Rhode Island: Elections Systems and Software settles with state over Spanish language ballot blunder | Patrick Anderson/The Providence Journal

The election equipment provider in the middle of a blunder on Spanish language ballots in the September primaries has agreed to credit Rhode Island $47,644, Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea said Thursday. Nebraska-based Election Systems and Software “will provide a credit for all project management services provided in connection with the 2022 Primary Election,” Gorbea said in a news release. The company also agreed to post a message on its website reminding election workers that it’s a good idea to proofread all ballots and test all tabulation machines before voters head to the polls. “We have held our vendor accountable for their mistake, and working together we have succeeded in making systemic improvements to pre-election testing across my office, the Board of Elections and ES&S,” Gorbea said in the release. As a result of what were described as undetected “programming errors,” during the September primary’s early voting period some Spanish ballots on new touch-screen voting machines listed candidates from the 2018 election.

Full Article: Elections Systems and Software settle with RI over Spanish ballot mistake

Rhode Island: Will security concerns slow down speedy vote count? | Patrick Anderson/The Providence Journal

A mere hour after polls closed on Election Day, while many states were kicking off days of ballot counting, Rhode Islanders watching closely knew who would win all of the key statewide and federal races, including the ultra-competitive 2nd Congressional District battle. News organizations were able to call races (and meet deadlines) at hours that a few years ago would have been considered unthinkably early and get a head start formulating their post-vote takeaways. It hasn’t always been so fast. Rhode Island’s rapid election reporting is partly a consequence of its ultra-compact geography and the centralization of its elections bureaucracy compared to larger states where counties play a big role. And it’s partly because of decisions Rhode Island officials made a few years ago that turned it into the only state in the country where 100% of voting machines transmit results wirelessly.

Full Article: Will security concerns slow down Rhode Island’s speedy vote count?

Rhode Island: ExpressVote ballots to be reviewed by Board of Elections, Secretary of State’s office | Amy Russo/The Providence Journal

The state’s Board of Elections has adopted new protocols for checking ExpressVote machines ahead of the general election on Nov. 8. In a plan released on Wednesday, the board said 522 machines and 592 DS200 tabulators will be tested in preparation for early voting on Oct. 19 and the general election. According to the document, tests involve a “checklist to check hardware and software functionality.” That includes seeing whether the machines power on properly, verifying precinct numbers and addresses, and ensuring ballots can be marked accurately, among a host of other checks. The board said Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea’s office already started proofing English and Spanish ballots on Saturday, the latter of which showed errors during the primary elections. At the time, some of those ballots featured the incorrect list of candidates. Mayor Jorge Elorza appeared to place blame both on Gorbea’s office and the board, calling for the ExpressVote machines to be removed during the primary. However, as the request was made last-minute and there was no viable alternative for those ADA-compliant machines, that was not possible.

Full Article: ExpressVote ballots to be reviewed by BOE, Secretary of State’s office

Rhode Island Board of Elections wants clarity as more ballot errors emerge | Katherine Gregg/The Providence Journal

As more ballot errors came to light, the state Board of Elections on Wednesday voted to establish a protocol that leaves no doubt about the role of the secretary of state in the “ballot verification” process. The frustration in the room Wednesday was palpable following the public release by  Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea’s office of a letter laying the blame for incorrect Spanish-language ballots exclusively at the feet of the company that supplied the state’s new ExpressVote machines in July and the state Board of Elections. “This is a serious issue. We all know that,” said elections board member Jennifer Johnson. “There has been a lot of blame and stuff blowing around in the press,” she said. “I think we are all interested in moving forward and assuring the voters that we are working together … It is all of our collective responsibility to ensure elections integrity and voter access.” “Although I have some feelings about responsibility, I don’t think that is helpful in this particular case,” added the vice-chairman, Richard Pierce. “I think it is clear some errors were made,” he said.

