The Voter Services department in Chester County, Pennsylvania has wiped the “protected counts” off their voting machines, raising questions about their motives. This unexpected act was revealed to observers while voting machines were undergoing normal “logic and accuracy” testing in preparation for the upcoming November 7, 2023 Municipal Election.
As explained by Karen Barsoum, Chester County Director of Voter Services, the protected count on a voting machine should be the total number of ballots put into the machine over its lifetime, which accumulates up like a car’s odometer.
When thinking of a car, you can reset the trip odometer, but should not be able to roll back the lifetime odometer. Since the protected counts on voting machines are supposed to be “protected,” hence the name, why would the county eliminate this history? Why would county elections officials not want anyone to be able to see on the machine itself how many ballots went into it previously?
In the county’s defense, they stated that they made a log of all the protected counts recorded from each machine. This is according to an observer that was present. The concern is, did they have Democrat and Republican observers when they recorded the protected counts? Was it just the Voter Services staff present? Was it just the ES&S vendor? How can they prove the count they wrote down is accurate?
According to the same observer, another observer present asked why the change was made. At first, a Voter Services employee explained that the voting machine protected counts were wiped as part of a system upgrade that was performed in the summer, and that they had problems with the protected count in the past. This answer causes many questions to come to mind: What problems was this employee referring to? Where are the problems documented? What was the effect? These questions must be asked and answers must be provided by the county.
When Karen Barsoum explained the change, she also stated that the protected counts were cleared when there was a system upgrade over the summer. She said it was a state-certified upgrade to a new version of software (EVS 6300) – and that every county with ES&S machines in PA received this upgrade. As part of the upgrade, they removed the memory cards from the machines and replaced them with higher capacity memory cards. It was likened to changing a camera’s memory card. The question now is who has the old memory cards that were taken out of the voting machines? Are they in the possession of the county or does ES&S have them?
Chester County officials removing protected counts reminds the public of the problems uncovered in Mesa County, Colorado in 2021. This was when Dominion Voting Systems installed what they called a “Trusted Build” update on their Election Management System in May of 2021, which was ordered by the Colorado Secretary of State. According to the Mesa #3 report, this update destroyed critical election records on the EMS hard drive.
According to an additional, Mesa # 1 report, “Federal law requires the preservation of election records – which includes records in electronic or digital form – for twenty-two months after an election. Forensic examination found that election records, including data described in the Federal Election Commissions’ 2002 Voting System Standards (VSS) had been destroyed on Mesa County’s voting systems, by the system vendor. Because similar system modifications were reportedly performed upon county election servers across the state, it is possible, if not likely, that such destruction in violation of state and federal law has occurred in numerous other counties.”
This leads us to wonder if anything else was erased from the county’s voting machines, especially our Election Management System, that has not been disclosed to the public.
Residents are urged to attend the next Board of Elections meeting, this Thursday at 5 p.m., and ask for answers to their questions. The meeting will be held at The Justice Center, 201 W. Market Street, West Chester, PA in courtroom #2.
Other issues that must be addressed are the problems with the Chester County voter rolls and how the Board of Elections is going to eliminate the possibility of people casting fraudulent ballots using names listed in the voter rolls which are ineligible to vote.