Rhode Island

Articles about voting issues in Rhode Island.

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.

Full Article: After Iowa fiasco, is RI's voting tech ready for Primary Day? - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather.

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.

Full Article: R.I. Board of Elections votes to purchase new modems to enhance security - News - providencejournal.com - Providence, RI.

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.

Full Article: Elections board discusses voter-system security - News - providencejournal.com - Providence, RI.

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.

Full Article: Rhode Island Voting Chief Says Paper Ballots Are Essential.

Rhode Island: Report examines ways to adopt election audit system in Rhode Island | Jennifer McDermott/Associated Press

A new report recommends how to adopt a system for auditing election results required in Rhode Island. Common Cause, Verified Voting and The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law released the report Tuesday. They helped the state design and test the risk-limiting audit system this year. Rhode Island will first use risk-limiting audits for the 2020 presidential primaries. There are three ways to do the postelection audit. The report recommends a ballot-level comparison because of its efficiency, transparency and relatively predictable cost. That type of audit would compare the vote on an individual ballot to the machine’s recording of the vote on that ballot, which requires the fewest number of ballots to be examined. The other methods, ballot polling and batch comparison, compare more ballots to totals produced by the machines and require the examination of far more ballots, John Marion, executive director of Common Cause Rhode Island, said Tuesday.

Full Article: Report examines ways to adopt election audit system in Rhode Island - News - providencejournal.com - Providence, RI.

Rhode Island: Protecting elections in Rhode Island | Providence Journal

Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea’s most important job is to make sure Rhode Island elections are on the up-and-up. Unfortunately, she has unilaterally blocked the public from obtaining information that was previously available in digital form to check on the accuracy of the voter lists she maintains. (In this year’s session, the legislature balked at Ms. Gorbea’s attempt to deny the public such information by law.) And now it turns out that she bought voting machines that could be liable to hacking. The issue came to light recently through a Vice.com investigation, which found that, for a period of time, Rhode Island’s elections system was connected to the internet. The public had been assured the machines were walled off from potential hacking. Researchers were able to find online the reporting system for results from the entire state. Not good. The problem is striking a balance between quick reporting of results — which in itself helps protect our elections from fraud — and making sure machines are free from tampering. Modems in the voting machines Ms. Gorbea bought transmit election results quickly to the state Board of Elections after the polls close.

Full Article: Editorial: Protecting elections in Rhode Island - Opinion - providencejournal.com - Providence, RI.

Rhode Island: Security expert offers solution to prevent hacking of election computers in Rhode Island next year | Edward Fitzpatrick/The Boston Globe

A computer security expert is proposing a solution that would let the state Board of Elections bolster its cybersecurity on Election Day without having to rip out modems that make the state’s election system vulnerable to cyberattacks. On Aug. 2, the Board of Elections asked Tony Adams, an information security professional who lives in Providence, to write a memo suggesting ways to reduce the risk of hacking on election night, when modems are used to quickly report unofficial results. In an Aug. 14 memo, Adams suggests having the modems report unofficial results to computers that are separate from the state’s core election computer system, which configures ballots and tabulates official results. That way, if hackers did penetrate the system on election night, they couldn’t change the official results or hold the whole system hostage with ransomware, for example, he said. “This idea is so elegant you have to ask: Why didn’t I think of that?” Board of Elections Vice Chairman Stephen P. Erickson said this week. “Because you don’t have to spend a lot of money, it’s relatively simple to implement, and it will substantially increase the level of security — and the perceived security, which is important.”

Full Article: Security expert offers solution to prevent hacking of election computers in Rhode Island next year - The Boston Globe.

Rhode Island: Voting machines had modems in 2016 and 2018. Now the state is assessing its hackability. | Patrick Anderson/Providence Journal

Before the 2016 election, the state bought voting machines equipped with Verizon modems that transmit preliminary election results to the state Board of Elections — speeding the state’s ability to declare winners on election night, but also exposing the system to potential meddling. The Providence Journal delivers accurate, timely news about the moments that matter most. To receive stories like this one in your inbox, sign up here. Election hacking fears rekindled by the federal Russia probe have prompted Rhode Island election officials to take a closer look into whether the state’s voting systems are vulnerable to attack. The new concerns relate to the state’s decision to buy voting machines before the 2016 election equipped with their own Verizon modems that transmit preliminary election results to the state Board of Elections after the polls close. The modems have helped shorten the time it takes the state to declare winners on election night. But because any internet connection exposes a system to potential cyberattack, the federal government never certified the modem-equipped machines for states to use. And this summer the U.S. Senate committee investigating Russian efforts to breach the 2016 election urged states to tighten their election security, use only federally approved voting machines and “remove (or render inert) any wireless networking capability” such as a modem.

Full Article: R.I. voting machines had modems in 2016 and 2018. Now the state is assessing its hackability. - News - providencejournal.com - Providence, RI.

