Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC) Jean Mensah Thursday disclosed that the Commission was in the process of acquiring technology that would guarantee the absolute sovereignty of the Ghanaian electoral process. The system, which she said would be owned, managed and operated at a lesser cost by the Commission, would ensure that elections were free, fair, credible, and not subject to third party manipulations. Madam Jean made the disclosure when the EC called on President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo at the Jubilee House in Accra. The call on the President formed part of the Commission’s wider consultations with key stakeholders as it seeks to initiate reforms to promote efficiency, transparency and accountability around its activities. Explaining that the EC was weakest at its Information Technology Department, the EC Chairperson said since 2011, vendors controlled elections and had unlimited access to the department both remotely and physically. And as a result, the vendors, who supplied both software and hardware and managed it for the EC, could shut the Commission’s Data Centre down at anytime.Full Article: EC To Acquire New Technology For Elections | Politics | Peacefmonline.com.
Even as some top politicians are raising doubts and have made references to the alleged manipulation of EVMs (electronic voting machines), millions of voters in the country are getting confused. Common people don’t understand the mechanism of a complicated machine like the EVM. Rather, they depend on the institutions and/or their leaders to frame their opinions. However, there was a VVPAT-auditing of the EVMs — five per Assembly constituency of the country — as directed by the Supreme Court. One obvious, yet important, question is how the opinion on EVMs will be reframed with the VVPAT-auditing data. A voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) slip is nothing but a machine-generated ballot paper, verified by the voter himself/herself. And if the VVPAT counts are further tallied with the corresponding EVM counts, that would give a double-check. The objective of tallying VVPAT counts with the corresponding EVM counts is to check whether the EVMs are tampered with or not. If there is no mismatch for a machine, one can safely conclude that there is no tampering in that EVM, at least.Full Article: VVPAT-auditing data and credibility of EVMs.
Philippines: Clans in Congress want to go ‘hybrid’: Comelec line change: 7 Duterte appointees to run 2022 elections | Malou Mangahas and Karol Ilagan/MindaNews
Clean, honest, inclusive, and credible elections might well turn into just a pipedream when the votes for president, vice president, legislators, and local officials come up in May 2022. As it is, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has already found itself confronted by big back and forward issues: unsettled flawed supplies contracts and weak project management systems that marked the May 2019 elections; five of its seven commissioners, and its executive director, retiring between January next year to February 2022; and an apparently concerted effort by politicians to write finish to its automated-election system or AES. Claiming fraud was triggered by defective vote-counting machines, politicians from old political clans led no less by President Rodrigo R. Duterte have urged Comelec and Congress to junk the AES and instead revert to a hybrid system of elections, or one that is partly manual and partly automated. But election observers worry that this hybrid system posits opportunities for ballot-box stuffing and snatching, and the dagdag-bawas system driven by the guns, goons, and gold of elections past. Complicating matters is the fact that the push for ‘hybrid’ elections is unfolding as Comelec prepares for impending major changes among its commissioners. In fact, by the time of the next synchronized presidential, legislative, and local elections in May 2022, the poll body will face a major topline change. Worse yet, the changing of guards could happen midway in the campaign period.Full Article: Clans in Congress want to go ‘hybrid’: Comelec line change: 7 Duterte appointees to run 2022 elections | MindaNews.
Belarus plans to use semitransparent ballot boxes and electronic voting in the future, Chairperson of the Central Election Commission (CEC) of Belarus Lidia Yermoshina said in an interview to the STV channel, BelTA has learned. “We are gradually introducing different standards. Some things we have not introduced yet are no longer used in other countries. For example, we have always been pressurized to use transparent ballot boxes everywhere. I can say that this is no longer in fashion. Moreover, it contradicts the international standards. Transparent ballot boxes do not secure the secret expression of voters’ will. Today’s trend is to use semitransparent boxes and apply e-voting. I believe we will be introducing this in the future,” Lidia Yermoshina said. Speaking about the rotation of the parliament, the CEC chair said that the head of state insists on some one third of MPs to stay for the second term. At the same time, the term of office for every MP should not exceed two terms in a row. “We support and select future candidates taking into consideration all the proportions,” she stressed.Full Article: Belarus to use semitransparent ballot boxes, e-voting.
