California

Articles about voting issues in California.

California: Los Angeles County built its new voting machines from scratch. Will they be ready? | Kevin Monahan, Ben Popken, Rich Schapiro and Cynthia McFadden/NBC

Los Angeles County has spent the last 10 years creating what it hopes is the voting system of the future, a $300 million fleet of cutting-edge machines built from scratch. But as it prepares to roll out the new equipment for the first time when early voting in California’s Democratic primaries kicks off next week, the county is in a race against the clock to shore up critical vulnerabilities highlighted in an alarming third-party assessment. The technical report commissioned by the California secretary of state identified a wide variety of security flaws and operational issues, including insecure ballot boxes and exposed USB ports that rogue actors could exploit to alter votes. “At first reading, it’s terrifying,” said Richard DeMillo, a computer science professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology who specializes in voting security. “There are things that are clear security vulnerabilities in the system that are brushed aside.” L.A. County Registrar Dean Logan, who is in charge of the system, said the majority of the security flaws have been fixed, and the county has complied with the requirements set out by California Secretary of State Alex Padilla. Padilla just last month approved the system for use in the Democratic primaries so long as certain conditions are met.

Full Article: LA County built its new voting machines from scratch. Will they be ready?.

California: Los Angeles County’s Seismic Voting Shift | Gabrielle Gurley/The American Prospect

Election officials’ decision-making will come under greater public scrutiny after the Iowa caucus debacle—especially in Los Angeles County, home to ten million residents and five million registered voters, the largest voting jurisdiction in the country. On March 3—Super Tuesday—some Angelenos will surely go to their neighborhood polling place where they’ve been casting their votes for decades, only to find no signs of life. What to do—call City Hall? The police? Give up and head to work? Beginning with the March 3 election, California is instituting an epochal shift in the way its residents vote, debuting in 15 of the state’s 58 counties, of which L.A. is the big one. For this crucial presidential primary, voters in Los Angeles can use approximately 1,000 centralized vote centers rather than the roughly 5,000 precinct polling places where Angelenos have been accustomed to voting. Unlike those precinct polling places, however, which were open only on Election Day, the new voting centers will be open for voting for many days: Most of them will be in operation not just on Election Day but also on the ten days preceding it, while the rest will be open on Election Day and the four days before. What’s more, L.A. County voters can drop in and vote at any one of the centers. (Besides, this year as in many past elections, more than half of California voters will cast their votes by mail.)

Full Article: Los Angeles County’s Seismic Voting Shift - The American Prospect.

California: Los Angeles County voters will use new ballot system for March 3 primary, despite lawsuit filed by Beverly Hills | Hayley Munguia/ Press Telegram

Los Angeles County voters have some big decisions to make March 3: Everything from city council seats to the state’s pick for the Democratic presidential nominee will be up for grabs. Even the state’s clout nationally could change, now that California’s election is on Super Tuesday. But in-person voters will also notice another change: Casting a ballot will be, for the most part, easier than ever before. Or at least that’s what officials have tried to achieve. A new touchscreen device will replace the old InkaVote system, which was essentially a paper ballot. The new technology includes the ability to display the ballot in 13 different languages — critical given the county’s diverse population — and adjust the text size and contrast. It also offers the option to use an audio headset and control pad for people who are visually impaired. Along with the new devices, L.A. County has switched from neighborhood polling places to vote centers, where any voter, regardless of his or her address, can cast a ballot. There will also be an 11-day window when people can vote, which begins Feb. 22 and ends on Election Day — and includes two weekends.

Full Article: L.A. County voters will use new ballot system for March 3 primary, despite lawsuit filed by Beverly Hills – Press Telegram.

