Stolen voting machine bought on eBay

Published: Sep. 2, 2022 at 12:51 PM EDT
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(CNN) - Michigan authorities are trying to figure out how a 2020 voting machine that went missing ended up on eBay.

Since the machines are part of the nation’s infrastructure, they’re supposed to remain under lock and key, but somehow this one ended up being available to the highest bidder.

“That is a device which can be configured either to be a voting machine or ballot-marking device,” elections systems expert Harri Hursti said.

The box with the machine in it shouldn’t be on Hursti’s kitchen table in Connecticut.

“Yeah. I have been asked not to open it so that if it’s a part of criminal investigation, it’s preserved as evidence,” he said.

Hursti bought the voting machine for $1,200 on eBay.

“As far as I was aware, it was a completely legal sale on my end,” said Ean Hutchison, an Uber driver in Ohio, who sold the item on eBay.

In his eBay ad, he wrote, “Dominion ImageCast X voting machine from Michigan, own a piece of history. This voting machine was one of thousands used in the 2020 U.S. Presidential election.”

Hutchison said he bought it from Goodwill online.

“I saw a listing for ... well, looked like just an industrial touchscreen computer, and I got to looking through the pictures,” Hutchison said. “And in one of the pictures, I saw in the bottom corner of the screen, it said Dominion Voting. So I, just on a whim, bid on it, and I was the only bidder, and I won the auction.”

He said he paid $7.99 for it.

It turns out someone dropped the voting machine off at a Goodwill in northern Michigan.

Who that person is remains a mystery, but the Goodwill put the machine for sale up on its website.

“I wasn’t even aware that they were supposed to be sold, let alone donated to Goodwill,” Hutchison said.

“It is shocking that only when we started asking, ‘Does it belong somewhere?’ only after that, they realize it has been stolen,” Hursti said.

It’s raised some issues about the chain of custody and how these machines are secured.

“We basically have 1,600 jurisdictions. Typically, in between elections, clerks have the responsibility of securing all election equipment, and protecting it from illegal attempts to access it by unauthorized individuals,” said Jocelyn Benson, Michigan’s Secretary of State, a Democrat.

Benson said the incident has been referred to law enforcement.

Michigan is one of several swing states where authorities are already investigating unauthorized access to voting systems by people who are trying to prove the false claim the 2020 election was stolen.

“There is a nationally coordinated effort to try to interfere with our elections that’s manifesting itself at the local level in incidents like these in Michigan,” Benson said. “What you really have is individuals who don’t seem to understand the technicalities of the elections process or election security trying to gain access to machines to keep the misinformation alive.”

Benson, a Democrat, said she has a message to reassure voters.

“Michigan’s elections are secure before every election. We test every machine for accuracy. We’ve never seen, even with this unauthorized access to machines, any actual evidence of any challenges or wrongdoing or lack of security in the process,” she said.

As of Thursday evening, the voting machine has yet to be picked up from Hursti’s home.