Delbert Hosemann is back at it, trying to convince the Mississippi Legislature that there is still much work to be done to bring Mississippi’s voting procedures into the 21st century while also taking steps to reduce the potential for fraud or dirty tricks. The secretary of state, now beginning his third term, did an admirable job implementing voter ID, an oversold and overemotional issue that distracted this state from addressing where its biggest problem with voter fraud lies — absentee ballots. Hosemann’s newest proposals don’t tackle absentee-ballot fraud head-on either, although his pitch for allowing voters to cast their ballots in person at the courthouse for up to 21 days before Election Day should reduce the number of absentee ballots cast overall. Still, if you are a candidate inclined to cheat, you’re going to use mail-in absentee ballots anyway, since the fraud becomes much harder to catch that way. Even with that said, though, allowing no-excuse early voting is a good idea that should, if nothing else, increase voter turnout. It certainly eliminates one of the main excuses of people who don’t get to the polls. … A glaring omission in what is otherwise a good package of proposals is Hosemann’s silence on a disturbing trend in this state to eliminate the paper trail on voting. More than three-fourths of the 77 counties in Mississippi with touch-screen voting machines have disconnected their external printers, by which voters could previously verify on paper that their vote has been accurately recorded.
Elmus Stockstill and Edward Course surely have no devious intentions in wanting to get the external printers off Leflore County’s touch-screen voting machines. But the county’s two top election officials are just wrong — and obviously not well-schooled — on how susceptible electronic voting machines are to hacking and why these printers are the only safeguard against it. Just 10 minutes on the Internet will turn up a decade worth of studies and reports showing that all it takes is access, a basic knowledge of electronics and a few minutes to rig voting machines like those used in Leflore County. I recommend the Board of Supervisors spends 30 minutes reading the study summaries or watching the videos produced by university and government researchers demonstrating the vulnerabilities of so-called “direct recording electronic” (DRE) voting equipment made by Diebold or any of the other touch-screen manufacturers. If the supervisors educated themselves the tiniest bit on this subject, they would see how comical it was of Stockstill, the circuit clerk, to talk — in response to a column I wrote last Sunday — of the memory card inserted in the machines as some kind of fail-safe against hacking. The memory card is actually one likely conduit for introducing a vote-stealing virus.
Georgia: DeKalb County’s LaVista Hills election investigated for tampering | Atlanta Journal Constitution
Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp and the GBI opened an investigation Thursday into alleged voting irregularities – including a stray voting machine memory card – in the referendum that narrowly defeated the proposed city of LaVista Hills. A DeKalb election supervisor alleged that he found an unsecured memory card Wednesday that contained results from the Briarlake Elementary precinct, according to Channel 2 Action News. It’s unknown whether the votes on the memory card were counted in the precinct’s totals, where voters supported LaVista Hills 378-313.
The hot elections topic in Ohio can be summed up in two words: electronic pollbooks. With the recent state-provided funding for the purpose of upgrading and automating voter check-in with electronic pollbook solutions, many counties are now evaluating their options. The ExpressPoll from Election Systems & Software provides a proven solution— meeting county’s voter validation needs. With the ExpressPoll system already implemented in 27 counties (and counting) ES&S isn’t a newcomer to the Ohio elections sphere. Richland County for example, has used the ExpressPoll electronic pollbook family of products for eight years. When asked, their Director of Elections, Paulette Hankins had the following to say about the ExpressPoll:
“We have used the Express Poll Book system in Richland County for the past eight years with great success. It was a very easy process to train our Poll Workers, and we were especially pleased with the elimination of any poll worker error in determining which ballot style to issue to the voters. The Express Poll system creates the correct ballot style according to the voters’ registration records.”
For 30 years, ES&S has been providing voting solutions for the State of Ohio. Our existing, experienced service and support structure makes us a valuable asset for Ohio counties when implementing new pollbook technology. The eight Ohio residents we employ are uniquely positioned to meet the needs of jurisdictions and their constituents, being a part of the voting public themselves. These individuals also have the full support of our 400 employee strong company, ensuring their attention can be focused on local customers and their needs.
Before the year ends, the Tuscarawas County Board of Elections has to purchase 55 voting machines to be in compliance with state law. Monday the Tuscarawas County Commissioners approved more than $35,000 in transfers from various funds to cover the cost. Sarah Kneuss, the board’s deputy director, said the machines will be ready and available in 2014 in time for the gubernatorial election. She said it isn’t necessary to have them in time for next week’s election. Kneuss said the county made big purchases in 2005, purchasing several electronic machines to be compliant with the law. “We have to have one machine for every 175 registered voters in a precinct,” she explained.
It’s been more than a decade since the implementation of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA), which required states and counties to update their elections systems. The law, which was in response to the disastrous 2000 election in Florida, gave states until 2006 to comply with the voting system requirement. Although some weren’t happy about it and still remain opposed to the new DRE or optical-scan systems, all states were finally compliant by the 2010 mid-term elections. Now, with some of those post-HAVA voting systems starting to show their age, and other jurisdictions wishing to make the switch from DRE to optical-scan, counties and states are back in the market for new voting equipment.
Sen. Richard Madaleno said Thursday on the floor of the Senate he was shocked by the news that Maryland will not be replacing old touchscreen voting machines with more advanced technology before the 2014 election. “I was under the impression that we were going to have new voting machines in place by then,” Madaleno said during debate on a bill to make voting easier. He added he was concerned that an amendment on that bill calling for the State Board of Elections to research voters’ wait times would distract the board from the urgent task of purchasing modern voting machines. “I’m worried that we’re inadvertently giving the State Board of Elections an excuse to say that they’re not able to get the new voting system,” said Madaleno, a Montgomery County Democrat. The amendment was later passed.
When the gubernatorial election rolls around next year, most of Maryland’s touch-screen voting machines will be past their prime. The state is already facing a shortage of voting machines, with only four jurisdictions in the last presidential election providing enough to meet state regulations. In 2014, voting machines in 23 of the state’s 24 jurisdictions will be at least 10 years old, reaching the limit of the manufacturer’s guarantee. Roughly a third of these machines will have exceeded their useful life as determined by the manufacturer. State voters will have to wait three years before they can use upgraded voting machines with a verifiable paper trail, a delay which is angering election reformers. “If we had the money put into the 2013 budget, we’d have had a shot,” said Linda Lamone, administrator of the State Board of Elections, during her testimony Friday before the Senate Health and Human Services Subcommittee.