Verified Voting Blog: Judge Orders Expert Review of Voting Machines in New Jersey

A judge in New Jersey has ordered a new review of New Jersey’s voting systems, this time by qualified technical experts, in a partial victory for advocates challenging the systems’ constitutionality. State law requires that voting systems be “accurate and reliable.” From our vantage point, these systems don’t meet that standard; because they cannot be audited, there’s no way to check for accuracy. A recent report from researchers at UCSD illustrated a stunning new kind of vulnerability in the type of voting system in widespread use in New Jersey (AVC Advantage), where code could be inserted, modify results and vanish without detection. An author on that study, and expert witness in the New Jersey case, Prof. Edward Felten, said preventing such attacks “requires an extraordinary level of security engineering, or the use of safeguards such as voter-verified paper ballots.”

While other requirements from the Judge address some security measures, including criminal background checks on personnel working with the voting machines and all third party vendors who examine or transport them, and protocols for inspecting machines to ensure they have not been tampered with, such checks have no impact on any tampering that may have occurred in the past (such as during the extended periods of time in which they were left unattended at polling places before and after past elections), and provide no failsafe that would ensure reliability. Voting systems can no longer be connected to the Internet, which we trust means New Jersey will now provide a more secure way to allow for the return of voted ballots from overseas voters.

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 consolidationhttp://verdenews.com/main.asp?SectionID=1&SubSectionID=1&ArticleID=34762 GA: Election suit appeal…

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 policieshttp://www.courthousenews.com/2010/01/25/24009.htmA…

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 Countyhttp://www.examiner.com/x-34720-Cook-County-Elections-2010-Examiner~y2010m1d23-Early-voting-in-Primaries-ends-Thursday-at-numerous-locations-in-Cook-County KS: Thornburgh: Voter access is goalhttp://cjonline.com/news/legislature/2010-01-23/thornburgh_voter_access_is_goalMA: Mack Urges Mass. Secretary of State to Quickly Certify Brown Election Resultshttp://www.bignews.biz/?id=836694&keys=Congressman-Mack-Connie-Massachusetts…

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 (http://electionlawblog.org/) 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:http://www.boston.com/news/politics/2010/senate_race/ http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/files/elections/2010/by_county/MA_US_Senate_0119.html?SITE=AP&SECTION=POLITICS http://www.thebostonchannel.com/index.html http://wbztv.com/ All this and more in today’s Voting News… AL: Military voting bill gets…

The Voting News Daily: Google hack making waves, Massachusetts special election raises concern, and Kansas SoS report

The Google e-mail hack continues to make waves: today a New York Times feature quotes security experts as saying “the ideal approach [to Internet vulnerabilities] is to carefully identify a corporation’s most valuable intellectual property and data, and place it on a separate computer network not linked to the Internet, leaving a so-called air gap.”All…

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.

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.”

The Voting News Daily: ES&S wins NYC bid, Lobbyist indicted, The Limitations of Paper Ballots and Recounts

Editor note: our apologies, voting news was not published yesterday due to incidents out of our control. Normally you can expect voting news to be published 5 days a week. Thank you for your patience.New study asks: “Burning question for California: Was Prop 8 Straight”…Ballot-look-alike mail stirs up controversy in Oregon…I guess they couldn’t afford…

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: MN Court makes 2008 absentee ballots public, Michigan voters wrongly purged?

A MN Court says the public may view 2008 absentee ballots…With a 94% cut in its budget, Hawaii’s Office of Elections can’t pay for any election in 2010…Do Voters Deserve Same Protections As Small Businesses, Schools, and Non-Profits?….Barrow asks Michigan Attorney Gen to investigate alleged voter fraud in Detroit…Paul Gronke finds “Even MORE on newspaper…

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:…

The Voting News Daily: Kanawha Co WV considers military internet vote, Philippines gets voting machines from China

As we post the news on the last day of year 2009, we take a moment to honor John Gideon (1947-2009), the editor of the original “Daily Voting News”. John founded the “Daily Voting News” February 6, 2004 . John’s tireless work brought increased awareness of voting machine problems around the country. The “DVN” was…

The Voting News Daily: Florida's rules leave too many voteless, End Judicial selection by election? Role of Twitter in Iran 2008 election

Florida rules leave too many voteless. FL’s “no match no vote” rule allows clerical errors to disenfranchise voters….Open source voting machines—an opportunity for Hawaii…Want to know about problems with Voting By Mail?…Money in politics? Congressional candidates raised $1.42 BILLION IN 2007-2008…The Role of Twitter in the Iran Elections of 2009 All this and more in…

The Voting News Daily: Maryland eyes paper voting, OH considers voting bill, MO considers early voting

“Bad Business” says Florida paper about ES&S/Diebold voting machine monopoly…New York voter surprised to hear that election clerk declared him deceased….In Maryland “Will state pull the plug on new voting machines?”…Legislation filed for early voting in Missouri, 30 other states already have early voting…Ohio legislators consider Senate Bill 8 which would impact voter registration, early…

The Voting News Daily: ES&S faces federal hearings, No right to secret ballot in IL? CT Machine recounts machine

Is a Secret Ballot a Right? The answer is NO according to Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan: “While plaintiff attempts to suggest to the court that there is a fundamental right to a secret ballot, no such right exists.”…ES&S/Diebold/Premier faces federal hearings and 14 states have launched investigation into the merger or monopoly……CT IRONY #4:…