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North Carolina: Voting equipment approval didn’t follow law | Jordan Wilkie/Carolina Public Press

North Carolina’s recent decision to certify new voting systems for use next year did not follow state law, according to a letter that a group of experts on election security and administration sent to the N.C. Board of Elections late Wednesday night. North Carolina has been in the process of reviewing new voting systems for certification for over two years. The system that is currently in use across the state was certified in 2005. The law requires a security review of the source code of all voting systems before they are certified for use in the state. The letter states that there is no indication that the state, either through its own contractors or through required federal testing, reviewed the source code for the computers in the voting systems it recently certified. The experts in question, including Duncan Buell, a professor of computer science at the University of South Carolina, reviewed testing documentation from the state and from the federal government. “You read all of that, and it’s clear,” Buell said. “There was no source code review conducted. That would certainly seem to suggest that things are not in accordance with North Carolina law.”

Full Article: Letter to NC Election Board: Voting equipment approval didn't follow law.

Pennsylvania: Allegheny County to ‘stress test’ prospective voting systems | Jamie Martines /Tribune-Review

The Allegheny County Board of Elections committee in charge of searching for a new voting system decided Friday to spend the next month working with vendors to test prospective systems, seeking confirmation that they can handle the high volume of complex contests in the county. A report submitted Aug. 19 by the Voting System Search Committee and discussed Friday indicates that only one of four vendors under consideration has the state and federal certification guaranteeing it can meet the county’s needs. The committee is comprised of officials from the county elections, law, purchasing, computer services, budget and finance, human resources, county manager and administrative services departments. “I was surprised too,” said board chair and Allegheny County Councilman Thomas Baker, R-Ross. “I thought we would have a couple options that were viable that we would be able to pick from. I’m learning at the same pace that you’re all learning. I had no sense, as chairman, what would be in the report.” The voting system’s software must be robust enough to handle up to 4,000 separate ballot styles during a municipal primary election, according to the report. That means a system must be able to support an election involving as many as 10,000 candidate positions and 7,000 contests across the county’s 130 municipalities and 43 school districts.

Full Article: Allegheny County to ‘stress test’ prospective voting systems | TribLIVE.com.

Pennsylvania: Election security, transparency and millions of dollars: Questions answered as Allegheny County looks to buy new voting machines. | J. Dale Shoemaker/PublicSource

If you’ve tuned into the news at any point over the past three years, chances are you’ve heard that the Russian government meddled in the 2016 presidential election. Russian interference, “in sweeping and systematic fashion,” was a key — and much publicized — finding of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report to the U.S. Attorney General earlier this year. But a less prominent finding was that Russia’s meddling also targeted state and county officials in an attempt to access voter rolls and voting systems. According to Mueller, Russia successfully accessed voter rolls in Illinois and even hacked one of the companies that sells election equipment to states and counties. The potential for future attacks, particularly during the 2020 presidential election, has worried some elections experts and advocates in Allegheny County and beyond. But now, as Allegheny County and many other Pennsylvania counties are in the process of buying new voting machines, there is an opportunity to select equipment that will maintain integrity at the polls. The state government, as part of a lawsuit settlement, has directed all counties to implement a voting system with a paper trail by the 2020 primaries. By 2022, counties must have a system in place to automatically audit election results to ensure they’re accurate. At present, a search committee comprised of 10 Allegheny County employees has issued a report assessing the cost and security protocols of nine different voting systems from four companies. Some are paper based, some are computer based.

Full Article: Election security, transparency and millions of dollars: Questions answered as Allegheny County looks to buy new voting machines. - PublicSource | News for a better Pittsburgh.

North Carolina: Vote security on the line in Board of Elections meeting | Jordan Wilkie/Carolina Public Press

When the NC Board of Elections meets Friday, it will make decisions about voting equipment for 2020 elections that could determine the security of the state’s election process and how much confidence voters can have that the system records and tabulates their votes as they intended. Security experts, federal research agencies and the US Senate agree on best practices for secure election equipment. They recommend that most voters use hand-marked paper ballots, count the ballots using digital scanners and audit the paper ballots for correctness before election results are made official. Most North Carolinians already vote this way. However, 23 of the state’s 100 counties use touch screens to cast their ballots, a system that experts consider insecure and outdated because it cannot be effectively audited. For that reason, North Carolina is set to decertify those systems by Dec. 1. This week, the state board of elections will consider certifying replacement systems. The decisions the board makes will have a domino effect of consequences for the security, privacy and accessibility of elections across the state.

