Two voting machine manufacturers are appealing a Wisconsin judge’s ruling allowing former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein’s experts to comment on their review of the state’s election software. Stein’s request for a recount of Wisconsin’s 2016 presidential election results grants her the right to review voting machines. The review hasn’t been scheduled yet, but it could reveal whether the devices were hacked.
Dominion Voting Systems
Pennsylvania: State OKs new Dominion voting machine, but shutdown could delay use in Montgomery County | The Intelligencer
The Dominion Voting Systems model approved by the Department of State is the latest approval as counties expected to replace digital-only voting machines in time for 2020 election. While the Department of State approved a fourth new voting machine — the one Montgomery County hopes to roll out at the polls in May — its final federal approval is tied up in the partial government shutdown. The machine, Dominion Voting Systems’ Democracy Suite 5.5-A model, creates paper copies of ballots and is part of the state’s push away from digital-only ballot machines. It is one of at least five similar machines expected to be approved this year as counties update voting system before the 2020 general election, according to a department news release. Bucks and Montgomery counties are among many jurisdictions using machines storing ballots entirely by digital memory, which former Acting Secretary of State Robert Torres said was less secure than machines that left a “paper trail.”Full Article: State OKs new voting machine, but shutdown could delay use in Montco.
In the past decade, Election Systems & Software (E.S. & S.), the largest manufacturer of voting machines in the country, has routinely wined and dined a select group of state-election brass, which the company called an “advisory board,” offering them airfare on trips to places like Las Vegas and New York, upscale-hotel accommodations, and tickets to live events. Among the recipients of this largesse, according to an investigation by McClatchy published last year, was David Dove, the chief of staff to Georgia’s then secretary of state, Brian Kemp. Kemp, the new governor of Georgia, made news in the midterm elections for his efforts to keep people of color from voting and for overseeing his own election. In March of 2017, when Dove attended an E.S. & S. junket in Las Vegas, Kemp’s office was in the market to replace the state’s entire inventory of voting machines. “It’s highly inappropriate for any election official to be accepting anything of value from a primary contractor,” Virginia Canter, the chief ethics officer at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told McClatchy. “It shocks the conscience.” (Kathy Rogers, E.S. & S.’s senior vice-president for governmental affairs, told McClatchy that there was nothing untoward about the advisory board, which she said has been “immensely valuable in providing customer feedback.”)Full Article: How Voting-Machine Lobbyists Undermine the Democratic Process | The New Yorker.
The company whose multimillion-dollar contract award to replace Louisiana’s voting machines was scrapped said Wednesday it won’t sue over the cancellation. But the avoidance of litigation won’t immediately restart the state’s stalled work to update its decade-old voting system. Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration voided the contract deal with Dominion Voting Systems in October, with the state’s chief procurement officer saying the secretary of state’s office mishandled the bid process, not following legal requirements. Dominion disagreed. But company spokeswoman Kay Stimson said the Colorado-based vendor won’t dispute the matter in court.Full Article: Company won’t sue Louisiana over voided voting machine deal | Myrtle Beach Sun News.
Republican Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin said new voting machines will not be in place for the 2019 fall election cycle when the governor, attorney general, four other statewide elected positions and all 144 members of the Louisiana Legislature will be picked. The machines were supposed to be up and running before next year’s big campaign season, until the purchasing process stalled over concerns that the secretary of state’s office didn’t handle bidding properly. Ardoin has said his office made a mistake during the procurement process, but also blames Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration for the months-long delay and problems. The holdup means there isn’t enough time to purchase the machines and train local election officials to use them before the October 2019 elections, according to the secretary of state’s office.Full Article: Louisiana won’t have new voting machines for 2019 governor’s race | nola.com.
Florida: Palm Beach County is the lone county to reject sensors that detect hackers | Tampa Bay Times
To help deter hackers from infiltrating voting systems, the federal government offered all of Florida’s 67 counties a tool to detect and monitor electronic intruders. While the technology does not stop hackers, it alerts officials about possible threats and allows them to respond faster when data may be at risk. Only one county—Palm Beach—rejected the technology in the months prior to Election Day. That could change now that Palm Beach County plans to update its system next year. “We didn’t think it was a good time to put some function on a legacy system,” said Palm Beach Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher. “We’ll take a look next year when we buy new equipment.”Full Article: Palm Beach County is the lone county to reject sensors that detect hackers | Tampa Bay Times.
