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New Jersey: Questions of vulnerability surround New Jersey’s aging voting machines | Rob Anthes/Community News

In 2004, Hopewell resident Stephanie Harris went to her polling place for the presidential primary, never expecting what was about to happen would alter her life and the public discourse around voter security for the next decade and a half. When Harris entered the privacy booth that day, she saw one of Mercer County’s then-new touchscreen voting machines facing her, a model called the Sequoia AVC Advantage. She found her candidate of choice on the large paper ballot overlay, pressed the box next to the candidate’s name and then hit a large button at the bottom right of the machine to cast her vote. Typically, at this point, the AVC Advantage will make a noise to indicate a vote has been counted. For Harris, nothing happened. Harris exited the privacy booth slightly confused. A poll worker stopped her, and said her vote didn’t register and that she should try again. Harris did, four times with the same results. After the fifth time, the poll worker shrugged, and said, “Well, I think it worked.” Harris never received definitive confirmation her vote had been cast. To this day, she doesn’t know whether the machine recorded her vote. Harris couldn’t shake the feeling that her vote had been taken away. She asked the county for confirmation or at least an explanation. She didn’t get answers, but she did earn a new nickname, courtesy of a county freeholder—“the Incident in Hopewell.” So she sued.

Full Article: Questions of vulnerability surround New Jersey's aging voting machines.

Louisiana: New Louisiana election, same old voting machines | Melinda DeSlatte/Associated Press

Despite a national uproar over election security, Louisiana voters will be casting their ballots next month in a statewide election on the same type of paperless voting machines the state has used since 2005. No changes are expected for the 2020 presidential election either. Allegations of improper bid handling derailed plans to replace to Louisiana’s voting machines, so the secretary of state’s office had to redo its vendor search process. The agency still is drafting the solicitation for bid proposals, so new voting machines aren’t coming soon. Still, Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin said voters should feel confident in the machines they will use to cast their ballots in the Oct. 12 and Nov. 16 elections for Louisiana governor, six other statewide positions and state legislative seats.

Full Article: Analysis: New Louisiana election, same old voting machines - Washington Times.

New Jersey: Activists press for federal support to upgrade New Jersey’s vulnerable voting machines | Briana Vannozzi/NJTV News

Progressive activists on Tuesday called for an overhaul of New Jersey’s voting system, saying that the lack of a paper backup to the electronic machines at the polls in many counties could undermine the faith of voters that their ballots will be counted. “This is our most important fundamental right, the right to vote,” said Marcia Marley, president of BlueWave NJ. “And if it doesn’t count, why vote?” The activists are also looking to put pressure on federal lawmakers to approve $600 million for election security funding at the state level. The allocation has already been approved by the Democratic-majority House of Representatives but has failed to get any traction in the upper house, which is controlled by the GOP and led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican. Carrying signs that read “Moscow Mitch” and “Protect Our Elections,” the activists gathered outside the offices of the state’s two Democratic senators, Cory Booker and Robert Menendez. “Robert Mueller explained that the threat of foreign intervention in our elections is very much still alive and probably escalating for the 2020 elections,” said BlueWave NJ member Mark Lurinsky, referencing testimony before Congress by the former Special Counsel to the Justice Department who investigated Russia’s attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Full Article: Activists press for federal support to upgrade NJ’s vulnerable voting machines | Video | NJTV News.

New Jersey: On Eve of Primaries, New Jersey Is at Early Stage of Shoring Up Election Security | NJ Spotlight

New Jersey wasn’t one of the 21 states whose electoral systems were targeted by Russian hackers in 2016, but it has weaknesses at both state and county level. With less a month to go before this year’s primary elections, New Jersey officials are continuing to fortify state and county election infrastructure, including the addition of more new voting machines with a verifiable paper trail, to ensure the integrity of elections. Secretary of State Tahesha Way, who oversees elections, told the budget committees of both houses of the Legislature last week that while New Jersey was not one of the 21 states that Russian hackers targeted or scanned in 2016, the state is taking several steps to prevent any unwanted access to its election systems. Her department has also been working with counties to assess the security of their machines and data. “The soundness of our elections sits at the top of my agenda,” Way told lawmakers, several of whom expressed concern about the safety of the state’s election infrastructure and whether she is getting enough money to fund necessary security upgrades. “The Department of State has been extremely proactive on election security and has become recognized for these election integrity efforts,” Way said. New Jersey received almost $9.8 million in federal funds through the Help America Vote Act, and is matching that with about $500,000, to spend over five years updating and enhancing the security of voting machines and systems. DOS has some leeway in deciding how to spend the money and has outlined how it expects to do so.

Full Article: On Eve of Primaries, NJ Is at Early Stage of Shoring Up Election Security - NJ Spotlight.

