The Gambia: Electoral Commission mulls switch from marbles to ballot papers in future elections | Journal du Cameroun

Gambia’s election chief, Alieu Momar Njai has said the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) is considering swapping marbles in favour of ballot papers for voters in future national elections.Since elections began in The Gambia under British colonial rule in the early 20th century, glass marbles instead of ballot papers are used in successive voting exercises, including the latest poll cycle which began last December. Speaking to the online Fatu Network on Wednesday, Mr Njai said the introduction of ballot papers which are the standard voting materials for much of the rest of the world, could be as early as the local government elections scheduled for 12 April 2018.  

Kenya: Why Kenya Must Ditch Technology For Historic Presidential Election Re-Run | AFKInsider

In a surprising but not unfathomable announcement this week, Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) confirmed that the IT infrastructure deployed during the country’s recently nullified presidential election will again be utilised in the approaching re-run on October 26. The Kenyan Supreme Court last month annulled the result of the August 8 election – which had appeared to have been won by incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta – after ruling that the electronic transmission of vote tallies was flawed. This came after a number of issues with the use of technology during the election itself, not least when an election official in charge of voting technology was killed, and followed a number of technological failures at the previous election. Yet, the IEBC plans to plough on with its use of the Kenya Integrated Election Management System (KIEMS) system, implemented by OT-Morpho/Safran, though it says it will also add infrastructure to ensure the integrity of the process and assimilate further experts into its IT department. An exclusive contract with mobile operator Safaricom has also been extended to support the relay of results.

California: San Francisco sets sights on open source voting by November 2019 | The San Francisco Examiner

San Francisco could have an open-source voting system in place by the November 2019 election, under a plan approved earlier this month by the Elections Commission. The timeline could result in the emergence of San Francisco as the leader of the open-source voting movement in the United States. For supporters of open-source voting, the importance of that point can’t be underscored enough. “San Francisco could help write some U.S. democracy history with its leadership role,” said a Nov. 18 letter to the Elections Commission from Gregory Miller, co-founder of the Open Source Election Technology (OSET) Foundation, a collection of executives from top technology companies like Apple and Facebook. “And the total estimated cost to do so [$8 million] is a fraction of status-quo alternatives.” Open-source voting systems bring a greater level of transparency and accountability by allowing the public to have access to the source codes of the system, which is used to tabulate the votes. A system owned by The City could also save taxpayers money.

Voting Blogs: A Hacked Case For Election Technology | OSET Foundation

Catching up on piles of reading, I noticed a respectable digital journal—Springer Link recently (in June) published an article by Antonio Mugica of Smartmatic in London, UK, titled “The Case for Election Technology.” I am going be bold here: IMHO, it is unfortunate to see a respectable journal publish this paper, or any that claims to describe a system that is “un-hackable”, completely secure, impenetrable, and/or impossible to compromise. It’s the computer systems equivalent of a perpetual motion machine.Impossible. Bear in mind, I think Smartmatic has some fine technology. I know folks there, and I am confident that if they had been aware of this article going to press before it did, they would have done everything they could to put the brakes on it, until some revisions were made for basic credibility. But that cat is out of the bag, so to speak. And the article is being widely circulated. I also disagree with most of Mugica’s comparisons between eVoting and paper voting because from a U.S. perspective (and I admit this review is all from a U.S.-centric viewpoint) it’s comparing the wrong two things: paperless eVoting verses hand-marked hand-counted paper ballots. It ignores the actual systems that are the most widely used for election integrity in the U.S.

Utah: Election machines focus of first Salt Lake County audits | The Salt Lake Tribune

Voting machines and other election technology in the clerk’s office will be the subject of the first of three audits to be conducted soon by the Salt Lake County auditor. The County Council instructed Auditor Scott Tingley to begin the performance audit of the clerk’s election apparatus because the time is approaching when the existing system will have to be replaced — and the council hopes this review will shape future decisions about whether to replace current machines or switch to mail-in balloting or something else. The election machines also represent a good starting point, Tingley said, because he estimates this audit will take two to three months. Meanwhile, his teams can work on two longer audits — a three- to six-month evaluation of health services at the county jail, and a nine- to 12-month review of the county’s Day Reporting Center, which oversees individuals who have been sent to jail for a misdemeanor but are responsible enough to serve part of their sentences in the community.

Editorials: Your vote may be safe, but is it being counted? | Futurity

Voting systems designed to be tamper-resistant may be missing lots of votes. New research shows that only 58 percent of ballots using new end-to-end technology were successfully cast. The systems are designed to give voters the option to both verify the system is working properly and to check that their votes have been recorded after leaving the polling place. Voting concerns such as accuracy, privacy, and bribery/coercion have prompted research and development of ways to make voting tamper-resistant and verifiable by voters. While the three systems evaluated solved many of the security problems surrounding voting with traditional methods—such as voters being able to independently confirm that a vote was counted correctly—the systems’ added complexity appeared to negatively impact their usability. “Overall, the tested systems were exceptionally difficult to use,” says Claudia Acemyan, a postdoctoral fellow at Rice University and lead author of the study that is published online in the Journal of Election Technology and Systems.

