Walker County is one of seven counties in the state with election tabulation machines that are not even manufactured anymore, leaving county officials agreeing that they will have to be replaced soon. Walker County Probate Judge A. Lee Tucker said Thursday that it looks like the machines, which accept paper ballots during elections, cannot be replaced in time for the 2020 elections. However, he said that the machines are tested and currently work. Currently the county has 45 precincts, not counting absentee and provisional ballots. Machines will have to be replaced in all those election sites, plus provisions made for machines to help the disabled. A total of 76 M100 machines and another 45 machines for the disabled are currently used in Walker County, he said. Tucker said some precincts use more than one machine, and extras are also needed sometimes when a machine breaks down. The reactions come after a national election security report, “Defending Elections,” was published last week by the Brennan Center for Justice noting states need more federal funding to prevent outside cyber threats against elections.
The Wyoming Legislature will look at a measure to create a trust fund to maintain its voting systems going forward. The 2016 election saw an unprecedented number of attempts to interfere with states’ voting systems, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Wyoming was not among the 21 states that reported attempted hacking, but election security experts warned regional lawmakers recently that the Cowboy State could be a target for nefarious actors looking to undermine confidence in the American democratic process. Outdated voting equipment in Wyoming was replaced after funding was allocated by the federal government via the 2002 Help America Vote Act. But more than a decade later, many election custodians say that voting equipment has reached the end of its useful life, said Kai Schon, state elections director for the Wyoming Secretary of State.
Elections clerks across Montana could find themselves increasingly challenged to serve voters with severe physical disabilities because of a dwindling supply of polling equipment designed especially for people who cannot use traditional voting machines. Existing inventories of voting machines for disabled voters are antiquated, some nearly two decades old. Many units are in disrepair and elections officials have been unable to replace the aging machines with newer, modern equipment because of state law. In 2008, a disabled voter sued Missoula County for not being in full compliance with federal law when it did not have a backup unit for a malfunctioning machine specially designed for people who do not have full function of their limbs.
Lawmakers need to look seriously at replacing Nebraska’s election equipment even though it could cost the state $20 million to $30 million, a leading senator said Wednesday. Sen. John Murante of Gretna said the current equipment is on pace to fail and create major headaches for counties, which are responsible for administering elections. “We simply cannot do nothing,” said Murante, the chairman of the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee. “That is not an option.” His comments during a legislative hearing drew support from Secretary of State John Gale, who said the state should continue covering the cost rather than counties.
Minnesota’s local government officials say searching the eBay online auction site for voting machine parts is not the best way to keep the foundation of democracy running smoothly. The company that made much of Minnesota’s voting equipment, especially for disabled voters, has moved on to newer technologies and parts for machines used in most Minnesota polling places are hard to find. “The best answer to that is eBay,” Administrative Services Director Deborah Erickson of Crow Wing County told a Minnesota House committee Wednesday, March 1, before the panel approved a bill providing counties $14 million next year.
Colbert County commissioners must decide if they will pay the price for maintaining Americans With Disabilities Act voting machines, or face a potential lawsuit if they are not available for handicapped voters. Probate Judge Daniel Rosser told commissioners in November the county’s maintenance contract on the 36 Automark ADA compliant machines had to be renewed. He said the contract with an outside vendor would cost $5,785 this year, and $7,714 the following year. Commissioners have delayed acting on the contract. During their Feb. 7 meeting, Rosser said they were trying to determine if the Association of County Commissions of Alabama’s self-insurance pool would cover the county if it is sued if the machines are not available. “You can’t answer coverage questions when you don’t know what a lawsuit says,” ACCA Executive Director Sonny Brasfield said Wednesday. “We get those calls all the time.”
North Dakota: Jaeger asking for new voting machines, electronic poll books | Prairie Public Broadcasting
North Dakota’s Secretary of State says it’s time to replace the state’s voting machines. Al Jaeger has asked the 2017 Legislature Jaeger has asked for a $9 million appropriation for that. He says the current machines were first used in 2004. “Even at that time, though the equipment came in fancy new boxes, the technology was already aged,” Jaeger said. “We’re now at a point where the voting system is not being supported any more.” Jaeger said counties have had to cannibalize some of their devices for parts, to keep some machines running. “We haven’t had any malfunctions,” Jaeger said. “But we know in another election, it would be very difficult to be able to run it.”