United Kingdom: Subcontractor’s track record under spotlight as London Mayoral e-counting costs spiral | Kat Hall/The Register
Concerns have been raised over a key supplier of an e-counting system for the London Mayoral elections in 2020. The contract, split between Canadaian integrator CGI and Venezuelan-owned Smartmatic, will cost nearly £9m – more than double the procurement cost of £4.1m for the system at the last election in 2016. During a July hearing about the 2020 elections at the London Assembly Oversight Committee, members heard that Smartmatic, which builds and sells electronic voting tech, had worked on the Scottish elections. However, the London Assembly has since confirmed to The Register that Smartmatic was not involved. The company was also recently blamed for a number of technical glitches in the Philippine elections. The London Assembly was told costs had increased because the new vote-counting system offered better functionality than the previous procurement.Full Article: Subcontractor's track record under spotlight as London Mayoral e-counting costs spiral • The Register.
India: Electronic Voting Machines Controversy: Election Commission’s Use Of Contract Engineers Puts Indian Elections At Risk | Ravi Nair/HuffPost India
The Election Commission of India has deployed teams of private contract workers, with a minimum work experience of just one year, to Maharashtra and Haryana, where they are conducting “first-level checks” on Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) for state assembly elections scheduled for later this year, HuffPost India has learnt. These engineers told HuffPost India they had previously been tasked with critical aspects of the voting process — including setting EVMs and loading symbols into vote verification machines called VVPATS — in the 2019 general elections. Opposition leaders in these states told HuffPost India they were unaware that first-level checks on EVMs had begun, and that these checks were being performed by engineers who were not full-time employees of Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL), two state-owned companies that manufacture and maintain EVMs for the Election Commission. The Election Commission has never admitted to the use of contract workers, and the commission’s own guidelines require that representatives from all political parties be present when first level checks on EVMs are conducted. This HuffPost India report suggests that the nature of electronic voting makes it impossible for the Election Commission of India to maintain full control over all aspects of the voting process, despite its protestations to the contrary. The Commission’s submissions in Supreme Court indicate, at best, a fundamental ignorance about the nature of cybersecurity threats.Full Article: EVM Controversy: Election Commission’s Use Of Contract Engineers Puts Indian Elections At Risk | HuffPost India.
National: 5 big takeaways from Politico’s national survey of election offices | Eric Geller/Politico
Paperless voting machines are a glaring weakness in U.S. election infrastructure. They are dangerous, experts say, because they lack paper voting records, making them vulnerable to malfunctions or intrusions that could undetectably change votes. With top U.S. intelligence officials predicting the return of Russian hackers in 2020, cybersecurity experts have urged state and local governments to replace their paperless machines as soon as possible. Since March, POLITICO has been tracking their progress. The nationwide picture is mixed: Some states and counties are moving quickly to buy paper-based machines and others are doing nothing at all. Here are the five big takeaways from POLITICO’s nationwide survey:
1) Many counties don’t have enough money to upgrade
In hundreds of small counties, election officials can’t afford to buy new voting machines, however insecure their current systems are. Between schools, infrastructure, police, environmental protection and emergency services, counties have enough on their plate without having to worry about their voting machines.
The fact that these machines are used so infrequently is another reason they often slip down the list of counties’ spending priorities. It’s hard to justify buying new voting machines when there are overcrowded schools or crumbling hospitals. “It is a huge expense for small rural counties,” said Cheri Hawkins, the clerk in Shackelford, Texas. “I would love to be able to update!”Full Article: 5 big takeaways from POLITICO’s national survey of election offices - POLITICO.
