Secretary of State Scott Gessler wants to make it easier for counties to comply with rules for electronic voting machines, but watchdogs say the changes increase the risk of hackers stealing an election. Gessler will hold a meeting today to discuss the changes, but plaintiffs in a 2006 lawsuit that led to the decertification of several voting machines did not wait to let loose with criticism.
Jeff Sherman, an Iraq veteran who worked on democracy-building in that country, said he is dismayed U.S. elections are vulnerable to fraud through voting machines. “We have a system that is a light to the world. I think it does all of us a disservice when there are questions about elections,” Sherman said.
Colorado has not had any known instance of election-hacking, but Sherman’s lawyer, Paul Hultin, cited an exercise by Argonne National Laboratory in which scientists hacked into a voting machine from half a mile away using cheap, off-the-shelf equipment.
Gessler’s spokesman, Rich Coolidge, said Gessler hopes critics attend today’s meeting, which is just a first step to discuss rule changes.
“We hope these individuals plan to attend and share their input. The purpose of this effort is to provide clarity for the counties to promote a uniform application of the laws, while preserving the security measures already in place,” Coolidge said in an email.
Proposed changes include different requirements for tamper-proof seals on the machines and optional inspections by the secretary of state of county maintenance logs instead of mandatory inspections. Currently, election judges who notice a broken seal on a machine must report it to the secretary of state. Gessler would allow county clerks to handle the investigation.
And the 10-page instruction manual the county clerks must follow to use the machines would be condensed to three to five pages.