Nebraska: Counties get grants for disability election equipment costs | Associated Press

The Nebraska Secretary of State has announced that 48 county election offices will receive reimbursements totaling nearly $50,000 to help cover costs associated with the use of voter disability equipment during the 2014 general election. The money is provided to the Secretary of State’s office through a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as part of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002.

US Virgin Islands: 2014 Ballot Woes May Repeat in 2016 | St. Croix Source

The delays in counting votes and the trouble handling party symbol votes that plagued the 2014 election will repeat themselves in 2016, unless the Legislature acts or a lawsuit is filed and won in the next several months, elections officials told the V.I. Legislature this week. The Legislature met as the Committee of the Whole on Tuesday evening to hear from elections officials. The territory purchased new vote tabulating machines after Adelbert Bryan, who was at the time the St. Croix Elections Board chairman, waged a campaign to get rid of the territory’s previous machines, alleging, without evidence, possible widespread conspiracies to rig the territory’s elections and making numerous dubious claims about the old machines. In a test run shortly before the general election in 2014, the brand new ES&S ballot tabulators counted votes in a surprising way, due to the unique V.I. electoral system where senators vie to be the top seven vote-getters in their district.

Virginia: Faced with WINVote voting machine concerns, Botetourt plans to count votes by hand | Roanoke Times: Virginia

In response to concerns about glitches with some voting machines in Virginia, election officials in Botetourt County will be counting votes by hand for the June 9 Republican primary. The decision to go old-school, made Friday by the county’s electoral board, comes amid growing concerns about WinVote touch-screen voting machines, which are used in about 20 percent of Virginia’s precincts, including those in Botetourt. A vote to decertify the machines statewide could be taken as early as next week at a Virginia Board of Elections meeting in Richmond. In anticipation of not being able to use the WinVote machines for the June primary, the electoral board accepted a recommendation from Registrar Phyllis Booze: Borrow three voting machines from a vendor with whom the county is negotiating the purchase of all the equipment that it will need for the November elections.

North Carolina: Machines limit 2016 early voting options | Winston-Salem Journal

With its current equipment inventory, the Forsyth County Board of Elections would have to make a tough choice for the 2016 general election: offer fewer early voting sites than it did in 2012 or offer fewer electronic voting machines at each site. Steve Hines, elections director for Forsyth County, presented those scenarios to election board members on Tuesday as part of his pitch for new equipment. He put in a budget request this year for about $1.4 million to replace the county’s voting equipment, which is about 10 years old. County commissioners will decide in the next few months whether to approve the request. In the 2012 general election, Forsyth County had 15 early voting sites, Hines said.

Virginia: New voting machines under review for Lynchburg precincts | News Advance

Lynchburg is test-driving new voting machines in hopes of replacing its current system’s machines that are nearing 10 to 20 years in age. The electoral board has assembled a focus group of precinct officials, disability community advocates and political party representatives to meet with the four vendors who’ve either been certified by the state or are in the process of being certified.  The board has been making the case for a new citywide system for some time now, and City Manager Kimball Payne’s new budget proposal recommends earmarking $300,000 for the project. The new balloting system, if given the green light by City Council, would rely on paper ballots, as a 2007 state law bars the purchase of new touch screen voting machines.

National: Voting technology: Is it secure yet? | GCN

With the presidential election coming up in 2016, many constituencies are looking to how they can use technology to streamline the voting process. Security of the voting system – both with and without technology – remains a question. One method gaining support is to secure the voting process by moving to open source software. The TrustTheVote Project wants open source technology used from the top down, in voter registration, voter information services, ballot design, the foundations of ballot tabulation, election results reporting and analysis and elements of auditing. The initiative is the flagship project of the Open Source Election Technology Foundation (OSET), which wants to have a demonstrable impact on the 2016 elections. “Our nation’s elections systems and technology are woefully antiquated. They are officially obsolete,” Greg Miller, chair of OSET told the Anne Babe of the Huffington Post.

Florida: Scary storage for Brevard County voting gear | Voting Today

Brevard avoided national embarrassment the past few election cycles because you, the taxpayers, have spent more than $3 million on state-of-the-art voting equipment. So where does the county keep all our cutting-edge, computerized gear — upon which democracy itself depends? It is jammed wall-to-wall in what amounts to a really big, old metal shed in west Cocoa. The Election Support Center warehouse, which also stores meticulously arranged ballots, has no smoke alarms or fire-prevention system such as sprinklers. It has no security system. It has holes in its truck-bay door and holes in walls covered by duct tape. The floors are clean, the gear precisely arranged. But insulation dangles from collapsed portions of ceiling over voting machines. Streaks of black gunk line a wall above racks of ballot bags. “It’s mold,” Elections Supervisor Lori Scott says (although it might only be mildew.)

