One of the Senate’s main cybersecurity proponents wants assurances that voting systems in the U.S. are ready for their next major threat and he’s going straight to the hardware makers to get it. In a letter, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden — an outspoken member of the Senate Intelligence Committee — called on six of the main voting machine manufacturers in the U.S. to provide details about their cybersecurity efforts to date. The request comes on the heels of emerging details around Russia’s successful attempts to hack election systems in many states. Wyden’s line of inquiry is grounded in the pursuit of details, like if a company has been breached previously without reporting the incident and how often it has conducted penetration testing in cooperation with an external security firm. … Wyden’s appeal to voting machine manufacturers is the latest piece in the ongoing conversation around election system and voting machine security following revelations from the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Because states handle elections in a variety of ways, implementing different styles of machine and overseeing their own voter rolls, just how airtight these systems are is difficult to assess.
Gov. Larry Hogan said Wednesday that he is concerned about Maryland’s new voting system “collapsing” next year due to problems found during testing, but the state’s elections administrator said she was confident in the system, which will have paper ballots as a backup. The voting system came up unexpectedly at a Board of Public Works meeting, when Treasurer Nancy Kopp, a Democrat and one of three board members, asked how the state will manage voter education and outreach after a nearly $1 million contract was rejected by the board several months ago. Hogan, also a board member, said he was more concerned about the condition of the overall voting system, rather than what he described as a public relations campaign. … Linda Lamone, the state elections administrator, said some problems were found during testing, and elections officials are working to correct them. Lamone said officials haven’t verified exactly why there was a problem registering about 3,000 votes in Howard County. She said it appears a memory stick that was taken out of a voting unit and put into another device wasn’t recognized when returned to the system, because it apparently sensed there had been tampering.
Press Release: Cleveland County, N.C. Tests Ballot On Demand Printing During Early Voting | Election Systems & Software
As jurisdictions gear up for November 3 and next year’s Presidential Election, many are tasked with a complex expenditure— purchasing ballots for voters. By law, many jurisdictions are required to purchase enough ballots for 100% of their registered voters, a significant investment by itself. When you factor in low voter turnout, however, it isn’t always clear how many ballots a jurisdiction truly “needs”. How can elected officials comply with their election laws while still managing their cost per voter? Election System & Software’s Ballot on Demand solutions are just the ticket. Each Balotar prints the correct ballot as needed, eliminating the potential for ballots to go un-used, while also ensuring jurisdictions don’t run out of ballots on Election Day. The Balotar is an accurate, efficient and highly cost effective method for jurisdictions to manage the ballot printing and distribution for all of the choices voters have to cast their ballot. For more information about ballot on demand visit www.essvote.com/products/ballot-on-demand/or read below about Cleveland County’s pilot of the Balotar Compact printer from the Shelby Star. Early voters for the 2015 election in Cleveland County will get a chance to test out a new voting system.
The hot elections topic in Ohio can be summed up in two words: electronic pollbooks. With the recent state-provided funding for the purpose of upgrading and automating voter check-in with electronic pollbook solutions, many counties are now evaluating their options. The ExpressPoll from Election Systems & Software provides a proven solution— meeting county’s voter validation needs. With the ExpressPoll system already implemented in 27 counties (and counting) ES&S isn’t a newcomer to the Ohio elections sphere. Richland County for example, has used the ExpressPoll electronic pollbook family of products for eight years. When asked, their Director of Elections, Paulette Hankins had the following to say about the ExpressPoll:
“We have used the Express Poll Book system in Richland County for the past eight years with great success. It was a very easy process to train our Poll Workers, and we were especially pleased with the elimination of any poll worker error in determining which ballot style to issue to the voters. The Express Poll system creates the correct ballot style according to the voters’ registration records.”
For 30 years, ES&S has been providing voting solutions for the State of Ohio. Our existing, experienced service and support structure makes us a valuable asset for Ohio counties when implementing new pollbook technology. The eight Ohio residents we employ are uniquely positioned to meet the needs of jurisdictions and their constituents, being a part of the voting public themselves. These individuals also have the full support of our 400 employee strong company, ensuring their attention can be focused on local customers and their needs.
We’re less than a year away until the 2016 primary election, and the Guam Election Commission is taking steps to ensure every voter including individuals with disabilities can cast their vote independently with the use of new technology. While they continue to make progress, the GEC is still not fully compliant with federal accessibility requirements. “We have assistive technology packets throughout all the 21 polling places at every precinct, but we still don’t, if a person who cannot see, comes into vote, they still cannot vote independently,” said executive director Maria Pangelinan. She says that may change as the commission is currently looking into using a new ballot marking device to help people cast their vote privately and independently. It’s called the Election Systems & Software’s AutoMark system.