Rhode Island: Report prompts elections officials to examine security of voting systems | Patrick Anderson/Providence Journal

The Providence Journal delivers accurate, timely news about the moments that matter most. To receive stories like this one in your inbox, sign up here. Election hacking fears rekindled by the federal Russia probe have prompted Rhode Island elections officials to take a closer look into whether the state’s voting systems are vulnerable to attack. The new concerns relate to the state’s decision to buy voting machines before the 2016 election equipped with their own Verizon modems that transmit preliminary election results to the state Board of Elections after the polls close. The modems have helped shorten the time it takes the state to declare winners on election night. But because any internet connection exposes a system to potential cyber attack, the federal government never certified the modem-equipped machines for states to use and this summer the U.S. Senate committee investigating Russian efforts to breach the 2016 elections urged states to tighten their election security, use only federally-approved voting machines and “remove (or render inert) any wireless networking capability,” such as a modem.

Full Article: Report prompts R.I. elections officials to examine security of voting systems - News - providencejournal.com - Providence, RI.

Rhode Island: State Rebuilding Central Voter Registration System Ahead of 2020 | GoLocalProv

Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea joined GoLocalProv News Editor Kate Nagle on LIVE where she spoke to the office overseeing the rebuilding of the central voter registration system this year — and why she fears early voting not passing the General Assembly this year will have consequences in 2020. “We are in the process of making sure that our hardware an internet structures are secure — so Stonewall Solutions, I’m proud to say a Rhode Island company from Pawtucket — just won the RFP for rebuilding our central voter registration system, so we are secure to modern-day standards,” said Gorbea. “It was a great program back in 2003 when we first built it but now you know it needs to be upgraded.”

Full Article: GoLocalProv | RI Rebuilding Central Voter Registration System Ahead of 2020: Gorbea on LIVE.

Rhode Island: Contract awarded to build central voter registration system | Associated Press

Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea says a contract has been awarded to build a new central voter registration system for the state. The Democrat announced Thursday that Stonewall Solutions, of Pawtucket, was awarded the contract. The computer database, designed in 2005, houses the state’s list of registered voters and acts as Rhode Island’s election management system. Gorbea says a modernized system will help ensure elections are secure and streamline the way election officials process voter records, update the voter list, check ballots and certify mail ballots.

Full Article: Contract awarded to build central voter registration system.

Rhode Island: Brown University study on Rhode Island voter ID law raises questions | Providence Journal

Opponents of Rhode Island’s eight-year-old voter ID law cheered this week when research showing the law stifled voting by low-income residents appeared to confirm their long-held fears. The study from Brown University academics published by the National Bureau of Economic Research [NBER] found that the photo ID law passed in 2011 and used for the first time in 2014 resulted in a “significant decline in turnout, registration, and voting conditional on registration (for more vulnerable groups of voters) in presidential elections after the law was implemented.” After making the rounds among national election law watchers Monday, the study was cited in a General Assembly press release Wednesday promoting Sen. Gayle Goldin’s package of voting reform bills, including one to repeal the voter ID law.

Full Article: Political Scene: Brown academics' study on R.I. voter ID law raises questions - News - providencejournal.com - Providence, RI.

Rhode Island: Russia Wants to Undermine Trust in Elections. Here’s How Rhode Island Is Fighting Back | Time

When a group of Rhode Island’s top officials gathered in a chilly warehouse in Providence in mid-January to fight foreign interference in U.S. elections, the mood was festive. After Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea’s name was pulled out of a knit Patriots hat, the crowd applauded and cheered uproariously. And when she leaned over a plastic table to roll a 10-sided die typically used for Dungeons and Dragons, people watched intensely. Then the work began. The number generated from 20 rolls of the dice was used to pick the ballots that would be pulled and tested to see if November’s vote counting had been done correctly, a final fail-safe against a hacked election, all done in plain view of the public. “Democracy and elections are only as good as whether people trust them or not,” Gorbea said. “Confidence in our democracy is critical to every other public policy issue.” Voting experts say this kind of election audit is critical to thwarting attempts to meddle with American democracy. It not only detects problems with ballot counting, but the open nature of the audit itself also helps restore voters’ confidence in the system.

Full Article: Rhode Island Seeks to Restore Voters' Trust in Elections | Time.

Rhode Island: To enhance election security, Rhode Island tests a new way to verify election results | Uprise RI

Rhode Island is making good on its promise to road-test risk-limiting election audits, following 2017 passage of legislation by the Rhode Island General Assembly, requiring them. Beginning with the presidential primary in April 2020, Rhode Island will become the second state to require these audits to verify election results. A “risk limiting” audit checks if the election result is correct. Specifically it checks the counting of the votes. A “risk-limiting” audit limits the risk that the wrong election result will be certified. It can catch errors which change the result and correct a wrong result. To prepare for next year’s full implementation, the Rhode Island Board of Elections will conduct three pilot audits on January 16 and 17 at 50 Branch Avenue in Providence, Rhode Island beginning at 9:30 a.m. These pilot audits will be conducted with local election officials from Bristol, Cranston and Portsmouth, Rhode Island.

