“Election commission orders top voting machine vendor to correct misleading claims”

Kim Zetter for Politico:

The federal Election Assistance Commission has rebuked the nation’s top voting-machine maker over marketing materials that the panel says deceptively implied the company’s voting machines are EAC-certified.

The commission admonished Election Systems & Software over promotional literature and statements on its website that appear to assert, falsely, that voting machines the company sells with embedded modems have been sanctioned by the EAC under its testing and certification program. The statements put ES&S in violation of the EAC’s testing and certification rules, the commission wrote in apreviously unreportedMarch 20 letter to the company that POLITICO obtained, and directed ES&S to revise the literature and notify customers that the systems are not certified….

ES&S told POLITICO it sent a letter via email the first week of April to “all applicable modem customers (89 in total),” and posted a notice on its customer portal.

When asked, ES&S did not identify those 89 customers, saying it could not release specific information about customers without their permission. A spokesperson for the Wisconsin Election Commission, whose state is known to use DS200 machines with modems, told POLITICO it did receive the letter from ES&S in early April. Other jurisdictions known to have purchased DS200 systems with modems and contacted by POLITICO did not respond to inquiries.

Key background: This isn’t the first time ES&S has faced accusations of making fabricated or misleading assertions about its voting machines. In 2018, the company denied to The New York Times that it had ever installed remote-access software on any of its election management systems. But after being pressed by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) about the matter, the companyadmitted it had installed the software on systems in at least 300 election jurisdictions. (The company has refused to identify which jurisdictions had the software.)

Election-management systems are critical components that are used to tally official results and in some cases program voting machines before each election. Remote-access software, which ES&S was using to access those systems over the internet or via modem for troubleshooting, exposed those systems to potential hacking by intruders.

Similarly, the company has long insisted, along with its election customers, that none of its voting systems ever connect to the internet. But researchers found what they believed to be more than three dozen ES&S systems connected to the internet, in a story published last year. Company diagrams showing the configuration of modem-enabled DS200 systems clearly depict the modems transmitting election results over the internet to ES&S election-management systems that also are connected to the internet.

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