Full Article: Ballot errors in Rhode Island, Board of Elections seeks clear roles

Rhode Island: Voting security advocates, computer scientists sound alarm over new voting law | Nancy Lavin/Providence Business News

Once a common office fixture, fax machines have been reduced to a rare, if novelty, relic. Unless, of course, you’re a military member or overseas resident who wants to vote in a Rhode Island election. The good, old-fashioned fax machine has long been the only alternative to sluggish snail mail for overseas and military voters to receive and send back ballots. Until now. A new law is poised to bring Rhode Island’s voting system into the 21st century by letting the secretary of state choose an electronic voting system. The option would only be offered to disabled, military and overseas veterans, and must meet federal cybersecurity standards. At face value, it sounds like a reasonable upgrade to antiquated technology, and a way to make voting easier for groups that have struggled in the past. But the law has raised the hackles of computer scientists and voting security advocates, who say the technology to allow safe, secure and private electronic voting simply does not exist.

Full Article: Voting security advocates, computer scientists sound alarm over new R.I. voting law

Rhode Island governor signs bill allowing internet voting | Benjamin Freed/StateScoop

Rhode Island Gov. Daniel McKee last week signed legislation that could allow some of the state’s registered voters to cast their ballots over the internet, despite concerns raised by election officials and critics of electronic voting. The new law, S2118, calls for giving deployed military service members, citizens residing overseas and people with physical disabilities the ability to receive and submit their ballots online. While the legislation passed the Rhode Island General Assembly earlier this year with comfortable margins, it raised criticisms from election-security advocates who’ve long said that submitting votes over an internet connection could imperil the secret ballot. “The landscape of the internet hasn’t really changed much since the early 1990s,” said C. Jay Coles, a senior policy associate at Verified Voting. “The internet wasn’t designed as a secure space.” Under the new Rhode Island law, eligible voters could request an electronic ballot if the secretary of state’s office approves a system that’s gone through “one or more independent security reviews” and meets the scrutiny of the cybersecurity framework published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Full Article: Rhode Island governor signs bill allowing internet voting

Rhode Island Senate committee to vote on remote voting bill despite warnings of risks | Katherine Gregg/The Providence Journal

The state’s top election officials raised warning flags. One state lawmaker after another stated their misgivings when it popped up a year ago. But a bill to allow remote voting is once again headed to a vote at the Rhode Island State House. On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on the bill, S2118, to allow disabled and military voters to “electronically receive and return their mail ballot.” The proposal was not included in the much-heralded “Let RI Vote” bill, allowing online applications and eliminating longstanding witness requirements for mail ballots, that Gov. Dan McKee is expected to sign into law on Wednesday. And only one person spoke in favor of the legislation at a hearing earlier this year: the lead sponsor, Sen. Stephen Archambault, D-Smithfield. Others voiced their support in writing, including the Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights. But in a letter of concern to lawmakers, Cranston’s director of elections, Nicholas Lima, wrote: “There are significant cybersecurity concerns … despite assurances that some electronic ballot vendors tend to promote to the contrary. “No current technology exists that allows a [ballot] to be transmitted … electronically, without risk of interception or alteration by hostile threat actors – including well-equipped nation state actors that are intent on disrupting American elections by any means necessary.

Full Article: Rhode Island Senate committee to vote on remote voting bill

Rhode Island Senate approves early voting bill, online mail ballot applications | Katherine Gregg/The Providence Journal

Despite strong pushback from legislative Republicans — and the state GOP — the Senate on Tuesday approved a bill to make it easier to vote almost three weeks early and in absentia. The mostly party-line vote was 28 to 6, with House Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin calling it a “great day for democracy” and Republican Sen. Elaine Morgan calling the legislation a “travesty” of democracy. (The only Democrat who broke ranks was Sen. Roger Picard.) Most basically, the legislation allows voters to cast ballots 20 days ahead of an election, and to apply for absentee ballots — also known as mail ballots — online, using a driver’s license or state identification card number as their ID.  It eliminates the required confirmation of two witnesses or a notary to the signing of a mail ballot. It also calls for the creation of a permanent list of nursing home residents — and others who are disabled “for an indefinite period” — to whom mail ballot applications would be sent automatically in every election. This would stop only if a local elections clerk received “reliable information that a voter no longer qualifies for the service” for whatever reason, including death.

