ballot marking devices

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California: Voters say Los Angeles County’s fancy new voting machines aren’t working | Rebecca Heilweil/Vox

New voting machines making their debut on Super Tuesday in Los Angeles County are already raising concerns about unreliable technology. While the system is meant to modernize voting and make democracy more accessible, some voters are complaining about technical glitches and usability. That’s not great news, since LA represents a massive election district in the state with the most delegates up for grabs in the Democratic primary. Today, the Los Angeles Times reported that election officials were having issues with their systems linking up with California’s voter database, which meant that the registration system wasn’t tracking who had already voted or incorporating new registration information. This is a big problem, since California passed a law last year that allows for voter registration on election day in an effort to enfranchise more voters. Meanwhile, many voters have complained on Twitter that their voting machines weren’t working, with some reaching out to election officials on the platform for help. There were also complaints that the machines were not taking voters’ paper ballots, which need to be inserted back into the machine. Several people also said that the e-poll books weren’t working.

Full Article: Los Angeles, California, voters report problems with new machines - Vox.

Texas: ‘The worst voting experience’: Long lines drag Super Tuesday deep into the night for some voters | Mike Morris, Samantha Ketterer, and Nicole Hensley/Houston Chronicle

Dozens of Democratic voters were still waiting to cast ballots at midnight in Houston, turning Super Tuesday into a painful slog for some citizens amid questions about how the County Clerk’s office had allocated its voting machines across the county. Janet Gonzalez left work early and at 5:30 p.m. checked a website the clerk’s office runs to show wait times at polling places. It seemed Texas Southern University had a short wait, but when she arrived she found a massive line. She waited an hour outside and three more inside before she finally cast her ballot. Officials with the clerk’s office acknowledged the accuracy of the wait-times website is reliant on election workers manually updating the status of their polling places. Some people in line gave up and walked away, Gonzalez said. Others briefly sought refuge on a scattering of chairs before giving them up to others as the line inched forward. Polls closed at 7 p.m., but voters still can cast ballots as long as they stay in line. “It was a challenge,” Gonzalez said. “You have to look around at the elderly people and overcome your own pain.”

Full Article: 'The worst voting experience': Long lines drag Super Tuesday deep into the night for some voters - Houston Chronicle.

California: Presidential primary hinges on Los Angeles voting rules | John Myers and Matt Stiles/Los Angeles Times

When Los Angeles County set out to build a new voting system from scratch more than a decade ago, election officials knew the challenges in serving an electorate larger than those found in any of 39 states. But what they didn’t know was that their efforts were on a collision course with a series of statewide election changes and the most consequential presidential primary in modern California history. Should Angelenos not understand what to do or where to go, the effects could be felt both statewide and — in terms of the Democratic presidential race — across the country. “There’s a lot riding on this,” said Rick Hasen, an election law professor at UC Irvine. “Any time you’re making so many changes at once, people can lose confidence in the system.” The list of changes is long: L.A. ballots have been fully redesigned; thousands of neighborhood polling places are gone, replaced by fewer regional voting centers; and once there, millions of Angelenos will use new touch-screen devices approved by state officials just weeks ago. Voters across the county had their first experiences with the new process over the weekend. In some cases, it was not what they had hoped for — sporadic reports about miscues that election officials promised would be resolved as election day approaches.

Full Article: California's presidential primary hinges on Los Angeles voting rules - Los Angeles Times.

Illinois: Chicago gets new ‘giant iPad’-style electronic voting machines | Ella Lee/Chicago Sun-Times

New electronic voting machines were rolled out in Chicago this week — just in time for early voting for next month’s primary elections. The machines are touch-screen, like a “giant iPad” and capture an electronic scan of the voter’s ballot before printing, according to Jim Allen, Chicago Board of Election spokesman. “Even if those paper ballots were to be damaged, lost, destroyed or tampered with, you’d not only have the paper, but also the scanned images of all the ballots cast,” Allen said of the technological capabilities of the machines. There will be roughly 4500 new electronic machines in city-based precincts on March 17. Early voters started using the machines Wednesday at the Loop Super Site, at 191 N. Clark St. And when early voting expands to the rest of the precincts, the machines will be available at those locations as well. In addition to hiring cybersecurity expert and working closely with the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, the $22 million upgrade is another effort by the election board to improve security since Russian hackers tapped Illinois’ voter registration system in 2016.

