National: The Dangers of Man-in-the-Middle in Voting Machines | ezinemark.com

The Election Day is fast approaching in every state in the country. Security experts and researchers from Vulnerability Assessment Team or VAT at Argonne National Laboratories made a video that demonstrates a simple and non-cyber man-in-the middle or MITM attacks on the voting machine – the Diebold AccuVote TS Electronic Voting Machine. The researchers Jon Warner and Roger Johnston inserted customized hardware costing only 10 dollars into the Diebold AccuVote TS.

They were able to read the touchscreen vote using it and they were able to alter the information that was stored within. Changing the electronic votes isn’t really new; however, with the addition of a 16 dollars, the team was able to have a remote control that can operate and perform the MITM attacks even if they were miles away from the machine.

It was even stated that the levels of sophistication needed to accomplish the deed was comparably easy; even starters can accomplish it without any hardships. The same multi-disciplinary team of Argonne National Laboratories that is composed of physicists, digital computer forensics experts, computer engineers, white hat hackers, security researchers and also social scientists has demonstrated the same flaws on the machines of Sequoia Voting Solutions.

Voting Blogs: Forgotten But Not Yet Gone: Is This the End of the EAC? | Doug Chapin/PEEA

On Friday. U.S. Representative Glenn Harper [R-MS] posted a press release on Facebook suggesting that the two remaining members of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission had resigned, leaving the agency with no members and rendering the EAC, in his words, a “ZOMBIE AGENCY.”

Harper, of course, is the sponsor of recent legislation to terminate the EAC, which was approved earlier this month in a largely party-line vote in the House. If indeed the EAC is now empty (while the resignations aren’t yet public, I have no reason to doubt the reports are accurate) we may be seeing the beginning of the end of the EAC and its duties under the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA).

There will be lots of opportunities to discuss the work of the EAC – and more importantly, what will happen to that work if the agency does indeed disappear – but as part of that discussion I think Congress as an institution needs to own its role in the birth and life of the EAC and what impact it might have had on the agency’s performance and potential demise.

National: EAC: Zombie Agency – Two Remaining Commissioners Resign One Year After Agency Loses Quorum | Rep. Gregg Harper Press Release

Today, Subcommittee on Elections Chairman Gregg Harper, R-Miss., issued the following statement after the resignation of the two remaining commissioners at the Election Assistance Commission (EAC):

“Exactly one year ago today, EAC Commissioner Hillman resigned from the agency leaving it without a quorum and unable to make policy decisions. In the last week, the two remaining commissioners announced their resignations, and the President nominated the general counsel and acting executive director for a position at another agency.

Editorials: Public financing of presidential campaigns becomes divisive | Las Vegas Sun

You know that little box at the top of your tax form, the one that invites you to “check here” to donate $3 toward a presidential campaign fund? The one no one ever checks anyway? That too is turning into a partisan wedge issue in Washington, D.C.

Last week, the House of Representatives voted to do away with the box and shutter the Election Assistance Commission that handles the funds. Republican backers (no Democrats voted for the legislation) called it an effort to save money by eliminating a “bloated federal agency” that “has long outlived its purpose.” Sen. Harry Reid pre-emptively declared the bill dead on arrival in the U.S. Senate: Getting rid of the little $3 box, he explained, is really an act of voter suppression.

“Instead of making it so it’s easier for people to vote, they want to do everything they can to make it harder for people to vote,” Reid said of the Republican Party, complaining of efforts in certain states, including Nevada, to eliminate same-day registration at the polls. “They want as few people to vote as possible.”

National: House votes to end election commission | The Hill

The House on Thursday approved a bill ending the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) that was set up to ensure states meet certain standards at the voting booth, and ending the public financing of presidential campaigns. The bill passed in a mostly partisan 235-190 vote.

The vote followed a sometimes contentious debate in which some Democrats charged that the GOP effort to end the EAC is in line with other Republican attempts to suppress voter turnout in next year’s election. The EAC was established in 2002 after the very close and controversial presidential election of 2000 election, and was meant to ensure states meet certain voting standards. The EAC has disbursed more than $3 billion in “requirements” payments to states to update voting machines and enhance election administration.