Full Article: Vote security on the line in NC Board of Elections meeting.

North Carolina: Another delay on voting machines, and a move toward hand-marked ballots | Travis Fain/WRAL

North Carolina moved toward a new requirement for hand-marked ballots Monday night when a divided, but bipartisan, State Board of Elections voted to rework the rules that govern what voting machines are allowed here. The board will have to gather again in about two weeks to make the change official, and Monday’s decision delayed for the third time in two months a long-awaited decision to certify new voting equipment. But activists hailed the vote as a move toward more secure elections. The time to approve new machines ahead of the 2020 elections grows short. State law requires small test runs in actual elections before new machines can be fully deployed, meaning equipment would need to be in place for the November municipal elections to be ready for the March 2020 presidential primaries. The state legislature may change that law, allowing for simulated election tests instead. It may also delay the coming decertification of touchscreen voting systems that roughly a third of North Carolina counties use now.

Full Article: Another delay on voting machines, and a move toward hand-marked ballots :: WRAL.com.

North Carolina: Board of Elections to decide on new voting machines | Rad Berky/WCNC

In an unusual weekend session, the North Carolina State Board of Elections will meet Sunday to certify the companies who want to sell new voting machines for use in elections next year. This follows the decision to return the state from electronic voting to equipment that uses paper ballots. Mecklenburg County’s Elections Director Michael Dickerson said the county is one of a few that already keeps a paper record, but whichever new system is chosen will go a step farther. “We have a paper record of what you voted but they want to give each voter a paper ballot before you finalize your vote,” said Dickerson. South Carolina this week took the wraps off the new equipment voters there will be using. After finalizing choices on a touchscreen, the machines will print a paper ballot with a barcode. Voters will then check their paper ballot and place it in a scanner. The scanner takes an image of the ballot, counts it and keeps the original in a locked ballot box.

Full Article: North Carolina Board of Elections to decide on new voting machines | wcnc.com.

North Carolina: Elections board may pick new voting machine options Sunday | Travis Fain/WRAL

The State Board of Elections will meet Sunday evening for a certification vote on what new voting machines will be allowed in North Carolina. The long-delayed decision will follow a demonstration of the various options from companies hoping to do business, or more business, in the state. Local boards of election decide what systems to buy, but the state board has to decide first whether various options meet state requirements. “If they meet the statutory requirements, they’re to be certified,” Board Chairman Robert Cordle said Tuesday. The board plans to meet at 5 p.m. in the Triangle Ballroom at the Cary Embassy Suites on Harrison Oaks Boulevard in Cary, not in the usual meeting room at the board offices.

Full Article: NC elections board may pick new voting machine options Sunday :: WRAL.com.

Pennsylvania: Here’s who makes money from the voting machine requirement for Pennsylvania counties — and how those decisions are being made | Emily Previti & Ed Mahon|PA Post

As Jeff Frank strode out of his polling place on a recent Tuesday morning, poll watchers thanked him for voting. “Have a great day – enjoy the complaints as they come out the door,” Frank responded. Municipal elections tend to be relatively quiet – even in Montgomery, which consistently turns out a higher number of voters than any other county in the state but more-populous Philadelphia and Allegheny counties  But this year, several counties debuted new voting machines – and two, including Montgomery, went to an entirely different way of voting. “When I came and discovered what the process was, I said, okay, but it is ridiculous, a waste of time and will cause lines so long that people will not be here when the presidential election comes up,” Frank said. Other voters exiting the Temple Brith Achim Synagogue polling location in Upper Merion weren’t quite as animated over the switch from push-button machines to scannable paper ballots filled out by hand. “It’s even it’s better now that you actually get a confirmation ticket that your vote was cast. We never got that before,” said Tykia Turner.

Full Article: Here’s who makes money from the voting machine requirement for Pa. counties — and how those decisions are being made | PA Post.

