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South Carolina: Tony Shaffer: New Report Highlights Urgent Need to Replace South Carolina Voting System | FITSNews

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have confirmed that Russian hackers targeted all 50 states during the 2016 elections – not just the 21 states previously reported. This new information highlights the urgent need to replace South Carolina’s old, vulnerable digital touchscreen “DRE” voting machines. As a cyber operations expert with nearly forty years of national security experience, I feel the need to speak up: It’s critical to deter and mitigate these threats before the 2020 elections. South Carolina is moving in the right direction. The legislature has appropriated $40 million for a new voting system and, to ensure a smooth procurement process, given responsibility for procuring the system to the S.C. Department of Administration (SCDOA). As the department examines the available systems, it should carefully consider the efficiency, cost, and security of each system. It should also avoid the mistakes made in Georgia, where the legislature fast-tracked a bill requiring a $150 million voting system comprised of ballot-marking devices (BMDs) without considering a more secure, lower-cost system of hand-marked paper ballots. BMDs, which require voters to select their preferred candidates using a touchscreen, may be more high-tech than paper ballots but are by no means higher quality. BMDs contain vulnerable computer systems that can be hacked to change ballots after they are cast. Although BMDs print a paper record of votes cast, they often do so in barcode format, making it impossible for voters to ensure that their vote will ultimately be recorded accurately. And like any machine, BMDs are susceptible to technical glitches and power outages, increasing chances that voters will be forced to wait in long lines on election day.

Full Article: Tony Shaffer: New Report Highlights Urgent Need to Replace SC Voting System – FITSNews.

Pennsylvania: Philadelphia elections officials won’t overturn controversial voting-machine decision | Philadelphia Inquirer

The two judges acting as Philadelphia’s elections officials won’t overturn the three-member election board’s selection of new voting machines, a setback for watchdogs and advocates who have been criticizing the choice and urging officials to start over. Instead, Common Pleas Court Judge Giovanni Campbell wrote Wednesday to City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart, he will allow the Feb. 20 voting-machine decision to stand. “I recognize that voting systems are contested issues and people feel passionately about the systems that will be used for their exercise of a core constitutional right. And I am grateful that you and others have been voicing those concerns to the Board of Elections,” Campbell wrote. “However, I do not believe the Board of Elections should overrule its prior legitimate determinations.” Advocates have for weeks implored Campbell and another judge, Vincent Furlong, to invalidate the selection, arguing among other things that it was an illegal vote and that the choice was not in voters’ best interests.

Full Article: Philly elections officials won’t overturn controversial voting-machine decision.

Editorials: Good, bad and ambiguous in Georgia’s new voting system | Wenke Lee/Atlanta Journal Constitution

Although I’m pleased the Georgia General Assembly acted quickly this session to address flaws in our current voting equipment, I remain concerned that, overall, our state has chosen the less-secure, more-cumbersome, costly option and that too many details — essential for election security and voter confidence — are still undefined. First, let’s review what’s right about HB 316 and what Georgia gained. It requires: pre-certification election audits to validate initial outcomes; “voting in absolute secrecy;” that voting equipment produce a paper record in a format readable by humans, and that equipment will “mark correctly and accurately.” I’m also pleased that voter education is part of this bill, in the albeit very modest stipulation that poll workers post signs reminding voters to read, review, and verify paper printouts before casting their final votes. What’s bad about HB 316 is what it could have accomplished but did not: human-readable, hand-marked paper ballots — by far the most cost-effective and cybersecure method of voting. Instead, it establishes a system where electronic ballot markers (EBMs) are used to generate a paper receipt of voter selections — rather than a hand, holding a pen to paper. Overwhelmingly, citizens, computer scientists, cybersecurity experts, and nonpartisan groups recommended and requested hand-marked paper ballots in Georgia over any other method. I am baffled as to why state lawmakers repeatedly ignored such an overwhelming cry.

Full Article: Opinion: Good, bad and ambiguous in new voting system.

