General Question

seawulf575's avatar

How did a voting machine end up on Ebay?

Asked by seawulf575 (14770points) 3 months ago
19 responses
“Great Question” (2points)

I saw an article that tells a story about a Dominion voting machine that was bought on E-bay. It turns out the guy that sold it bought it on an auction from Goodwill. The voting machine was from one of the jurisdictions in Michigan and was used in the 2020 election.

So how and why did this get to Goodwill?

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Irukandji's avatar

We don’t know yet. It makes more sense to let the story to develop than to make baseless speculations about it.

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seawulf575's avatar

I see a lot of oddities about this case. First off, how did the machine get taken from its supposedly secure storage? How did the people not know it was missing until they were asked to go verify all machines were there? Who would have taken this? That question can go any number of directions. But if you went through the trouble of stealing the silly thing, why drop it off at Goodwill? The two guys involved seem somewhat blameless. The guy that got it from Goodwill I’m not sure of. Yes, he has a record of winning it in the auction from Goodwill, and it was advertised as a computer screen. He later determined it was from Dominion and found out it was a voting machine. At that point he puts it on Ebay. I mean yes, he made a tidy profit, but he knew it was a voting machine. But the guy that bought it from him I’m not so sure of. It was advertised as a voting machine…a piece of history!...and he paid $1200 for it. Yet as soon as he got it he called the authorities to turn it in. He never even opened it. That seems really odd to me. If you wanted to turn it in you could have called the authorities prior to buying it. This whole thing seems really illogical.

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flutherother's avatar

How would anyone here know? The machine was stolen and the matter is in the hands of the police. If you are trying to make a point about election security you should bear in mind what Harri Hursti said, which is quoted in the article you provided, that while there are concerns about the storage of these machines the real threat is what election conspiracy theorists will make of it.

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SavoirFaire's avatar

[Mod Says] Please remember that this question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic. Thanks!

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JLoon's avatar

Fair question, and it does seem a little strange – at first.
But even though this report may have “conservative” conspiracy addicts and “progressive” reactionaries all excited (for different reasons), the reality will probably turn out to be pretty boring.

How boring? Well… :

State of Michigan Administrative Guide Section 0340.05;
Issued Jan 6, 1997, Revised April 28, 2022 [ Disposal of State Agency Personal Property ] states :

” To provide for the declaration and transfer, donation, recycling or disposal of surplus, salvage, worthless personal property or IT assets…

” The Department of Technology Mananagement and Budget (DTMB) State Surplus Program maintains the authority (per Public Act 431) regarding the sale and donation of property purchased with State of Michigan (SOM) funds [and]

” • May donate surplus personal property to 501©(3) organizations, including public K-12 school districts.
• Examines inventories of surplus, salvage, and worthless personal property.
Identifies items appropriate for donation to a nonprofit organization.
• Maintains detailed records of all items donated, discarded, or recycled.”

Eyes glazed over yet? Yeah, bureacracy will do that. But governments everywhere at every level make and follow rules like this. In fact 16 other states, red ones and blue ones, have regulations with almost identical language to Michigan’s – because the stuff they need and buy with public money wears out, becomes obsolete, or turns out to be wrong for the job, and has to be disposed of some way.

So that’s probably the answer to “how” this thing
ended up at Goodwill, then on ebay, and eventually on CNN as another “breaking news” big deal. Some office drone in some department basement needed to make room for more still more administrative junk and grabbed whatever form they could find to get shit moving.

What no one knows yet, and wont know until the cops unbox this leftover, is -
• Can the donation be accounted for?
• Is there any sensitive data remaining on the device?
• Does it even work?

The facts may or may not make the news, because the details could end up being a lot less sexy than the headlines. Wait & see.

seawulf575's avatar

@JLoon I give you a GA on that. Well done. I thought about that and rejected it. It might come back to that in the end, but as your research shows, detailed records have to be maintained as to where different things were contributed. So a simple search on the serial number should have put this to rest immediately. But it didn’t. Not to mention they told the final owner not to open it so they could possibly check for prints. AND even though the state (or local jurisdiction) could have donated this to Goodwill, they found it in a contribution pile. I would have thought if they were donating it and keeping records, they would have done so by taking it inside and getting a receipt, not just tossing it out back to wait for someone to find it. Again, it could end up being gross incompetence at work (or at least laziness), but that idea ends up with more questions.

JLoon's avatar

@seawulf575 – I think it’s okay to have questions whenever the reasons & answers aren’t obvious.

But if assigning responsibility for a breakdown in public accountability comes to a choice between diabolical plotting and blind bureacratic process, you’ll never lose money betting on organizational inertia.

Because this kind of thing has actually happened before. More than once. Not just recently, and not just in Michigan :

I Bought Used Voting Machines on eBay for $100 Apiece. What I Found Was Alarming – Wired, Oct. 2018

You can buy a Florida voting machine from the 2000 election on eBay – Business Insider, Nov. 2016

Ebay listings for “voting machine equipment” – Sept. 2022 (5700 + results)–156598-675664–4&mkcid=2&keyword=voting%20machines&crlp=435067008849&MT_ID=585576&geo_id=10232&rlsatarget=kwd-300305344071&adpos=&device=m&mktype=&loc=9033356&poi=&abcId=1141806&cmpgn=6537324701&sitelnk=&adgroupid=78242836013&network=g&matchtype=p&gclid=Cj0KCQjw08aYBhDlARIsAA_gb0dwlVHH29UWLylJzqnQaqNvGr-w2XygZeWHKKHjchX_XuNI6-IBY2IaAtvEEALw_wcB

So it goes.

seawulf575's avatar

@JLoon Good info. But none of those show how the machines came to be on ebay. Were they auctioned off by the government…older models that were being retired for instance? Did the government know they were gone? The first article was even more disturbing in that the machine had never been erased and people’s information was on it still.

I think the weird part of the article I cited is that we can track the machine back to a Goodwill. That is a step in the whole thing that seems weird to me.

Your citations also raise another question: you have shown this has happened in the past, how is it that this has never been a big deal before??

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