Brazil’s superior electoral court (TSE) confirmed Positivo Tecnologia as the winner of a tender to supply 180,000 electronic ballot boxes for the country’s electoral processes. In a first bidding round, Positivo, which is the largest Brazilian electronics manufacturer, competed with the current supplier, the SMTT consortium, comprising the UK’s Smartmatic and Diebold from the US. The price the Brazilian company offered was about 800mn reais (US$153mn), around half that presented by its competitor. With the result, the Brazilian company marks its entry into the supply of electronic voting machines. They will be manufactured in the industrial center of Manaus, Amazonas state. The new ballot boxes will partially replace the current ones, which number roughly 470,000. However, they will not be used in this year’s municipal elections “as there is not enough time for manufacturing and programming,” TSE said in a statement. But the machines will be ready for the 2022 state and presidential elections, TSE said.
Georgia: Old voting machines mothballed at port, saving tax money | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Georgia’s old voting computers will be moved to a government warehouse at the Port of Savannah, saving taxpayers about $432,000 a year in storage costs. U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg recently approved the agreement, which resolves concerns about the expense of preserving 30,000 voting touchscreens for an election security lawsuit. Plaintiffs in the case want to inspect the computers to find out whether they were infected by viruses or malware. The 18-year-old computers, which recorded votes electronically, were replaced this year by a voting system that uses new touchscreens and also prints out paper ballots. The Georgia Ports Authority will store the obsolete equipment, which would fill 48 semi-trailers, at no ongoing cost to the state. The government will pay to transport the computers from rented warehouses to the port.
Georgia: Amid budget cuts, Georgia pays $432,000 a year to keep old Diebold voting machines in storage | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
As Georgia is preparing for deep budget cuts, the state government is paying $432,000 a year to store 30,000 voting machines that will never be used again. An attorney for the secretary of state’s office now says it will likely go to court to try to destroy the obsolete voting machines, which are locked in a warehouse because of a lawsuit over election security.The 18-year-old touchscreens, called direct-recording electronic voting machines, were replaced this year by a voting system that uses new touchscreens and also prints out paper ballots.“Continuing to preserve the DREs at a significant cost to Georgia taxpayers in times of national crisis for state budgets across the country is wasteful and unnecessary,” according to a May 9 letter from Bryan Tyson, an attorney for the state, to plaintiffs in the lawsuit.Negotiations to dispose of the outdated voting equipment have stalled in federal court.The Georgia voters behind the lawsuit want to preserve some of the old voting machines for inspection, allowing them to find out whether the machines were infected by viruses or malware, which they allege could have spread to the state’s replacement voting system. The secretary of state’s office has said the new voting system is secure and independent from its previous machinery.
Mississippi: Secretary of state’s visit brings up question of potential paper ballot switch | Ray Van Dusen/Monroe Journal
Newly elected Mississippi Secretary of State Michael Watson has embarked on a listening tour through all of the state’s 82 counties to gather concerns from circuit clerks and election commissioners. He made his Monroe County visit March 9, and one of the talking points was the potential of mandated paper ballots for elections. While he is unsure of what the future may hold with electronic versus paper ballots, Monroe County Circuit Clerk Dana Sloan later said she is preparing if it is mandated. “If it comes through a federal mandate, it would come with funds. I’ve heard rumors of a potential push from Washington about a mandate to bring back paper ballots, but nothing is confirmed. Right now, I just heard there was a possibility but I want to gather as much information as I can to be prepared in case it happens,” she said. Monroe County switched from paper ballots to electronic TSX voting machines in 2006. A ballpark estimate for one scanner at each of Monroe County’s 26 voting precincts and four additional scanners at the four largest ones to tabulate paper ballot results is $285,000.
National: ‘Election Software I Hacked In 2005 Is Still In Use’: Cyber Security Expert Harri Hursti On 2020 Presidential Election | CBS
The presidential election is less than eight months away and New York resident and cybersecurity expert Hari Hursti is already sounding the horn about potential issues with voting machines around the country. The computer hacker has been studying election interference and the problems with voting technology since the mid 2000s, and his new HBO documentary “Kill Chain: The Cyber Wars On America’s Election” demonstrates that not much has changed in the past decade. “If someone tried to explain to me everything I learned in the last 15 years, I wouldn’t believe them” said Hursti in an interview with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “The most frightening thing is that from 2006 to now, nothing changed. The actual software that I hacked in 2005 is still in use. Those machines are still in 20 states. They’re still around. Everything is so outdated and it is so hard to make people understand the reality that this needs to be fixed or things will be getting worse.”
