State Watch

Watchdog groups want Pennsylvania to examine election machines for possible security flaws

Four watchdog groups are calling on Pennsylvania to re-examine a widely used election machine, citing concerns about its security and accessibility.

Citizens for Better Elections, Free Speech for People, Protect Our Vote Philly and the National Election Defense Coalition filed a petition Tuesday requesting acting Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar examine the ExpressVote XL electronic voting machines built by Election Systems & Software, one of the largest election equipment manufacturers in the U.S.

The groups requested the state agency look into the potential for a manipulated or malfunctioning ExpressVote XL machine to add, modify or invalidate votes after the voter has made their choices, noting that such occurrences "could change election outcomes without detection."

Ballot secrecy and accessibility for voters with disabilities were other issues raised by the groups.

The groups asked the secretary to re-examine the machines and "issue a report relating to the functionality of the system" as quickly as possible. The state has a Dec. 31 deadline for counties to select new voter-verifiable paper record voting systems, with several considering using the ExpressVote XL.

A spokesperson for the Pennsylvania State Department told The Hill that "under state law we are required to perform a re-examination of an electronic voting system upon the petition of ten or more registered Pennsylvania voters. Since we have received such a petition, we will move forward expeditiously to schedule a re-examination of the ES&S 6021 XL voting system."

The spokesperson noted that the ExpressVote XL system is used in other states, where "expert examiners have maintained their opinion that the system meets stringent security standards."

A spokesperson for Election Systems & Software pushed back on the allegations made in the petition, telling The Hill that the company "firmly disputes the petition's alleged deficiencies" of its machines.

"The ExpressVote XL has been thoroughly tested and proven to be secure and accurate, and has been certified by the EAC [Election Assistance Commission] and Pennsylvania Department of State," the spokesperson said. "Ballot cards cannot be changed after they are cast."

Updated at 5:15 p.m.

Outbrain