Lyon County Clerk Tammy Vopat asked commissioners to consider investing in new voting equipment in the coming weeks during a meeting at the courthouse Thursday morning. The equipment which is currently being used in the county is reaching the end of its life. Vopat said the voting machines currently used by the county are 18 years old, and used in conjunction with a tabulating machine well over 30 years old. Vopat provided commissioners with information about equipment from two companies which have been certified by the State of Kansas and are used by other counties in the region. “We have been working very, very hard and for a long time researching election equipment,” Vopat said. “There have been some big counties that have done that and we’ve been watching and taking notes, and listening about what they did, how they did and what they liked and what they didn’t like. That’s been in the process now for probably three years.”
Alabama: ES&S caught up in Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore’s allegations of ‘election fraud’ | Omaha World Herald
An Omaha company on Thursday was caught up in an Alabama Senate candidate’s unsuccessful attempt to stop the state from certifying the results of a special election. Late Wednesday, Republican Roy Moore filed a legal complaint alleging “election fraud” and asked the state to consider holding a new election. The complaint was rejected by a judge, however, and a state board Thursday officially declared Doug Jones the winner of the Dec. 12 election. The complaint, filed in state court, mentions Election Systems & Software, an Omaha-based company that provides equipment, software and services for election support.
South Carolina is one of only five states whose voting machines create no paper trail that could be used to reconstruct the balloting if hackers found a way to change votes in an election. The state has used its touch-screen system since 2004, when Congress spent $4 billion to upgrade systems across the country. That eliminated punch-card systems like the one plagued by “hanging chads” in the crucial Florida recount of the 2000 Bush-Gore race. Lancaster County Elections Director Mary Ann Hudson, whose office has 190 of the paperless machines, is concerned about the dated equipment. “I doubt any of us would wait that long to replace our personal smartphones and computers,” Hudson said. “When you have a system as old as ours, you have to start thinking about possible options.” In the wake of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential race, many states are upgrading their machines and electoral databases and adding cybersecurity measures to assure the integrity of the voting process.
When Douglas County Election Commissioner Brian Kruse tells election officials from other states how votes are counted in Nebraska’s largest county, the responses vary. “Oh, that’s painful,” is one response. “How long did you work?” is another. “We like to say, ‘Well, 26 hours, but we loved every minute of it,’” Kruse told members of the Nebraska Legislature’s Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee during a hearing Thursday. In Douglas County, all of the ballots are brought to a central location and tallied. Kruse compared that with Birmingham, Alabama, where votes on election night are tallied at the precincts and results are reported in about four hours.
Some of the nation’s top election technology companies explained to state lawmakers Thursday how they might replace Georgia’s 15-year-old electronic voting machines, which have been phased out in many states around the country. … Georgia is one of five states where voting machines currently have no paper trail, and cybersecurity experts agree that exposes the system to potential doubt, hacks and glitches. “The bottom line is you want to have that fail-safe, so that the system can be checked with an audit and, if necessary, be recounted with a physical record, and that’s provided with a paper ballot,” said Susan Greenhalgh with Verified Voting, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that advocates for accuracy, transparency and verifiability of elections. She presented to the committee Thursday.
Georgia lawmakers are considering replacements for the state’s touch-screen voting machines that were adopted statewide 15 years ago and that have been criticized because they don’t produce a paper trail. The state House Science and Technology Committee heard on Thursday from representatives of three different voting technology companies. “We’re just trying to understand what options the state of Georgia has,” said state Rep. Ed Setzler, a Republican from Acworth who chairs the bipartisan panel. … Susan Greenhalgh with Verified Voting, a non-partisan, non-profit organization that pushes for measures to make elections accurate, transparent and verifiable, said after the hearing that system the state currently uses is old, has raised security concerns and has already been abandoned by other states for that reason. “The time is now for Georgia to fix their voting system,” she said. “It’s good the legislature is taking this up and we hope they move quickly.”
