In the past few days, election integrity activists got up close to the current generation of ES&S voting machines — close enough to record video of a digital scanner voting machine sending results wirelessly. The ability of the machines to communicate with the outside world has generally not been acknowledged by either the manufacturer or election officials. Yet this wireless link is at the heart of concerns that election results could be hacked or manipulated, “including attacks that could change vote totals and election results,” said Emily Levy, director of communications at the voting transparency group AUDIT-USA. Almost two decades after its starring role in the 2000 Bush v. Gore Florida voting debacle, the Broward County Supervisor of Elections Office is still the centerfold for election integrity issues — not just in Florida but in the country as a whole.
Back then, much of the controversy swirled around voting machines and punch cards made by the firm ES&S.
John Brakey, director of AUDIT-USA, recorded the wireless transmission of election results from an ES&S DS200 digital scanner voting machine at a Broward County polling place on Election Day.
In the videos, Brakey confirms that modems are installed in the DS200 voting machine and that they operate with a wireless antenna. He observed one as it successfully transmitted the results to the election management system, a program on a central computer at the election department that tabulates the results. Also seen in the video is the poll tape that the machines generate with the tabulated results.
“A vulnerability like this means there is no secure chain of custody for election materials in Broward County or any other county that has modems inside or connected to their election systems,” Levy said. “That means we can’t trust the official election results produced by those voting systems.”
Levy said the only way to verify an election with vulnerabilities created by these types of voting machines would be to do a manual hand count of all paper ballots. However, that may not be the solution in this case.