National: The GOP’s War on Voting Comes to Washington | Mother Jones

Republicans in state legislatures across the country have spent the past year mounting an all-out assault on voting rights, pushing a slew of voter ID and redistricting measures that are widely expected to dilute the power of minority and low-income voters in next November’s elections. Now that effort has come to Capitol Hill, where a congressional committee will vote Thursday on a GOP-backed bill to eviscerate the Election Assistance Commission (EAC)—the last line of defense against fraud and tampering in electronic voting systems around the country.

The EAC was created in the wake of 2000’s controversial presidential election as a means of improving the quality standards for electronic voting systems. Its four commissioners (two Republicans and two Democrats) are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate. The commission tests voting equipment for states and localities, distributes grants to help improve voting standards, and offers helpful guidance on proofing ballots to some 4,600 local election jurisdictions. It also collects information on overseas and military voters and tracks the return rate for absentee ballots sent to these voters.

On Friday, a House subcommittee on elections will vote on Rep. Gregg Harper’s (R-Miss.) bill eliminating the EAC along with the longstanding public financing system for presidential campaigns. Republicans claim that the commission has already achieved its aim of cleaning up elections. Its responsibilities, they argue, can be reabsorbed by the Federal Election Commission (FEC), which oversaw voting machine certification prior to the EAC’s creation in 2002. Ending the EAC, Republicans estimate, will save $33 million over the next five years.

National: House Votes to End Presidential Campaign Fund and Election Assistance Commission | Roll Call News

The House voted today to end taxpayer financing of presidential elections.
In a 235-190 vote, the House approved a measure to terminate the Presidential Election Campaign Fund and shut down the Election Assistance Commission, a national clearinghouse on the mechanics of voting.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said the bill has no chance in the Senate, harshly criticizing House Republicans for advancing it. “Instead of making it so it’s easier for people to vote, they want to do everything they can to make it easier to make it harder for people to vote. I don’t understand this,” Reid said. “They want to have as few people to vote as possible.”

Massachusetts: Bill written by Woburn’s city clerk would combine presidential, state primaries | wickedlocal.com

A State House bill that would combine the 2012 presidential and state primaries to one day has gained support in a number of Massachusetts communities. The bill, written by Woburn City Clerk William Campbell, has bipartisan support on Beacon Hill.

In the past few weeks, 50 communities have voted to request the Legislature approve the bill. “The principal intent of the bill is to allow Massachusetts residents residing overseas, including military personnel, the opportunity to vote and to know their vote counts,” said Campbell. “However, this bill goes further. By combining the two elections, taxpayers will save at least $8 million. Elections are streamlined and the bill reduces voter fatigue.”

National: FVAP report shows continued trends in military voting Report highlights successes and future challenges | electionlineWeekly

The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) recently released its 2010 Post Election Report, which included a wealth of information on the participation of military voters and their spouses. This release follows the recent publication of data and a report on military and overseas voting by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

While the report includes numerous details focusing on the specifics of members of this community, the general trend is clear: members of the military and their spouses are highly engaged in the elections process and continue to register and vote at higher rates than the general electorate.

Unlike the EAC, which simply reports data provided by states as part of the Election Administration and Voting Survey, the FVAP adjusted military participation data to account for the age and gender of the generally younger and male population of uniformed voters. FVAP also surveyed a number of populations to ascertain their level of participation in 2010.

Voting Blogs: Meet our election experts: Douglas Jones | fyi

Computer technology has enabled humanity to make great advances in aircraft design, communications, and countless other fields. But when it comes to recording the results of elections, it’s often unclear to election officials in towns across the country whether the introduction of computers has been a help or a hindrance.

That’s where Douglas W. Jones, associate professor of computer science in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, comes in. In 2010, he was appointed by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) as one of four new technical and scientific experts to its Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC). The TGDC is charged under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) with assisting the EAC in developing federal voluntary voting system guidelines that are used to test and certify voting systems.

Previously, Jones served on the Iowa Board of Examiners for Voting Machines and Electronic Voting Systems for 10 years, where he helped examine and approve voting systems before they were sold to the state’s county governments. He testified at the U.S. Civil Rights Commission hearings in Tallahassee, Fla., on Jan. 11, 2001, and was involved in reviewing the federal 2002 Voting System Standards.

