Despite finding no signs of foul play during the 2016 elections’ actual ballot-casting, state officials told the Election Assistance Commission they are looking to shore up the cybersecurity of voting systems to ensure that Americans are confident in their election results. Director of the New Jersey State Department’s division of elections Bob Giles said at an EAC meeting Feb. 13 that although “cybersecurity wasn’t as big a concern” entering the 2016 election because his state’s voting machines were not connected to the internet, the attention garnered by Russia’s reported electoral influence has led to a rethinking of his agency’s cybersecurity protocols. Giles said cyber hygiene practices such as improving password strength and multifactor authentication will be included in the state’s plan to modernize its voter registration system.
Minnesota’s voting equipment is aging out, and without legislative help, the burden of about $28 million in replacement costs will fall squarely on cities and counties. Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon met Monday with the Range Association of Municipalities and Schools to drum up support for a state-funded solution to voting infrastructure now more than a decade old. He’s not asking for the Legislature to foot the bill for the entire cost, rather follow Gov. Mark Dayton’s budget proposal calling for a 50-50 split between the state and local governments. Covering half the cost — about $14 million — would keep the state on pace with efforts in Maryland and Michigan. “We think local government should have some skin in the game,” Simon said during an interview at the Mesabi Daily News.
Nigeria: Solar-Powered Electronic Voting Machine Developed for 2019 Elections | The Guardian Nigeria
Nigeria has recorded a scientific breakthrough with the local manufacture of an electronic voting machine designed to eliminate all problems associated with existing ones. Presenting the innovation to the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu in Abuja yesterday, the Executive Vice Chairman of the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), Professor Mohammed Haruna said the device is a solar-powered EMV with cloud-based collation of election results. According to Haruna, the device does not store data, thus making it useless to anyone who snatches it. He explained: once the device receives data in form of voting, it sends it to the central electronic system of the electoral body from where it can be viewed online.
New voting equipment will be available for the next statewide election in August 2018 after the Michigan Secretary of State announced the selection of three vendors Tuesday that local clerks can use for future elections. The pricetag will not be cheap. The state administrative board approved contracts Tuesday with the three vendors that will cost between $52 million and $82 million. The state has $30 million leftover from the federal Help America Vote Act funds that were provided to states for new equipment after the 2000 elections. And the Legislature approved an additional $10 million last year to pay for the new machines. And while that will cover the majority of the cost for the new system, Fred Woodhams, spokesman for Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, said Tuesday that there will be a cost for local communities of roughly $1,000 to $2,000 per precinct. Some communities have a minimal number of precincts, but for cities like Detroit, Warren, Southfield and Grand Rapids, the costs could be significant. Detroit has nearly 500 precincts, while Grand Rapids has 77, Warren has 58 and Southfield has 36.
North Dakota county officials are warning the state’s aging election system could be “unworkable” by the next presidential contest and are seeking state funding for new equipment. But legislators who are trying to fund state agencies and programs with significantly less tax revenue than they had just a few years ago are hesitant to meet the request. House Bill 1123, introduced at the request of the Secretary of State, would appropriate $9 million from the general fund to replace equipment such as ballot scanners across the state. House Bill 1122 would appropriate $3 million to place electronic poll books, which are currently used by only eight counties to check in voters, in every polling location in North Dakota.
California: Los Angeles County Voting System Redesign Enters Solicitation Phase | Government Technology
Work to redesign the process of how residents vote in Los Angeles County, the largest local election jurisdiction in the U.S., is entering a critical but transformational stage after eight years of research and conceptualization. The county’s Voting Systems Assessment Project (VSAP), which began in 2009 at Caltech essentially as a research project, has been in design for the past three years. But in October, officials signed an agreement with technology researcher and adviser Gartner Inc. to do a sourcing strategy and readiness assessment over a five-month period. Gartner finished its preliminary work at the end of 2016 and should begin reaching out to members of the IT community during the next few weeks to get feedback, likely finishing its assessment by the end of February.
Tennessee: Shelby County Election Commission Puts New Voter Registration System First | Memphis Daily News
Before Shelby County voters get new voting machines, the elections administrator wants a new voter registration system to begin a badly needed upgrade of election technology. “Mostly, we really need a system that I don’t fear is going to crash and burn,” administrator Linda Phillips said. She and the five election commissioners are working on a request for proposals and intend to have the new voter registration system installed and working by June 30, the end of the current fiscal year. The election commission’s budget for the current fiscal year has $1 million available for such a system. “I really do not know,” she said of the exact cost of a new system. “The model in registration systems is moving more toward software than service. So a relatively low upfront price, but you pay an annual maintenance license fee. … I would expect it to be less than $2 million without question.
New Hampshire: With Dozens of Election Law Bills on Deck, Here Are Five Issues to Watch in 2017 | New Hampshire Public Radio
From changes in voting registration to changes to party primaries or the Electoral College, New Hampshire lawmakers are preparing a slew of bills aimed at reforming the state’s elections. In all, at least 40 bills aimed at tinkering with the state’s election laws are in the works for 2017. At least fifteen of those bills come from just one lawmaker, Representative David Bates, a Republican from Windham who has made revising the state’s voting rules a top focus in recent terms. On one side of the aisle, Bates and other Republicans have their eyes on tightening up the rules around who can vote here, but there are lots of different, sometimes diverging, paths on what that would look like.
The drumbeat of election rigging and foreign hacking of voting machines have energized ongoing efforts to develop a new model of digital election equipment designed to produce instantly verifiable results and dual records for security. Election experts say this emerging system, one of three publicly funded voting machine projects across the country, shows potential to help restore confidence in the country’s election infrastructure, most of which hasn’t been updated in more than a decade. “It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. It’s taken years and years to get it done,” said Dana DeBeauvoir, the Travis County clerk and leader of the voting machine project. “Now that we’ve had this election, there’s renewed interest.” A prototype of the system, dubbed STAR Vote, sits in an engineering lab at Rice University, and bidding is open for manufacturers who want to produce it wholesale. Similar efforts to innovate voting systems are in the works in Los Angeles and San Francisco. “County clerks in these jurisdictions are the rock stars of running elections,” said Joe Kiniry, CEO of Free & Fair, an election systems supplier currently bidding on contracts to manufacture the designs of both Travis and Los Angeles counties. “If they have success in what they do, it will have, in my opinion, a massive impact on the whole U.S.”
Australian voters could soon use pens to vote at federal elections, as part of a plan to replace traditional ballot box pencils. Since 1902, electoral laws have required ballot boxes to be “furnished with a pencil for the use of voters”, but in a submission to a parliamentary inquiry the Australian Electoral Commission has asked to be given the option of voters using pens. The plans comes amid moves to replace pencils for voting in state and overseas elections, although Australians have always had the right to bring their own pen on election day. Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers has asked the inquiry, which is reviewing the July 2 federal election, to recommend the change to section 206 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act as technology for counting votes continues to improve.