The first primary in the 2020 presidential race is a little more than 250 days away, but lawmakers and experts worry that elections will be held on voting machines that are woefully outdated and that any tampering by adversaries could lead to disputed results. Although states want to upgrade their voting systems, they don’t have the money to do so, election officials told lawmakers last week. Overhauling the nation’s election systems would mean injecting as much as $1 billion in federal grants that would then be supplemented by states, but top Senate Republicans have said they are unlikely to take up any election security bills or give more money to the states. The deadlock could mean that even as federal government and private companies spend tens of billions of cybersecurity dollars annually to protect their computers and networks from attacks, the cornerstone of American democracy could remain vulnerable in the upcoming elections.Full Article: Americans may vote in 2020 using old, unsecured machines.
The front lines of today’s cyberwarfare battles are not just at Fort Meade. They are in Allegheny County’s Elections Division. And in Erie County. And Butler County. And Indiana County. And all across Pennsylvania. Our elections — and the integrity of your vote — are under threat from nation-state adversaries. As of today, Pennsylvania is not prepared to defend against what will almost certainly be unprecedented attacks in the next presidential election cycle. But there is still time to secure the 2020 election. The General Assembly, however, needs to help counties secure this most critical of battlegrounds. The Blue Ribbon Commission on Pennsylvania’s Election Security spent much of the past year studying current and future cyber-based threats to Pennsylvania’s elections. What we found was sobering. In the 2016 and 2018 elections, more than 80 percent of Pennsylvania voters were registered to vote in precincts that did not use paper-based voting systems, meaning that most of Pennsylvania’s counties would be unable to even detect the hack of a voting system, let alone recover from it.Full Article: David Hickton: Don’t nickel & dime Pennsylvania’s democracy | TribLIVE.com.
North Dakota’s chief elections official hopes to have new equipment at the polls for the 2020 contests after state lawmakers approved $12 million for the devices. Secretary of State Al Jaeger said Wednesday the money will be used to purchase new ballot scanners and electronic poll books, which serve as voter records at individual precincts, across the state. The $12 million approved by lawmakers includes $3 million of federal funding. Jaeger, a Republican, said North Dakotans will still mark a paper ballot but new equipment will be used to count their votes. County election officials have warned about equipment failures for several years, but the 2017 Legislature rejected funding while the state tightened its belt.Full Article: North Dakota Legislature funds new election equipment | North Dakota News | bismarcktribune.com.
Election cybersecurity, once described as one of the lightest legislative lifts of 2019, has devolved into a stubborn controversy that some Democrats worry foreshadows turbulence ahead as this year’s Capitol session enters the home stretch. It boils down to a simple unanswered question: How much of $6.6 million in Help America Vote Act funds, which the federal government granted Minnesota last year, should go to Secretary of State Steve Simon to shore up the state’s election cyber-defenses? The two chambers have quite different answers. On Feb. 21, the DFL-led House voted 105-23 to approve House File 14, with many Republicans joining the Democrats. That bill appropriates the full $6.6 million. On Feb. 28, the Senate voted 35-32 along party lines to give Simon access to only $1.5 million of the grant — the same amount included in last year’s vetoed Omnibus Prime supplemental finance bill. The discrepancy sent the HF14 to a joint House-Senate conference committee to iron out the differences. On Tuesday, for the second time since March 21, Senate Republicans — led by conference committee co-chair Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake — skipped a HAVA hearing. The meeting went ahead anyway. Democrats — including three Senate DFLers who aren’t conferees — heard testimony from Simon and former Cook County, Ill., election director Noah Praetz. But with no Senate Republicans on hand to continue negotiations or vote on a compromise, the issue remains unresolved.Full Article: Senators skip cybersecurity hearing – Minnesota Lawyer.
Counties are preparing to adopt the latest in election technology – but progress could depend on whether and when the state pays for the upgrade. As part of their effort to get lawmakers, freeholders and others familiar with what’s available, the New Jersey Association of Election Officials recently held a trade show at the Trenton War Memorial showing off the current state of technology – items common in some states but rare, for now, in New Jersey. Cape May County Clerk Rita Fulginiti said the pace for the updates will depend on state law and state funding. “It will cost a lot to upgrade to better equipment, but it’s all about the voter and making voting systems accessible to the voter,” Fulginiti said. New Jersey would need to spend $64 million to upgrade all the voting machines in the state, New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice estimates.Full Article: Who will pay to upgrade NJ's voting technology?.