Full Article: To enhance election security, Rhode Island tests a new way to verify election results – Uprise RI.

Rhode Island: Secretary of state proposes early voting | Associated Press

The demand for mail ballots in the recent election shows the need to allow for early voting, Rhode Island’s secretary of state said Wednesday. Democrat Nellie Gorbea said about 17,000 traditional mail ballots were returned for the Nov. 6 general election, up from about 11,500 in 2014. She said nearly 11,000 “emergency mail ballots” were returned within 20 days of the election, up from nearly 5,000 in 2014. Gorbea, who was elected to a second four-year term, said she’ll once again push for a bill to allow early voting at city and town halls within 20 days of an election. The legislative session begins in January. Gorbea said it would make voting more convenient, secure and eliminate mistakes that disqualify some mail ballots. Voters would cast ballots in person just as they would if it were Election Day.

Full Article: Secretary of state proposes early voting in Rhode Island.

Rhode Island: Electronic poll books rolling out in Rhode Island | WLNE

A big change is in store for many Rhode Island voters Wednesday as they check in at polling locations. The board of elections gave ABC6 News a demo of the new electronic poll books which will be rolled out. Basically, instead of those old binders with your name and address you’ll just have to present your photo identification. The information is then scanned into an iPad where they verify you’re the right person and in the right place. If you’re not in the right place, the device can text you the address of where you’re supposed to be. Officials say this new technology has been shown to cut down on wait times and increase data accuracy. “You’re information is going to be brought up extremely quickly so that poll workers don’t have to flip through hundreds of pages to try and find your name. It’s going to show up within seconds,” said Rob Rock, Director of Elections with the Secretary of State’s Office.

Full Article: Electronic poll books rolling out in RI - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather.

Rhode Island: Due to computer glitch, ineligible candidate listed on Pawtucket primary ballot | Providence Journal

The DMV voter-registration glitch has created a messy situation in a Pawtucket House race, where it has come to light that Rep. Jean Philippe Barros’ only opponent — Democratic primary challenger David Santagata — is not a registered Democrat. With the Wednesday, Sept. 12 primary only days away, the state Board of Elections has scheduled a meeting for Monday to decide what to do in this unprecedented situation where ballots have already been printed — and mail ballots cast — in a race that includes a candidate who was a registered member of the Moderate Party when he was certified as a Democratic primary candidate in Pawtucket House District 59. On Friday, the state Board of Elections posted an agenda that brought this consequence of the DMV snafu to light.

Full Article: Due to computer glitch, ineligible candidate listed on Pawtucket primary ballot.

Rhode Island: New Poll Pad technology set for statewide rollout | The Valley Breeze

Voters in precincts across the state may notice something new when they visit their polling locations to vote in next week’s primary elections. Instead of long, alphabetized lists of registered voters, poll workers will now use digital tablets that can pull up a voter’s information and confirm receipt of a ballot with a simple scan of a photo ID. The technology, called a Poll Pad, was first piloted in select precincts in Rhode Island in 2016 and will be implemented statewide for the first time next week. Poll workers tested out the new system during a training class held at Woonsocket City Hall Aug. 23. As Amy Farrell, a trainer with the Rhode Island Board of Elections, points out, the technology eliminates the need for paper poll books along with much of the human error that can come along with the manual check-in process.

Full Article: New Poll Pad technology set for statewide rollout | The Valley Breeze.

Rhode Island: 5,000 voter records caught in computer glitch | Providence Journal

As a result of an “IT” snafu in the Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles’ automatic-voter-registration system, the new and newly-updated records of at least 5,000 potential primary day voters got stuck in limbo. Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea is asking the state Board of Elections to take emergency steps at its next meeting on Wednesday to rectify the situation. More specifically, she is asking the state board to give the go-ahead for elections officials in all 39 cities and towns to add at least 1,400 new voters to their local rolls before the Sept. 12 primary, and change their own records to reflect changes — such as a move to a new address — of another 3,600 previously registered voters who did business with the DMV in the last year.

Full Article: 5,000 R.I. voter records caught in computer glitch - News - providencejournal.com - Providence, RI.

Rhode Island: Early voting looks headed for impasse again in Rhode Island | Associated Press

The effort to expand early voting in Rhode Island appears headed for an impasse for the fifth year in a row. Advocates for Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea’s proposal, which has stalled in House and Senate committees, say they remain hopeful lawmakers will revisit the measure, but legislative leaders demurred when asked whether it would be considered again. Senate President Dominick Ruggerio told The Associated Press no decision has been made. “We’re looking at early voting. We had the hearings,” he said. “Some people like it. Some people don’t.” Residents can already apply for “emergency mail ballots” at their city or town halls within 20 days of an election. Those ballots proved increasingly popular in 2016.

Full Article: Early voting looks headed for impasse again in Rhode Island - Fairfield Citizen.