Editorials: Georgia’s voting system must be secure, accessible, auditable | David Becker and Michelle Bishop/Atlanta Journal Constitution

Russia attacked our election infrastructure and spread disinformation in the 2016 election, and continues to interfere in our elections. While there remains zero evidence that any votes in any election have been changed, Russia achieved its goal of dividing this country and reducing Americans’ confidence in their democracy. Russia’s efforts are likely to continue through 2020, and it is critical now more than ever that we come together to secure our democratic systems, upgrade outdated voting technology, and improve auditing ballots post-election, to ensure that every eligible American is able to cast their ballots accurately and with confidence. There is a consensus among the intelligence community and cybersecurity experts that human-readable paper ballots, which can be audited by comparing them to the official tally of votes, are necessary to secure our elections. As a result, states such as Georgia are responding — moving toward paper-based voting systems for 2020 and planning for more robust audits to ensure the count is accurate, regardless of foreign interference.There are basically two types of voting systems that accommodate paper ballots. The most common are hand-marked ballots, where the voter fills in a bubble or connects an arrow. These ballots are then fed into a scanner that is programmed to read those handmade marks as votes in particular races, and those votes are tabulated to determine the winner. These systems have some advantages – they are considered cheaper by some (at first, though the costs of printing ballots adds up over time, and the cost benefits, if any, shrink), and voters are familiar with them.

Full Article: Opinion: Voting system must be secure, accessible, auditable.

Missouri: St. Louis County Board Of Elections Gearing Up For Upgrades | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis County Board of Elections is upgrading its voting equipment for the upcoming 2020 elections. The county has roughly 1,800 touch voting machines and 500 optical scan paper ballot tabulators that have had their fair share of wear and tear, and the software is now out of date. Eric Fey, the Democratic director of elections for the St. Louis County Board, said the last time county voters had new voting equipment was in 2005. “Although the equipment is 100% accurate, we have to replace components more often,” Fey said. “It’s very hard to get replacement parts. And then with the software, the programming of the ballot, the tabulation of the ballots is very labor intensive.” Currently, the board of elections is holding public demonstrations with three contenders including Dominion, Hart InterCivic and the county’s current vendor Election Systems & Software.

Full Article: St. Louis County Board Of Elections Gearing Up For Upgrades | St. Louis Public Radio.

New York: Oversight Committee head calls for halt on voting machines | New York Post

The chair of the City Council’s Oversight and Investigations Committee is calling for a halt to the Board of Elections’ plan to use machines supplied by a company with a spotty record for this fall’s early voting. “I’m against rigging the process in favor of a contractor with a dubious track record,” said Councilman Ritchie Torres (D-Bronx). Election Systems & Software came under fire after its ballot scanners reportedly jammed at polling places across the city in November’s elections. “There needs to be an investigation of the performance and conflicts of interest involving ES&S. There should be a competitive bidding process,” Torres said. BOE Executive Director Michael Ryan is also on the hot seat after it was revealed last year that he failed to report several posh business trips paid for by ES&S. He subsequently stepped down from an unpaid gig on the contractor’s advisory board.

Full Article: Ritchie Torres calls for removal of faulty voting machines.

Pennsylvania: Philadelphia controller subpoenas city elections officials over voting machine decision | Philadelphia Inquirer

Philadelphia City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart last week subpoenaed the city’s elections officials for documents related to the controversial selection of new voting machines. Rhynhart’s subpoena is the most-pointed official effort known to date to obtain information about a voting machine selection process that critics have decried as opaque, lacking true public input, and biased. The items requested in the subpoena, dated April 1, include copies of all proposals received, the names of all committee members who scored them, and copies of those evaluations. The information was originally due by Tuesday, but the City Commissioners’ Office was granted an extension. (The new deadline was unclear Thursday; the Controller’s Office declined to comment on the subpoena.) Nick Custodio, deputy commissioner under Chairwoman Lisa Deeley, said only that the city’s Law Department “is handling everything as it relates to the request” from Rhynhart. He declined to comment further.