South Dakota: Secretary of State Office received another $3 million to beef up election security | KELO
Among the many adjustments the South Dakota Legislature made last month to state government’s current budget was adding $150,000 to the Secretary of State Office’s operational budget. That’s so the office can move ahead with using $3 million from a 2018 federal election security grant that Congress approved, according to Kea Warne. She is deputy secretary for elections for Secretary of State Steve Barnett, who took office in early January. Congress took the action in March 2018 after people from other nations such as Russia tried ways to influence the 2016 U.S. elections. Many states including South Dakota still needed approval from their legislatures before channeling the money toward greater election security. “Our office has not spent any of those funds to date, as we asked for the Legislature to provide the five percent match money for the federal grant during the 2019 legislative session,” Warne said. South Dakota’s lawmakers approved that $150,000 request as part of SB 180, which amended the 2019 general-appropriations act for state government. It becomes effective June 28. The 2020 state budget starts July 1, 2019. “Our office has been approved by the federal Election Assistance Commission to spend the full $3 million on new election equipment for the counties,” Warne said.Full Article: Secretary of State Office received another $3 million to beef up South Dakota election security.
US states and territories given $380 million in combined federal funds for election upgrades last year only spent 8.1% of that money in the first six months it was available, the agency responsible for distributing the funds said on Thursday. That money was distributed as part of a 2018 bill, which was passed after Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen warned it is a “national security concern” that US elections can’t be audited with paper ballots.
Security experts have in recent years called for major elections to have a physical paper trail so a trustworthy audit can be performed. However, brands and types of voting equipment vary by state. Many states use some machines that don’t leave a paper trail, and five states are entirely paperless for the general population. The report from the US Election Assistance Commission only tracked spending through September 2018, and many states have since spent or plan to spend some of their money on cybersecurity features or staff or upgraded equipment that badly needs replacing.
National: States spent just a fraction of $380 million in election security money before midterms | The Washington Post
Congress scrambled in early 2018 to deliver a surge in election security money before the midterms. But it turns out that states only spent about 8 percent of the $380 million Congress approved by the time the elections rolled around. That’s the bad news in a spending report released Thursday by the Election Assistance Commission, which is responsible for disbursing the money. The good news is that states are on track to spend the majority of the money before the 2020 elections — which intelligence officials say are far likelier than the midterms to be a hacking target for Russia and other U.S. adversaries. The report highlights the lengthy process of investigations and reviews that are necessary before states can make major upgrades to specialized election equipment. Given the tight time frame — Congress approved the money in March and the EAC began disbursing it to states in June — EAC Chairwoman Christy McCormick told me that 8 percent is a reasonable amount to have spent and about what the commission expected. It’s also a warning to Congress that the clock is ticking if it wants to deliver more election security money that will make a meaningful difference in 2020.Full Article: The Cybersecurity 202: States spent just a fraction of $380 million in election security money before midterms - The Washington Post.
Gov. Brian Kemp signed legislation to replace Georgia’s electronic voting machines with a touchscreen-and-paper ballot election system, after a polarizing debate over how to balance the integrity of the vote with ensuring accurate election results. The Republican was long expected to sign House Bill 316, which divided Republicans and Democrats over whether voters should use computer-printed ballots or paper ballots bubbled in with a pen.But the timing and quiet nature of the bill signing was peculiar: His office said in a notice posted on his website Wednesday that Kemp inked the bill, along with 20 lower-profile measures, on Tuesday during the last day of the legislative session.The overhaul was introduced with Kemp’s blessing after his narrow election victory over Democrat Stacey Abrams, who cast the Republican as an “architect of voter suppression” and accused him of creating barriers to ballot access.Full Article: Georgia governor inks law to replace voting machines .
New York: Budget allocates $24.7M to improve voting process — publicly funded elections delayed | The Legislative Gazette
Election reformers are seeing mixed results in the new state budget passed this week. On one hand, New Yorkers will now be able to vote before Election Day, register to vote online, and polls will open earlier for upstate primaries. Additionally, employers will be required to give all workers three hours of paid time off to vote, and with a new $14.7 million allocation, voters will be able to sign in at polling places using an electronic sign-in book. The e-poll books keep track of data such as voter registration, voting history and verification and identification of voters. This will bring the state’s system up to date with 21st century technology. More than half of the states in the U.S. use electronic polling books already. On the other hand, many good-government groups and activists are angry that the budget did not establish a system of publicly financed campaigns that rely on a small-donor matching system, coupled with lowered contribution limits. Instead, a commission will study the feasibility of such a system for legislative and statewide offices, and will issue a report in December. Proposed by the Fair Elections for New York campaign, a small-donor matching system would give a voice to New Yorkers who cannot afford to donate large sums of money to political candidates. It is also seen as a system that allows more people to run for political office.Full Article: Budget allocates $24.7M to improve voting process — publicly funded elections delayed – The Legislative Gazette.
