August 18, 2018

Election Day; More Unguarded Voting Machines

It’s Election Day in New Jersey. As usual, I visited several polling places in Princeton over the last few days, looking for unguarded voting machines. It’s been well demonstrated that a bad actor who can get physical access to a New Jersey voting machine can modify its behavior to steal votes, so an unguarded voting machine is a vulnerable voting machine.

This time I visited six polling places. What did I find?

The good news — and there was a little — is that in one of the six polling places, the machines were properly secured. I’m not sure where the machines were, but I know that they were not visible anywhere in the accessible areas of the building. Maybe the machines were locked in a storage room, or maybe they hadn’t been delivered yet, but anyway they were probably safe. This is the first time I have ever found a local polling place, the night before the election, with properly secured voting machines.

At the other five polling places, things weren’t so good. At three places, the machines were unguarded in an area open to the public. I walked right up to them and had private time with them. In two other places, the machines were visible from outside the building and protected only by an outside door with an easily defeated lock. I didn’t defeat the locks myself — I wasn’t going to cross that line — but I’ll bet you could have opened them quickly with tools you probably have in your car.

The final scorecard: ten machines totally unprotected, eight machines poorly protected, two machines well-protected. That’s an improvement, but then again any protection at all would have been an improvement. We still have a long way to go.

Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    What counts as not being secured in this case? I was at the Fanwood (NJ) Library yesterday, and there were two Sequoia Advantage machines sitting at the edge of the reading room. I don’t know that I could have tampered with the machines in any way without staff or patrons noticing. Secured or not?

  2. Tampering would likely require private access for a few minutes. If you had waited around in the Fanwood library, could you have gotten that level of private access? Could a library employee or volunteer have gotten it? I don’t know.

    The unsecured (and poorly secured) machines I saw did not have any people watching them.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I don’t know that I would have been able to get alone time with the machines, but I’m sure that any library staff who had access to the building after patrons were gone could have done whatever ROM swapping (or whatever) they liked. Who would know?

  4. Deny suffrage to everyone who doesn’t have a car? You’re joking, right?