Press Release: Online Voter Registration: The Next Wave of Election Modernization | Election Systems & Software
As election administrators look for new ways to cut costs and improve the voter’s experience, one area is producing quick results: the switch to online voter registration (VR). As of August 6, 2015— 22 states offer online registration, with another five plus the District of Columbia passing legislation to create online VR systems to be implemented at a later time. Traditionally the voter registration process begins when a new voter fills out a paper form and submits it to election officials. The officials then confirm the registration is valid and enters the information into the registration system. The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 broadened the availability of these forms, requiring states to offer voter registration at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), disability centers, public schools and public libraries. Online VR follows the same path, except voters fill out a form via their state’s secure VR site instead of a paper version. The electronic registration is then electronically submitted to election officials. Validation of each registration is done by comparing the provided information against DMV records. If information doesn’t match, the application is forwarded for further review and action.
Only four Arkansas counties will have the state’s new voting equipment in time for the primary elections, Rob Hammons, elections division director for the secretary of state’s office, told the Arkansas County Election Commissions Association on Tuesday. Hammons spoke as a part of the association’s meeting at the Holiday Inn in Little Rock near Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport/Adams Field. About 200 election officials from across the state attended. Although the Arkansas Legislature passed Act 151 of 2015, allowing the secretary of state’s office to replace election commission equipment for up to $30 million, no money was set aside to pay for the equipment. “So we had the funding as far as the appropriation, but we never got the check,” Hammons said, adding that unfunded acts are common and occur when lawmakers must prioritize the state budget. “And that’s fine,” he said. “That happens all the time.”
Secretary of State Wayne Williams is setting new ground rules for Colorado elections. “We are making careful preparations for the 2016 election cycle in order to ensure Colorado sets the standard for access and integrity,” Williams stated in a press release. The changes include the establishment of a Bipartisan Election Advisory Committee that will work to ensure that elections are accessible and fair. The new rules also aim to up security for third-party personal delivery of ballots and clarify the appointment of election watchers. Military members and civilians who are overseas have been allowed to turn in ballots electronically if the area they are in has unreliable mail service. Under the new rules, electronic voting will only be allowed if there is no other feasible way to get a ballot in on time, and the electronic voter will need to sign an affirmation stating that they understand that rule.
Press Release: Colorado SoS Wayne Williams approves pilot program for ES&S and three other vendors | Election Systems & Software
There are many benefits to a state selecting a uniform voting system including standardized training, improved reporting across jurisdictions and better buying power. Colorado recognized these benefits and more earlier this year, with the Secretary of State forming the Pilot Election Review Committee in March to explore implementing a statewide voting vendor. Tuesday SOS Williams announced certification for the four voting systems the committee will be evaluating.
Press Release: Monongalia County First In Nation To Have Every Voter Use ExpressVote And DS200 Technology To Cast Votes | Election Systems & Software
Election Systems & Software (ES&S) hit two milestones on July 2 thanks to a unanimous decision by the Monongalia County Commission. Monongalia will be the first county in West Virginia to purchase our ExpressVote® Universal Voting System as well as DS200® in-precinct vote scanners and tabulators, furthering their reputation as a technological leader in the state. This county will also be the first in the nation to have every voter use an ExpressVote when marking their vote selections. ExpressPoll® Electronic Pollbooks will also be used, although Jackson County, West Virginia precedes them in this purchase area. While our ExpressVote and DS200 in-precinct voting system configuration is the most widely used in vote centers and on Election Day, most customers use the ExpressVote as their ADA compliant voting solution. Monongalia will blaze the trail as the first to implement our visionary voting approach for every eligible voter from start to finish. Voters will check-in on ExpressPoll tablets and receive a paper activation card. Once inserted into the ExpressVote, each voter will use the touch screen interface to mark and confirm their selections, receiving a verifiable paper record upon completion. This record has printed text, identifying a voter’s selections, as well as an optical scan barcode that contains each selection. From there they simply feed their paper record into the DS200, where they receive on-screen confirmation that their vote has been cast.
New voting system equipment for the state of Arkansas has been selected, but Mississippi County will likely not implement the new paper ballot system until November 2016. Secretary of State Mark Martin has chosen Election Systems & Software (ES&S) as the vendor for any state-purchased integrated voting system equipment going forward. This announcement comes after months of evaluation and analysis and input from state and county officials.
