• Indivisible New Rochelle

Westchester County: Say NO to Vulnerable Voting Machines

Updated: Mar 16, 2019

The Westchester County Board of Legislators is consider the purchase of voting machines that have been identified as posing known security risks. The machines that are being considered are Dominion Imagecast Evolution (aka ICE) voting machines, for a cost of approximately $6 million. This was brought to our attention by Indivisible members who have dug deep into the research.

Here's the scoop:

The Dominion ICE machines are a combined BMD (ballot marking device) for the disabled and a scanner for the able-bodied. When used as a BMD, a blank ballot is fed in and the machine prints the voter's ballot. When an able bodied person scans in their completed ballot, the ballot goes through the same paper path.

According to Princeton Professor Andrew Appel, it is an easy hack to use the USB port on the machine to mark ballots scanned in by able bodied-voters to populate those ballots with votes they never made. Yes, it is possible to falsify votes on the ICE machines with no reliable paper trail.

The risk of these machines is not simply conjecture. In his article, "Design flaw in Dominion ImageCastEvolution voting machine," Princeton Professor Andrew Appel walks through the vulnerabilities of these machines. In addition to the flaws with the technology, there is evidence that USB ports pose an added risk. They provide an all-to-easy point of entry to a the voting machines, as described in this article, "Don't Panic, But All USB Devices Have a Massive Security Problem."

On Tuesday, March 5, Indivisible NYCD16 and Indivisible Westchester members spoke with Professor Appel to better understand the flaws with the technology, as well as to be better able to help our Legislators be "informed consumers" for Westchester voters. Professor Appel remains firm that the ICE machines pose a risk for voters. We learned that while there are no voting machines that are 100% hack-proof, the machines that we currently have are safer than the ICE machines.

While Appel doesn’t think we need to wait until 2020, he doesn’t see any rush to secure new machines, particularly the ICE machines. We can continue to use our current optical scanners for early voting. Early voting can use existing machines, and if the early voting machines are impounded between early voting and the general, the county would be able to buy enough machines just for early voting, and we wouldn't need many. If we must purchase now, then an alternative machine, the DOM ICP320 costs approximately $4,000 per machine and there is plenty of inventory. While the DOM ICP320 has been found to be a bit harder to use, it is capable of passing NYS certification and it is federally certified, and could be a viable alternative if we needed to make a limited purchase as a safety. At the very least, Westchester County Board of Elections would be wise to conduct an assessment of the DOC ICP320 systems for limited purchase.

We are in an age when voting machines and elections-related technologies are at risk, from within the US and from foreign intrusion. We are learning how elections-related technologies and other systems are vulnerable.

Voting machines are a technology in flux. The ICE machines are yesterday's technology. We need to invest in tomorrow's technology. This is not the time for Westchester to make a massive investment in soon-to-be outdated technology.

Here is a letter that Indivisible Westchester wrote and many groups, including Indivisible New Rochelle has signed on.

Concerned? Let your County Legislator know.

For more information, check out Professor Appel's home page.


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