The Alaska Division of Elections is in the middle of preparations for this fall’s statewide primary and general elections, but in a meeting Wednesday, the division showed it also has its eyes on 2020. In a meeting of the statewide election policy task force, division officials said they are preparing to acquire new voting equipment even as they consider whether the state should change the way it conducts elections. “It’s kind of two separate projects. It’s equipment replacement and it’s expanding options for ballot access in the future,” Josie Bahnke, the division’s director, said by phone after the meeting. Nothing will change before this year’s Aug. 21 primary or the Nov. 6 general election. Voters will still go to polling stations across the state, they’ll still pick up pens, and they’ll still fill in ovals on paper ballots, then feed those ballots into 20-year-old scanners.Full Article: Prepping for 2018 election, state looks at 2020 | Juneau Empire - Alaska's Capital City Online Newspaper.
While this year’s elections have seen some interesting twists, one of the most problematic could be the printed stickers used by those voting for Provo mayoral write-in candidate, Odell Miner. In a generous move, Miner had transparent stickers printed with his name and a filled-in voting oval or bubble to affix to the mail-in ballot in the hopes of making things easier for those voting for him. Bryan Thompson, Utah County clerk/auditor, was uneasy about Miner using the stickers in case a reading machine got jammed or had some other problem. However, Thompson said he couldn’t stop Miner from doing it either. “I told Odell you may not see all of your count,” Thompson said.Full Article: Elections office fills in blank ovals on ballots | Provo News | heraldextra.com.
Vermont election officials reported a mostly smooth election on Tuesday, but acknowledged at least a dozen complaints from city and town clerks regarding vote counting machines. “The latest I heard I think we had 12 (complaints),” Will Senning, Vermont’s director of elections, told Vermont Watchdog Tuesday afternoon. AccuVote-OS machines have been the digital ballot counters of choice for more than a decade in New England states. About 135 towns in Vermont use the machines to tally election results from paper ballots. While the standalone units are generally considered safe because they don’t connect to the Internet, computer security experts say they are vulnerable to hackers through the machines’ detachable memory cards. Those cards are managed by a single private company, LHS Associates, of Salem, N.H.Full Article: Vermont election mostly smooth, but voting machine glitches reported - Watchdog.org.
New Hampshire: In a connected world, New Hampshire voting machines are isolated – by choice | Concord Monitor
With concerns being raised across the country about the possibility that hackers could interfere with electronic voting machines, it’s timely to note that in a world of smart devices, New Hampshire’s ballot-counting machines are deliberately dumb. Say what you will about rigged elections and the chance of election officials missing cases of voter fraud: When it comes to the mechanical end of the state’s voting system, it’s a tight process. Security cameras, thermostats and even some automobiles might interact online these days, but not the hundreds of ballot-counting machines stored in town halls across New Hampshire. “They cut the pins off, so you can’t put the modems back in, even if you wanted to,” said Ben Bynum, town clerk in Canterbury, as he showed the town’s single AccuVote machine, locked away in a vault until pre-election testing begins. The only way to change these machines is to insert a memory card programmed by LHS Associates in Salem, and you can’t do that unless you first cut off a metal tamper-proof seal. And if you don’t record the proper identification numbers in the proper place in the proper book with a the signature of a witness, that will raise suspicions from people like Bynum and Deputy Town Clerk Lisa Carlson.Full Article: In a connected world, New Hampshire voting machines are isolated – by choice.
Alaska: Mallott switches out election chief as lawsuit, other voting issues loom | Alaska Dispatch News
Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott abruptly removed Alaska’s longtime elections chief from office on Friday, saying through an aide that he appreciated her work but also wanted a change in the department, which has been embroiled in a lawsuit over Native voting. Claire Richardson, a special assistant to Mallott, confirmed Monday that he sought the resignation of Gail Fenumiai, who had been with the Division of Elections for 15 of the last 20 years and the department’s director since January 2008. Her last day was Friday, the same day she was asked for her resignation by administrative director Guy Bell, Richardson said. “The lieutenant governor is certainly wishing her well in her future endeavors. This was nothing personal,” she said. Fenumiai was a professional elections official with a long history of service, she said.Full Article: Mallott switches out election chief as lawsuit, other voting issues loom | Alaska Dispatch News.
King William County’s first district polling center at the West Point Armory experienced technical difficulties on Election Day when one of the optical scan voting systems stopped working. The system, an AccuVote-OS central scanner and tabulator used to read paper ballots, reportedly stopped working when its scanner malfunctioned. A technician was able to repair the machine before polls closed at 7 p.m. Had a technician failed to repair the scanner on election night, all paper ballots would have had to be counted by manual hand-count. King William County General Registrar Susan Mickens said all eight of the county’s scanners are aging and need to soon be replaced.Full Article: King William's voting machines are old enough vote - tidewaterreview.com.