Idaho: Voting in the 21st century: Ada County to ditch ‘antiquated technology’ | Idaho Statesman

Like most political aficionados, Paul Woods looks forward to the excitement of the polls closing and the results pouring in each Election Day. For the past several years, though, Ada County’s results have not poured in. They’ve trickled. Woods had to wait 11 hours after Ada County’s polls closed in the November 2014 election to find out whether he won his race to become an Ada County Highway District commissioner. (He did.) “I stayed up until 2:30 in the morning and they still were not in,” Woods lamented. “I got up at 6 and checked and they were almost done.” Other Idaho counties had tallied ballots and sent election workers home to bed hours before Ada County posted final election results at 7 a.m. In 2012, ballot counting didn’t wrap up until 8 a.m. … Remember Zip disks and Zip drives? That once-cutting-edge computer storage technology fell out of favor around the turn of century. But that bygone technology is still at the heart of Ada County’s election system – and at least part of the reason results take so long.

Virginia: Virginia Beach moves to get new voting machines | 13News

New voting machines are coming to Virginia Beach. City Council Tuesday is expected to approve spending money right away to get the machines in time for the June primary election. In a letter to council, General Registrar Donna Patterson reminded Council that several TSX machines had to be removed from service during the November 4, 2014 election. 13News Now reported on issues with 32 voting machines at 25 different precincts that showed signs of irregularities and had to be pulled out of service. The City used 820 machines that election.

District of Columbia: Audit: No-show poll workers, outdated equipment marred D.C. election | The Washington Post

The District’s Nov. 4 general election was marred by absent poll workers, outdated equipment and uneven access for disabled voters, the D.C. auditor’s office concludes in a new report that recommends replacing voting machines and improving worker training. At one polling place in November, people were asked to show identification to vote — which is not required by D.C. law — and some voters were turned away, according to the report. The audit came after a series of lapses from the D.C. Board of Elections in recent years — most recently, a technical breakdown that delayed the counting of votes for hours during the April 1 primary last year and the printing of a voter guide bearing an upside-down D.C. flag ahead of the general election. D.C. Council member Kenyan R. McDuffie (D-Ward 5) ordered the audit, which involved visits to a majority of the city’s 143 polling places on Election Day. McDuffie has been sharply critical of management at the elections board. … The auditors documented equipment problems at 57 of the 89 precincts they visited, affecting a wide range of the District’s Election Day technology — including paper ballot readers, electronic poll books and touch-screen voting machines.

South Dakota: Voting: ‘It’s a piece of technology. It can fail’ | Argus Leader

What exactly kept Minnehaha County from reporting election totals for 14 hours in the last general election, and how should the auditor’s office make sure it never happens again? The seven-member panel appointed to answer those questions reviewed the issues again Friday as it spent more than two hours on the matter with several issues brought up. Earlier questions on problems with the machines that counted the votes, and froze on election night, had been put to the manufacturer, but it did not respond until an hour before this meeting and did not address what happened on election night. The machines apparently were too sensitive, rejecting ballots with stray marks as “overvotes.” Pennington County had the same problem during the election, said its county auditor, Julie Pearson, but only briefly. It was fixed with a simple adjustment to the equipment. Making that change eliminated the rejection of ballots with hesitation marks.

North Carolina: Law change could cost counties | The News Herald

Come 2018, the county could have to cough up more than half a million dollars for new voting equipment and it could go back to paper ballots. Kim Strach, executive director of the North Carolina State Board of Elections, said in a letter sent to local elections offices that most voting equipment in the state is nearing the end of its lifespan. She said counties will need to plan for large expenditures to buy new voting equipment. In her letter, Strach said direct record electronic voting equipment will need to be replaced because the machines will be decertified in January 2018. She said a law change will require a paper ballot for all certified voting systems. The state board of elections will have to approve any new voting equipment, she said.

Wisconsin: New Voting Machines To Debut In Kenosha This Spring Section | Kenosha News

When the Salem Town Hall surprisingly ran out of ballots during the busy November 2014 election, voting officials were forced to make hundreds of photocopies and tediously hand count the ballots after the polls closed. Thanks to modern technology, this should never happen again. Voting is now easier, cheaper, safer and more efficient with the recent arrival of the DS200 Precinct scanner and tabulator and the ExpressVote universal voting system, according to Kenosha County Clerk Mary Schuch-Krebs. Schuch-Krebs said she’s requested a hardware upgrade since being elected in 2008. “It’s been a long time coming,” Schuch-Krebs said. “I think the voters are going to be really happy with the change.”