Full Article: Voting Machine Selection Prompts Subpoena in Philadelphia.

National: Election machine vendors back legislation requiring post-election audits, vulnerability disclosure | InsideCyberSecurity

Two major election machine vendors stated their support for requiring post-election audits to ensure the validity of election results in the case of a cyber attack or other tampering, in response to questions recently posed by senior Senate Democrats. Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), and Mark Warner (D-VA) sent letters last month to the three largest election machine vendors asking whether the companies would support legislation around post-election audits and what cyber controls are in place to secure the vote. In its response submitted on Tuesday, Hart InterCivic wrote that “robust post-election audits are the most compelling response” to threats posed by outdated technology. “Auditing is the most transparent and effective means to demonstrate that election outcomes accurately reflect the intention of voters,” Hart wrote. “Hart unequivocally supports state efforts to strengthen auditing procedures.” Tom Burt, the president and CEO of Election Systems and Software, also supported the idea of legislation around post-election audits, writing that the company “strongly supports legislation that would expand the use of routine post-election audits. ES&S believes that successful post-election audits, including risk-limiting audits such as those which have recently occurred in several jurisdictions, will increase confidence in our country’s election process.”

Full Article: Election machine vendors back legislation requiring post-election audits, vulnerability disclosure | InsideCyberSecurity.com.

Pennsylvania: Philadelphia commissioner breaks silence to criticize voting machine decision and call for new selection | Philadelphia Inquirer

Philadelphia City Commissioner Anthony Clark, who rarely says anything at board meetings and has a reputation for not showing up to work, suddenly spoke up Wednesday to say he favors invalidating the city’s choice of voting machines and restarting the selection process. His comments, which caught nearly everyone by surprise, were delivered almost casually during the commissioners’ weekly meeting, after City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart urged the elections officials to nullify the controversial selection of new systems. “Today I request that this body vacate the commissioners’ earlier decision and draft and reissue a new, fair” request for proposals, Rhynhart said after calling the selection process opaque and biased. “Please don’t deny Philadelphia’s voters a true voice in the selection of these machines.” Clark, who had not spoken publicly about the decision and did not cast a vote when the commissioners chose the system, responded: “Well, I’d just like to say that I do support your recommendation. That’s all I have to say at this time.” Advocates have for months implored Philadelphia election officials to select a hand-marked paper ballot system rather than the ES&S ExpressVoteXL system that was chosen Feb. 20 have accused the commissioners of illegally selecting that machine and called for that vote to be nullfied.

Full Article: Philly commissioner breaks silence to criticize voting machine decision and call for new selection.

Georgia: Critics say new voting system planned for Georgia is flawed | Associated Press

Critics of Georgia’s outdated voting system told a judge on Tuesday that a new system outlined by lawmakers has many of the same fundamental flaws and is unconstitutional. A law signed last week by Gov. Brian Kemp provides specifications for a new voting system. Bids are due later this month, and state officials say they plan to implement the new system in time for next year’s presidential election. Lawyers for the Coalition for Good Governance and for a group of voters, who had filed a lawsuit challenging Georgia’s election system, told U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg they plan to ask her initially to stop the state from using the current machines for special and municipal elections scheduled this year. Ultimately, they said, they want her to prohibit the state from using the current paperless machines, as well as the ballot-marking machines provided for in the new law. Lawyers for the state argued complaints about the current voting system have been made irrelevant by the new law and that complaints about ballot-marking machines can’t be considered yet because the state hasn’t even selected a new system.

Full Article: Critics say new voting system planned for Georgia is flawed | WSB-TV.