Editorials: Open Source Fix For US Voting System? | InformationWeek

The last surge of investment in voting technology happened a decade ago. Since then the regulatory apparatus for election reform has broken down, and voting machines themselves are starting to fail as well. Every election shines attention on a different bit of dysfunction, from long lines at polling places to cyber security risks. Open source to the rescue? Maybe, although probably not in time to have much impact on the 2016 election. Silicon Valley’s Open Source Election Technology Foundation (OSET) is methodically chipping away at the problem, building credibility with software for voter registration and election-night reporting while also working on the more challenging problems of improving the casting and counting of votes. Meanwhile, a few brave — and impatient — county election officials are embarking on their own voting technology design and development projects, which may or may not intersect with OSET’s work. The bottom-line goal of these initiatives is the same: to move away from reliance on proprietary technology while boosting transparency and leaving a reliable audit trail — making it clear that the victor in any contest really is the candidate who won the most votes.

Editorials: How the Open Source Election Technology Foundation is Remaking the Voter Experience | TechPresident

In its report released earlier this January, the Presidential Commission on Election Administration noted how an online registration tool developed by the Open Source Election Technology (OSET) Foundation that being used by Virginia and groups like Rock the Vote “highlights the way that voter information can be entered by a user in one setting and, through a simple platform, seamlessly integrated with a state’s registration list.” Now, ahead of the 2014 midterms and with an eye to 2016, OSET”s Trust the Vote Project is stepping up its efforts to expand that functionality and other election innovations across the country, at the same time that the Bipartisan Policy Center has taken up the task of more broadly implementing the commission’s recommendations as a whole throughout the states. As techPresident wrote at the time, the commission’s report highlighted how it had identified technology and data problems at the root of the “long lines” that President Obama had directed the commission to address. “We have been working on various piece of what I call the overall ecosystem…of election administration,” Gregory Miller, co-founder and chief development officer of OSET said in a recent interview. “We’ve been looking at the pieces that do not require federal certification since the federal certification model is so broken.” While OSET has also been involved in discussions about changing the certification model, the more immediate focus of the initiative, he said, has been improving the voter experience rather than ballot transactions.

Guam: Election Commission Expects New Central Tabulators Just in Time for This Year’s Election | Pacific News Center

Today was the bid deadline on the Guam Election Commission’s RFP for vote tabulators. GEC Executive Director Maria Pangelinan says a number of bids were received from a variety of companies. She could not say how many or who submitted the bids. Nor could she say how many tabulators will be purchased, since all that depends on the capabilities of the machines being offered, and their cost. And they won’t know that until the bids are opened and examined in the week ahead. Pangelinan said the staff  will start evaluating the bids Monday, and she expects a recommended bidder will be presented to the Election Commission at their next meeting on Thursday, March 20th.

Minnesota: E-pollbook legislation likely, though enthusiasm has faded a bit | MinnPost

Lawmakers will likely move forward with limited electronic-pollbook legislation this session, but it appears that the sense of urgency behind the voting technology has faded a bit. A state Senate committee passed legislation on Wednesday — a day after its House counterpart — that came out of a pollbook task force in late January. The task force recommended yet another study of electronic pollbooks during the 2014 mid-term elections and putting standards for pollbooks in state law. The electronic pollbook systems consist of laptops or tablet computers installed with voting administration software that advocates say improves election speed, helps with accuracy and reduces some costs over the current paper pollbooks.

China: Entrepreneur sells electronic voting machines to dispel distrust in politics | The Asahi Shimbun

Although he brought success to his once-dying business, money is not the only thing driving Gao Haiyan. The young Chinese entrepreneur was moved by the sight of day laborers drawing rickshaws and being turned away at a local government office. Gao, 35, is now attempting to spread electronic voting systems to a populace long distrustful of politics. China remains governed under the one-party rule of the Communist Party and always ranks low on the Democracy Index, which measures the state of democracy in 167 countries. The Chinese government has not moved forward with political reform to realize free, democratic elections. But Gao, founder of a Shanghai-based company that develops and sells electronic voting systems using mark sense cards under the Quan Hui Tong brand, noted that many elections are held in China. “More than 100 million people are estimated to vote in residents’ committee elections each year across China,” he told a planning meeting of a major appliance maker.

New Jersey: Crtics say New Jersey ballot dated and unfair |

In the years since Bush vs. Gore highlighted the inconsistent, patchwork and sometimes tenuous nature of the nation’s voting system, election officials throughout the country have taken steps to improve the process. But variety still abounds since that disputed 2000 presidential race, in part because the U.S. Constitution’s 10th Amendment allocates power to the states, generally barring federal officials from imposing a single ballot design standard. Some voters still darken circles on ballots next to their choices. Others use an iPad-like device. In Oregon and Washington, elections are done through the mail. In New Jersey, voters cast their ballot on a grid that opponents of the design say gives an unfair advantage to established powers.

