Articles about voting issues in Texas.

Texas: Dallas County Lit $6 Million on Fire During Countywide Voting Transition | Stephen Young/Dallas Observer

Dallas County’s switch from traditional polling places on election day to vote centers that can be used by anyone registered to vote in the county is a good thing. The Observer is on the record saying as much. The county’s transition to the new voting setup, as county commissioners and the public found out this week, hasn’t been as positive. In its haste to get ready for the November 2019 state constitutional amendment election, the county, as KDFW first reported, spent $6 million on electronic poll books that don’t work with the rest of its voting setup. As a result, the county has had to purchase more than $5.6 million in poll books from a second vendor. Commissioner J.J. Koch, the sole Republican on the Commissioner’s Court, lit into county Elections Administrator Toni Pippins-Poole on Tuesday. According to Pippins-Poole, Tenex, the company from which the county bought the now-useless poll books, didn’t know that it wouldn’t be able to meet state rules that require that the tablets have a constant link to a central system at the time of the sale.

Full Article: Dallas County Struggling With Countywide Voting Transition | Dallas Observer.

Texas: Electronic pollbook problems cost Dallas County taxpayers an additional $6 million | Lori Brown/KDFW

FOX 4 has discovered Dallas County spent millions of dollars on polling equipment that doesn’t work securely with its voting machines. Millions more will need to be shelled out to fix the problem by the March primary election. Dallas County bought the new equipment in order to have new voting centers so voters can vote anywhere in the county on Election Day. But it turns out $6 million were wasted on poll books made by one company that can’t securely function with voting machines made by a different company. It turns out Dallas County Commissioner J.J. Koch says new equipment unveiled in the November 2019 election could have been vulnerable to hackers. “We purchased something entirely too quickly, and it ended up costing taxpayers now additional millions of dollars,” he said. “Largely because of security features. In fact, we had an unsecure election.”

Full Article: Voting equipment problems cost Dallas County taxpayers an additional $6 million | FOX 4 News Dallas-Fort Worth.

Texas: Governor warns of possible cyber attacks amid conflict with Iran | Allie Morris/HoustonChronicle.com

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott is warning of potential cyberattacks on state agencies as a result of the conflict between Iran and the U.S. In the past 48 hours, Abbott said Texas officials have identified Iran as the origin of as many as 10,000 attempted attacks per minute on state computers and networks. After a roundtable with law enforcement officials on Tuesday, Abbott said there are some concerns about the attempted hacks, but that state officials have no credible information about immediate threats to the state or Texas residents. A federal website and a state website that isn’t monitored by the Texas Department of Information Resources might have been defaced by someone with pro-Iranian sentiments, the agency’s executive director Amanda Crawford told reporters after the roundtable. But she declined to name the affected sites and said the department is still gathering information. Abbott is warning local governments to be especially vigilant.

Full Article: Gov. Abbott warns of possible cyber attacks amid conflict with Iran - HoustonChronicle.com.

Texas: Missing Midland County ballot box could throw bond election into question | Stacy Fernández/The Texas Tribune

A proposal for a $569 million bond to build two new high school buildings in Midland failed by 25 votes in the November election, a margin slim enough it set off calls for a recount. The ballots were recounted manually, and to the delight of Midland ISD officials, the results flipped and the proposal passed by a margin of 11 votes. But last week, a Midland elections staffer found a box on the bottom of a shelf in the office containing 836 ballots that weren’t tallied in the recount. Those votes threaten to again reverse the election results, which school officials are counting on to generate hundreds of millions of dollars for school construction. The elections office obtained a court order to open the ballot box on Monday morning, when staffers began to count up the missing votes. The first and unofficial vote tally on Nov. 5, which used the electronic ballots, took the missing ballots into account. The paper ballots are a physical copy of how constituents voted on the electronic system. The paper ballots came into play during the manual recount, which was missing the more than 800 ballots, making the recount number inaccurate.

Full Article: Missing Midland, Texas ballot box could throw bond election into question | The Texas Tribune.

Texas: Alarming Discrepancies Found in Midland County Election | Matt Stringer |/Texas Scorecard

An investigation into a West Texas school district’s bond election found even more ballots unaccounted for and a locked ballot box that officials cannot explain, leaving the community still looking for answers. The election was held last month on a proposed $569 million school bond for the Midland Independent School District. Unofficial results from election night showed 11,560 votes for the bond and 11,548 votes against, with military and absentee votes still pending. But the unofficial results were flipped going into final tabulation, with the bond failing by 30 votes due to an incorrect reading of the unofficial results from election night that stood uncorrected by the elections administrator for some time. Final results showed 23,631 votes cast in the bond election: 11,803 votes for and 11,828 against the measure. A recount of the results conducted on November 23 found that 11,400 people had voted against the bond, while 11,411 voted for it, giving a grand total of 22,811 voters having participated in the election.

