Louisiana’s secretary of state told lawmakers Tuesday that he hopes to restart efforts to replace thousands of voting machines this summer, after the last effort was derailed by allegations of improper bid handling. Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, who oversees state elections, said the voting machine replacement work won’t be complete for the fall election, so his office will spend $2 million renting temporary machines. Ardoin told the House Appropriations Committee his office will rent early-voting machines for the October and November elections, when all of Louisiana’s statewide and legislative positions are on the ballot. The office will use spare parts to make sure the decade-old Election Day voting machines are running properly. “Because the last (bid process) didn’t work out so well, we’re working very hard to maneuver to make sure that we are settled for the fall election,” Ardoin said. A multimillion-dollar contract award to replace Louisiana’s voting machines was scrapped in October after the state’s chief procurement officer said the secretary of state’s office didn’t follow legal requirements in choosing the winning vendor, Dominion Voting Systems.
Florida: Palm Beach County is the lone county to reject sensors that detect hackers | Tampa Bay Times
To help deter hackers from infiltrating voting systems, the federal government offered all of Florida’s 67 counties a tool to detect and monitor electronic intruders. While the technology does not stop hackers, it alerts officials about possible threats and allows them to respond faster when data may be at risk. Only one county—Palm Beach—rejected the technology in the months prior to Election Day. That could change now that Palm Beach County plans to update its system next year. “We didn’t think it was a good time to put some function on a legacy system,” said Palm Beach Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher. “We’ll take a look next year when we buy new equipment.”
Palm Beach County was plagued by broken machines and missed deadlines this midterm election, putting them once again in the national spotlight. Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher blamed the problems on the machines, which at one point during the machine recount overheated, causing them to have to recount thousands of votes that had already been counted. Bucher said she has repeatedly asked for new machines for the past 10 years, but has been stuck using the eight machines already there when she took office in 2009. The problem is those machines use a software that only allow each individual race to be scanned at a time. Bucher said and the county confirmed there is money in the budget to the tune of $11.1 million set aside to pay for new counting equipment, but it hasn’t been purchased yet.
A voting system has to do two things: Count votes correctly and keep them secure. The Sequoia voting system in Palm Beach County, harshly criticized and already old in 2007 when the county paid $5.5 million to keep it, has for years come under fire for not reliably doing one or the other — or both. The aging system made headlines again last week, when high-speed vote counters appeared to overheat. That delayed vote counting in the nationally watched Florida recount. Why Palm Beach County didn’t update its aging vote-counters. Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher Thursday reiterated her belief that equipment malfunctions are at fault for a failure to finish a machine recount in four races by a state-mandated deadline. The county’s equipment is so outmoded she didn’t have time to even start the recount of nearly 600,000 ballots in two of the statewide races.
While other supervisors of elections throughout the state have remained confident that they will complete recounting ballots cast in November, Palm Beach County’s elections supervisor remains skeptical they will complete counting each race subject to recounts by the Thursday afternoon deadline set by the state. Susan Bucher has repeatedly asked for additional funding to update antiquated voting…
Pennsylvania: Replacing York County’s outdated voting machines: Looming deadline, big bill | York Dispatch
As the November election approaches, York County’s voting machines reportedly are outdated, vulnerable to hacking and lacking a commonly used safety feature that might reveal meddling or mistakes. In fact, most Pennsylvania counties are in the same boat, according to Department of State, which is giving them until 2020 to upgrade their machines. The switch won’t be cheap, and no one is sure who’s going end up footing the bill, estimated to be about $125 million statewide. York County’s machines are 12 years old and replaced lever-operated voting booths that had been in use for more than half a century. … The risks associated with York County’s machines range in severity — from simple programming errors like the county saw last year, to hacking that can change vote counts, according to Marian Schneider, president of Verified Voting and former deputy secretary for Elections and Voting under the Wolf administration.
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.
Pennsylvania: York County details lack of internal controls in post-election report to state | York Dispatch
York County’s voting machine programming error was the result of a failure to establish and execute proper internal controls, according to a post-election report submitted to the state. A technical oversight by the county’s elections department allowed a single voter to cast multiple votes for a single candidate during the Nov. 7 general election in certain races where more than one candidate was elected. The Pennsylvania Department of State directed the county to review and explain the issue to them, which county solicitor Glenn Smith did in a report submitted Nov. 27.