The results are in from this month’s test run of a voting system that could bring paper ballots back to Georgia: It was easy to use and fast, but it would come with a high cost to taxpayers. The trial of the touch screen-plus-paper ballot voting system “came off without a hitch” when it was tried during the Nov. 7 election for Conyers’ mayor and City Council, Georgia Elections Director Chris Harvey said. Though this voting system would be an improvement over Georgia’s 15-year-old paperless machines, an election transparency group called Verified Voting says the state should stop using touch screens and return to the simple efficiency of filling out ballots with pens or pencils, like about 70 percent of the nation. During the trial run, voters picked their candidates on touch-screen machines, which then printed out a filled-in paper ballot that reflected their choices. Then voters could review their paper ballots for accuracy before feeding them into a trash can-shaped machine, which scanned the ballots, counted them and deposited them into a locked container.
In October 2017, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) sent letters to five of the top voting machine companies in America asking how their organizations were structured and what steps they have taken to ensure their machines are protected from cyber threats. “As our election systems have come under unprecedented scrutiny, public faith in the security of our electoral process at every level is more important than ever before,” Wyden said. “Ensuring that Americans can trust that election systems and infrastructure are secure is necessary to protecting confidence in our electoral process and democratic government.” The questions touched on a wide range of topics related to cybersecurity, such as whether the companies had experienced a recent data breach, whether they employ a chief information security officer and how frequently their products have been audited by third-party evaluators.
Although elections officials say they’re seeing more failures with their 13-year-old touch-screen voting machines, it could be years before voters get to cast ballots on a new statewide system that’s estimated to cost at least $40 million. “South Carolina has been using the current system since 2004, and it’s reaching the end of its useful life,” said Chris Whitmire, a spokesman for the state Election Commission. “We are seeing more issues with machines, the most common of which is touchscreen failure.” He added: “While no votes are lost when that happens — and we can handle isolated failures — we have to take steps to ensure the viability of the system in the years to come.”
State and county officials have formed a task force to address Wyoming’s aging election equipment. Teton County Clerk Sherry Daigle said it’s now ten years old and the technology has gotten behind the times. “Technology is outdated the day you put it into effect because it moves so fast,” she said. “And a lot of the equipment we have is, you know, they’re computer scanners and readers. So we wanted to make sure we’re not behind the eight ball.” Daigle said the challenge will be coming up with the money. It will cost the state $8 to 10 million dollars to replace the state’s current equipment.
While they weren’t catastrophic, a few problems in last week’s election revealed Luzerne County’s voting machines are starting to show their age, county Election Director Marisa Crispell said. The county started using touch-screen electronic voting machines in the 2006 primary, or 11 years ago. “Technology is constantly moving forward,” Crispell said. “Many people change phones every two years and regularly update their laptops. These machines are no different.” One example she cited: The touch-screen capabilities froze on a few machines in the election last Tuesday. After officials verified no votes were cast on the machines, they were taken out of service, Crispell said. In Larksville, a back-up retrieval device had to be used to collect election data from voting machines because the device normally used to load ballots and extract results — called a personal election ballot, or PEB — failed, Crispell said. Result tallies for several machines also had to be printed at the county election bureau, as opposed to polling places, because a few hand-held printers were not working properly, she said.
Georgia election officials are bringing back paper ballots – at least temporarily – in the city of Conyers local election, providing a glimpse of what may one day replace the state’s aging voting machines. The on-loan voting equipment went into action last week in Conyers, a small city just outside of Atlanta, as early voting started for the Nov. 7 election. With the system being used in the pilot program, called the ExpressVote Universal Voting System, voters are issued a paper ballot that they insert into a touch-screen voting machine, prints their choices onto the ballot. Voters can then review their selections on the paper ballot before inserting it into a tabulation machine, which scans the ballots and secures them in a locked box. If there’s a mistake, the voter is issued a new ballot.
Pennsylvania: Effort to address Allegheny County voting machine vulnerabilities faces hurdles | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
A grassroots effort to examine — and likely replace — Allegheny County’s voting machines has itself been struggling for lack of a vote. Its latest challenge came Friday morning in the courtroom of Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Joseph James. At issue is a 16-page proposal to establish a “voting process review commission,” which would study the county’s electronic voting machines and recommend replacements. Under the measure, supported by the League of Women Voters and VoteAllegheny, voters would have to approve a referendum to pay for any new equipment. Activists fear that electronic touch-screen machines like those used in Allegheny County are susceptible to hacking — and that because those machines do not produce a hard copy of votes cast, there may be no way to get a reliable tally of votes.