Like everyone else on Tuesday, the blind and visually impaired wanted to make their voices heard. But for some people using specially-designed machines that either audibly reads the ballots or increases the size of the fonts, Tuesday was a night filled with frustration. The reader, called “AutoMARK,” is used statewide in 10 states. Jon Cauchi and Cassaundra Bell are both visually impaired and they had problems with the AutoMARK systems at polling places in the Burton Street and Breton Avenue SE area. “The computer jammed again and again my vote was cast for opposite candidates than I would have preferred,” said Bell. Cauchi said the same thing happened to him. “It jammed, the voting official took the paper out of the machine, handed it to me and I noticed the whole right side of my paper was mismarked,”
Alabama: Counties to take up cost of voting machines designed aid visual and hearing impaired voters | WAAY
Voting machines designed to help visual and hearing impaired have been in place for years, but the cost of maintaining them will soon fall back from the state to the counties. According to the Alabama Secretary of State’s office, the state received about $45 million in 2002 from the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) fund. That money was put toward updating old voting machines and creating an online voter registration system. During this summer’s meeting of the Alabama Probate Judge’s Association, Secretary John Merrill talked about the fact that the funds are all but gone at this point and that counties will need to take up the cost of running and maintaining these machines.
Rhode Island voters will go to the polls Tuesday to select candidates for Congress and General Assembly and for mayor in North Providence and Woonsocket. Voters will notice a few minor changes at the polls this year, and turnout is expected to be light. … Voters will notice a small change in the way they vote: filling in an oval on their paper ballot rather than connecting an arrow. The change is due to new digital-scan voting machines being rolled out across the state in the primary. A portion of the polling locations will also start using new electronic poll books during the primary. The new wireless tablet-based system is designed to make it easier for poll workers to find voters’ names and eliminate the waits that can happen when workers have to pore through printed binders arranged alphabetically. Several more polling places will use electronic poll books during the Nov. 8 general election, and then the full rollout is scheduled to happen in 2018, Gorbea’s office said.
Starting next week, island residents can begin in-office voting. And for the first time, the Guam Election Commission will be utilizing a new machine that will help voters with disabilities vote independent and privately. “It’s a long time coming and to finally have it here on Guam, it’s overwhelming,” expressed Mangilao resident Gerard Cruz may be blind, but this coming election, he’s looking forward to casting his vote. “Freedom – that’s the only way I can describe it to come in to vote independently and privately on my own without the assistance of somebody reading to me the ballot and then marking it down for me, I can do everything on my own as I did when I was sighted before.”
Minnesota’s aging voting machines are wearing out and will soon need to be replaced. That’s the message Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon said he heard “loud and clear” from local officials during his recently completed tour of all 87 Minnesota counties. Most cities, counties and townships use electronic election equipment that is at least 10 years old and getting close to its “10- to 15-year useful lifespan — and 15 is sort of a stretch,” Simon said in a recent interview. There’s a growing risk the voting machines will fail or crash, resulting in lost votes or long lines at polling places. “I’m hearing loudly and clearly from election administrators and others concerned about elections that this is an issue we need to address sooner rather than later and not wait until it becomes a crisis — and they need help,” Simon said.
We’re less than a year away until the 2016 primary election, and the Guam Election Commission is taking steps to ensure every voter including individuals with disabilities can cast their vote independently with the use of new technology. While they continue to make progress, the GEC is still not fully compliant with federal accessibility requirements. “We have assistive technology packets throughout all the 21 polling places at every precinct, but we still don’t, if a person who cannot see, comes into vote, they still cannot vote independently,” said executive director Maria Pangelinan. She says that may change as the commission is currently looking into using a new ballot marking device to help people cast their vote privately and independently. It’s called the Election Systems & Software’s AutoMark system.
The state Board of Elections approved use of four additional devices for voting and counting ballots in South Dakota and adopted an assortment of small rule changes Thursday for the 2016 elections. The four types of machines are products from Elections Systems and Software, a company based in Omaha, Neb. They include a basic counting device, a high-speed tabulating device, the company’s version of an AutoMARK machine for persons with disabilities, and the company’s ExpressVote Universal Voting machine that also can be used by persons with disabilities. Election officials from the South Dakota Secretary of State office tested the four machines as required under state law and state regulations. “That was an all-day process and it was very thorough,” Secretary of State Shantel Krebs said.
