WARNING: Our Votes Are At Risk

Insecure, obsolete, unverifiable.

These words describe the voting systems used in New Jersey and much of Pennsylvania.

New Jersey is one of the last five states in the nation allowing paperless, unauditable voting systems. More than 80% of Pennsylvania has unauditable voting machines that make recounts impossible, and prevent any chance of proving our votes have been recorded as intended. If our votes get lost due to computer malfunctions, mistakes, or hacking – all highly possible with our outdated systems – we will never know.

Nationally recognized expert Andrew Appel, professor of computer science at Princeton University, has done seminal work on voting machine vulnerability. In an interview with NJ.com, Appel shared how easy it is to quickly reprogram voting machines and enable votes for one candidate to go to the other. This actually happened in Cumberland County, NJ, in 2011. A landmark lawsuit resulted. In Zirkle vs. Henry the judge ruled that, “bad computer code had given Zirkle’s votes to Henry and Henry’s votes to Zirkle.” Additionally, it took one of Appel’s students seven seconds to hack into a central processor used for tallying votes. All of New Jersey plus 83% of Pennsylvania, and all of Bucks County are still voting with the systems that can allow this to happen.

With the threat of hacking greater than ever, we have to act fast.

“The head of every U.S. intelligence agency says Russia attempted to penetrate elections systems nationwide during the 2016 presidential election, and will try again during this year’s midterm elections.” – Pew Charitable Trust

The Solution
Hundreds of computer security experts who testified before Congress agree: The safest way to vote is with voter-marked paper ballots, run through optical/digital scanners to backup each vote, plus non-tabulating ballot marking devices for people with disabilities.

The Center for American Progress agrees. “Voter-verifiable paper ballots or records are necessary for conducting meaningful post election audits that confirm election outcomes and detect malicious activity. Paperless touch-screen voting systems should be replaced with paper ballots and optical scanners.”

In “The Myth of the Hacker-Proof Voting Machine,” cybersecurity expert, Jacob D. Stauffer, says, “What I’ve seen in the past 10 years is that the vendors have absolutely fumbled every single attempt in security,’’ In a report published last year on voting machines from ES&S – one of the biggest vendors in the nation, Stauffer and colleagues “found the voting machines and election-management systems to be rife with security problems.”

“Without a paper audit trail, any recount is just like hitting enter on the keyboard over and over again: You get the same answer and you have no clue if that answer is correct,” Joseph Lorenzo Hall, election security expert.
Pending Legislation

NJ Bill A1889, introduced by Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker, is in the process of being amended to prohibit paperless DREs, and specifically mandate voter-marked paper ballot voting systems, optical or digital scanners, and at least one non-tabulating ballot marking device at every polling place in New Jersey. When the amendments are finalized, this bill will be ready for introduction to the committee that will vote on its passage. Work is also in progress to finalize a companion bill in the NJ State Senate. We’ll be keeping you posted on this too.

Our lobbyists are making sure that the amended language in A1889 is crystal clear, airtight, and completely unambiguous. This is critical. Otherwise election officials can purchase hackable machines that commercial vendors are offering, with promises of easy tabulation and glitch-free use.

Convincing county voting officials to use paper ballot voting won’t be easy. And convince them we must, since they decide which voting technology will be used in each county. Voting machine vendors are actively pursuing them, some claiming their machines will preclude the need for manual audits and recounts. That would defeat the whole purpose of requiring paper-based systems. Thus, we need to educate NJ and PA citizens fast. See Calls to Action below and stay tuned for more Action Alerts to come.

In PA, H.R. 3132 – Restoring Confidence in America’s Elections Act was introduced in July, 2017, but appears to be going nowhere. After a yearlong study, The Advisory Committee on Voting Technology recommended amending the Pennsylvania Election Code to require a voter-verifiable paper record in all voting machines. Governor Wolf then directed that all new voting systems have a paper record, however, lack of funding, decertification of existing technology, or designating a replacement date leaves the directive in limbo.

Verified Voting President Marian Schneider, former special advisor on election policy to Governor Wolf says, “The state can no longer ignore these issues and must take steps to replace its aging voting systems as soon as possible.” Some electronic voting machines were manufactured in the early 2000s, and even though the lifespan of these machines is only 10 to 15 years, they are still in use. Schneider recommends, “implementing the best practice of requiring trustworthy evidence of voter intent . . .voter marked paper ballots together with a method of checking the paper records to make sure that the electronic vote tallies are correct.”
Many groups across Pennsylvania, including SAVE Bucks Votes, are coordinating visits to Harrisburg, urging legislators to replace old voting systems and fund new ones. We’re trying to introduce them to the most secure systems available for the 2018 elections.

As in New Jersey, County Commissioners are the decision makers. Repeated attempts to meet with Bucks County commissioners have been made, to no avail. There’s been resistance, and we assume it’s because of the cost. They’ve implied there hasn’t been widespread support for changing the way we vote. That’s why we all need to help educate them.

Another Big Challenge: Funding****
In NJ, Governor Murphy has pledged his support for secure verified voting, but our state is cash-strapped and running on a deficit. The paper ballot voting systems described above have been estimated to cost $36 million, which sounds like a lot, but only represents about .1 percent of the State budget. We need to push Governor Murphy to include an appropriation in his 2018 budget and let him know we want him to fund secure voting.

