New York: We told you so: DS200 voting machine screwed up – NY Board of Elections must be more vigilant about testing equipment | NY Daily News

You know those new electronic vote-scanning machines that are supposed to be foolproof in reading and counting every ballot in an election? Well, they’re anything but foolproof. In fact, they can screw up voter tallies to a fare-thee-well even after technicians carefully calibrate and test them. So state and city election officials have discovered, along with the machine’s manufacturer, thanks to insistent prodding by this page. Their learning experience began at a polling place at Public School 65 in the Bronx, where official tallies for 2010 primary and general elections showed that as many as 70% of the voters had cast invalid ballots, disqualifying them. The Brennan Center at NYU Law School brought the obviously impossible discrepancy to the attention of the city Board of Elections. The board responded, in essence, “Who cares?”

New York: Overheated ES&S DS200 automates election, places 60K votes itself | ITworld

The voting machine that cast between 50,000 and 60,000 extra votes for New York gubernatorial candidates in November has a bug that causes it to misread some ballots and add additional votes to others when the machine itself overheats, according to a review by the state Board of Election. All of the so-called “over-votes” were thrown out after election workers reported an unrealistic spike in the number of votes from the machine, from manufacturer Election Systems and Software (ES&S), which apparently overheated during the hour or so the polling location was closed for lunch. In 2010 NYC’s City Board of Elections decided to replace its old lever-driven voting machines, that required voters to flip a lever to register their choices with a newer model from ES&S. Rather than flipping a lever, voters fill in oval spaces on paper ballots, then scan the ballots into the voting machine to register their choices. The machine counts votes automatically; the stored paper ballots remain serve as the source for recounts or backups for lost votes.

New York: Machine Casts Phantom Votes in the Bronx, Invalidating Real Ones: Report | WNYC

Tests on an electronic voting machine that recorded shockingly high numbers of extra votes in the 2010 election show that overheating may have caused upwards of 30 percent of the votes in a South Bronx voting precinct to go uncounted. WNYC first reported on the issue in December 2011, when it was found that tens of thousands of votes in the 2010 elections went uncounted because electronic voting machines counted more than one vote in a race.

New York: City elections official under fire for soliciting money from a voting systems contractor | NYPost.com

The city’s Board of Elections has suspended an employee who is a top official in the Queens Republican Party after being notified that he was caught on tape soliciting a $25,000 “finder’s fee” from a company competing for a $65 million contract in 2009, The Post has learned. Several sources said the Department of Investigation provided information to the board that Stephen Graves, first vice chairman of the Queens GOP and a $66,392-a-year board employee, asked for the money from Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems as it was battling rival Elections Systems & Software of Omaha, Neb., to sell the city its first electronic voting machines. “He was recommending the use of a particular lobbyist,” said one source. “In exchange for that he wanted a finder’s fee.” The lobbyist, who was not identified, was supposed to receive $250,000 a year for five years, the source said. Dominion didn’t make any payments, and ES&S ended up winning the fiercely fought contract in a 6-1 vote on Jan. 5, 2010, with two board commissioners abstaining.

Missouri: St. Louis County voting snafu on ES&S iVotronics led to uncounted ballots | ksdk.com

When the votes were counted in Tuesday’s election in St. Louis County, hundreds were missing. Poll workers did not properly close out several voting machines. NewsChannel5 learned there were 595 votes that weren’t counted Tuesday night when election board workers went home around midnight. Election officials say those votes are now in, and part of the current unofficial totals. Rita Heard Days is the county’s director of elections and says five electronic voting machines were not properly closed out by poll workers Tuesday night. “This morning we went out and got the machines that had the questionable closures and brought them in and captured those votes,” said Days. … Days says all the missed votes were added to the unofficial election totals Wednesday.

Hawaii: $1.2M to settle Hawaii election machine dispute | CanadianBusiness.com

The Hawaii Attorney General’s Office is requesting $1.2 million to settle a 2008 protest filed over a contract for electronic voting machines. Attorney General David Louie’s office says former Chief Election Officer Kevin Cronin violated state procurement code when he awarded a multi-term contract for voting equipment without conducting the required analysis of the proposals. Cronin abruptly resigned at the end of 2009. Hart InterCivic Inc. was awarded a $43.3 million contract for new electronic voting machines through the 2016 elections, with an option to extend to 2018. Another vendor submitted a competing bid of $18 million.