Pennsylvania: York County officials say overvotes didn’t affect election results, but numbers tell different story | York Dispatch
York County officials announced their determination that a technical oversight with voting machines didn’t affect the outcome of Nov. 7 election results, but the numbers in one race indicate a possible impact. York County’s Board of Elections voted unanimously to approve the preliminary certification of the election results during its meeting Monday, Nov. 20. County election staff discovered the oversight the afternoon before Election Day that allowed a single voter to cast multiple votes for a single candidate in races where more than one candidate was elected. On Nov. 13, about 20 volunteers — all county employees — spent about five hours counting all the instances where a single voter cast two votes for the same candidate — referred to as an “overvote.”
A recount that could help determine the winners of eight York County elections began Monday, Nov. 13, after an election board meeting where numerous residents scrutinized the county’s Election Day decisions. County election staff discovered a technical oversight the afternoon before Election Day that allowed a single voter to cast multiple votes for a single candidate in races where more than one candidate was elected. The oversight, which was the result of a programming error by county staff, potentially impacted eight contested races, including the York County Court of Common Pleas judges race. About 20 volunteers, all county employees, began counting votes in those races Monday morning in the basement of the county’s administrative building, looking for instances where a single voter cast two votes for the same candidate. Those instances will be referred to as an “overvote” for that candidate, according to Nikki Suchanic, director of the county’s election department.
Pennsylvania: York County still scrambling to resolve races impacted by voting machine error | York Dispatch
Sandra Thompson said she’s still in “wait-and-see” mode when in comes to any potential next steps for her candidacy for York County Court of Common Pleas judge. The local attorney and York NAACP chapter president unofficially finished on the outside looking in at three judge vacancies after the municipal election Tuesday, Nov. 7, but a technical oversight with the county voting machines has left her and other candidates unsure of the results. The oversight, discovered Monday afternoon, allowed a single voter to cast multiple votes for a single candidate in races where more than one candidate is elected.
The York County voting machine programming error that allowed voters to vote twice in some races for the same candidate on Tuesday — once on the Republican ballot and once on the Democratic ballot — has left some office seekers in limbo. The county election board is to meet next week on that matter, and at this time it’s not clear what options the county may have to resolve the issue. The problem was limited to certain races where candidates cross-filed and appeared on both ballots, including the four-candidate judicial race for the York County Court of Common Pleas. The error did not affect the race for York mayor. Although the county is looking to the Pennsylvania Department of State for legal guidance, county spokesman Mark Walters said Wednesday that the problem is the county’s, and the county’s alone. The Department of State, which oversees state level elections, “doesn’t have a lot of authority over county elections,” a state department spokesman said. It is each county’s responsibility to purchase, program and test voting machines.
Illinois: ‘Embarrassing’ Voter Data Leak Will Never Happen Again, Chicago Election Chief Says | DNAinfo
The head of the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners Tuesday apologized to aldermen for allowing the personal information of 1.8 million Chicago registered voters to be exposed on a public server. Executive Director Lance Gough said the Aug. 12 discovery that Election Systems & Software discovered backup files stored on a Amazon Web Services server that included voter names, addresses, and dates of birth. In many cases it also included the voters’ driver’s license and state identification numbers and the last four digits of Social Security numbers. “It was quite embarrassing,” Gough said. “I’m here to apologize. This will never happen again.”
A bill that would pay to replace all of Nevada’s electronic voting machines was introduced in the Assembly on Thursday. Assembly Bill 519 would provide a total of $8 million to the Secretary of State’s Elections Division. County elections officials have repeatedly told lawmakers the Sequoia machines are now so old they’re failing, causing numerous problems for poll workers in early voting as well as on election day. Those machines are now more than a decade old and were the state’s first electronic voting system, replacing the old punch card voting machines.
