Citing concerns about election cyber security, San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder Tommy Gong has decided to keep neighborhood polling places with an option to vote by mail in 2018, opting out of a state test of an all-vote-by-mail system. Gong said the new model that also would have included a handful of voting centers to be open for multiple days — and expected to increase voter participation and save money — may be implemented for the presidential primaries in March 2020. Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill to modernize California elections a year ago. Fourteen counties, including San Luis Obispo, were offered a chance to participate in 2018. So far, Sacramento, Nevada, Napa and San Mateo counties decided to make the switch, according to the State Secretary of State Office.
A handful of lawmakers began the discussion Friday about what it might take to move Georgia to a new election system, an important but incremental step toward replacing the state’s aging voting machines. The meeting of the state House Science and Technology Committee represents a start. Any decision will likely take a few years and, depending on the type of system officials pick, could cost more than $100 million. Cheaper options are available, but the state’s leaders all need to agree on what they want. “We all want to have a system that is best in class and does all the things technology can provide for us,” said committee Chairman Ed Setzler, R-Acworth. Beginning that conversation now, he added, means the “committee starts out of session to look at these things and to look at what technological options can serve our state well.” Georgia’s current system, considered state-of-the-art when it was adopted 15 years ago, is now universally acknowledged by experts to be vulnerable to security risks and buggy software. Only a handful of states still use similar electronic systems, which voters know for their digital touch screens. A majority — 41 states — either have or are moving toward voting done entirely on paper or on a hybrid system that incorporates some kind of paper trail.
Election administrators in Virginia ordered the state’s remaining touch-screen electronic voting machines be taken out of service in advance of the coming statewide election, after hackers demonstrated vulnerabilities in an array of election technology at a recent security convention. Virginia, one of two states holding statewide elections for governor and state legislature this year, won’t use any touch-screen machines in the Nov. 7 general election after the State Board of Elections voted Friday to revoke the certifications on all such systems still being used in the state. Virginia will switch to paper ballots counted and processed by computerized scanners. James Alcorn, chair of the board, said in a statement the move was “necessary to ensure the integrity of Virginia’s elections.” … The decision by Virginia to stop using touch-screen electronic voting machines marks a victory for advocates who have long criticized paperless electronic voting systems as insecure and potentially vulnerable to tampering and mischief.
Virginia: Board of Elections halts use of voting machines considered vulnerable to hacking | Reuters
Virginia on Friday agreed to stop using paperless touchscreen voting machines that had been flagged by cyber security experts as potentially vulnerable to hackers and lacking sufficient vote auditing capabilities. The action represented one of the most concrete steps taken by a U.S. state to bolster the cyber security of election systems since the 2016 presidential race, when U.S. intelligence agencies say Russia waged a digital influence campaign to help President Donald Trump win. Virginia’s board of elections voted to accept a recommendation from its state election director, Edgardo Cortes, to decertify so-called direct-recording electronic machines, which count votes digitally and do not produce paper trails that can be checked against a final result.
Virginia’s Board of Elections voted unanimously to decertify all of the state’s touchscreen voting machines, which are considered by cybersecurity experts to be vulnerable to manipulation by hackers. The race is now on to replace the machines, which are used in 22 counties, before Virginia’s elections in November. Industry experts and and the state’s elections department have recommended that the touchscreen machines be replaced with ones that record votes on paper instead of only electronically, so the votes can be audited and verified.
Virginia: Board of Elections bans touch-screen voting machines over hacking concerns | Associated Press
The Virginia State Board of Elections voted Friday to ban use of touch-screen voting machines in November’s closely watched gubernatorial contest, over concerns the equipment can be hacked. The three-person board voted unanimously at a hastily arranged meeting to decertify touch-screen voting machines, which are still used by counties and cities around the state. The vote came after a closed-door briefing on potential vulnerabilities to the touch-screen systems. “It was enlightening, to say the least,” said board member Clara Belle Wheeler, who said she had originally intended not vote for decertification because of the closeness to the Nov. 7 elections.
Virginia: In emergency meeting, Virginia elections board votes to scrap all touch-screen voting machines | Richmond Times-Dispatch
The Virginia State Board of Elections voted Friday to discontinue use of all touch-screen voting machines throughout the state because of potential security vulnerabilities, forcing 22 cities and counties to scramble to find new equipment just weeks before voting begins for the November gubernatorial election. Behind closed doors at an emergency meeting in Richmond on Friday afternoon, the board heard about specific vulnerabilities identified after a cybersecurity conference this summer in Las Vegas, where hackers showed they could break into voting machines with relative ease. After the July Defcon conference, Virginia’s Department of Elections asked the state’s IT agency to review the security of touch screens still in use in the state. Details of that review were kept confidential, but they caused the elections board to speed up the end of touch screens, which were already scheduled to be phased out of Virginia elections by 2020.
The state of Alaska is exploring options for conducting elections after 2018, as it is faced with an aging voting system and financial pressures amid an ongoing state budget deficit. A bipartisan working group established by Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott is examining the issue. Josie Bahnke, director of the state Division of Elections, said one option that has gotten attention is a hybrid system would include allowing for early, in-person voting and voting by mail. But she said discussions are preliminary and more research must be done to see if this approach would work in Alaska, a vast state with far-flung communities. In certain parts of Alaska, the state must provide language assistance, including for a number of Alaska Native languages and dialects.
First elections, then probes into hacking. Now, the lawsuits over election hacking. A group of Democrat and Republican voters in Georgia is suing the state to overturn its fiercely fought June special election, saying evidence the state’s voter database was exposed to potential hackers for at least eight months invalidates the results. The lawsuit, which went to pre-trial conferences this week, could be a sign of disputes to come as revelations mount about the vulnerability of the U.S. election system and Russian attempts to infiltrate it. “As public attention finally starts to focus on the cybersecurity of election systems, we will see more suits like this one, and eventually, a woke judge will invalidate an election,” said Bruce McConnell, vice president of the EastWest Institute and former Department of Homeland Security deputy undersecretary for cybersecurity during the Obama administration. Plaintiffs argue the disclosure in August 2016 by Logan Lamb, a Georgia-based computer security expert, that much of Georgia’s voting system was inadvertently left out in the open on the Internet without password protection from August 2016 to March 2017 should make the results moot. What’s more, Georgia’s use of what the plaintiffs say are insecure touch-screen voting computers, which they claim don’t comply with Georgia state requirements for security testing, means the election results couldn’t legally be certified, they say.
Georgia: Thousands of voting machines in limbo because of 6th District lawsuit | Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Thousands of voting machines from the hotly contested 6th Congressional District special election are currently off-limits for future use because of a lawsuit seeking to invalidate the results. That worries metro Atlanta officials who say they could be short of spare machines to run municipal elections in November. The suit, filed over the July 4 holiday, demands that Republican Karen Handel’s win in a June 20 runoff be thrown out and the contest redone over concerns some election integrity advocates have about the security and accuracy of Georgia’s election infrastructure. The machines and related hardware are central to that system, and the three metro counties with areas in the 6th District — Cobb, DeKalb and Fulton — have stored the machines used in the special election after plaintiffs sought to preserve electronic records that could have bearing on the suit.