National: Election tech vendors say they’re securing their systems. Does anyone believe them? | CyberScoop

The last few years have been an awakening for Election Systems & Software. Before 2016, very few people were publicly pressing the company to change the way it handled its cybersecurity practices. Now, the nation’s leading manufacturer of election technology has become a lightning rod for critics. Security experts say the small number of companies that dominate the nation’s election technology market, including ES&S, have failed to acknowledge and remedy vulnerabilities that lie in systems used to hold elections across the country. Once left to obscurity, the entire ecosystem has been called into question since the Russian government was found to have interfered with the 2016 presidential campaign. While there has never been any evidence to suggest that any voting machines were compromised, the Department of Homeland Security and FBI recently issued a memo that all 50 states were at least targeted by Russian intelligence. The peak of the criticism came after the Voting Village exhibition at the 2018 DEF CON security conference, where amateur hackers unearthed a bevy of flaws in the company’s tech. In a number of publications — including CyberScoop — ES&S disputed the notion that it didn’t take cybersecurity seriously, arguing its own due diligence was enough to satisfy any security worries. It didn’t help the Omaha, Nebraska-based company’s case when the Voting Village committee issued a report in September that found decades-old vulnerabilities in an ES&S ballot tabulator that has been used in elections in more than half of the states. In light of these issues, some of the election tech manufacturers are trying to change course, and ES&S is the most public about its efforts. With the country gearing up for the 2020 presidential election, the company has revamped its security testing procedures, putting together a plan to let penetration testers from both the public and private sector evaluate the safety of its systems. Furthermore, ES&S and its competitors are communicating in an unprecedented way about committing to a certain level of standards that can lift the entire industry to a better security baseline.

Full Article: Election tech vendors say they're securing their systems. Does anyone believe them?.

National: ‘They think they are above the law’: the firms that own America’s voting system | The Guardian

Maryland congressman Jamie Raskin is a newcomer to the cause of reforming America’s vote-counting machines, welcomed through baptism by fire. In 2015, Maryland’s main election system vendor was bought by a parent company with ties to a Russian oligarch. The state’s election officials did not know about the purchase until July 2018, when the FBI notified them of the potential conflict. The FBI investigated and did not find any evidence of tampering or sharing of voter data. But the incident was a giant red flag as to the potential vulnerabilities of American democracy – especially as many states have outsourced vote-counting to the private sector. After all, the purchase happened while Russian agents were mounting multiple disinformation and cybersecurity campaigns to interfere with America’s 2016 general election. “To say that they don’t have any evidence of any wrongdoing is not to say that nothing untoward happened,” Raskin said. “It’s simply to say that we don’t have the evidence of it.” The fact is that democracy in the United States is now largely a secretive and privately-run affair conducted out of the public eye with little oversight. The corporations that run every aspect of American elections, from voter registration to casting and counting votes by machine, are subject to limited state and federal regulation. The companies are privately-owned and closely held, making information about ownership and financial stability difficult to obtain. The software source code and hardware design of their systems are kept as trade secrets and therefore difficult to study or investigate.

Full Article: 'They think they are above the law': the firms that own America's voting system | US news | The Guardian.

Utah: Security on mind as state auditions new voting machines, software | Deseret News

Just last weekend, a long-running hackers convention in Las Vegas lined up a dozen U.S. electronic voting machines, many of which were obtained from government auctions and second-hand sources like eBay, and unleashed attendees on them. By the end of the weekend, all of the machines had been breached in one form or another. And while most of the equipment was somewhat out of date in terms of technology, a few of the models are still in use. DefCon 25 organizers said the exercise was about illustrating and helping address security vulnerabilities in the U.S. election system, a popular national conversation topic following allegations that are still under investigation of outside meddling in the 2016 election cycle. On Wednesday, another lineup of voting machines popped up at the Utah Capitol. This time, however, the event was aimed at giving members of the public an opportunity to audition some of the latest in voting technology as part of a state process to choose a new provider of voting equipment for county officials who operate Utah elections.

Full Article: Security on mind as state auditions new voting machines, software | Deseret News.

