An investigation was launched after it was discovered that election thieves stole a laptop and several USB memory sticks used to program voting machines from a warehouse in Philadelphia.
Reports indicate that the voting equipment was stolen from a warehouse in East Falls, though officials are unclear as to when the theft took place. The laptop belongs to an on-site employee who works for the company that supplies the voting machines, and the USB drives essentially belong to voters themselves, as they are needed to upload the appropriate ballots.
“We are confident that this incident will not in any way compromise the integrity of the election,” stated Nick Custodio, a deputy to Lisa Deeley, chair of the Philadelphia city commissioners who oversee the election process.
Strangely, nobody seems to know much about how the theft occurred, or even when it occurred. There are also no reported suspects, nor any further details as to how Philadelphia’s voting machines will be impacted by the losses.
Meanwhile, Custodio is insistent that officials were quick to remotely disable the stolen laptop, preventing it from being used or accessed by the thieves. He also insists that the laptop “did not have any of our election material on it.”
Custodio did not, however, address the stolen memory sticks, which even left-leaning media outlets admit could be a serious problem, seeing as how they are needed to properly program voting machines in advance of an election.
“The flash drives are encrypted to prevent tampering, and specifically matched with individual voting machines,” a spokesperson for Election Systems & Software, the voting machine vendor, is quoted as saying.
“Upon programming, these encryption keys ‘marry’ the USB with the machine, and if placed in another machine, it will cause an error and the machine will not work.”
Philadelphia is said to have 3,750 ExpressVote XL touchscreen voting machines, which had already been undergoing programming when the theft was discovered. These machines have a slot on top of them where the stolen USB drives would have been inserted.
“[S]ome of them are used to record the electronic votes used for unofficial results on election night, but it was unclear whether those stolen served that function,” write Jeremy Roebuck and Jonathan Lai for The Inquirer.
Several Philly voting machines discovered to have wrong seal numbers
Once an ExpressVote XL machine has been set up, it is closed up with a numbered seal. Should anyone try to open the machine once it has been sealed, the seal would break, clearly indicating fraud.
Upon investigation of the machines following the reported theft, it was discovered that several of Philadelphia’s voting machines had the wrong seal numbers on them. Custodio, however, says that he believes this is due to discrepancies associated with a logging error, and not fraud.
All of the machines, Custodio further suggested, “will be thoroughly examined, wiped, and tested just to be sure.”
All of Philadelphia’s voting machines are brand new, by the way, having been ordered by Gov. Tom Wolf to replace all of the old machines in advance of the 2020 election. The claim is that these new machines are more secure in that they supposedly leave a paper trail that can be audited or even individually counted by hand.
“All voting systems have voter-verified paper ballots, which can be audited or recounted and are the official vote of record,” says Pennsylvania Department of State spokeswoman Wanda Murren.
“We are confident that Philadelphia, working with the department and our many partners, will be able to conduct a secure and fair election for its voters on Nov. 3.”
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