Louisiana’s secretary of state told lawmakers Tuesday that he hopes to restart efforts to replace thousands of voting machines this summer, after the last effort was derailed by allegations of improper bid handling. Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, who oversees state elections, said the voting machine replacement work won’t be complete for the fall election, so his office will spend $2 million renting temporary machines. Ardoin told the House Appropriations Committee his office will rent early-voting machines for the October and November elections, when all of Louisiana’s statewide and legislative positions are on the ballot. The office will use spare parts to make sure the decade-old Election Day voting machines are running properly. “Because the last (bid process) didn’t work out so well, we’re working very hard to maneuver to make sure that we are settled for the fall election,” Ardoin said. A multimillion-dollar contract award to replace Louisiana’s voting machines was scrapped in October after the state’s chief procurement officer said the secretary of state’s office didn’t follow legal requirements in choosing the winning vendor, Dominion Voting Systems.Full Article: Louisiana renting early-voting machines for fall election - SFGate.
Three months into the 2019 legislative session, lawmakers still haven’t released federal funds set aside for election security. As part of the Help America Vote Act or HAVA, Congress allotted $6.6 million to Minnesota to combat cyber threats and other attacks against the state’s elections infrastructure. As of the first week in April, Minnesota is the only state in the nation to leave the money on the table, unspent. “We want to re-secure our voter registration data base. It’s the spine of the system,” Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon told KARE. “It does more than just voter registration. It does a lot of things in the election system and it needs to be substantially recoded and fortified against attacks.” We now know that Russian operatives tried to hack into Minnesota’s elections Internet framework in 2016. They were able to breach the system, but unable to alter any records or processes. Secretary Simon wants to use the money to modernize the registration system, build a voter database backup, add real-time monitoring of cyber threats, and create a new position in his office to help local elections officials with security issues. Federal officials made many of these recommendations after a site visit to Minnesota last year. But Simon can’t take any of these actions without first getting permission from the legislature. That hasn’t happened yet.Full Article: Election security bill in limbo | kare11.com.
New York: Budget allocates $24.7M to improve voting process — publicly funded elections delayed | The Legislative Gazette
Election reformers are seeing mixed results in the new state budget passed this week. On one hand, New Yorkers will now be able to vote before Election Day, register to vote online, and polls will open earlier for upstate primaries. Additionally, employers will be required to give all workers three hours of paid time off to vote, and with a new $14.7 million allocation, voters will be able to sign in at polling places using an electronic sign-in book. The e-poll books keep track of data such as voter registration, voting history and verification and identification of voters. This will bring the state’s system up to date with 21st century technology. More than half of the states in the U.S. use electronic polling books already. On the other hand, many good-government groups and activists are angry that the budget did not establish a system of publicly financed campaigns that rely on a small-donor matching system, coupled with lowered contribution limits. Instead, a commission will study the feasibility of such a system for legislative and statewide offices, and will issue a report in December. Proposed by the Fair Elections for New York campaign, a small-donor matching system would give a voice to New Yorkers who cannot afford to donate large sums of money to political candidates. It is also seen as a system that allows more people to run for political office.Full Article: Budget allocates $24.7M to improve voting process — publicly funded elections delayed – The Legislative Gazette.
Now that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation “did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities,” we can all move on to fighting over whether those activities actually changed the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. Attorney General William Barr’s letter to Congress summarizing the Mueller report says the special counsel determined that there were two main Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election: “The first involved attempts by a Russian organization, the Internet Research Agency (IRA), to conduct disinformation and social media operations in the United States designed to sow social discord, eventually with the aim of interfering with the election. The second element involved the Russian government’s efforts to conduct computer hacking operations designed to gather and disseminate information to influence the election. The Special Counsel found that Russian government actors successfully hacked into computers and obtained emails from persons affiliated with the Clinton campaign and Democratic Party organizations, and publicly disseminated those materials through various intermediaries, including WikiLeaks.” Mueller has brought criminal charges against a number of Russian individuals, Russian military officers, and Russian companies or entities in connection with these activities. They’re never going to be in a U.S. courtroom, but the indictments tell us what happened.Full Article: Russian meddling and election integrity in California – Daily News.