Full Article: RI Senate approves early voting bill, online mail ballot applications

Rhode Island communities awarded grants for election security | Ryan Belmore/What’s Up Newp

Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea today announced the allocation of grant money to 18 Rhode Island cities and towns to strengthen the cybersecurity of voting systems and improve election processes. These grants total $544,653 and are awarded as part of Rhode Island’s share of $3 million from Congress under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). Secretary Gorbea serves as the state’s Chief Elections Official under HAVA, according to Gorbea’s office. “Election security starts at the local level,” said Secretary Gorbea in a statement. “There is no finish line when it comes to cybersecurity. Threats are always evolving, so we must constantly assess our systems and processes at both the state and local levels and make improvements to mitigate risk. These grants will help these communities do just that. I would like to thank our Congressional delegation for their leadership and advocacy at the federal level that has led to us receiving these funds to strengthen the cybersecurity of our election systems.”

Full Article: 18 Rhode Island communities awarded grants for election security – What’s Up Newp

Rhode Island Board of Elections pilots new algorithm to make risk-limiting audits more efficient | What’s Up Newport

On Friday, February 11th, the Rhode Island Board of Election hosted a group of national elections integrity experts to conduct a pilot Risk Limiting Audit (RLA) utilizing a new algorithm designed to improve the efficiency of the RLA process. The pilot was run using ballots cast for the November 2, 2021 Portsmouth special referenda (Question 1). The RLA also served as a refresher for Board of Elections and local Board of Canvassers staff. “Rhode Island is a leader in the use of Risk Limiting Audits to ensure the integrity of our election results, and we were pleased to partner with national experts to pilot a new algorithm designed to improve the efficiency of the RLA process,” said Robert Rapoza, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Board of Elections. “Results from this pilot RLA will ultimately be published and reviewed by elections experts around the country. We were pleased to help play a part in work to further improve RLAs, considered the ‘gold standard’ of election auditing techniques.” The pilot RLA took approximately 3-hours to complete and was successful in one round in which 240 ballots (out of 3,814 total ballots cast) were pulled and examined. The risk limit came out to 4.18% which means there is a 95.82% chance that the outcome is correct. The new algorithm would have required half the ballots to have likely achieved the same results.

Full Article: R.I. Board of Elections pilots new algorithm to make risk-limiting audits more efficient – What’s Up Newp

At Rhode Island cybersecurity summit, elections officials confront ‘elephant in the room’ | Mark Reynolds/The Providence Journal

Local elections officials were reminded of a new and different challenge facing the country’s election systems on Wednesday at Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea’s virtual summit on cybersecurity. The reminder came from James Ludes. The director of Salve Regina University’s Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy talked about former President Donald Trump’s rejection…

Rhode Island Election Security Legislation Stalls | Alex Malm/Newport This Week

Legislation that would authorize the Secretary of State and the Board of Elections to conduct an extensive cybersecurity assessment of the state’s election systems and facilities, and establish a cybersecurity review board, was introduced by Rep. Deborah Ruggiero this year. The legislation also creates a cybersecurity incident response group to adopt protocols in the event of any breaches of cybersecurity. “There is no finish line when it comes to cybersecurity; a recent Gallop poll shows that Americans rank cybersecurity as a top threat facing our country, with 98 percent saying it’s a critical issue,” said Ruggiero. “ Our world is very different today than it was five years ago. We saw firsthand in the 2016 elections how the democratic process and governance came under attack through social media and technology and how it perpetuated divisiveness amongst people.” After unanimously passing the Rhode Island House of Representatives, the legislation was sent to the Rhode Island Senate Judiciary Committee last month. The committee didn’t vote it out of committee. Rep. Barbara Ann Fenton Fung, a Republican, sponsored the legislation. “If we learned anything from 2020, it’s that improving trust in the mechanics of our election process is so very important right now,” said Fenton-Fung. “This bill raises our game in terms of improving our cybersecurity infrastructure, and creates a comprehensive review and response team that includes the well-respected Rhode Island National Guard and Rhode Island State Police.

