The fallout of the Nov. 3 elections has put the spotlight on the integrity of electronic voting machines used in the United States. In response, authorities have pointed to certifications of the machines as a safeguard against potential systemic problems with the voting machines and their software.
A deeper look into the certification process used for the machines, however, reveals that the main certification agency in the United States, the federal Election Assistance Commission (EAC), maintains an unexpectedly small staff, and one of its chief employees is a former executive of Dominion Voting Systems.
Furthermore it appears the bulk—if not all—of the testing of the election equipment is conducted by only two companies, Pro V&V and SLI Compliance.
Electronic voting systems have become increasingly incorporated into the election process, raising concerns over their security, reliability, and accuracy in the process. Lightly-staffed federal agencies who appear to maintain overly close ties to the companies they are supposed to be monitoring raises additional questions about the thoroughness and integrity of the verification process.
Dominion Executive Joins Federal Certification Commission
Kathy Boockvar, just two weeks after she was appointed as Pennsylvania’s Secretary of the Commonwealth, concluded in a Jan. 17, 2019 report (pdf) that Dominion’s “Democracy Suite 5.5A” voting machine “can be safely used by voters at elections,” and certified the Dominion voting systems in Pennsylvania.
Representing Dominion in that process was Jessica Bowers, director of certification for Dominion. In addition to Pennsylvania, Bowers appears to have been responsible for the implementation of Dominion Systems into a number of other states, including California, Colorado, Nevada, and Tennessee.
However, after enjoying a 10-year career at Dominion, Bowers would find her way into a new career path at the federal Election Assistance Commission (EAC).
The EAC, which describes itself as “an independent bipartisan commission,” is responsible for adopting voluntary voting system guidelines and provides for the accreditation of manufacturers’ voting systems and voting system testing laboratories.
In May 2019, just as the agency was preparing for the 2020 election, it announced the departure of Ryan Macias, who had served as EAC’s acting director of testing and certification.
Macias’s position was an important one as he was responsible for managing EAC’s program that “works with the country’s top voting equipment vendors to certify and decertify voting system hardware and software, and accredits labs for testing equipment,” according to the website CyberScoop. Additionally, Macias had been overseeing an “important update to voting system security guidelines.”
On May 9, 2019, the EAC announced that they had selected Jerome Lovato, who had worked at the EAC since September 2017, to replace Macias. The resignation of Macias and the subsequent appointment of Lovato raised some concerns in Congress, as noted in a letter sent to the EAC by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.).
“Following the resignation of Ryan Macias, public reporting indicates that the EAC now employs only one full-time staff member dedicated to overseeing the certification process. While we understand that the Commission may be working to hire additional staff, we are concerned by the sudden appointment of Jerome Lovato to be the Director of Testing and Certification especially as reports indicating that Mr. Lovato will be working remotely, more than a thousand miles from EAC headquarters. As states continue to update their election equipment and vendors develop new machines, it is essential that Testing and Certification at the EAC be fully operational,” the senators wrote in their letter.