Tennessee: ‘Complex’ process ahead for new Shelby County voting machines | Bill Dries/The Daily Memphian
The Shelby County Election Commission is working toward a debut of new voting machines when early voting begins in July for the Aug. 6 election, but the commission still must select a specific system. “The process is winding its way through purchasing. It’s a pretty complex project. It has many moving parts,” Shelby County elections administrator Linda Phillips said on The Daily Memphian Politics Podcast. “We can’t get the new machines until we have a place to put the old machines and get rid of them,” she said. “In moving to paper, we then have to have secure storage. So there have to be modifications to our warehouse. There are a lot of moving parts to this project, and we are doing it as fast as we can.” Whatever system the commission picks will involve the use of paper ballots in some way – either paper ballots that are marked by the voter or a printout of choices a voter makes on updated touchscreen machines. In both cases, the paper ballots would be run through a digital scanner and go into a ballot box as an audit trail.
Tennessee: Out with the old, in with the new: decisions are being made about new voting machines for Shelby County | Mike Matthews/Local Memphis
Of course, by now, you know Tuesday is SuperTuesday – a big election day. And you’re going to be using the same old voting machines we’veused for the last 10 or 15 years or so. But changes are a coming. At the Shelby County Elections Warehouse, the Diebold votingmachines are lined up, as if ready to be shot at sunrise. That’s what some folks think should happen to them. During a news conference last fall, former Memphis StateRepresentative Mike Kernell said, “These machines are very old. They(Shelby County Election Commissioners) admit it – they’re old. All over thecountry these machines aren’t working well.” Shelby County Commissioner Van Turner was once the head of thelocal Democratic Party, and heard complaint after complaint about them.
Tennessee: Shelby County Commission scrambling to move millions to purchase new voting machines | Kendall Downing/WMC
Shelby County Commissioners said Wednesday they’re being forced to move money to fund new voting machines in time for this fall’s presidential election. The last-minute effort comes after the initial plan to pay for the machines through capital improvement funds hit a major roadblock. Last week, county attorney Marcy Ingram revealed a 50-year-old provision would require a county-wide referendum vote for county officials to be able to purchase new voting machines with capital improvement dollars. “It’s really critical we get the funding in place by this Monday that will not require a referendum,” said Mark Billingsley, Shelby County Commission Chairman. Billingsley said commissioners are exploring their funding options quickly. The leading thought at this time includes moving roughly $7.2 mllion from an emergency fund to pay for the new voting machines. It’s expected the state of Tennessee will reimburse $2.4 million. If commissioners wanted to buy the machines with capital improvement funds, as initially planned, they’d have to put the issue to voters.The referendum would delay the purchase date, likely missing November’s election.
New Hampshire: Why did the primary go smoothly with record turnout? Low tech is good tech | Geoff Forester and David Brooks/Concord Monitor
A nationally known computer hacker, a term he wears proudly, helped keep an eye on New Hampshire’s primary Tuesday but says you didn’t need computer smarts to see that it went well. “One big thing is no lines. When you go around the United States, usually the first thing you see if there are problems are long lines of people who can’t get to vote,” said Harri Hursti, a cybersecurity analyst who founded DefCon, the nation’s best-known gathering of people interested in computer security. Hursti has worked with the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s office since about 2005, when he met Secretary of State Bill Gardner at a conference. His presence here for Tuesday’s primary was of particular importance because of the meltdown of the Iowa caucuses caused largely by the use of an untested app. During a discussion Wednesday morning as election officials completed counting votes from around the state he was almost effusive about how things went.
Tennessee: Ballot Bombshell: Election Machine Issue In Shelby County Becomes Moot | Jackson Baker/Memphis News and Events | Memphis Flyer
Some drama was expected, but nothing like the more-than-audible gasp that exuded from the audience at Monday’s meeting of the Shelby County Commission, when Tami Sawyer articulated what was suddenly and shockingly becoming obvious: “There will be no new machines in 2020,” said Sawyer, summarizing it all in an epiphany after an hour or so of intense debate and argument on both sides of the speakers’ dock regarding what sort of new voting machines the county should get in its long-planned buy in time for the August election cycle locally. County Election Coordinator Linda Phillips had been making and repeating that promise of new machines for most of the last year, kindling up an ever-growing local controversy as to which type of machine. On Sunday she had published a viewpoint in The Commercial Appeal in which the following two sentences were the key ones: “Now that we are about to replace our outdated voting equipment, the controversy has reached the boiling point. I have spent my career conducting elections, and I’d like to share my viewpoint.”