Full Article: Ruggiero Election Security Legislation Stalls | Newport This Week

Rhode Island: Unknown Number of Emailed Ballots Counted by Board of Elections | GoLocalProv

Many believed that it was illegal for the Rhode Island Board of Election to accept and count ballots sent to the state by email in the 2020 election. The Board’s Executive Director Robert Rapoza and Miguel Nunez, Deputy Director of Elections, have confirmed to GoLocal that a significant number of ballots were accepted from overseas and military personnel from unsecure emails and those ballots were counted in the final tally. The acceptance of the ballots seems to have caught Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, as well as the former vice-chair of the Board of Elections and the top election watchdog in Rhode Island, off-guard. The number of ballots sent out was 3,072 and 2,732 were returned by overseas voters and members of the U.S. military. According to multiple sources, Gorbea, who has repeatedly raised concerns about non-secure email ballots was unaware that the Board of Elections accepted and counted email ballots in the 2020 election.

Full Article: GoLocalProv | INVESTIGATION: Unknown Number of Emailed Ballots Counted by RI Board of Elections

Rhode Island House approves bill to allow remote electronic voting | Katherine Gregg/The Providence Journal

The state’s top election officials raised warning flags. One state lawmaker after another stated their misgivings about a bill moving through the State House to allow remote voting without a paper trail. But in the end, the Rhode Island House on Wednesday voted 48-to-17 for legislation that would allow disabled and military voters to “electronically receive and return their mail ballot.” The bill now goes to the Senate, where its prospects are uncertain. Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea’s turnabout on the bill epitomized the struggle many of the lawmakers were having in an era of cyber hacking and potential distrust of the outcome of any election where there is no paper trail to validate the results. Advocates said the electronic delivery and return of ballots would make it easier for handicapped people to vote than the current system for absentee voters, which ultimately requires the filled-out ballot be placed in the mail or in a drop box. But Common Cause of Rhode Island, one of the leaders of a campaign to increase voting opportunities, came out strongly against the bill. “We believe that the electronic return of the ballot is too risky,” John Marion, executive director of the local Common Cause chapter, told The Journal. “The FBI and [R.I. Congressman] Jim Langevin both agree. It can be hacked and votes can be changed, and the voter would never know.”

Full Article: RI House approves bill to allow remote electronic voting

Rhode Island Lawmakers Push Election Cybersecurity Assessment | Katya Maruri/Government Technology

Conducting a cybersecurity assessment of Rhode Island’s election systems could soon fall to the secretary of state, if Gov. Daniel McKee signs a recently proposed bill by state lawmakers. According to Rep. Deborah Ruggiero, D-74, the bill aims to create a proactive plan to prevent future ransomware and cyber attacks against the state’s election systems and provide training to canvassers to deal with cyber incidents. “This bill is timely and relevant as it allows the secretary of state and the board of elections to take actions to enhance our election security,” Ruggiero said. “We saw firsthand in the 2016 election how the democratic process came under attack — through social media and technology.” During the 2016 presidential election, issues such as bots posing as social media users to spread false information and the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee finding that Russia employed over 1,000 people to create fake accounts to spread anti-Hillary Clinton rhetoric raised cybersecurity concerns. Because of incidents like these, she said, cybersecurity has become an adversary that’s everywhere, impacting various industries throughout the country, including businesses, education and government. However, in Rhode Island’s case, no cyber incidents have been reported.

Full Article: Rhode Island Lawmakers Push Election Cybersecurity Assessment

Rhode Island Board of Elections audits election results | Connor Cyrus/WJAR

The Rhode Island Board of Elections conducted an audit Monday of the results of the Nov. 3 general election. “They look at a sample of the total number of ballots cast and compare it to the outcome of the election,” said John Marion of Common Cause. The so-called risk-limiting audit happens after every election in Rhode Island and is mandated by state law. It stems from people being worried during the 2016 election about cyberattacks. That same year, there was a problem at a Pawtucket polling place where one machine reported the wrong results. “It made election administrators and ultimately the General Assembly realize they needed to do something to check the results every time in a systematic way,” Marion said. The process is very organized and starts with blue boxes of ballots. The process counts roughly 10% of all of Rhode Island’s ballots by municipality. Monday, they were focusing on the presidential election.