California: Long Beach’s District 1 special election at the center of lawsuit over Los Angeles County’s new voting systems | Hayley Munguia /Press Telegram

Long Beach’s most recent election is at the center of a lawsuit against Los Angeles County over new voting machines that will go into widespread use during the March 3 elections. Beverly Hills filed a complaint last week against the county, arguing the new voting technology — known as Voting Solutions for All People 2.0 — could impact the results of an election with more than four candidates. The new machines have been in the works for more than a decade and are intended to make voting more accessible. They can display the ballot in 13 languages, and voters who are visually impaired can use an audio headset. But the lawsuit centers on a different aspect of the design: The “more” button that voters must press to see beyond the first screen of candidates, which only includes four names. Voters do not need to scroll through the entire list of candidates before selecting one. The Beverly Hills lawsuit, filed Wednesday, Jan. 22, argues that people may simply pick one of the first four names they see and move on without pressing the “more” button to reveal the rest of the candidates. That city’s evidence? The special election Long Beach held in November to pick District 1’s next representative on the City Council.

Full Article: Long Beach’s District 1 special election at the center of lawsuit over L.A. County’s new voting systems – Press Telegram.

California: State OKs Los Angeles County’s New Voting Machines — With A Whole Lot Of Caveats (Backup Paper Ballots, For One)| Libby Denkman/LAist

The state of California has given Los Angeles County’s new voting equipment its seal of approval — with some significant caveats. On Friday, Secretary of State Alex Padilla granted conditional certification to the Voting Solutions for All People 2.0 system, including new ‘ballot marking devices’ that the county designed and built from the ground up. It’s making history as the first publicly owned voting system in the U.S. to be certified for widespread use. But the county must meet a stack of requirements before primary election voters get their hands on the machines starting Feb. 22. “Elections officials have a duty to make voting both as secure and as accessible as possible,” Padilla said in a press release. “As part of my certification of VSAP, I am insisting on some essential modifications to the system and requiring on-going reports from Los Angeles County so that we can continue to improve the voting experience for Angelenos.”

Full Article: State OKs LA County's New Voting Machines — With A Whole Lot Of Caveats (Backup Paper Ballots, For One): LAist.

California: State OKs highly questioned Los Angeles County voting system | Frank Bajak/Associate Press

California’s secretary of state on Friday approved Los Angeles County’s new publicly owned computerized voting system — a first of its kind for the nation — but is requiring modifications to address serious security and technical problems identified in testing. Secretary of State Alex Padilla is also requiring that all polling stations offer voters the option of using hand-marked paper ballots in the March 3 presidential primary in the nation’s most populous county. His office also notes in a statement on its conditional certification that an estimated 63% of county voters will be voting by mail using hand-marked paper ballots during the primary. Election security experts says all U.S. voters, unless hindered by disabilities, should use hand-marked paper ballots that are available for audits and recounts. Instead, only about 70% do, and elections in the U.S. are dominated by t hree voting equipment and services companies that control nearly 90 percent of the market. Their black-box touchscreen systems have been widely criticized by computer scientists as highly vulnerable to tampering. A subsidiary of one of those companies, Election Systems and Software of Omaha, Nebraska, was blamed by an outside audit for sloppy system integration that left 118,000 names off printed voter roles in Los Angeles County during the 2018 primary.

Full Article: California OKs highly questioned LA County voting system.

California: Lawsuit claims new Los Angeles County voting machines could favor some candidates | Jason Ruiz/Long Beach Post News

A lawsuit filed Thursday by the City of Beverly Hills alleges that the machines to tabulate votes that are being deployed by Los Angeles County for the upcoming March 3 elections could give some candidates an unfair advantage. In a statement the city said that the issue is that only four candidates can be displayed at one time on the screens and that the confusion between the “More” and “Next” buttons could lead to those not listed on the first page being overlooked by voters. Potential for the city’s suit was first reported by LAist, which earlier this month reported the Beverly Hills City Council was considering the action after it received a preview of the machines and noticed the potential for confusion. One of its incumbent members is listed fifth on the ballot, which means he would appear on the second screen and potentially be skipped over by voters. The county is using VSAP (Voting Solutions for All People) machines for the first time during the March elections, but have rolled them out for demonstrations in the past few months including at November’s California Democratic Party Endorsing Convention hosted in Long Beach. Voters can use the machines to electronically mark selections, with the machine printing out a paper version of their votes to be turned into county officials. The machines have yet to be certified by state election officials.

