Criticisms of New Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) Hits New Los Angeles County Voting System

So far, most of the coverage of BMDs (voting machines in which voters cast their votes on a touchscreen, the machine spits out a ballot listing the voter’s choices and produces a bar code/QR code for a ballot reading machine to tally the devices) have been of machines produced by for-profit companies in Georgia and North Carolina.

But Los Angeles County, the country’s largest electoral jurisdiction, is about to roll out the use of BMD machines in the upcoming elections, machines which the county designed rather than buying through a vendor. (Disclosure: for a brief period when Justin Levitt was serving at DOJ, I took his place on an advisory committee about the new ballot machines, but because of scheduling conflicts I never attended a meeting or gave an input on the design).

Now it is time for the state of California to consider certification of the new LA BMDs, and some computer scientists/election integrity advocates are arguing that the machines are not secure enough to be certified. For example, see this letter from UC Berkeley Professor Philip Stark. (More coverage at the Brad Blog.)

Keep your eye on this issue in 2020.


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