The Nebraska Secretary of State has announced that 48 county election offices will receive reimbursements totaling nearly $50,000 to help cover costs associated with the use of voter disability equipment during the 2014 general election. The money is provided to the Secretary of State’s office through a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as part of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002.
Brevard avoided national embarrassment the past few election cycles because you, the taxpayers, have spent more than $3 million on state-of-the-art voting equipment. So where does the county keep all our cutting-edge, computerized gear — upon which democracy itself depends? It is jammed wall-to-wall in what amounts to a really big, old metal shed in west Cocoa. The Election Support Center warehouse, which also stores meticulously arranged ballots, has no smoke alarms or fire-prevention system such as sprinklers. It has no security system. It has holes in its truck-bay door and holes in walls covered by duct tape. The floors are clean, the gear precisely arranged. But insulation dangles from collapsed portions of ceiling over voting machines. Streaks of black gunk line a wall above racks of ballot bags. “It’s mold,” Elections Supervisor Lori Scott says (although it might only be mildew.)
The new approach to casting ballots seemed to be a hit with the territory’s voters during the primary election on Saturday. Voters, many of them for the first time, familiarized themselves with the DS 200, a product of Elections Systems and Software, or ES&S. The machine allows voters to fill in a paper ballot so that there is a lasting record of the vote, but it also has the speed and convenience of an electronic voting machine. “It was just inserting a paper,” said Courtney Reese, a voter at Charlotte Amalie High School poll location. “You didn’t really even interact with the machine. It was like scanning or faxing something.” The V.I. Elections System purchased the 43 machines from Elections Systems & Software for $646,480 in 2013, and since has been organizing public demonstrations of the machines and how they work. The machines have been certified by the Election Assistance Commission, which is not required under federal law but is required under Virgin Islands law.
For the first time in eight years, the State Election Commission is expected to certify a new voting system for use in state elections when it meets Friday afternoon. Commissioners will be asked to certify the EVS 220.127.116.11 system manufactured by Elections Systems & Software of Omaha, Neb., for use in elections statewide. Jake Glance, spokesman for the Secretary of State’s office, said a key advance in the new system is that it incorporates a high-speed digital scan central ballot counter, which can record and tabulate ballots faster than optical-scan ballot counters currently in use. “It will make the counting process faster,” he said Thursday. “It’s all about speed and accuracy.”
Brevard County voters will be using new equipment starting in November. The County Commission this week unanimously approved the $1.5 million purchase. Supervisor of Elections Lori Scott said Brevard currently has among the oldest election equipment in the state, dating back to 1999. Brevard was one of the early adopters that year of “optical scan technology” to read the ballots. She says that equipment now is “aging and outdated,” and the vendor that made it is out of business, so spare parts are difficult to come by. “We can’t continue to limp through like that,” Scott said. With the new equipment, voters will continue to mark a paper ballot. But the new equipment that will collect and tabulate those ballots will make it easier for election workers to spot any problems with improperly completed ballots. “This is a much more user-friendly unit,” Scott said.
Nebraska: Governor signs bill reducing in-person early voting in Nebraska | Nebraska City News-Press – Nebraska City, NE
Governor Dave Heineman has signed legislation that will reduce the period of in-person early voting in Nebraska from 35 days to 30 days, a bill that will help assure that Nebraska complies with the Help America Vote Act. State lawmakers passed an amended version of LB271, which reduced the voting period to 30 days. The bill does not impact the start date for absentee ballot requests.
Nebraskans would have five fewer days to walk into an election office and cast early ballots under a bill advanced Thursday by the Legislature. But Legislative Bill 271 aims to make it possible for everyone, both visually impaired and not, to vote at that time. State Sen. Scott Lautenbaugh of Omaha, who introduced the bill, said it should bring Nebraska into compliance with a federal law about voting access for disabled people. “This is not meant to keep anyone from voting,” he said. “This is meant to address a complaint of alleged discrimination.”