The city’s Board of Elections is arguing it may need some new voting machines because of early voting, but the board’s leader is pushing for machines made by a company he has benefited from, raising questions of conflicts of interest. For almost 10 years, New York City has used the same type of voting machine: An optical scanner. But now, the city Board of Elections may want to try something else. It’s a new machine called the ExpressVote XL, and it’s made by the major voting machine manufacturer, Election Systems and Software (ES&S). In a letter exclusively obtained by NY1, the city asked the state Board of Elections this week to possibly use the new machine for early voting this year. It says using paper ballots would be virtually impossible. That’s because there will be far fewer poll sites open for early voting than on a traditional election day. Officials question whether every site would be able to keep all of the different ballot configurations for each election district, and this ExpressVote XL machine uses a touch screen to vote instead. But there is a problem: The state Board of Elections has not certified or fully tested this machine for use in New York. The city Board of Elections is essentially asking state officials to skirt that approval process, specifically asking permission from the state board to use the machine in this fall’s general election. The letter states “time is of the essence.” It is signed by two people. One is the executive director of the board, Michael Ryan. One leader of the state Board of Elections immediately dismissed the city board’s request: “What annoyed me most about the letter is it doesn’t seem to understand the reason for New York’s certification for voting equipment,” state Board of Elections Co-Chair Douglas Kellner said. “We have to recognize that there are security risks.”Full Article: Questions Over Mike Ryan Pushing for ES&S Voting Machines.
Counties across the state are working to beat a December deadline to replace touch-screen voting machines with models that use a paper ballot in order to comply with a 2013 state law. Twenty-five counties, including Mecklenburg, Guilford, Forsyth and Union, will need to upgrade all or some of their equipment. North Carolina State Board of Elections spokesperson Patrick Gannon said updating the equipment is important “to ensure that voters are confident that when they cast a ballot, that their choices are recorded properly and they can be audited on the back end if there are concerns about whether or not votes were counted properly.” There is currently only one voting machine model that’s certified for use, but the State Board of Elections will meet soon to consider certifying additional models. Gannon said counties making the switch need to test their equipment this fall ahead of the 2020 primary next March. “The counties must be able to test any new system in the municipal election in order for it to be used in an election next year,” he said.Full Article: NC Counties Face Tight Timeline To Comply With State Voting Law | WUNC.
North Carolina: Legislators seek reprieve for Guilford County voting machines | Greensboro News and Record
Ask and ye shall receive — or at least get a reasonable shot at receiving. Two local legislators introduced a bill this week approving more than two years of additional life for Guilford County’s voting machines, only a week after county leaders formally petitioned the General Assembly for just such help. If passed, the bipartisan measure introduced by state Reps. Jon Hardister, R-Whitsett, and Amos Quick, D-Greensboro, would give county taxpayers a reprieve on the estimated $8 million cost of replacing the county’s 1,400-plus machines. The measure also would apply to Alamance County, which faces a similar dilemma and an estimated $2 million in replacement costs. Hardister said Friday afternoon that he filed the bill with Quick and fellow Reps. Dennis Riddell, R-Snow Camp, and Frank Iler, R-Oak Island, after a conversation with Guilford County Board of Elections Director Charlie Collicutt.Full Article: Legislators seek reprieve for Guilford voting machines | Local News | greensboro.com.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is poised to sign a bill to overhaul the state’s voting system with machines that are widely considered vulnerable to hacking. The new equipment would replace the state’s paperless, electronic machines — technology so risky that a federal judge said last year that its continued use threatened Georgians’ “constitutional interests.” But security researchers say similar risks exist in the new electronic machines that the GOP-led legislature has chosen, which would embed the voter’s choice in a barcode on a slip of paper. The warnings from cybersecurity experts, election integrity advocates and Georgia Democrats are especially troubling given the abundant warnings from U.S. intelligence leaders that Russia will once again attempt to undermine the presidential election in 2020. “The bill’s sponsors made false and misleading statements during the entire legislative session in hearings leading up to the vote, often flatly contradicting objective evidence or mischaracterizing scientific writing,” said Georgia Institute of Technology computer science professor Rich DeMillo, who testified throughout the process.Full Article: Georgia likely to plow ahead with buying insecure voting machines - POLITICO.
