The Voting News Daily: NYT urges caution on Internet voting; voter ID bills debated; MD voting system costs debated

The New York Times weighs in on Internet voting with a strong editorial, legislatures in South Carolina, Virginia, and Utah consider voter ID legislation, and Maryland’s transition to optical scan voting generates debate over cost estimates. This and more in today’s Voting News below… AZ: New technology planned for poll consolidation GA: Election suit appeal…

Editorials: Internet Voting, Still in Beta | New York Times

Internet voting is in its infancy, and still far too unreliable, but states are starting to allow it and the trend is accelerating because of a new federal law that requires greater efforts to help military and other overseas voters cast ballots. Men and women in uniform must have a fair opportunity to vote, but allowing online voting in its current state could open elections up to vote theft and other mischief. It is often hard for military voters to get ballots, and because of distance and unreliable mail service, it can be difficult or impossible for them to meet election deadlines. A year ago, the Pew Center on the States found that more than one-third of states do not provide military voters stationed abroad with enough time to vote, or are at high risk of not providing enough time. To address this problem, the new Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act requires states in most cases to get ballots to military and overseas voters well in advance of regularly scheduled federal elections.

The Voting News Daily: Optical scan funding: Maryland lawmakers hear testimony; some Illinois Clerks refuse to implement undervote warning; Russia considers e-voting

Today the Maryland House of Delegates’ Ways and Means Committee held a hearing on the funding of optical scan equipment for the 2010 elections. Governor Martin O’Malley has not included funding in his recently released budget. The Illinois undervote warning law inspires a few Clerks to refuse to implement it, and Russia looks at electronic…

Verified Voting Blog: Software in Dangerous Places

Software increasingly manages the world around us, in subtle ways that are often hard to see. Software helps fly our airplanes (in some cases, particularly military fighter aircraft, software is the only thing keeping them in the air). Software manages our cars (fuel/air mixture, among other things). Software manages our electrical grid. And, closer to home for me, software runs our voting machines and manages our elections. Sunday’s NY Times Magazine has an extended piece about faulty radiation delivery for cancer treatment. The article details two particular fault modes: procedural screwups and software bugs. The procedural screwups (e.g., treating a patient with stomach cancer with a radiation plan intended for somebody else’s breast cancer) are heartbreaking because they’re something that could be completely eliminated through fairly simple mechanisms. How about putting barcodes on patient armbands that are read by the radiation machine? “Oops, you’re patient #103 and this radiation plan is loaded for patent #319.”

The Voting News Daily: MD paper ballot transition in jeopardy, US oil companies face cyberattack, IL county cuts pollworkers

Election costs were a common theme in voting stories today. Illinois jurisdictions continued preparation for the Feb. 2 primary. An cyber-attack on U.S. oil companies offers another reminder of the vulnerabilities of even more secure computer systems. All this and more in today”s Voting News below… CA: Court tosses challenge to San Diego polling policies…

The Voting News Daily: Analysis of Massachusetts election continues, Kansas SoS begins planning for future of elections

Ireland’s voting machines are likely to be scrapped, discussion of the Massachusetts Senate race continues. All this and more in this weekend’s Voting News below…IL: Early voting in Primaries ends Thursday at numerous locations in Cook County KS: Thornburgh: Voter access is goal Mack Urges Mass. Secretary of State to Quickly Certify Brown Election Results…

The Voting News Daily: Alabama House approves UOCAVA Internet voting bill, Citizens United decision shakes up U.S. elections

Alabama’s House of Representatives approved a bill allowing Internet voting for overseas and military voters today. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the case Citizens United vs. FEC naturally dominated today’s media coverage of election issues. There is too much reporting, analysis and commentary of the decision to summarize here. Election Law Blog ( is…

The Voting News Daily: EAC, OAS sign agreement on voting initiatives, Finland puts the brakes on e-voting, Illinois prepares for first "undervote warning" election

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission signs an agreement with the Organization of American States that, among other provisions, calls for cooperation on “the standardization, testing, auditing and implementation of electronic voting initiatives,” Finland becomes the latest country to put the brakes on electronic voting, and Illinois election officials prepare optical scan and DRE equipment to…

The Voting News Daily: Ballot irregularities charged in MA, IL election officials prepare for undervote warning, Google hack post-mortem continues

The Massachusetts special election dominated discussion of voting issues today, and the Google hack continues to make news. As of just before 9pm EST, the Massachusetts election is too close to call. Results can be viewed at these sites: All this and more in today’s Voting News… AL: Military voting bill gets…