Arkansas must be more aggressive in replacing antiquated ballot counters and touch-screen voting machines or risk delayed results and equipment problems in the 2016 elections, election officials said Wednesday. Election commissioners and coordinators from Benton, Carroll, Crawford, Madison and Washington counties met with several state legislators for a roundtable covering voting equipment, election schedules and other issues. Those from Benton, Crawford and Washington counties in particular said the plan to replace all 75 counties’ decade-old equipment doesn’t have the needed urgency. “We need answers,” said Bill Taylor, a commissioner for Crawford County. “If we’re going to do it, we need to just do it. We need to proceed.”
Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin is scaling back plans to replace the state’s voting machines for next year’s primary and says the new equipment will instead be deployed in just four counties. Martin on Wednesday said Boone, Columbia, Garland and Sebastian counties will be part of a pilot program to replace voting equipment ahead of the March 1 primary. Martin last week selected Nebraska-based Election Systems & Software to replace the state’s voting equipment.
Volusia County will switch to a new voting system next year for the first time in more than two decades. Supervisor of Elections Ann McFall said Tuesday she will start contract negotiations with Election Systems & Software, one of two companies to put in a bid to be the county’s provider. Dominion Voting Systems, which has been the county’s vendor since 1994, was the other company. But McFall said the package offered by ES&S surpassed anything Dominion could bring to the table. “They’re clearly the winner,” she said of ES&S.
The state Board of Election Commissioners on Wednesday approved three pieces of voting equipment apiece for Nebraska-based Election Systems & Software and California-based Unisyn Voting Solutions to make them eligible to be purchased by Secretary of State Mark Martin for the state’s 75 counties. With Board Chairman A.J. Kelly abstaining, the seven-member board decided that the voting equipment meets the requirements of state law. The equipment consists of two ballot scanners and an electronic marking device used in combination with the scanners “as a combo voting machine,” for each company, according to board records. These pieces of equipment would allow voters to cast paper ballots or mark their votes on electronic screens.
Virginia: Henrico to spend $1.2 million to replace outdated voting equipment | Richmond Times-Dispatch
Henrico County has agreed to pay $1.2 million to buy new voting equipment after state authorities decided hundreds of machines the county already owns are no longer fit for use. Registrar Mark J. Coakley announced the purchase to the county’s Board of Supervisors at its Tuesday meeting. The State Board of Elections voted earlier this month to disallow the use of WinVote touch-screen voting machines due to security concerns. Henrico owned about 800 of the machines and only a handful of others. The county will replace the touch-screen machines with optical scan devices. To use the new machines, voters will fill out paper ballots, then feed them into the machines.
North Carolina: Cost to switch to paper ballots in Henderson County triples to $3 million | Times-News
Henderson County commissioners thought they were looking at roughly $1 million to comply with a state law requiring the Board of Elections to switch to paper ballots. The estimated cost of replacing its current touchscreen machines has now jumped to $3 million. During a discussion of the unfunded mandate earlier this month, a majority of commissioners said they nonetheless want to hold off on setting aside any money for new voting machines in the coming 2015-16 fiscal year. “I would just say to you that this is a moving target,” advised County Manager Steve Wyatt. “I have no confidence in these numbers; I had no confidence in the previous numbers. What I am confident is right now, the law says you’ve got to change the machines.”
Benton County’s election commissioners favor staying with the company that now provides electronic voting machines to the state, saying it appears best suited to meet the county’s needs. Arkansas is looking at replacing voting machines and systems now in use as they approach the end of their 10-year life span. The state uses voting machines and equipment from Election Systems & Software, one of three companies vying for Arkansas’ business. A measure to appropriate $30 million for new voting equipment is pending in the state Legislature. Counties could receive new equipment this summer if funding is approved, said Kim Dennison, the county’s election coordinator. The commissioners have attended demonstrations of new voting systems by ES&S and by Unisyn Voting Solutions. A presentation by Hart Intercivic, the third company, is set for 9 a.m. today at the Washington County Courthouse in Fayetteville.
Forsyth County election officials got a close-up look Wednesday at elections equipment that they are interested in buying. Representatives from Printelect, a supplier of Election Systems & Software equipment, set up equipment for demonstrations at the county government center. Mac Beeson, regional sales manager for ES&S, demonstrated how the equipment works. Steve Hines, Forsyth County’s elections director, put in a budget request this year for about $1.4 million to replace the county’s voting equipment, which is about 10 years old. County commissioners will decide this spring whether to approve the request. Elections administrators from several other counties in the region also stopped by to see the demonstrations on Wednesday.