New York: State counted only 74% of military, overseas ballots | The Journal News

New York had the poorest showing in the country when it came to counting overseas and military ballots last November, a new report from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission found. The national average for ballots counted was 93.2 percent. But in New York, 73.9 percent of the 22,303 ballots cast were counted.

State Board of Elections spokesman John Conklin said New York’s numbers may have been skewed because boards of election counted every ballot, including those that were returned as undeliverable, toward the total number returned. It appears other states may not have included undeliverable ballots in their overall total, he explained. Returned ballots can be rejected for a variety of reasons, such as they are mailed too late or there is a problem with the voter’s signature.

National: House Dems denounce GOP’s proposed dissolution of Election Assistance Commission | TheHill.com

Democrats on the Committee on House Administration have unanimously denounced a Republican recommendation to reduce spending within the legislative branch. This week lawmakers proposed cost-saving initiatives to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. In a letter Thursday to the joint committee co-chairmen, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), House Republicans recommended eliminating funding for the Election Assistance Commission.

House Administration Committee Republicans have long advocated the dissolution of the EAC, an independent, bipartisan commission formed by the Help America Vote Act in 2002, saying the commission’s primary purpose had already been achieved. In June, the House rejected a bill to end the commission, which Republicans said would save $33 million over five years.

“The Election Assistance Commission has fulfilled its function and is now a perfect example of unnecessary and wasteful spending,” committee Chairman Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) wrote in Thursday’s letter. Committee Democrats responded swiftly to the recommendation, claiming that terminating the EAC would instead lead to problems.

Voting Blogs: The Empty Mailbox: Why Aren’t Election Offices Responding to EAC Data Requests? | Doug Chapin/PEEA

There is nothing quite like new data to set the election geek world into a frenzy of delight. The EAC’s release yesterday of the latest report on the Uniformed and Overseas Civilians Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) is the latest information we have about the fate of ballots cast by military and overseas voters. The report (teased mercilessly on Twitter by the EAC in a masterstroke of geek marketing, by the way) is especially important as it reflects the first data reflecting changes made by the MOVE Act of 2009.

The data contains lots of good news for anyone who cares about the ability of military and overseas voters to participate in democracy from a distance and appears to validate somewhat the efforts by Congress and state/local election offices to improve the UOCAVA balloting process.

Voting Blogs: Irresistible Force Meets ImMOVEable Object: DOJ vs. New York on Military and Overseas Voting | Doug Chapin/PEEA

Last week, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) asked a federal judge to order New York State to change the date of its 2012 primary election. The government argues that current September date gives military and overseas voters too little time to return their ballots and thus fails to comply with the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act enacted by Congress in 2009.

DOJ and New York are well-acquainted with the courtroom and one another; DOJ sued in 2006 for failure to implement the Help America Vote Act and the state has been operating under a consent decree virtually ever since. Indeed, it is fair to say that no state has been as reliably consistent in the last decade as the Empire State in the implementation of new federal election laws.

National: Election Assistance Commission Releases Survey of Internet Voting | EAC

The EAC Certification Division has released the technical report “A Survey of Internet Voting,” a comprehensive review of Internet voting systems used in elections worldwide between 2000 and 2011. EAC staff conducted the study to assist in the development of electronic absentee voting guidelines, specifically to assist the Commission’s efforts to identify technologies that could improve services for military and overseas voters and voters with disabilities.

[From the report]

… Risk is a difficult concept to express, understand and measure. This is apparent in the means used to address risk from one project to the next. The EAC has knowledge of 13 formal risk assessments, and seven of these risk assessments are publicly available. Nearly every project used a different assessment methodology to measure risk.

Voting Blogs: The Virginia Primary Day Earthquake, Contingency Planning … and Andujar’s Law | PEEA

Yesterday’s East Coast earthquake – centered near Mineral, VA but felt up and down the Atlantic seaboard and as far west as Chicago – was and will be a big story for several days (and a source of endless eye-rolling from the West Coast).

