The NSW Electoral Commission scored $5.4 million in this year’s state budget to rebuild its iVote online voting system in time for the next state election in 2019. The funding is part of a $23 million package to improve the agency’s online systems, which will also see the introduction of “an end-to-end solution for the disclosure of political donations, expenditure and the lodgement of public funding claims,” budget documents state. Last month the NSWEC asked the market to suggest off-the-shelf software that could replace the online voting system’s current core platform. “The RFI [request for information] process will give suppliers the opportunity to demonstrate new or innovative solutions that may better meet the needs of the NSWEC,” the agency said at the time.
Considering the importance of elections in the U.S., the country sure does make voting a challenge. National elections are held on a Tuesday in November, a workday for most people. In 11 states and Washington, D.C., you can register to vote on Election Day. (Maryland allows same-day voter registration only for early voting.) Other states have registration deadlines of eight to 30 days before an election. Some states have expanded voting by mail, online registration, absentee voting, and similar practices. But others have become more restrictive: 33 states request or require voters to show identification at the polls, and 17 of those states request or require a photo ID. And voters in places like Maricopa County in Arizona, where budget cutbacks have significantly reduced the number of polling spots, can find crowded conditions more reminiscent of a Depression-era breadline than a polling site in the Internet Age. Why, then, when everything from buying airline tickets to filing federal income taxes is routinely done online, is voting for most Americans still such a manual, show-up-in-person, paper-ballot-based process? … Whatever the political system, efforts to introduce Internet voting face the same overriding issue: how to make sure ballots aren’t subject to manipulation or fraud by hackers or compromised by a system failure.
Editorials: Online Voting Is the Future — And It Could Lead to Absolute Disaster | Jack Smith IV/Mic
This year, we’re going to choose a new president. We’ll debate with disgruntled friends on Facebook, monitor every debate on Twitter and use Google to find polling places. And then, those of us who are willing to make the trek will drive, walk, carpool or take trains to small outposts in order to vote. It’s 2016. Why don’t we have an app on our smartphones that allows us to vote remotely and instantly? … What’s holding back online voting? In short, security risks. If we’ve learned anything from the past few years of cybersecurity scandals — like the Office of Personnel Management hack, the Sony Pictures Entertainment fiascoor the Ashley Madison breach — it’s that no digital system can be proven to be totally safe. There’s a common refrain that digital voting experts are tired of hearing: “If I can bank online, why can’t I vote online?” If the internet is safe enough to store our money, shop, file our taxes and perform other sensitive tasks, why can’t it be used to vote? The truth is, we don’t bank or shop safely online. Major retailers and banking systems deal with hacking, fraudulent charges and identity theft every day. Companies like Amazon are used to a small percentage of transactions being fraudulent. And when fraud occurs in a financial transaction, those problems can be fixed after the fact.
South Dakota: Only 27 voters used state’s $668K program to help military members vote | Rapid City Journal
Secretary of State Shantel Krebs is considering ending a voting system paid for with a $668,000 federal grant but which attracted only 27 voters. Krebs told legislators last week that the high cost might force her to shut off the electronic voting system for military personnel started by her predecessor, Jason Gant. But Gant said he is proud of the effort, even though only 27 military personnel used it to cast ballots in the 2014 election. Krebs said the system was developed using a $668,000 grant from the Federal Voting Assistance Program. State records show Gant signed a contract on Aug. 23, 2013, to pay a software company to build the iOASIS program for military personnel. It was intended to be a much-faster and more attractive substitute for traditional absentee ballots.
National: Everyone Counts raises funds to push internet voting into the mainstream | San Diego Union-Tribune
Election software firm Everyone Counts has raised $20 million in debt and equity financing to push its electronic voting technology into more county and state governments. The influx of capital comes as the San Diego company awaits federal certification for its secure digital voting system – expected no later than the first quarter of next year, said Chief Executive Lori Steele. Approval by the Election Assistance Commission would pave the way for county and state elections officials to offer digital voting via computers, tablets or smartphones – both in polling places and remotely. “The interesting thing is we will be the only software-based voting system that is hardware agnostic that is (EAC) certified – probably for the next two years,” said Steele on Thursday.
Ohio: Secretary of State advises counties on electronic pollbooks | The Jackson County Times-Journal
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted recently advised county boards of elections on the amount of funding available to each board for the implementation of new electronic pollbooks. “E-Pollbooks are a great advancement in voter technology that will make elections simpler for both Ohio voters and the staff and volunteers who assist them on Election Day,” explained Husted. The state legislature appropriated $12.7 million to aid county governments in covering the cost of upgrading to e-pollbooks during the biennial budget (Am. Sub. H.B. 64) enacted on June 30.
Introducing himself as a former Oregon state elections official, online voting industry lobbyist Donald DeFord vouched authoritatively to a Washington state legislative panel in late January as to the merits of statewide internet voting. Oregon, he testified, ultimately came to the “same solution” offered by a bill before the Washington state House that would allow everybody to cast their election ballots by email or fax – an option that top cyber security experts warn would expose elections to hackers. “First in a special congressional election and then statewide, we made our accessible online ballot delivery and return system available to any voter who was not able to use a paper ballot,” DeFord, a regional sales director for San Diego-based Everyone Counts, told the committee. There was a big problem with that testimony. Oregon doesn’t allow voters to send in marked ballots electronically, except for troops and citizens living abroad who have been prevented from mailing their absentee ballots due to an emergency or other extenuating circumstances. DeFord now says he “misspoke.”