North Carolina: New deal sought on Wake County NC voting machines | NewsObserver.com

Wake County commissioners want a better deal than the one offered by the company that has the voting-machine franchise in every North Carolina county. Election Systems & Software, represented in North Carolina by New Bern-based Printelect, became the state’s sole supplier in 2006. Cherie Poucher, director of the Wake County Board of Elections, told Wake County commissioners Monday that the company spent about 80 hours cleaning and maintaining the county’s election machines for a $200,000 fee last year. The issue was before the commission because ES&S has been pushing a maintenance agreement to Wake County’s elections board and others across the state.

Colorado: Recall election brings new Saguache clerk | The Pueblo Chieftain

County Clerk and Recorder Melinda Myers lost her recall election by more than a 2-1 margin Tuesday night and will be replaced by the candidate she beat in a controversial 2010 election. Voters recalled Myers, 941-453, pushing her from office 14 months after an election that prompted two reviews by the secretary of state and another by a statewide grand jury. Republican Carla Gomez, who lost to Myers in the last election, topped independent Patricia Jenkins, 762-319, according to Tuesday’s final unofficial results.

Ohio: Voting machine battery replacements add costs | The Chillicothe Gazette

The Ross County Board of Elections is facing an unexpected $18,525 cost because of a state requirement to change batteries in all its voting machines. Director Nora Madru delivered news of the directive, which was issued by Secretary of State Jon Husted, to Ross County commissioners at their Tuesday meeting. The life of the batteries, which are soldered into the machines, is supposed to be five to seven years, Madru said. Machines in Ross County and across the state are approaching the life expectancy of the batteries. “With a presidential election coming up, you don’t want to take a chance,” Madru said, adding that officials don’t have a choice in the matter anyway.

National: Ballot Secrecy Keeps Voting Technology at Bay | Scientific American

Voters in the recent Iowa caucuses and Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary will rely on paper ballots as they have for generations. In the very next primary on January 21, South Carolinians will vote with backlit touch-screen computers. In an age of electronic banking and online college degrees, why hasn’t the rest of the nation gone the way of the Palmetto State? The reason is simple and resonates with the contentious debate that has yet to be resolved after at least 15 years of wrangling over the issue of electronic voting. No one has yet figured out a straightforward method of ensuring that one of the most revered democratic institutions—in this case, electing a U.S. president—can be double checked for fraud, particularly when paperless e-voting systems are used.

National: E-Voting Problems Cast Shadow on Elections | Mobiledia

An e-voting machine expected for use in the 2012 presidential election is experiencing anomalies, increasing scrutiny on the system’s reliability as elections loom. The Electronic Assistance Commission’s formal investigative report revealed the DS200 machine, used only in Ohio and Wisconsin, failed to record votes, logged in the wrong vote, and often froze up, jeopardizing voting accuracy. Testing protocol included powering off the machine between votes and inserting ballots at various angles.

The government group, which certifies electronic voting, reportedly won’t decertify the machines because manufacturer, Electronic Systems & Software, said it fixed the issues.

Ohio: Election day glitches will cost county $10K | SalemNews.net

Election day glitches in other Ohio counties are forcing the Columbiana County elections board to spend an additional $10,000 it does not have. Elections board Director Adam Booth reported at this week’s meeting Ohio Secretary of State of State Jon Husted issued a directive requiring those boards with optical-scan voting systems to install new memory cards used to store voting results.

Booth said 100 memory card will have to replaced at a cost of $100 each, for a total cost of $10,000. The problem is with the internal lithium batteries used to power the memory cards.

National: ES&S DS200 digital scanning device for presidential vote has bugs, report confirms | CNET News

An e-voting machine that is to be used for the presidential election this year has been found to have “anomalies” such as failing to record votes or logging the wrong vote and freezing, according to a government report.
The Formal Investigative Report issued late last month by the Electronic Assistance Commission (EAC), which certifies electronic voting equipment, issued a notice of noncompliance for the DS200 optical scanning device manufactured by Electronic Systems & Software (ES&S), but did not decertify the machine.

The report found three anomalies:

Intermittent screen freezes, system lockups, and shutdowns that prevent the voting system from operating in the manner in which it was designed

Failure to log all normal and abnormal voting system events

Skewing of the ballot, resulting in a negative effect on system accuracy

Specifically, the DS200 failed in some cases to record when the touch screen was calibrated or the system was powered on or off, failed to read votes correctly when a ballot was inserted at an angle, and accepted a voted ballot without recording the ballot on its internal counter and without recording the marks, according to the report.