Press Release: ES&S Wins Contract to Provide New Voting Technology for the City of Virginia Beach | Election Systems & Software
Election Systems & Software, LLC (ES&S) announced Thursday that the company has inked a contract with the City of Virginia Beach, Va., to replace the jurisdiction’s existing touch-screen voting system with an innovative secure paper ballot scanning and tabulation system. After a detailed and thorough procurement process, the City of Virginia Beach evaluation committee selected ES&S’ DS200 in-precinct digital scanner, and the ExpressVote Universal Voting Device. This voting solution is fueled by Electionware, the election industry’s powerful new election management software. Under the agreement, North Carolina-based Printelect Inc. will provide the City of Virginia Beach with Election Day support, training, equipment maintenance and project management. Together, ES&S and Printelect have provided election services and support to Virginia jurisdictions for over 35 years. “We are excited to implement state-of-the-art voting technology for the citizens of Virginia Beach,” commented Donna Patterson, General Registrar for City of Virginia Beach. “The ES&S voting equipment is user friendly for voters and officers of election. ES&S and their local partner Printelect have an outstanding track record in the Commonwealth as well as across the country, truly distinguishing itself throughout our vigorous evaluation process.”
Rockville will be a guinea pig for Maryland’s new voting machines, but city officials say they’re comfortable the new machines won’t cause problems in the city’s November election. There may be other municipalities that use the new machines in their elections this year, but Rockville will be at least one of the first jurisdictions in the state to use them, said Nikki Charlson, deputy administrator of the Maryland Board of Elections. The state Board of Public Works in December awarded a $28.14 million contract to Election Systems & Software of Omaha, Neb., for more than 3,100 machines to scan ballots and count votes.
Press Release: Wisconsin County Successfully Debuts ExpressVote and DS200 | Election Systems & Software
Election Systems & Software (ES&S), the world’s largest elections-only company, is pleased to announce that Kenosha County, Wisconsin launched a successful first use of its newly acquired voting technology, the proven DS200® in-precinct paper ballot scanner and the company’s innovative ExpressVote® Universal Voting System for a special election held on February 17, 2015. This system is powered by Electionware®, the election industry’s newest and most robust election management software. It was important to Kenosha that their voting systems provide initial results in a timely and accurate manner. The ES&S wireless modem functionality included in the DS200® performed above and beyond the county’s expectations. “We are so pleased with our first use of the ExpressVote and DS200,” commented Mary Schuch-Krebs, Kenosha County Clerk. “The modeming of the voting results from the DS200 is so easy. Our polls closed at 8:00pm and we had our results by 8:20pm,” noted Schuch-Krebs. “The implementation, service and support from ES&S are first class.”
The race is on to replace Washington County’s decade-old voting equipment before the 2016 presidential election, the county’s election coordinator said Thursday. Two vendors will meet with election commissioners as part of the companies’ statewide push to grab Arkansas’ next voting equipment contracts, said coordinator Jennifer Price during the commission’s first meeting of the new term. California-based Unisyn Voting Solutions and Nebraska-based Election Systems & Software are both angling for the state’s attention, Price said. Election Systems & Software provides the state’s current equipment and support. New contracts could net either company tens of millions of state taxpayers’ dollars, Price said. “It’s the money that’ll be the holdup,” Price told the three commissioners, who oversee all city and county votes. “The state appropriating the money is the biggest hurdle.”
North Carolina: Forsyth County elections office wants to replace equipment; proposal could cost about $1.4M | Winston-Salem Journal
The Forsyth County elections office wants to buy new elections equipment this year, but the county commissioners will have to decide whether to fund the request. Steve Hines, director of elections for Forsyth County, said his office is asking to replace all of its voting equipment – including the optical scanners that record paper ballots at precincts and the larger tabulator used at the elections office. Hines said his office is still in talks with the vendor for Election Systems & Software equipment, but has a rough cost estimate of about $1.4 million. Hines said he hates to ask for that much. “But I’d hate to go through what we went through this past year on a presidential scale,” Hines said. The elections office dealt with a number of hiccups in the general election last November, including breakdowns of vote-counting machines at precincts and the elections office. The equipment is about a decade old. … The county uses paper ballots on Election Day, but it uses iVotronic touch-screen machines for early voting and Election Day handicap-accessible voting. The county will no longer be able to use those machines as of 2018 because they don’t print a ballot.
Aldo Tesi will step down as chief executive officer of Omaha-based Election Systems & Software on Jan. 1, the company announced Wednesday, and will be succeeded by Tom Burt, the company’s current president and chief operating officer. Tesi, 63, joined the company as president in 1999 and was named president and CEO in 2000. He added the role of chairman in 2013 and will remain in that position. … ES&S is the largest provider of voting machines and election support services in the world. The company’s voting systems and services are used in a majority of counties across the United States in addition to countries including France, Venezuela and England. Under Tesi’s direction, ES&S has grown from about 250 employees 15 years ago to 460 employees today.
