Voting Technology

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National: The One Kernel of Truth at Trump’s Voter Fraud Summit | WIRED

The first meeting of the Trump administration’s new advisory committee on election integrity consisted mainly of voter-fraud fear-mongering. … Hans von Spakovsky, a committee member and senior legal fellow at the right-learning Heritage Foundation, pointed to his organization’s database of 1,071 documented cases of voter fraud over the last several decades, neglecting to mention that figure constitutes just .0008 percent of the people who voted in the 2016 election alone. Together, they painted a picture of a pervasive and insidious threat to free and fair elections, despite the mountains of research showing that actual voter fraud is scarce. But amid all the conjecture came one nugget of actual truth, offered by Judge Alan King of Jefferson County, Alabama. Not only did Judge King, one of the committee’s few Democrats, state that he’d never seen a single instance of voter fraud in all his years as head of elections in Jefferson County, he was also the lone member of the committee to use his opening remarks to raise the critically important issue of outdated voting technology. Unlike phantom zombie voters, that issue poses a real, and well-documented, threat to people’s voting rights. Read More

California: Los Angeles County Sets Its Sights On Updated, ‘Secure’ Voting System | KHTS

As Los Angeles County prepares for the procurement and manufacturing stage of its nationally-recognized Voting Systems Assessment Project (VSAP), Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan is focusing resources on election security. “Amid continuous investigation of attempted nation-state hacking of voter data and ongoing concerns about the age and technical vulnerability of the voting equipment used in the United States,” said Logan, “it is imperative that next generation voting systems like the one we are developing in Los Angeles County are equipped to deliver voters a secure, usable and transparent voting experience.” Read More

National: 15 States Use Easily Hackable Voting Machines | HuffPost

In 2006, Princeton computer science professor Edward Felten received an anonymous message offering him a Diebold AccuVote TS, one of the most widely used touch-screen voting machines at the time. Manufacturers like Diebold touted the touch-screens, known as direct-recording electronic (DRE) machines, as secure and more convenient than their paper-based predecessors. Computer experts were skeptical, since any computer can be vulnerable to viruses and malware, but it was hard to get ahold of a touch-screen voting machine to test it. The manufacturers were so secretive about how the technology worked that they often required election officials to sign non-disclosure agreements preventing them from bringing in outside experts who could assess the machines. Felten was intrigued enough that he sent his 25-year-old computer science graduate student, Alex Halderman, on a mission to retrieve the AccuVote TS from a trenchcoat-clad man in an alleyway near New York’s Times Square. Felten’s team then spent the summer working in secrecy in an unmarked room in the basement of a building to reverse-engineer the machine. In September 2006, they published a research paper and an accompanying video detailing how they could spread malicious code to the AccuVote TS to change the record of the votes to produce whatever outcome the code writers desired. And the code could spread from one machine to another like a virus. Read More

Texas: Harris County, Texas, Officials Won’t Say Whether Election Systems Were Targeted | Government Technology

Despite widespread alarm over the breadth of Russian cyber attacks on state and local election systems last year, including revelations of Dallas County being targeted, Harris County officials are refusing to say whether hackers similarly took aim at the nation’s third-largest county. Releasing information on whether Harris County election systems saw attacks from Russian hackers would threaten the county’s cyber security by emboldening hackers to further target local systems, county officials said this week.  The county’s argument was dismissed by experts, who said the secrecy is unnecessary, and could actually downplay the seriousness of the threat and the resources needed to combat it. “There’s this concept in security called ‘security through obscurity,’ sort of, if they don’t know about it they won’t come after it,” said Pamela Smith, a consultant at Verified Voting, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that promotes voting integrity. “But to really have robust security, you want people to be able to know that it’s there … I think what the public wants to know is that you’re aware of the threat and you’re taking steps to mitigate.” Read More

Texas: Why one of the largest counties in Texas is going back to paper ballots | The Texas Tribune

Frank Phillips spent last Wednesday staring down 600 boxes of election materials — voted ballots, blank ballots, precinct records — sitting in a warehouse run by Denton County. After sitting in storage for the legally required periods — up to nearly two years in some cases — the roughly 24,000 pounds of paper were finally ready to be shredded. Yet despite the hassle — and the significant cost — Phillips, Denton County’s elections administrator, is looking forward to this fall, when he will implement the county’s newest voting plan: a complete return to the paper ballot. The unusual move sets Denton, the ninth-largest county in Texas and one of the fastest-growing, apart from the state’s other biggest counties, which all use some form of electronic voting, according to data collected by the Secretary of State’s office. Both Bexar and Harris Counties, for example, have had all electronic voting systems in place for 15 years. Read More