New Jersey: New Jersey was going to have paper-based voting machines more than a decade ago. Will it happen by 2020? | Philadelphia Inquirer
New Jersey was once poised to become a national leader in election and voting security. Instead, it now lags most states — including Pennsylvania and Delaware — by relying on aging, paperless machines that experts say are vulnerable to attack and can’t be properly audited. There are no statewide plans to buy new machines; nor is the state urging counties to buy new systems, in contrast to Pennsylvania, where Gov. Tom Wolf has ordered all 67 counties to have new machines by next year’s primary election. “We are doing what we can with the funding that we have and the situation that we’re in,” said Robert Giles, who heads the state’s Division of Elections. The challenge, he said, is funding. Counties are left to their own initiatives. But the current machines are nearing death. The money will have to come from somewhere, said Jesse Burns, head of the League of Women Voters of New Jersey. “Time, it has run out. So there’s no more kicking it down the road,” she said.Full Article: N.J. was going to have paper-based voting machines more than a decade ago. Will it happen by 2020?.
It looks like Luzerne County voters will not use new voting machines until next year, thanks in part to uncertainties over state funding. Also, it is not clear when officials will release information about investigations into county elections director Marisa Crispell’s ties to county vendor Election Systems & Software — one of the prospective vendors for the new machines. The county plans to purchase an electronic voting system that provides added security via a “paper trail” for each vote cast, to comply with a directive state officials issued last year. When county officials first discussed the planned purchase, with an estimated price tag of $4 million, they said the new machines might be in place for this year’s November election. That does not look likely now, though it’s not impossible, according to county Manager David Pedri. “We would still like to get them in for November,” Pedri said Thursday. “The question is when we can get them.”Full Article: Questions abound over new voting machines - News - Citizens' Voice.
A decade after New Jersey voters were promised more secure voting machines, some districts will receive new machines through a federally funded pilot program. Voters in Gloucester, Union and Essex counties have already seen new machines, and Passaic County intends to join the pilot this year. Meanwhile, Bergen County officials are taking a wait-and-see approach. Robert Giles, director of the state Division of Elections, wrote to county election officials in September to explain one of the initiatives: the Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail pilot. “This pilot program will afford counties the opportunity to purchase and test new VVPAT voting machines,” Giles wrote. “The goal of this pilot program is to assist counties to begin the process of transitioning from their current paperless voting systems to the new voting systems that produce a voter-verifiable paper record of each vote cast.” The program rolls out in a climate of heightened concern over ballot security. “It’s a step forward; there are better ways to do it and worse ways to do it,” Professor Andrew Appel of Princeton University said about the upcoming replacements.Full Article: New NJ voting machines being tried in districts across the state.