Full Article: Lawsuit claims new voting machines could favor some candidates • Long Beach Post News.

California: Los Angeles County’s New Voting System Is Still Uncertified. Why Election Security Experts Are Worried | Libby Denkman/LAist

Los Angeles County is moving full steam ahead with plans to use its new election equipment for the first time in the upcoming presidential primary. The system, which includes high-tech “ballot marking devices,” has the potential to revolutionize the election industry, creating a transparent and fully accessible way to vote. But for all its innovations, some experts in the voting security community worry it’s not ready for prime time. For starters, the state has yet to sign off on the new technology — and it’s coming down to the wire: In-person voting begins in six weeks, on Feb. 22.

Certification testing has uncovered:

  • Dozens of critical user interface and security problems, according to recent published reports and conversations with experts.
  • The Secretary of State found vulnerabilities that left the door open to bad actors changing voting data and, ultimately, the outcome of an election.
  • Testers could also access and alter electronic records and get into physical ballot boxes — all without detection.

Some candidates for local offices are so disturbed by how ballots appear on the machines that cities like Beverly Hills are exploring lawsuits. But Dean Logan, the Los Angeles County Registrar Recorder, says his office has worked hard to address and mitigate all concerns. The issues with the actual voting system come at the same time L.A. County is fundamentally changing not just how but where people vote. Many observers are concerned that shift in voting location alone will lead to widespread confusion.

Full Article: LA's New Voting System Is Still Uncertified. Why Election Security Experts Are Worried: LAist.

California: Cities worried about new Los Angeles County voting system | Ian Bradley/The Acorn

In the March election Los Angeles County will launch a new method of computerized voting to replace the system that citizens have used for more than 50 years, but some officials are saying the new method has shortcomings and isn’t fair to all candidates on the ballot. The Los Angeles County registrar began rolling out the new program, Voting Solutions for All People, last year. The program replaces paper-and-pen ballots with a new digital interface that voters will use to make their selections. County officials say the change will make voting easy, accurate and fast. But critics say the system gives unfair advantage to certain candidates because only four names are displayed on the first page of a given race unless a “MORE” button is hit and a second screen loads up with the remaining candidates. Several cities are concerned about the on-screen layout issue including Beverly Hills and Calabasas. Both sent letters to the county voicing their objections. Calabasas City Councilmember James Bozajian said the problem is that in local races where victory can be decided by a handful of votes, a litigious candidate could argue that not being on the first screen kept them from winning.

Full Article: Cities worried about new voting system | The Acorn.

California: Beverly Hills City Council Might Sue Over Los Angeles County’s New Voting Machine Design | Libby Denkman/LAist

The Beverly Hills City Council has voted to move ahead with a possible lawsuit against election officials responsible for the new Los Angeles County voting equipment which will debut in the March 3 primary. The new machines are digital, and there are concerns that voters will vote without seeing all the candidates. Already there are huge changes in store for Angelenos voting in-person when vote centers start opening Feb. 22 — from where and when to vote to a new, high-tech way to cast a ballot. Electronic ballot marking devices developed by Los Angeles County will be the default option in all 1,000 new vote centers, replacing the familiar old InkaVote System. The new devices include touch screens to mark voter selections, which are then printed onto a paper ballot that will be collected and tallied by election officials. Now, with voting fast approaching, local governments and campaigns are familiarizing themselves with the new system. And many don’t like what they see.

Full Article: Beverly Hills Might Sue Over LA County's New Voting Machine Design: LAist.

