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.”

Indiana: Scathing report finds ES&S violated state election laws | WXIN

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.

South Carolina: ES&S iVotronic voting machines miscounted hundreds of ballots, report finds | StateScoop

An analysis of South Carolina’s voting equipment found that state election officials miscounted hundreds of ballots during the primary and general elections in 2018 because of “continued software deficiencies.” Conducted on behalf of the League of Women Voters by Duane Buell, a computer science professor at the University of South Carolina, the study published last week found that in one primary race, voting machines in one precinct double counted 148 votes. During the general election in another precinct, more than 400 votes were awarded in the wrong county board race. In both instances, Buell found, the improperly counted voters were logged by the South Carolina State Election Commission as official results. Neither case involved enough votes to swing the outcome of an election, but Buell told StateScoop the incidents demonstrate the state continues to use poorly designed software that poll workers, many of whom are volunteers working long shifts, struggle to operate correctly.

New Jersey: Progress Seen in Test of Paper-Trail voting Machines that Allow Audit of Results | NJ Spotlight

Review of midterm election offers assurance that electronic vote counts are reliable, but lawmakers show limited interest in deploying the technology statewide. New Jersey’s first pilot tests of voting machines that provide a way to verify results proved successful in the last election, and now some officials are looking forward to expanding testing later. Typically, elections with state Assembly seats topping the ticket — like this coming fall — have low turnouts and so make this an ideal time to roll out new machines. These machines include a paper ballot alongside an electronic screen which both allows voters to check that their choices were properly marked and keeps a paper trail for the elections board. Fewer people casting ballots should help reduce the wait some may experience as voters who may be confused by the new technology take more time on the machine.

Pennsylvania: Counties given new option for voting machine | The Sentinel

In April, the Pennsylvania Department of State informed counties that they must have voting machines that provide a paper record of each vote as a matter of election integrity. Paper ballots provide for more accurate and reliable post-election audits compared to direct recording electronic voting machines, like those used in Cumberland County, according to the Department of State. Gov. Tom Wolf earmarked $13.5 million in federal funds to help counties buy compliant machines, and the state is required to provide a 5 percent match to those funds, leaving more than $14 million available to counties. The Wolf administration said it wants new machines to be in place by the May 2020 primary.

South Carolina: Wrong Votes and System Failures Mar South Carolina Elections, Report Finds | WhoWhatWhy

South Carolina miscounted hundreds of votes in the 2018 primary and midterm elections, according to a new report by the League of Women Voters state chapter. The errors cast doubt on the quality of programming in the election computers, on the functionality of the old hardware, and on the state’s current election infrastructure itself. (Neither political party was favored by these problems.) The state even upgraded the software on its voting machines before these elections, yet failed to fix basic problems. “These are old machines, the software quality is questionable, there are bugs that contributed to the votes being counted wrong, and we need to find a new system,” Duncan Buell, the report’s author, told WhoWhatWhy. “I think the next step is to stop using them and going to something else. Given that known bugs in the software were not fixed in the revision, I would not hold my breath for software I would trust.”

Virginia: Court clerk: Virginia Beach recount process begins in ‘organized chaos’ | Southside Daily

The historic recount of three City Council elections began here Monday, as a medley of people packed a city conference room to commence the review of more than 170,000 ballots. The three DS-850 ballot-counting machines — the use of which three of the six candidates involved in the recount objected — lined the front of the room, as sheriff’s deputies managed traffic across the room. Circuit Court Clerk Tina Sinnen described the process — an unprecedented one that has been crafted in the public eye over the last several weeks — as “organized chaos,” illustrating the interlocking puzzle of people, process, and access required to administer the state’s first recount of multiple elections.

South Carolina: Election Commission requesting new voting system that they say must have paper trail | Post and Courier

South Carolina election officials have taken a key step toward replacing the state’s 13,000 outdated voting machines and want the new system to generate a paper record after each ballot is cast. The state Election Commission on Friday outlined its call for a “statewide voting system solution” in a request for proposal, or RFP. The RFP marks the first formal step in soliciting contracts or bids from voting system vendors. Officials want the new system implemented by January 2020, ahead of the next presidential election. The touchscreen machines South Carolina voters have used since 2004 provide no paper record, making the Palmetto State one of five states where voting machines do not leave a paper trail behind. That means when there’s a contested election or a suspected security breach, there is currently no paper component for auditing results.