A hacker armed with a $25 PCMCIA card can, within a few minutes, change the vote totals on an aging electronic voting machine that is now in limited use in 13 U.S. states, a cybersecurity vendor has demonstrated. The hack by security vendor Cylance — which released a video of it Friday — caught the attention of noted National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, but other critics of e-voting security dismissed the vulnerability as nothing new. The Cylance hack demonstrated a theoretical vulnerability described in research going back a decade, the company noted. The hack is “not surprising,” Pamela Smith, president of elections security advocacy group Verified Voting, said by email. “The timing of the release is a little odd.” … The Cylance demonstration was “not new and badly timed,” said Joe Kiniry, a security researcher and CEO at Free and Fair, an election technology developer. “This kind of attack has been demonstrated on almost all of the widely deployed machines used today.”
National: Some Voting Machines Are Flipping Votes But That Doesn’t Mean The Election Is ‘Rigged’ | NPR
Vote flipping. The stories and conspiracy theories have begun. In every recent election, there have been reports of voters pressing one candidate’s name on a touch-screen machine, only to have the opponent’s name light up instead. It can be unnerving for voters and often leads to allegations that the machines have been “rigged” to favor one candidate over another. Enter election 2016, when the word “rigged” is more politically charged than ever. In the first few days of early voting, there are already scattered reports of vote-flipping machines in North Carolina, Texas and Nevada. … So what’s going on? Are the machines rigged? No, says just about every voting technology expert. “If you were actually trying to rig an election, it would be a very stupid thing to do, to let the voter know that you were doing it,” says Larry Norden, with the Brennan Center for Justice in New York.
Nevada: 6 losing GOP candidates file challenge, allege possible voting machine malfunctions | Las Vegas Review-Journal
Six Republican candidates for the Nevada Assembly who lost in the June 14 primary filed legal action Tuesday in Clark County District Court alleging “possible” malfunction of voting machines. The “statements of contest” seeks a judicial order requiring that the electronic vote tallies in their races be compared with the backup paper records. Those requesting the rare procedure are Diana Orrock, Steve Sanson, Connie Foust, Tina Trenner, Mary Rooney and Blain Jones. In a statement, Jones, who lost by 10 percentage points in Assembly District 21 to incumbent Assemblyman Derek Armstrong, R-Henderson, said the move is being sought to “ensure we know the full truth for each race.”
Virginia’s election officials say they have a lot of work to do before the presidential primary in a few months. Members of the Virginia State Board of Elections (SBE) met in Richmond Monday to discuss issues that came up during the recent elections: there were problems with some voting machines, as well as the commonwealth’s voter identification policy. Officials said, overall, things went smoothly earlier this month. However, they are concerned that more voters will likely come out to the polls for the March 1 primary, and issues must be addressed before then. “These machines are going to go down, and if you think it was a problem in this election, great balls of fire, what is going to happen if they go down on presidential, or even in the primary?” SBE Vice Chair Clara Belle Wheeler said.
Nevada is set to figure big in the 2016 election. Not only might we be the deciding state in the presidential election, but who we elect in the Senate race to replace Sen. Harry Reid may determine the balance of power in Congress. And two ballot measures – on legalized marijuana and firearms background checks – will bring people to the polls in droves. Are we ready for this? Is our election system set to handle the influx of voters? On machines that were built more than 15 years ago? Clark County Registrar of Voters Joe Gloria is certain he can keep the voting machines healthy through the 2016 election, but he’s not sure how much magic he and his staff can work after this. “We definitely need to start that conversation and the time to plan is now,” Gloria told KNPR’s State of Nevada, “Nobody plans to fail, they fail to plan.”
It won’t be available during this election, but Secretary of State Tom Schedler wants to bring iPad voting to Louisiana in the next two or three years. If reelected this fall, Schedler said he would look to transition Louisiana from its traditional voting machines to iPads. The shift would cost a fair amount of money – a rough estimate puts it somewhere between $45 million and $60 million. So Schedler might first look to lease the equipment to bring the cost down initially. iPad voting would also run as a pilot program in select locations before consideration was given to launching it statewide, according to Schedler’s office.
The state will reimburse Racine County municipalities about $42,000 for costs related to touch-screen voting machines. The Racine County Board unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the reimbursement in its meeting Tuesday. The money will extend maintenance agreements on the machines by three years and four months, County Clerk Wendy Christensen said. The county will apply for the reimbursement and then distribute the money to each of the 17 municipalities, Christensen said.