Counties across the state are working to beat a December deadline to replace touch-screen voting machines with models that use a paper ballot in order to comply with a 2013 state law. Twenty-five counties, including Mecklenburg, Guilford, Forsyth and Union, will need to upgrade all or some of their equipment. North Carolina State Board of Elections spokesperson Patrick Gannon said updating the equipment is important “to ensure that voters are confident that when they cast a ballot, that their choices are recorded properly and they can be audited on the back end if there are concerns about whether or not votes were counted properly.” There is currently only one voting machine model that’s certified for use, but the State Board of Elections will meet soon to consider certifying additional models. Gannon said counties making the switch need to test their equipment this fall ahead of the 2020 primary next March. “The counties must be able to test any new system in the municipal election in order for it to be used in an election next year,” he said.Full Article: NC Counties Face Tight Timeline To Comply With State Voting Law | WUNC.
It looks like Luzerne County voters will not use new voting machines until next year, thanks in part to uncertainties over state funding. Also, it is not clear when officials will release information about investigations into county elections director Marisa Crispell’s ties to county vendor Election Systems & Software — one of the prospective vendors for the new machines. The county plans to purchase an electronic voting system that provides added security via a “paper trail” for each vote cast, to comply with a directive state officials issued last year. When county officials first discussed the planned purchase, with an estimated price tag of $4 million, they said the new machines might be in place for this year’s November election. That does not look likely now, though it’s not impossible, according to county Manager David Pedri. “We would still like to get them in for November,” Pedri said Thursday. “The question is when we can get them.”Full Article: Questions abound over new voting machines - News - Citizens' Voice.
The 2018 midterm elections were hardly a glowing reflection on the state of America’s voting technology. Even after Congress set aside millions of dollars for state election infrastructure last year, voters across the country still waited in hours-long lines to cast their ballots on their precincts’ finicky, outdated voting machines. Now, a new report published by New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice finds that unless state governments and Congress come up with additional funding this year, the situation may not be much better when millions more Americans cast their vote for president in 2020. In a survey that the center disseminated across the country this winter, 121 election officials in 31 states said they need to upgrade their voting machines before 2020—but only about a third of them have enough money to do so. That’s a considerable threat to election security given that 40 states are using machines that are at least a decade old, and 45 states are using equipment that’s not even manufactured anymore. This creates security vulnerabilities that can’t be patched and leads to machines breaking down when the pressure’s on. The faultier these machines are, the more voters are potentially disenfranchised by prohibitively long lines on election day. “We are driving the same car in 2019 that we were driving in 2004, and the maintenance costs are mounting up,” one South Carolina election official told the Brennan Center’s researchers, noting that he feels “lucky” to be able to find spare parts.Full Article: States Need Way More Money to Fix Crumbling Voting Machines | WIRED.
Pennsylvania: County election officials say Governor’s budget falls short for new voting machines | Philadelphia Inquirer
County election officials have one word for Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed Pennsylvania state budget and its $15 million for new, more secure voting machines. “It’s very disappointing,” said Philadelphia City Commissioner Lisa Deeley, a Democrat who chairs the election agency. “I am deeply disappointed in the numbers being proposed,” said Forrest K. Lehman, elections director in Lycoming County. “That was a bit disappointing today,” said Jeff Greenburg, elections director for Mercer County. The problem, they and others said, is that the proposed $15 million makes but a small dent in the estimated $125 million to $150 million cost for counties to comply with a state order to replace their voting machines by 2020 with modern, more secure models. Wolf is requesting that the $15 million continue for five years, for a total of $75 million, and a spokesperson said the governor is committed to seeing that staggered funding become reality while also working on other funding options. “We can’t bank on that. Let me put it that way,” Greenburg said.Full Article: County election officials say Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget falls short for new voting machines.
Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania dedicates cash to election security, but does it need more fast? | Politico
Pennsylvania’s governor on Tuesday announced that he would dedicate $75 million to voting technology upgrades over the next five years, but some election security activists aren’t pleased with the incremental approach in one of the highest-profile states still using paperless voting machines. Gov. Tom Wolf’s 2019 budget gives counties $15 million to help them buy paper systems and promises $60 million more over the following four years. Last April, the state required counties to replace paperless machines by the end of 2019. The new funding pledge wasn’t enough for Verified Voting, a leading election security watchdog group. Marian Schneider, the group’s president, said in a statement that Wolf’s budget “falls short of providing the resources counties need to implement best election security practices.”Full Article: Pennsylvania dedicates cash to election security, but does it need more fast? - POLITICO.
National: State officials want election security cash. But some don’t like the strings attached. | The Washington Post
State election officials want the latest round of election security money included in a major bill proposed by House Democrats – but they’re divided on whether they want to accept a slew of voting mandates that come along with it. The divide is largely along partisan lines. On one side, there’s Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate (R), the incoming president of the National Association of Secretaries of State, who balked at provisions in H.R. 1 that make it more difficult for states to impose voter ID requirements. Pate said in an email the For the People Act amounts to the federal government seizing authority over elections from states. On the other side are Democrats who largely support those efforts to expand voter access and consider them a fair trade for more election security money. “There’s a tension over H.R. 1 and whether or not it’s a federalization of elections,” one Democratic secretary of state told me at the NASS conference in Washington this weekend. “It is not. And anyone who claims that it is, that’s an overreach.”Full Article: The Cybersecurity 202: State officials want election security cash. But some don't like the strings attached. - The Washington Post.
Pennsylvania: Federal shutdown ties up new voting machines for Montgomery County | Philadelphia Inquirer
Montgomery County officials thought they were ahead of the game with their plan to have a paper-ballot voting system in place for the primary election in May.
Now, the partial federal government shutdown has left that plan in limbo — the voting machines the county wants to use have not received final federal certification. If the federal government doesn’t reopen soon, those machines won’t be in place for the primary. “It’s stunning,” said Rep. Madeleine Dean, the Democrat representing the 4th District. While federal workers and their families are hurt the most, she said, the shutdown has begun to bite those who need federal services: “And now we’re rippling out to the notion of the protection of our vote? It’s really staggering.” County officials said they’re still hoping for the best.Full Article: Federal shutdown ties up new voting machines for Montgomery County.
It’s the “right thing” for every Pennsylvania county to buy new voting machines in time for the 2020 presidential election to give voters confidence in the balloting, Gov. Tom Wolf said, although he acknowledged that it is a costly proposition. The governor, a Democrat, told The Associated Press on Friday that one of the biggest challenges his administration faces in the matter is helping counties afford an estimated tab of $125 million. It is, he said, “a big, big purchase.” With a large number of voting machines that do not create an auditable paper trail, Pennsylvania is viewed as one of the most vulnerable states after federal authorities say Russian hackers targeted it and at least 20 others during the 2016 presidential election. In April, Wolf gave counties a deadline of 2020 to switch to voting machines that leave a paper trail. His administration has suggested that it could decertify all of the machines in use after 2019’s election.Full Article: Getting New Voting Machines Is 'Right Thing,' Governor Says | Pennsylvania News | US News.
The next time Pennsylvanians vote in a presidential election, it will most likely be on updated machines. New voting systems must be in place in every county by the end of 2019, per updated guidelines set by Governor Tom Wolf’s administration. “All of the systems you see here have a voter-verifiable, paper ballot,” said Jonathan Marks, at a vendor event Wednesday at Dickinson College where several different brands of machines were set up for the public to try firsthand. “They’ve also been certified to newer security standards; the current equipment in use in Pennsylvania is certified to standards that were actually written in the 1990’s.”Full Article: New voting machines to be in place across Pennsylvania by 2020.
New Zealand: Online voting trial for 2019 local body elections halted because of rising costs | TVNZ
A trial of online voting in next year’s local body will not take place after a working party of nine councils decided to halt the trial because of rising costs. A provider who satisfied the security and delivery requirements had recently been selected but ballooning costs forced the decision to not proceed with the trial in 2019. The working party will continue to work collaboratively with central government and the wider local government sector to deliver online voting for the 2022 local body elections.Full Article: Online voting trial for 2019 local body elections halted because of rising costs | 1 NEWS NOW | TVNZ.