Full Article: Illinois elections: Chicago gets new ‘giant iPad’-style electronic voting machines - Chicago Sun-Times.

California: Los Angeles County built its new voting machines from scratch. Will they be ready? | Kevin Monahan, Ben Popken, Rich Schapiro and Cynthia McFadden/NBC

Los Angeles County has spent the last 10 years creating what it hopes is the voting system of the future, a $300 million fleet of cutting-edge machines built from scratch. But as it prepares to roll out the new equipment for the first time when early voting in California’s Democratic primaries kicks off next week, the county is in a race against the clock to shore up critical vulnerabilities highlighted in an alarming third-party assessment. The technical report commissioned by the California secretary of state identified a wide variety of security flaws and operational issues, including insecure ballot boxes and exposed USB ports that rogue actors could exploit to alter votes. “At first reading, it’s terrifying,” said Richard DeMillo, a computer science professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology who specializes in voting security. “There are things that are clear security vulnerabilities in the system that are brushed aside.” L.A. County Registrar Dean Logan, who is in charge of the system, said the majority of the security flaws have been fixed, and the county has complied with the requirements set out by California Secretary of State Alex Padilla. Padilla just last month approved the system for use in the Democratic primaries so long as certain conditions are met.

Full Article: LA County built its new voting machines from scratch. Will they be ready?.

California: Los Angeles County’s Seismic Voting Shift | Gabrielle Gurley/The American Prospect

Election officials’ decision-making will come under greater public scrutiny after the Iowa caucus debacle—especially in Los Angeles County, home to ten million residents and five million registered voters, the largest voting jurisdiction in the country. On March 3—Super Tuesday—some Angelenos will surely go to their neighborhood polling place where they’ve been casting their votes for decades, only to find no signs of life. What to do—call City Hall? The police? Give up and head to work? Beginning with the March 3 election, California is instituting an epochal shift in the way its residents vote, debuting in 15 of the state’s 58 counties, of which L.A. is the big one. For this crucial presidential primary, voters in Los Angeles can use approximately 1,000 centralized vote centers rather than the roughly 5,000 precinct polling places where Angelenos have been accustomed to voting. Unlike those precinct polling places, however, which were open only on Election Day, the new voting centers will be open for voting for many days: Most of them will be in operation not just on Election Day but also on the ten days preceding it, while the rest will be open on Election Day and the four days before. What’s more, L.A. County voters can drop in and vote at any one of the centers. (Besides, this year as in many past elections, more than half of California voters will cast their votes by mail.)

Full Article: Los Angeles County’s Seismic Voting Shift - The American Prospect.

Georgia: Map shows spread of touchscreen voting across Georgia and nation | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The kind of voting system rolling out in Georgia is gaining ground across the country but remains much less common than paper ballots filled out by hand, according to a new national map of voting equipment. Georgia is one of three states that will use touchscreens and ballot printers for all in-person voters this year, according to Verified Voting, a nonpartisan election accuracy advocacy organization. Delaware and South Carolina will also use this kind of voting system statewide. Many states use similar equipment but on a smaller scale to accommodate voters with disabilities. The voting computers, called ballot-marking devices, are available in parts or all of 44 states, often alongside hand-marked paper ballots. About 18% of voters nationwide, more than 37 million, will use ballot-marking devices as their primary voting method this year, according to figures provided by Warren Stewart, a data specialist for Verified Voting who worked on the map. That figure includes 7 million registered voters in Georgia.

Full Article: Map shows spread of touchscreen voting across Georgia and nation.

California: Los Angeles County voters will use new ballot system for March 3 primary, despite lawsuit filed by Beverly Hills | Hayley Munguia/ Press Telegram

Los Angeles County voters have some big decisions to make March 3: Everything from city council seats to the state’s pick for the Democratic presidential nominee will be up for grabs. Even the state’s clout nationally could change, now that California’s election is on Super Tuesday. But in-person voters will also notice another change: Casting a ballot will be, for the most part, easier than ever before. Or at least that’s what officials have tried to achieve. A new touchscreen device will replace the old InkaVote system, which was essentially a paper ballot. The new technology includes the ability to display the ballot in 13 different languages — critical given the county’s diverse population — and adjust the text size and contrast. It also offers the option to use an audio headset and control pad for people who are visually impaired. Along with the new devices, L.A. County has switched from neighborhood polling places to vote centers, where any voter, regardless of his or her address, can cast a ballot. There will also be an 11-day window when people can vote, which begins Feb. 22 and ends on Election Day — and includes two weekends.