South Dakota: Human error, not new high-tech ballot machines, to blame for Pennington’s late election results | Rapid City Journal
The Pennington County Auditor’s Office used a $232,000 federal grant on two new high-tech ballot-counting machines this year to increase the speed and accuracy of its elections. So, how did it work? As with any new technology, there was a learning curve and bugs in the system that led to a long night for Auditor Julie Pearson and her staff, forced a tedious process of recounting or re-creating thousands of ballots on the fly and produced election results two hours later than usual. And yet, the problems ultimately had nothing to do with the new Election Systems & Software DS850 ballot machines, but rather were due to human error and inexperience with the technology, Pearson said on Friday. “The technology did exactly what it was supposed to do,” Pearson said. “We just had to change our processes.”
Texas: Countywide voting, machine malfunctions account for Election Day confusion, clerk says | Southeast Texas Record
The confusion surrounding the last minute changes in election results had to do with some new laws in place and technical difficulties, county officials say. There has been controversy since the Nov. 4 General Election in Jefferson County, with a few Republican candidates going to bed thinking they were winners after most of the precincts had reported only to find Wednesday morning that they had actually lost the election. Chief Deputy County Clerk Theresa Goodness said watching the results based on precincts reporting can be misleading, because in Jefferson County voting is “countywide,” not limited to the precinct in which the voter resides. “In the 2013 constitutional amendment election , we changed to a countywide system. A voter can cast their ballot in any precinct on Election Day, just like in Early Voting,” Goodness said. Many voters aren’t even aware of that change, she said. So, for example, when it’s midnight and a candidate looks like they are ahead with 102 out of 106 precincts reporting, that really doesn’t mean every ballot has been counted for that precinct. So when Precinct 1 has turned in their ballots, that could mean there are ballots for different precincts in addition to Pct. 1, and Pct. 1 ballots could also be at other locations. Ballots from every precinct have to be turned in to accurately reflect an individual precinct’s votes, she said.
Texas: ES&S acknowledges Bexar ballot glitch that omitted Greg Abbott’s name | San Antonio Express-News
The company that supplies Bexar County with iVotronic ballot machines acknowledged Wednesday that a glitch caused an electronic ballot to display the wrong name for the Republican candidate in the race for Texas governor. A written statement from Election Systems & Software said a faulty memory card appeared to be the reason why GOP candidate Greg Abbott’s name was missing from the ballot. In his place was Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. “I’m happy they were able to find the glitch,” said San Antonio voter Jade Stanford, who took two cell phone photos of the error that immediately went viral on the Internet. “It wasn’t Photoshop, it wasn’t botched, it was real.” Stanford said she and Bexar County voters deserved an apology from Elections Administrator Jacque Callanen, who said yesterday she believed the photos had been doctored. “It’s her job to protect the voters,” she said.
Northern Mariana Islands: Tabulating machines could ‘skip’ Article XII initiative on ballots if ordered by court, says election official | Marianas Variety
Tabulating machines, if so ordered by the federal court, could be programmed to skip House Legislative Initiative 18-1, according to court documents submitted in support of a motion for sequestration of ballots pending appeal of a federal lawsuit challenging Article XII. In his declaration, Commonwealth Election Commission executive director Robert A. Guerrero said, “I have confirmed with ES&S [or Election Systems & Software] that the tabulating machines could be coded in such a manner as to ‘skip’ a certain section of the ballots. The proper code needs to be entered into the tabulating machines before the [election] Commission begins tabulating the ballots. If the court so ordered, the tabulating machines could be programmed to skip Legislative 18-1” on the ballots for the Nov. 4, 2014 elections. On Wednesday, District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona said an Oct. 29, 2014 motion hearing will be held, since a decision on the motion for sequestration was needed by Nov. 3, 2014 “in order for any relief the court may grant to be effective.”
The Baxter County Election Committee held an emergency meeting Thursday morning to discuss an error discovered after testing voting machines earlier this week. In its findings, the commission found paper ballots to be correct. However, after testing, touch screen voting machines for three precincts, 8-1, 6-2 and 6-3, left the state representative race for District 100 between Democrat Willa Mae Tilley and Republican Nelda Speaks off the ballot. The three precincts in question represent a total of 1,705 registered voters. … By state law, the election commission had to hold a public meeting concerning the ballot error, but was unable to give public notice due to time constraints, as cited by the commission. According to the law, the election commission either has to correct the error immediately or show why the correction should not be done.