National: E-voting machine freezes, misreads votes, U.S. agency says | Computerworld

An electronic ballot scanning device slated for use in the upcoming presidential elections, misreads ballots, fails to log critical events and is prone to freezes and sudden lockups, the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission has found. The little noticed EAC report on the DS200 Precinct Count Optical Scanner in the Unity 3.2.0.0 voting system built by Election Systems & Software (ES&S) was released late last month.

The 141-page Formal Investigative Report ( download pdf ) highlights multiple “substantial anomalies” in the DS200: intermittent screen freezes; system lockups and shutdowns; and failure to log all normal and abnormal system event.  For example, the DS200 in some cases failed to log events such as a vote being cast, when its touch-screen is calibrated or when the system is powered on or off, the EAC said. In addition, the EAC report said the system failed to read votes correctly when a 17-inch ballot was inserted at an angle. The voter’s intended mark was either registered as a different selection or the vote was not registered at all, the EAC noted.

Ohio: Cuyahoga County elections board leads pack in testing, auditing | cleveland.com

To cope with ballot scanners a federal agency has deemed faulty, Cuyahoga County’s elections board has mandated four tests during each election — plus an audit afterward — to guarantee results are right. The county even received a grant from the federal agency, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, to produce a how-to guide on testing and auditing, to give voters throughout the country greater confidence in elections.

“The board has become a nationwide leader in assuring accurate elections and understanding that technology can fail, and it’s their job to test carefully, not just occasionally, but persistently,” said Candice Hoke, an elections professor at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. “That is very good news.”

Rigorous testing matters in part because the election commission last week ruled the county’s ballot scanners were out of the compliance, the first such decision in the agency’s nine-year history. The machines, made by Omaha-Neb.-based Elections Systems & Software Inc. inexplicably freeze up, miss some votes and fail to log problems.

Ohio: Agency finds defects in ballot scanners – ES&S DS200 | USAToday.com

The federal agency responsible for inspecting voting equipment said Thursday that a ballot scanner used in several key battleground states can freeze up without warning, fail to log errors and misread ballots.

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission said the ballot reader, made by Omaha-based ES&S, is not in compliance with federal standards. And while it’s the first time the 8-year-old agency has taken such a step, it falls just short of decertification — a move that could force election officials to abandon the machines on the eve of the 2012 presidential primaries.

The DS200 optical-scan system is designed to read paper ballots fed into the machines by voters themselves at their precincts. It’s used in all or part of Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, New York and Wisconsin.

Ohio: U.S. government investigation finds Cuyahoga County’s election machines are flawed – ES&S DS200 | cleveland.com

Scanners Cuyahoga County has used to tally election results since 2008 are defective, missing some votes, freezing up inexplicably and failing to log problems, according to a federal government agency. The U.S. Election Assistance Commission released its findings this week, after a 20-month investigation spurred by an April 2010 Plain Dealer story. The paper reported a tenth of the machines arbitrarily powered down and locked up, failing certification tests required by federal law.

The manufacturer, Omaha-Neb.-based Elections Systems & Software Inc., tried to fix the problems this year, but the upgrade actually created more problems, according to the report. If the company can’t correct the flaw, the government could decertify the machines — leaving Cuyahoga and jurisdictions without the country no way to conduct elections in a presidential year.

South Carolina: No decision made in Atlantic Beach’s voting machines case | SCNOW

A judge did not make a decision Wednesday regarding what to with county-owned voting machines Atlantic Beach wants back in order to conduct an investigation. Horry County Magistrate Brad Mayers decided to take the whole case under advisement, asking both parties come to an agreement. If an agreement can’t be reached, they will go to court again.

Horry County sheriff’s deputies served a court order on Atlantic Beach Dec. 13 and seized the voting machines from the town’s evidence room. Town leaders were holding them there as evidence of fraud and irregularities that they say occurred on the Nov. 1 municipal election. Those leaders now argue that the seizure of the machines has caused an unnecessary delay in their investigation.

Town council member Carolyn Cole suggested after the hearing Wednesday that Atlantic Beach’s voting machine incident may play a bigger role. “There are problems with these machines,” Cole said. “We’re coming up on presidential elections and primaries and voters in this state and this county deserve to know where we stand with these machines.”

South Carolina: Atlantic Beach in court Thursday over voting machine issue | SCNOW

Attorneys for Horry County vs. Town of Atlantic Beach argued their case before the Horry County Magistrate Thursday and they will meet again next week. Judge Brad Mayers did not rule on the case and decided to continue it until next Wednesday morning. The court will hear from someone at the State Election Commission and Atlantic Beach also plans to call a witness.