Full Article: Alarming Discrepancies Found in Midland Election - Texas Scorecard.

Texas: We won. No, you won. Wait! We won! Confusion in a Texas school bond election isn’t going away. | Dave Lieber/Dallas Morning News

Jim Wells County had the infamous Ballot Box 13. It was 1948, and supporters of Lyndon B. Johnson held the box back, and then, miraculously, came up with just enough votes for LBJ to win his first U.S. Senate race. History would be quite different if the future president’s South Texas supporters hadn’t cheated. The fragility of our voting system should not be taken for granted. This can happen anywhere in any election. Midland County currently faces its own threat to the sanctity of its election system. Nobody is officially accusing anyone of cheating, but there are problems galore. Much of the problems stem from the first-time use of new voter machines that are supposed to protect ballot security. Called hybrids, they record a vote both electronically and through a backup paper ballot. Most Dallas/Fort Worth area counties have switched to them or are working on a switch. But, so far, that promised measure of security hasn’t worked in that part of West Texas.

Full Article: We won. No, you won. Wait! We won! Confusion in a Texas school bond election isn’t going away..

Texas: Ahead Of 2020, Voting Group Warns Most County Election Websites In Texas Are Not Secure | Ashley Lopez/KUT

Almost 80 percent of county election websites in Texas are not secure ahead of the 2020 presidential primary, according to a report from the League of Women Voters of Texas. Before every major election, the nonpartisan voting group says, it looks through the state’s 254 county election websites to make sure they have the information they are legally required to have, that the information is easy to find and that it’s easy to read. League of Women Voters of Texas President Grace Chimene said as the group conducted this review, it found a glaring issue. “One of things that stood out to us is that there is a definite problem with website security,” she said. “I was really surprised. I was totally shocked that this is a problem.” In particular, Chimene said, 201 of the 254 sites don’t have https in their URLs, signaling the website is secure. “This is just the most simple thing to fix and it hasn’t been fixed,” she said.

Full Article: Ahead Of 2020, Voting Group Warns Most County Election Websites In Texas Are Not Secure | KUT.

Texas: District Judge approved petition to open Midland County ballot boxes | Brandi Addison/Midland Reporter-Telegram

Midland County Attorney Russell Malm filed a petition Friday morning for permission to open ballot boxes from this election season. The petition was approved by Judge David Lindemood of the 318th District Court, and ballot boxes are set to be opened at 9 a.m. Thursday in the Commissioners’ Court located at the Midland County Annex on “A” Street. The request comes after a manual paper-ballot recount, on Midland ISD’s $569 million bond on Nov. 22, showed an 820-vote discrepancy from what the electronic machines tabulated on Nov. 5 and 12. The opening of ballot boxes is just part of an ongoing process of investigation, Malm said. Under the guidance of the Secretary of State, this was the suggested step that should help determine whether the large gap was due to incorrect tallying during the recount or if the electronic voting machines duplicated votes. The Elections Office will open the boxes to see if there was anything misplaced – specifically a tally sheet – and if so, Elections Administrator Deborah Land will make a copy and place it in an original sealed envelope. From there, all ballots will be run through the electronic machines to count the number of votes cast. This will not tabulate how many votes were “for” or “against,” but rather if the numbers match the tallies from the recount or match the votes tabulated on the electronic machines.

Full Article: District Judge approved petition to open ballot boxes - Midland Reporter-Telegram.

Texas: Midland County officials share update on investigation into ballot discrepancy

The Midland County Elections Office has shared the latest on their investigation into how hundreds of votes went missing during the Midland ISD bond recount. The following comes from Midland County: This is an update on the steps we have and are continuing to undertake to find where the discrepancy has occurred. A telephone conference was held on November 25, 2019 between Keith Ingram and Christina Adkins of the Legal Department of the Texas Office of Secretary of State, and including Terry Johnson, County Judge, Russell Malm, County Attorney, and myself. We were given steps to go through to compare voter check-ins with totals tapes from each vote center, both early voting and election day. We are completing that task at this time.

Full Article: Midland County officials share update on investigation into ballot discrepancy.

Texas: Report finds 20% of Texas counties are following best website security practices | Wes Rapaport/Nexstar

With a big election year coming up, one Texas group says improvements to election security are still needed. A new survey from the League of Women Voters of Texas found 20% of Texas county election websites are following best security practices. The review looked at nine points of criteria:
Website security: counties earned points for having secure websites, including “.gov” domains and “https” URLs.
Mobile friendly: each website was tested for its compatibility with mobile devices.
Accessibility: the sites were judged on keywords like “election” or “voting” on the home page.
Election information: reviewers looked at ease of accessible voter and election information like detailed contact information for county election offices, dates and hours for early voting and Election Day, registration information, polling locations, and personnel, sample ballots, election results and candidate filing.
Help for special categories of voters: the survey reviewed how much information was provided for military and overseas voters, students, and voters with special needs

Full Article: Report finds 20% of Texas counties are following best website security practices | KXAN.com.

