Pennsylvania: A year ago, voting machines malfunctioned in Northhampton county. Have the problems been fixed? | Marie Albiges/Spotlight PA

On Election Day a year ago, Matthew Munsey was getting some alarming reports.Voters in Northampton County were casting their ballots for the first time on the county’s new voting machines, and things weren’t going well: The screens were responding erratically to voters’ touches, and the official ballots the machines printed out were hard to read.At the end of the night, a Democratic candidate for Court of Common Pleas judge was showing zero recorded votes at some precincts, even though the candidate knew at least three people — his campaign manager and the manager’s parents — had voted for him.“I felt like this was the worst-case scenario that I had dreaded,” said Munsey, the chairperson for the county Democrats.One year later, those same voting machines will face their most consequential test yet: a highly scrutinized presidential election in a Pennsylvania county widely viewed as a national political bellwether for the race overall.In 2020, many elections experts believe as Northampton County goes, so goes the nation.

Pennsylvania: Philadelphia’s new ExpressVote XL voting machines under scrutiny in Tuesday’s elections | Julia Harte/Reuters

When Pennsylvania holds primary elections on Tuesday, some election security advocates will be watching closely to see if more than 2,000 new voting machines acquired last year by Philadelphia and two other counties perform without glitches. Philadelphia and Northampton counties first used the new “ExpressVote XL” machines in last November’s local elections and will deploy them again in the presidential nominating contests and local races on Tuesday. A third county, Cumberland, will use the machines for the first time. Their first widespread use in 2019 in Pennsylvania was marred by miscounted vote tallies in Northampton, a politically divided county in eastern Pennsylvania. Some ExpressVote XL machines incorrectly recorded votes for several candidates in the November election, prompting the county to count backup paper receipts to identify the correct winners, according to Maudeania Hornik, chair of the Northampton Election Commission. The manufacturer of the ExpressVote XL equipment said in a December press conference that some of Northampton’s 320 machines “were configured improperly at our factory prior to delivery to Northampton County.” The manufacturer told the county as many as 30% of the machines were affected, Hornik said. Problems with at least 366 ExpressVote XL machines also arose in Philadelphia, according to public records exclusively obtained by Reuters. The city last year replaced its old voting equipment with a new fleet of 3,750 ExpressVote XL machines. Reuters could not ascertain how many of those machines were deployed in the November 2019 election there.

Pennsylvania: Judge rejects push from Green Party’s Jill Stein to decertify Philly voting machines as ‘daft,’ ‘ill-considered,’ and ‘pointless’ | Jeremy Roebuck/Philadelphia Inquirer

Calling her theories “daft,” “ill-considered,” and “pointless,” a federal judge in Philadelphia on Wednesday rejected a push from former Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein to decertify Philadelphia’s new voting machines in advance of the June 2 primary over concerns they could be vulnerable to hacking. In an opinion, dripping with disdain for the “failed candidate’s” legal case, U.S. District Judge Paul S. Diamond found there was “no credible evidence” to support Stein’s concerns and that granting her request would effectively disenfranchise Philadelphia voters, as there would be no way to replace the machines with new ones in time for the election. “The Commonwealth and the city have expended considerable resources to demonstrate that Dr. Stein has based her motion on absolutely nothing,” he wrote.

New York: Groups warn against ExpressVote XL voting machine being considered for New York | AnneMarie Durkin/The Legislative Gazette

Common Cause New York and Disability Rights New York are calling attention to new voting technologies they say will make it difficult for disabled voters to cast their ballot in upcoming elections. As the state Board of Elections is in the final stages of certifying the new machines, disability rights groups are asking the agency to reject the new machines because they say they are hard to read, can be confusing for those who are hard of hearing, are expensive and they are prone to undercounting votes. The voting machines, ExpressVoteXL, operate as a touch-screen machine and are completely technology centered, as opposed to the traditional paper-ballot voting system that has been in place up until now. Common Cause/NY also dropped off thousands of petitions from New Yorkers across the state against the machine. The New York State Board of Elections is currently in the final stages before it does, or does not, certify the new voting machine. Common Cause says that the company that makes the machine has spent more than $600,000 lobbying New York state officials. Common Cause released a report that details reasons they say the machine should not be used in the upcoming elections.

