Jan 25, 2020

California approves new voting system even as concerns remain

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla has conditionally approved Los Angeles County's new publicly-owned computerized voting system on Friday.

Why it matters: The Voting System for All People (VSAP) will be the first publicly owned and designed voting system in the U.S. However, many concerns and questions remain about the security of the election machines and other technical problems, AP notes. VSAP still requires some modifications to address these concerns.

  • Padilla is requiring polling centers to offer hand-marked ballots during the March 3 presidential primary.

The state of play: The system cost Los Angeles County up to $280 million to build. However, many reject VSAP because it relies on computerized-ballot marking devices they believe could be hacked, per AP.

  • Testers found that the VSAP system's "seals, locks, labels and sensors can all be bypassed," and that the ballot box can be easily opened.
  • Padilla has ordered all of these concerns be addressed.
“The certification of the first publicly owned voting system in the nation is a historic milestone for American democracy. VSAP is a big step forward in modernizing elections in Los Angeles County, which has been home to some of the oldest voting equipment in the state. Upgrading to a modern system will improve the long-term reliability and security of elections in the largest county in America.”
— California Secretary of State Alex Padilla

The big picture: Election security experts say all voters should use hand-marked paper ballots that will be available for audits and recounts, AP writes.

  • In reality, U.S. elections are ruled by three voting equipment and services companies that control about 90% of the market, and they've all been criticized for being vulnerable to tampering.

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