Another Day, Another Loophole In PA 07-194

What if a post-election audit uncovers a problem with the machine count? Wouldn’t it be a good idea to examine the memory card and the voting machine for evidence that could be used to detect fraud or to understand the cause of the problem so it could be prevented next time?

Unfortunately, audits must start a minimum of 15 days after the election (for the most recent primary, September 26th). And there is a prohibition for unlocking the voting machines that expires 14 days after the election (for the most recent primary, September 25th). accompanied by a possible 5-year prison term.

 

So, the evidence in the memory cards or in the optical scanner can be destroyed before, during, or right after the audit, legally.

 

As we have pointed out before, holding the audits so far after the primary, and so far after the random district drawing provides plenty of time for ‘adjustments’ to make things look good in those districts chosen for audit. Now part of that can be planning the timely unlocking of the machine and memory cards before the audit report could result in an investigaton.

 

Also, are there sufficient proceedures to stop the hacking of the optical scanner itself between elections? What can be done while a machine is unlocked? What security is in place?

 

(Thanks to Mike Fisher for noticing the Sept 25 expiration date for machine locking on the Municipal Elections Calendar)

Statute details:

PA 07-194 Section 1 (l) After an election or primary, any voting machine may be kept locked for a period longer than that prescribed by sections 9‑266, 9‑310and 9‑447 of the general statutes, if such an extended period is ordered112 by either a court of competent jurisdiction,…

Other referenced statutes:

Sec. 9-266. Keys to be kept. Storage of machine. When the machine has been locked at the close of an election in the manner required by section 9-310, the moderator shall place all keys of the machine on a strong and sufficient string or wire and label the same with the make and number of the machine and the name of the municipality and the number of the ward or voting district therein at which used at such election, and return such keys to the municipal clerk with the official returns. Except as provided in section 9-311, such clerk shall securely keep such keys and not permit the same to be taken, or any voting machine to be unlocked, for a period of fourteen days from the election, unless otherwise ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction, or by the State Elections Enforcement Commission. All machines shall be boxed and collected immediately on the day after election or as soon thereafter as possible, and shall be stored in a place or places directed by the board of selectmen

Sec. 9-310. Locking of machine by moderator. As soon as the count is completed and ascertained as required in this chapter and the moderator’s return required under the provisions of section 9-259 has been executed and a duplicate copy thereof placed in one of the machines, the moderator shall close and lock the counting compartments and seal the operating lever with a numbered metal seal, and the machine shall remain so locked against voting or being tampered with for a period of fourteen days, except as provided in section 9-311 or pursuant to an order issued by the State Elections Enforcement Commission. …Any person who unlocks the voting or operating mechanism of the machine or the counting compartment after it has been locked as above directed or breaks or destroys or tampers with the seal after it has been affixed as above directed or changes the indication of the counters on any voting machine within fourteen days after the election or within any longer period during which the machine is kept locked as ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction or by the State Elections Enforcement Commission in any special case, except as provided in section 9-311, shall be imprisoned for not more than five years. Any machine may be released in less than fourteen days, for use in another election, by order of a court, if there is no disagreement as to the returns from such machine and no order directing impoundment has been issued by the State Elections Enforcement Commission.

Sec. 9-447. Unlocking of votingn machines. The voting machines used in any primary shall not be unlocked for a period of fourteen days from the date of the primary, unless otherwise ordered by any judge of the Superior Court, or by the State Elections Enforcement Commission. If a contest or investigation is pending, such machines shall not be unlocked for such longer period of time as may be ordered by any judge of the Superior Court, unless a recanvass has been applied for under the provisions of section 9-445 or unless an order has been issued by the State Elections Enforcement Commission.

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