The Pennsylvania Department of State has a policy against third party access to electronic voting systems

Harrisburg, PA – Acting Foreign Minister Veronica W. Degraffenreid has issued a directive that prohibits third-party access to electronic voting systems, thus responding to requests that districts allow external institutions that are not involved in the holding of elections to use internal electronic software , mechanical, logical, and related components of the Pennsylvania electoral systems.

“Such third-party access undermines the chain-of-custody requirements and strict access restrictions that are necessary to prevent both deliberate and accidental tampering with electronic voting systems,” said Minister Degraffenreid. “It also compromises the security and integrity of the systems and prevents electronic voting system vendors from confirming that the systems continue to meet Commonwealth security standards and US Electoral Commission certification.”

Earlier this week, a request was sent to electoral boards in Philadelphia, Tioga and York to cast all ballot papers and ballot papers they had cast for the November 2020 general election and May 2021 primaries. The request also included unprecedented and intrusive access to electronic voting machines.

In response, the ministry said it would use all available means to prevent such a disruption to the electoral process. It also reminded the districts that the federal government has designated voting machines as critical infrastructure, which severely restricts access for third parties.

The guideline states that the district electoral boards must not grant physical, electronic or internal access to third parties who attempt to copy state-certified electronic voting systems or components of such systems and / or conduct an audit. If such access occurs, these voting machines will no longer be considered secure or reliable for use in subsequent elections and the State Department will withdraw its certification of the machines.

The policy notified counties that granting third party access would result in the need to replace their voting systems, which were purchased in all Pennsylvania counties in 2019 or early 2020.

“We’ve had two legal reviews and dozens of legal opinions all stating that there was no widespread fraud in Pennsylvania. No county should honor these ‘demands’, and when it does, the counties and the electorate are born considerable costs. ” including the disclosure of personal information, “said Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “The US State Department directive clearly states that giving voting machines to third parties will compromise the security of future elections. Any district that jeopardizes the security of our elections by complying with the letter of formal notice will not be reimbursed for the cost of voting replacement. “Machines that would leave taxpayers in those districts hooked for millions of dollars.”

The following is the full scope of the guideline:


July 8, 2021

Directive 1 of 2021

The following policy is issued July 8, 2021 by the Secretary of the Commonwealth under the authority contained in Section 1105-A (a) of the Pennsylvania Election Code, 25 PS 3031.5 (a).

1. Background. According to Article XI-A of the Pennsylvania Election Code, Sections 1101-A through 1122-A, the Secretary of the Commonwealth (“Secretary”) is responsible for testing, evaluating and certifying electronic voting systems. These reviews include verifying that the voting system complies with federal and state laws and any regulations or standards relating to confidentiality, security, accuracy, security, reliability, usability, accessibility, durability, resilience, and verifiability. This is in addition to the state tests and certifications conducted by the U.S. Electoral Assistance Commission.

The US federal government has played a leading role in efforts to identify and protect the security and resilience of infrastructures that fulfill unique and vital aspects in our society. Executive Order 13636 of February 12, 2013 focuses on measures that are necessary for infrastructure security. In January 2017, the US Department of Homeland Security classified elective infrastructure as critical infrastructure in the Government Facilities sector, one of the 16 critical infrastructure sectors in the United States. The State Department of Pennsylvania recognized the importance of this designation when it developed the security standards for certification of electoral systems for the Pennsylvania election. As a result, each voting system successfully completed penetration tests, access control tests, and tests during the department’s audit to ensure that every access point and software and firmware are tampered with prior to certification by the secretary.

2. Third party access to electronic voting systems. It was requested that third parties not directly involved in the conduct of elections be given access to electronic voting systems, in particular to check and copy the internal electronics, software, mechanics, logic and related components of such systems. These requirements include a desire to map electronic storage spaces, download operating systems and software, and copy information that is internal and proprietary. Such third party access undermines the chain of custody requirements and strict access restrictions necessary to prevent both deliberate and accidental tampering with electronic voting systems. It also jeopardizes the security and integrity of these systems and will deny electronic voting system providers the opportunity to certify that such systems continue to comply with Commonwealth security standards, are validated that they pose no security risk, and can be certified to be considered by the electronic provider Electoral systems developed and certified by both the US Electoral Assistance Commission and the State Department.

3. Restrictions on Third Party Access to Electronic Voting Systems. The following instruction applies immediately:

a. The district electoral boards may not grant physical, electronic or internal access to third parties attempting to copy and / or conduct an audit, including but not limited to: election management software and systems, tabs, scanners, counters , automatic tabulating machines, voting machines, servers, ballot marking machines, paper voting or voting card printers, portable storage media devices (thumb drives, flash drives, and the like), and any other hardware, software, or device used as part of the election management system.

b. If the in paragraph 3.a. occurs, these voting machines are no longer considered safe or reliable for use in subsequent elections. As a result, the State Department is withdrawing certification or authorization to use these parts of the district electoral system. This policy is specific to the affected parts of the county’s electronic voting system and does not affect the certification of the underlying voting system or any other parts of a county’s voting system that have not been accessed / copied by third parties.

c. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will not reimburse costs for replacement voting devices that have been withdrawn from certification or usage under this policy.

4. Notice. The district electoral boards shall notify the secretary immediately upon receipt of a written or oral request for third party access to an electronic voting system or a component thereof. In addition, county elections and electoral systems providers are required to immediately notify the secretary of any violation or attempted violation in the chain of custody of their electoral system components.

5. Other duties of the district electoral boards in relation to requests by third parties for access to election-related material. The district elections are recommended:

a. Review any contracts, leases, or other documents supporting agreements between providers and the county to determine the contractual implications of providing such requested access.

b. Follow federal law regarding the retention and retention of records.

c. Protect voter privacy according to the constitution and state laws.

6. Future promotions. This policy shall remain in force until repealed or repealed by the Secretary of the Commonwealth, by any subsequent directive, or by any other grant.

MEDIA CONTACT: Wanda Mürren, 717-783-1621


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