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Image and link to Inquirer article about voting machine recertification demand

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

Yesterday, July 16, Citizens for Better Elections and POVPhilly, backed by Free Speech for People and the National Election Defense Coalition submitted a petition detailing ten fatal flaws with the ExpressVote XL, each of which violates some part of the election code.

The petition demands a re-examination of the machine. By law, the Secretary of State must act on such a petition, provided there are at least ten signatures. We gathered 200 signatures from all over the state—way more than the ten needed! 

Considering the flaws listed in the petition, including new problems discovered since the machine was certified, the result could very well be different. Read more in the Inquirer:
Citing election security, advocates seek to force Pa. to reexamine new voting machines

POVPhilly will be keeping a close eye on this process. We’ll bring you updates as we get them.

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.

Take action: 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 <>. 

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.

Take 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!

Call: (215) 686-6680
Mail: City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart
1230 Municipal Services Building
1401 JFK Boulevard
Philadelphia, PA 19102

Drop a Comment on Social Media:
Tweet: @PhilaController @RebeccaRhynhart 
Facebook: @PhilaController
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.

Take Action: 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 and Facebook. 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

About POVPhilly

Protect Our Vote Philly is a coalition working to bring accurate, accessible, and secure voting systems at a fair cost to Philadelphia. We believe the gold standard for election integrity is:
  • hand-marked paper ballots
    so we know our votes are cast as intended
  • the best possible accessibility devices
    so every voter can vote with maximum privacy and independence
  • mandatory risk-limiting audits after every election
    so we can be confident that every vote was counted as cast.

Protect Our Vote Philly is a watchdog over the Office of the City Commissioners, which operates elections in the City of Philadelphia. Because we believe Philadelphians have a right to the most secure voting system possible, we strongly oppose the system that the Commissioners selected, the ES&S ExpressVote XL, as well as the rushed and secretive process used to select it. The ExpressVote XL falls far short of the gold standard. It endangers our votes and wastes our resources. We are dedicated to stopping it.





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