States are flocking to buy the new “universal use” touchscreen ballot markers, which have all the disadvantages of existing touchscreen voting machines. As an added “bonus,” the new touchscreens print unverifiable barcodes that are then counted as our votes!

By Jennifer Cohn, May 13, 2018

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“The new ES&S voting machine, the ExpressVote, has major problems, beginning with the fact that the voter cannot verify the ballot information that will be counted by examining the ballot… The voter may think that s/he is seeing a list of names that will be counted, but it is the barcode, not the list, that is read by the scanner that counts the vote.” (14)

As explained by a recent panel of election security security experts, this is problematic because barcodes present an opportunity for hackers:

“[B]arcodes on ballots…could give hackers a chance to rewrite results in ways that could not be traceable…” (15)

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Despite the recent fascination with electronic ballot markers that print bar codes for scanning ballots, bar codes have no place in Georgia’s election system. They introduce a whole new class of vulnerabilities. (16)

As Professor DeMillo explained to CBS46 news in Atlanta, “The difficulty with that [barcodes on ballots] is that you and I can’t read barcodes.” (Id.) If a hacker got to the barcode, DeMillo says they could manipulate the counting: “For example, telling the barcode reader to flip votes on demand or at a certain time.” (Id.)

“[V]oters took far longer to vote using the [ExpressVote] ballot marking device than to mark a paper ballot by hand. This caused lines of people waiting to use the ballot marking device…” — Rebecca Wilson, Chief Election Judge, Prince George’s County Precinct 17–01, Maryland (19)

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  • No to touchscreen ballot markers (except for voters who are unable to hand mark )
  • No to barcodes on ballots
  • Yes to hand marked paper ballots.
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Updates.

7/18/18

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Maryland’s Linda Lamone, [and] Georgia’s Kathy Rogers and Cathy Cox … were among the state election officials who consistently blasted computer scientists for our criticism of their beloved touch screens. These people behaved as if they were the vendors whose products were being attacked, when in fact they were customers who had been sold inadequate products. I could easily imagine what motivated them. The DRE voting machines unquestionably made elections much easier to administer. They conveyed an element of progress as well. Officials who brought in these machines could feel proud about keeping pace with the “state of the art.” (43)

Alarmingly, Rogers is now encouraging counties throughout the United States to replace their aging touchscreen voting machines with the touchscreen barcode ballot markers from ES&S, i.e., the ExpressVote. Here is a link to a video of her promoting the ExpressVote in Maryland. https://vimeo.com/97866270

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Bio

Background: Jennifer Cohn is an attorney and election integrity advocate in the San Francisco Bay Area who graduated from UCLA and Hastings College of the Law. As an attorney, her areas of practice included insurance coverage and appellate law. She practiced law for more than twenty years, including seven years as a partner with Nielsen Haley & Abbott, LLP in Marin County, California. Since 2016, she has devoted her professional efforts full time toward investigating our insecure election system and potential solutions. She can be contacted through her Twitter account, @jennycohn1.

End Notes

1. https://nyvv.org/reports/VVPAT_PB.pdf

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Attorney and Election Integrity Advocate #ProtectOurVotes #PaperBallotsNow @jennycohn1

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