California: Hundreds of California voters are being registered with the wrong party. Is DMV to blame? | Bryan Anderson/The Fresno Bee

At least 600 Californians, including lifelong Republicans and Democrats, have had their voter registration unexpectedly changed, and several county elections officials are pinning much of the blame on the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Among those affected: the daughter of the California Senate’s GOP leader. “I was like, ‘Kristin did you register as no party preference?’” asked Sen. Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield. “She said, ‘No, I’m a Republican.’” Grove’s daughter had recently visited the Department of Motor Vehicles to change her address. Shortly thereafter, Sacramento County sent her a postcard informing her she is now registered as a “No Party Preference” voter ahead of California’s March 3, 2020 presidential primary. Grove stumbled across the notice earlier this week at her daughter’s Sacramento home, and worries that hundreds more could soon experience a similar unwanted surprise. Elections officials across the state are linking many of the reported complaints to the state’s new Motor Voter program, which launched ahead of the 2018 midterms to automatically register eligible voters when they visit the DMV. The 2015 law was designed to help boost participation, but a rushed launch prompted 105,000 registration errors to occur following its roll-out.

Full Article: CA election officials blame DMV for voter registration issue | The Fresno Bee.

California: It May Take a Month to Name California’s Winner on Super Tuesday | Emily Glazer/Wall Street Journal

California’s decision to move up its 2020 primary to Super Tuesday in early March from June will make the nation’s most populous state one of the most important in deciding the Democratic presidential candidate. But changes to the voting process could mean the final results won’t be known for weeks. If the allocation of California’s 494 Democratic delegates—by far the most of any state—isn’t finalized until early April, that could affect the candidates’ viability, campaigning and fundraising momentum in the meantime. It also could influence voter support in other states. California Secretary of State Alex Padilla earlier this year decertified most voting systems in the state’s 58 counties, giving them until February 2020 to install more advanced and secure technology. Many counties are still testing the new or updated devices, while also preparing for state-mandated election changes, including allowing in-person voting 10 days before Election Day and broadening the number of people who can vote by mail, a procedure that now will be available to about half the state’s population. The changes also allow same-day voter registration at every polling location. They also add, for the first time for a presidential election, the ability for voters to submit missing signatures on vote-by-mail ballots no later than two days prior to the certification of the election, which could vary by county. County elections officials will still have up to 30 days after Election Day to complete vote counting, auditing and certification. “I’m telling people it’s no longer Election Day, it’s election month,” said Neal Kelley, the registrar of voters in Orange County.

Full Article: It May Take a Month to Name California’s Winner on Super Tuesday - WSJ.

California: As Power Shut Offs Increase, California Counties Are Making Plans For Elections Without Electricity | Scott Rodd/California Public Radio

After California utilities cut power to millions of customers in October, county election officials are wasting little time making sure polling places are prepared in the case of an outage during an election.  Counties are using pre-election surveys to make sure polling places and vote-counting centers have equipment needed to mitigate the impact of power shutoffs. That includes back-up generators, flashlights, lanterns and portable power equipment. Some county election offices are also developing multitiered plans to ensure every vote is counted if an outage occurs. In Placer County, election officials are already preparing precincts ahead of next year’s primary in March and general election in November.  “We continually survey our polling places,” said Ryan Ronco, Placer County’s registrar of voters. That typically includes measuring doorway thresholds and installing ramps to increase accessibility. “And now, we’re also mitigating power [outages],” he said.

Full Article: As Power Shut Offs Increase, California Counties Are Making Plans For Elections Without Electricity - capradio.org.