Tennessee: Shelby County leaders scrambling for Plan B after surprise announcement on purchase of new voting machines | Brad Broders/WATN
After a surprise announcement Monday night that they’ll be no new voting machines in Shelby County this fall as expected, people are annoyed. Now, county commissioners must figure out when to put a question on how to buy new machines on an upcoming voter referendum. The Shelby County Election Commission will meet Wednesday afternoon to discuss the next steps. For supporters of new voter machines, the shocking development left them frustrated after years of problems with the current touch screen devices. “It really puts Shelby County and our elections in a little bit of a tailspin,” Shelby County Commission Chairman Mark Billingsley said. Billingsley was still reeling from the bombshell announcement Monday night, that there’d be no new voting machines for the November presidential election. “I was hoping with the new voter machines and a new process, we could regain some voter confidence in Shelby County,” Billingsley said.
New Hampshire: Ballot-counting machines are two decades old, with no replacement in sight | David Brooks/Concord Monitor
Experienced New Hampshire voters will see something quite familiar when they cast their primary ballots Tuesday: A vote-counting machine that hasn’t changed in more than two decades. The AccuVote optical reader has been part of Granite State elections since the early 1990s, when it was first accepted by the Secretary of State’s office. It’s a 14-pound box that looks like an oversized laptop computer sitting on top of a collection bin. As each voter leaves the polling place, poll workers slip their ballot into the AccuVote slot and the machine bounces light off the paper. Sensors tally filled-in circles next to candidates’ names and then the ballot falls into the bin below the reader. After polls close, the reader prints out the results, with all the paper ballots available for a recount. Other technologies have come and gone over the years but AccuVote has remained, and today is still the state’s only legal ballot-counting technology. On primary day it will be used in 118 towns and 73 city wards, leaving the other 100 or so towns in the state, including several in the Concord area, to count ballots on election night by hand.
A shocker from the Shelby County Commission Monday. Turns out there will be no new voting machines as promised for the November election. For now, those problem-riddled touch screen machines aren’t going anywhere. This surprising turn came as commissioners were expected to approve a resolution urging the Shelby County Election Commission to buy hand-marked ballot machines instead of computer based machines. Advocates say hand-marked ballots are the best way to ensure elections in Shelby County this November are secure, but tonight nobody can say which machines the county will buy or even when. There will be no new machines in 2020. No one could believe it when Shelby County Commissioner Tami Sawyer made the announcement especially advocates like Erika Sugarmon. “I am disheartened that we will not have new voting machines. This is a very serious year,” said Sugarmon. “They’ve had years to deal with this and find the funding. Why are voters just hearing about the funding.”
Tennessee: Sixth Circuit affirms dismissal of Shelby County voting machine lawsuit | Bill Dries/The Daily Memphian
A federal appeals court has agreed with a Memphis federal court decision tossing out a case seeking to do away with the touchscreen voting machines used in Shelby County elections. The Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a ruling released Friday, Jan. 24, affirmed the earlier decision by U.S. District Judge Thomas Parker to dismiss the lawsuit by the group Shelby Advocates for Valid Elections – or SAVE – based on a lack of standing by the plaintiffs. SAVE sued the Shelby County Election Commission, Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett and State Elections Coordinator Mark Goins. The group has also been pushing the election commission to move away from computers entirely to a system of hand-marked paper ballots that would be run through an optical scanner for tabulating. The election commission is considering a new voting system that could be in place this election year. And election commissioners have looked at voting systems that use a touchscreen machine but include a paper audit trail – a printout for a voter to proofread and then put in a ballot box once they complete the voting process.
Tennessee: Hand-marked paper ballots for elections get new push in Shelby County | Bill Dries/The Daily Memphian
Shelby County Commissioner Reginald Milton says when commissioners discuss a new voting system next week for local elections, he will advocate for hand-marked paper ballots to replace the touch-screen machines used in Shelby County elections. Milton recalls his first bid for elected office ended with a loss by 26 votes. While he didn’t seek to overturn the results in Chancery Court, Milton is among a lot of candidates in close races who want to see some data before they decide if it is worth it to go to court. “That took an entire month to resolve that issue. That was unnecessary,” he said. “It could have been done instantly.” The county has already allocated $2.5 million in funding for a new voting system the election commission hopes to debut this election year. Milton specifically favors printed ballots voters mark by hand that are then run through an optical scanner. The scanner results and the marked ballots, he and other advocates contend, offer two ways of verifying results.
