“It is not letting me vote for who I want to vote for,” the man says.
But the viral video and reports of other machine errors are sure to spark new concerns among election security advocates, who have long warned that electronic voting systems — particularly the type used in Mississippi, which do not generate a verified paper backup — are vulnerable to hackers and mistakes.
“We should replace antiquated equipment, and paperless equipment in particular, as soon as possible,” the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law said in an Aug. 13 report on election risks.
Increased concern about paperless ballots has taken center stage since former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation found that Russia interfered in the 2016 election and will probably do the same in 2020. “They’re doing it while we sit here,” he said during congressional testimony in July, “and they expect to do it in the next campaign.”
Systems without a paper trail are particularly open to problems, experts say. In June, Election Systems & Software, one of the nation’s biggest voting machine vendors, pledged to stop selling paperless machines as primary voting devices and urged Congress to adopt new security measures, calling it “essential to the future of America.” Even President Trump has backed the idea, telling reporters in May that “going to good old-fashioned paper, in this modern age, is the best way to do it.”
A bipartisan bill from Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), a Democratic presidential candidate, and Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) would have provided federal funding to help states phase out paperless machines, but that bill — along with most other election security measures — has effectively been blocked by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
So for now, Mississippi is one of 11 states that still primarily use electronic machines in some counties and towns, the Brennan Center found. Overall, the state earned a “D” grade for its election security in a 2018 study by the left-leaning think tank Center for American Progress.
During Tuesday’s election, voters in at least three precincts reported machines gone haywire, state officials told the Clarion Ledger.
The video showing one of those malfunctions was first shared before 9 a.m. on Tuesday by a woman named Sally Kate Walker, who posted it to Facebook with the caption, “Ummmm … seems legit, Mississippi.” Walker said in a comment that the incident happened in Oxford, Miss., in Lafayette County.
Anna Moak, a spokeswoman for the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office, confirmed to the Clarion Ledger that Lafayette County officials responded and took down the machine, adding that “to our knowledge, only one machine was malfunctioning.” The device was “county-owned and tested by local officials,” Moak told the paper. In all, 19 votes were cast on the machine before it was taken offline.
By the end of the night, two other broken machines were reported, the Associated Press reported — one in Vardaman, where three votes were cast before technicians turned off the device, Moak said, and another in New Houlka, where technicians weren’t able to confirm any problem.
Waller’s campaign told the Clarion Ledger it had also received unconfirmed reports of malfunctions in Lamar, Leflore, Lincoln, Pearl River, Washington, Forrest and Scott counties.
Waller, 67, a retired state Supreme Court chief justice, conceded the race around 9 p.m. Tuesday to Reeves, 45, the state’s two-term lieutenant governor, who had been backed by most established party figures.
More from Morning Mix: