(AP) — A group of election security experts on Thursday called for a rigorous audit of the upcoming California gubernatorial recall after copies of systems used to run elections across the country were released publicly.
Their letter sent to the secretary of state’s office urges the state to conduct a type of post-election audit that can help detect malicious attempts to interfere.
The statewide recall targeting Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, set for Sept. 14, is the first election since copies of Dominion Voting Systems’ election management system were distributed last month at an event organized by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, an ally of former President Donald Trump who has made unsubstantiated claims about last year’s election. Election offices across 30 states use the Dominion system, including 40 counties in California.
Election security experts have said the breaches, from a county in Colorado and another in Michigan, pose a heightened risk to elections because the system is used for a number of administrative functions — from designing ballots and configuring voting machines to tallying results. In the letter, the experts said they do not have evidence that anyone plans to attempt a hack of the systems used in California and are not casting blame on Dominion.
“However, it is critical to recognize that the release of the Dominion software into the wild has increased the risk to the security of California elections to the point that emergency action is warranted,” the experts wrote in their letter, which was shared with The Associated Press.
The eight experts signing the letter include computer scientists, election technology experts and cybersecurity researchers.
Jenna Dresner, a spokeswoman for Secretary of State Shirley Weber, said the 40 counties in California using Dominion employ a different version of the election management system that meets various state-specific requirements. She outlined numerous security measures in place to protect voting systems across the state. That includes regular testing for vulnerabilities, strict controls on who has access, physical security rules and pre-election testing to ensure that no part of the system has been modified.
“California has the strictest and most comprehensive voting system testing, use, and requirements in the country, and it was designed to withstand potential threats,” Dresner said in a statement to the AP.
The security experts want California counties using Dominion’s election management system to do what’s known as a “risk-limiting audit,” which essentially uses a statistical approach to ensure that the reported results match the actual votes cast. California also uses paper ballots, which makes it easier to verify results.
The letter said differences between the leaked Dominion software images and the versions used in California are relatively minor. The experts said thousands of people now have access to the underpinnings of Dominion’s election management system, including some who may have access to voting equipment.
“That increases the risk of undetected outcome-changing cyber-attacks on California counties that use Dominion equipment and the risk of accusations of fraud and election manipulation which, without rigorous post-election auditing, would be impossible to disprove,” the letter states.
Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.