Arkansas: New voting machines could be on horizon, official says | Arkansas Online

The race is on to replace Washington County’s decade-old voting equipment before the 2016 presidential election, the county’s election coordinator said Thursday. Two vendors will meet with election commissioners as part of the companies’ statewide push to grab Arkansas’ next voting equipment contracts, said coordinator Jennifer Price during the commission’s first meeting of the new term. California-based Unisyn Voting Solutions and Nebraska-based Election Systems & Software are both angling for the state’s attention, Price said. Election Systems & Software provides the state’s current equipment and support. New contracts could net either company tens of millions of state taxpayers’ dollars, Price said. “It’s the money that’ll be the holdup,” Price told the three commissioners, who oversee all city and county votes. “The state appropriating the money is the biggest hurdle.”

Maryland: State going back to paper voting in 2016 | Herald Mail Media

Even with the technology available today, Maryland will go back to a paper-based voting system in 2016. The state Board of Public Works last month approved a $28.1 million contract to replace the current touch-screen voting system with machines that scan paper ballots, which can be marked by voters using a pencil or pen. The move comes more than seven years after state lawmakers, seeking a new system with a “voter-verifiable paper record,” approved legislation to replace the touch-screen machines, which have been noted to be unreliable and susceptible to fraudulent activity, according to published reports. Washington County Elections Director Kaye Robucci met with the county Board of Commissioners on Jan. 13 to talk about some of the changes coming with the new system, saying it is expected to be in place for the April primaries of the 2016 presidential election.
Robucci said later in the week that while voters in the county seemed to like the touch-screen voting system, there were others who “never fell in love with it. They didn’t like that they didn’t have a ballot to review, like a paper ballot,” she said. “They were convinced that you could hack the machines. …. We didn’t have any problem with them in Washington County, and it was something that the voters were starting to like, I thought.”

South Dakota: Minnehaha County election review highlights machine issues | Argus Leader

One of Minnehaha County’s $110,000 voting machines froze up Friday during a demonstration for the Election Review Commission. Twice. The freezes could have been a metaphor for the election night woes that kept the state’s largest county from reporting election results until 14 hours after the polls closed: Nothing went as smoothly as promised. The speedy new machines — one of which broke down for 45 minutes on election night — were meant to help the county avoid a repeat of 2012’s last-in-the-state reporting. But they proved too sensitive, rejecting ballots with tiny marks in the wrong place as “overvotes.” Drops of coffee, food stains and light pencil marks caused rejection, too, forcing resolution boards to recreate and rule on 600 total ballots. They also went down for 45 minutes on election night.

Texas: Jefferson County Commissioners approve purchase of new electronic voting machines | KBTV

Jefferson County Commissioners have approved the purchase of a new electronic voting system the County Clerk says will ensure the integrity of the elections and is scheduled to be in place for the May elections. Commissioners voted 4-0 to buy the Hart Intercivic eSlate machines. Commissioner Bo Alfred wasn’t at the meeting. The County is buying the machines under a lease-purchase agreement of about $1.7 million. The County will receive a $175,000 discount for buying the machines before the end of the year and a possible $75,000 discount in a buy back from ES and S, the company that sold the county the electronic voting machines it’s been using for about ten years.

Maryland: New voting machines finally on horizon | Baltimore Sun

In an era that increasingly relies on paperless technology, Maryland is about to revert to using old-fashioned pen and paper to elect its leaders. The Board of Public Works is expected to approve a $28 million contract Wednesday to replace Maryland’s touch-screen voting system with machines that scan paper ballots, which voters will mark with a pen or pencil. The contract comes more than seven years after the legislature decided the state should replace tens of thousands of touch screens deemed unreliable and susceptible to fraud. Since then, arguments and tough budget times have repeatedly delayed efforts to replace the machines with a system that has a verifiable paper record. “We, for a generation of elections, have had no paper trail,” said Del. Jon Cardin, a Baltimore County Democrat and a leading proponent of scrapping the touch-screen system. The new system is expected to be in place for the 2016 presidential election.

National: Change at helm of ES&S in new year | Omaha-World Herald

Aldo Tesi will step down as chief executive officer of Omaha-based Election Systems & Software on Jan. 1, the company announced Wednesday, and will be succeeded by Tom Burt, the company’s current president and chief operating officer. Tesi, 63, joined the company as president in 1999 and was named president and CEO in 2000. He added the role of chairman in 2013 and will remain in that position. … ES&S is the largest provider of voting machines and election support services in the world. The company’s voting systems and services are used in a majority of counties across the United States in addition to countries including France, Venezuela and England. Under Tesi’s direction, ES&S has grown from about 250 employees 15 years ago to 460 employees today.