National: Reliability of pricey new ballot marking devices questioned | Frank Bajak/Associated Press

In the rush to replace insecure, unreliable electronic voting machines after Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential race, state and local officials have scrambled to acquire more trustworthy equipment for this year’s election, when U.S. intelligence agencies fear even worse problems. But instead of choosing simple, hand-marked paper ballots that are most resistant to tampering because paper cannot be hacked, many are opting for pricier technology that computer security experts consider almost as risky as earlier discredited electronic systems. Called ballot-marking devices, the machines have touchscreens for registering voter choice. Unlike touchscreen-only machines, they print out paper records that are scanned by optical readers. South Carolina voters will use them in Saturday’s primary. The most pricey solution available, they are at least twice as expensive as the hand-marked paper ballot option. They have been vigorously promoted by the three voting equipment vendors that control 88 percent of the U.S. market.

Pennsylvania: State officials unclear on backup plan if federal courts decertify voting machine | Emily Previti/PA Post

Pennsylvania doesn’t appear to have a backup plan if a federal lawsuit succeeds in getting at least one voting system banned before the presidential election. U.S. District Judge Paul Diamond pressed Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar Tuesday on what might happen if he orders her to decertify the ExpressVote XL – the machine used by nearly 2 million voters in Philadelphia, Northampton and Cumberland counties – and if he applies his order to other devices. “I can’t overstate how much chaos would ensue, frankly,” Boockvar said. County election directors already are dealing with the state’s first major election law changes in decades amid the higher turnout that comes during a presidential election, she said. And when Diamond asked Boockvar how counties would proceed if he barred them from using the ExpressVote XL, she didn’t have an answer. “I don’t know how that would work,” she said. “But there would have to be some ability for voters to vote.”

Pennsylvania: Judge hears arguments over Philadelphia’s voting machines | Marc Levy/Associated Press

Pennsylvania’s top elections official spent hours in federal court Tuesday, defending the certification of voting machines being used by Philadelphia and two other Pennsylvania counties, including one where problems led to undercounted returns in a race in November. The hearing in federal court could help determine how 17% of Pennsylvania’s registered voters cast ballots in the April 28 primary election, as well as in November, when the state is expected to be one of the nation’s premier presidential battlegrounds. It comes after a two-year push by Gov. Tom Wolf to get counties to switch to paper-based voting systems ahead of this year’s presidential election, a move he frames as a crucial election security bulwark against hacking. For part of her three-plus hours on the stand, Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar sought to show that no element of a federal court agreement in 2018 specifically outlawed certification of the machine in question, the ExpressVote XL touchscreen system. She also testified that certification of the ExpressVote XL touchscreen system had been well underway during talks to settle the lawsuit.

New Jersey: ExpressVote XL Will Make Debut in Middlesex Count on March 10 | Charlie Kratovil/New Brunswick Today

On March 10, the citizens of Edison and Woodbridge will be casting ballots on new electronic voting machines for the first time in over two decades. While some of the Middlesex County’s new “ExpressVote XL” machines have already arrived at the Board of Elections warehouse in Edison, the bulk of the $7.6 million equipment purchase is set to arrive in the coming weeks. The former voting machines have been stripped down and will soon be on their way to a local landfill, according to elections officials. The county’s Board of Chosen Freeholders approved the purchase in February 2019, but it’s taken a long time for the transition to finally move ahead, under the leadership of new Elections Administrator Thomas Lynch. The 720 new machines include “touchscreens” and produce a paper record for every vote. That’s more than enough for each of the county’s voting districts to have its own machine in use on the same day. The county also purchased 720 “electronic poll books” and two “high speed image scanners” from the same vendor that is providing the machines: Nebraska-based Election Systems & Software (ES&S).