Nevada: Clark County registrar confident voting cartridges left behind weren’t compromised | Las Vegas Review-Journal
Clark County election officials scrambled late Tuesday to retrieve the electronic ballots of 127 voters left behind when polls closed at the Las Vegas Academy. Registrar of Voters Joe Gloria said Wednesday the cartridges where the data was stored were retrieved but not before delaying by several hours the release of vote totals for races in the primary election. He said that all of the votes were counted and he was confident that the cartridges were not tampered with between the voting station’s closure and their recovery. “At no time was there any chance those votes could have been in jeopardy,” Gloria said. He said that federal law requires redundancy paths, or backups, to be in place to ensure votes can be retrieved if cartridges are lost or damaged.
Blind voters in California can advance claims that the voting machines meant for them in Alameda County malfunctioned and violated their rights, a federal judge ruled. The California Council of the Blind and five individual voters sued Alameda County because the accessible voting machines for the blind failed to work properly, forcing them to vote with the help of another person. The county has Sequoia AVC Edge voting machines at each of its polling places. Using voice prompts, headphones and a tactile keypad, a blind person can vote independently. But the machines allegedly malfunctioned several times on Election Day, and the plaintiffs say they endured long delays as poll workers failed to get the machines working. More than one plaintiff said they were shuttled to another voting site, only to discover that the machine there did not work either.
Al Paglia yearned to hear that he had won the Wellington, Florida city council election. “It was ecstasy I had 50 people at my house at 11:00 at night it finally came across the TV screen.” Paglia recalled. “On the election website Al Paglia upsets incumbent – it was wonderful.” The supposed win took place earlier this year in March. Even in the world of politics – his honeymoon was shorter than anyone could have imagined. Just days after being declared the victor in a city councilman race, he got a call saying he was indeed… a loser. It was Palm Beach Supervisor of Elections, Susan Bucher, and her team who discovered the mistake. In two races, winners including Paglia were announced and certified… when they were actually the losers. Bucher said Palm Beach’s optical scan election system had – unbeknownst to anyone-mixed up the race results. As a result, the wrong winners and losers were called. When asked by CBS4 Investigative reporter, Michele Gillen, what is was like to declare the wrong winners? Bucher said, “It humiliating. It was awful. It was never our intent.” Bucher is one of several election supervisors we’ve met, who are taking aim at Florida’s audit process — the review of the paper ballots– only a sampling is done, and only after elections are certified.
There may be a glimmer of good news for Wisconsin Democrats despite last night’s convincing win by Republican Scott Walker in the recall race for governor. After a vote tabulation glitch in Racine County, Democrat John Lehman appears to have come out on top in a state Senate recall that late Tuesday night looked as if it was going the way of incumbent Republican Van Wanggard. The margin is less than 1,000 votes, and Wanggard has yet to concede though Lehman, who held the seat until 2010, declared victory. It’s only one seat, but that’s enough for now to flip control of the state Senate from the GOP to Democrats, a change that could in theory make things harder for Walker to impose his conservative agenda in Madison.
The roughly 3,700 electronic voting machines owned by Riverside County are locked in a warehouse, being scavenged for parts, with no plans to sell the multimillion-dollar equipment that was rendered idle by the stroke of a pen more than five years ago, a county official confirmed Wednesday. In August 2007, California Secretary of State Debra Bowen decertified e-voting units in use in counties throughout the state following a series of security tests that revealed vulnerabilities in the machines that could leave them open to computer hack attacks. At the time, Riverside County’s Sequoia AVC Edge voting machines had been used in elections going back to 2000. County supervisors universally lauded e-voting, calling the practice a great time-saver with less risk for the type of errors that came to light in Florida following the 2000 presidential election. Members of election integrity group Save-R-Vote of Temecula Valley, a staunch opponent of e-voting, forecasted Bowen’s decision, with the head of the organization, Tom Courbat, recommending that the county sell its Sequoia units for pennies on the dollar to cut its losses. He was ignored.