Full Article: Rhode Island Board of Elections audits election results

Rhode Island: A state Board of Elections official says cybersecurity has held strong | Mark Reynolds/The Providence Journal

The cybersecurity of Rhode Island’s election system has been strong through the entire election cycle and remains sturdy as the state prepares for a risk-limiting audit of voting results, a state election official said Tuesday. The state Board of Elections’ process for transmitting unofficial election results, with modems and a private network, had drawn some scrutiny prior to the election. One election technology expert with the Silicon Valley-based OSET Institute, Eddie Perez, had referred to the plan as “a bad idea,” citing “broad consensus” in the cybersecurity field regarding the liability of such wireless technology. But Rhode Island’s Board of Elections stayed with its plan, reassured, in part, by input from the Rhode Island National Guard’s local team of cybersecurity experts, known as the Defensive Cyber Operations Element. On Election Night, the modems helped keep the public “well-informed” with timely unofficial results, said the BOE’s deputy director of elections, Miguel Nunez. Nunez pointed out that the system had processed a record number of ballots. “We feel very good,” he said.

Full Article: A state Board of Elections official says cybersecurity has held strong.

Rhode Island Board of Elections to conduct post election Risk-Limiting Audit on Nov. 23 | Daniel Hollingworth/ABC6

The Rhode Island Board of Elections (BOE) will conduct a Risk-Limiting Audit of the state’s 2020 General Election Results which is required by state law. Rhode Island is one of 5 states conducting a Risk-Limiting Audit (RLA), according to BOE spokesman Chris Hunter. “Risk-limiting audits are considered the ‘gold standard’ of post-election auditing techniques,” said Diane Mederos, Chairwoman of the Board of Elections. “Rhode Island voters have the right to have trust and confidence in the state’s voting system, and risk-limiting audits allow us to strengthen that trust by verifying that our voting machines are functioning properly and free from error or manipulation.” Post-election audits provide an extra layer of verification of the accuracy of the voting system after the election. The verification will rely on paper ballots, which Rhode Island has utilized to record every vote cast in the state over the past 20 years.

Full Article: RI Board of Elections to conduct post election Risk-Limiting Audit on Nov. 23 | ABC6

Rhode Island to use modems, private Verizon network for transmission of unofficial resultsOSET Institute expert says State is taking misguided risk | Mark Reynolds/The Providence Journal

After the polls close on Tuesday, Rhode Island election officials will take a risk when they rely on modems and a private Verizon network to collect tabulated election results from voting precincts across the state, according to leading election technology experts. Election officials say the cybersecurity of the modem arrangement has been greatly enhanced and only unofficial results will travel across the network. An election technology expert with the Silicon Valley-based OSET Institute, Eddie Perez, asserts that the arrangement is “a bad idea,” citing “broad consensus” in the cybersecurity field. “Any attempts to try to shore up and justify the use of modems to transmit even unofficial results in this threat environment, I would say is a misplaced mandate,” Perez said. The use of networks, including private networks, for transmitting election results has come under fire from prominent election technology experts in Florida.

Full Article: OSET Institute expert says Rhode Island election system taking misguided risk.

Rhode Island: Board of Elections recommends against sending mail ballot applications to all registered voters for September primary | Katherine Gregg/Providence Journal

State election officials sent word Wednesday that they do not support sending unsolicited mail ballot applications to every one of Rhode Island’s 700,000-plus registered voters for the September primaries. The unanimous vote, aimed at Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, came during a two-hour meeting of the Board of Elections that touched on worries about a possible resurgence of the coronavirus in the fall and the chilling effect that could have on voting. As one of the commissioners who also sits on Gorbea’s separate elections task force, Isadore Ramos questioned the value of the “redundancy.” “Now we’re talking about the same issues,’’ he said. ”I’ve heard it all. It is time to move and make some decisions.“

Rhode Island: 100K mail ballot applications sent by state were returned to sender | Katherine Gregg/Providence Journal

In the end, roughly 83% of the 123,875 Rhode Islanders who voted in Rhode Island’s June 2 presidential primary voted by mail ballot. But in the first-ever predominantly mail-ballot election, an unknown number of ballots went astray; at least 1,670 ballots arrived in the mail too late to be counted; and approximately 100,000 of the mail ballot applications the state sent, unsolicited, to 779,463 registered voters were returned as undeliverable, according to post-election reports from the Board of Elections. In an effort to reduce potential public exposure to the highly transmissible COVID-19 respiratory disease, state elections officials slashed the number of polling stations and attempted to conduct a predominantly mail-ballot election. While the machine-vote tallies made President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden the apparent winners of the Republican and Democratic primaries on Tuesday, the unofficial tally was not posted until Friday night.

