Activists Claim Security Deficiencies in Local Election Infrastructure

Voting Booths
Voting Booths | Image by gorodenkoff/Getty Images

A local county’s alleged election security deficiencies are raising eyebrows ahead of the upcoming elections.

Citizens Defending Freedom (CDF) of Collin County held an event Thursday night that, in part, addressed concerns stemming from the organization’s participation in the Logic & Accuracy (L&A) test performed before the primary elections last month. CDF announced in an April press release the findings of “critical vulnerabilities in Collin County’s election infrastructure.”

Debbie Lindstrom, election division lead for CDF, told The Dallas Express that the last L&A test performed in Collin County revealed serious issues that could compromise the electoral process. She added that residents “need to have eyes on the situation.”

“There are some problems right here in Collin County that they need to be aware of, and they need to be involved in letting their officials know what is going on,” she said.

Lindstrom stressed to DX that election integrity affects everyone, regardless of political affiliation.

“We are a nonpartisan group. We try to make citizens aware of issues and breaches in freedom, bringing local awareness and action to the situation,” she said.

The L&A test “ensures that the equipment and the ballots used can properly display the ballots, collect the votes, and tabulate the results,” explained Lindstrom.

Specifically, Lindstrom noted that the machines used for testing were put in storage until the next test, meaning that the test machines were not being used in the field. Additionally, she claimed the machines used for the L&A test in Collin County were only tested in “test” mode instead of “election” mode.

“The passwords for every machine have not been changed in at least four years. The passwords are so old that they are probably the default passwords,” she told DX.

CDF tried to handle the concerns privately by bringing the issues to local officials’ attention. However, per Lindstrom, CDF did not receive a response. As such, CDF released its findings to the public and attended the April L&A test.

The organization noted some improvements after Collin County’s L&A test earlier in April; however, serious issues remained, including the passwords, asset tags, and the testing board not casting a ballot.

“They are planning on changing the passwords, but not until the summer,” Lindstrom said. “And we have three more elections between now and then. It needs to be changed. There is no reason why everyone should have access to that code and know what it is — this needs to change.”

The elections Lindstrom mentioned include the municipal election on May 4, the primary runoff on May 28, and the municipal runoff on June 15.

Regarding the asset tags, Lindstrom explained, “In February, we wrote down the inventory asset tags for all the machines that were being tested, and we found out in April that they pulled out the same machines again and retested the same machines. The same five machines. They only test five machines out of all the machines we have in Collin County.”

“They should be testing new machines, which should be random,” Lindstrom suggested, again noting that currently, the same machines were being “taken out for the test, put back in the closet, and then pulled back out again for the next test.”

The testing board is also supposed to cast ballots during the L&A test, which is a provision in the law, explained Lindstrom.

She pointed out to Bruce Sherbet, the Collin County elections administrator, that his office was not following the law and that the testing board needed to cast a ballot. Sherbert allegedly told her that they were “all too busy.”

Lindstrom encouraged residents to attend the L&A test in May to help uphold the election integrity and accountability standard.

CDF’s February and April Collin County L&A test reports are available for public review.

Tara Schulte, the Collin County executive director for CDF, told DX, “Citizens Defending Freedom is a national organization with county watchdogs looking over elections, education, our freedoms, and our faith. We believe in the Constitution.”

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