Editorials: Whether our elections were hacked or not, New Jersey needs new voting machines, politician says | Brendan W. Gill/nj.com

As the election year of 2020 approaches, it is clear that technology has changed the world we live in. The overwhelming majority of the changes have been beneficial, but we must always remember that as time and technology progress, we must adapt accordingly. In the days, months, and years following our most recent presidential election, all of us have been bombarded with allegations and news coverage about the possibility that our elections were manipulated. I am compelled to express, emphatically, that protecting the accuracy and veracity of our election results is the most important issue that we need to address to protect our democracy. To that end, I wholeheartedly support Essex County purchasing voting machines that will employ the use of optical scanners and hand-written ballots. My decision to support the purchase and implementation of these voting machines is not driven by the results of the previous presidential election, or any election. There have been many occasions in which an entire segment of a given electorate has been disappointed with the outcome at the polls. However, we can all agree that the integrity of our voting process must be protected.

Full Article: Whether our elections were hacked or not, we need new voting machines, politician says - nj.com.

New Jersey: New Jersey was going to have paper-based voting machines more than a decade ago. Will it happen by 2020? | Philadelphia Inquirer

New Jersey was once poised to become a national leader in election and voting security. Instead, it now lags most states — including Pennsylvania and Delaware — by relying on aging, paperless machines that experts say are vulnerable to attack and can’t be properly audited. There are no statewide plans to buy new machines; nor is the state urging counties to buy new systems, in contrast to Pennsylvania, where Gov. Tom Wolf has ordered all 67 counties to have new machines by next year’s primary election. “We are doing what we can with the funding that we have and the situation that we’re in,” said Robert Giles, who heads the state’s Division of Elections. The challenge, he said, is funding. Counties are left to their own initiatives. But the current machines are nearing death. The money will have to come from somewhere, said Jesse Burns, head of the League of Women Voters of New Jersey. “Time, it has run out. So there’s no more kicking it down the road,” she said.

Full Article: N.J. was going to have paper-based voting machines more than a decade ago. Will it happen by 2020?.

Louisiana: Louisiana won’t have new voting machines for 2019 governor’s race | The Times-Picayune

Republican Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin said new voting machines will not be in place for the 2019 fall election cycle when the governor, attorney general, four other statewide elected positions and all 144 members of the Louisiana Legislature will be picked. The machines were supposed to be up and running before next year’s big campaign season, until the purchasing process stalled over concerns that the secretary of state’s office didn’t handle bidding properly. Ardoin has said his office made a mistake during the procurement process, but also blames Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration for the months-long delay and problems. The holdup means there isn’t enough time to purchase the machines and train local election officials to use them before the October 2019 elections, according to the secretary of state’s office.

Full Article: Louisiana won’t have new voting machines for 2019 governor’s race | nola.com.

New Jersey: There’s Money for Upgrading Election Security but Little for Vital Paper Trail | NJ Spotlight

Despite expert opinion that, without paper ballots, New Jersey’s election system is far from secure, state allots negligible amount to remedy that weakness. New Jersey plans to spend $10.2 million to enhance election security over the next several years, but will use only part of it to conduct a small pilot project involving what some experts say is the most important change the state needs to make: moving to a system of paper ballots. The Center for American Progress has rated New Jersey’s election system among the least secure in the nation, in large part because there is no way to independently audit ballot results should a hacker meddle with the programming of one or more election machines. Pending legislation (A-3991) calls for the state to upgrade its voting machines to ones that have a paper trail and county clerks agree that change is needed. New Jersey is only taking the smallest step in that direction.

Full Article: There’s Money for Upgrading NJ Election Security but Little for Vital Paper Trail - NJ Spotlight.

Editorials: More changes needed to safeguard New Jersey elections | NorthJersey.com

A nearly $10 million infusion of cash meant to shore up New Jersey’s highly vulnerable voting system is welcome, but it’s not enough, and it won’t measurably address one big problem – the state’s lack of a verifiable paper record of votes cast. Indeed, the federal grant money the state secured this spring from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission is a fraction of what is needed to transform the state’s election infrastructure, which a number of election experts view as susceptible to hacking or worse.

Full Article: Editorial: More changes needed to safeguard NJ elections.

New Jersey: State spending $10M to fix one of most vulnerable voting systems in US | NorthJersey.com

With less than three months until a midterm election that could shift control of the House, New Jersey is planning to spend nearly $10 million in federal money it received this spring to strengthen what is widely considered one of the most vulnerable voting systems in the country. But the grant money from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission is a fraction of what’s needed to improve the state’s election infrastructure from the threats federal officials say are being directed at the U.S., leaving New Jersey susceptible to outside influence when it may also serve as a Congressional battleground. While election officials across the state remain confident that hacking or voting fraud is unlikely — or at least detectable — the 2016 presidential election showed that outside forces are constantly coming up with novel ways to infiltrate the country’s election systems and disrupt one of the most sacred rituals of democracy. “It’s very likely we’ll be susceptible to hacking,” said Aquene Freechild, co-director of a voting campaign for Public Citizen, a liberal nonprofit advocacy group based in Washington, D.C. “The problem in New Jersey is you wouldn’t know if there was a hack or not.”