Nebraska lawmakers began debate Wednesday on a bill to reduce the number of days for in-person early voting in order to prevent situations like the one in which a blind Lincoln woman couldn’t cast an early ballot because the machine to help disabled voters was not ready. Late last year, a hearing officer, Lincoln attorney Robert Kinsey Jr., suggested reducing the period for in-person, early voting from 35 days to 25 days. Kinsey was appointed to oversee the case, which stemmed from a complaint filed by Nebraskans for Civic Reform on behalf of Fatos Floyd of Lincoln. Floyd, who is blind, called the Lincoln Election Commissioner’s Office on Oct. 3 — two days after in-person early voting began — to say she was bringing in a friend with visual impairment to vote on the county’s Automark terminal but was told the machine’s software wasn’t yet available. Neal Erickson, deputy secretary of state for elections, said earlier the main problem is that Nebraska law says ballots for early voting must be ready 35 days before the election. The law also says the ballots must be certified by the secretary of state 50 days before the election. In the 15 days between the two deadlines, election officials must finalize the ballot layouts, print the ballots and program Automark terminals.
Nebraska: Secretary of State Gale testifies in support of reducing in-person early voting days | Nebraska City News-Press
Secretary of State John Gale testified today in support of LB271 which would reduce the number of in-person early voting days in Nebraska from 35 to 25. The bill, sponsored by Senator Scott Lautenbaugh, arose from a complaint filed under the Help America Vote Act against the Lancaster County Election Commissioner’s office by a visually impaired voter. She was unable to vote in early October, due to the unavailability of the AutoMARK machine, which allows disabled voters to cast an unassisted ballot at their precinct. Following a hearing on that complaint, the hearing officer recommended that in-person early voting days be reduced to 25. Speaking to the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs committee, Gale said that the recommendation made by the hearing officer and supported by the proposed legislation, was the simplest and most accommodating way to address the problem.
Early in-person voting would have to start 10 days later in Nebraska to comply with a federal law that requires special machines to be available for blind voters. Secretary of State John Gale said Monday that he will seek a new law in the upcoming session of the Nebraska Legislature to cut early voting from 35 to 25 days. The change would not affect mail-in or absentee voting. Starting early in-person voting 10 days later would give officials more time to program AutoMark machines, which allow visually impaired voters to cast secret ballots without assistance.
When Bloomington residents vote in municipal elections on Tuesday, they’ll be making marks on paper ballots, which they’ll slip into a box. At the end of the day, the votes will be tallied by hand. That’s the same system local voters used more than 100 years ago.
In the November 2010 general election, Monroe County voters used electronic voting machines that automated tallying. Even in the May 2011 primary election, the votes — on paper ballots — were tallied using a high-speed optical scanner. Monroe County voters have been using voting machines, mechanical or electric, since the ’60s, but on Nov. 8, 2011, they will use the same system used by America’s founding fathers.
What happened? ES&S contract In December 2010, Monroe County signed a contract with Elections Systems and Software, of Omaha, Neb., for the purchase of digital scanners that would read paper ballots and tally votes. Such a system allowed verifiability: paper ballots, or a sample of them, could be compared to the machine’s tally to ensure accuracy.
Northern Mariana Islands: Man’amko preview AutoMARK disability-friendly voting machine | Saipan Tribune
Congregates at the Aging Center will now be able to use the new voting machine of the Commonwealth Election Commission when casting their votes in next year’s election. Executive director Robert A. Guerrero of the Election Commission, Raymond Diaz of the Council on Developmental Disabilities, and Thomas J. Camacho of the Disability Policy & Programs Office were at the center yesterday to conduct a presentation on how to use the AutoMARK accessible voting machine.
“The new voting machine is going to be available in the next election,” Diaz told his audience composed of about 60 man’amko and 20 caregivers of the center’s homebound clients. Diaz said the machine allows voters who have disabilities to cast their votes using any part of their body instead of the traditional way of voting by pen and paper.
The Harrison County Commission has approved an eleventh-hour purchase of 80 new electronic voting machines. County Clerk Susan Thomas has been waiting patiently since the end of January for Commission to approve the purchase of new AutoMARK voting machines. Harrison County has been using the iVotronic machines for about five years. The state’s contract with…