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Days after computer theft from Philly elections warehouse, reporter strolls inside, walks by rows of voting machines — with no one else around

The reporter said he roamed the warehouse unattended for several minutes before being asked to leave

Image source: Twitter video screenshot via @MaxMMarin

After a report in a major newspaper of stolen computer equipment from a major U.S. city's elections warehouse, one may be inclined to conclude that the premises would be buttoned up a bit afterward.

But apparently that wasn't the case at Philadelphia's elections warehouse — at least not on Thursday when WHYY-TV reporter Max Marin said he was able to enter the facility with no problem, walk past rows of voting machines, and just hang out all by his lonesome for several minutes while recording the breach on his cellphone:

Marin wrote that he "strolled past hundreds of voting machines, various boxes, and other unidentified equipment without seeing other people."

"Eventually" he "stumbled upon a staffer in an office, who said press was not allowed in the building and escorted the reporter to the door, locking it behind him. The staffer declined to answer questions about security, or answer why it was so easy to enter. No security cameras were immediately visible, either inside or outside the building," Marin added.

He also noted in his report that upon leaving the warehouse, a guard was visible at the other side of the building and more staffers arrived at the facility later, with one taking up a station outside the door.

What's the background?

The Philadelphia Inquirer noted earlier this week that the items stolen were a laptop belonging to an on-site employee for the company that supplies the voting machines and several memory sticks used to program the machines. The paper said the theft sparked a "scramble to investigate and to ensure the machines had not been compromised."

City officials privately expressed concern that President Donald Trump and his allies might use news of the theft to cast doubt on the integrity of the city's elections "in light of false claims and conspiracy theories he cited during Tuesday's presidential debate," the Inquirer reported.

The paper added that officials "initially refused to confirm the theft or that an investigation had been opened. They only did so after The Inquirer informed them it would be reporting the incident based on sources who were not authorized to publicly discuss it."

Far-left Mayor Jim Kenney weighed in, telling the paper in a statement: "I have immediately committed to making necessary police resources available to investigate this incident and find the perpetrators. I have also committed to the city commissioners additional resources to provide enhanced security at the warehouse going forward. This matter should not deter Philadelphians from voting, nor from having confidence in the security of this election."

Yet the WHYY reporter still got inside

In the wake of Marin's report of lax security at the warehouse, he said Deputy Commissioner Nick Custodio told him a security guard should have been stationed outside the door he walked through — but didn't know if the guard was supposed to be there 24 hours or only during operating hours.

Custodio works for the Office of City Commissioners, which oversees elections in Philadelphia, and told WHYY he would address the situation.

In response to the theft and Marin's breach of the warehouse, city spokesperson Mike Dunn told the station new safeguards would include:

  • Greatly increasing the number of security personnel stationed at the site (24/7);
  • Adding a round-the-clock police presence;
  • Instituting a strict logging procedure for anyone entering and exiting the buildings;
  • Enforcing strict adherence to the current policy.
One last thing…
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