AT&T’s 3G shutdown catches blame for a major election headache in Michigan

Some Michigan counties can’t instantly report Tuesday evening’s election outcomes because of a complicated mixture of federal vote reporting steerage and AT&T’s determination to retire its 3G networks this previous February.

In a web site alert, the Wayne County clerk’s workplace confirmed that 65 of Michigan’s 83 whole counties “are now not modeming unofficial election outcomes.” Wayne County is the place Detroit is situated, and it’s the state’s greatest county by inhabitants, with about 1.8 million residents. It’s unclear what number of are because of county officers that didn’t improve their very own modems, or if this is because of U.S. Election Help Fee (EAC) pointers advising towards utilizing modems.

In part 14.2-E, the Voluntary Voting System Tips (VVSG) 2.0 established in February 2021 suggested towards connecting voting programs to the web. The rules cited the danger of ransomware, the power for attackers to view recordsdata inside the system, or modify recordsdata inside it that should do with election outcomes and poll data.

“This has considerably delayed the reporting course of,” the Tuesday evening Wayne County alert learn. “We don’t have a definitive time of once we will attain one hundred pc reporting, however will proceed to work all through the night and morning till that is achieved.”

Early Wednesday morning, the Wayne County clerk’s workplace told WDIV reporter Grant Hermes that the plan was by no means to make use of the modems, which hadn’t been up to date for 4G LTE or 5G as a result of the state is now not certifying upgrades. At the very least in Wayne County, Hermes experiences the outcomes are pushed from precincts to metropolis and township halls, manually learn into a pc there, exported, and despatched to the county utilizing safe FTP.

Elsewhere in Michigan, Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum advised The Verge that to be cyber safety aware, “we’ve got by no means modemed outcomes. So this didn’t change our course of in Ingham County.”

In a press release emailed to The Verge early Wednesday morning, Tracy Wimmer, the director of media relations for the Secretary of State, defined the steps which were taken to current any chance of interference and to counter misinformation about voting that has targeted on the usage of modems. “The unofficial outcomes from polling locations are being pushed by election employees in automobiles within the many counties which can be phasing out the usage of modems to transmit unofficial outcomes … Counties are phasing out modems on totally different schedules due to their particular voting system configurations and county wants – for instance, all 65 Dominion programs now not use modems.”

AT&T didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

After asserting its plans to finish its 3G wi-fi community in 2019, the supplier formally sundown the service this previous February.

Wayne County Clerk:

Election Outcomes Replace

Primarily based on the advice of the Voluntary Voting Programs Guideline 2.0 issued by the U.S. Election Help Fee, coupled with AT&T’s determination in March 2022 to now not assist 3G modems, 65 out of 83 Counties in Michigan are now not modeming unofficial election outcomes. This has signficantly delayed the reporting course of. We don’t have a definitive time of once we will attain one hundred pc reporting, however will proceed to work all through the night and morning till that is achieved.

Michigan Secretary of State:

Polling locations have closed and publicly posted unofficial outcomes throughout Michigan and people unofficial outcomes are being transmitted to county clerk places of work. In the meantime, many absentee poll counting boards proceed to rely the votes of as many as half or extra of the jurisdictions’ ballots, and full unofficial outcomes can’t be identified till all absentee ballots are counted. The unofficial outcomes from polling locations are being pushed by election employees in automobiles within the many counties which can be phasing out the usage of modems to transmit unofficial outcomes. That is being achieved in accordance with steerage issued by the U.S. Elections Help Fee with a view to stop any distant chance of interference, and to counter misinformation that has been circulated regarding the usage of modems. Counties are phasing out modems on totally different schedules due to their particular voting system configurations and county wants – for instance, all 65 Dominion programs now not use modems.

Replace August 2nd, 1:58AM ET: Added extra data from the Wayne County Clerk, and a press release from the workplace of the Michigan Secretary of State.