Texas: Midland ISD canvassing bond election | Victor Blanco, Tatum Guinn, Rachel Ripp/KWES

It’s officially in the books: the Midland school board finalized the bond election recount results Tuesday. Everything from here forward will be dealt with by Midland County. This despite a more than 800 ballot discrepancy. People at today’s meeting asked the board to hold off on canvassing the recount until the county gets to the bottom of what happened. “It’s disappointing in that there’s so many questions left unanswered. That’s the part that really I’m having trouble with,” Matt Galindo said. “To know that there’s a discrepancy in the amount of votes. I’m disappointed, worried and now have a lack of trust.” Midland ISD school board president Rick Davis took the opportunity to explain in detail how the recount process worked Friday. The process included nine teams of three – one representative from each side of the issue and an at-large member were on each team.

Full Article: Midland ISD canvassing bond election | newswest9.com.

Texas: Cause of 820-vote discrepancy in Midland County not yet known | Midland Reporter-Telegram

Midland County Elections Administrator Deborah Land told the Reporter-Telegram it has not been determined what caused an 820-vote discrepancy between Election Day and the recount on the Midland ISD $569 million bond. Land said she has reached out to the legal department of the Secretary of State’s Office and is awaiting response. She has also reached out to representatives from ES&S, the voting machine vendor. “Until I have more information as to how we will be making any determination as to the difference in numbers, I have nothing further to tell you at this time,” Land wrote in an email. The electronic machines counted 23,631 ballots were cast on Nov. 5. When the ballots were counted by hand, the nine three-person teams counted 22,811 ballots total. The recount began sometime after 8 a.m. Friday and ended about 4 a.m. Saturday. Midland County Elections Administrator Deborah Land told the Reporter-Telegram it has not been determined what caused an 820-vote discrepancy between Election Day and the recount on the Midland ISD $569 million bond. Land said she has reached out to the legal department of the Secretary of State’s Office and is awaiting response. She has also reached out to representatives from ES&S, the voting machine vendor.

Full Article: Cause of 820-vote discrepancy not yet known - Midland Reporter-Telegram.

Texas: Travis County Election Results “Significantly” Delayed After Recounts Were Required | Spectrum News

Election results are in but in Travis County, there were “significant” delays compared to previous elections. Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir says the delays were not only caused by new voting machines but a statutory requirement to recount some ballots. This is the first time Travis County voters used new machines that utilize paper ballots. At the polls, voters were given a paper “receipt” that inserted into a ballot marker. There they made their selections on a computer which are then printed on the paper. Voters were able to make sure their selections were accurate before having the paper scanned by the ballot box. The papers were then stored in a locked storage box at the bottom of the device in case there was a need for a recount, and recounts were required. DeBeauvoir’s office says the Texas Election Code requires polling places to recount ballots where the number of people who check in, and the number of votes counted, don’t add up. In Travis County, votes from 15 polling locations had to be recounted. That pushed back when the final unofficial results were released: 3:45 a.m. on Wednesday.

Full Article: Travis County Election Results “Significantly” Delayed.

Texas: Paper-Based Voting Takes Hold in Texas | Erin Anderson/Texas Scorecard

This November, Texas voters may be less surprised by what’s on their ballots than by what their ballots look like. Dozens of counties across the state—including Collin, Dallas, and Tarrant—are rolling out brand-new, “hybrid” voting systems that combine paper-based and electronic balloting. With hybrid systems, voters use an electronic touch screen to mark paper ballots, which are then counted using a separate tabulating machine. Voters can confirm their selections on paper before scanning their ballots for electronic counting, and election officials have a paper record to use for audits and recounts. Electronic ballot-marking eliminates stray marks and over-votes (marking more than one choice in a race) that can make it difficult or impossible to interpret a voter’s intent. The systems include multiple security features and are not connected to the internet. “Russia cannot tie into this voting equipment,” Collin County Elections Administrator Bruce Sherbet said at a training class for election workers last week, adding that the rollout has been very smooth during early voting.

Full Article: Paper-Based Voting Takes Hold in Texas - Texas Scorecard.

Texas: Palo Pinto County to Block State Network Access for Security | David May/Mineral Wells Index

If state officials want to perform a security or other audits of the local elections office, they may have to come to Palo Pinto to do it. Joey Fenley, head of Palo Pinto County’s Information Technology department, said allowing remote access to the county’s network through an offsite connection – such as software using a virtual private network – puts the county’s network at risk of receiving a virus or, worse, ransomware. He said it is a breach of the county’s network security protocols. Fenley questions why the state would perform a network security audit using an insecure method. “It’s done by a third party and you don’t know who they are,” Fenley told the Index.