An elections advocacy group urged a Sixth Circuit panel Tuesday to reinstate its case against the Tennessee Election Commission based on claims that one county’s electronic voting machines and software have created an inherently insecure system. Shelby County Advocates for Valid Elections, or SAVE, and several individual voters sued Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett, the state’s election commission and the Shelby County Election Commission five days before early voting began in Shelby County for the November 2018 election. SAVE alleged the AccuVote-TSx R7 direct-recording electronic voting machines and Diebold GEMS voting software utilized by Shelby County fail to meet statutory requirements because they do not create a “voter verified paper audit trail,” and store votes solely on removable memory cards. The group’s complaint alleged election results are subject to manipulation because of their digital-only nature, which could result in the disenfranchisement of voters in the county with the state’s largest black population.
Tennessee: Likely no paper trail for voting in Memphis on Super Tuesday | Jonathan Mattise/Associated Press
Tennessee’s largest county probably won’t have new voting machines that create a voter-verifiable paper trail in place for the presidential primary election on March 3, an attorney for the state said Tuesday. Janet Kleinfelter of the Tennessee attorney general’s office discussed the timeline to implement the new machines in Memphis-anchored Shelby County during a federal appellate court hearing Tuesday. The hearing involved a lawsuit that has challenged the security of Shelby County’s voting machines. Kleinfelter said the machines will be in place by August, when state and federal primaries are held. Previously, Shelby County Elections Administrator Linda Phillips’ office said the goal was to start using the machines in the Super Tuesday elections. Shelby County commissioners have approved funding for the machines, which are expected to cost $10 million to $12 million. The county is now going through the procurement process, Kleinfelter said.
Indiana: Machines reportedly switching votes plagues Indiana county for second straight election | Owen Daugherty/The Hill
Voting machines reportedly switching people’s choices have troubled a county in Indiana for the second consecutive election. Tippecanoe County experienced issues with machines switching people’s selections on Election Day on Tuesday at multiple locations, according to the Lafayette Post & Courier. Tippecanoe County Clerk Julie Roush was notified by a voter who called in saying their selection on a voting machine at a local polling location would be changed by the machine, which would mark an “X” for someone other than the candidate the voter wanted. Roush said she checked the calibration on three different voting machines after receiving a call. Robert Kurtz, a resident of West Lafayette who went to vote Tuesday, recorded a video of a touch screen on a voting machine that would not record the proper selection. “When I touched a square next to a candidate’s name, the machine selected the square for the candidate above,” Kurtz told the new outlet. “If I touched the square for the candidate at the top of the list, nothing happened.”
Tennessee: Federal judge dismisses voting security lawsuit in Tennessee | Adrian Sainz/Associated Press
A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit Friday challenging the security of voting machines in Tennessee’s largest county and calling for a switch to a handwritten ballot and a voter-verifiable paper trial. U.S. District Judge Thomas Parker ruled that the lawsuit filed by a group of Shelby County voters in October 2018 failed to show that any harm has come to the plaintiffs and that they have no standing to bring the suit. Attorney Carol Chumney sued on claims that the outdated touchscreen voting machines used by Shelby County are not secure because they do not produce a voter-verifiable paper trail, and security checks and other safeguards are needed to protect the system from outside manipulation. Chumney wanted the county election commission to let outside experts examine its election management software and report any evidence of hacking, possible editing of votes cast or unauthorized software to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. The suit questioned the security and reliability of the voting machines and its software, provided by vendor Election Systems & Software. Advocates claim the software is obsolete and presents a risk to the election system. The suit also questioned the security of memory cards, computers, and modems used by the county. The lawsuit asked that the county replace its entire elections system ahead of this October’s municipal elections in Memphis with an optical scan system that uses hand-marked paper ballots. Chumney also asked that officials require Election Systems & Software to install advanced security sensors on their system and ask the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to perform risk and vulnerability assessments on electronic voting systems.