Full Article: NJ spending $10M to fix one of most vulnerable voting systems in US.

New Jersey: Experts stress importance of paper backups for election security | NJTV

Lawmakers on the Assembly State and Local Government Committee heard once again just how good New Jersey’s election machine security is. “New Jersey was one of 12 states to receive a ‘D,’” said Danielle Root, a voting rights manager from the Center for American Progress. Root was one of several election experts to highlight a key deficiency: relying on touch screen election machines that leave no paper record of votes. “Although it’s good that New Jersey adheres to cybersecurity best practices related to voter registration systems, including training election officials and partnering with DHS [Department of Homeland Security] to perform vulnerability assessments on election infrastructure, the state, as the chairman mentioned earlier, continues to use paperless electronic voting machines,” said Root.

Full Article: Experts stress importance of paper backups for election security | Video | NJTV News.

New Jersey: Voting Machines: Is Safe Enough Good Enough? | NJ Spotlight

Although the state’s voting machines aren’t linked to the internet, experts warn that gives officials a false sense of security. What’s needed are machines that deliver a paper audit trail of every vote. The hacking of election results, rumored to have occurred in 2016 and feared to be possible now and in the future, can happen here, say experts. They worry that New Jersey’s current voting process is vulnerable, and the state’s ballot system has been graded among the least secure in the country. Still, the state’s chief election and security officials are confident in the integrity of New Jersey’s voting procedures. Since voting machines are not connected to the Internet, they believe there is no cause for concern. They have no plans to replace equipment that were put into service 15 years ago or longer. Despite this, some legislators and advocacy groups are not convinced. They point out the voting machines in use are relatively antiquated and do not meet recommendations of national experts.

Full Article: New Jersey’s Voting Machines: Is Safe Enough Good Enough? - NJ Spotlight.

Louisiana: Secretary of State starts process to replace 10,000 voting machines | Associated Press

Louisiana’s elections will be getting a face-lift over the next few years, with plans underway to replace the state’s decade-old bulky voting machines with sleeker, smaller equipment and beefed-up technology. The request seeking proposals from contractors for new voting machines went out this week, with bids due May 1. The solicitation went out as Secretary of State Tom Schedler learned Louisiana is getting a nearly $6 million federal grant to cover a portion of the costs. The state last purchased voting equipment in 2005. This time, Louisiana will be shopping for new equipment as concerns about cybersecurity threats are heightened and hacking worries have consumed election discussions – and as the state is struggling with repeated financial problems.

Full Article: Louisiana starts process to replace 10,000 voting machines | WWL.

New Jersey: Pols Push for Voting Machines that Offer Paper Trail for Every Ballot Cast | NJ Spotlight

Voters across New Jersey are going to polling places today to pick a new governor, select candidates for seats in the state Legislature, and to decide many contested county and municipal elections. But questions have been raised in recent weeks about whether the electronic machines that will be used to count the vote in many places in New Jersey are vulnerable to computer error or even hacking, and lawmakers are pushing for the machines to eventually be upgraded so there’s a “voter-verified” paper trail to back up each vote that is cast on Election Day. To be sure, there’s been no evidence of any widespread voting-machine failure or large-scale tampering leading up to today’s elections in New Jersey, and election officials say there have been no recorded cases of an electronic-voting machine having been hacked in New Jersey during any recent election. What’s more, the machines themselves are not attached to any network so hacking would have to occur in person rather than remotely. But a Princeton University computer-science professor opened the eyes of lawmakers by showing them during a recent hearing in Trenton how voting machines that are used in 18 of New Jersey’s 21 counties could theoretically be hacked manually by someone seeking to make sure an election turns out in a specific way.

Full Article: Pols Push for Voting Machines that Offer Paper Trail for Every Ballot Cast - NJ Spotlight.

New Jersey: Bad voting machines replaced with bad voting machines, forcing use of paper ballots in Allentown | app

Voting machines here have been inoperable all morning, after faulty machines were replaced with new ones that also didn’t work, an election official said. “Voters are voting on emergency ballots,’’ said Allan Roth, chairman of the Monmouth County Board of Elections. “No voter has been turned away. They’re just voting on paper ballots.’’ Software problems were discovered in the borough’s four voting machines early this morning, around 6 a.m., Roth said.

Full Article: Allentown voting machines down, forcing use of paper ballots.

