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Sunday, September 17, 2023

Plymouth voting machines connected to Internet

A common belief is that voting machines can’t be hacked because they are not connected to the Internet. As an Election Judge, I was surprised to learn that the voting machines we use here in Plymouth do a modem send. A modem is a computer hardware device that can transmit information by telephone or radio signal. Modems connect computers to the Internet.

My Hennepin County 2022 Basic Election Judge Training printed packet mentions “transmitting election results” after polls close and before placing the ballots in a sealed case. A Hennepin County training video shows the voting machine displaying, “Sending Results - Please Wait…Modem Found…Modem Started…Contacting: Primary Host…Modem Operation…Successfully sent results.”

The Minnesota Secretary of State’s web site lists the ES&S Digital Scan 200 as one of the machines used, and that looks like what we used in my precinct. Product reviews and news articles report that wireless modems are available for the DS200. The MN SOS site also has a 2022 Election Judge Guide which instructs, “If ballot counter is equipped with a modem, transmit results to headquarters.”

I contacted Hennepin County, and they said the modems are switched off until polls close, and are safeguarded with a digital key. I’m not sure how we are supposed to verify that.

When the polls close, the official results are documented using four methods: the modem send, a flash drive which must be snipped out of the machine, a paper tape which is similar to a cash register receipt, and the ballots themselves. If the machine is hacked, the first three methods can be rigged to steal an election.

Having worked as a computer programmer and a mail carrier, I support hand-counting of paper ballots, and minimal mail-in ballots. The City of Plymouth can help by organizing a hand-count, or at least let election judges verify the ballots after polls close and make sure they match the paper tape.

Tom Cleland










At Thu Sep 21, 07:42:00 PM CDT, Blogger Tom Cleland said...



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