Release: Advocates Protest Hybrid Voting Machines at NYS Board of Elections


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SMART Elections, a new non-partisan project dedicated to elevating the issue of election reform to an urgent national priority, had participants travel from as far away as San Francisco to demonstrate in front of the New York State Board of Elections (BOE) building today. The group also attended the BOE's monthly meeting in protest of two hybrid voting machines: one currently being used in New York, and one that is pending certification by the BOE.

Hybrid voting machines, combine a ballot-marking device, printer, and scanner in one unit. Security experts say these systems can add fake votes to paper ballots and steal elections without detection. They are calling these systems a "disaster." Instead of these machines, they recommend the use of durable hand-marked paper ballots for those who are able, and separate ballot-marking devices for those who need assistance.

"Hybrid Voting Systems are a dangerous new technology that could undermine every election we have - from city council to the presidency, without detection," said Lulu Friesdat, SMART Elections Communications Director. "The time to stop these systems in New York is now."

Andrew Appel, Princeton Computer Science Professor, spoke out against hybrid voting machines at the action, and before the BOE. He has been emphatic in his publications that these new designs pose a major threat to our elections, saying, "Combining the ballot-marking devices and scanner is a really bad idea!" The nationally recognized expert pointed to USB ports on the systems, as well as standard software updates as ways that the voting machines could be attacked by hackers even when not connected to the Internet.

Other security experts concur. Rich DeMillo, Professor of Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology - another nationally recognized security expert - said in a letter submitted to the BOE that one of the hybrids contains "elementary design flaws that would be apparent to anyone with cybersecurity training."

The machine he was referring to - the Dominion "ICE" - is in use in New York counties: Chautauqua, Franklin, and Madison. A second hybrid machine called the ES&S Express XL is currently under review by the New York State BOE. The Westchester County Legislature and the New York City BOE have also expressed interest in adopting hybrid voting systems.

The hybrid currently under consideration by the New York State BOE is a touchscreen machine that uses barcodes to count votes. Kevin Skoglund, Chief Technologist for Citizens for Better Elections, released a paper this week showing that barcode technology can be hacked to allow a voting machine to vote for a different candidate than the one selected.

The advocates were dressed in t-shirts with barcodes that said, "Is this who I voted for?" and holding signs with messages like "Hybrids are for Hackers." They distributed letters to the four commissioners from voters before visiting the Legislative Office Building and Capitol for meetings with key legislators.

SMART Elections is producing a three part investigative series on Hybrid Voting, and the first two parts are available for viewing now at

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