New Jersey: New Jersey to replace thousands of aging voting machines | WHYY

Many of the 11,000 voting machines in New Jersey are so old, officials said, they will soon have to be replaced. Amid concerns about hacking, state lawmakers are examining how to make sure new machines will be more secure. While there’s no evidence of hacking, the machines are hackable, said Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker, D-Middlesex. And Princeton computer science professor Andrew Appel said he could quickly break the security seals on a voting machine, replace the chip that records the results, and reseal it so the tampering would be undetectable. “I was able to get a bunch of them and figure out what their weaknesses are,” he said during a hearing before lawmakers Thursday. “So if you have three or four seals on there, it’ll take me 10 minutes to get them off.”

Full Article: N.J. to replace thousands of aging voting machines : Election : WHYY.

New Jersey: Are New Jersey’s voting machines vulnerable to hacking? | NJTV

In his Princeton University office, computer science professor Andrew Appel held up a small computer chip from a New Jersey voting machine. It’s the program that tallies your vote behind the curtain, inside the polling booth. It’s used in every single voting machine in 18 out of New Jersey’s 21 counties. It’s also outdated technology, and if you really wanted to, it’s not all that difficult to hack. “If you put a fraudulent program that adds up the votes a different way, you can install it in the voting machine by prying out the legitimate chip in there now and installing this fraudulent chip in the socket,” he said. Appel knows because he did it. Almost all of New Jersey’s 11,000 computerized voting machines are AVC Advantage systems. The Mercer County Board of Elections has a warehouse where the systems have been decertified in most of the country, but not here.

Full Article: Are NJ's voting machines vulnerable to hacking? | Video | NJTV News.

New Jersey: Could outdated voting machines leave New Jersey vulnerable to fraud? | News 12

When New Jersey voters go to the polls Tuesday, they’ll cast their votes on 20-year-old voting machines with no verifiable paper trail. Some voting rights advocates tell Kane In Your Corner that’s a combination that could leave the state powerless to conduct an effective audit if something goes wrong. “I think what’s really important is to prove not only to the winners that they won, but to the losers that they lost,” says Pamela Smith, president of the nonprofit group Verified Voting. The group favors optically scanned paper ballots, now used in several states, including New York. The ballots can be scanned by machines, but hand-inspected if questions arise. …  New Jersey election director Robert Giles, however, insists the state’s current voting machines, primarily comprised of AVC Advantage machines introduced in 1996, have proven to be reliable. “To this date, there’s been no evidence of the machines malfunctioning to the extent that there’s been an election questioned,” Giles says. Smith questions how the state can be so certain. Without paper copies to audit, she says “you can run the numbers again, but there’s no way to be sure the equipment is working correctly.”

Pennsylvania: Aging voting machines could be ‘nightmare scenario’ in the event of a disputed election | Los Angeles Times

On election day, voters in Pennsylvania will be touching the lighted buttons on electronic vote counters that were once seen as the solution to messy paper ballots. But in the event of a disputed election, this battleground state — one of the few that relies almost entirely on computerized voting, with no paper backup — could end up creating a far bigger mess. Stored in a locked warehouse near downtown Harrisburg, the 1980s-era voting machines used by Dauphin County look like discarded washing machines lined up in rows. When unfolded and powered up, the gray metal boxes become the familiar voting booth, complete with a curtain for privacy. Much may rest on the reliability and security of these aging machines after an unprecedentedly combative presidential campaign that is ending with Donald Trump warning repeatedly of a “rigged election” and his refusal at Wednesday’s debate to commit to accepting the results on Nov. 8. … But computer experts says the old electronic voting machines have a hidden flaw that worries them in the event of a very close election. The machines do not produce a paper ballot or receipt, leaving nothing to be recounted if the election outcome were in doubt, such as in 2000, when the nation awaited anxiously for Florida to reexamine those hanging chads.

Full Article: Aging voting machines could be 'nightmare scenario' in the event of a disputed election | Los Angeles Times.

New Jersey: Are New Jersey Voting Machines Vulnerable to Hacking? | NJTV

“New Jersey’s definitely vulnerable,” said former FBI agent Manny Gomez. He means the statewide system of 11,000 computerized voting machines, where New Jerseyans will close the curtains and pick a president this November. It’s a network that hackers could break into, without even breaking a sweat, because these systems were designed for efficiency, not security, according to Gomez. “Jersey’s very vulnerable from foreign attacks or just some goofball sitting in his basement that has the skill set. It’s not that complicated to hack into a government entity these days,” he said. … “Election results can be altered through a hack and they can also be altered through human error. The problem with New Jersey’s voting machines is, there’s no way to check,” said RutgersProfessor Penny Venetis. Venetis says the AVCs contain no paper backup to verify votes cast, although that’s required by New Jersey law. She sued the state — which refused to replace the machines — but agreed not to connect them to the internet.

Full Article: Are New Jersey Voting Machines Vulnerable to Hacking? | Video | NJTV News.