won by about 1,000. Neither Northampton nor ES&S know what went wrong. Digital voting machines were promoted in the wake of a similarly chaotic scene 19 years ago: the infamous punch-card ballots and hanging chads of south Florida that tossed the presidential contest between George W. Bush and Al Gore into uncertainty.