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Laptop, USBs stolen from Philadelphia election machine warehouse

Trump raises concern over his request to supporters
Trump urging supporters to be unofficial poll watchers raises concern 02:10

Philadelphia police are investigating the theft of an employee's laptop and encrypted USB flash drives from an election machine warehouse, the Philadelphia City Commissioner's office confirmed Wednesday. Officials said the stolen laptop did not contain any election materials and wasn't capable of programming any of the city's election machines.

The city commissioner's office said the laptop's security features prevent unauthorized access and that the user account has already been disabled, according to CBS Philly. They added that they were "rechecking all of the seals on the already tested machines."

"We are confident that this incident will not in any way compromise the integrity of the election," the city commissioner's office said in a statement.

Election Systems & Software is the manufacturer of the election machine. An ES&S spokesperson said the encrypted USB flash drives taken from the facility in Philadelphia's East Falls neighborhood "contain multiple levels of security" and the laptop is "not used to program the election or interact with USBs used in elections."

"Upon learning of the theft, ES&S immediately changed the employee's corporate network user account and the device address was blocked and passwords changed," the spokesperson said. "ES&S is confident that this incident will not in any way compromise the integrity of the election."

Anyone with any information regarding the stolen laptop and USBs was asked to contact Philly police at 215-686-8477.

Officials reject Trump's debate claims

Meanwhile, Philadelphia and Pennsylvania election officials on Wednesday pushed back against "completely inaccurate" comments President Donald Trump made about the city's satellite election offices during Tuesday night's presidential debate with Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

Mr. Trump encouraged his supporters to monitor Election Day polling places for instances of fraud.

Election 2020 Pennsylvania Mail-In Voting
A poll worker hangs on the ballot box at a satellite election office at Temple University's Liacouras Center, September 29, 2020, in Philadelphia. Matt Slocum/AP

"I am encouraging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully, because that's what has to happen — I am urging them to do it," Mr. Trump said during the chaotic inaugural debate held in Cleveland.

"There was a big problem, in Philadelphia they went in to watch, they're called poll watchers, very safe very nice thing — they were thrown out, they weren't allowed to watch," he said, adding, "You know why? Because bad things happen in Philadelphia, bad things." 

The president's call to supporters was also different than calling for certified poll watchers. As CBS News' Cara Korte reported, by encouraging his supporters to watch for "fraud" in an unofficial capacity, the president was suggesting they commit a federal crime. It is illegal in all 50 states for civilians to loiter around polling places and intimidate voters. The president has previously encouraged supporters to intentionally vote twice, which is also illegal.

One key county in Pennsylvania braces for huge increase of mail-in ballots 03:58

City officials reiterated Wednesday the satellite election offices are not polling places and therefore, poll watchers are unnecessary and not allowed.

 "It is not a polling location," Philadelphia City Commissioner Lisa Deeley said. "It is a temporary election office where services are made available to citizens who would like to register to vote or request their mail-in ballot. They can vote their mail ballot there or they can take it home and vote on it at their dining room table."

The Trump campaign is threatening to sue over the satellite election offices.

Reporting by CBS Philly.

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