Georgia: Many Troubling, Unanswered Questions about Voting Machinery in Georgia House Runoff | Alternet

The results from Georgia’s sixth district congressional race are odd. Jon Ossoff, the Democratic newcomer who ran against Republican former Secretary of State Karen Handel, won the absentee vote 64% to 36%. That vote was conducted on paper ballots that were mailed in and scanned on optical scanners. Ossoff also won the early voting 51% to 49%. Those results closely mirror recent polls that had him ahead by 1-3 points. In the highest of those polls, he was ahead by 7% with 5% undecided and a 4% margin of error. On Election Day, Handel pulled out a whopping 16 percent lead, for a crushing 58% to 42% division of the day’s votes. That means that all 5% of the undecided voters broke for Handel, the poll was off by its farthest estimate and another 3.5% of Ossoff’s voters switched sides into her camp. All this despite Ossoff’s intensive door-to-door ground offensive that Garland Favorito, who lives in the heart of the sixth district called the “most massive operation” he’s ever seen. Favorito is the founder of VoterGA, a nonpartisan election reform group. He said Handel had signs up, but her canvassing operation didn’t approach Ossoff’s. Read More

Ohio: Ohio Joins Nationwide Effort to Update Voting Equipment | GovTech

“We don’t want to be another Florida.” Those words from Delaware County Elections Director Karla Herron are being echoed across Ohio — indeed, throughout much of the country — as elections officials grow increasingly worried about the growing necessity to replace aging voting equipment. Virtually no one disagrees with the need. Problem is, virtually no one wants to pay for a new voting setup. The statewide tab could top $200 million, judging by central Ohio cost estimates. Tim Ward has a ready retort for such reluctance: “You think having a good election is expensive? Try having a bad one.” The president of the Ohio Association of Election Officials and Madison County elections director said, “We don’t want to be sitting there saying I told you so.” Read More

Ohio: Could the 2000 election debacle in Florida happen in Ohio? | Columbus Dispatch

“We don’t want to be another Florida.” Those words from Delaware County Elections Director Karla Herron are being echoed across Ohio — indeed, throughout much of the country — as elections officials grow increasingly worried about the growing necessity to replace aging voting equipment. Virtually no one disagrees with the need. Problem is, virtually no one wants to pay for a new voting setup. The statewide tab could top $200 million, judging by central Ohio cost estimates. Tim Ward has a ready retort for such reluctance: “You think having a good election is expensive? Try having a bad one.” The president of the Ohio Association of Election Officials and Madison County elections director said, “We don’t want to be sitting there saying I told you so.” Read More

Texas: Texans had problems voting in presidential election | Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Nearly 9 million Texans headed to the polls in November to weigh in on the fierce battle for the White House — and many stumbled upon roadblocks while trying to cast their votes. Texas voters faced long lines, equipment glitches, intimidation — and confusion over the state’s Voter ID law and whether photo IDs were still required — according to a new report, Texas Election Protection 2016. “Unfortunately, through the state, voters faced numerous obstacles that complicated the process,” said Beth Stevens, voting rights director at the Texas Civil Rights Project that compiled the report. “We heard directly from thousands of voters about the barriers they faced in our electoral system. “Texans deserved better.” Read More

National: Can US Elections Be Hacked? Security Experts Call For More Protections Against Election Hacking | International Business Times

More than one hundred security researchers and experts signed on to a letter sent to member of the United States Congress to warn of their belief that not enough has been done to protect against potential threats to state and federal elections. The letter, published Wednesday as a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Russian interference during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, argues many states are unprepared to respond to cybersecurity risks that may arise during upcoming election.The signatories laid out three primary suggestions for securing the electoral process and prevent against any potential tampering that may occur. First, the experts called on election officials to establish voter-verified paper ballots as the “official record of voter intent.” Doing so would require phasing out paperless voting machines that offer no way to verify if a vote tallied by the system corresponds to the vote intended to be cast by the voter. Read More