A crucial test for the future of Georgia elections begins Monday when early voting opens across the state ahead of the Nov. 7 local and special elections. Voters in Conyers will begin casting paper ballots along with new voting and tabulating machines as they decide on a new mayor and two City Council seats. The pilot program comes as advocates have sued to force the state to dump its aging all-electronic system amid fears of hacking and security breaches. And it could pave the way for the first elections system reboot in Georgia since 2002. “Everything is still on track and we are ready to go,” said Cynthia Welch, the elections supervisor for Rockdale County, which is running the Conyers election. Welch and her team have spent the past several weeks demonstrating the system, including to other local elections officials as well as lawmakers.
More than a dozen voters have used new paper-ballot voting machines in Conyers with no reported problems, the first step of a new pilot program to test the machines in Georgia. “It’s fair to say we’re excited to get the ball rolling and partner with a good elections office and give voters a preview of what the future of voting may look like,” said Chris Harvey, Georgia’s elections director. “This kind of technology seems to be what a lot of states are going toward,” Harvey added. “This is becoming the new normal.”
Faced with increasingly convincing evidence that electronic voting systems can be hacked to alter election results, a majority of states are wisely moving to adopt voting methods that enhance security, in part by producing a paper ballot record that can be used to audit results. South Carolina should do the same. In fact, that’s the goal of the state Election Commission, if the Legislature will come up with $40 million to purchase the 13,000 new machines needed to serve every precinct in the state. The commission has attempted to get the Legislature’s attention for five years about the need to build up a fund to replace the existing machines. So far, legislators have demurred, awaiting the completion of new state standards for voting machine security. Those standards are expected to be completed in time for legislative review next year. Timely action will be needed if there is to be any chance to replace the 13-year-old touch-screen machines before the next general election in 2020.
In his Princeton University office, computer science professor Andrew Appel held up a small computer chip from a New Jersey voting machine. It’s the program that tallies your vote behind the curtain, inside the polling booth. It’s used in every single voting machine in 18 out of New Jersey’s 21 counties. It’s also outdated technology, and if you really wanted to, it’s not all that difficult to hack. “If you put a fraudulent program that adds up the votes a different way, you can install it in the voting machine by prying out the legitimate chip in there now and installing this fraudulent chip in the socket,” he said. Appel knows because he did it. Almost all of New Jersey’s 11,000 computerized voting machines are AVC Advantage systems. The Mercer County Board of Elections has a warehouse where the systems have been decertified in most of the country, but not here.
Rockdale Elections Director Cynthia Welch recently held a demonstration showing off the new “paper” ballot voting machines that will be used in the Nov. 7 Conyers municipal elections. Rockdale is the first county in Georgia to pilot the new machines, which will provide voters with a paper ballot they can examine before casting their ballot in a tabulator machine that counts the votes. “If they’re not satisfied with their vote, they can take it to a poll worker and request a new ballot and start all over. Once they are satisfied with their selections, they can cast the ballot in the tabulator,” Welch said.
Wisconsin: State to end use of ballot-counting machine that had flaw highlighted in recount | Wisconsin State Journal
State elections officials plan to end the use of a type of ballot-tabulation machine after the statewide 2016 recount linked the machine to vote-counting discrepancies in the last election. State elections commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to de-certify the machine, the Optech Eagle, immediately after the 2018 election. The commission also required that if those machines are used in a recount before then, a hand recount would be required. A Wisconsin State Journal analysis of the recount results, published in January, highlighted the problems. The Optech Eagle, which processed about 10.6 percent of the ballots in the state, produced a higher error rate than other machines — likely because some voters didn’t comply with instructions to use a certain kind of ink or pencil to mark their ballots.
