The Voting News Daily: NY-23 election questions, Benton AR flirts with election disaster, E-vote secrecy hack

NY-23 E-Vote Failures Merit Full Hand-Count in Response, An update to the reports of an e-voting ‘virus’, and other failures, in New York’s recent Special Election for the U.S. House…New Yorks CD-23 had a source code bug not virus, but questions remain…Hoffman to Decide About N.Y. 23 Challenge This Weekend… HAVA chuckle in Nassau County,…

The Voting News Daily: FCC considers Internet Voting, WV oks internet voting for military, NY Voting Machines had bug not virus

The biggest threat to democracy quietly sneaks forward: The FCC seeks public comment on internet elections by Dec. 10 of this year… Clearly the e-voting movement is not keeping up. Problems with voting machines pale compared to the risks of internet voting. Voting online is not secure and is not secret according to many tech…

Verified Voting Blog: No Voting Machine Virus in New York-23 Election

Erroneous reports are circulating that a virus caused a problem in the scanners used in the NY-23 Congressional race. The reports, based on an inaccurate article published in the Gouverneur Times, are incorrect. There was no virus in the NY-23 machines. How do I know? Well, in the first place, the Dominion ImageCast scanners in question run the Linux operating system, which is nearly immune to viruses due to its inherent ability to lock out programs that lack explicit permission to run, unlike the highly vulnerable Windows operating system. Second, the State Board of Elections gave an account of the problem at their public meeting on November 10, and which I confirmed in a phone conversation with staff earlier this week. Here’s what really happened:

Let’s be clear. While no votes were lost due the ability to independently count the paper ballots, a problem did occur that affected certain machines around the state. The issue was a bug in the Dominion source code that caused the machine to hang while creating ballot images for certain vote combinations in multiple candidate elections (the ImageCast, like the other scanner used in New York, the ES&S DS200, creates digital images of each ballot which can be reviewed after the election). So if, for example, a “vote for three candidates out of five” race was voted in a certain way, the scanner would hang. This is one reason why the defect affected some, but not all machines with ballots containing this type of race, because only certain combinations of votes caused the memory problem. But here’s the thing – the problem was discovered before the election.

The Voting News Daily: Virus in NY voting machines, Myrtle SC’s missing 260 votes found, ACORN ?

Hot story today: VIRUS found in the VOTING MACHINES Tainted Results in NY-23…Myrtle Beach’s missing 260 votes “found” when “correct” memory card put into machine to gather votes, voters will just have to trust the delayed digital count since there are no paper ballots – does that inspire confidence?…Benton County Arkansas officials do their citizens…

The Voting News Daily: Myrtle Beach missing 260 votes, Ohio voter rolls in disarray, Phantom districts

Our apologies if you did not receive a Voting News yesterday, there was a problem with our feedburner delivery… 260 votes lost or uncounted in a Myrtle Beach SC muni runoff election…Lackawanna PA will use a machine to recount its other failed machine count. Which machine count would you trust?….Phantom congressional districts get stimulus money…In…

The Voting News Daily: Public Opinion and Election law shocker, NY 26 absentee ballots, Acorn -Bill of Attainder

A national survey of the public’s attitudes towards basic voting rights would shock the activist community – the poll shows majority support (55%) for literacy tests…Was Acorn defunding and “bill of attainder…an example of class warfare?”…The University of Connecticut’s analysis of the state’s 2008 post election audit is out…NY 23 can Doug Hoffman un-concede?…its a…

Verified Voting Blog: Enfranchising Military Voters: Michigan Legislators Protect Verifiable, Secret Ballots

In a move to enfranchise soldiers deployed overseas, the Michigan House of Representatives has passed legislation that would allow blank absentee ballots to voters overseas by fax or e-mail. If House Bill 5279 passes the Senate and becomes law, local election officials will be able to send and receive applications for absentee ballots via fax or e-mail, and also be able to send blank absentee ballots to voters electronically. Voters will then print, mark and send the completed physical ballots to their local Michigan election officials. H5279 passed the House unanimously on November 5. Senate committee action is likely in December, according to Emily Carney, an aide to Senate Campaign and Election Oversight Committee chair Sen. Susan McManus.

House Bill 5279 implements a central recommendation of the Pew Center on the States’s January 2009 report “No Time to Vote“. The Pew report stated that Michigan currently does not allow overseas and military voters sufficient time to vote because ballots have to be sent and received via postal mail. The Pew Center recommended that Michigan allow election officials to e-mail blank absentee ballots to overseas and military voters, and accept completed ballots beyond the current election-day deadline.