As advocates push nationally for states to increase voting security, Tennessee election officials who are trying to win approval for voting machines that produce a paper record have hit a roadblock. A proposal by the state Election Commission for all future voting machines to be capable of producing some sort of paper trail was halted when a surprise legal opinion emerged from the GOP-controlled Legislature’s legal team. The opinion, written on behalf of state Republican Sen. Ken Yager, contests the commission’s process on how it certifies voting machines. Fallout from the opinion has once again tempered attempts to make sweeping changes to Tennessee’s voting systems, which Republican leaders have resisted: They point not only to the importance of allowing local experts decide what is best but also to the significant expense of replacing voting machines statewide. “When it comes to elections, we need to do it the right way or we’ll be buying ourselves a lot of headaches,” Yager said in a Friday phone interview. Democrats have voiced concerns about the lack of paper trail requirements, as have cybersecurity experts, who have criticized Tennessee as one of 12 states that does not require electronic voting machines to print out hand-marked paper ballots. That can leave election results vulnerable to untraceable manipulation by hackers.Full Article: Tennessee hits roadblock requiring paper trail voting | National | dailyjournalonline.com.
The Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) has postponed the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) hacking challenge that was scheduled to take place later today. Vikitoria Hango, Corporate Communications Officer of the Electoral Commission of Namibia said the event is called off following a communication from majority of members of the Political Parties Liaison Committee (PLC) who requested the ECN to postpone the EVM hacking challenge date to allow political parties’ sufficient time to prepare for the session. Hango said the political parties have raised a number of concerns with regard to the credibility and integrity of the EVM both to the Commission and various communication platforms such as newspapers and social media. Political parties allege that the EVMs can be hacked to store results other than the choice of voters and that it can be tampered with to favour a particular candidate or political party by altering the results stored in the EVMs after the polls.Full Article: ECN postpone EVM hacking challenge - Informanté.
India: Why Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trails aren’t enough to build confidence in electronic voting machines | Atanu Biswas/Hindustan Times
Two months after the declaration of Lok Sabha election results, conspiracy theories about possible tampering of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) are still doing the rounds. That important opposition leaders have demanded a return to paper ballots and even openly supported EVM-rigging theories has lend credence to the latter – although some of their behavior can be attributed to just being bad losers. Still, doubts about EVMs have been planted, despite the fact that none of the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines showed a mismatch with the EVM count. The Supreme Court ordered the Election Commission of India (ECI) that five VVPATs per assembly constituency (AC) should be matched with the EVM count of votes. Statistically speaking this is adequate to remove doubts about possible tampering of EVMs. In an earlier article in HT dated April 27, 2018, this author had argued that tallying just
11, 29, 58 and 534 VVPATs per parliamentary constituency (PC) would allow us to find a rigged EVM with 95% probability for scenarios where 25%, 10%, 5% and 0.5% of the EVMs were tampered in a given PC. Are EVM rigging fears an example of conspiracy theories defeating statistical methods? Ironical as it may sound; an eighteenth century concept in statistics known as Bayes’ theorem can help us understand why matching a sample of VVPATs with EVMs is failing to generate confidence in the credibility of EVMs.
India: Electronic voting machine ‘tampering’: activists send legal notice to foreign microchips makers | Shoumojit Banerjee/The Hindu
Amid apprehensions about the credibility of electronic voting machines (EVMs), Pune-based civic activist Maruti Bhapkar has issued legal notice through noted lawyer and rights activist Asim Sarode to the Arizona-based Microchip Technology Inc. and Renesas Electronics headquartered in Tokyo on the alleged EVM manipulation in the recent general election. The activists contend that as the firms were engaged in making microchips for the EVMs used in the election, it makes them suspects in any alleged electoral fraud that may have been committed. In the interests of transparency and clarity, Mr. Bhapkar and Mr. Sarode say, they have demanded that the firms publicly disclose copies of their agreements or contracts made with the Election Commission of India (ECI). “Through activists working in this field, we have come to know of four major foreign companies – two U.S.-based, one Canadian and one Japanese – that make the microchips for the EVMs used in the Lok Sabha election. As of now, we have sent legal notice to two of these reputed firms,” Mr. Sarode told The Hindu.Full Article: EVM ‘tampering’: activists send legal notice to foreign microchips makers - The Hindu.