Rhode Island: 6,100 masks, 750 bottles of hand sanitizer: Election board lays out how it will hold June 2 presidential primary | Katherine Gregg/Providence Journal

For a presidential primary like no other Rhode Island has ever seen, state election officials say they will need: 1,400 masks for poll workers, 4,700 masks for voters who arrive without their own, 750 bottles of hand sanitizer and 150 face shields. The list goes on. Disinfectant spray. Gloves. Cleaning towels. Social-distancing floor decals. Social-distancing signage. The state Board of Elections’ “In-Person Voting Preliminary Covid-19 Response Plan’’ assumes the state’s emergency management agency will, at the very least, provide the personal protective equipment, or PPE. Made public for the first time Friday morning, the plan resulted from talks between staff at the board and the state Department of Health about how to protect voters and poll workers at the 47 polling stations that will be open for the June 2 presidential primary. While state elections officials have been pushing a “predominantly mail ballot election’’ by sending mail ballot applications unsolicited to every voter in the state, they know some voters will want to vote as they always have: at a polling station.

Rhode Island: State to open only 47 polling places statewide for presidential primary | Katherine Gregg/Providence Journal

Many fewer polling places will be open for Rhode Island’s June 2 presidential primary than in the past, amid a push to get more Rhode Islanders to vote by mail ballot. Earlier this week, the state Board of Elections, meeting remotely via Zoom, approved requests by the cities and towns to open 47 polling locations in the 39 cities and towns. In most communities there will be only one polling station. In Cranston and Warwick there will be two in Pawtucket there will be three, and in Providence four. By way of comparison, there were 144 polling places open statewide for Rhode Island’s 2016 presidential primary.

Rhode Island: Governor orders primary postponement | Katherine Gregg/Providence Journal

Governor Raimondo has signed an executive order moving Rhode Island’s presidential primary from April 28 to June 2, as requested by the state Board of Elections. She announced her decision in a tweet that said: “Last week, the Board of Elections requested that the presidential primary election be postponed from April 28 to June 2 and that the election take place primarily by mail ballot. “I am following the advice of the Board of Elections, and will sign an executive order to do this.” Later in the day, she signed an executive order that looked back at the 2016 presidential primaries when “over 180,000 Rhode Islanders cast their ballots at.. over 146 polling places,’’ and then ahead to this year’s primary with a potential 182 polling places with a minimum of 8 poll workers each.

Rhode Island: Board seeks delay, mail ballots for presidential primary | John Howell/Johnston Sun Rise

Following the call from the State Board of Elections to postpone the April 28 presidential preference primary to June 2, Dottie McCarthy is breathing easier – although the challenge ahead is daunting. The April 28 date is set by law and to change would require the governor to issue an executive order to override the law. That hadn’t occurred as of Wednesday afternoon. “As we’ve seen, this is a quickly evolving situation. The Rhode Island primary is still more than a month away, and the Governor’s top priority is protecting the immediate public health and safety of Rhode Islanders. She is open to the idea of moving the election date and will rely on guidance from public health and election officials to inform that decision,” Josh Block, the governor’s spokesperson, said in an email. In response to efforts to control the coronavirus, the Board of Elections would mail primary ballots. While this will eliminate the congregation of people at the polls, voting isn’t going to be as simple as walking into the polls, giving your identification and picking up a ballot.

Rhode Island: Elections board votes to move primary to June | Katherine Gregg/Providence Journal

Rhode Island’s Board of Elections is seeking to postpone the April 28 presidential preference primary until June 2 to give the state more time to prepare, if necessary, for a potential COVID-19-driven move to an all mail ballot election. The board voted 6-1 on Tuesday to ask Gov. Gina Raimondo to take all measures necessary — including potentially issuing another emergency executive order — to override the state law that now requires the primary to take place on April 28. Raimondo spokesman Josh Block responded: “She is open to the idea of moving the election date and will rely on guidance from public health and election officials to inform that decision.” The board’s executive director, Robert Rapoza, cited several arguments for a delay. Among them: “Process is currently disrupted because local communities are operating under severe restrictions due to Coronavirus precautions. … April 28 is only 6 weeks away. Outbreak is expected to last longer. Coronavirus situation may improve in May or June. … Protective gear and cleaning supplies may be easier to obtain and provide to the polls.”