New York: State senator calls for public hearing on ExpressVote XL voting machines | Cayla Harris/Times Union

As the state Board of Elections continues its certification process to adopt controversial touch-screen voting machines, the head of the Senate elections committee is urging the board’s commissioners to hit pause while lawmakers gather feedback about the new technology. The board is currently testing the “ExpressVote XL” voting system, designed by the Nebraska-based company Election Systems & Software, as part of a growing nationwide interest in ballot-marking devices — hybrid machines that allow voters to cast their ballots using a touch screen. The system spits out a paper record of the votes as a secondary measure to ensure an accurate count – but advocates have questioned the precision of the machines and whether they are vulnerable to hackers. In addition, the machines were at the center of a botched November election in Northampton County, Pennsylvania, where a judiciary race was undercounted by thousands of ballots. “Everything is always good until it’s not,” said state Sen. Zellnor Myrie, D-Brooklyn, who chairs the Senate Committee on Elections. “Everything is shiny and cutting-edge until it’s not.”

New York: ExpressVote XL May Be New York’s New Voting Machine. They Didn’t Work So Well in Pennsylvania. | Courtney Gross/Spectrum News

Head due west from New York City for about 70 miles and you’ll reach the seat of Northampton County, home to about 208,000 registered voters — voters who used this machine to cast their ballots for the first time last fall. It’s called the ExpressVote XL. As Lamont McClure, the county executive of Northampton County, explained, it didn’t go so well. “On some of the machines,” McClure said. “And remember this was a human error on ES&S’s part, they have taken full responsibility for that — they weren’t configured properly, so the screens were hyper-sensitive.” Thirty percent of the 320 machines here malfunctioned. “The box was down here in the right corner. So a lot of the Democrats, when they went to hit that box, down in the right corner, were right next to the Republican side. The Republican side was lighting up as a result,” said Amy Cozze, the chief registrar of Northampton County. The company that makes the machine, Election Systems and Software, or ES&S, called it human error. ES&S took responsibility. The machines, we’re told, are now fixed.

Pennsylvania: Groups challenging voting machine switch gears, counties remain in limbo | Emily Previti/PA Post

More than 2 million voters in three counties will remain in limbo a bit longer after a voting machine lawsuit changed course late Friday. Commonwealth Court Judge Kevin Brobson had scheduled a hearing Tuesday over whether the ExpressVote XL should be shelved for Pennsylvania’s nominating contest April 28, while the court fully considered the case. But late Friday afternoon, the plaintiffs withdrew their motion for a preliminary injunction. They say they’ll instead ask the court to fast-track the lawsuit – but not when that might happen. The change follows a hearing Thursday where the Pa. Department of State’s lawyers said a court action intended to be temporary could have permanent effects in this case. If counties buy and implement new voting machines to comply, they wouldn’t be in a position to switch back to the XL if the final decision later upholds the machine’s certification, attorney Michele Hangley said.

Pennsylvania: Federal judge delays voting machine case against Department of State | Emily Previti/PA Post

A federal judge on Friday ordered a month-long delay in a case that seeks to bar the use of a specific voting machine in the upcoming presidential primary. Hearings were to begin Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia to determine whether the ExpressVote XL touchscreen tabulator violates a legal settlement that set higher standards for election security in Pennsylvania. Philadelphia, Northampton and Cumberland counties selected the XL as part of an election system update required of all Pa. counties by the end of 2019. The delay ordered by the judge leaves the counties in limbo. Officials from the counties and the Pa. Department of State say shelving the XL and shifting to different voting systems so close to the election would create chaos for voters. They say plaintiffs could and should have acted sooner — and U.S. District Judge Paul Diamond agreed with that point in the order issued Friday.  A key issue in Diamond’s decision to delay the next hearing until Feb. 18 is the potential that one of the plaintiffs attorneys, Ilann Maazel, could be called as a witness by the DoS. If the state insists on calling Maazel, Diamond said he would remove the lawyer from the case. The delay, the judge said, is intended to give the plaintiffs time to prepare new counsel.

Pennsylvania: Cumberland County receives ExpressVote XLs as two courts continue to litigate their eligibility | Zack Hoopes/The Sentinel

Cumberland County received some of its new voting machines this week, the same machines that are the subject of state and federal lawsuits and that experienced mistabulations in Northampton County in the last election. Cumberland and Northampton counties, along with Philadelphia, are in limbo regarding the current or future use of the ExpressVote XL, a product of Election Systems and Software. Cumberland County received the first shipments of its 400-machine order this week, according to Bethany Salzarulo, director of the county’s elections bureau. Salzarulo said she and her staff were aware of the Northampton issues, which officials there blamed on ES&S not adequately communicating the necessary testing procedures to elections staff. Proper testing would have caught the errors well before election day, Salzarulo said, something Cumberland County staff is prepared to do regardless of ES&S.

