League of Women Voters Comments Regarding Voting Machines

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

League of Women Voters Comments Regarding Voting Machines

RALEIGH, NC, July 28, 2019 – Trust in elections is one of the most important issues facing our nation, and the voting public in North Carolina is very aware of the potential vulnerabilities in our elections’ processes. The League of Women Voters of Wake County (LWV-Wake) has carefully followed the process of certification and purchase of new voting machines for upcoming elections. The League speaks on behalf of voters who are concerned about the integrity and security of elections in our state. Therefore, the League opposes the certification of voting machines that do not use hand-marked ballots.

Recent reports in the press have highlighted the possibility of hacking from outside forces and the risks posed within the less-than-transparent internal operations of various election equipment vendors. The League, as well as the public, reasonably believed that the passage of NC Session Law 2018-13 provided protection against the use of voting systems that did not require paper ballots after December 2019. The intent of this law must be considered and should be honored.

According to LWV-Wake Voter Services Director Marian Lewin, “Any equipment that relies on proprietary software is potentially vulnerable, whether from the possibility of foreign tampering, tampering by other adversaries, or even configuration errors that result in inaccurately recording or counting ballots. Without paper records, experts have concluded there are very few ways to audit and verify contested elections. Selections recorded in a barcode are inherently unreadable by humans and are not auditable. A hand-marked paper ballot is the only kind of record that is not vulnerable to software errors, configuration errors, or hacking.”

Furthermore, attempts by the NC Board of Elections to assess the ownership of the three vendors currently under consideration have failed to provide definitive answers. We know that Hart Intercivic is owned primarily by investment group H.I.G. Hart LLC, that Raging Capital Opportunity Fund V LLC has significant ownership of Clear Ballot Group, and that ES&S is owned primarily by the McCarthy Group LLC which in turn owns a controlling interest in Government Systems, Software & Services LLC. LWV-Wake President Dianna Wynn suggests, “This information is not particularly enlightening. We do not know, and will never fully know, who has a financial or political interest within any of these layers of investment and ownership. We do not know if there are any foreign groups or individuals among the investors. The difficulty of fully knowing this information is likely to apply to any vendor. Thus, voting systems that rely on hand-marked paper ballots are the best option for ensuring the security of our elections.”

The League of Women Voters urges the NC Board of Elections to withhold certification of any systems or machines that do not use hand-marked ballots. Ballot marking devices, such as the AutoMark machine, can still be used by voters who request assistance in marking their ballot. The following criteria should be considered when certifying voting machines. Voting systems must:

  • Securely and accurately record the choices made by the voter.

  • Accurately count and report the voters’ choices.

  • Provide a paper record that can be reviewed and audited for the time period required by federal law, which is 22 months.

Currently, only hand-marked paper ballots, followed up by risk-limiting audits, meet all criteria. Only companies that can supply voting systems meeting these criteria should be certified by the NC Board of Elections.

The League of Women Voters of Wake County is a grassroots nonpartisan organization dedicated to encouraging citizens’ participation in government and understanding of important issues through education and advocacy. The League of Women Voters does not endorse or oppose political parties or candidates for office. Learn more at www.lwvwake.org.

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Media Contact:

Dianna Wynn, President

League of Women Voters of Wake County

lwvwakepresident@gmail.com or 919-271-4455