Full Article: L.A. County voters will use new ballot system for March 3 primary, despite lawsuit filed by Beverly Hills – Press Telegram.

Editorials: Shelby County Tennessee needs cheap, secure hand-marked paper ballots | Joe Towns and Marlene Strube/The Daily Memphian

Sometimes, the low-tech solution is the better one. Let’s say you want a dedicated tool to look up local phone numbers confidentially. You could buy a $500 computer plus subscription fee to search the online White Pages, hope you’ll have reliable Internet connection, and bet that no one is monitoring your searches. Or, you could get the phone book for free and use it reliably and in privacy. Shelby County is faced with a similar choice right now. Everyone agrees we need to buy new voting equipment for the 2020 election. And that it should have some kind of paper record of votes which can be checked against the computer in case of a computer glitch, hacking or just a really close race. But the Shelby County Election Commission (SCEC) is currently considering an expensive “electronic pen” system in which voters would use a touch-screen computer to mark paper ballots, when we could just give voters a paper ballot and a pencil. The low-tech, hand-marked paper ballot approach would be simpler, more secure and half the price.

Full Article: Shelby County needs cheap, secure hand-marked paper ballots - The Daily Memphian.

California: State OKs Los Angeles County’s New Voting Machines — With A Whole Lot Of Caveats (Backup Paper Ballots, For One)| Libby Denkman/LAist

The state of California has given Los Angeles County’s new voting equipment its seal of approval — with some significant caveats. On Friday, Secretary of State Alex Padilla granted conditional certification to the Voting Solutions for All People 2.0 system, including new ‘ballot marking devices’ that the county designed and built from the ground up. It’s making history as the first publicly owned voting system in the U.S. to be certified for widespread use. But the county must meet a stack of requirements before primary election voters get their hands on the machines starting Feb. 22. “Elections officials have a duty to make voting both as secure and as accessible as possible,” Padilla said in a press release. “As part of my certification of VSAP, I am insisting on some essential modifications to the system and requiring on-going reports from Los Angeles County so that we can continue to improve the voting experience for Angelenos.”

Full Article: State OKs LA County's New Voting Machines — With A Whole Lot Of Caveats (Backup Paper Ballots, For One): LAist.

California: State OKs highly questioned Los Angeles County voting system | Frank Bajak/Associate Press

California’s secretary of state on Friday approved Los Angeles County’s new publicly owned computerized voting system — a first of its kind for the nation — but is requiring modifications to address serious security and technical problems identified in testing. Secretary of State Alex Padilla is also requiring that all polling stations offer voters the option of using hand-marked paper ballots in the March 3 presidential primary in the nation’s most populous county. His office also notes in a statement on its conditional certification that an estimated 63% of county voters will be voting by mail using hand-marked paper ballots during the primary. Election security experts says all U.S. voters, unless hindered by disabilities, should use hand-marked paper ballots that are available for audits and recounts. Instead, only about 70% do, and elections in the U.S. are dominated by t hree voting equipment and services companies that control nearly 90 percent of the market. Their black-box touchscreen systems have been widely criticized by computer scientists as highly vulnerable to tampering. A subsidiary of one of those companies, Election Systems and Software of Omaha, Nebraska, was blamed by an outside audit for sloppy system integration that left 118,000 names off printed voter roles in Los Angeles County during the 2018 primary.

Full Article: California OKs highly questioned LA County voting system.

California: Lawsuit claims new Los Angeles County voting machines could favor some candidates | Jason Ruiz/Long Beach Post News

A lawsuit filed Thursday by the City of Beverly Hills alleges that the machines to tabulate votes that are being deployed by Los Angeles County for the upcoming March 3 elections could give some candidates an unfair advantage. In a statement the city said that the issue is that only four candidates can be displayed at one time on the screens and that the confusion between the “More” and “Next” buttons could lead to those not listed on the first page being overlooked by voters. Potential for the city’s suit was first reported by LAist, which earlier this month reported the Beverly Hills City Council was considering the action after it received a preview of the machines and noticed the potential for confusion. One of its incumbent members is listed fifth on the ballot, which means he would appear on the second screen and potentially be skipped over by voters. The county is using VSAP (Voting Solutions for All People) machines for the first time during the March elections, but have rolled them out for demonstrations in the past few months including at November’s California Democratic Party Endorsing Convention hosted in Long Beach. Voters can use the machines to electronically mark selections, with the machine printing out a paper version of their votes to be turned into county officials. The machines have yet to be certified by state election officials.