Texas: Jefferson County leaders consider replacing embattled embattled election machines | KBMT

In November, Jefferson County Clerk Carolyn Guidry told 12News that the problems plaguing the elections stemmed from issues with the ES&S electronic voting machines. She’s not been a fan of those machines ever since commissioners first voted to purchase them. That’s why on Monday, she will hold a workshop in which commissioners will consider an alternative in hopes of preventing future fiascos. Becky Duhon is a Jefferson County voter who lost faith in the county’s voting process after the November elections. Duhon said, “I thought it was going to be fair and done properly, but it wasn’t, so I don’t think we should have a recount every year.  I just think they need to get the proper working machines that way it would be fair for everybody, no matter Republicans, Democrats, or whatever.”

Nebraska: Change at helm of ES&S in new year | Omaha World Herald

Aldo Tesi will step down as chief executive officer of Omaha-based Election Systems & Software on Jan. 1, the company announced Wednesday, and will be succeeded by Tom Burt, the company’s current president and chief operating officer. Tesi, 63, joined the company as president in 1999 and was named president and CEO in 2000. He added the role of chairman in 2013 and will remain in that position.
“I plan to reach out and be more involved in certain areas of the community where I hope to add value, and I’m going to enjoy the little bit of extra time with my wife and family,” Tesi told The World-Herald. “I’ve been working for a long time.” Burt, a Nebraska native, has been with the company since 2007. He previously worked as an associate partner at Gallup.

Kansas: Malfunction results in missing votes | Salina Journal

A malfunction of electronic voting equipment left 5,207 votes out of the original Nov. 4 Saline County vote total, but no election outcomes were affected, according to the Saline County Clerk’s Office. What was affected was a change in the percent of voter turnout, from 35.47 to 50.47 percent, and the total number of votes, 17,532 out of 34,735 registered voters. “That’s a huge difference,” county Chairman Randy Duncan said when notified by the Journal of the error. “That’s scary. That makes me wonder about voting machines. Should we go back to paper ballots?” Saline County Clerk Don Merriman said after the meeting that four of the 34 PEBs, or Personal Electronic Ballots, were not reading correctly on election night, which left the votes out of the original count. The problem has been fixed, he said. He said the missing votes weren’t discovered until after votes were canvassed on Nov. 10. Merriman said he learned of the error during a “triple check” with flash cards from the PEBs.

North Carolina: Voting machine problems do not change election outcome | WRAL

Supreme Court Associate Justice Cheri Beasley won her re-election campaign against Forsyth County lawyer Mike Robinson despite vote tabulation errors discovered in several counties throughout the state. Beasley won by more than 5,000 votes in a race where more than 2.4 million votes were cast. Recount results, which the State Board of Elections certified during a teleconference meeting Tuesday, showed Robinson picked up a net of 17 votes across the state. Robinson has told State Board of Elections officials that he has conceded and will not seek a further recount. While the overall vote swing was not enough to make a meaningful dent in the election total, changes in Davidson, Lenoir and Wilson counties, all of which use touch-screen voting equipment, involved eye-catching totals of several hundred votes each. In Davidson County, Beasley picked up 520 votes and Robinson gained 884 votes since the time county elections officials originally canvassed votes. The problem, elections officials there say, was a faulty media card used to store and transfer votes from a touch-screen machine.  “It did not affect any of the outcomes of local races at all,” said Donna Zappala, who handles information technology issues for the Davidson County Board of Elections. The county was able to recover the votes from a backup system, she said.

Mississippi: Top election official says state needs to throw out ballot rules | WAPT

One of the top election leaders in the state told 16 WAPT News that the ballot rules need to be thrown out. Gary Knight, the head of the Election Commissioners Association of Mississippi, said the group has worked for years to change legislation that requires precincts to print ballots for 75 percent of their voter population. “It is my opinion that statute is generally a little behind technology,” Knight said. Knight said he has heard about problems with ballots in Hinds County during the Nov. 4 general election. Some voters had to wait for ballots, even after the polls closed, because several precincts ran out.

Idaho: Republican Party Pushes for Recount | Associated Press

The Idaho Republican Party is encouraging two of its candidates to ask for recounts in elections that they narrowly lost to their Democratic challengers in the Nov. 4 election. Republican state Rep. Thyra Stevenson of Lewiston lost to Democrat Dan Rudolph by 26 votes. Meanwhile, in the same legislative district, fellow Republican Mike Kingsley lost to House Minority Leader John Rusche by 48 votes. Idaho Republican Party’s Executive Director David Johnston told the Lewiston Tribune in a story that ran Saturday that the narrow margins in both races warrant a recount.

