A laptop and several memory sticks used to program Philadelphia’s voting machines were stolen from a city warehouse in East Falls, officials confirmed Wednesday, setting off a scramble to investigate and to ensure the machines had not been compromised.
Though it remains unclear when exactly equipment was stolen, sources briefed on the investigation said it vanished this week. The laptop and USB drives — the only items believed to have been taken — belonged to an on-site employee for the company that supplies the machines.
City officials vowed Wednesday that the theft would not disrupt voting on Nov. 3.
“We are confident,” said Nick Custodio, a deputy to Lisa Deeley, chair of the city commissioners, who oversee elections, “that this incident will not in any way compromise the integrity of the election.”
But behind the scenes, they fretted about how President Donald Trump and his allies might use the news to cast doubt on the integrity of the city’s elections in light of false claims and conspiracy theories he cited during Tuesday’s presidential debate.
The commissioners initially refused to confirm the theft or that an investigation had been opened. They only did so after The Inquirer informed them it would be reporting the incident based on sources who were not authorized to publicly discuss it.