Full Article: Texas County to Block State Network Access for Security.

Texas: Ransomware Attack Hits 22 Texas Towns, Authorities Say | Manny Fernandez, Mihir Zaveri and Emily S. Rueb/The New York Times

Computer systems in 22 small Texas towns have been hacked, seized and held for ransom in a widespread, coordinated cyberattack that has sent state emergency-management officials scrambling and prompted a federal investigation, the authorities said. The Texas Department of Information Resources said Monday that it was racing to bring systems back online after the “ransomware attack,” in which hackers remotely block access to important data until a ransom is paid. Such attacks are a growing problem for city, county and state governments, court systems and school districts nationwide. By Tuesday afternoon, Texas officials had lowered the number of towns affected to 22 from 23 and said several government agencies whose systems were attacked were back to “operations as usual.” The ransomware virus appeared to affect certain agencies in the 22 towns, not entire government computer systems. Officials said that there were common threads among the 22 entities and that the attacks appeared not to be random, but they declined to elaborate, citing a federal investigation. It was unclear who was responsible. The state described the attacker only as “one single threat actor.”

Full Article: Ransomware Attack Hits 22 Texas Towns, Authorities Say - The New York Times.

Texas: How an election security push is running aground in Texas | Eric Geller/Politico

Election officials across the country are spending millions of dollars to replace their insecure voting machines ahead of the 2020 election. But America’s patchwork voting system is a long way from being secure. To understand why, take a look at Texas. More than a quarter of the state’s 254 counties are sticking with paperless voting machines that cybersecurity experts and intelligence officials have condemned as vulnerable to hacking, according to an extensive, first-of-its-kind POLITICO survey of state and local election offices. At least 14 of them are even buying new paperless machines as they replace devices that nearing 20 years old. In the nation’s second-largest state, the forces impeding the effort to secure the machinery of democracy are the same ones stalling this push for paper ballots nationwide. They include a lack of money, an absence of leadership from above, and a shortage of basic cybersecurity knowledge among the local election officials who make the technology decisions in much of the country.

Full Article: How an election security push is running aground in Texas - POLITICO.

Texas: Election officials train to spot vulnerabilities ahead of 2020 | Wes Rapaport/KXAN

Hundreds of election administrators, county clerks, and voter registrars converged on a hotel ballroom in Austin for training with the Texas Secretary of State’s office. The theme of the week is election security and integrity. The nearly 800 election officials came from across the state to share best practices to prevent tampering with Texas elections. “I am getting a lot of information crammed into my brain in three days,” Archer County election administrator and voter registrar Christie Mooney said. Mooney is a one-person operation in Texoma, keeping track of approximately 6,270 voters in the county, and administering elections. “Every election official needs to learn the new laws that came out of the legislative session that just happened,” she explained.

Full Article: Texas election officials train to spot vulnerabilities ahead of 2020 | KXAN.

Texas: Taylor County approves funding for new voting machines amid backlash | Daniela Ibarra/KTXS

The Taylor County Commissioners have approved $2.1 million in funding to replace Taylor County’s current voting machines, which have been in use since 2005. Taylor County plans on replacing their existing voting technology with a touch-screen option from Hart InterCivic’s Verity Voting system. “It’s time that we go ahead and get to the next level,” said Chuck Statler, the Taylor County Commissioner for Precinct 4. However, backlash is occurring as a result of the proposed upgrade of Taylor County’s voting technology. The Center for Scientific Evidence in Public Issues sent a letter to Taylor County on July 3, and in the letter, the center said that direct recording electronic systems, or DRE systems, have “numerous vulnerabilities.” “A number of vulnerabilities that computers are susceptible to can be exploited,” said Marian Schneider, the President of Verified Voting.

Full Article: Taylor County approves funding for new voting machines amid backlash | KTXS.

Texas: Secretary of State David Whitley resigns as end-of-session deadline nears | Austin American-Statesman

Shortly before the Senate’s closing gavel ended his term as Texas secretary of state, David Whitley delivered his letter of resignation, “effective immediately,” to Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday afternoon. Whitley needed Senate confirmation by the end of the legislative session to remain on the job but fell short of the required 21 votes despite expected support from all 19 Republican senators. All 12 Democrats, however, held firm in their opposition to Whitley over his handling of an error-filled investigation into the citizenship status of registered voters that prompted three federal lawsuits and an eventual court settlement that halted the probe and limited the scope of future investigations. Abbott, Whitley’s friend and mentor, was unable to dislodge opposition to the nominee in the 3½ months since Whitley’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Nominations Committee.

Full Article: David Whitley resigns as end-of-session deadline nears - News - Austin American-Statesman - Austin, TX.