Upgrading and protecting our voting machines is a vital to ensuring the next elections are fair. We have contacted Freeholders across the state urging them to take the initiative and upgrade these out of date systems.
The below letter was sent to Freeholders across the state.
I hope this letter finds you well. I am writing to see if there’s a time we could speak briefly by phone or in person about election security in New Jersey, specifically looking into getting new voting machines in your county.
As counties look to buy new voting equipment in the coming years, there are issues of quality and getting the most for taxpayer dollars that we would like to share with you.
The midterms are coming up in November, and the integrity of our elections must be protected.
Election security is a serious issue here in New Jersey. New Jersey is uniquely vulnerable to election interference by outside actors because of the lack of paper ballot voting systems used by much of the rest of country. If there is a hack or error in the vote count, there is no way to do a recount or even check the machine count to see if there was an error. Because of the number of swing districts, our state may be a tempting target for those interested in wreaking havoc on our democracy.
Now we understand that at least one county is considering entering a contract with Election Systems and Software (ES&S). We know that you, as a Freeholder of your county, play an important role in local decisions. We are concerned about this company due to their questionable ethical practices of:
- buying Las Vegas resorts trips for some election officials
- and pushing expensive modems in vote counting machines, which are widely known for their “serious security concerns”
Additionally, we examined the company’s business dealings as part of Public Citizen’s report on voting machine pricing. Here’s some information from a Public Citizen report that I’m including that I believe will help you negotiate voting machine prices in your county:
- Rural Brookings, South Dakota paid $1,500 less for an ES&S DS850 scanner than three Florida counties.
- Carroll County, Ohio, paid $2,752 per unit in 2014 for the same ES&S Unity software that Westmoreland, Penn., bought in 2006 for $8,813. The software is sold for use with ES&S DS200 and DS850 scanners.
The report also examined other manufacturers. Here’s what it found:
- Ashland County, Ohio, paid $6,710 per unit for the Unisyn OVO system last year. The same vendor quoted the machine price as $5,500 in April 2018. Page County, Iowa, paid $3,990 for the OVO system five years earlier.
- Alachua County, Florida paid $70,000 in for a five-year lease starting in 2015 of the ImageCast Central Count Tabulator. The same equipment was sold for $25,000 to three other counties.
In many states, paper ballots and optical scanners are the cost effective option, especially when many people are voting in the same polling location. However, I want to emphasize that the price of the machines should not be prioritized over the security and trust in the system itself. Democracy takes precedence.
It makes sense to switch to paper and scanners, both from a security and cost point of view. I hope that you keep this in mind moving forward and that you put the well-being of our democracy over convenience and traditional practices.