Despite a national uproar over election security, Louisiana voters will be casting their ballots next month in a statewide election on the same type of paperless voting machines the state has used since 2005. No changes are expected for the 2020 presidential election either. Allegations of improper bid handling derailed plans to replace to Louisiana’s voting machines, so the secretary of state’s office had to redo its vendor search process. The agency still is drafting the solicitation for bid proposals, so new voting machines aren’t coming soon. Still, Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin said voters should feel confident in the machines they will use to cast their ballots in the Oct. 12 and Nov. 16 elections for Louisiana governor, six other statewide positions and state legislative seats.Full Article: Analysis: New Louisiana election, same old voting machines - Washington Times.
Dominion Voting Systems
Georgia: State gets new election machines, but paper ballots abound | Mark Niesse and Arielle Kass/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The 2,271 people eligible to vote in Chattahoochee Hills may feel like they’re stepping back in time whenever they cast a ballot for the City Council or mayor. In much of the rest of the state, electronic voting machines are standard for each and every election. But in Chattahoochee Hills and about 70 other cities, residents vote using paper ballots. In many of those cities, the votes are even tallied by hand.On election night in Chattahoochee Hills, residents can pile into City Hall to watch City Clerk Dana Wicher and a handful of poll workers open a locked metal ballot box and call out the names on each ballot. Like keeping score at a baseball game, they can even tally along.As the debate rages over whether Georgia’s new touchscreen-and-printed-ballot voting system is secure, voters in cities across the state will continue to fill out their ballots with pens this November. They won’t use any modern technology during their municipal elections. State law exempts cities from having to use the uniform voting system mandated for county, state and federal elections.“Folks like coming in and doing the paper ballots. It’s that old-town community feeling,” Wicher said. “There is some suspense. There’s probably more transparency with the paper system.”Full Article: Georgia gets new election machines, but paper ballots abound.
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.
Georgia: Voters raise concerns about new voting system to state board | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Voters told Georgia’s election board Wednesday they’re deeply worried about the security and accuracy of the state’s new voting system and they urged the board to enact strong rules that ensure vote counts are correct.
The Secretary of State’s office announced it has started creating standards for recounts, audits and security of paper ballots that will be printed out by voting machines, which are scheduled to be used by Georgia voters statewide during the March 24 presidential primary.The 10 voters who spoke to the State Election Board, which is responsible for making election rules and investigating violations, said they distrust the $107 million voting system that Georgia bought from Denver-based Dominion this month. They doubted that computer-printed ballots will safeguard elections.“If a voter cannot recall every race and choice, she cannot identify whether the machine printout accurately reflects her intentions, or instead added, dropped or changed one of her choices,” said Rhonda Martin, a Fulton County voter. “No valid audit can be conducted on the basis of unverifiable source documents.”
Georgia voters who want hand-marked paper ballots are challenging the new election system state officials are rushing to implement in time for next year’s presidential primaries, saying the new touchscreen machines remain vulnerable and their results unverifiable, even though they produce paper records. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced the state’s purchase of a $106 million election system from Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems last month, with plans to replace the outdated election management system and paperless touchscreen voting machines in use since 2002. He then certified the new system on Aug. 9, and said it will be in place in time for the March 24 primaries. The voters’ petition, seeking a withdrawal of the certification and a re-examination of the Dominion system, was submitted Monday to Raffensperger’s office. It says the system doesn’t meet Georgia’s voting system certification requirements and doesn’t comply with the state election code. Georgia law allows voters to request that the secretary of state “reexamine any such device previously examined and approved by him or her” as long as at least 10 voters sign onto the request. The petition submitted Monday includes signatures of more than 1,450 registered voters from 100 counties, including some elected officials, and was filed by voting integrity advocates and the state Libertarian Party. Additionally, some of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the state’s outdated voting system filed an amended complaint on Friday asking U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg to prohibit the state from using the new Dominion system, calling it “illegal and unreliable.”Full Article: Georgia voters challenge legality of new election system.
Georgia: Lawsuit says new Georgia voting system should be stopped | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Voters who want paper ballots filled out by hand asked a federal judge late Friday to prevent Georgia from using the $107 million voting system the state just bought. The request comes a day after the judge ruled that voters must use some type of paper ballots next year, but her decision didn’t address the legality of the state’s new voting system.Election officials plan to replace Georgia’s 17-year-old electronic voting machines with a system that combines touchscreens with paper ballots. Voters will pick their candidates on a 21.5-inch tablet that’s connected to a ballot printer starting with the March 24 presidential primary.The lawsuit, filed by voters and election integrity advocates, alleges the new voting machines will remain vulnerable to hacking, malware, bugs and misconfiguration.But state election officials have said that paper ballots will ensure the accuracy of results during recounts and audits.In addition, the lawsuit said the printed ballots aren’t truly verifiable. Although voters will be able to review ballots before casting them, the ballots embed voters’ choices in bar codes that are only readable by scanning machines.“No elector can visually review and confirm whether the bar code accurately conveys their intended selections,” according to the amended complaint.Full Article: Lawsuit says new Georgia voting system should be stopped..