Tennessee: Last of 2018 election lawsuits lingers with call for forensic audit of voting machines | Bill Dries/The Daily Memphian
The last lawsuit from a flurry of lawsuits filed over the conduct of 2018 elections in Shelby County still has some trace of life in it. The attorney for and members of the group SAVE – Shelby Advocates for Valid Elections – called Monday, outside of their pending court case, for a forensic audit of the touch-screen voting machines to be used in the Oct. 3 Memphis elections. The call comes just a few days ahead of Friday’s start of early voting across the city. “There needs to be some protection to the current election system we have for this next election,” said former state Representative and Shelby County Schools board member Mike Kernell. “These machines are in bad shape and we’ve recommended some new procedures.” Attorney Carol Chumney, representing SAVE in the federal lawsuit filed against county and state election officials in 2018, called specifically for forensic audits before and after the city elections.
Georgia: Probe of missing Georgia votes finds “extreme” irregularities in black districts | Andrew O’Hehir/Salon
trove of documents turned over in a congressional probe of missing votes in Georgia’s lieutenant governor race — along with other voting issues — revealed serious irregularities. The House Oversight and Reform Committee is investigating whether voting machine errors caused a large drop-off in votes in the lieutenant governor race between Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico and Republican Geoff Duncan, who won the election by about 123,000 votes. The probe is looking at why so many fewer votes were recorded in the race compared to other statewide races, as well as the voter suppression issues that plagued the 2018 state elections. There were 159,000 fewer votes cast in the lieutenant governor race than in the gubernatorial race between Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp. While it is common for down-ballot races to see fewer votes, the lieutenant governor race had twice as much drop-off as other statewide races, even though it was the second race on the ballot, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. There were 80,000 fewer votes cast for lieutenant governor than in other down-ballot races, which represents a 4 percent drop-off from the gubernatorial race, compared to a 2 percent drop-off among even less charismatic down-ballot races. For various reasons, this appears illogical. Historically, the lieutenant governor race has had a much lower drop-off rate than other statewide races in previous elections.
Georgia: Mystery of missing votes deepens as Congress investigates Georgia | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
To find a clue about what might have gone wrong with Georgia’s election last fall, look no further than voting machine No. 3 at the Winterville Train Depot outside Athens. On machine No. 3, Republicans won every race. On each of the other six machines in that precinct, Democrats won every race.The odds of an anomaly that large are less than 1 in 1 million, according to a statistician’s analysis in court documents. The strange results would disappear if votes for Democratic and Republican candidates were flipped on machine No. 3.It just so happens that this occurred in Republican Brian Kemp’s home precinct, where he initially had a problem voting when his yellow voter access card didn’t work because a poll worker forgot to activate it. At the time, Kemp was secretary of state — Georgia’s top election official — and running for governor in a tight contest with Democrat Stacey Abrams.The suspicious results in Winterville are evidence in the ongoing mystery of whether errors with voting machines contributed to a stark drop-off in votes recorded in the race for Georgia lieutenant governor between Republican Geoff Duncan, who ended up winning, and Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico.Even though it was the second race on the ballot, fewer votes were counted for lieutenant governor than for labor commissioner, insurance commissioner and every other statewide contest lower on the ballot. Roughly 80,000 fewer votes were counted for lieutenant governor than in other down-ballot elections. The potential voting irregularities were included among 15,500 pages of documents obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that have also been turned over to the U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee, which is looking into Georgia’s elections. The documents, provided under the Georgia Open Records Act, offer details of alleged voting irregularities but no answers.
Mississippi: ‘It’s a hell of a big mess:’: Malfunction allows improper party crossover voting | Sarah Fowler/Jackson Clarion Ledger
Voters who cast ballots for one party in the Aug. 6 primary may have improperly voted for a different party in Tuesday’s runoff due to machine malfunctions, according to the Hinds County GOP. Pete Perry, Hinds County Republican Party chairman, said he was first alerted to an issue at Casey Elementary precinct around 9:15 a.m. Tuesday. The school is one of the 108 precincts in Hinds County. According to a poll worker, people who voted Democratic in the primary were allowed to vote in the Republican runoff, Perry said. A spokesperson for the Hinds County Election Commission could not be reached for comment. According to Perry, the “party lock” on machines provided by Election Systems and Software is not functioning. This means voters who cast a ballot for a Democratic candidate in the primary are being erroneously allowed to vote in the Republican runoff. Mississippi has no party registration and is an open primary state. But if voters vote for one party in the primary, they are only allowed to vote for that same party in a runoff. For example, if a voter voted on the Democratic ticket in August, they would not be allowed to vote in Tuesday’s Republican runoff for governor. However, Perry said, “we know that’s already happened.”