It’s worth noticing, however, that the earthquake didn’t appear to stop Virginia from conducting a primary election in communities across the Commonwealth. There were scattered reports of brief evacuations and voting in parking lots, but generally people soldiered on. [The Virginia State Board of Elections’ Twitter feed has a nice chronology of events.]

In the aftermath, there will be lots of discussion about what lessons to draw from Tuesday’s events. The U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s blog came out quickly with a post detailing numerouscontingency planning resources that election offices should consult to be prepared for emergency situations that inevitably arise. Resources like these are crucial to the field and should be required reading for anyone responsible for the smooth operation of voting on Election Day.

National: New EAC Report Shows Increased Voter Registration Among Low-Income Americans | Project Vote

A newly released review of a June 27 report by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) shows that voter registration application rates at state public assistance agencies have risen sharply following National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) enforcement actions by advocacy groups Demos, Project Vote, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and others. In contrast, the overwhelming majority of states not targeted have continued to see a long decline in registration of lower-income residents.

The EAC report covers voter registration that occurred between the November 2008 and November 2010 elections.

National: House Votes Not to Confer More Power on Feckless FEC | Campaign Legal Center

Yesterday afternoon, the U.S. House of Representatives voted on H.R. 672, a bill rather inappropriately named the “Election Support Consolidation and Efficiency Act.”  The legislation would dismantle the Election Assistance Commission and transfer some of its most important functions to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) – an agency hardly known for its efficiency (or effectiveness).  Fortunately, enough Representatives saw past the name to the damage it would have done to the administration of our elections, and the bill failed to receive the votes needed to pass.

But H.R. 672’s consideration by the House — and the gnashing of teeth over its defeat that will surely follow in the coming days– should not pass by without pausing to examine the folly of putting even more responsibility on the shoulders of the FEC at a time when it is incapable of carrying out its most basic functions.

National: House rejects GOP bill to terminate Election Assistance Commission | The Hill

Members of the House on Wednesday rejected a bill to end the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), which Republicans said would save $33 million over five years by eliminating a commission who’s primary purpose has been achieved.

Members voted 235-187 in favor of the bill, which was not enough to ensure passage under a suspension of House rules. Suspension votes require the support of two-thirds of all voting members. Every voting Republican supported it, and every voting Democrat opposed it.

The House debated the bill, H.R. 672, Tuesday night. Republicans said the vote would test the willingness of Democrats to support cuts to federal spending, while Democrats argued that the EAC still serves a useful purpose in helping states establish voting standards and test voting equipment.

National: Rep. Charlie Gonzalez triumphs as House saves Election Assistance Commission | Texas on the Potomac

A decade after Florida’s hanging chads became a national joke and George W. Bush‘s disputed victory became a part of American history, the House voted to save the commission created to ensure that such an electoral debacle would never happen again.

Rep. Charlie Gonzalez, D-San Antonio, was a leader of forces trying to save the Election Assistance Commission from the scrap heap of history. Those pushing the bill to kill the commission didn’t have the supermajority needed to succeed, and, on a largely party-line vote, Gonzalez and other House Democrats saved the remnant of the Bush v. Gore era.

Although originally planned as a five-year, temporary commission, Congress continued to fund the agency amid praise for its mission from election reformers.

National: Fate of election commission to be decided in Wednesday vote | The Hill

Tuesday night debate on a bill to eliminate the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) resolved nothing, and if anything made it more clear that the bill runs the risk of failing on Wednesday, as all Democratic speakers spoke out against it.

The bill, H.R. 672, is up Wednesday on the suspension calendar, which means two-thirds of all voting members to support it for passage. Republicans would likely need more than 40 Democrats to support the bill for passage, but Rep. Charles Gonzalez (D-Texas), one of the three Democratic members of the House Committee on Administration, predicted that Democrats would defeat the bill Wednesday.

National: GOP sees Tuesday’s Election Assistance Commission bill as test vote for Dems | The Hill

House Republicans have set up a Tuesday suspension vote to repeal the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), which they say is an agency in search of a mission that should be terminated to reduce federal spending. But Democrats are rejecting these arguments, making it unclear whether the bill can pass by the necessary two-thirds vote.

