600 Million in Funding for Election Security with Requirements

For Immediate Release: Nov 13, 2019

Contact: SMART Elections Co-founder Lulu Friesdat



A coalition of good government groups including SMART Elections and multiple NY Indivisible chapters to urge U.S. Senators Schumer and Gillibrand to support increased election security funding, and demand specific guidelines to secure our elections.

WHAT: A National Day of Action focused on election security and sponsored by Secure Our Vote. Members from coalition advocacy groups will hold a rally and visit the New York offices of U.S. Senators Gillibrand and Schumer to encourage them to show leadership by advocating for $600 million for election-security funding with specific security requirements, and to vigorously push for passage of the SAFE Act (S.2238) which would:

● Give all voters the option of a hand-marked paper ballot.

● Require a robust type of election audit called a Risk Limiting Audit (RLA) for all federal races.

● Ban the most dangerous types of Ballot-Marking Devices (BMDs) and the barcodes and QR codes they use to count votes. 

● Ban Internet connectivity and remote access in voting systems.

● Provide election-security funding conditioned on the above requirements.

The need for action is crucial and immediate. Both the House and the Senate­­ passed funding allocations in the 2020 budget for election security. The House approved 600 million (H.R. 3351), and the Senate 250 million (S. 2524). The House funding comes with strict security requirements regarding how funds can be spent, but the Senate funding has no such restrictions. 

This is an incredibly dangerous scenario, which replicates the conditions under which the current generation of unreliable and vulnerable voting machines were purchased. That spending spree began in 2002 with Congress allocatingover 3 billion in funds with no security requirements, and ended with the realizationthat many of the voting systems sold were poorly manufactured and were dangerously vulnerable to hackers

“After California declared almost all of the electronic voting machines in the state unfit for use in 2007 for failing basic security tests, San Diego County put its decertified machines in storage. It has been paying the bill to warehouse them ever since: No one wants to buy them, and county rules prohibit throwing millions of dollars’ worth of machines in the trash bin.”

Local election officials often do not have the technical background to vet complex systems and must have strong security requirements in place to help them with these purchases. 

ES&S and Dominion are currently selling a dangerous new type of BMD intended for use by all voters in lieu of hand-marked paper ballots. With all voters using BMDs, even a risk limiting audit cannot determine if reported electronic election outcomes are legitimate. Many jurisdictions throughout the US are purchasing these risky new systems.

New York has already certified one of these risky “hybrid” voting machines, called the “ICE” machine (ImageCast Evolution.) Election security experts say the machine has the ability to add votes to paper ballots after a voter casts their vote, a situation that renders the New York audit of paper ballots meaningless. 

Security concerns about this voting machine are so serious that the NY State Board of Elections’ own security report labels the impact of such an attack “very high” and mandates any county using the machines to conduct a special audit following each election to check how many times the printer on the machine has been used. 

The New York Board of Elections is in the process of certifying a second hybrid voting system. This one from ES&S called The ExpressVote XL is a touch screen machine that counts votes using barcodes. The machine debuted in Philadelphia last week with disastrous results. New York has never used touch screen voting machines previously, due to their security vulnerabilities, nevertheless certification of the ExpressVote XL is proceeding and it is already in use in the Village of Port Chester without certification.

SMART Elections has produced 2 investigations into the dangers of “hybrid” or “all-in-one” voting machines. 

According to the New York Board of Elections 15 counties have already purchased or leased the dangerous ICE machine and are currently conducting New York elections with it. The language in House bill H.R. 3351 mandates that funds must be used on “non-tabulating” ballot marking devices and would prohibit funds being used for “ICE” or ExpressVote XL voting machines.

Lobbyists for Dominion and ES&S have made donations to the campaign of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who prior to allowing the approval of Senate funding for election security removed all election security requirements from the bill. This provoked Senator Ron Wyden to tweet, “This isn't election security, it's a sham.”

WHO: Good government groups, including SMART Elections & Multiple Indivisible Chapters

WHEN: 11:30 am rally outside for 20 minutes and then meet with senatorial staff. A second delegation will meet with staffers at 3pm. 

WHERE: Senator Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand’s New York offices, 780 Third Avenue, NY, NY.