Full Article: Lawsuit claims new voting machines could favor some candidates • Long Beach Post News.

Tennessee: New Shelby County election machinery debate heightens fraud claims on all sides | Bill Dries/The Daily Memphian

Shelby County Commissioner Michael Whaley may have framed the debate on a new voting system that is about to land at the county building. “It’s easy to probably find studies on either side of this,” he said Wednesday, Jan. 22, as commissioners prepared to debate a resolution coming up at the Monday, Jan. 27, commission meeting endorsing hand-marked paper ballots. They would replace the touchscreen machines used in Shelby County elections. The resolution by Commissioner Van Turner is part of a new push by critics of computer-based voting machines. Turner said his goal is to “build integrity into the system.” The committee discussion on a day when committee sessions ran long showed there are disagreements on the matter within the Shelby County Election Commission, the organization that has a request for proposal out now for a new voting system to be used at some point during the current election year.

Full Article: New Shelby election machinery debate heightens fraud claims on all sides - The Daily Memphian.

California: Cities worried about new Los Angeles County voting system | Ian Bradley/The Acorn

In the March election Los Angeles County will launch a new method of computerized voting to replace the system that citizens have used for more than 50 years, but some officials are saying the new method has shortcomings and isn’t fair to all candidates on the ballot. The Los Angeles County registrar began rolling out the new program, Voting Solutions for All People, last year. The program replaces paper-and-pen ballots with a new digital interface that voters will use to make their selections. County officials say the change will make voting easy, accurate and fast. But critics say the system gives unfair advantage to certain candidates because only four names are displayed on the first page of a given race unless a “MORE” button is hit and a second screen loads up with the remaining candidates. Several cities are concerned about the on-screen layout issue including Beverly Hills and Calabasas. Both sent letters to the county voicing their objections. Calabasas City Councilmember James Bozajian said the problem is that in local races where victory can be decided by a handful of votes, a litigious candidate could argue that not being on the first screen kept them from winning.

Full Article: Cities worried about new voting system | The Acorn.

California: Beverly Hills City Council Might Sue Over Los Angeles County’s New Voting Machine Design | Libby Denkman/LAist

The Beverly Hills City Council has voted to move ahead with a possible lawsuit against election officials responsible for the new Los Angeles County voting equipment which will debut in the March 3 primary. The new machines are digital, and there are concerns that voters will vote without seeing all the candidates. Already there are huge changes in store for Angelenos voting in-person when vote centers start opening Feb. 22 — from where and when to vote to a new, high-tech way to cast a ballot. Electronic ballot marking devices developed by Los Angeles County will be the default option in all 1,000 new vote centers, replacing the familiar old InkaVote System. The new devices include touch screens to mark voter selections, which are then printed onto a paper ballot that will be collected and tallied by election officials. Now, with voting fast approaching, local governments and campaigns are familiarizing themselves with the new system. And many don’t like what they see.

Full Article: Beverly Hills Might Sue Over LA County's New Voting Machine Design: LAist.

North Carolina: Mecklenburg County OKs Buying New Voting Equipment | Steve Harrison/WFAE

Mecklenburg Commissioners voted 8-1 Tuesday night to buy new electronic voting equipment that it will be in place for the March 3 primary. The county is buying new machines to comply with a North Carolina law that requires paper ballots to improve election security. Many North Carolina counties are switching to paper ballots in which voters will use a pencil to fill in ovals next to their choices.Elections experts have said that such an all-paper system would provide more security. But Mecklenburg Elections director Michael Dickerson said the elections board believes that will lead to problems. “If you are filling in an oval, and you partly fill in the oval, will it count? Will it not count?” Dickerson said. “What if you fill in two ovals and circle one meaning that’s the one you want? That’s what the board did not want to do. They did not want to have to be responsible for interpreting votes for the voters.” So, the county is going with a hybrid system.

Full Article: Mecklenburg County OKs Buying New Voting Equipment | WFAE.