Maryland: Maryland Needs Secure, Verifiable Voting System |

The state of Maryland will be making a foolish choice if it decides to renege on its promise to replace our risky paperless touchscreen voting machines with a paper ballot, optical-scan voting system. The new voting system, with just one-fifth the equipment of the old one, would be much cheaper to operate and maintain. It would reinstill voter confidence by finally putting in place a safe, reliable voting system that records the votes as voters intended, and allows recounts to be conducted in close races. Maryland voters overwhelmingly favor a paper record of their votes and the transition to the new system is mandated by a law that passed the General Assembly unanimously in 2007. After years of debate and reams of data from computer security experts exposing a vast number of security vulnerabilities in touchscreen voting, as well as information from other states about the cost benefits of transitioning to optical scan voting, it appears that a well orchestrated effort has resurfaced at the 11th hour to mislead the Board of Public Works and others about the true costs of purchasing the new system versus the cost of trying to keep the old system on life support.

Verified Voting Blog: Hurry Up and Wait: Tennessee Senate Delays, Weakens Voter Confidence Act in the Opening Hours of the 2010 Session

On the basis of several highly questionable assumptions, the Tennessee General Assembly has voted to delay implementation of paper ballot voting until 2012, and to eliminate the Tennessee Voter Confidence Act’s provision for routine hand-counted audits of computer vote tallies. On Tuesday, the Tennessee Senate passed House Bill 614 on a vote of 22-10. The Senate’s passage of House Bill 614 was strongly influenced by a perception that there are no machines available that meet the law’s requirements. The Voter Confidence Act requires optical scan systems to be certified by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to “the applicable voluntary voting system guidelines.” In November, Chancellor Russell Perkins of the Davidson County Chancery Court determined that the Voter Confidence Act allows the State to purchase voting systems certified by the EAC to either 2002 or 2005 standards. The 2002 standards are deemed by Section 222(e) of the Help America Vote Act to be first set of voluntary voting system guidelines.

Voting technology expert Dr. Douglas Jones, who was recently named to the EAC’s Technical Guidelines Development Committee, testified to the court that some voting systems certified to the 2002 standard could be updated to the 2005 standard with a simple software patch. The State of New York certified an updated version of one of the 2002-certified systems, made by Election Systems and Software, to the 2005 guidelines on December 15, 2009. One day after the Senate vote, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission certified a complete paper ballot voting system to all of the 2005 federal guidelines.It is unfortunate that the vote occurred when it appears that not all Senators had access to the facts.

Verified Voting Blog: What Google's New China Policy Tells Us About Internet Voting

Google recently announced in an important change of policy that it will stop censoring search results for queries coming from China.  That is interesting in its own right, but is not why I am writing this article. According to their corporate blog post, what prompted this change of policy was the discovery of “a highly sophisticated and targeted attack on [Google’s] corporate infrastructure originating from China”.  They found similar attacks on “at least twenty other large companies from a wide range of businesses”. Google further said that they “have evidence to suggest that a primary goal of the attackers was accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists”.  We are not likely to hear more detail in public about the attacks, but this is extraordinary news.

Verified Voting Blog: Monopoly, ES&S, and Nassau County, Part 2

In last week’s post, I reported on the surprise decision of New York State’s Nassau County to dump it’s 450 Dominion ImageCast voting machines after an intense effort and behind the scenes deal making by ES&S. As the purchasing proposal shows, ES&S spared no expense to convince this large county to dump the small upstart…

The Voting News Daily: GA voting case moves to Valdosta, EAC oks 3rd ballot scanner, AL internet voting bill, Google hacked

Alabama House considers military internet voting bill today. Meanwhile Google disclosed significant attacks on their servers…Project Vote’s releasing election recommendations for 11 states: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Nevada,New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia… Should voter history be private or public information?…EAC Certifies Third Optical-Scan Voting System….Election tension mounts as Ukraine PM cries…

Verified Voting Blog: Verified Voting Letter to Tennessee State Senators

We respectfully urge you to vote No on House Bill 614, which seeks to delay implementation of the Tennessee Voter Confidence Act and fatally weaken its provision for manual post-election audits of electronic vote tallies. HB 614 is on the Senate’s calendar for Tuesday January 12, 2010. Rejection of the bill is warranted based on the determination of the Chancery Court regarding the TVCA and its requirements for federal certification of voting systems, and on the State’s still un-met need for verifiable ballots and hand-counted audits of electronic vote tallies.

In November 2009, the Chancery Court of Davidson County, after receiving information from voting technology experts, corrected the assumption that the TVCA required new voting systems to be certified by the United States Election Assistance Commission (the EAC) to the 2005 version of the Federal voluntary voting system guidelines. The Court issued a Conclusion of Law noting the TVCA allows voting systems to be certified by the EAC to either the 2002 voting system standards or the 2005 guidelines, and ordered the State Elections Division to proceed with implementation without delay.