Georgia: State moving forward with new type of voting system; some opponents react | WSAV

How you vote in Georgia will be changing, according to a new law signed recently by Governor Brian Kemp. The law calls for scrapping the old, and now somewhat controversial, voting machines. Those will be replaced with a new system including what is termed “Electronic Ballot Marking Devices” as well as new types of digital scanners to actually record votes. Supporters, which include many state lawmakers as well as Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, say the new system will provide a verifiable paper trail. Opponents say just the opposite. “The state is going to spend $150 million to $200 million and not be one bit better off than they are today,” said Marilyn Marks from the Coalition for Good Governance. “They should just keep the un-auditable system.”  Marks’ group is still embroiled in a lawsuit with the State of Georgia over issues from the 2018 election. Marks has a list of concerns starting with the Electronic Marking Devices, which it’s said will print out a paper ballot that can then be verified by a voter and ultimately scanned by the digital scanner to actually cast the ballot. She says two of the largest vendors that make these machines don’t really provide a paper ballot per se, but actually something more like a bar code. Marks asserts any new system will not truly have a verifiable paper trail and that she expects “many court challenges.”

Full Article: Georgia moving forward with new type of voting system; some opponents react.

Georgia: Governor inks law to replace voting machines  | Atlanta Journal Constitution

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 .

Georgia: Paulding’s Holden leading state election officials group preparing for new voting system | mdjonline

Paulding’s election supervisor will help lead a new statewide election workers organization as they learn to operate a new electronic voting system by the 2020 presidential election. Deidre Holden will join with Athens-Clarke County elections director Charlotte Sosebee to lead the new Georgia Association of Voter Registration and Election Officials after the merger of two long-standing groups whose members were involved in conducting Georgia elections for half a century. The two groups, the Voter Registrars Association of Georgia and the Georgia Election Officials Association, worked for years to merge after their members increasingly were assigned the same duties in recent decades, Holden said. The new group is forming as election officials statewide begin training to operate the new $150 million system of ballot-marking devices the Georgia General Assembly approved this year. Paulding’s elections office will use the new machines in the Dallas and Hiram municipal elections in November as part of a pilot program, Holden said.

Full Article: Paulding's Holden leading state election officials group preparing for new voting system | News | mdjonline.com.

National: Voting Machine Firms Add Lobbyists Amid Election Hacker Concerns | Bloomberg

Voting machine manufacturers are increasing their Capitol Hill presence as lawmakers demand they do more to protect U.S. elections against foreign hackers. Dominion Voting Systems — which commands more than a third of the voting-machine market without having Washington lobbyists — has hired its first, a high-powered firm that includes a longtime aide to Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The No. 1 vendor, Election Systems & Software, added two new lobbying firms last fall. Members of Congress have criticized those and other companies for their security methods and business practices.

Full Article: Voting Machine Firms Add Lobbyists Amid Election Hacker Concerns.

: Top Democrats press voting vendors over election security concerns | The Hill

Democratic senators sent a letter to three of the country’s top election system vendors on Tuesday, pressing them on what they will do to help secure the 2020 election from foreign attacks. The letter, sent to the heads of voting vendors Election Systems & Software LLC, Hart InterCivic Inc. and Dominion Voting Systems, requested that the companies inform Democratic leaders of efforts to improve their systems to guard against cyber vulnerabilities. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), the ranking member of the Senate Rules Committee, was joined on the letter by Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.), Senate Homeland Security Committee ranking member Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member Jack Reed (D-R.I.). “Despite the progress that has been made, election security experts and federal and state government officials continue to warn that more must be done to fortify our election systems,” the senators wrote. “Of particular concern is the fact that many of the machines that Americans use to vote have not been meaningfully updated in nearly two decades.”

Full Article: Top Dems press voting vendors over election security concerns | TheHill.