The office of Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin may have start from scratch on its goal to obtain nearly 20,000 voting machines for the state. Last week, Jay Dardenne, the commissioner of the state Department of Administration, confirmed an Oct. 10 ruling by the chief procurement officer, Paula Tregere, dealing an all-but-fatal blow to the $95 million contract Ardoin had awarded in August. Ardoin announced Aug. 9 that his office had chosen Dominion Voting Systems, one of the largest manufactures of voting equipment, to supply the state with new machines in time for the 2020 presidential election. But Tregere canceled the contract after one of the losing bidders, Election Systems & Software — the largest U.S. manufacturer of voting equipment — objected to the contracting process, arguing the original request for proposals contained specifications that only Dominion’s equipment could meet. The Advocate reported last week that Dominion, whose appeal Dardenne rejected, is still deciding whether to sue the state over losing its contract. The company has until Dec. 12 to file a suit, otherwise the entire bidding process might have to start over, Ardoin’s press secretary, Tyler Brey, told StateScoop.Full Article: In search for new voting machines, Louisiana may need to start over.
With a major election year approaching, Louisiana’s work to replace voting machines it bought 13 years ago has remained stalled for months, amid bid-rigging allegations, a voided contract award, and claims of political meddling.
Decision upheld to scrap Louisiana voting machine contract
The Louisiana secretary of state’s office will have to redo its work to replace the state’s decade-old voting machines.
Interim Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, whose office oversees state elections, has no immediate timeline for restarting the replacement effort as he waits to see if the cancelled contract award will prompt litigation.
That means there’s no schedule for when Louisiana will buy or lease new voting machines, as the state enters a big election cycle, with the governorship, six other statewide elected positions and all 144 state legislative seats on the ballot in October 2019.
Louisiana’s chief procurement officer found flaws with the bid process and scrapped the selection of Dominion Voting Systems to replace the voting machines, saying the secretary of state’s office didn’t follow legal requirements. A Dominion appeal was denied Wednesday.
Ardoin said in a statement he wants to get new voting machines “as soon as possible to continue to keep Louisiana at the forefront of election integrity and security.”
But Ardoin spokesman Tyler Brey said the office won’t determine how to move forward until it learns if Dominion will sue. Under state law, Dominion has two weeks from its appeal rejection to decide if it will file a lawsuit seeking to hold onto the lucrative contract award.
“Until they decide to do that or not do that, the process is not officially done,” Brey said Thursday. “The office is not going to put forward the plans for next steps until this system has run its course.”Louisiana voting machine work stalls, with no date to resume | Elections | theadvocate.com.
The Louisiana secretary of state’s office will have to redo its work to replace the state’s decade-old voting machines, after Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration refused Wednesday to reinstate a voided multimillion-dollar contract award. Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne reviewed the decision to scrap the deal with Dominion Voting Systems, and Dardenne said he found that cancelling the contract award was “in the best interest of the state.” “As important as it is for the state to procure high-quality, efficient and reliable voting machine technology, it is equally important that the public have confidence that the voting machines their tax dollars pay for are procured fairly, transparently and in accordance with law,” Dardenne wrote in a letter outlining his decision. If Dominion wants to continue to try to hang onto the lucrative contract award to replace 10,000 Election Day and early voting machines, it will have to go to court. Otherwise, the company will have to bid again in a new process that starts from scratch.Full Article: Decision upheld to scrap Louisiana voting machine contract | News & Observer.
Palm Beach County was plagued by broken machines and missed deadlines this midterm election, putting them once again in the national spotlight. Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher blamed the problems on the machines, which at one point during the machine recount overheated, causing them to have to recount thousands of votes that had already been counted. Bucher said she has repeatedly asked for new machines for the past 10 years, but has been stuck using the eight machines already there when she took office in 2009. The problem is those machines use a software that only allow each individual race to be scanned at a time. Bucher said and the county confirmed there is money in the budget to the tune of $11.1 million set aside to pay for new counting equipment, but it hasn’t been purchased yet.Full Article: When will Palm Beach County get new voting machines? | WPEC.
A voting system has to do two things: Count votes correctly and keep them secure. The Sequoia voting system in Palm Beach County, harshly criticized and already old in 2007 when the county paid $5.5 million to keep it, has for years come under fire for not reliably doing one or the other — or both. The aging system made headlines again last week, when high-speed vote counters appeared to overheat. That delayed vote counting in the nationally watched Florida recount. Why Palm Beach County didn’t update its aging vote-counters. Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher Thursday reiterated her belief that equipment malfunctions are at fault for a failure to finish a machine recount in four races by a state-mandated deadline. The county’s equipment is so outmoded she didn’t have time to even start the recount of nearly 600,000 ballots in two of the statewide races.Full Article: Palm Beach County voting hardware has storied history of snafus.