Mississippi: Video captures glitching Mississippi voting machines flipping votes | Lisa Vaas/Naked Security
“It is not letting me vote for who I want to vote for,” a Mississippi voter said in a video that shows him repeatedly pushing a button on an electronic touch-screen voting machine that keeps switching his vote to another candidate. Walker said in a comment that the incident happened in Oxford, Miss., in Lafayette County. A local paper, the Clarion Ledger, reported that as of Tuesday night, there were at least three reports confirmed by state elections officials of voting machines in two counties changing voters’ selections in the state’s GOP governor primary runoff. The machines were switching voters’ selections from Bill Waller Jr.- a former Supreme Court Chief justice – to Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves. Waller’s campaign told the Clarion Ledger it also received reports of misbehaving voter machines in at least seven other counties. Waller conceded to Reeves around 9 p.m. on Tuesday night. With Reeves leading 54% to Waller’s 46%, it looks unlikely that the glitches affected the outcome. Before the malfunctioning machine was discovered in Lafayette County, the machine – reportedly a paperless AccuVote TSX from Diebold – only recorded 19 votes, according to Anna Moak, a spokeswoman for the Secretary of State’s Office. A technician was dispatched, and the machine is being replaced, she said.
Vermont: Ethical Hackers Breach Vermont Voting Machines, But Officials Say No Need To Panic | Peter Hirschfeld/Vermont Public Radio
Elections security experts have discovered new ways to manipulate the type of voting machine used in Vermont, but local elections officials say it’s unlikely that bad actors could exploit those vulnerabilities to change the results of an election. At a recent technology conference in Las Vegas, ethical hackers from across the country tried to infiltrate some of the voting machines used in U.S. elections. Probing for vulnerabilities in ballot tabulators is an annual tradition at the DEF CON Hacking Conference. This year, however, hackers tried to gain access to the same type of voting machine used by 135 towns in Vermont. Montpelier City Clerk John Odum retrieved one of the machines from a vault last week and placed it on a desk in his office. It’s a pretty ancient-looking piece of technology — like something you might have seen in a middle school computer room in the early 1990s. “As I understand it, the memory cards that we use, the technology was originally developed for the original Tandy laptops,” Odum said, “so this is some old stuff.” The machine is called an AccuVote, and its name is clearly meant to inspire confidence in the results it spits out. But when white-hat hackers set to work on this tabulator at DEF CON earlier this month, they quickly found all kinds of ways to manipulate results.
Georgia: Judge blasts Georgia officials’ handling of election system | Kate Brumback/Associated Press
Georgia election officials have for years ignored, downplayed and failed to address serious problems with the state’s election management system and voting machines, a federal judge said in a scathing order this week. U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg said those problems place a burden on citizens’ rights to cast a vote and have it reliably counted. She called Georgia’s voting system “antiquated, seriously flawed, and vulnerable to failure, breach, contamination, and attack.” Despite those findings, Totenberg ruled Thursday that Georgia voters will use that same election system this fall because of concerns about the state’s capacity to make an interim switch while also implementing a new system. Plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging Georgia’s system had asked Totenberg to order an immediate switch to hand-marked paper ballots for special and municipal elections this fall. But she declined, citing worries about the state’s capacity to manage an interim switch while also implementing a new system that is supposed to be in place for the March 24 presidential primaries. ″(T)he totality of evidence in this case reveals that the Secretary of State’s efforts in monitoring the security of its voting systems have been lax at best — a clear indication that Georgia’s computerized election system is vulnerable in actual use,” Totenberg wrote in a 153-page ruling that devotes considerable space to chronicling those shortcomings.
Connecticut: Chief elections official says Connecticut’s electronic voting machines are ‘coming to the end of their useful life’ | Mark Pazniokas/CT Mirror
Connecticut’s current system of casting and counting votes has its roots in the chaotic presidential election of 2000. With the winner unclear for a month, it was a frightening moment in U.S. politics that led to a bipartisan consensus about the need to maintain confidence in the integrity of elections. Passage of the federal Help Americans Vote Act in 2002 established broad standards for the conduct of elections and provided funding for new hardware, leading Connecticut in 2006 to abandon its old mechanical lever voting machines for a mix of the old and new — paper ballots counted by computer-driven tabulators. “We fortunately made the right choice,” Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said Wednesday. A proposed Voter Empowerment Act now before Congress would make hybrid systems like Connecticut’s the new federal standard: Using computers to quickly count votes, while maintaining paper ballots as a check on computer hacking and other forms of cyber fraud. President Trump recently endorsed paper ballots on Twitter. But as Merrill and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal made clear Wednesday at a press conference on elections security, the technical and political challenges in protecting U.S. elections are far more complex today than in the aftermath of the Florida recount in the Bush-Gore campaign of 2000. Blumenthal arrived at Merrill’s state Capitol office with his right arm in a sling. He had surgery last week for a torn rotator cuff.
