Story details (some of) my concerns about the new $300 million unverifiable touchscreen system in the nation's largest jurisdiction
By Brad Friedman on 2/6/2020, 1:31pm PT  

A few days ago, I ran the :30 second preview for this report from David Goldstein of CBS-2 Los Angeles on the new,100% unverifiable touchscreen computer Ballot Marking Device (BMD) voting systems being deployed to all polling places in Los Angeles County (the nation's most populous) for the first time in the critical 2020 elections. I am seen in the preview responding bluntly to how much confidence voters should have in this new system, as paired with the response to the same question from Goldstein by L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan.

We now have Goldstein's full video report and it's posted below.

The first countywide use of the $300,000,000 system, ten years in development, will be for the upcoming Super Tuesday primary on March 3rd in California. What could possibly go wrong? Well, just ask Iowa.

But, beyond that, I've spent a great deal of time in recent weeks, months (and, yes, years) specifically detailing what could go wrong, from the fact that...

  • these systems were recently "conditionally certified", by CA Sec. of State Alex Padilla, despite warnings from experts after they were found to have failed failing to meet more than 40 California Voting Systems Standards;
  • that the computer-marked paper ballots it creates can be changed by the system without voters knowledge after they are supposedly verified by voters and then run back through the same printer path that printed them in the first place;
  • that a recent study found that 93% of voters do not notice when a BMD system has flipped one of their votes;
  • that Los Angeles County is being sued by Beverly Hills because the system only displays four candidates in any given race at a time, which means that voters could hit the NEXT button to go to the next race, without ever seeing all of the voters in the contest (something that is also not a problem when using a more reasonable, sensible, much less expensive hand-marked paper ballot system);
  • that this system could result in voters not being able to vote at all, if there is a power or internet outage or ransomware attack;
  • and that even if voters succeed overcoming all of these obstacles and manage to correctly verify the computer hasn't changed their vote, there is till no way for anybody to know after an election, whether any vote has been printed accurately as per any voter's intent!

That's just some of the concerns about these systems --- and they are true for the new system being deployed in L.A. called VSAP for "Voting Solutions for All People", as well as for other similar systems being deployed for the first time this year in critical battleground states like Georgia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Texas and elsewhere, for some insane reason.

Anyway, while I'll have more to say about this on today's BradCast later tonight, I'm happy that at least a few corporate media outlets are waking up to these concerns. Too few, if you ask me. Perhaps more will do so after what's happened in Iowa. But, for now, here's the full report now from CBS-2 Los Angeles' David Goldstein, as aired Tuesday evening on the 11 o'clock news.


I want to thank David for the very good report on this. I'm glad someone in L.A. is offering some skeptical reporting on this system. Most outlets I've seen are writing softball "L.A. has a new, exciting and modern way to vote!" pieces. But I need to add two sorta-corrections to his last comments there at the desk at the end.

1) Goldstein explains that "as part of an agreement with the state to allow these machines to go forward, all voters at the polls will be allowed to use old-fashioned paper ballots, if they request one." In fact, if they know to request one, they won't get an "old-fashioned paper ballot". They will get a blank write-in ballot, modeled on the federal write-in absentee ballot [PDF]. That ballot requires voters to write in both the names of the office and the candidates they wish to vote for in each race --- if they happen to know them. Not exactly like a proper hand-marked paper ballot where you fill in the ovals for each listed candidate in each listed race.

2) Goldstein then notes the "good thing everybody should know " is that "we have a ten day voting period now." That is sort of true, in that voters will be able to early vote ten days before the election. But only a few few voting centers across the entire county (which is so large it can take several hours to drive from one side to the other) will actually be open for early voting, as of now, for all 10 days. Most will only open the weekend before the election. About 1,000 new voting centers will replace our previous 5,000 or so community precincts along with this new system. You can try to find one here. Voters will be able to vote at any of them, in theory, at least if the internet, electronic-pollbooks and touchscreen systems are working.

I strongly urge L.A. voters (or any voters anywhere who are forced to vote on touchscreens at the polling place) request a hand-marked paper Vote-by-Mail ballot and then deliver it in person to the polling place on Election Day or as close as possible. In L.A., you can request a VBM ballot here by February 25 for the March 3rd Super Tuesday primary election. Be sure to specify which party's primary you'd like to vote in if you are a "No Party Preference" voter!

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UPDATE 2/25/2020: Goldstein follows up his report with a new one as early voting begins in L.A. County and problems with the VSAP systems at "more than two dozen [voting] centers" prevents them from opening at all...

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P.S. This week we are celebrating 16 years of the 100% reader/listener supported BRAD BLOG (and BradCast and Green News Report, etc!) But, given all that's gone on over this past week or two, I haven't even been able to post about it until now! If you're able, PLEASE consider donating to support our continuing efforts over the past 16 years, so that we can keep sounding these necessary alarms at least through one more critical election this year! Thank you!!!


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