North Carolina: Replacing outdated machines will cost Madison County $400,000 | Asheville Citizen-Times
Madison County will have to invest more than $433,000 in new voting equipment before the next presidential election. The local Board of Elections at its monthly meeting inside its offices Sept. 20 discussed a plan to break up the expense over three years. “We’ll be replacing the whole voting system, the whole shooting match,” said Kathy Ray, the board’s director. “In addition to the equipment, we’ll need new supplies and materials to accommodate the new voting system.” The purchase is necessary because the machines currently in use, touchscreen iVotronic models, will be decertified by the state Sept. 1, 2019. That change will force the county to buy new machines that meet state guidelines. “The county commissioners need to know this,” board chairman Jerry Wallin said of the imminent expenditure, adding that the funds will come out of the budget crafted by the five-member panel. Wallin said he hand-delivered a memo outlining a plan to divide the expense over the next three budget years. “Did the county manager (Forrest Gilliam) pass out?” board member Dyatt Smathers asked with a smile.
Kansas: Judges question challenge to voting machines, but case could change state law | The Wichita Eagle
Appeals judges strongly questioned Tuesday whether there’s a legitimate legal question for them to decide in Wichita statistician Beth Clarkson’s quest to use audit tapes to test the accuracy of voting machines. But the case could lead to an effort to change state law to make it easier for citizens to do accuracy tests on election equipment. Clarkson, a statistician at Wichita State University, is asking the judges to order a recount of votes on ballot questions in the 2014 election, using the paper tapes generated by voting machines as voters cast their ballots. At a Court of Appeals hearing Tuesday in Wichita, the lead judge on the three-judge panel repeatedly pressed Clarkson’s lawyer, former U.S. Attorney Randy Rathbun, about whether a recount would have any effect, since the election was settled years ago.
Missouri: Boone County’s aging election equipment comes with estimated $1 million replacement price tag | Columbia Daily Tribune
Boone County’s aging voting equipment will need to be replaced in the next couple of years, and the estimated $1 million expense — once covered in the past by the federal government — solely will be the county’s responsibility. The Help America Vote Act of 2002, which reformed the U.S. voting process, awarded Boone County $888,700 more than a decade ago to purchase new equipment, including software, ballot counting equipment known as M100 machines and iVote machines, or the touchscreen ballots accessible through the American Disabilities Act.
The county’s voting equipment, which has a 10-year lifespan, has experienced an increasing number of errors in recent years and needs to be replaced, said Boone County Clerk Taylor Burks. Burks, appointed to the position in late July by Gov. Eric Greitens, said his office did not have enough time to meet the 2018 budget request deadline on Sept. 30 to find funding for replacement equipment next year. But he expects to have a plan for 2019.
Kansas: Appeals court to grapple with Beth Clarkson voting-machine case in Wichita | The Wichita Eagle
Is voting rigged in Sedgwick County? Is there any way to prove it is or isn’t? Those are the fundamental questions underlying a Kansas Court of Appeals case to be argued Tuesday morning in a special court session at Friends University in Wichita. The appeals court is being asked to allow a recount of votes on audit tapes from voting machines to test the accuracy of the tallies reported by Sedgwick County Election Commissioner Tabitha Lehman. Wichita State University statistician Beth Clarkson has tried for seven years to gain access to the tapes. Her request was denied by Lehman and the denial was upheld in district court. Lehman and Sedgwick County say that there is no problem with the votes and releasing the tapes would risk compromising the secrecy of people’s ballots. Tuesday’s appeal arguments will feature two prominent Wichita attorneys.
Verified Voting in the News: Board of Elections Ends Use of Touch-Screen Voting Machines | Wall Street Journal
Election administrators in Virginia ordered the state’s remaining touch-screen electronic voting machines be taken out of service in advance of the coming statewide election, after hackers demonstrated vulnerabilities in an array of election technology at a recent security convention. Virginia, one of two states holding statewide elections for governor and state legislature this year, won’t use any touch-screen machines in the Nov. 7 general election after the State Board of Elections voted Friday to revoke the certifications on all such systems still being used in the state. Virginia will switch to paper ballots counted and processed by computerized scanners. James Alcorn, chair of the board, said in a statement the move was “necessary to ensure the integrity of Virginia’s elections.” … The decision by Virginia to stop using touch-screen electronic voting machines marks a victory for advocates who have long criticized paperless electronic voting systems as insecure and potentially vulnerable to tampering and mischief.