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.Full Article: Judge Says Georgia To Use Old Electronic Voting Machines For 2019 Elections : NPR.
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.Full Article: Judge rules against immediate switch to paper ballots in Georgia.
At the country’s biggest election security bonanza, the US government is happy to let hackers try to break into its equipment. The private companies that make the machines America votes on, not so much. The Def Con Voting Village, a now-annual event at the US’s largest hacking conference, gives hackers free rein to try to break into a wide variety of decommissioned election equipment, some of which is still in use today. As in the previous two years, they found a host of new flaws. The hunt for vulnerabilities in US election systems has underscored tensions between the Voting Village organizers, who argue that it’s a valuable exercise, and the manufacturers of voting equipment, who didn’t have a formal presence at the convention. Supporters of the Voting Village say it’s the best way draw attention to problems with an industry that otherwise doesn’t face much public accountability, even in the wake of Russia’s foreign interference in the 2016 election. Their work has attracted the notice of several lawmakers, who are calling for new legislation to strengthen the integrity of US elections.Full Article: Voting machine companies balk at taking part in hacking event - KTVZ.
Georgia: Test results for Georgia new voting system released | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Georgia’s new voting system passed equipment tests by a company hired to evaluate it for the state. The certification test results, released Monday, indicated that touchscreens, election computers, ballot scanners and other machinery can handle the stresses of an election.The tests identified one issue, when a ballot scanner suffered a “memory lockup” after reading 4,500 ballots. The problem was resolved by restarting the scanner.The testing by Pro V&V evaluated the voting equipment’s functionality. It didn’t grade the security of the $107 million voting system by Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems. Starting with the presidential primary on March 24, all Georgia voters will use touchscreens attached to printers that produce paper ballots. Voters will then be able to review their ballots before inserting them into optical scanners for tabulation. Ballots will be stored for audits and recounts. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger issued his certification that the Dominion system is reliable and accurate on Friday after receiving the Pro V&V test results.Full Article: Test results for Georgia new voting system released.
Georgia: New Georgia voting system certified by secretary of state | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger certified that Georgia’s new voting system is reliable and accurate Friday as state officials finalized a $107 million contract with Dominion Voting Systems. The certification of the new voting system, which combines touchscreens and paper ballots, was required before it could be used in Georgia elections. The state had announced last week that Dominion won the state’s voting contract, before certification testing had been completed.Raffensperger found that the Dominion system “has been thoroughly examined and tested,” according to his certification, filed in federal court Friday.His office didn’t release the results of certification testing Friday, which was conducted by a Huntsville, Ala.-based company called Pro V&V. But state rules give the secretary of state broad discretion to certify the voting system.Full Article: New Georgia voting system certified by secretary of state.
Georgia’s secretary of state certified new touchscreen voting machines as election-safe in court documents Friday, bidding to put behind the acrimonious 2018 electoral season marred by reports of malfunctioning voting equipment, hourslong wait times and criticism that the state’s outdated machines were vulnerable to hacking. Republican Brad Raffensperger’s office formally awarded a $106 million contract to a Denver-based company, Dominion Voting Systems, for machines it said met state law for election security after neither losing vendor challenged Dominion’s winning bid. The developments came in court documents filed by attorneys defending state election officials against a lawsuit challenging Georgia’s current voting system and seeking statewide use of hand-marked paper ballots.Full Article: Georgia's new voting machines certified by the state.
Georgia elections officials have no time to spare as they hustle to replace thousands of outdated voting machines statewide while fending off lawsuits in the wake of a much criticized gubernatorial election. Even if the state manages to implement the $106 million purchase of new voting machines on schedule, some county officials worry the tight timeline could lead to another round of confusion as presidential politics drives high voter turnout. “There is concern from my board and myself that we won’t have enough time to get our training in for ourselves, our poll workers and the voters,” Elections Supervisor Jennifer Doran of Morgan County said in an interview Wednesday. Without proper training time, voters could face “confusion, anxiety” and longer waits as people learn to navigate the new system, Doran said. The voting system overhaul comes after Republican Gov. Brian Kemp — previously Georgia’s top election official — beat Democrat Stacey Abrams for the governor’s mansion.Full Article: Georgia faces tight timeline for replacing voting system.
Georgia: Georgia awards voting contract before testing finished | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Georgia’s new voting machines haven’t yet passed state tests of their accuracy, reliability and security, a required step before they can be used in elections. The testing of Dominion Voting System’s equipment is expected to be completed soon, said Georgia Secretary of State spokeswoman Tess Hammock on Monday. Dominion’s voting system, which combines touchscreen voting machines and paper ballots, already received federal certification in January.Until the state’s own tests are completed, it’s unknown whether there are any potential problems with Georgia’s new voting system that need to be corrected.Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced last week that Dominion won a $107 million contract to provide voting equipment to the state’s 7 million registered voters. State rules require voting systems to complete testing and be certified by the secretary of state before they can be put into service.Full Article: Georgia awards voting contract before testing finished..