As Chicagoans trek to the polls Tuesday for the city’s first-ever mayoral runoff election, some may wonder why they can’t yet vote from the palms of their hands. “For me the biggest benefit of online voting would be convenience,” said K.C. Horne, a 26-year-old accountant from Edgewater. “If I can file my taxes from my phone, I should be able to vote from my phone.” But so far, both technological and legislative hurdles have sharply limited the use of online voting. One major difference: The need to keep the user’s identity secret makes filing ballots different from other secure online transactions. “It’s an unconventional transaction where you have to be able to do business with me, but I can’t know exactly what you’re buying,” said Chicago Board of Election Commissioners spokesman Jim Allen.
Despite protests from a psychiatrist, Del Mar will be allowed to proceed with an online poll of local registered voters, an act city officials say does not constitute an election and thus is exempt from state laws prohibiting online voting. … Dr. Edward Mohns, however, sued the city and San Diego–based Everyone Counts Inc., the company that received the contract to set up and monitor the poll on January 29, arguing that the system “has not been certified by the California Secretary of State.” The courts acted swiftly, ruling the next day that Mohns’s request for an injunction could not go through because he could not demonstrate that he would specifically be harmed from the poll-taking.
Del Mar can conduct an online poll of residents today, a state judge ruled Friday, rejecting a claim that it’s an illegal election through an unapproved process. The advisory election, or poll, will ask voters to choose one of three plans for a new Civic Center, also known as the City Hall/Town Hall Project. Only Del Mar voters will be allowed to vote. A resident sued the city on Jan. 29, claiming the voting system “has not been certified by the California Secretary of State,” and that the City Council did not give final approval for it until its Jan. 20 meeting.
Del Mar rushed through approval of an Internet-based city voting system and plans to use it next Tuesday, a resident says in a request for an injunction against it. The Tuesday vote will be an advisory election, in which voters will be asked to choose one of three plans for a new Civic Center, also known as the City Hall/Town Hall Project. Only Del Mar voters will be allowed to vote. Del Mar, pop. 44,000, 20 miles north of San Diego, is a wealthy community best known for its racetrack. On Thursday, Dr. Edward Mohns sued Del Mar, its city manager, its administrative services director and Everyone Counts Inc., a San Diego-based company that got the contract to set up the Internet voting system. In his lawsuit in Superior Court, Mohns says that the voting system “has not been certified by the California Secretary of State,” and that the City Council did not give final approval for it until its Jan. 20 meeting.
Maryland: Back to the future voting: Elections board demonstrates new paper ballot | Maryland Reporter
Maryland’s Board of Elections put on a demonstration last week of two potential voting systems that will have voters producing paper ballots again for the 2016 Presidential Primary Election. At the University of Baltimore, citizens could test drive the Everyone Counts and ES&S (Elections Systems & Software) universal-voting systems that will produce paper records readable by optical scanners in every precinct. A 2007 Maryland law required the State Board of Elections to have a paper record of each ballot to be used to efficiently for later audits or potential recounts. State election officials insisted the current touch-screen computerized voting was accurate and reliable, and less prone to voter error.
Verified Voting in the News: California Assembly committee passes Internet voting bill with secret amendments | Kim Alexander’s Weblog
Last Tuesday at the California Assembly Elections committee hearing,AB 19 by Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) was heard and passed on a 4-3 vote. If enacted, the bill would create a California online voting pilot program. Over the weekend, while cleaning out some old papers, I had deja vu moment when I came across a December 4, 2000 news release issued by then-Assembly Majority Leader Kevin Shelley announcing the introduction of AB 55, which among other things, as originally introduced would have established an online voting pilot program under the direction of the Secretary of State. That provision was ultimately amended out, and Mr. Shelley would go on to become the Secretary of State of California and one of the nation’s first political leaders to support a voter verified paper audit trail and mandatory election recounts.
Last week, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) had to extend its deadline for Oscar nominations, after outlets like The Hollywood Reporter spread the news of extensive difficulties with AMPAS’ new online voting system. Yes, Oscar has caught the dreadedInternet Voting disease, and it seems to be working out about as well as it didfor Canada in 2012 and just slightly better (as far as we know) than it did for Washington D.C. back in 2010 orfor Honolulu in 2009 (where the same company ran that particular Internet Voting disaster.)
This year, Oscar voters are getting a deadline extension, giving members an extra day to vote on the nominees for this year’s Academy Awards after technical issues plagued the first attempt by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to allow online voting. The Academy announced in early 2012 that it would be making e-voting available to members, and as is often then case in the move from analog to digital, the transition to the new voting platform hasn’t been without hiccups. In a recent Hollywood Reporter analysis, many Academy voters complained of issues with logging in to the voting site — something an Academy representative attributed to voters “forgetting or misusing passwords” – difficulty navigating the site once they were logged in, and even the potential for hackers to infiltrate the website and influence the vote.
Growing concern that problems with the new electronic Oscar voting system could lead to record-low turnout has prompted the motion picture academy to extend the deadline for members to vote for Oscar nominations. But next week’s highly anticipated announcements looming, the extension is only for a day, until Friday. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said Monday any votes received after the new deadline will not be counted. “By extending the voting deadline we are providing every opportunity available to make the transition to online balloting as smooth as possible,” said the academy’s chief operating officer, Ric Robertson, in a statement. “We’re grateful to our global membership for joining us in this process.”
New Jersey: Everyone Counts Secures 10-Year, Multimillion-Dollar Contract | San Diego Business Journal
Everyone Counts, a locally based provider of software as a service voting systems, recently received a 10-year contract from New Jersey to design the state’s voter registration system. The company’s eLect Registrator technology is based on its eLect Platform, which provides multiple layers of security, military-grade encryption of ballots and the ability to audit the system at any time, according to the company website.