Verified Voting Blog: Email Ballots – A Threat to the Security and Privacy of the Military Vote

Last week  the state Massachusetts, intending to improve military voters access to the ballot while serving overseas, approved a law which throws the integrity and security of those ballots into question by allowing their return by email. The original bill contained excellent provisions which would have helped solve one of the biggest problems facing overseas military personnel – timely receipt of absentee ballots. Currently, absentee ballots are sent by conventional mail, which can take two weeks to reach military voters. The problem is further exacerbated when soldiers are deployed in the field where they may not receive mail for long periods of time.

In its original form, the Massachusetts bill allowed military only to acquire an absentee ballot online. The downloaded blank ballot could then be printed, voted on and sent back, greatly enhancing the availability of ballots. But, in an ill conceived last minute addition, the bill was modified to also allow return of voted ballots by email. In terms of voter privacy and ballot security, email return of ballots is one of the worst choices and should never have been inserted in the bill let alone been approved. It’s not like the data wasn’t available. All lawmakers needed to do was consult a 2008 NIST research document which lays out the problems with email return of ballots in gruesome detail.

The Voting News Daily: Sarasota voting machine blues, Lackawanna GOP distrust machines, Virginia laws need overhaul

The Herald Tribune says Sarasota Florida new voting-machine problems must be remedied, and statistically significant audits should be implemented state wide…Did you think the ballot you cast in the 2008 election was secret? Think again if you live in Hawaii…Three Indiana county precinct election results flipped….Northern Kentucky set to get new scanning machines, why isn’t…

Verified Voting Blog: Comments on the California Secretary of State’s Precinct Level Data Pilot Project

Thank you for inviting comments on your Precinct Level Data Pilot Project, which seeks to provide precinct-level vote tabulation data to the public. We applaud Secretary Bowen’s pilot program. Timely precinct-level election results from California counties are crucial for establishing the integrity of California’s elections, for supporting analyses of election results and for designing and conducting post-election vote-tabulation audits. We have examined the sample data from the four counties—Orange County, Sacramento County, San Francisco County and San Luis Obispo County—that provided data for the Pilot Project.[1. See: http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/sov/2009-special/precinct-data/index.htm] We submit these comments in the hope that you find them helpful as the Pilot Project goes forward.

The Voting News Daily: Did Hoffman Win NY-23? Dominion scanner issues, Lancaster VA multiple machine malfunction

A ‘Post-Racial’ America? Not yet….On the law surrounding lines at polling places…Pay to play in New Jersey ?…Ex-first selectman has lawyer probe Middlebury CT voting, machine malfunction and some ballots photocopied…They don’t float: Clark County Indiana found out the hard way that if you store voting machines in a basement they may get water damage,…

The Voting News Daily: Georgia Court: E-vote at your own risk, some NY votes up in air, Diebold miscount in Santa Barbara

Internet voting whack-a-mole and its inherent security risks and privacy loss – done on the backs of our troops: National voter groups urge MA Gov Deval Patrick to ask Legislature to remove dangerous e-mail voting provision from veterans bill, a Michigan bill would have military vote by email….Aspen CO seeks dismissal of suit for ballot…

The Voting News Daily: Massachusetts passes flawed vet voting bill, Vote By Mail concerns, Johnson City NY miscount

Unfortunately Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick signed military internet voting bill Wednesday even after National and State Voting Rights Groups urged him not to …Verified Voting has a new blog, you can sign up for updates…. …D.C. takes up same day registration, so should Congress…Brad Friedman on Acorn and “protecting” the taxpayers….Study shows permanent mail voting…

Verified Voting Blog: National and State Voting Rights Groups Urge Massachusetts Governor Not to Sign Internet Voting Bill

UPDATE November 13: Massachusetts Lawmakers are listening to the concerns raised by computer scientists and civic organizations, and there is interest in correcting the oversight in the bill signed on Wednesday with new emergency legislation. Please visit the VerifiedVoting Action Center to send Massachusetts lawmakers an email urging protection of soldiers’ right to secret, verifiable…

Verified Voting Blog: On the Proposed ES&S Merger

Bad for the country, bad for New York

On the face of it, it would seem that the proposed merger of Premier Voting Systems (aka Diebold) and Election Systems & Software (ES&S) shouldn’t matter much to New York State. After all, Premier pulled out of the state over a year ago, and ES&S splits the state’s voting system sales with a competitor, Dominion Voting Systems. But there’s plenty of reason for New Yorkers to be wary of further consolidation of the rapidly shrinking voting machine industry. Recall the not so distant past when ES&S, along with Sequoia Voting Systems, jointly decided that paperless voting was New York’s future and offered only touch screen DREs to the state. When New Yorkers for Verified Voting organized the first ever demonstration of a paper ballot system with an accessible Ballot Marking Device and an optical scanner at the Albany State Capitol, the makers of the AutoMark ballot marking device, with whom we had arranged the demo, were ordered by ES&S to remove the scanner because it didn’t fit their product plans. The New York Daily News reported this story in 2005:

At the Capitol recently, a lobbyist managed to shut down a demonstration of optical scanning by getting his client to pull its machine from the display. Assemblywoman Sandra Galef of Westchester called the company to object and was told that New York is “a touch-screen state.” ” I said, ‘We are?’” Galef recalled. “I’m a legislator. I don’t think I’ve voted on anything.”

Verified Voting Blog: Recommendations to NIST on Post Election Audits

Verified Voting today joined with computers scientists and advocacy organizations in signing the following recommendations on post-election audits to the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

We, the undersigned, participated in a working meeting on vote tabulation audits hosted by the American Statistical Association (ASA) on October 23 and 24, 2009. We write to emphasize that future iterations of the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG) should facilitate effective vote tabulation audits. We applaud the VVSG II’s requirement for independent voter-verifiable records (IVVRs). This requirement is necessary to enable verification of election outcomes independently of the tabulation systems; it should be adopted as soon as possible. However, if election outcomes are to be verified efficiently, vote tabulation systems must meet requirements that go well beyond the draft VVSG 1.1.

Verified Voting Blog: Paper Ballots, Photocopiers, and Security

When I heard that New York City had found that a photocopy of a ballot could be successfully scanned by both of the two systems being used in New York State, my first thought was that this is Sun-Rises-in-the-East news. It didn’t surprise me, and the first line of defense against attacks involving any type of fake ballot, photocopied or printed, is well designed and implemented ballot management security procedures. But this is a complex issue which bears some discussion.

Before discussing the security threat, let’s look at a technical question – should a scanner be able to detect a photocopied ballot? One of the challenges posed by modern high resolution copiers and printers is that they are capable of producing all manner of difficult to detect counterfeits. This became an extremely serious problem in the 1990’s as convincing counterfeit currency became easy to produce using the off the shelf copiers. In response, the United States has been replacing currency with new bills containing anti-counterfeiting features. So it’s no surprise that a modern copier can create a ballot that can be successfully scanned.

The Voting News Daily: Expert:No way to secure internet voting, Talk–A Poor Substitute For Integrity?

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission: Will Voters’ Choice Be Outdone by Sponsorship?…Security expert: no way to secure Internet voting…Hackers cracked military systems and cut mains power…Internet voting too dangerous, especially for our military…. D.C. passes same day voter registration…Audit finds that Venice FL ballots were counted properly…Vanderburgh County Indiana wrangles with voting monopoly ES&S…

Verified Voting Blog: Improving the 2010 EAC Election Day Survey

The Election Day Survey plays an ongoing, important, and unique role in collecting and publishing data on election administration in the United States. Balancing the right of the public to know how our elections function with the burden of reporting useful data by those who administer our elections is clearly a complex task but one we feel is extremely worthwhile. There are several categories of data we believe are very useful to collect, and our recommendations address those categories specifically.

Voting System Reports

Beginning in 2004, Verified Voting collaborated with various partners to collect voters’, observers’ and others’ reports about incidents or malfunctions including those involving voting systems, the mechanism by which voters cast their votes. These reports came to the “Election Incident Reporting System” (EIRS) primarily via calls to a hotline operated by the Election Protection Coalition, part of an effort to protect the rights of voters to cast a ballot and have confidence that their ballot was counted. We made available a free public dataset of those reports. The project was cited in a GAO report  about electronic voting security and reliability in 2005.

The Voting News Daily: US Troops as Internet Voting guinea pigs, Texas let voters eat cake, CO, NJ, NY, PA, TX, UT, VA and WA glitch snag reports

We’re still seeing articles on Nov 3 voting problems… Ellen Theisen has updated Voters Unite’s database on Voting Problems By State to the November elections. This database has been key evidence used to help get paper ballot laws passed in several states and was key to passing a law in my home state of North…

The Voting News Daily: Tennessee seek machines in Dec or Jan, 2452 straight ticket votes missed in Lackawanna, Moritz on uncounted ballots

