This has been a crazy week for POVPhilly. Crazy good.
Netroots Nation—the nation’s largest annual conference for progressive organizers, activists and media makers—was in Philly this past Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. POVPhilly took advantage of this great opportunity to learn more about election security, add new coalition members, and inform more citizens about POVPhilly and the benefits of hand-marked paper ballots. Thursday night we hosted a happy hour for election security conference panelists, drawing dozens of Netroots attendees including author and activist Adam Eichen, Pa. Rep. Mary Isaacson, and lots of local advocates.
On Saturday we attended the election security panel discussion at Netroots, with presentations by some of the nation’s foremost election security experts. We also staffed a table at a networking event for local activist groups and made a lot of great connections to potential allies and supporters.
A big welcome to everyone who signed up with POVPhilly at the happy hour and at Netroots!
However, the biggest news this week is that POVPhilly and its allies are forcing Pennsylvania to review the certification of the ExpressVote XL!
POVPhilly and friends challenge ExpressVote XL’s state certification
Wait. What?! Windows 7?
On Saturday, July 13, the Associated Press broke the news
that voting systems, including the ES&S ExpressVote XL selected by our City Commissioners, use election management systems that still run on Windows 7
, four years after the release of Windows 10. Regular support for Windows 7 will end in January 2020.
The ExpressVote XLs are unusable without this management software, named Electionware, which generates ballots and tabulates results. USB sticks from desktop PCs running Electionware will program Philadelphia’s 3,750 voting machines. This means that if malware is introduced on just one voting machine, it could then get on a USB stick and infect every single voting machine! Or, somebody could put malware directly on a USB stick used to program the systems.
POVPhilly members were shocked to find this obvious and easily avoided issue in ES&S's own response
to the city’s Request for Proposals. Had the City Commissioners valued election security when writing the RFP (bid proposal) or reviewing the options, this issue could have easily been avoided. This issue came to light just a few days ago and was not even included in the certification review petition (see previous item). However, should the ExpressVote XL maintain its certification, we wonder if security updates will even be possible. And if so, will taxpayers end up footing the bill?
On July 15, POVPhilly issued a statement about this critical security issue and called on the city to take any and all steps necessary to cancel the existing contract and to restart the voting system selection process. Philadelphia’s votes are too important to entrust to anything but the most secure voting systems.
Persist. We can still STOP THE MACHINE
With this week’s news, we have some momentum on our side. Please help us build on this momentum and succeed in bringing an accurate, accessible, and secure voting systems at a fair cost to Philadelphia.
As a first step, we need to stop the ExpressVote XL. Here’s how you can help.
Ask your State Reps to join the fight for hand-marked paper ballots!
Pennsylvania examined the ExpressVote XL on September 25, 2018
. Weeks later, on October 16, election security expert Andrew Appel published his discovery that a few voting machines on the market, including the ExpressVote XL, have a serious design flaw
. Appel wrote that “
after you mark your ballot, after you review your ballot, the voting machine can print more votes on it!
” No voting machine should be physically able to alter your ballot, period.
Our petition to Acting Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar should force a re-examination of the ExpressVote XL, and we hope that will result in de-certification. But we still need to put pressure on Boockvar to back away from her support of this machine. Our state legislators in Harrisburg can help. Representative Mary Isaacson (PA-175)
sent an excellent letter
to Secretary Boockvar after we met with her, and several other state reps, including Brian Sims (PA-182) and Donna Bullock (PA-195) have shown they are moving in the right direction.
Set up a meeting with your state legislators and ask them to help stop Philadelphia and other counties from choosing the least secure and most expensive
voting system: the ES&S ExpressVote XL. We’ll help you get in contact with them and even attend those meetings with you and bring supporting documents. Please contact Murielle McCarthy <firstname.lastname@example.org
Keep contacting the Controller!
Yes, we know we keep saying this! So if you haven’t done it yet, now is a good time. Based on her statements, City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart is still investigating the deal and still asserting her authority. She’s vowed to withhold money until she determines the deal was made legally.
POVPhilly would like to see a concrete action plan from her but we are pleased that she is still stating that she has oversight authority and plans to use it. Take a moment to
thank her for her efforts so far and remind her that we are looking to her for leadership and action.
Keep up the pressure on Rhynhart. Thank her for all she’s done, but make it clear that you are hoping for more and that she needs to act decisively and publicly before it is too late!
City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart
1230 Municipal Services Building
1401 JFK Boulevard
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Drop a Comment on Social Media:
Tweet: @PhilaController @RebeccaRhynhart
Remember to tag: #StopTheMachine
The House has a SAFE Act. PAVE the way in the Senate.
The Securing America’s Federal Elections (SAFE) Act
passed in the U.S House of Representatives on June 27, 2019. This bill addresses many aspects of election security. Because voting security experts have repeatedly expressed strong concerns over hybrid systems like the ExpressVote XL, the SAFE Act would ban the very system that the Philadelphia City Commissioners selected.
A similar bill, the Protecting American Votes and Elections (PAVE) Act of 2019
is working its way through the Senate. Six of the presidential candidates are among its sponsors. Although Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has blocked it so far, several senators have attempted to force a floor vote.
In another sign of concern over the security of voting systems, Pa. Attorney General Josh Shapiro joined 20 other state AGs
to urge Republicans in the Senate to sign onto cybersecurity legislation.
Call Senator Pat Toomey (215-241-1090) and Senator Bob Casey (215-405-9660). Ask them to co-sponsor the PAVE Act, S.1472 - Protecting American Votes and Elections Act of 2019
. You can keep the message simple: The FBI, the Mueller Report, and numerous other reliable sources repeatedly warn us about ongoing attempts to interfere with our elections. This act would go a long way to protecting our vote.
Expand the coalition!
If you are connected with another group or individual that may want to join our coalition
, let us know! We need to crank up the volume on this issue—TODAY
! Ask your friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc. to sign up for this newsletter
. We would love to get more readers outside of Philadelphia, especially for help with the State Representative outreach efforts. Also follow @POVPhilly on Twitter
. Please give us lots of likes, shares, and retweets. It really helps!
Send us your comments
Reply to this newsletter, comment on Facebook, or tweet to @POVPhilly. We are always happy to hear your thoughts and ideas.
Your friends at
Protect Our Vote Philly