Palm Beach County’s race to recount votes is heating up — literally. The county’s decade-old ballot-counting machines overheated and gave incorrect totals, forcing the county to restart its recount of about 175,000 early votes., supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher said Tuesday night. The department has flown in mechanics to repair the machines. “We’re disappointed by the mechanical problems that are going to cause a further delay in the recount,” Bucher told reporters. “It became evident through the vigorous pace of counting that the machines used for the recount were starting to get stressed.” The malfunctions resulted in the loss of more than a day’s work. Bucher said on Monday that her office wouldn’t be able to meet the 3 p.m. Thursday deadline imposed by the state. On Saturday, state election officials said Florida’s 67 counties had to recount the more than 8 million ballots cast statewide because the results in three major elections — U.S. Senate, governor and agriculture commissioner — were under the 0.5 percentage point threshold that triggers the mandatory recount, according to state law.Full Article: Palm Beach forced to start over after voting machines overheat | Miami Herald.
While other supervisors of elections throughout the state have remained confident that they will complete recounting ballots cast in November, Palm Beach County’s elections supervisor remains skeptical they will complete counting each race subject to recounts by the Thursday afternoon deadline set by the state.
Susan Bucher has repeatedly asked for additional funding to update antiquated voting machines and blasted state officials for not extending the deadline so the county can count every vote.
Bucher said Monday it was irresponsible for the state to implement and not extend the deadline despite delays in ballot tabulation.
Palm Beach County first got its voting machines in 2007. It uses an optical scanning software that only allows each individual race to be scanned.
There are only eight machines in Florida’s third-largest county to scan nearly 600,000 ballots cast.
… While Bucher is hoping to receive more than $11 million from the county to replace the old voting machines, the changes will not happen until Palm Beach County goes through budget requests in March.
Bucher, who has repeatedly criticized the state’s division of elections, has called for serious elections reform prior to the recounts. Earlier this month, before the election, she referred to the state’s online voter registration system as a “mess” during an interview with the Palm Beach Post.Florida elections: Palm Beach County recount delays caused by old voting machines.
Editorials: Voting Machines: What Could Possibly Go Wrong? | Jennifer Cohn/NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books
Since the 2016 election, there has been a good deal of commentary and reporting about the threats to American democracy from, on the one hand, Russian interference by Facebook and Twitterbot-distributed propaganda, and on the other, voter ID laws and other partisan voter suppression measures such as electoral roll purges. Both of these concerns are real and urgent, but there is a third, yet more sinister threat to the integrity of the November 6 elections: the vulnerability of the voting machines themselves. This potential weakness is critical because the entire system of our democracy depends on public trust—the belief that, however divided the country is and fiercely contested elections are, the result has integrity. Nothing is more insidious and corrosive than the idea that the tally of votes itself could be unreliable and exposed to fraud.Full Article: Voting Machines: What Could Possibly Go Wrong? | by Jennifer Cohn | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books.
Millions of Americans will cast votes in Tuesday’s midterm elections, some on machines that experts say use outdated software or are vulnerable to hacking. If there are glitches or some races are too close to call — or evidence emerges of more meddling attempts by Russia — voters may wake up on Wednesday and wonder: Can we trust the outcome? Meet, then, the gatekeepers of American democracy: Three obscure, private equity-backed companies control an estimated $300 million U.S. voting-machine industry. Though most of their revenue comes from taxpayers, and they play an indispensable role in determining the balance of power in America, the companies largely function in secret. Devices made by Election Systems & Software LLC, Dominion Voting Systems and Hart InterCivic Inc. will process about nine of every ten ballots next week. Each of the companies is privately held and at least partially controlled by private equity firms. Beyond that, little is known about how they operate or to whom they answer. They don’t disclose financial results and aren’t subject to federal regulation. While the companies say their technology is secure and up-to-date, security experts for years have raised concerns that older, sometimes poorly engineered, equipment can jeopardize the integrity of elections and, more importantly, erode public trust.Full Article: Private Equity Controls the Gatekeepers of American Democracy - Bloomberg.
