Here are my notes and opinions on the presentation by ES&S - the company that makes and maintains the vote tabulating machines for Kootenai County.
If you are my age you might remember scantrons from school. This is the same company. They have switched over to vote tabulating machines.
Two things I noticed right away during their presentation: 1) Brandon Clifton from ES&S came across as disingenuous when presenting, 2) Chris Wlaschin trusts the federal government.
In my opinion, the assumptions made by ES&S are their biggest security risks.
I understand that for some people it is hard to fill in bubbles on a ballot due to physical or neurological issues. We need a better way than electronic voting machines like Express Vote.
According to the ES&S facts sheet handed out at the Tuesday elections office meeting:
- The federal government tests the tabulation machines. (Hardware and software). Why? Why does the federal government need to do testing? Why are they involved?
- The tabulating machines are windows based. Why?
Tech notes: Windows 10, LTXE, Linx, BUTA, 256 encryption, firmware is done in house.
Chips from IBM and Texas Instruments. Shipped from Mexico and/or Taiwan.
- They background check regularly their employees and contractors they work with.
- Per ES&S the two weakest points are when data is transferred, and absentee ballots.
- 3 people do updates on tabulating software/maintenance/patches. Always observed.
I asked how many people are involved with the hardware and software for the tabulating machines from beginning to end. ES&S has 225 employees in Omaha, Nebraska. Development is about 100 people split into voter registration, vote tabulation, and poll books.
There is no connection with the internet at their company, only computer networking within their building. Quality Assurance team has 10 people. Certification team has 8 people.
All hardware and software goes to be tested by the federal government and/or a third party company. That is done in Colorado (75 people) or Huntsville (30 people) Then an escrow agent gives the software to the state of Idaho.
So about 350 people are involved in the making and testing of the tabulation machines.
The question was asked, “Why the switch from hand count to machines?” ES&S said that in 2006 the federal government funded tabulating machines. They also mentioned time, cost, social influence - want results quicker.
Security partnerships ES&S have: DHS, FBI, and the U.S. Intelligence Community to name a few.
Some interesting statements from the representative from the Idaho Secretary of State:
- Per Idaho law there are no modems in the tabulating machines. But it is legal to have modems in them in some states mostly in ES&S 200’s. ES&S says that 10% of tabulating machine can communicate by modem per request from the States that want the modem in them.
- Idaho uses a Verizon zero-tunnel when the clerks office submits the pdf of the preliminary results to the Idaho Secretary of State.
- There no law allows citizens to audit/inspect voting technology. The law needs to be changed to be able to do that.
- Forensic Audit needs to be built in and have a standard. The law in Idaho needs to be changed to require a post-election audit.
- New election audit standards just became law in 2022 for Idaho. If a county has over 100,000 people - it is more likely to be audited. Ada, Canyon and Kootenai. Ada is mostly likely to get audited next canyon, then Kootenai.
20,000 to 100,000 people counties - 8 of them. 3 out of 8 will be likely to be audited.
Under 20,000 people counties - there are 3. Two counties are not included in the audit. Canvas and Clark counties. They hand count, and have 300-400 people per county.
- They think that registration to vote is the weak point.
- Voter information is retained for 22 months in Idaho. Digital is wiped by DOD cleaning software. Paper ballots are then shredded.
- Current Kootenai County Clerk Jim Brannon has asked for 3 people to be prosecuted for election fraud in his nine years as clerk. Only one was actually prosecuted.
Questions I am sending to ES&S and the Idaho Secretary of State:
1) Why do you still have Express Vote?
2) Why does ES&S not like cyber ninjas?
3) Idaho doesn’t have cast voter records. Why not?
4) Why did I get the impression that the Idaho Secretary of State trusts ES&S?
5) Why is the only legal counsel the Idaho Secretary of State has is the Idaho Attorney General?
6) Why is the federal government involved in state elections at all?
7) When did Idaho give aways its state sovereignty regarding elections to the federal government?
8) What are the qualification for the person from the Secretary of States office doing the certifying of the election machines? Does this person get to see the hardware of the tabulation machines?
9) Can we see the hardware of one of the tabulators in Kootenai County? If not, why not?
10) Can you give more details on how you keep the data sticks/thumb drives secure?
11) Why aren’t all ballot images kept for 22 months?
12) How often are the servers for Kootenai County and Secretary of State tested for vulnerabilities?