Our new Secretary of State, Tahesha Way, needs to hear from us too. The Division of Election falls under her purview, and voting machine vendors are already knocking on her door. There’s big money to be made for them if they can convince her that direct recording electronic voting machines, are safe and secure. Our task is to get Secretary Way fully up to speed on the need for paper ballot voting, rather than slick new machines that deliver a doorway to hacking.
Pennsylvania is also running a deficit. Verified Voting advocates are working in Harrisburg to urge lawmakers to support funding. They’re also looking at alternatives on the County level. Bucks County maintains a surplus general fund to keep its credit rating high. We need to convince the Commissioners that this money could fund new voting systems that are more secure and cheaper to maintain. Look for Action Alerts at the end of this article so you can help.

****In late breaking news, the 2,232-page budget bill signed by the president included a provision that election security and technology experts have been pushing for years: money to update the nation’s outdated voting infrastructure. NJ stands to get a portion of that: just under $10 million according to this article from NJSpotlight.com. However, more work needs to be done in a few short months.
“What I’ve seen in the past 10 years is that the vendors have absolutely fumbled every single attempt in security.” – Jacob D. Stauffer, cyber-security expert quoted in the NY Times
We recommend that voters make an effort to vote early and to hand-deliver ballots to the county election office. Ballots can be requested online. We strongly suggest hand-delivering ballots to avoid adding to many reported cases of ballots “lost in the mail.”

THE BOTTOM LINE:
The only way New Jersey and Pennsylvania will have verified voting in time for the 2018 election is with your help. Spread the word. Share this article, talk to your family, tell your neighbors. The right to vote is a precious one, and it will take all of us to preserve it. We can’t give up if the road gets dicey. We’re bigger than that. The past year has strengthened us. It’s fortified our grit. We know what it is to fight.

TAKE ACTION NOW!
In New Jersey:
Contact NJ Secretary of State, Tahesha Way. Call: 609-777-0884 Fax: 609-292-7665 Email: Feedback@sos.nj.govScript: Please secure our votes! The only way to insure every vote is counted, and none hacked is with voter marked paper ballots, optical/digital scanners, and non-tabulating ballot-marking device for voters with disabilities. No more hackable electronic voting machines.Tweet: MAKE NJ VOTES SECURE, @SecretaryWay. Voter-marked paper ballots, optical/digital scanners & non-tabulating ballot-marking devices for voters with disabilities. We need this now. Thank you. Tweet the message above easily with this click-to-tweet: https://ctt.ec/e_8Ob (You must have a Twitter account; you can edit the tweet before posting it.)

Contact Governor Phil Murphy Call: 609-292-6000 Fax: 609-292-3454 Email: http://nj.gov/governor/contact/ Facebook: www.facebook.com/governorphilmurphy/

Script: Please fund secure voting in NJ in time for the 2018 midterm elections on Nov 6th: Voter marked paper ballots, optical/digital scanners, and non-tabulating ballot-marking device for voters with disabilities. No more hackable electronic voting machines. Fund secure voting now. Thank you!Tweet: FUND SAFE VOTING IN NJ, @GovMurphy. Voter-marked paper ballots, optical/digital scanners & non-tabulating ballot-marking device for voters with disabilities. We need this now. Thank you! Tweet the message above easily with this click-to-tweet: https://ctt.ec/U3fMr (You must have a Twitter account; you can edit the tweet before posting it.)

In Pennsylvania:
Follow SAVE Bucks Votes on Facebook for constant updates, articles and action alerts. Check out our website, sign our online petition, attend a meeting, help fund our efforts, make suggestions, visit lawmakers with us, get involved a little or a lot, help us make people aware of the issue and create grassroots momentum

Contact the following County and State Officials using this script:“Please fund secure, accurate, verifiable election systems now. We need voter marked paper ballots, optical/digital scanners, audits, and non-tabulating ballot marking devices for voters with disabilities for every election. The new technologies are cheaper, easier to use and easily verifiable. Decertify the DRE electronic machines now. Help us move forward to secure upcoming elections. Thank you!”

County Commissioners Rob Loughery
County of Bucks, Office of Commissioners
55 East Court Street, Doylestown, PA 18901
Phone: 215-348-6424

County Commissioner Diane Marseglia
County of Bucks, Office of Commissioners
55 East Court Street, Doylestown, PA 18901
Phone: 215-348-6425

County Commissioner Charles Martin
County of Bucks, Office of Commissioners
55 East Court Street, Doylestown, PA 18901
Phone: 215-348-6426

Contact PA Governor WolfOffice of the Governor508 Main Capitol BuildingHarrisburg, PA 17120Phone: 717-787-2500Fax: 717-772-8284

Contact PA Secretary of State Robert TorresOffice of the Secretary302 North Office BuildingHarrisburg, PA 17120Phone: 717-787-6458Fax: 717-787-1734

Bureau of Commissions, Elections and Legislation210 North Office Building, 401 North StreetHarrisburg, PA 17120Phone: 717-787-5280Fax: 717-705-0721