Georgia: Judge Says Georgia To Use Old Electronic Voting Machines For 2019 Elections | Stephen Fowler/NPR
A federal judge has denied a request to move all of this fall’s municipal elections in Georgia away from “unsecure, unreliable and grossly outdated technology” and toward hand-marked paper ballots that are optically scanned and counted. The order from U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg Thursday also requires the state to cease using its direct-recording electronic voting machines after 2019 and expresses doubts about the state’s ability to roll out its new ballot-marking device system in time for the March 24, 2020, presidential primary election. In the decision, Totenberg also directs the Georgia secretary of state’s office to develop a plan to “address errors and discrepancies in the voter registration database” and have paper copies of poll books at each voting precinct. The state must also create a contingency plan for the 2020 elections in case the new system is not completely rolled out. That includes designating several pilot jurisdictions that will use hand-marked paper ballots with optical scanners in their elections this fall. A group of election integrity advocates and Georgia voters sued the secretary of state’s office in 2017 alleging that the current DRE system is not secure and is vulnerable to hacking. Last year, Totenberg denied a similar motion for preliminary injunction that would have blocked the DREs from being used in the 2018 midterm election. The current motion sought to prevent the machines from being used this fall in several hundred local elections.
Georgia: Judge denies paper ballots in Georgia this year but requires them in 2020 | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A federal judge ruled Thursday that Georgia voters can cast ballots on the state’s “unsecure, unreliable and grossly outdated” electronic voting machines one last time, deciding it would be too disruptive to switch to paper ballots before this fall’s elections. But starting with next year’s presidential primary election, paper ballots will be required, according to the ruling by U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg. Her order barred the state from using its current electronic voting machines after this year’s elections.Election officials are already planning to upgrade the state’s voting system by buying $107 million in new equipment that will use a combination of touchscreens and printed-out paper ballots to check the accuracy of election results.If the state’s new voting system isn’t completely rolled out to all 159 counties in time for the March 24 presidential primary, Totenberg ruled that voters must use paper ballots filled out by hand. “Georgia’s current voting equipment, software, election and voter databases are antiquated, seriously flawed and vulnerable to failure, breach, contamination and attack,” Totenberg wrote. Totenberg wrote it would be “unwise” to immediately discard the state’s 17-year-old voting machines, which lack paper ballots that could be used to check the accuracy of election results. She wrote that it could be “a recipe for disaster” to force resistant election officials to switch to hand-marked paper ballots this year while they’re also transitioning to the state’s new voting system. Her 153-page ruling clears the way for 386 local elections to move forward as planned this fall, including votes for the Atlanta school board, the Fulton County Commission and city councils across the state.
Mississippi: Recovered thumb drive puts Newman ahead after DeLano claimed victory in District 50 race | Alyssa Newton/Biloxi Sun Herald
The District 50 Senate race was one of the closest on the Mississippi Coast, but it’s taken another turn with the Wednesday recovery of a thumb drive full of votes. With all precincts in Tuesday night, incumbent Rep. Scott DeLano held a 33-vote lead over Biloxi City Councilwoman Dixie Newman. That lead was without the affidavit votes, but DeLano declared the victory late Tuesday evening. “We look at these elections and see how many affidavits that are out there. It’s very unusual to make a really big difference in the outcome,” told the Sun Herald Tuesday night. “Even though it’s razor-thin, we expect it to fall in line with what the vote came out of those individual precincts.” It wasn’t the affidavits, but a thumb drive that changed the race Wednesday afternoon. “There was a drive that was left out from the D’Iberville Civic Center,” Newman’s campaign manager Holly Gibbes said. “Those numbers were never counted. (Harrison County Circuit Clerk) Connie Ladner‘s office produced that thumb drive today and added it in. “The thumb drive and all the affidavits, absentees and what could be counted is what put Dixie up by one vote.”