Verified Voting in the News: Virginia Is Getting Rid Of Its Vulnerable Voting Machines | Newburgh Gazette
The State Elections Board of Virginia, on Friday the 8th of September, approved a plan to replace the direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting machines used now in the state due to concerns about hacking in future elections. Additionally, the direct-recording electronic voting equipment in use in Virginia does not have a voter-verifiable paper audit trail, which is an important security feature provided by the paper systems, the statement added. As of today, the following 22 Virginia localities use DREs: Bath, Buchanan, Chesapeake, Colonial Heights, Culpeper, Cumberland, Emporia, Falls Church, Gloucester, Hopewell, Lee, Madison, Martinsville, Norfolk, Poquoson, Portsmouth, Rappahannock, Russell, Surry, Sussex, Tazewell, and Washington. Most states will not hold a major election until November 2018, but Virginia will elect a new governor and other statewide officials this November.
With only two months until election day, officials in Virginia have decided fully-electronic voting machines aren’t safe. Amid growing cyber-security threats, the Board of Elections is forcing localities to stop using the of the touch screen machines that leave no paper trail. … Alex Blakemore with Virginia Verified Voting has long advocated for the machines to be decertified. While he hasn’t seen what the latest testing shows, he does remember the results of a similar security review back in 2015. “The machines were unbelievably vulnerable. They had wifi on them which, why would you want wifi on a voting machine?” Blakemore asked. “You could hack in remotely, the password was abcde.”
Some registrars across the commonwealth are working to acquire new, approved equipment so voters can cast ballots in less than two months. On Friday, the Department of Elections called for touchscreen voting booths to be decertified in Virginia. The State Board of Elections approved the request. The touchscreen method is being phased out because of concerns of hacking. “Our No. 1 priority is to make sure that Virginia elections are carried out in a secure and fair manner,” James Alcorn, Chair of the State Board of Elections, said in a release. “The step we took [Friday] to decertify paperless voting systems is necessary to ensure the integrity of Virginia’s elections.” Touchscreens were previously set to go away in 2020.
Verified Voting in the News: Board of Elections halts use of voting machines considered vulnerable to hacking | Reuters
Virginia on Friday agreed to stop using paperless touchscreen voting machines that had been flagged by cyber security experts as potentially vulnerable to hackers and lacking sufficient vote auditing capabilities. The action represented one of the most concrete steps taken by a U.S. state to bolster the cyber security of election systems since the 2016 presidential race, when U.S. intelligence agencies say Russia waged a digital influence campaign to help President Donald Trump win. Virginia’s board of elections voted to accept a recommendation from its state election director, Edgardo Cortes, to decertify so-called direct-recording electronic machines, which count votes digitally and do not produce paper trails that can be checked against a final result.
Virginia’s Board of Elections voted unanimously to decertify all of the state’s touchscreen voting machines, which are considered by cybersecurity experts to be vulnerable to manipulation by hackers. The race is now on to replace the machines, which are used in 22 counties, before Virginia’s elections in November. Industry experts and and the state’s elections department have recommended that the touchscreen machines be replaced with ones that record votes on paper instead of only electronically, so the votes can be audited and verified.
Virginia: Board of Elections bans touch-screen voting machines over hacking concerns | Associated Press
The Virginia State Board of Elections voted Friday to ban use of touch-screen voting machines in November’s closely watched gubernatorial contest, over concerns the equipment can be hacked. The three-person board voted unanimously at a hastily arranged meeting to decertify touch-screen voting machines, which are still used by counties and cities around the state. The vote came after a closed-door briefing on potential vulnerabilities to the touch-screen systems. “It was enlightening, to say the least,” said board member Clara Belle Wheeler, who said she had originally intended not vote for decertification because of the closeness to the Nov. 7 elections.