India: No concrete evidence of electronic voting machine tampering, but apprehensions are there over its functioning: Yechury | The New Indian Express
CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury Tuesday said although there are no concrete evidence of tampering of electronic voting machines, several questions and apprehensions have cropped up over its functioning. All the major political parties may discuss the matter together and take up the issue with the Election commission (EC) with the demand for setting up of an expert committee to look into the matter, Yechury said. Several questions have been raised over the functioning of EVMs during the Lok Sabha polls, he said. “In Lok Sabha polls in Karnataka, the BJP swept the polls. But within a week when municipal polls were held on ballot papers, the Congress-JD(S) swept the polls. The same thing has happened elsewhere,” the CPI(M) leader said. On the demands by several parties to replace EVMs with ballot papers, Yechury said the major political parties might discuss the matter after the Parliament session is over and ask the EC to constitute an expert panel to look into the matter.Full Article: No concrete evidence of EVM tampering, but apprehensions are there over its functioning: Yechury- The New Indian Express.
A few days after the mid-term elections in May, no less than President Duterte himself called on the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to replace Smartmatic owing to allegations of election fraud. Almost two months have passed since the President’s remarks. But after the perfunctory reactions from Comelec officials, it seems that the poll body has opted to keep mum on the touchy subject. The issue, however, would be hard to brush off. The positioning for the 2022 presidential elections is expected to start in earnest. But unlike the 2010 and 2016 presidential elections, there is now a cloud of doubt on the reliability of electronic voting. And in a span of nine years, it appears that Comelec’s credibility has plummeted from the nearly universal acclaim it received in 2010. The descent to ignominy began in the eyes of many observers in 2017, with a very public spat with then Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista. Among the many damning revelations made were supposed documents showing alleged commissions received by the former poll chief from their election technology supplier, Smartmatic.Full Article: Comelec on trial » Manila Bulletin News.
Ukraine: Monitors declare election fair but with campaign violations | Igor Kossov, Teah Pelechaty and Bermet Talant/KyivPost
Ukrainian and international election observers have announced that the July 21 parliamentary election was held in a fair and competitive manner. “No systemic violations that could affect the vote result or the counting process were recorded,” said Olga Aivazovska, head of Ukrainian election watchdog Opora, at a press briefing on July 22, adding that there were many procedural violations, however. “Being able to conduct three elections in a four-month period, and at the same time engage in the defense of a country against a foreign aggressor that has invaded Ukraine, is an extraordinary feat,” said Stephen Nix, Eurasia Director at the International Republican Institute. According to a preliminary count, President Volodymyr Zelensky’s party, Servant of the People, won the party vote and the majority of single-member districts. It is followed by Opposition Platform — For Life, former President Petro Poroshenko’s European Solidarity, former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna, and rock musician Svyatoslav Vakarchuk’s Voice. This results were largely confirmed by Opora’s parallel vote count. The official count continues.Full Article: Monitors declare election fair but with campaign violations | KyivPost - Ukraine's Global Voice.
After getting no relief from either the Election Commission or the Supreme Court on their petitions on the alleged misuse of “doubtful” electronic voting machines (EVMs) during the recent Lok Sabha elections, the opposition parties are gearing up to launch yet another big battle. While West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday explicitly blamed the EVMs for BJP’s stunning victory in Lok Sabha elections and called for use of ballot boxes, the Congress is planning to convene a meeting of the opposition parties to discuss the future course of action on EVMs after the budget session. “The Lok Sabha election in 2019 is a mystery, not history. We do not want EVMs. We want the ballot box to be brought back,” said Banerjee at her Kolkata rally on Sunday accusing BJP of winning the Lok Sabha polls by cheating- using EVMs, CRPF and Election Commission. Still trying to overcome the shock of a humiliating defeat, the Congress is hoping reciprocity from several opposition parties, including Trinamool Congress, to join the chorus of demanding the restoration of ballot papers in place of electronic voting in future elections. Echoing similar sentiments, Banerjee too has called for use of ballot papers in coming Panchayat and Municipal elections.Full Article: Opposition parties plan big revolt against EVMs.
