County workers are stuffing envelopes with mail-in ballots, and they’re stuffing a lot of envelopes. Thanks to a new state law, every voter who got a mail-in ballot in 2016 will automatically get one this year, unless they opt out in writing. So where Monmouth County expected to send out up to 20,000 mail-in ballots, it will now have to send out more than 30,000. “That part of the law, that new change, has been difficult to implement in such a short time period because vote by mail ballots start going out Sept. 22. It’s not like we have until November to implement a law that was enacted in August. We basically had a month,” said Monmouth County Clerk Christine Giordano Hanlon. Gov. Phil Murphy signed the law in August, arguing that expanding mail-in voting, or what used to be known as an absentee ballot, would expand voter participation. County clerks, however, say they had just weeks to comply with the law, without additional resources to do so.
Articles about voting issues in New Jersey.
New Jersey: There’s Money for Upgrading Election Security but Little for Vital Paper Trail | NJ Spotlight
Despite expert opinion that, without paper ballots, New Jersey’s election system is far from secure, state allots negligible amount to remedy that weakness. New Jersey plans to spend $10.2 million to enhance election security over the next several years, but will use only part of it to conduct a small pilot project involving what some experts say is the most important change the state needs to make: moving to a system of paper ballots. The Center for American Progress has rated New Jersey’s election system among the least secure in the nation, in large part because there is no way to independently audit ballot results should a hacker meddle with the programming of one or more election machines. Pending legislation () calls for the state to upgrade its voting machines to ones that have a paper trail and county clerks agree that change is needed. New Jersey is only taking the smallest step in that direction.
Legislation introduced by Statehouse Democrats setting a requirement for how much in federal election security funds must be used for new voting machines would put the minimum at nearly twice as much as Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration is planning. Sen. Shirley Turner, D-Mercer, said she has heard from constituents who want to ensure elections are protected from errors or manipulation. She is among the sponsors of a bill requiring New Jersey to use at least half of any federal election funds it gets for safer voting systems. Turner was surprised that the state plans to spend $2.5 million of the nearly $9.8 million in Help America Vote Act funds it will soon receive on voting machines, with nearly three-quarters of the funds directed to other priorities.
The Murphy administration has decided how it will spend $10.2 million on election security initiatives, mostly federal aid that will pay for cybersecurity, database improvements and auditing the accuracy of election machines. Among the uses for the funds will be implementing automatic voter registration at the state’s Motor Vehicle Commission agencies and helping some counties acquire voting machines that create a voter-verified paper audit trail. Among the 13 states with paperless voting machines, only Indiana and Texas are committing a smaller percentage of their new Help America Vote Act funds toward voting equipment than the $2.5 million New Jersey plans to spend. “The state’s plan to spend the HAVA funds I think is really thorough, but it’s important to note that the amount of funds that they’re talking about is really just a drop in the bucket to what they really need to update our election systems,” said Jesse Burns, the executive director of the League of Women Voters of New Jersey. The funding includes $9.76 million in federal funds, part of $380 million in grants the federal Election Assistance Commission is making available through a law enacted in March, and $487,873 in required state matching funds.
New Jersey: State spending $10M to fix one of most vulnerable voting systems in US | NorthJersey.com
With less than three months until a midterm election that could shift control of the House, New Jersey is planning to spend nearly $10 million in federal money it received this spring to strengthen what is widely considered one of the most vulnerable voting systems in the country. But the grant money from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission is a fraction of what’s needed to improve the state’s election infrastructure from the threats federal officials say are being directed at the U.S., leaving New Jersey susceptible to outside influence when it may also serve as a Congressional battleground. While election officials across the state remain confident that hacking or voting fraud is unlikely — or at least detectable — the 2016 presidential election showed that outside forces are constantly coming up with novel ways to infiltrate the country’s election systems and disrupt one of the most sacred rituals of democracy. “It’s very likely we’ll be susceptible to hacking,” said Aquene Freechild, co-director of a voting campaign for Public Citizen, a liberal nonprofit advocacy group based in Washington, D.C. “The problem in New Jersey is you wouldn’t know if there was a hack or not.”
New Jersey: State sought more money to protect voting machines from hackers. Republicans in Congress said no. | NJ.com
New Jersey’s voting machines are among the nation’s most vulnerable to hacking, and state officials asked Congress for more money to protect their equipment. Republicans who run the show in Washington said no. Both the House and Senate declined to allocate millions of dollars in grants to states when they passed spending bills funding the Election Assistance Commission for the 12-month period beginning Oct. 1. “This is going to be an ongoing need and election officials are going to need a regular stream of funds to combat the threats and defend their systems,” said David Becker, executive director and founder of the Center for Election Innovation and Research, a Washington research group. … State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal sought more federal help. “I strongly believe that the federal government should be doing more, not less, to ensure our democratic institutions are free from foreign intrusion, and I’m disappointed that Congress disagrees,” he said.
New Jersey: How secure are New Jersey’s voting machines from hacking? This report may worry you. | NJ.com
New Jersey has some of the weakest election security in the country, according to a congressional report that placed the blame on former Gov. Chris Christie. New Jersey was named one of the five most vulnerable states to hacking in the report by the Democratic members of the House Administration Committee. The report said New Jersey’s voting machines do not have a paper record, making it “nearly impossible” to tell if they had been hacked and vote tallied changed. It said the state has requested funds from the federal Election Assistance Commission to improve security, and is considering legislation to require a paper trail for all voting machines. The other states with the worst security were Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana and South Carolina. In all, 18 states were vulnerable to hacking, the report said.
It was a discomforting moment last week when a Princeton University computer science professor, in a series of PowerPoint slides, showed lawmakers how he had hacked the type of electronic voting machine most New Jersey counties use to conduct their elections. More jarring still, the professor, Andrew W. Appel, explained that if he manipulated a machine actually in use, election officials would be hard-pressed to detect it because the devices don’t leave a paper trail that can be checked against the electronic tally. “They’re a fatally flawed technology,” said Appel, who was previously involved in a lawsuit that sought to end the use of the machines. “Pretty much everyone knows this now.”
New Jersey lawmakers are considering whether the voting machines now used in the state should be replaced by a paper ballot system using electronic scanners. Princeton University computer science professor Andrew Appel says the voting machines are vulnerable to hacking. “So we should run our elections in a way that can detect and correct for computer hacking without having to put all our trust in computers. Therefore, we cannot use paperless touchscreen voting computers. They’re a fatally flawed technology.”
New Jersey: Poor Security of New Jersey Election System and Russian Hackers Prompt Move to Revamp | NJ Spotlight
Voting in New Jersey would go retro, using paper, pens and scanning machines, under legislation designed to increase the security of the ballot in the state. Not everyone who testified at the Assembly’s first hearing Wednesday on a new bill (A3991), called the New Jersey Elections Security Act could agree on what voting machines would be best. But all did agree that the state needs new voting machines with a paper trail to allow audits of election results to ensure their accuracy. “We must have an assurance that our votes are accurate and legitimate,” said Assemblyman Vincent Mazzeo (D-Atlantic), both chair of the committee and co-sponsor of the bill. “Where is our democracy without our votes being valid?”