Experts question California ballot marking device recalls

A group of electoral security researchers, alarmed by the recent disclosure of sensitive voting system software by an ally of former President Trump, wants California officials to conduct a post-election nationwide review of ballot papers cast in the September 14 recall against Governor Gavin Newsom .

Your request, tabled in multiple counties just days before the personal voting began, threatens to drag California into the tumultuous national debate over the security of the elections.

“Although the software versions are not identical to those in California, the differences are relatively small,” said the group in its letter to Secretary of State Shirley Weber on Thursday. “The release seriously jeopardizes the trustworthiness of the ongoing California recall election and public confidence in the election.”

The researchers, who wrote to Weber, confirmed California’s strong performance in election security. However, they argued that the public discussion of Dominion products by Mike Lindell, the chairman of MyPillow and an informal adviser to Trump, amounted to a serious breach of the security of the electoral system.

Lindell held what he called the Election Fraud Symposium in South Dakota last month which, according to news reports, discussed details of the Dominion systems. These systems, poll researchers said in their letter to Weber, were similar enough to those used by some California counties to be cause for concern.

“For years, the electoral technology market has used the cloak of invisibility like a shield to protect its products from the threats that exploit vulnerabilities in computer systems every day,” said Richard DeMillo, chairman of the Georgia Tech School of Cybersecurity and Privacy written explanation. “That shield never really existed, but now it’s not even a fig leaf.”

A Weber spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The researchers want California officials to commit to a full review of the results of the recall after the election, an investigation that will likely check the scores of millions of ballot papers. Their main concern, however, could be potential weaknesses in the equipment used to mark paper votes at personal polling stations – weaknesses allegedly uncovered by Lindell’s public event.

The devices in question are manufactured by Dominion Voting Systems and are slated to be used for recall voting in 40 of the state’s 58 counties. Dominion remains embroiled in unproven allegations of fraud by Trump supporters in last November’s presidential election. The company has filed lawsuits over allegations made by the former president’s attorneys and repeated by conservative media organizations, including lawsuits against Lindell.

“By expressing our concerns about the Dominion software version, we are not accusing Dominion of wrongdoing,” said the letter from eight election researchers. “We also have no evidence that anyone is currently planning to hack the recall election.”

Instead, Weber said researchers are pushing for action to ensure public confidence in the results of the recall election, which will be announced after the September 14 polls are over, causing widespread disruption in personal voting planning.

The letter sent to Weber cites the work of Alex Halderman, a computer science professor at the University of Michigan, who told a federal court that a ballot marking device made by Dominion had security flaws that would allow a common voter to insert malware into a [ballot marking device] during a voting session, with a low probability of detection. “

This malware, as Halderman found in a lawsuit related to an electoral process in Georgia last month, could then “spread undetected to other voting machines and possibly to the county central election management system (EMS).”

For nearly 15 years, California has required paper records of all votes cast in elections to back up security and accuracy concerns with voting machines. Ballot marking machines are designed to help voters make clear and consistent choices while also allowing a paper ballot to be reviewed before it is placed in a ballot box.

The warning comes during a heated public debate over election security. A poll released Wednesday by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California found that while most voters polled said they had confidence in the state’s electoral systems, there was a large trust gap between Democrats and Republicans. 43 percent of the polled GOP elections stated that they had “very little” confidence in the state’s electoral system.

According to election officials, more than 5 million voters have already cast their votes. In some communities, in-person voting begins this weekend for Californians who either did not want to vote remotely or for those who need help with their selection or registration status.

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