Editorials: Maryland voting audit falls short | Philip B. Stark & Poorvi L. Vora/Baltimore Sun

At the Board of Public Works Oct. 19th meeting, members passed without discussion a proposal by the State Board of Elections to pay Clear Ballot Group Inc. $275,000 for an “independent and automated solution to verify [the] accuracy” of the state’s election results. Seems reasonable, right? Especially now that the term “rigged” frequently precedes “election” in this year’s campaign rhetoric. The only problem is it won’t work. We have some experience to back this judgment: Between us, we have helped audit about 20 contests in several states and designed auditable voting systems. Methods developed by one of us are in laws in two states. It’s great that Maryland voters get to vote on paper ballots this year; paper ballots that voters can check are the best evidence of “the will of the people.” Maryland’s ballots will be scanned and then counted electronically. As required by hard-won state legislation passed in 2007, the paper ballots will be stored securely as durable evidence of what voters wanted.

Full Article: Maryland voting audit falls short - Baltimore Sun.

Canada: Voting-machine salesman barred from contacting city hall over lobbying infringement | Ottawa Citizen

An American voting-machine salesman has been barred from contacting anyone at Ottawa City Hall for a month, the city’s integrity commissioner announced Tuesday, imposing his first discipline ever under Ottawa’s lobbying rules. Bill Murphy is the director of sales for Boston-based Clear Ballot, which sells equipment for running elections. Integrity commissioner Robert Marleau has forbidden Ottawa’s city government from having anything to do with him until mid-March, on the grounds that Murphy lobbied the city to buy Clear Ballot’s machines and software without registering as a lobbyist as the city’s bylaws require. The city’s lobbying registry has been in effect since September 2012. If you’re trying to get the city to make a decision that’s to your financial benefit, generally speaking, you need to record any contacts with city officials using a website Marleau oversees.

Full Article: Voting-machine salesman barred from contacting city hall over lobbying infringement | Ottawa Citizen.

Press Release: Clear Ballot Expands Senior Leadership Team; Election Technology Company names Jordan Esten as COO and Edwin Smith as Vice President, Products | Clear Ballot

Today Clear Ballot signaled that the company is poised for further growth by naming Jordan Esten as the company’s Chief Operating Officer and Edwin Smith as Vice President, Products.

“I am very pleased to announce Jordan as our COO and Ed as Vice President, Products,” said Larry Moore, CEO of Clear Ballot. “Both of these individuals have contributed significantly to Clear Ballot’s expansion and the creation and launch of our innovative election technology into the marketplace.”

Jordan Esten developed his expertise in guiding technology companies through important stages of growth as an investment banker at Robert W. Baird where he held positions in both Europe and the US. In that role, he advised management and boards of directors of technology companies on corporate strategy, mergers & acquisitions, and equity offerings. Esten earned a BS, from Carnegie Mellon University and an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. At Clear Ballot, where Esten previously served as Director of Business Development since 2012, he applied his critical operational and project finance experience to expand Clear Ballot’s team of employees and investors.

Full Article: IT News Online > PR Newswire - Clear Ballot Expands Senior Leadership Team; Election Technology Company names Jordan Esten as COO and Edwin Smith as Vice President, Products.

Press Release: Clear Ballot is market leading voting system provider in Oregon with 42% of registered voters using its technology | Clear Ballot

Clear Ballot entered into purchasing agreements with three election jurisdictions in Oregon over the past month making ClearVote the leader in Oregon voting system market share in just over six months since becoming certified by the Oregon Secretary of State’s office in May 2015.

Seven counties, including new Clear Ballot customers Klamath, Coos, and Washington Counties represent 42% of Oregon’s 2.2 million registered voters. These three counties join Multnomah, Josephine, Harney and Linn Counties who have already elected to use ClearVote to increase the efficiency and transparency of their election processes.

Multnomah, Josephine and Linn Counties successfully implemented ClearVote for the November 3rd elections. Oregon voters in all seven of the aforementioned counties will be using ClearVote in the upcoming May 2016 elections.