Attorney for Atlantic Beach Kenneth Davis filed a motion for the county to return its property to Atlantic Beach for use as evidence. The judge took it into consideration. This comes after Horry County Sheriff’s deputies seized county-owned voting machines Tuesday which the town held in its evidence room for weeks a month and a half after its Nov. 1 municipal election.

Mayor Retha Pierce said Atlantic Beach police confiscated $7,500 worth of machines to do an investigation into fraud and abnormalities during the elections. “My understanding is when a crime is committed that authorities have the right to deal with that crime,” Pierce said. “You’re sending my people here a mixed signal in Atlantic Beach when all of the sudden you say that when a crime is committed and the property belongs to the county and you can overlook the crime.”

South Carolina: Atlantic Beach, Horry County officials will return to court over voting machine dispute | TheSunNews.com

Town of Atlantic Beach and Horry County officials will return to a Conway magistrate courtroom next week to settle a dispute about town leaders refusing to return the voting machines used in the November election. Magistrate Bradley Mayers took a motion to return the machines to town officials from the town attorney, Kenneth Davis, under advisement, and continued the hearing until 10 a.m. Wednesday so Davis would have time to prepare.

Horry County sheriff’s deputies took the voting machines Tuesday after town officials refused to return them after the voting. Magistrate Bradley Mayers issued a court order for deputies to seize the machines and Atlantic Beach officials plan to dispute that seizure and want the machines returned to them during Wednesday’s hearing.

Davis, who is representing Atlantic Beach, declined to comment after Thursday’s hearing because it is an ongoing issue. But during the hearing, Davis said the seizure of the machines interferes with an “ongoing election protest in Atlantic Beach.” “By seizing these machines the ongoing judicial process . . . has been interrupted,” Davis said and noted there was no evidence town officials planned to tamper with the machines.

South Carolina: Deputies recover voting machine from Atlantic Beach | TheSunNews.com

After refusing to turn over voting machines used in the November election, Atlantic Beach officials were forced Tuesday to hand them over after Horry County Sheriff’s deputies came to the town a court order. Horry County typically delivers voting machines the day before the election and picks them up the day after the election, Horry County spokeswoman Lisa Bourcier said in an email. Atlantic Beach repeatedly refused — in person, by phone and by email — to return the machines that were last used in the Nov. 1 vote, according to court documents.

“Atlantic Beach would not release our equipment, this was the only way to get them back,” Bourcier said. The county plans to review the machines, she said but referred questions about any actions or investigations to the state election commission.

The S.C. State Election Commission could not be reached Tuesday, but a letter that executive director Marci Andino sent to Horry County Voters Registration and Election Director Sandy Martin on Monday advised the county to take immediate action.

Voting Blogs: Forensic Analysis Finds Venango County E-Voting System ‘Remotely Accessed’ on ‘Multiple Occasions’ by Unknown Computer | The Brad Blog

Acording to the Initial Report from a landmark independent forensic audit of Venango County, PA’s touch-screen voting system — the same system used in dozens of states across the state and country — someone used a computer that was not a part of county’s election network to remotely access the central election tabulator computer, illegally, “on multiple occasions.” Despite the disturbing report, as obtained by The BRAD BLOG and posted in full below, we may never get to learn who did it or why, if Venango’s County Commissioners, a local judge, and the nation’s largest e-voting company have their way. And that’s not all we won’t get to find out about.

The battle for election integrity continues in Venango, with the County Commissioners teaming up with e-voting vendor Election Systems & Software, Inc. (ES&S) on one side, and the county’s renegade interim Republican-majority Board of Elections on the other. The Commissioners and ES&S have been working to spike the independent scientific forensic audit of the county’s failed electronic voting machines that was commissioned by the interim Board of Elections. Making matters worse, the Board has now been removed from power by a county judge, a decision they are attempting to appeal as the three-person board and their supporters continue to fight the entrenched establishment for transparency and accountability in the rural Western Pennsylvania county.

Pennsylvania: Dismissed Venango County Election Board Files Appeal | VotePA

Attorney Charles A. Pascal, Jr., has filed a Motion For Reconsideration on behalf of members of the specially appointed Venango County Election Board. The filing was made this afternoon in response to President Judge Oliver J. Lobaugh’s order dismissing the Board yesterday. Citing ongoing investigations into serious voting machine problems reported during the May 17 primary election, the specially appointed Election Board requested that they be allowed to continue their work until 11:59 PM on December 31, 2011.

“The members of the specially appointed Board of Elections believes that it is necessary to continue their work in order to assure the voters of the County of Venango of the integrity of the election process in the county,” the Motion states, “and to assure that any possible violations of policy, protocol, best practices, or the law, or any directive of the Pennsylvania Secretary of State, are not repeated in future elections.”

