What to Know
- An investigation is underway after a laptop and USBs were stolen from an employee with a voting machine vendor in Philadelphia.
- The laptop and encrypted USB drives were stolen from an employee with Election Systems and Software (ES&S) at a warehouse on 3500 Scotts Lane.
- “The laptop did not hold any sensitive data related to elections,” the spokesperson told NBC10. “It was not used to program the election or interact with USBs used in elections. The USBs are encrypted and contain multiple levels of security.”
An investigation is underway after a laptop and USBs were stolen from an employee for a voting machine manufacturer at a Philadelphia warehouse.
The laptop and encrypted USB drives were stolen from a worker with Election Systems and Software (ES&S) at a warehouse on 3500 Scotts Lane. Officials have not yet revealed when specifically the theft took place.
A spokesperson for ES&S told NBC10 they’re confident the theft won’t “compromise the integrity of the election.”
“The laptop did not hold any sensitive data related to elections,” the spokesperson told NBC10. “It was not used to program the election or interact with USBs used in elections. The USBs are encrypted and contain multiple levels of security.”
The spokesperson said the company immediately changed the employee’s corporate network user account, blocked the device address and changed the passwords.
"The USB flash drives (and ES&S voting machines, by the way) contain a unique 256-bit encryption key to ensure that only information specific to that election may be loaded on the machine," the spokesperson wrote. "This encryption is so powerful; it would take the world's fastest supercomputer millions of years to crack."
Nick Custodio, Philadelphia’s Deputy Commissioner for Lisa Deeley, chair of the city commissioners who oversee elections, also told NBC10 the stolen laptop did not have any election material on it and isn’t able to program files for the city’s voting machines.
“The laptop has security features to prevent unauthorized access and the user account has been disabled,” Custodio wrote. “As a precaution, we are rechecking all of the seals on the already tested machines.”
Mayor Jim Kenney also said he’s providing more resources for city commissioners to provide enhanced security at the warehouse.
“This matter should not deter Philadelphians from voting, nor from having confidence in the security of this election,” Kenney wrote.
Anyone with information on the theft should call Philadelphia police at 215-686-TIPS.
News of the theft comes after President Donald Trump made a misleading claim about an elections office in Philadelphia.
In a debate Tuesday night against Democratic candidate Joe Biden, Trump mentioned a "poll watcher" of his who was "thrown out" after trying to observe inside a satellite elections office.
According to state officials and experts, a satellite elections office is not a polling place. Therefore, it's not somewhere that a poll watcher could observe.
A letter, sent late Tuesday night by a lawyer representing the Trump campaign, insisted that the campaign has a legal right to observe the voting process in the heavily Democratic city's satellite election offices. Election lawyers say there is no right in Pennsylvania law, even for a certified poll watcher, to observe inside an election office where someone is registering to vote, applying for a mail-in ballot or filling one out.