Tennessee Judge Says No to Tennessee Voter Confidence Act Injunction, Yes to Crucial Plaintiff Claim, the Secretary of State will issue requests for proposals for NEW voting equip sometime in December or January…A programming error caused 2,452 straight-party votes to go uncounted in Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania…Cuyahoga County sheds its reputation for troubled elections with smooth…

The Voting News Daily: Another Sarasota Fl election screw up – Sample ballot tells voters to use ink scanners cannot read

Sarasota Election Supervisor Kathy Dent was aware that the Diebold OSX optical scanners did not consistently read blue ink. She knew this before the Venice Florida election that was held on Nov 3. But what does the sample ballot for Venice Voters say? It says“Use only the marker provided or a blue or black pen.”…

Verified Voting Blog: Burstein and Hall’s Response to the EAC

Verified Voting Foundation Board of Advisors member Joseph Lorenzo Hall and Aaron Burstein submitted the following response to the EAC’s letter from October 21 2009.

Thank you for your reply of October 21, 2009, to our letter of October 13, 2009. We appreciate your pointing out that relevant documents are available on the EAC’s website. Of course, it was the EAC’s commendable policy of making these documents publicly available that allowed us to initiate this dialogue. As you know, neither test plans nor test reports were available under the NASED qualification testing program; this change is important for establishing a more trustworthy voting system testing and certification program under the EAC. After carefully reviewing your letter, however, we continue to question whether iBeta’s test plan for the Premier system fully incorporates some of the lessons of the California Top-to-Bottom Review (TTBR) into EAC testing and certification. Even for the examples the EAC points to in its reply, the test plan does not state in sufficient detail what iBeta proposed to do to test the system. For example, an element of the security test—“port access is controlled” (test plan p. 73)—states a desired result or conclusion but does not describe how iBeta would arrive at that conclusion nor under what conditions would this element fail.

The Voting News Daily: DOJ probes Diebold sale, Voting Hiccups, glitches, snags, and snafus cont’d

Justice Department Probing Diebold Sale, timing of sale is also of interest…Brad Friedman reports “Your Election Night 2009 ‘Hiccups’ ‘Glitches’ ‘Snags’ and ‘Snafus’ Report”…Today’s voting news report covers election problems in California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia… Bay County Florida resolves to ask lawmakers for money for voting…

Verified Voting Blog: November 2009 Snapshot: Maine, New Jersey, New York, and Virginia

Elections are underway in four states today. The two highest-profile elections lack basic verification measures. The gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia today will not be auditable or recountable. Both states have enacted legislation to end unverifiable electronic voting, and need funding to complete the transition to new voting systems. Two other closely watched…

The Voting News Daily: Voting problems: New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Maryland. Internet voting whack-a-mole contd

A 90-Year-Old Won’t Be Voting Today because of the ID nightmare she faced when moving to Virginia…Election/Voting problems reported in New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Maryland, just to mention a few…Montgomery County Ohio had problems with Diebold TSX – with some encoders, some calibration issues, printer jams and some machines taken out of service.…

Verified Voting Blog: Verified Voting Statement on the Acquisition of Premier Election Solutions

The recently announced acquisition of Premier Election Solutions (formerly Diebold) by its largest competitor, Election Services & Software (ES&S), requires close scrutiny, as it raises greater concerns about the security, transparency and cost of elections and creates a profound anti-competitive effect in the shrinking marketplace for voting systems. We welcome the call by Senator Charles E. Schumer, chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, for a Department of Justice probe of the Premier sale,[1. http://schumer.senate.gov/new_website/record.cfm?id=317761] and we hope the Department acts promptly on the recommendation. In addition, a judge for the US District Court in New Jersey has set a date for a hearing on an injunction to block the merger.[2. http://legaltimes.typepad.com/blt/2009/09/judge-sets-hearing-on-injunction-to-block-voting-machine-merger.html] Verified Voting estimates that some 64 percent of the nation’s registered voters live in jurisdictions where ES&S or Premier vote tabulating equipment is used. The request was brought by a vendor who argues that the resulting stranglehold on the market raises a “threat of irreparable harm” to voters.[3. Based on 2008 voter registration data. http://verifiedvoting.org/verifier]

What can we expect to see? In the near future, many election jurisdictions, especially those using direct-recording electronic voting systems, may need to replace their current voting systems as equipment purchased to comply with the Help America Vote Act of 2002 nears the end of its expected life. With ES&S’ acquisition of Premier’s contracts, it dominates the marketplace.[4. “Ongoing Challenges in Voting System Certification.” By Douglas W. Jones. Presented at the Innovations in Election Technology Conference, May 28, 2009. http://www.cs.uiowa.edu/~jones/voting/uminn09.shtml]