It was the kind of security lapse that gives election officials nightmares. In 2017, a private contractor left data on Chicago’s 1.8 million registered voters — including addresses, birth dates and partial Social Security numbers — publicly exposed for months on an Amazon cloud server. Later, at a tense hearing , Chicago’s Board of Elections dressed down the top three executives of Election Systems & Software, the nation’s dominant supplier of election equipment and services. The three shifted uneasily on folding chairs as board members grilled them about what went wrong. ES&S CEO Tom Burt apologized and repeatedly stressed that there was no evidence hackers downloaded the data. The Chicago lapse provided a rare moment of public accountability for the closely held businesses that have come to serve as front-line guardians of U.S. election security. A trio of companies — ES&S of Omaha, Nebraska; Dominion Voting Systems of Denver and Hart InterCivic of Austin, Texas — sell and service more than 90 percent of the machinery on which votes are cast and results tabulated. Experts say they have long skimped on security in favor of convenience, making it more difficult to detect intrusions such as occurred in Russia’s 2016 election meddling. The businesses also face no significant federal oversight and operate under a shroud of financial and operational secrecy despite their pivotal role underpinning American democracy.Full Article: US election integrity depends on security-challenged firms.
This article was originally posted at Freedom to Tinker on October 16, 2018.
The Dominion ImageCast Evolution looks like a pretty good voting machine, but it has a serious design flaw: after you mark your ballot, after you review your ballot, the voting machine can print more votes on it!. Fortunately, this design flaw has been patented by a rival company, ES&S, which sued to prevent Dominion from selling this bad design. Unfortunately, that means ES&S can still sell machines (such as their ExpressVote all-in-one) incorporating this design mistake.
When we use computers to count votes, it’s impossible to absolutely prevent a hacker from replacing the computer’s software with a vote-stealing program that deliberately miscounts the vote. Therefore (in almost all the states) we vote on paper ballots. We count the votes with optical scanners (which are very accurate when they haven’t been hacked), and to detect and correct possible fraud-by-hacking, we recount the paper ballots by hand. (This can be a full recount, or a risk-limiting audit, an inspection of a randomly selected sample of the ballots.)
Some voters are unable to mark their ballots by hand–they may have a visual impairment (they can’t see the ballot) or a motor disability (they can’t physically handle the paper). Ballot-marking devices (BMDs) are provided for those voters (and for any other voters that wish to use them); the BMDs are equipped with touchscreens, and also with audio and tactile interfaces (headphones and distinctively shaped buttons) for blind voters, and even sip-and-puff input devices for motor-impaired voters. These BMDs print out a paper ballot that can be scanned by the optical scanners and can be recounted by hand.Full Article: Design flaw in Dominion ImageCast Evolution voting machine.
Louisiana is voiding a multimillion-dollar contract award to replace thousands of voting machines after a key official in Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration found flaws in the vendor selection. Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin’s office will have to redo the bid process for the lucrative work if the decision by Louisiana’s chief procurement officer Paula Tregre stands. “I hereby determine that it is in the best interest of the state to rescind the award made to Dominion Voting Systems,” Tregre said in a 17-page decision released Wednesday night. The decision comes at an unfortunate time for Ardoin, a Republican in office since May who is running in a November special election to remain in the job. Running on his experience, Ardoin has defended the bid evaluators’ pick of Dominion and suggested criticism was “baloney” while opponents have panned his handling of the voting machine replacement.Full Article: Louisiana’s lucrative voting machine contract award canceled | Miami Herald.
When Louisiana shopped for new voting machines, the state told vendors it wanted to double the number of machines it uses for elections, a decision that helped drive up the cost of the contract proposals to a higher-than-expected price tag. The secretary of state’s office solicited bids to buy or lease nearly 20,000 voting machines — to replace the 10,000 early voting and Election Day machines it currently has. The agency described wanting to replace voting machines bought in 2005 with smaller devices, improved technology, bolstered security and a paper record of votes. But it didn’t publicize the effort also could double the inventory of machines.Full Article: Louisiana proposal to double voting machines drove up costs | Myrtle Beach Sun News.
Illinois: Cook County Board approves new election equipment contract, despite rival firm’s lawsuit | Chicago Sun Times
Residents in suburban Cook County could be the first voters to use new election equipment next year. The Cook County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday awarded a 10-year contract for nearly $31 million to Dominion Voting Systems, Inc., which would mean an update for the county’s equipment, some of which is at least a decade old. The older technology could open the county up to threats to election security. The contract first came before the County Board in March, but two bid protests by Election Systems & Software, which has provided election equipment for the county in the past, delayed the vote. The roll out of the new equipment is still in question. Cook County Clerk David Orr said it’s too late to begin testing the equipment and training poll workers for the November election, but he hopes that testing can begin in suburban Cook during the February and April elections. Orr called the unanimous vote “a plus for many, but especially for voters.”Full Article: Cook County Board approves new election equipment contract, despite rival firm's lawsuit.