Georgia: It’s time to solve the Mystery of the 100,000 Missing Votes | Atlanta Journal Constitution

The 2018 election season has finally ended. It’s over. Finis. Which means that the time is now ripe to take a cold-eyed, dispassionate and non-partisan look at the Mystery of the Missing 100,000 Votes. This is not about Georgia’s race for governor, but about the lieutenant governor’s contest. And the puzzle isn’t hidden, but sits on the secretary of state’s public website, staring at us like one of Edgar Allan Poe’s purloined letters. Let us begin the hunt by saying that Sarah Riggs Amico, the Democrat who lost to Republican Geoff Duncan by 123,172 votes on Nov. 6, is not asking for a do-over. Yes, a lawsuit has been filed challenging the results, but she is not a party to it. Amico is more interested in finding an explanation. “I don’t think this needs to be looked at as a question of outcome. It needs to be looked at as a question of election integrity,” the former candidate said Monday at the Cobb County headquarters of her family’s trucking firm. Given that the state Legislature is about to embark on a fierce and expensive debate over the replacement of thousands of voting machines in all 159 counties, her search could be an important one.

Louisiana: In search for new voting machines, Louisiana may need to start over | StateScoop

The office of Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin may have start from scratch on its goal to obtain nearly 20,000 voting machines for the state. Last week, Jay Dardenne, the commissioner of the state Department of Administration, confirmed an Oct. 10 ruling by the chief procurement officer, Paula Tregere, dealing an all-but-fatal blow to the $95 million contract Ardoin had awarded in August. Ardoin announced Aug. 9 that his office had chosen Dominion Voting Systems, one of the largest manufactures of voting equipment, to supply the state with new machines in time for the 2020 presidential election. But Tregere canceled the contract after one of the losing bidders, Election Systems & Software — the largest U.S. manufacturer of voting equipment — objected to the contracting process, arguing the original request for proposals contained specifications that only Dominion’s equipment could meet. The Advocate reported last week that Dominion, whose appeal Dardenne rejected, is still deciding whether to sue the state over losing its contract. The company has until Dec. 12 to file a suit, otherwise the entire bidding process might have to start over, Ardoin’s press secretary, Tyler Brey, told StateScoop.

US Virgin Islands: Absentee ballots can’t be read by voting machines | Virgin Islands Daily

More than 90 percent of absentee ballots for the 2018 runoff election have to be remade, according to V.I. Board of Elections Chairman Arturo Watlington Jr., an unavoidable reality of the short time span between the General Election and the runoff. On Tuesday, Watlington said board members on St. Thomas counted 273 absentee ballots — of which, more than 250 will have to be remade because they are not “official” runoff election ballots and cannot be fed into the voting machines. Watlington said the two weeks between the Nov. 6 General Election and Nov. 20 runoff election gave little time for elections officials to order and receive new ballots.

Nebraska: Outdated voting machines spark election worries | Lincoln Journal Star

When the federal government offered money to help states buy new vote-counting machines in 2002, Nebraska officials jumped at the chance. Nebraska used its share of the funding to create a statewide election system with new equipment for all 93 counties — including some remote, low-income areas that still hand-counted their ballots. Now, with machines that are outdated and increasingly difficult to repair, Nebraska lawmakers are largely on their own. “There’s no question it’s going to be a very challenging legislative session in terms of appropriations,” Secretary of State John Gale said in an interview.

New York: ES&S misled New York City over their weakness to humidity: docs | New York Post

The manufacturer of the city’s jam-plagued ballot scanners misled the Board of Elections about the devices’ vulnerability to humidity, which likely contributed to the Big Apple’s Election Day meltdown, The Post has learned. Nebraska-based Election Systems & Software claimed its scanners could operate in any humidity level in a key document it filed as part of its winning bid for the $56 million contract. But ES&S contradicts itself in the very instruction manual it publishes for the model of scanner the BOE purchased, filings with authorities in other states show. “Humidity and wetness were a factor in the paper jams on Election Day and ES&S was not transparent in the contract about the implications of wetness and humidity,” said Alex Camarda, an elections expert with the government watchdog Reinvent Albany.

National: New Video Provides Proof of Cellular Modems in Voting Machines | WhoWhatWhy

In the past few days, election integrity activists got up close to the current generation of ES&S voting machines — close enough to record video of a digital scanner voting machine sending results wirelessly. The ability of the machines to communicate with the outside world has generally not been acknowledged by either the manufacturer or election officials. Yet this wireless link is at the heart of concerns that election results could be hacked or manipulated, “including attacks that could change vote totals and election results,” said Emily Levy, director of communications at the voting transparency group AUDIT-USA. Almost two decades after its starring role in the 2000 Bush v. Gore Florida voting debacle, the Broward County Supervisor of Elections Office is still the centerfold for election integrity issues — not just in Florida but in the country as a whole.

South Carolina: Should South Carolina ditch outdated voting machines, switch to paper? | The State

A bipartisan group of legislators Tuesday proposed switching to paper ballots, even mail-in ballots, to replace the state’s “archaic” voting machines before South Carolinians cast their votes in the 2020 presidential election. Four S.C. House and Senate legislators said Tuesday they will pre-file bills next month to address the state’s aging voting machines and how the state should pay for a new voting system. “A voting system that is not only fair but also gives voters confidence that their vote has been cast and their vote has been … counted,” said state Sen. Thomas McElveen, D-Sumter. Money for a new voting system should not be that hard to find in what is developing as a flush budget year.