The extremely slow Macomb County election returns on Tuesday night are blamed, in part, by county officials on outdated technology. Despite mediocre voter turnout typical of a midterm election, many Macomb County voters went to bed on Election Night with no idea who had won the races in their community. Three of the county’s largest towns — Warren, Sterling Heights and Shelby Township –- kept voters in the dark until well after midnight. The lack of results also delayed an outcome in numerous races for the state Legislature and county Board of Commissioners that extend beyond the borders of those three municipalities. The county’s cities and townships rely upon election tabulators – the polling place machines that swallow up each voter’s ballot – which run on technology from 10 to 15 years ago. In addition, each voting precinct’s computerized results are transported by an analog line – a modem – to the county Clerk’s Office. The final step involves putting the election updates on the county’s heavily traveled election returns website.Full Article: Old technology blamed for drip-drip election results.
Pima County will no longer make use of precinct scanners at polling locations after the Pima County Board of Supervisors rejected a measure to spend $1.8 million to replace them. The board’s decision came despite a recommendation by Pima County Election Integrity Commission (PCEIC) to keep the scanners in place since they allow for an electronic count at polling locations, serving as a way to double check ballots when they are tallied in the central count system. Bill Beard, District 1 PCEIC representative called the board’s decision frustrating, particularly since he says Pima County has a poor track record with handling elections in the past. “If the board is truly concerned about the matter, perhaps actually listening to the advisers they appointed to advise them on thing elections-related might be a good place to start,” he said, also noting that District 1’s Ally Miller was the only supervisor to vote in favor of the PCEIC’s recommendation to keep scanners in place.Full Article: Pima County to do away with precinct scanners - The Explorer: News.
Fairfax County election officials said Friday that they think that nearly 2,000 votes went uncounted after Tuesday’s election, a technical error that could affect the outcome of the still unresolved race for Virginia attorney general. The error stemmed from problems with a broken machine at the county’s Mason district voting center, officials said. The machine, known as an optical scanner, recorded 723 votes on election night before it broke down, elections officials said. Its memory card was then placed inside another, working machine, which recorded a total of 2,688 votes. But that tally was not included in the statement of election results delivered by the individual voting center to the county board of elections. Instead, officials received the statement that reported the 723 votes from the broken machine. The county’s board of elections believes that the larger total includes the original 723 votes, which could mean adding an extra 1,951 to the total outcome, said Seth T. Stark, chairman of the three-member electoral board.Full Article: Nearly 2,000 votes in Fairfax possibly uncounted - The Washington Post.
Arizona: Elections catching up with technology: Changes piloted in November in Pima County | Tucson Citizen
Goodbye, unwieldy manual signature roster books. Hello, tablets. Under a pilot project being implemented by Pima County in the Nov. 5 Vail incorporation election, voters who go to the polls will be able to use a mobile computer that’s smaller than a laptop to sign for their ballots. … The polling places also will no longer use precinct-based scanning equipment. Instead, voters will drop their ballots into a secure box that is under observation at all times by poll workers and then securely transported to a central tabulating facility at the Elections Office located at 6550 S. Country Club Road. Independent observers will continue to oversee the process and results will be audited.Full Article: Elections catching up with technology: Changes piloted in November - Pima County News.
Want to see every ballot cast in the last election with your own two eyes? The Humboldt County Registrar makes that possible in her home near the Oregon border. Humboldt Registrar of Voters Carolyn Crnich responded to controversy and an outcry from residents by creating a system for anyone to request a scanned version of the vote through the Humboldt County Elections Transparency Project. In 2008, to the dismay of Humboldt County voters, 197 votes (or 0.3 percent of the total vote) disappeared due to a software malfunction. Apparently, it wasn’t the first time for this software to simply delete ballots and Crnich was rightly approached by constituents who had grave concerns regarding the voting system soon after the election results. The software is made by Diebold, a name which may conjure up memories of hanging chads in Florida in 2000 and other issues in 2004. Crnich and that same group of constituents did an audit after connecting the dots on Diebold’s spotty history and found the missing ballots. Locals thought the software was too closed off from the public and wanted a better auditing process. After pinpointing the problem, the Secretary of State’s office swiftly initiated an investigation and decertified the faulty software.Full Article: Humboldt County embraces new system for election transparency | California Forward.
Voters in a West Anchorage assembly race might be facing some bubble trouble. Starting Saturday, city officials will begin hand counting more than 7,000 votes cast in last Tuesday’s municipal election after concerns that some ovals marked correctly, according to municipal code, might not have been counted. At least that’s what the campaign of Nick Moe, the 26-year-old write-in candidate, is saying. Moe challenged incumbent Anchorage Assembly chairman Ernie Hall after Hall cut off testimony on a controversial ordinance designed to limit the power labor unions that do work for the city. On Monday, Moe’s campaign requested that Anchorage conduct a hand count of ballots in Assembly District 3, Seat D. That came after the city released a statement saying it would not perform a hand count unless the total number of write-in votes cast were equal to or more than the amount of votes for the leading candidate. The same release noted that there may be “other circumstances” where the votes would be hand-counted.Full Article: Counting Anchorage election ballots could yield bubble trouble | Alaska Dispatch.
After a chaotic election experience that led to cries of incompetence, St. Lucie County’s longtime elections supervisor talked about what went wrong in November, and what she plans to do to make things right in the future. Gertrude Walker says this past election was full of new experiences. “We never had a multi-ballot election, that was another twist,” Walker said Monday. But it was old equipment Walker claimed was at the heart of many of the problems her office faced on Election Day.Full Article: Election Supervisor Responds To Report.