AT&T’s 3G Shutdown Holds Blame for a Big Election Headache in Michigan

Some Michigan counties can’t immediately report Tuesday night’s election results because of a confusing mix of federal vote reporting guidance and AT&T’s decision to retire its 3G network last February.

In a website alert, the Wayne County Clerk’s office confirmed that 65 of Michigan’s 83 total counties are “no longer moderating unofficial election results.” Wayne County is where Detroit is located, and it is the largest county in the state by population with approximately 1.8 million residents. It is unclear how many county officials have not upgraded their own modems, or if this is because of US Election Assistance Commission (EAC) guidelines that advise against using modems.

In Clause 14.2-E, the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG) 2.0, established in February 2021, advised against connecting the voting system to the Internet. The guidelines cited the risk of ransomware, the ability of attackers to view files within the system, or to modify files within it that pertain to election results and ballot records.

“This has significantly delayed the reporting process,” the Wayne County Alert read Tuesday night. “We don’t have a definite timeline on when we will reach 100 percent reporting, but we will continue to work until evening and morning until this is achieved.”

Wednesday Morning, Wayne County Clerk’s Office Told WDIV reporter Grant Hermes That plan was never to use a modem that wasn’t updated for 4G LTE or 5G because the state is no longer certifying the upgrade. At least in Wayne County, Hermes reports that results are driven from campus to city and township halls, manually read into a computer there, exported, and sent to the county using secure FTP. Is.

Elsewhere in Michigan, Ingham County Clerk Barb Byram pointed out ledge For the cyber security conscious, “We have never modified the results. So it didn’t change our process in Ingham County.”

in a statement emailed to ledge On Wednesday morning, Tracey Wimmer, director of media relations for the secretary of state, presented any potential for interference and explained steps taken to combat misinformation about voting centered on the use of modems. “Many counties that are phasing out the use of modems to transmit unauthorized results are driving informal results vehicles from polling stations by election workers … Counties run modems on different schedules because of their specific voting system configuration.” are phased out and counties are needed – for example, all 65 Dominion systems no longer use modems.”

AT&T did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The provider officially ended the service last February, after announcing its plans to end its 3G wireless network in 2019.

Wayne County Clerk:

election result update

Based on the recommendation of Voluntary Voting System Guidelines 2.0 issued by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, coupled with AT&T’s decision in March 2022 not to support 3G modems, 65 of the 83 counties in Michigan are now reporting unofficial election results. are not moderate. This has significantly delayed the reporting process. We don’t have a definite timeline when we will reach 100% reporting, but we will continue to work till evening and morning till this is achieved.

Michigan Secretary of State:

Polling places in Michigan are closed and unofficial results are posted publicly and those unofficial results are being transmitted to county clerk offices. Meanwhile, many absentee counting boards continue to count the ballots of half or more jurisdictions, and full unofficial results may not be known until all absentee ballots have been counted. In many counties, election workers are phasing out the use of modems to transmit informal results from polling stations to polling stations in informal results. This is being done in accordance with guidelines issued by the US Election Assistance Commission to prevent any remote possibility of interference and to combat misinformation circulating regarding the use of modems. Counties are phasing out modems on different schedules due to their specific voting system configuration and county needs – for example, not all 65 Dominion systems use modems anymore.

Update Aug 2, 1:58AM ET: Added additional information from the Wayne County Clerk, and a statement from the office of the Michigan Secretary of State.

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