South Carolina: Legislators call for return to paper-based voting in South Carolina | The Post and Courier

Returning to paper ballots may be the solution for eliminating lines and ensuring all votes are counted correctly, a group of South Carolina legislators said Tuesday. While there’s wide support in the Legislature for replacing South Carolina’s 13,000 antiquated voting machines before the 2020 elections, what the next system should look like is up for debate. State election officials are seeking $60 million in the upcoming budget for a new system with a paper component for auditing. The touchscreen machines South Carolina voters have used since 2004 provide no paper record. “It’s shocking to me we have no paper trail,” said Rep. Beth Bernstein, D-Columbia. She was among several legislators Tuesday who said paper printouts won’t suffice. They advocate going old school with paper ballots. “We don’t want a machine auditing a machine,” said Sen. Thomas McElveen, D-Sumter. “We want something tangible.” 

South Carolina: Glitchy voting machines in South Carolina spur new investment | StateScoop

South Carolina election officials said Friday they’re pushing ahead with plans to replace the state’s nearly 13,000 electronic voting machines in time for the next presidential election in 2020, following complaints by some voters last week that the aging equipment changed their ballots or simply broke down, causing extreme wait times at polling places. The State Election Commission said it is requesting $60 million from South Carolina lawmakers to swap out the existing equipment, which was purchased in 2004, for a balloting system that can produce a paper ballot. The machines the state currently uses to conduct elections only offer voters a touchscreen interface and are not capable of printing out paper backups of votes that can be audited. South Carolina is one of five states that exclusively use these types of machines — known as direct-recording electronic, or DREs — to collect votes, along with Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana and New Jersey. Several other states, including Texas and Pennsylvania, use DREs as their main type of voting equipment.

South Carolina: Old voting machines blamed for some Election Day problems. Will State replace them? | The State

Voting equipment that’s older than the first iPhone is being blamed by some election officials in South Carolina for some problems voters experienced on Election Day. State and local election officials are calling on S.C. lawmakers to pay up for new voting equipment in time for next year’s local elections to head off any further issues that could arise during the next general election. “Most of our issues that we had on Election Day were as a result of the age of the equipment,” said Rokey Suleman, Richland County’s elections director. “We desperately want to have this (new) equipment and run it through the fall elections in 2019, because if we implement it for the first time in presidential preference primaries, which are going to have high turnout, or in the presidential election, it’s going to have an impact.” South Carolina’s current voting machines were purchased in 2004. The first iPhone was released three years later.

Florida: Something Very Odd Happened With Broward County’s Ballots in the Florida Senate Election | Slate Kim

Florida has retained the championship belt for election shenanigans, as three statewide races could be headed for a recount. The gap between Rick Scott and Bill Nelson, in the election for the latter’s Senate seat, has only continued to narrow. The race was already within the 0.5 percent margin needed to trigger a recount on Wednesday, when Scott had roughly a 35,000-vote lead. That’s been cut in half to about 17,000 as ballots have continued to come in. While Scott is still the favorite to ultimately win, FiveThirtyEight has shifted the race from “likely Republican” to “lean Republican.” One reason for hope for Nelson is that a traditionally Democratic area, Broward County, has so far reported fewer votes for the Senate race compared with the gubernatorial race, according to data compiled by MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki. In other Florida counties, no such discrepancy exists. While some of the discrepancy could be due to genuine undervotes—for instance, the design of the ballot may have led some voters to miss it and not vote in that race—it’s possible that the county hasn’t correctly counted all the ballots. About 24,000 ballots in Broward County registered a vote in the governor’s race but not for the Senate race.

Indiana: FBI asked to investigate Porter County’s trouble with counting votes | Indianapolis Star

The commissioners in a northwestern Indiana county plagued by a mix of Election Day problems asked the FBI on Wednesday to investigate what they called “scores of alleged violations of Indiana Election Law” reported following Tuesday’s election. Porter County has released no election results, and officials did not begin counting votes until Wednesday morning, more than 15 hours after the first polling places closed. The delay was holding up final election results in three state legislative races, those for House districts 4 and 19 and Senate District 7. The commissioners’ office said in a statement late Wednesday afternoon that the commissioners had asked the FBI to investigate the alleged election violations reported “by poll workers, voters and the public.” The commissioners’ statement did not specify what those alleged violations involved.