India: Ahead of state elections, Congress looks to amp up push for paper ballots | Aurangzeb Naqshbandi/Hindustan Times
The Congress is likely to convene a meeting of opposition parties after the budget session of Parliament ends to discuss their future course of action on the issue of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) that some say are susceptible to manipulation. After suffering a heavy defeat in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, in which it managed to win only 52 seats in the 543-member House, the party has decided to escalate its demand for the restoration of ballot papers to replace electronic voting in future elections. According to a Congress functionary, a group of party leaders recently met United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi and senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who has stepped down as president over the electoral rout, and asked them to push the demand in a big way. The functionary, who requested anonymity, said the party had not only received feedback from the ground but is “convinced” that “EVMs were manipulated” in the national elections, in which the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 303 seats. Past protests by opposition parties that EVMs were vulnerable to tampering have failed to convince the Election Commission (EC), which has rejected the allegations. The Supreme Court in April raised the physical counting of Electronic Voting Machines using a Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail (EVM-VVPATs) in constituencies from one to five on a plea by opposition parties, but in May turned down a petition for an increase in random checks to at least 50% EVMs.Full Article: Ahead of state elections, Congress looks to amp up push for ballots | india news | Hindustan Times.
India: Raj Thackeray requests Election Commission to hold assembly polls by ballot paper | The Statesman
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray on Monday wrote to the Election Commission of India (ECI) regarding “restoring faith in the election process in the country”. Raj Thackeray has written, “Individuals have communicated their dissatisfaction with the manner in which elections are being conducted in the last few years and raised questions regarding EVMs. We request you to get back to ballot papers and appeal to have assembly election in Maharashtra with ballot papers only.” In July 2018, Raj Thackeray had alleged that the BJP had won the past elections by manipulating the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). “The EVMs had helped the BJP win the elections in the past. Otherwise, how can any candidate get zero votes in polls?” he had questioned while speaking to reporters. Representatives of 21 opposition parties led by TDP chief and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu had met the Election Commission raising concerns over the electronic voting machines (EVMs) and VVPAT slips two days ahead of counting of votes for the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections. The opposition parties have been complaining about EVM malfunctioning and demanding the use of ballot papers even before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.Full Article: Raj Thackeray requests EC to hold assembly polls by ballot paper.
India: Supreme Court refuses to entertain plea questioning electronic voting machine use in elections | ANI
The Supreme Court on Friday refused to entertain a plea which questioned the use of electronic voting machines (EVM) in polls and sought the cancellation of recently concluded Lok Sabha elections. A Bench headed by Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman heard the public interest litigation (PIL) filed by advocate Manohar Lal Sharma challenging the use of EVMs in polls. “What are you asking for Mr Sharma? You want us to set aside the entire Lok Sabha elections?” said Justice Nariman refusing to interfere with the petition, terming it “devoid of merits”.Full Article: SC refuses to entertain PIL questioning EVM use in elections | Business Standard News.
The Electoral Commission of Namibia will hold a public event where technicians will test the electronic voting machines (EVMs) for possible defects. ECN chairperson Notemba Tjipueja told a media event in Windhoek yesterday that the commission has received numerous requests from political parties and a parliamentary standing committee to investigate whether the EVMs can be hacked. She said the public testing of the EVMs will be held on 18 July 2019, and the commission will use information technology (IT) students from the Namibia University of Science and Technology to test the machines. The ECN boss said political parties will also be allowed to bring their own technicians to confirm “any allegations they might have with regards to the EVMs”.Full Article: Voting machines to be tested in public - The Namibian.
For the first time in the Sultanate, an electronic voting system will be used for elections to the Shura. The system, called ‘Sawtak’, translates to ‘your voice’ and consists of a touch screen, in which the procedures and steps of the election are explained so that the voter can easily choose the candidate. The design of the system is suited to various categories of voters, including the elderly and disabled people, the Ministry of Interior said. A statement online said, “In light of the Ministry of Interior’s keenness to use the latest modern technology in the electoral process, which makes it easier for voters to cast their votes, the elections of this period will witness electronic voting at all polling stations for the first time.” The Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Interior, Chairman of the Main Committee of the Shura Council Elections for the ninth term, signed a contract with the Industrial Management and Contracting Technology Company (AMTAC)to design, supply and install the electronic voting system for the ninth period elections.Full Article: Electronic voting system to be used for the first time in Shura elections - Times Of Oman.