Illinois: Cook County rolling out new voting machines in west suburbs, expects countywide use by 2020 primaries | Chicago Tribune
New voting machines are coming to three west suburban Cook County townships for next week’s consolidated elections in preparation for a countywide rollout next year. The Cook County clerk’s office will test machines in 147 precincts in Oak Park, River Forest and Proviso townships, and hopes to have the new voting machines in every suburban Cook County precinct by the 2020 presidential primary election. “Our current equipment has served us well for a decade, but these new machines have the latest technology,” county Clerk Karen Yarbrough said at a Tuesday morning news conference. “The touch screens are more intuitive and accessible for voters with disabilities, and every single voter will get to review their ballot with paper in their hands before their vote is cast,” Yarbrough said. Each machine can accommodate three voters at one time, with two touch screens and a paper ballot. A voter will use the touch screen as a ballot marker, then print the ballot to review it, according to a demonstration by the clerk’s election director, Tonya Rice. The voter will then hand the ballot in a privacy sleeve to an election judge, who will initial it and place it in the scanner. The scanner accepts the paper ballot and creates an image of the ballot. Because it’s the same machine, the paper ballot and touch screen ballots are automatically consolidated, according to information provided by the clerk’s office. One touch screen is lower to accommodate voters who use wheelchairs, and voters will be able to change the text size and color contrast if they need. An audio ballot is available in English, Spanish, Hindi and Chinese.Full Article: Cook County rolling out new voting machines in west suburbs, expects countywide use by 2020 primaries - Chicago Tribune.
Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson today announced an Election Security Commission to recommend reforms and strategies for ensuring the security of elections in Michigan. The first-of-its-kind effort brings together 18 local and national experts on cybersecurity and elections to secure elections and protect the integrity of every vote. Together they will advise the secretary of state and Bureau of Elections on best practices. … The commission will convene in early April to begin its review and assessment of election security in Michigan. It later will host hearings throughout the state and invite citizen and expert input on election problems and security. The commission will deliver a set of recommended reforms and actions to the secretary of state by the end of 2019. Its work is funded through a federal grant for election security. Benson has named David Becker, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Election Innovation & Research, and J. Alex Halderman, professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Michigan, as co-chairs of the commission. It will be staffed and facilitated by designated secretary of state employees.Full Article: Secretary Benson forms Election Security Commission.
Pennsylvania: Cyber security expert urges Pennsylvania to find the money for new voting machines | WITF
A national cyber security expert says the state legislature must find the money to upgrade Pennsylvania’s voting system ahead of the 2020 election. Anthony Shaffer is a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel and intelligence officer who now works for a conservative think tank. At a state capitol news conference Tuesday, he warned Pennsylvania, as a swing state, is a target for foreign agents looking to sow doubt in the next election. But he noted adversaries typically look for easy prey. “So, if Russia, if China sees the state of Pennsylvania is doing something, they’re probably going to go to another state and take another target which they perceive as less able to defend itself or less prepared,” Shaffer said. He added the legislature needs the proper funding, technology, and perception to protect the state’s voting system.Full Article: Cyber security expert urges Pa. to find the money for new voting machines | witf.org.
Amid growing national concerns about election security, Tennessee’s three largest counties plan to begin using voting machines that produce a verifiable paper trail in time for the presidential primaries in March 2020, whether the Republican-led state requires it or not. Tennessee is one of only 14 states without a statutory requirement of a paper record of all ballots — regarded by most election security experts as crucial to ensuring accurate vote-counting. But election officials in the three Tennessee counties switching to paper-trail machines say they aren’t worried about the paperless technology. bRather, they just want to be sure voters trust the process. “Now, you’ve got an issue of voter confidence and public perception, factors which cannot be ignored, at least by election commissions,” said Elections Administrator Clifford Rodgers in Knox County, one of the Tennessee local governments looking to switch. He said he’s doing so “reluctantly” and predicted problems with printers and scanners. The others are Shelby County, anchored by Memphis, and Davidson County, encompassed by Nashville. Knox, Shelby and Davidson account for 1.3 million of Tennessee’s 4.16 million registered voters.Full Article: Tennessee counties eye vote paper trail; state stays neutral - StarTribune.com.