South Carolina: Voting snafus renew calls for new voting machines in South Carolina | The Greenville News

Following an election highlighted by long lines at the polls and reports of broken voting machines, programming errors and machines that switched votes for some candidates, voting rights advocates have renewed calls for the state Legislature to replace South Carolina’s aging voting machines. The state’s 13,000 voting machines have been in use since 2004 and use pre-2004 technology. South Carolina is one of five states that still uses machines that directly record votes without providing a paper trail to follow in the case of disputed elections or investigations of vote tampering. And in an election in which voters in Richland and York counties reported their votes being switched after they’d made a selection, the ACLU of South Carolina and the South Carolina Progressive Network have once again called on lawmakers to upgrade the system.

South Carolina: USC professor raises concerns over South Carolina voting equipment | WLTX

WLTX has done several stories in recent weeks about voting equipment issues in Richland county and concern over the state’s aging voting equipment. A USC computer science professor, known for critiquing the state’s aging voting equipment, is another voice calling for change before 2020. “I think in order to restore trust in elections, we need to get as much technology out of this process as possible,” Duncan Buell said in his faculty office on Thursday. Buell, a USC computer science professor with a doctorate in mathematics, has been auditing state election results independently for years. He and the South Carolina State Election Commission started separate audits in 2010. “We have seen a significant improvement, I think, in the quality of the process since 2010,” Buell added in his office. Buell said a 2010 Democratic senate primary caused concern due to issues with vote counts in some counties. Together with others, like the League of Women Voters, Buell started individual audits. In 2016, Buell said the data was, “really very very clean.”

South Carolina: Voting machine problems in Richland County precincts | The State

A calibration issue resulting from aging technology caused ‘mismarking’ of votes for some ballots in Richland County voting precincts Tuesday morning. By the time polls had closed on Election Day, Richland County officials said they were “happy with where we are.” Early in the day, Richland County Elections Director Rokey Suleman told The State some precincts had problems with machines “mismarking the vote” — or switching the selection to another name — because of calibration issues with the aging touch-screen machines. “If the calibration slips, you can touch it but the screen will select either above or below because of the calibration issue,” Suleman said. “The machines are just old, and we’re starting to see more and more issues with screen calibrations not being able to hold.”

Editorials: Voting Machines: What Could Possibly Go Wrong? | Jennifer Cohn/NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books

Since the 2016 election, there has been a good deal of commentary and reporting about the threats to American democracy from, on the one hand, Russian interference by Facebook and Twitterbot-distributed propaganda, and on the other, voter ID laws and other partisan voter suppression measures such as electoral roll purges. Both of these concerns are real and urgent, but there is a third, yet more sinister threat to the integrity of the November 6 elections: the vulnerability of the voting machines themselves. This potential weakness is critical because the entire system of our democracy depends on public trust—the belief that, however divided the country is and fiercely contested elections are, the result has integrity. Nothing is more insidious and corrosive than the idea that the tally of votes itself could be unreliable and exposed to fraud. 

National: Private Equity Controls the Gatekeepers of American Democracy | Bloomberg

Millions of Americans will cast votes in Tuesday’s midterm elections, some on machines that experts say use outdated software or are vulnerable to hacking. If there are glitches or some races are too close to call — or evidence emerges of more meddling attempts by Russia — voters may wake up on Wednesday and wonder: Can we trust the outcome? Meet, then, the gatekeepers of American democracy: Three obscure, private equity-backed companies control an estimated $300 million U.S. voting-machine industry. Though most of their revenue comes from taxpayers, and they play an indispensable role in determining the balance of power in America, the companies largely function in secret. Devices made by Election Systems & Software LLC, Dominion Voting Systems and Hart InterCivic Inc. will process about nine of every ten ballots next week. Each of the companies is privately held and at least partially controlled by private equity firms. Beyond that, little is known about how they operate or to whom they answer. They don’t disclose financial results and aren’t subject to federal regulation. While the companies say their technology is secure and up-to-date, security experts for years have raised concerns that older, sometimes poorly engineered, equipment can jeopardize the integrity of elections and, more importantly, erode public trust.

New Jersey: State to begin using newer, more secure voting machine – experts say the state is making a new mistake in the process | News12

New Jersey election officials are taking steps to replace the state’s outdated voting machines, which are vulnerable to hacking. But some experts say the state is making a new mistake in the process. Voters in New Jersey use some of the oldest, least secure voting machines in America. Ten years ago, Princeton professor Andrew Appel demonstrated the machines could be hacked. They also produce no paper backup, so Appel says, “You can’t really recount or audit. Whatever the computer says, whether it’s hacked or not, is what you have to rely on.”  That may soon change. New Jersey election director Robert Giles says all 21 county election boards are on board with transitioning to new machines that produce voter-verified paper trails. Enter the ExpressVote XL, being used for the first time next week in Westfield, before being rolled out Union County-wide. County election officials let Kane In Your Corner test the equipment, which features a 32-inch touch screen.