On May 25, 2014, Russian state broadcaster Channel One reported the winner of the day’s presidential election in Ukraine: with a surprising 37 percent plurality, Dmytro Yarosh, leader of the extreme-right paramilitary group Right Sector, would be the new Ukrainian president. According to Channel One, previous favorite Petro Poroshenko received only 29 percent of the vote. These numbers were particularly unexpected because only 0.7 percent of voters had voted for Yarosh, versus the 54.7 percent who had voted for Poroshenko — numbers that news outlets in Ukraine and elsewhere were accurately reporting. Barely a half-hour prior to the announcement of the election results, a cybersecurity team at Ukraine’s Central Election Commission (CEC) removed a virus that had been deployed in its computers. That virus was designed to total 37 percent of votes for Yarosh, and 29 percent for Poroshenko.
… Because states and counties (and sometimes even precincts) are free to decide on their own which systems to purchase, there were a total of 52 different types of voting machines in use in the United States during the last election, varying so widely that a color-coded county-level map of U.S. voting machines presents the country as afflicted by a blotchy, non-localized rash.
… “The EAC sets federal guidelines for certification of voting systems,” said Lawrence Norden, deputy director of the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program. “A critical part of those certification guidelines has to do with security. Forty-seven states rely on the federal certification program in some way.”
The EAC’s quality-monitoring program requires vendors of election systems to notify the EAC if any anomalies are discovered within their systems. The EAC can also strip certification, which vendors need to sell voting equipment. Testing and certification of voting systems used to be done by a consortium of state election directors, explained Pamela Smith, president of the Verified Voting Foundation, a non-profit NGO dedicated to “safeguarding elections in the digital age.” But the EAC “really professionalized it. They made it much more stringent and rigorous. There’s a lot of transparency there.” What’s startling about the new resolution calling for termination of the EAC is that it makes no attempt to transfer the certification program to another agency. Testing and certification simply seem to disappear.