California: Los Angeles County Offering New Ballot Casting Process For Voters in 2020 | R.J. Johnson /KFI

Los Angeles County’s antiquated voting system is getting a badly needed upgrade in time for the upcoming 2020 elections. Starting next year, more than 5.2 million residents will have the chance to use the Voting Solutions for All People, or VSAP, which aims to make voting for residents easier, more secure and transparent. The new Ballot Marking Devices were designed by the Registar-Recorder/County Clerk in response to the aging system and meant to make it easier for voters to to customize their voting experience to fit their needs. Voters will be able to access 13 languages, adjust the touch screen to a comfortable angle, change the display settings such as text size and contrast or go through the ballot using the audio headset and control pad. Rest assured, the Ballot Marking Device is NOT connected to any kind of a network or the internet. If you’re not as technically-savvy as others, don’t worry, the easy-to-follow instructions guide voters through the voting process without any need for assistance.

Full Article: L.A. County Offering New Ballot Casting Process For Voters in 2020 | KFI AM 640.

California: Sweeping change is coming for Los Angeles County voters. If things go wrong, he’ll get the blame | Matt Stiles/Los Angeles Times

Long before Dean Logan was the elections chief for the most populous county in California, he was an administrator for the most populous county in Washington state — and he was dealing with a crisis. It was the fall of 2004, four years after the contested Bush-versus-Gore presidential election, and voters had just produced one of the closest gubernatorial contests in American history. Fewer than 300 votes separated the candidates. Then things got worse. Logan realized that his staff had misfiled a batch of uncounted mail-in ballots — enough to sway the election. Under pressure, Logan insisted that the ballots be counted, making him a target of critics, including the state’s Republican Party chairman who insisted that the election was being “stolen.” A judge eventually validated Logan’s decision. Fifteen years later, the experience still haunts him. But it has informed and inspired his years-long personal quest to overhaul the way elections are conducted in Los Angeles County. Starting next year, some 5.2 million residents — a figure that eclipses the number of registered voters in most states — will change the way they cast ballots. If the process goes awry — either in the earlier-than-normal presidential primary in March or in the crucial November general election, in which President Trump will probably be on the ballot — blame could fall on Logan yet again.

Full Article: Everything about voting in L.A. is about to change - Los Angeles Times.

California: New Los Angeles County voting system highlights trade offs between security and accessibility | Joseph Marks/The Washington Post

Starting in 2020, Los Angeles County’s 5.2 million voters will cast their ballots on new machines that the county had custom built over a decade to be highly accessible to citizens with all manner of disabilities and who speak 13 different languages. The new machines mark the biggest challenge in years to the highly consolidated voting machine industry in the United States in which just three companies control more than 90 percent of the market. The dominant players have faced withering criticism from security advocates and lawmakers since the 2016 election for being too slow to adapt to election hacking threats from Russia and other adversaries and not transparent enough about their security. The plan is for the machines to be piloted at some voting locations during local elections in November and then to be used by all voters for the first time in the March 3, 2020 primaries. The challenge is even bigger because Los Angeles plans to make the computer code its machines are running on freely available to be used or modified by other voting jurisdictions who similarly want to go it alone. But the new systems are also likely to add fire to a battle between cybersecurity hawks and advocates for voters with disabilities that’s already playing out in Congress and among state election boards.

Full Article: New Los Angeles County voting system highlights trade offs between security and accessibility - The Washington Post.

California: The Unsexy Threat to Election Security | Krebs on Security

Much has been written about the need to further secure our elections, from ensuring the integrity of voting machines to combating fake news. But according to a report quietly issued by a California grand jury this week, more attention needs to be paid to securing social media and email accounts used by election officials at the state and local level. California has a civil grand jury system designed to serve as an independent oversight of local government functions, and each county impanels jurors to perform this service annually. On Wednesday, a grand jury from San Mateo County in northern California released a report which envisions the havoc that might be wrought on the election process if malicious hackers were able to hijack social media and/or email accounts and disseminate false voting instructions or phony election results. “Imagine that a hacker hijacks one of the County’s official social media accounts and uses it to report false results on election night and that local news outlets then redistribute those fraudulent election results to the public,” the report reads. “Such a scenario could cause great confusion and erode public confidence in our elections, even if the vote itself is actually secure,” the report continues. “Alternatively, imagine that a hacker hijacks the County’s elections website before an election and circulates false voting instructions designed to frustrate the efforts of some voters to participate in the election. In that case, the interference could affect the election outcome, or at least call the results into question.”