New York: Questions Over Mike Ryan Pushing for ES&S Voting Machines | NY1

The city’s Board of Elections is arguing it may need some new voting machines because of early voting, but the board’s leader is pushing for machines made by a company he has benefited from, raising questions of conflicts of interest. For almost 10 years, New York City has used the same type of voting machine: An optical scanner. But now, the city Board of Elections may want to try something else. It’s a new machine called the ExpressVote XL, and it’s made by the major voting machine manufacturer, Election Systems and Software (ES&S). In a letter exclusively obtained by NY1, the city asked the state Board of Elections this week to possibly use the new machine for early voting this year. It says using paper ballots would be virtually impossible. That’s because there will be far fewer poll sites open for early voting than on a traditional election day. Officials question whether every site would be able to keep all of the different ballot configurations for each election district, and this ExpressVote XL machine uses a touch screen to vote instead. But there is a problem: The state Board of Elections has not certified or fully tested this machine for use in New York. The city Board of Elections is essentially asking state officials to skirt that approval process, specifically asking permission from the state board to use the machine in this fall’s general election. The letter states “time is of the essence.” It is signed by two people. One is the executive director of the board, Michael Ryan. One leader of the state Board of Elections immediately dismissed the city board’s request: “What annoyed me most about the letter is it doesn’t seem to understand the reason for New York’s certification for voting equipment,” state Board of Elections Co-Chair Douglas Kellner said. “We have to recognize that there are security risks.”

Full Article: Questions Over Mike Ryan Pushing for ES&S Voting Machines.

North Carolina: Counties Face Tight Timeline To Comply With State Voting Law | WUNC

NCCounties 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.

North Carolina: Legislators seek reprieve for Guilford County voting machines | Greensboro News and Record

Ask and ye shall receive — or at least get a reasonable shot at receiving. Two local legislators introduced a bill this week approving more than two years of additional life for Guilford County’s voting machines, only a week after county leaders formally petitioned the General Assembly for just such help. If passed, the bipartisan measure introduced by state Reps. Jon Hardister, R-Whitsett, and Amos Quick, D-Greensboro, would give county taxpayers a reprieve on the estimated $8 million cost of replacing the county’s 1,400-plus machines. The measure also would apply to Alamance County, which faces a similar dilemma and an estimated $2 million in replacement costs. Hardister said Friday afternoon that he filed the bill with Quick and fellow Reps. Dennis Riddell, R-Snow Camp, and Frank Iler, R-Oak Island, after a conversation with Guilford County Board of Elections Director Charlie Collicutt.

Full Article: Legislators seek reprieve for Guilford voting machines | Local News | greensboro.com.

National: Voting-machine vendors have some serious questions to answer, senators say | CyberScoop

While the security of the 2020 election remains a prominent topic in Washington, a group of Democratic senators is raising alarms about longer-term issues that will resonate after voters are done choosing a president about 20 months from now. The three companies that make most of the voting technology used in the U.S. must be more transparent about their plans to improve their products to meet current expectations about security and performance, says a letter Wednesday by Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and three other top Democrats. In particular, the senators say every machine should reliably produce paper records, and the companies should do far more to upgrade their products. “The integrity of our elections is directly tied to the machines we vote on — the products that you make,” says the letter from Klobuchar, Mark Warner of Virginia, Jack Reed of Rhode Island and Gary Peters of Michigan. “Despite shouldering such a massive responsibility, there has been a lack of meaningful innovation in the election vendor industry and our democracy is paying the price.”

Full Article: Voting-machine vendors have some serious questions to answer, senators say.

Georgia: Georgia likely to plow ahead with buying insecure voting machines | Politico

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is poised to sign a bill to overhaul the state’s voting system with machines that are widely considered vulnerable to hacking. The new equipment would replace the state’s paperless, electronic machines — technology so risky that a federal judge said last year that its continued use threatened Georgians’ “constitutional interests.” But security researchers say similar risks exist in the new electronic machines that the GOP-led legislature has chosen, which would embed the voter’s choice in a barcode on a slip of paper. The warnings from cybersecurity experts, election integrity advocates and Georgia Democrats are especially troubling given the abundant warnings from U.S. intelligence leaders that Russia will once again attempt to undermine the presidential election in 2020. “The bill’s sponsors made false and misleading statements during the entire legislative session in hearings leading up to the vote, often flatly contradicting objective evidence or mischaracterizing scientific writing,” said Georgia Institute of Technology computer science professor Rich DeMillo, who testified throughout the process.

Full Article: Georgia likely to plow ahead with buying insecure voting machines - POLITICO.