National: 5 big takeaways from Politico’s national survey of election offices | Eric Geller/Politico
Paperless voting machines are a glaring weakness in U.S. election infrastructure. They are dangerous, experts say, because they lack paper voting records, making them vulnerable to malfunctions or intrusions that could undetectably change votes. With top U.S. intelligence officials predicting the return of Russian hackers in 2020, cybersecurity experts have urged state and local governments to replace their paperless machines as soon as possible. Since March, POLITICO has been tracking their progress. The nationwide picture is mixed: Some states and counties are moving quickly to buy paper-based machines and others are doing nothing at all. Here are the five big takeaways from POLITICO’s nationwide survey:
1) Many counties don’t have enough money to upgrade
In hundreds of small counties, election officials can’t afford to buy new voting machines, however insecure their current systems are. Between schools, infrastructure, police, environmental protection and emergency services, counties have enough on their plate without having to worry about their voting machines.
The fact that these machines are used so infrequently is another reason they often slip down the list of counties’ spending priorities. It’s hard to justify buying new voting machines when there are overcrowded schools or crumbling hospitals. “It is a huge expense for small rural counties,” said Cheri Hawkins, the clerk in Shackelford, Texas. “I would love to be able to update!”Full Article: 5 big takeaways from POLITICO’s national survey of election offices - POLITICO.
Georgia: Threats to Georgia elections loom despite new paper ballot voting | Mark Niesse, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Georgia was the first state in the nation to move to electronic voting machines 17 years ago, and it will be one of the last to adopt paper ballots that voters can check before they’re cast. The selection this week of a $107 million electronic voting system that combines familiar touchscreen machines with paper ballots was a big step for a state that continues to face criticism and legal challenges over its handling of the 2018 election. But critics say the system will still be vulnerable to hacking, and getting the machines ready in time for the statewide presidential primary in March won’t be easy.When the new system is installed, Georgia will be the first state in the nation to switch entirely to this kind of hybrid paper-and-tech way of conducting elections. Dominion Voting Systems will replace the state’s old Diebold electronic voting machines, which lack a paper trail for audits and recounts. The new touchscreens will be attached to printers that spit out ballots. Voters can then review their choices before inserting their paper ballots into scanning machines that will record their choices.Full Article: Will new Georgia voting system prevent election vulnerabilities?.
Georgia awarded a $150 million contract to voting equipment manufacturer Dominion Voting Systems to implement a “verified paper ballot system” in the state prior to the March 2020 presidential primaries, the Georgia Secretary of State’s office announced Monday. This will involve replacing current voting machines in Georgia with machines from Dominion that print a paper ballot after the voter has made their choices to further secure the vote against outside interference. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said in a statement that “elections security is my top priority,” adding that “we look forward to working with national and local elections security experts to institute best practices and continue to safeguard all aspects of physical and cyber-security in an ever-changing threat environment.”Full Article: Georgia awards contract for new voting machines | TheHill.
National: Mitch McConnell Received Donations from Voting Machine Lobbyists Before Blocking Election Security Bills | Nicole Goodkind/Newsweek
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell squashed two bills intended to ensure voting security on Thursday, just one day after former special counsel Robert Mueller warned that Russians were attempting to sabotage the 2020 presidential elections “as we sit here.” McConnell said he wouldn’t allow a vote on the bills because they were “so partisan,” but, as previously reported, earlier this year McConnell received a slew of donations from four of the top voting machine lobbyists in the country. “Clearly this request is not a serious effort to make a law. Clearly something so partisan that it only received one single solitary Republican vote in the House is not going to travel through the Senate by unanimous consent,” said McConnell on the Senate floor. The plans would likely burden the two largest electronic voting machine vendors in the United States, Election Systems & Software and Dominion Voting Systems, with new regulations and financial burdens.Full Article: Mitch McConnell Received Donations from Voting Machine Lobbyists Before Blocking Election Security Bills.
If the security of voting systems in the next election will be a function of the amount of legislation on the topic now pending in Congress, we’ve got nothing to worry about in November 2020. There is a growing pile of bills in both the House and Senate, most featuring several to dozens of cosponsors—sometimes even from both parties—accompanied by press releases with made-to-order endorsements from congressional leaders, advocacy groups and cybersecurity experts. They all call for securing U.S. elections and “protecting our democracy.” But, of course, the number of bills doesn’t matter. It’s about quality, not quantity. The things that do matter are what gets enacted into law and whether its mandates get done or get watered down. And that, as the predictable cliché goes, remains to be seen.Full Article: Multiple Bills Seek To Secure Elections: Will They Do It?.