South Dakota: Human error, not new high-tech ballot machines, to blame for Pennington’s late election results | Rapid City Journal

The Pennington County Auditor’s Office used a $232,000 federal grant on two new high-tech ballot-counting machines this year to increase the speed and accuracy of its elections. So, how did it work? As with any new technology, there was a learning curve and bugs in the system that led to a long night for Auditor Julie Pearson and her staff, forced a tedious process of recounting or re-creating thousands of ballots on the fly and produced election results two hours later than usual. And yet, the problems ultimately had nothing to do with the new Election Systems & Software DS850 ballot machines, but rather were due to human error and inexperience with the technology, Pearson said on Friday. “The technology did exactly what it was supposed to do,” Pearson said. “We just had to change our processes.”

Texas: Countywide voting, machine malfunctions account for Election Day confusion, clerk says | Southeast Texas Record

The confusion surrounding the last minute changes in election results had to do with some new laws in place and technical difficulties, county officials say. There has been controversy since the Nov. 4 General Election in Jefferson County, with a few Republican candidates going to bed thinking they were winners after most of the precincts had reported only to find Wednesday morning that they had actually lost the election. Chief Deputy County Clerk Theresa Goodness said watching the results based on precincts reporting can be misleading, because in Jefferson County voting is “countywide,” not limited to the precinct in which the voter resides. “In the 2013 constitutional amendment election , we changed to a countywide system. A voter can cast their ballot in any precinct on Election Day, just like in Early Voting,” Goodness said. Many voters aren’t even aware of that change, she said. So, for example, when it’s midnight and a candidate looks like they are ahead with 102 out of 106 precincts reporting, that really doesn’t mean every ballot has been counted for that precinct. So when Precinct 1 has turned in their ballots, that could mean there are ballots for different precincts in addition to Pct. 1, and Pct. 1 ballots could also be at other locations. Ballots from every precinct have to be turned in to accurately reflect an individual precinct’s votes, she said.

Arizona: Glitch in Cochise County puts thousands of ballots on hold | KGUN

A major glitch in Cochise County held up thousands of ballots. The problem discovered hours after the polls closed last night. Cochise county elections officials had to scramble to fix it and asked Graham County to help out. A UHAUL full of black cases of ballots were rushed to Graham County where the ballots were re-tabulated — overnight and then transported back to Bisbee by 1 o’clock the next day. So what caused the glitch? The interim elections director Jim Vlahovich thought it was the machine that tabulates the votes. “We discovered last night that the sheets were 85 ballots short than what the machine was,” he said.

Texas: Jefferson County Clerk blames faulty voting equipment for delay | KBMT

Jefferson County Clerk Carolyn Guidry seemed pleased at voter turnout for the 2014 mid-term elections in Jefferson County. She says 37% of the county’s 146,039 registered voters cast ballots, that’s 53,710 voters who participated. However Guidry, who won re-election herself, was not pleased at how the county’s electronic voting system performed. Malfunctions caused the vote count to be delayed, and final results were not available until 4:00 a.m. the day after the elections. Guidry said, “It’s very frustrating when I have employees working 24 hours on elections, because of the flaws of a system.” Guidry blames ES&S voting equipment the county purchased in 2006.  Tuesday’s flaw was with the scanner that counts mail-in ballots, forcing Guidry to call for a technician to fix it, the closest one was in Tyler. It would take until 4 a.m. the next day to count all 3900 mail-in ballots, and when they were all counted some Republicans who had been in the lead, ended up losing.  Guidry says that’s because two-thirds of the mail-in ballots favored Democrats. But the mail-in ballot scanner was not the only problem of the night, not all voting machines had been shut down which made it impossible for votes in those machines to be counted.

Texas: ES&S acknowledges Bexar ballot glitch that omitted Greg Abbott’s name | San Antonio Express-News

The company that supplies Bexar County with iVotronic ballot machines acknowledged Wednesday that a glitch caused an electronic ballot to display the wrong name for the Republican candidate in the race for Texas governor. A written statement from Election Systems & Software said a faulty memory card appeared to be the reason why GOP candidate Greg Abbott’s name was missing from the ballot. In his place was Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. “I’m happy they were able to find the glitch,” said San Antonio voter Jade Stanford, who took two cell phone photos of the error that immediately went viral on the Internet. “It wasn’t Photoshop, it wasn’t botched, it was real.” Stanford said she and Bexar County voters deserved an apology from Elections Administrator Jacque Callanen, who said yesterday she believed the photos had been doctored. “It’s her job to protect the voters,” she said.