Oregon: County officials across Oregon say automatic voter registration bill is too complicated, heavy-handed | OregonLive

Washington County Commissioner Greg Malinowski is among a slew of statewide county officials opposing a bill that would automatically register an estimated 500,000 potential Oregon voters. Secretary of State Kate Brown’s proposal to use DMV data to put people on the voter registration rolls is heavy-handed and convoluted, Malinowski and other officials at an Association of Oregon Counties meeting this week said. For the most part, commissioners took issue not with the sentiment of the bill but the execution. “Don’t use a two-by-four if you can use a matchstick to fix a problem,” Malinowski said at a Washington County work session in Hillsboro the next day. Brown came before the AOC’s legislative committee seeking the group’s neutrality, if not support, and instead faced a growing tide of frustration. Aside from three abstentions, the remaining 31 officials voted to oppose the current version of the bill.

Indiana: Lake County: No repeat of 2008 election results this year | Post-Tribune

“We have made a substantial change since the primary in 2008 when we had that vote count hold up,” said Steve Shamo, with MicroVote Indiana, the company that provides the county’s election technology. Shamo Tuesday told the Lake County Board of Elections during the test of the 2012 voting machines that the problem in 2008 arose when it came to entering the 15,000 absentee ballots into the computerized system election day. Once workers began entering the absentee ballots for a precinct, they could not access the polling place results for that precinct, even though those results were available, until all the absentee ballots were manually entered causing the delay in reporting.

National: Voting Machine Report: States Ranked Based On Use Of Paper Ballots | Huffington Post

Six states received the lowest grades for their abilities to accurately count election results based on their lack of access to paper ballots, according to a report released Wednesday by Common Cause, Rutgers Law School and the Verified Voting Foundation. The report — which studied election technology and administration in the 50 states and the District of Columbia — calls primarily for states to implement paper ballots in all counties in order to guard against system failures and other issues. The grading centered primarily on whether the state had paper trails in place. “The biggest problem is if those machines malfunction, there is no way to independently check,” Susannah Goodman, director of the voting integrity project at Common Cause said in a conference call with reporters. “What was the voters’ intent? You can’t do an audit.” The report showed that Minnesota, New Hampshire, Ohio, Vermont and Wisconsin were best when it came to catching voting problems, while Colorado, Delaware, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina ranked at the bottom of the list. States were graded on whether their machines leave a paper trail, whether an audit is done of ballots, whether election officials check the vote count against the amount of voters who come to the polls, whether there are contingency plans in place in case of machine failure, and whether voting-by-mail is encouraged over online voting for military and overseas voters. Failure in the paper ballot category led to failure for states in the audit category, given the need for paper ballots to conduct the audit. “For states that don’t have paper ballots or records, it knocks them down,” Goodman said.

Iowa: Hackers Threaten Voting Systems, Electoral Process |

As the 2012 presidential campaign swings into full gear, there are concerns that hackers may target voting systems and Websites as a form of political protest. An apparent threat to hack into voting systems and disrupt the vote has the Iowa Republican Party on edge, according to the Associated Press.

The state’s Republican Party is boosting the security of the computer systems it will be using Jan. 3 for the first caucus in the 2012 presidential campaign, AP reported Dec. 19. Party officials were acting in response to a video posted on YouTube calling on Anonymous supporters to “peacefully shut down the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses” to protest the corrupt political system that favors corporations.

Investigators don’t know yet whether the threat is authentic and have not yet confirmed whether the Anonymous hacktivist collective is really planning any protests to prevent the vote. As a loose collective of like-minded hackers, Anonymous doesn’t have an official hierarchy or structure, making it very easy for a single person, or a select few, to claim an attack without most of the group’s participation or knowledge.

Philippines: Comelec techie asks Congress: Probe 2010 polls | Inquirer News

An official of the Commission on Elections on Thursday called on the House and Senate to convene the joint congressional oversight committee (JCOC) on poll automation to help the Comelec find the best voting technology for the 2013 midterm polls. Commissioner Augusto Lagman said the committee’s input was needed by the Comelec Advisory Council (CAC) which is mandated by law to evaluate and recommend the appropriate election automation technology to the poll agency.

“I think the committee should convene. It has not met since the 2010 elections. There should have been an assessment of those elections. This is important because we want to learn what lessons we can from the 2010 elections,” Lagman told reporters.

Kenya: IIEC showcases latest election technologies – cautions Kenyans against rushing to embrace the electronic voting system | KBC

Interim Independent Electoral Commission chair Isaack Hassan has cautioned Kenyans against rushing to embrace the electronic voting system without prior a feasibility study on it. Hassan says the system requires time and pumping of resources before it is implemented.

Speaking Thursday during the IIEC election technology exhibition in Nairobi, Hassan cited various countries that have banned the e-voting system. He noted that India succeeded to implement the system after 30 years while German and Nigeria banned it.

India: India’s new democracy institute opens doors to Kenyans | Mangalorean.Com

The newly established Indian Institute of Democracy and Election Management (IIDEM) will be sharing India’s experience of conducting elections for six decades with its very first batch of students: election officials from Kenya.

The institute will be formally opened with a special five-day training programme for the Kenyan officials from June 27. Eight Kenyans, including an Election Commissioner (Kenya has eight Election Commissioners), will participate in the first training programme in New Delhi.