Rhode Island: After Iowa fiasco, is Rhode Island’s voting tech ready for Primary Day? | John Krinjak/WLNE

Who knew a smartphone app could grind a caucus to a halt? Earlier this month in Iowa, it took days for Democratic officials to figure out who won. Here in Rhode Island, that fiasco is raising some eyebrows. “Any time there is a problem in an election in the United States, it’s troubling,” said Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea. With our primary coming up on April 28th, Gorbea wants to reassure concerned voters. “They might mistakenly believe that’s what’s happening in Iowa, could happen in Rhode Island, when it can’t. they have a completely different system. They have caucuses, we have primaries, and we are really well set up for our primary,” said Gorbea. She says Rhode Island is taking steps to make sure it all goes off without a hitch. “Every day until Primary Day and beyond, the state-whether it be the board of canvassers or at the state board of elections or in my office-we will all be working to make sure that that primary election happens smoothly,” said Gorbea.

Rhode Island: Board of Elections votes to purchase new modems to enhance security | Mark Reynolds/Providence Journal

The Rhode Island Board of Elections voted unanimously Tuesday afternoon to enhance the security of the voting system by acquiring new modems for the machines that tabulate votes and embracing other recommendations of a recent security assessment. The board took action after releasing a public copy of the security assessment and taking input from Rhode Island National Guard Col. R. Michael Tetreault, who was part of a team that helped draft the assessment. The state Division of Information Technology and the Rhode Island Guard Defensive Operations Element looked at “technology enhancements” made to the state’s election management system, according to a report obtained Tuesday by The Providence Journal. The initiative also reviewed efforts to reduce risk based on recommendations made last year.

Rhode Island: Elections board discusses voter-system security | Katherine Gregg/Providence Journal

Voting by email. Upgrading the modems used to transmit election-day vote tallies.  Unmasking the donors hiding behind names like “The Coalition to Make Our Voices Heard” who pour money into campaigns. On a day Russian interference in past U.S. elections again made news, Rhode Island election officials waded into this quagmire without making any final decisions on what to do next. For example, they briefly weighed the pros and cons of allowing overseas voters — such as members of the military — to cast their R.I. election ballots from afar by email. The idea was shelved — at least for now — pending more study, after one member after another of the state Board of Elections voiced concern about the security of ballots cast in this fashion, despite assurances the ballots would be sent to a dedicated “address.” “I think we need to look very carefully at the security issues,” said the vice chairman, Stephen P. Erickson. It was unclear who authored the email-voting proposal that appeared on the board’s agenda, alongside a proposal to upgrade from 3G to 4G the modems the state uses on election-day to transmit results to state Board of Elections headquarters. That proposal too was put on hold — until next week — amid warnings from Brian Tardiff, the information security officer for the state’s Division of Information Technology, that making public all of the findings of a cybersecurity analysis of Rhode Island’s election system could put the system at risk.

Rhode Island: Voting Chief Says Paper Ballots Are Essential | Sean Flynn/Newport Daily News

Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea told her audience on Friday how during the March 2016 presidential primary she was accused on election-related websites of rigging the election in favor of Hillary Clinton to the detriment of Bernie Sanders and closing down polling sites. “A year later it was determined that Bernie bots of the Russian Internet Research Agency were at work,” Gorbea said. “If your head is spinning, believe me, everyone’s head is spinning.” Gorbea was addressing more than 140 election officials and information technology experts who gathered for a five-hour Cybersecurity Summit at Salve Regina University’s Pell Center in Newport. Media were allowed to listen for 1 ½ hours, but then cleared out before speakers like Noah Praetz, a senior election security advisor with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and Jessica Cone, a specialist with the U.S. Elections Infrastructure — Information Sharing and Analysis Center, made their presentations. “We don’t want to give away our game plan,” Gorbea said.