Press Release: Clear Ballot Pilots New Voting System in Adams County, Colorado | Clear Ballot

Clear Ballot, in partnership with the Adams County Clerk and Recorder’s Office, will be piloting its ClearVote voting system Monday, November 2, at 10:00 am. The system has been certified for use in the evaluation process for Colorado’s Uniform Voting System, an ongoing project that the Secretary of State’s office began in 2014. Clear Ballot’s ClearVote certification was the result of an extensive and successful testing campaign at Pro V&V, a federally accredited voting systems test laboratory.

Full Article: Press Release: Clear Ballot Pilots New Voting System in Adams County, Colorado | Clear Ballot.

Press Release: Clear Ballot Voting System Increases Efficiency and Transparency in Elections in Colorado and Oregon | Clear Ballot

Election jurisdictions in Colorado and Oregon successfully conducted elections using Clear Ballot’s ClearVote voting system on November 3rd, improving the efficiency and transparency of their election processes. The ClearVote voting system has provided election officials with an easy and intuitive ballot layout process, a tabulation and reporting system that scans ballots with commercial off-the-shelf scanners and gives election officials a complete digital database of the election that includes visual verification of all votes.  ClearVote’s digital inventory of the election also reduces ballot handling and potential errors. ClearVote was certified for use in the state of Colorado during the live election evaluation phase of Colorado’s Uniform Voting System process, an ongoing project that the Colorado Secretary of State’s office began in 2014. Clear Ballot’s ClearVote system was successfully used in Adams and Gilpin Counties in Colorado during the November 3rd elections as part of this evaluation by the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. Adams County, Colorado Clerk and Recorder Stan Martin stated that his county now has a much more efficient voting process in place through the County’s use of the ClearVote system. “The use of Clear Ballot’s voting system saved us 5,350 work hours and approximately $60,000 in comparison to the time and money spent during our last election,” said Martin. “5,600 ballots had to be manually processed through our old system, but through the ClearVote system, this process is managed digitally, significantly increasing our efficiency.”

Press Release: Clear Ballot Pilots New Voting System in Adams County, Colorado | PR Newswire

Clear Ballot, in partnership with the Adams County Clerk and Recorder’s Office, will be piloting its ClearVote voting system Monday, November 2, at 10:00 am. The system has been certified for use in the evaluation process for Colorado’s Uniform Voting System, an ongoing project that the Secretary of State’s office began in 2014. Clear Ballot’s ClearVote certification was the result of an extensive and successful testing campaign at Pro V&V, a federally accredited voting systems test laboratory. “We are excited to work with Clear Ballot as part of the state’s efforts to bring innovative technology to Colorado,” said Adams County Clerk Stan Martin. “New technology like ClearVote demonstrates how transparency will transform the election results process in Colorado and, most importantly, increase voter confidence.”

Full Article: IT News Online > PR Newswire - Clear Ballot Pilots New Voting System in Adams County, Colorado.

Press Release: Clear Ballot Pilots ClearVote, Voting System Technology in Gilpin County, Colorado | Clear Ballot

Clear Ballot will be piloting its voting system technology, ClearVote, in Gilpin County, Colorado this election. This will be the second time Gilpin County has piloted Clear Ballot software – Clear Ballot worked with Gilpin in December 2014. Since the first pilot the Clear Vote system has been certified for use in the evaluation process for Colorado’s Uniform Voting System, an ongoing project that the Secretary of State’s office began in 2014. Clear Ballot’s ClearVote certification was the result of an extensive and successful testing campaign at Pro V&V, a federally accredited voting systems test laboratory.

Full Article: Press Release: Clear Ballot Pilots ClearVote, Voting System Technology in Gilpin County, Colorado | Clear Ballot.

Colorado: Adams County looks to improve vote-counting after difficult election | The Denver Post

Newly sworn Adams County Clerk Stan Martin is determined to avoid the problems and embarassment his office experienced in November, when the county was the last in the state to report its election results. The indecision about the victor in Adams County’s closely contested Senate District 24 race led to three tortured days of speculation over which party had secured control of the state Senate. “Any time you’re feeding ballots one at a time through a scanner and you’ve got 127,000 ballots to put through, you’re going to have problems,” Martin said of the voting machines the county uses.

Full Article: Adams County looks to improve vote-counting after difficult election - The Denver Post.