Canada: Voting machine breakdowns stalled results in B.C. | Coast Reporter

The District of Sechelt won’t likely be using voting machines made by Election Systems and Software ever again, after two of four machines provided by the company broke down during the 2011 municipal election.

“Needless to say, I will be recommending that we do not use the same machine supplier again in the future,” said Sechelt’s chief election officer Jo-Anne Frank. The first machine broke down during advanced voting at the Seaside Centre. A faulty sensor was found to be the issue.

Alabama: Jefferson County Commission talks cutting funds from election budget | Birmingham Business Journal

The Jefferson County Commission is mulling its first round of cutbacks since filing the nation’s largest governmental bankruptcy last week. In committee on Tuesday, commissioners discussed cutting up to $880,000 from its budget for the March 2012 primary election and the potential April runoff election.

To achieve the cuts, the council will consider next week eliminating proposed contracts with Election Systems & Software that would provide about 20 experts to manage and troubleshoot the upcoming election.

Indiana: Tuesday’s paper ballots will be counted by hand | tmcnet.com

When Bloomington residents vote in municipal elections on Tuesday, they’ll be making marks on paper ballots, which they’ll slip into a box. At the end of the day, the votes will be tallied by hand. That’s the same system local voters used more than 100 years ago.

In the November 2010 general election, Monroe County voters used electronic voting machines that automated tallying. Even in the May 2011 primary election, the votes — on paper ballots — were tallied using a high-speed optical scanner. Monroe County voters have been using voting machines, mechanical or electric, since the ’60s, but on Nov. 8, 2011, they will use the same system used by America’s founding fathers.

What happened? ES&S contract In December 2010, Monroe County signed a contract with Elections Systems and Software, of Omaha, Neb., for the purchase of digital scanners that would read paper ballots and tally votes. Such a system allowed verifiability: paper ballots, or a sample of them, could be compared to the machine’s tally to ensure accuracy.

Voting Blogs: ES&S Attempts to Block Pennsylvania County’s Independent Audit of Failed Touch-Screens | BradBlog

Despite failing to object for months prior, the nation’s largest electronic voting system vendor, ES&S, is now attempting to stop a landmark independent examination of their e-voting systems in a Pennsylvania county dead in its tracks.

An October letter from the company, obtained by The BRAD BLOG, charges that Venango County, PA is in violation of their contract agreements with the Omaha-based e-voting Goliath, even as two volunteer Carnegie Mellon computer scientists are in the midst of a forensic audit of the county’s May 17 primary election. The county’s investigation comes on the heels of apparent failures of the ES&S iVotronic touch-screen voting system during their recent primary and several other recent elections in Venango.

The 100% unverifiable ES&S iVotronic system has failed in a number of elections nationwide, but is still widely used across the country and slated for use once again in more than a dozen states in next year’s Presidential election.

South Carolina: Counting the Vote – Some Say South Carolina’s Outdated Machines Cause for Concern | Free Times

Barbara Zia has seen enough miscounts. As the president of the state chapter of the League of Women Voters, Zia is fighting for the state to replace its outdated voting machines in hopes of preserving another layer of security for democracy in South Carolina.

The league, praised for its nonpartisan concern for voting rights and access, recently commissioned an independent study of the state’s voting technology after snafus in the 2010 elections. According to Zia, the report found three basic problems with the current system.

One, the iVotronic machines were aging and replacement parts were no longer being manufactured. Two, the machines were too complicated for the committed poll managers to use, workers whom Zia said were basically volunteers working from before dawn to after daylight in some cases. And three, the electronic touch-screen machines do not provide enough of a paper trail to ensure truly correct elections.

Texas: U.S. Supreme Court Rules Dallas County’s Appeal in Fight Over Voting Machines is “Moot” | Dallas News

This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a very confusing ruling in the case involving Dallas County’s voting machines — a case, you’ll recall, that stemmed from Linda Harper-Brown’s 19-vote victory over Democrat Bob Romano in 1998. Long story short: The Texas Democratic Party (represented in part by attorney Clay Jenkins, now the county judge) sued Dallas County in federal court, claiming, as Ballot Access News neatly summed it up back in June, that “some voters are tricked into thinking they voted a straight-ticket vote, when actually they hadn’t.”

There was also an issue with whether the county pre-cleared the so-called direct-recording electronic voting machines with the Department of Justice before putting them into place. The county insisted they had — twicemost recently in March 2010, when the DOJ said Dallas was good to go.