The Voting News Daily: Delayed – Tennessee paper ballot law, GA SOS hopeful blasts state undercounts

The US Dept of Justice readies lawsuit to undo voting machine merger…Libertarian candidate for Georgia SOS blasts Diebold machines and state-wide vote undercounts…Votes and Doubts in Detroit….Bill to Delay Tennessee Voter Confidence Act until 2012 Passes……Please check out the “Universal” Ballot Counter by Mitch Trachtenberg…For sale on Internet – Ukraine’s election votes… All this and…

The Voting News Daily: Just say no to Internet Voting, DoJ Voting Rights Fight Reboots, Absentee voting growth market for fraud?

DoJ Voting Rights Fight Reboots…LTE: Just say no to Internet Voting – “as a programmer, I must caution you. Not only do programmers make mistakes, some of them can be bought.” Lisa Pease, electronic voting activist…Hawaii lacks funds to send Rep. to Congress…“Absentee voting is the new growth market for election fraud,” said Richard Hayes-Phillips…

Verified Voting Blog: Justice Department Seeks to Block Merger of Voting Machine Vendors

According to an article in the New York Post a lawsuit is expected to be filed by the Department of Justice that would seek to block the already-completed merger of the nation’s two largest voting-machine makers, Election Systems & Software (ES&S) and Premier Election Solutions (formerly Diebold Election Systems). The article cites “a person close to the situation” that the DoJ lawsuit, “if successful, would effectively undo the merger of Diebold’s Premier Elections Solutions with Election Systems & Software, a $5 million deal completed in September.”

Voting Blogs: OSDV Responds to FCC Inquiry about Internet Voting | OSDV

The OSDV Foundation and TrustTheVote Project are pleased to have an opportunity to provide comment on an increasingly vital aspect of broadband in the United States: its use in civic participation and the processes of democracy.  We encourage the Commission to develop a comprehensive national broadband plan that particularly includes a plan for the use…

Verified Voting Blog: Monopoly, ES&S, and Nassau County

There was lots of reporting last week about the decision to award New York City’s huge voting machine contract to the ES&S, but the really interesting story slipped by nearly unnoticed – Nassau County, home to nearly 1 million registered voters, announced they were abandoning their recently purchased Dominion ImageCast machines for ES&S systems. This announcement came as quite a surprise because Nassau County has been using the Dominion machines for accessible voting in all polling places since 2008, as well as spent time and money training poll workers in the use of the new systems. So how is it that ES&S managed to snatch away Nassau County, in terms of voting system sales the second largest prize in New York State, from the much smaller Dominion? The answer is a cautionary tale about the power of a near monopoly to force smaller competitors out of the market.

ES&S has long been one of a handful of voting machine companies dominating the United States market. But recently, with Sequoia Voting Systems struggling financially, and the absorption of Diebold into ES&S (a move opposed by many), the company already has a near-stranglehold on providing voting systems and services to election officials. In New York State however, ES&S faces a small competitor from just across Lake Ontario in Canada, Dominion Voting. Dominion designed and built the ImageCast, a new scanner and accessible ballot marker combination system that many County Boards of Elections around the state, including Nassau, liked enough to order and use in 2008 and 2009 [Note – initially Dominion partnered with Sequoia to bring the ImageCast to New York, but Sequoia later pulled out and turned the contract over to Dominion]. Indeed, even if New York City chose the ES&S DS200 scanner, a decision finally made this week, little upstart Dominion would still have provided over half of the Empire State’s huge number of voting machines! But big companies like Wal-Mart and ES&S don’t stand around idly letting small competitors take what they see as their market share. And the way they do it is by being big enough to offer customers deals that are simply too good to pass up. And that’s exactly what ES&S did in Nassau County.

The Voting News Daily: Vote fixing charges in Clay Co. KY, Washington ends ban on felon voting

Federal Prosecutors: Kentucky Officials Manipulated Clay County Elections for Decades …Barrow seeks investigation into handling of Detroit election…Nassau (NY) switches vote-machine contractors… 9th Circuit throws out Wash. ban on felon voting…New Year’s resolution: Register to vote (or update your registration)…. Brad Friedman of Bradblog visits former Diebold now ES&S HQ in Texas and finds that…

The Voting News Daily: Vote-machine lobbyist was in ‘rig’ trouble, NY City giving up levers, Same Day Registration pros and cons

In New York we learn that one vendor’s lobbyist was involved in a vote rigging scandal. Meanwhile one vendor claims they will provide more jobs than the other vendor…. Massachusetts weighs the pros and cons of same day registration….Oregon is considering adopting online voter registration.. All this and more in today’s voting news below… CA:…