Republicans say the EAC can be safely terminated because it has fulfilled its primary mission, which is to offer grants to states to replace outdated voting equipment, such as punchcard and lever-based machines. The EAC was established in 2002, soon after the controversial 2000 presidential election that involved several weeks of recounting votes in Florida and related legal challenges.

Editorials: Floor Statement on Republican Efforts to Terminate the Election Assistance Commission | Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer

House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor today in opposition to Republican efforts to terminate the Election Assistance Commission, the agency Congress created to help ensure fair elections. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:

“The right to vote is at the foundation of our democracy—and so it is extremely disappointing that this bill would undermine our nation’s ability to protect that right.

“I rise in strong opposition to this bill, which would cut funding for fair and accessible elections. Eliminating funding for the Election Assistance Commission would harm the integrity of our elections in 2012, and for years to come. Voters deserve assurance that their votes will count.

National: House to vote on repealing election commission set up after Bush-Gore | The Hill

The House is scheduled to vote Tuesday on whether to repeal an election commission set up after the controversial 2000 presidential election. Members plan to vote on H.R. 672, which would repeal the Election Assistance Commission. That commission was established in 2002 after confusion and controversy over ballots in Florida for presidential election between then-Vice President Al Gore and then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush.

The commission was set up under the Help America Vote Act approved in 2002. That law created the commission, which set voting guidelines for states, and to distribute funds to states that could be used to update voting equipment.

Rep. Gregg Harper (R-Miss.), the sponsor of H.R. 672, says repealing the commission would save $14 million a year and that it can safely be repealed because the commission’s work has been completed. He said that in 2010, the National Association of Secretaries of State renewed their request to repeal the EAC, which has “served its purpose.”

Connecticut: Secretary of State Merrill announces awarding of nearly $1.2 million grant for voting technology in CT | ConnecticutPlus.com

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill today announced that Connecticut has successfully won a federal grant of $1,184,441 from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, a federal body established as a result of the 2002 Help America Vote Act (HAVA).

The federal grant was attained through Secretary Merrill committing a state match of $62,000 and was awarded June 8th through federal HAVA funds available to states. The new funds can be used for a variety of functions used to enhance voting technology, such as maintaining or enhancing Connecticut’s optical scan voting machines, testing or investing in new voting systems for disabled voters, and making improvements to the state Centralized Voter Registration database.

National: Clemson University research team to lead accessible voting technology project | Clemson Newsroom

A Clemson University research team has been chosen by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to lead a national effort to make voting systems more accessible.

Juan Gilbert, a professor and chairman of the Human-Centered Computing Division in Clemson’s School of Computing, will direct a three-year, $4.5 million project funded by the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to increase the accessibility of “new, existing and emerging technological solutions” in the design of voting systems.

California: Transparency Project nabs federal grant; money to be used to augment post-election audit project, allow for duplication elsewhere | Times-Standard Online

A local project that uncovered a fatal flaw in Humboldt County’s old elections system just got some national recognition that may ultimately lead to its becoming the standard rather than the exception. The federal Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) officially notified the Humboldt County Elections Office this week that it was receiving a $25,000 grant to…

National: Republicans vote to end Election Assistance Commission, set up after Bush v. Gore – TheHill.com

Republicans on the Committee on House Administration have voted to eliminate the independent commission that was established to address election problems after the contested 2000 presidential contest between George W. Bush and Al Gore. The U.S. Election Assistance Commission, established by the Help America Vote Act of 2002, has disbursed more than $3 billion in…

National: GOP Seeks Savings in Phasing Out Election Assistance Commission | Roll Call News

An effort by House Republicans to close the Election Assistance Commission cleared its first obstacle Wednesday. After some limited Democratic opposition, the House Administration Committee approved a bill that would remove funding from the EAC and transfer much of its responsibilities to the Federal Election Commission. The bill, which was approved by voice vote, is expected…

National: Congressman Gregg Harper seeks to eliminate Election Assitance Commission | The Daily Caller

With America facing a debt crisis, legislatures have gone spelunking for areas of government to cut. Mississippi Republican Rep. Gregg Harper has surfaced with a proposal to eliminate what Ronald Reagan once quipped was the nearest thing to eternal life: a government agency. Harper’s bill would terminate the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), which Congress created…