Republican Rick Saccone still hasn’t conceded defeat in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District. But if he calls for a recount, his state’s use of older electronic voting machines guarantees that a real audit will be practically impossible. That’s because the four counties that make up the 18th exclusively use touchscreen voting machines manufactured by either Premiere or ES&S, and use no models that create a paper receipt, said Marian Schneider, Pennsylvania’s former deputy secretary for elections and administration. “Selections are written to computer memory. There’s no other record of the voter’s selection,” Schneider told BuzzFeed News. “Two different brands with the same kind of interface.” Any recount of such machines wouldn’t produce a formal audit. Instead, it would simply ask a given computer to repeat a tally it had already given, akin to downloading an email attachment and then downloading it a second time, overwriting the first file.
“If you think about a bank audit or cash register audit, you’re going to have a record of what was the original transaction and then you’re going to check that against the reported transaction,” Schneider said. “That’s the major flaw with this kind of voting machine, that you don’t have a record of the original transaction to check against what the computer reports.”
An estimated 83% of Pennsylvanians vote on machines with no paper trail.
… “No cybersecurity expert would tell you that any machine anywhere is unhackable,” said Schneider, whose current organization, Verified Voting, monitors election equipment in the US and advocates for the nationwide adoption of machines with a paper trail. “You’re never going to get that risk down to zero, so you need that ability to detect when something is going wrong.”