Common Cause/NY Encourages ALL 62 Counties Not to Buy the ExpressVote XL

Last week, the New York State Board of Elections (NYSBOE) voted to certify the ExpressVote XL, a touch screen voting machine that would allow voters to mark their ballot electronically on a touch screen instead of on traditional paper ballots. So far, Boards of Election Commissioners in New York City, UlsterOnondaga and Chautauqua counties have said they have no plans to buy the machines.

“Common Cause/NY applauds New York City, Ulster, Onondaga and Chautauqua counties for prioritizing tax dollars and election security over below standard, expensive machines. We encourage all counties to follow their excellent example by not purchasing the ExpressVote XL. Paper ballots marked by the voter, which New York currently uses, are the election security gold standard, and it’s entirely unnecessary to fix a problem that doesn’t exist especially ahead of the 2024 presidential election year when election security remains a fraught topic. Lawmakers must pass legislation that bans hybrid machines like the ExpressVote XL going forward,” said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY.

Earlier this month, the Let NY Vote coalition and national groups wrote two letters to the NYSBOE demanding they reject the certification of the express vote XL. Read the letters hereThe Daily News and the Albany Times Union have editorialized against certification as well.

Cyber security election experts almost universally pan the touch screen technology, so much so that most states have switched back to voter-marked paper ballots. The ExpressVote XL, which uses Windows 10, is also about to become even less secure as Microsoft will end software updates in two years.

Senator Cleare and Assembly Member Cunningham both sponsor a bill – the Voting Integrity and Voter Verification (VIVA) – in their respective houses that would guarantee the use of voter verifiable paper ballots in elections. VIVA passed in the Senate with bipartisan support, but not the Assembly this last term. VIVA would have prevented New York from certifying machines like the ExpressVote XL.

Common Cause/NY released a report in 2020 called “The ExpressVote XL: Bad for New York’s Elections.” Common Cause argues New York should not purchase the ExpressVote XL because it is:

  • Vulnerable to cyber attacks and hardware malfunctions
    • ExpressVote XL machines do not use a secure paper trail, making results easier to hack. According to a recent study, only 40% of voters reviewed their ballot for accuracy after submission and only about 7% informed a poll worker if something was wrong. The study concludes that a hacker could easily change the results of 1% or 2% of votes without anyone noticing.
    • The 14 states that use ballot-marking devices have begun to phase them out.
    • Touchscreens malfunction and can cause long lines for voters. For example, in Pennsylvania, roughly 30% of the machines allowed voters to select only some candidates’ names, and not others.
  • Prone to undercounting votes
    • In a race in Pennsylvania, a candidate was recorded as having 164 votes on election night, but after a manual recount the same candidate had over 26,000 votes, winning the race.
  • Expensive
    • The ExpressVote XL costs roughly $10,000 per unit. This is far more expensive than other voting machines. Additionally, it will cost more money to store and transport the machines.