California: Contra Costa County elections detects attempted hacking into system | San Jose Mercury News
An unknown hacker recently tried to access Contra Costa County’s election internet system, according to an email sent by the county’s elections chief. The unsuccessful hacking attempt “fits a pattern of other attempts/attacks that trace back to foreign interests,” Clerk-Recorder and Registrar of Voters Joe Canciamilla wrote, in an internal email to county staff on Friday morning. He said the elections office notified the California Secretary of State’s office, as well as the Department of Homeland Security, about the “attempted intrusion.” “Our security protocols captured and isolated the threat almost immediately,” Canciamilla wrote in the email. It’s unclear when the attack took place. Elections spokesman Paul Burgarino said the investigation into the incident is still in its early stages, but preliminary information indicated the attempt was unsuccessful.Full Article: Contra Costa elections detects attempted hacking into system.
The city of Denver will allow thousands of voters to cast their ballots with a smartphone application this year. The pilot program is one of the first U.S. deployments of a phone-based voting system for public elections — but it will only be available to military members and voters living in other countries. The city has invited all of its international voters — about 4,000 people — to use the app in the May 2019 election. The idea of digital voting has been met with skepticism from some elections security experts, but Denver officials say it could make life easier for a limited set of voters. “This pilot enables us to offer that convenience for our military and overseas citizens who have the most difficult time voting and participating in the democratic process here at home,” said Deputy Elections Director Jocelyn Bucaro.Full Article: Smartphone voting coming to Denver in May election.
Legislation to replace Georgia’s electronic voting machines with a touchscreen-and-paper ballot election system is heading to Gov. Brian Kemp for his signature after winning final approval from state lawmakers Thursday. The Georgia House’s 101-69 vote, mostly along party lines, concluded a polarized debate over how to protect democracy and ensure accurate election results. Republicans and Democrats fiercely disagreed over whether voters should use computer-printed ballots or paper ballots bubbled in with a pen. The Republican majority’s decision to go with voting machines and printed ballots comes in time for the system to be in place for next year’s presidential election, when the state’s 7 million registered voters will be eligible to cast their ballots.
The $150 million statewide system that won approval includes the same kind of touchscreens that Georgia voters have been using for the past 17 years. Printers are designed to spit out paper ballots for voters to review and then insert into a scanning machine for tabulation. The state’s current voting machines lack a paper ballot.Full Article: Final vote approves new Georgia statewide voting machines.
The next time Texans vote in a stateside election will be Super Tuesday, on March 3, 2020. Ten states are expected to hold their primaries and caucuses on Super Tuesday, including three big ones: Texas, California and Virginia. There will be a lot on the line for the national and local primary races in Texas, and voting could look very different on that day … if Senate Bill 9 is passed. SB 9 is also known as the Omnibus Elections Integrity Bill. It’s sponsored by Republican State Sen. Bryan Hughes. And in there is a long list of proposed fixes to the way elections are held and ballots are counted in Texas. Some of the big changes would include a requirement for counties to have a paper-vote receipt trail. Critics of the bill say it does nothing to address the biggest problem with voting in Texas. They say it’s too difficult to register and vote. They complain SB9 would make it even harder to vote.Full Article: Texas Matters: SB9, Election Integrity And Voter Rights | Texas Public Radio.
Florida: Palm Beach, ground zero for 2018 vote recount, didn’t apply for election security cash | Politico
Palm Beach County officials failed to tap election security funds available for the 2018 midterms, making it the only jurisdiction in the state that didn’t seek a share of the federal aid. Nearly $2 million in federal funds was made available to the state for hardware and software support, including server installations and network monitoring, ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. In a presentation to the House Transportation and Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee on Wednesday, state elections director Maria Matthews said 66 of 67 Florida counties applied for the funds, news that angered lawmakers. “Once again, the Palm Beach supervisors office has proven that they have been woefully mismanaged,” said state Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, a Spring Hill Republican who led the Republican Party of Florida during the 2018 election cycle. “It’s clear to me that making deadlines was not their forte.”Full Article: Palm Beach, ground zero for 2018 vote recount, didn’t apply for election security cash.