National: Voting machines touted as secure option are actually vulnerable to hacking, study finds | Joseph Marks/The Washington Post

New voting machines that hundreds of districts will use for the first time in 2020 don’t have enough safeguards against hacking by Russia and other U.S. adversaries, according to a study out this morning from researchers at the University of Michigan. The study marks the first major independent review of the machines called ballot-marking devices, or BMDs, which at least 18 percent of the country’s districts will use as their default voting machines in November. The results are a major blow for voting machine companies and election officials, who have touted BMDs as a secure option in the wake of Russia’s 2016 efforts to compromise U.S. election infrastructure. “The implication of our study is that it’s extremely unsafe [to use BMDs], especially in close elections,” Alex Halderman, a University of Michigan computer science professor and one of seven authors of the study, said in an interview. People who use BMDs cast their votes using a computer touch screen, but the machine spits out a paper record of those votes. That is usually used to tally the results and can be saved for audits that ensure votes were tallied correctly. The machines were touted by election officials as a compromise between paperless voting machines, which experts uniformly agree are far too vulnerable to hacking, and hand-marked paper ballots, which serious cybersecurity hawks favor but which can be tougher to tally and are inaccessible for many people with disabilities. But only a handful of people who vote on BMDs are likely to check that their votes were recorded accurately, the researchers found – meaning that if hackers succeed in altering even a small percentage of electronic votes, they might be able to change the outcome of a close election without being detected.

Full Article: The Cybersecurity 202: Voting machines touted as secure option are actually vulnerable to hacking, study finds - The Washington Post.

National: New voting machines’ top security challenge? The voters, researchers say | Bill Theobald/The Fulcrum

Let’s get something straight about the security and reliability of elections: No matter how a voting system is designed, something could go wrong — either accidentally or on purpose. That is important to keep in mind in considering a report, released Wednesday, criticizing a type of voting machine that’s been purchased by jurisdictions all across the country in the past few years in the name of improved security. The study, led by computer science graduate students at the University of Michigan, found that most people who participated in a mock election using ballot-marking devices, known as BMDs, failed to notice errors that had been introduced on the paper ballots that were generated and then used for casting votes. The problem, in other words, was with the attentiveness of the citizens but not the reliability of the hardware. Nonetheless, the Michigan researchers are touting their findings as evidence that BMDs don’t provide sufficient safeguards against hacking by the Russians or other adversaries out to disrupt democracy in the November presidential election.

Full Article: Michigan study: new voting machines may secure elections - The Fulcrum.

National: New “secure” voting machines are still vulnerable—because of voters | Patrick Howell O’Neill/MIT Technology Review

A new study of voting machines is spotlighting the “serious risk” that election results can be manipulated because most voters do not check that their ballot is correct, according to new researchBallot-marking devices, or BMDs, combine physical and digital voting methods in a single machine. A voter selects a candidate on a computer screen, and the machine then prints out a paper ballot for review. The goal is to provide both ease of voting and a physical audit trail that hackers can’t readily change, and the Washington Post reports that ballot-marking devices are used by at least 18% of the country’s electoral districts. But the new study from the University of Michigan suggests that if a voting machine is compromised, people are not likely to realize it, because so few of them check that their printout is correct. And even the rare voters who do check the paper version almost never catch errors when they’ve been made. The research raises questions about hackable computers and post-election audits—two major issues in election cybersecurity—just weeks before the first US primary votes are cast in Iowa on February 3. “Inserting a hackable computer in between the voter and the recording of intent poses big issues,” says Eddie Perez, a former election industry executive with Hart InterCivic for 16 years. “If we don’t know if voters actually look at the the paper and accurately confirm their intent, the strength of audit is weakened.”

Full Article: New “secure” voting machines are still vulnerable—because of voters - MIT Technology Review.

National: Why over 130,000 new voting machines could lead to more distrust in U.S. elections | Steven Rosenfeld/Salon

cross America, counties and states have acquired at least 130,000 new precinct voting machines that will debut in 2020’s primaries — including areas that can sway national elections. But the machines are controversial, splitting independent experts and election activists on issues that will likely affect public trust and confidence. Those key issues concern the transparency of voting and counting votes, whether reported election results can be double-checked and what role local election boards should play after Election Day to judge voter intent on ballots during challenges and recounts. The boosters of these new voting machines, called ballot-marking devices (BMDs), say that these touch-screen computers printing completed ballots will make voting simpler and more trustworthy. They say that is especially true for infrequent voters and voters with disabilities. They also say that automating ballots will end vote-counting fights — because printing completed ballots will eliminate that jury-like process, which BMD salesmen tout.

Full Article: Why over 130,000 new voting machines could lead to more distrust in U.S. elections |