With the primary election less than seven weeks away, county officials will decide in the coming week whether to stick with its long-time election vendor, which broke state election laws and disenfranchised voters in November. The three-member county election board, including newly elected County Clerk Trena McLaughlin, met privately with the three-member Board of Commissioners on Monday to discuss what to do moving forward, after the Secretary of State’s Office released a report that placed all of the blame in last year’s election on Election Systems & Software, a vendor multiple Indiana counties depend on for voting equipment. The company has provided equipment, software and technology for Johnson County elections for nearly two decades. The elected county clerk and an appointed election board manage how elections are conducted in the county, but the commissioners must approve any big ticket expenses.
A federal judge will decide whether to toss out a lawsuit asking for federal oversight of South Carolina’s purchase of new voting machines, at a cost of up to $60 million. After a nearly two-hour hearing in Columbia, U.S. District Judge Michelle Childs said she would make a decision within 10 days. Childs could dismiss the lawsuit, which asks for a court order requiring the S.C. Election Commission to buy new, high-security voting machines. Or she could let the suit proceed. During Tuesday’s hearing, S.C. Assistant Attorney General Wesley Vorberger, representing the S.C. Election Commission, told Childs the lawsuit is unnecessary. The Election Commission, he said, already is seeking bids for new hacker-resistant voting machines for use in the 2020 election.
Georgia: Watchdog says Georgia Voting Machine Commission Recommended “Unsafe Voting Systems” | AllOnGeorgia
The final report expected this week from Brian Kemp’s Secure, Accurate and Fair Elections (SAFE) commission will recommend voting systems that experts deem unsafe. The report will recommend electronic ballot markers over hand marked paper ballots including ballot markers that embed hidden unverifiable votes in digital bar codes for tabulation. Such systems were strongly discouraged as security risks by computer scientists, Election Integrity advocates, public speakers at all commission meetings and even the commission’s own cyber security expert.
S.C. election officials took a small step Tuesday toward changing the way the state votes in 2020. The S.C. Election Commission requested $60 million Tuesday from legislators to buy a new voting system in time for the next statewide election, a system that — for the first time in a decade — would produce a paper trail of ballots cast. The Election Commission has requested money for new voting machines before and been denied. However, this request comes in a favorable budget year amid national concern around election security. State lawmakers have said they want to make a switch to paper-trail ballots in time for the 2020 election, using money from $1 billion in added state revenues. But there will be hurdles to overcome. Gov. Henry McMaster unveiled his budget proposal Tuesday and included only $5 million for new voting machines.
Dr. Duncan Buell believes the voting system in South Carolina needs to be changed. Dr. Buell recently looked into data from the primaries and general election in 2018 for a League of Women Voters of South Carolina report. “We have an extremely complicated system,” he said. Dr. Buell said there were instances where votes were miscounted or counted twice. He said most of the problems come from the election system itself. “The system doesn’t have enough built into it,” he said.
Wisconsin: Jill Stein scores legal win against ‘gag rule’ for inspection of Wisconsin voting machines | Washington Examiner
The Green Party’s 2016 presidential nominee Jill Stein declared victory Thursday in a legal fight over her effort to personally examine whether voting machines in Wisconsin were vulnerable to attacks. In a statement, Stein celebrated a Wisconsin court ruling against a “gag rule” sought by a top voting machine vendor hoping to ensure that she can not speak her mind about the result of an impending voting machines inspection. “If the voting machine corporations had their way, we’d be prohibited from disclosing our findings under penalty of law, even if we discovered evidence of problems that could have changed the outcome of the election,” Stein said. “The only reason for voting machine corporations to push for a gag rule was to prevent us from revealing any problems with their machines, which would threaten their ability to keep profiting off our elections,” she added. “It’s outrageous that we’ve had to go to court to argue that the integrity of our elections is more important than protecting corporations.”
Indiana: Report: ES&S’s Johnson County voting ‘work-around’ violated election law | Indianapolis Star
Technical glitches and computer crashes led to long lines at Johnson County vote centers on Election Day, but the quick fix used to remedy the problem left the county open to fraud. It also violated election law because it cut off information sharing between polling sites, according to a preliminary investigation report released by the Secretary of State’s office. “I want to let the voters of Johnson County know that what happened is unacceptable,” said Johnson County Clerk Trena McLaughlin, who took office on Jan. 1. “The voters deserve more, and we are definitely going to get this issue resolved.”
South Carolina: How often do South Carolina’s voting machines mess up? New election report details count problems | The State
In the last election, some votes in South Carolina got counted twice. Others were credited to the wrong candidate. Also, one observer thinks, the state’s 14-year-old voting machines are starting to show their age, producing other errors. Those are some of the conclusions in a report released last week by the League of Women Voters of South Carolina. On Jan. 22, the league will host a public forum at the Richland County Public Library on ways to improve the state’s election system. The group is backing efforts in the S.C. Legislature to require a paper ballot system. “Over the years, they’ve made upgrades, and it’s still flawed,” Lynn Teague, vice president of the league, said of the state’s existing voting system. “They’re still counting votes wrong … and all this without someone deliberately trying to mess with the system.”
A preliminary report investigating computer problems at voting centers across Johnson and other counties resulted from poor preparation and resulted in Indiana election laws being violated. The report was prepared for the Indiana Secretary of State by Ball State’s Voting System Technical Oversight Program, or VSTOP. The 20-page report examines, in great detail, all the things that went wrong on election day, resulting in thousands of Johnson County voters waiting in line for hours on November 6. The VSTOP report claims Johnson County’s election software vendor, ES&S inadequately anticipated server needs on election day, and did not have their systems properly set up to handle the high voter turnout seen around the county. “The situation which occurred in Johnson is unacceptable for any Indiana electronic poll book vendor,” the report states. “The responsibility for what occurred rests on the shoulders of ES&S.”
Georgia: Lawmakers prepare for fight over switch to paper ballots | The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Battles over election integrity that helped define Georgia’s race for governor will play out at the Capitol this year, when state legislators plan to replace the state’s 27,000 electronic voting machines and review voting access laws. The multimillion-dollar purchase of a more secure statewide voting system is a priority for this year’s legislative session, which starts Monday. Legislators generally agree that the state should start using paper ballots to replace the all-digital touchscreen system in place since 2002, but they strongly differ over what kind of paper-based system to buy. Intense debates over voter disenfranchisement are also certain to arise. A bill has already been filed to curb mass voter registration cancellations, and other measures could address ballot cancellations, voting hours, early voting times, precinct closures and district boundaries.