Full Article: The Unsexy Threat to Election Security — Krebs on Security.

California: Yet again, President Trump falsely blames illegal voting for getting walloped in California | Philip Bump/The Washington Post

A few hours after celebrating his $16 billion bailout to farmers affected by the trade war with China, President Trump told a roomful of young conservatives about the dangers and political opportunism of socialist handouts. “Socialism is not as easy to beat as you think,” Trump said to attendees of Turning Point USA’s Teen Student Action Summit. Why? Because people like free things. “Don’t kid yourself,” he said later. “Not as easy when I’m up there on the debate [stage] all alone with some maniac that they” — the Democrats — “chose and that maniac is saying, ‘We’re going to do this for you! We’re going to do that for you! We’re going to give you everything! Everybody gets a free Rolls-Royce, every family! And we’re going to take better care of illegal immigrants than we take care of our own citizens!’ they tell you,” he said. The riff was off in a new direction. “And when they’re saying all of this stuff, and then those illegals get out and vote, because they vote anyway. Don’t kid yourself,” he said. “Those numbers in California and numerous other states, they’re rigged. They’ve got people voting that shouldn’t be voting. They vote many times, not just twice, not just three times. It’s like a circle. They come back, they put a new hat on. They come back, they put a new shirt on. And in many cases, they don’t even do that. You know what’s going on. It’s a rigged deal.” Trump is making three claims here, all untrue.

Full Article: Yet again, President Trump falsely blames illegal voting for getting walloped in California - The Washington Post.

California: Lawmakers Consider Deepfake Ban for Election Integrity | Andrew Sheller/San Luis Obispo Tribune

California lawmakers, citing election integrity, are moving to ban the distribution of “deepfake” video or audio clips aimed at damaging political candidates, drawing condemnation from First Amendment supporters. The move comes as lawmakers fear that sophisticated doctored clips, such as one falsely portraying House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as slurring her words, could allow malicious parties to sabotage the election. Assembly Bill 730, sponsored by Assemblyman Marc Berman, D-Palo Alto, passed unanimously out of the Assembly and now is being considered by the Senate Committee on Elections and Constitutional Amendments. AB 730 specifically prohibits “a person committee or other entity from knowingly or recklessly distributing deceptive audio or visual media of a candidate with the intent to injure the candidate’s reputation or to deceive a voter into voting for or against the candidate within 60 days of an election at which a candidate for elective office will appear on the ballot,” according to that committee’s analysis of the bill.

Full Article: California Considers Deepfake Ban for Election Integrity.

California: Russian hackers haunt San Diego Electronic Poll Book | Matt Potter/San Diego Reader

It’s being pitched as the latest voting reform elixir, widely adopted by counties across the country, but a call for proposals to create and operate a so-called electronic voting book system for the San Diego County Registrar of Voters comes amidst rising questions about costs, reliability, and security against Russian hackers. “The Electronic Poll Book system eliminates manual voter lookup, promoting shorter check-in queues with better and immediate alerts for staff or voter guidance,” says the county’s June 26 request for proposals, kicking off a solicitation for services from would-be vendors set to close July 25. “The Electronic Poll Book system will decrease the time it takes to manually complete the election canvass while using fewer resources,” per the document. “As the voter roster increases, the Electronic Poll Book system shall scale up. This allows the County to meet a growing base without impacting the voting experience.” But as with all such outsourcing, the devil is in the details, heavily dependent on the good faith and integrity of vendors, and experiences elsewhere have flashed repeated warnings about the cutting-edge systems.

Full Article: Russian hackers haunt San Diego Electronic Poll Book | San Diego Reader.