New York: Advocates, lawmakers warn against ExpressVote XL voting machines | Annie McDonough/CSNY

One of the first items on state legislators’ agendas at the start of session last year was approving election reforms, like allowing early voting. But as session kicks off in Albany this year, some lawmakers – along with good government group Common Cause New York – rallied against a different kind of election modernization: new touch-screen voting machines. The ExpressVote XL machines, made by the voting machine company ES&S, were demonstrated on Tuesday in Albany as part of the Board of Elections’ certification process, but advocates and lawmakers – including Assemblyman Ron Kim and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams – asked the BOE to think twice before certifying them, saying the touch-screen machines are prone to malfunctioning. In Pennsylvania, where the machines are in use, there have been problems with flawed screens and, in one instance, votes for a particular candidate were undercounted by tens of thousands. Advocates added that the machines are prone to cyberattacks as well.

New York: Lawmakers call on Board of Elections to vote ‘no’ on new machines | Denis Slattery/New York Daily News

A coalition of advocates and lawmakers are calling on the state Board of Elections to reject controversial new touchscreen voting machines they say aren’t compatible with the city’s soon-to-take-effect ranked choice system. Opponents say the problem-plagued ES&S ExpressVote XL voting machines, which the state will be testing on Tuesday as part of its certification process, pose too many problems and could present major issues as the city prepares for ranked voting in 2021. “What we’re hoping is that the Board will realize that there are significant issues with this machine and require the vendor to answer questions particularly regarding its capability to run a ranked choice voting election,” Susan Lerner, the executive director of good government group Common Cause, told the Daily News. City voters approved a ballot initiative last November giving the green light to ranked choice in upcoming elections, allowing voters to literally rank their top picks for a given position in order of preference.

Pennsylvania: Some voting security groups want Northampton County voting machines gone after November malfunction | Bo Koltnow/WFMZ

“They are insecure and administration panels are easily opened and tampered with.” Attorney Leslie Grossberg is talking about the ExpressVoteXL voting machines. The machines used in Northampton County malfunctioned last November causing a paper ballot recount. Grossberg’s clients, voting security groups, recently filed an injunction with the Court of Common Pleas to block the XL in 2020. The groups cite immediate and irreparable harm to the election. “Decertification of the ExpressXL is the goal,” Grossberg said. In December the machines, also used in Philadelphia, received a vote of no-confidence from the Northampton County Election Commission Board.  A state hearing is set that could decide to keep or toss the XL.

New York: State Contemplates Voting Machines with Troubled Track Record | Brigid Bergin/WNYC

The New York State Board of Elections may approve a voting machine with a troubled track record. The State is testing the Express Vote XL from Election Software & Systems. The machine uses a touchscreen and marks the ballot FOR the voter. But the machines were used in a Pennsylvania judicial election last year where thousands of votes weren’t counted due to mechanical error. Advocates say New York needs a higher standard. “To be sure [the machines] are minimally hackable and that the vote will reflect the intent of the voter so that they can be cast and accurately counted is to have hand-marked paper ballot,” said Susan Lerner, head of Common Cause New York. A spokeswoman for ES&S said the machines use layers of security and have been approved by the federal government.

Pennsylvania: Voting security advocates seek to block use of Northampton County’s machines | Peter Hall/The Morning Call

Warning of immediate and irreparable harm to the election system, voting security advocates asked a Pennsylvania court to block the use of troubled voting machines in Northampton County and elsewhere in the 2020 elections. Leading a group of Northampton County and Philadelphia voters in a lawsuit over the machines, the National Election Defense Coalition and Citizens for Better Elections filed a motion Friday in Commonwealth Court seeking a preliminary injunction requiring the state to decertify the ExpressVote XL electronic voting system for the April primary and November general election. Citing new information from voters who encountered difficulty using the machines last year and a vote of “no confidence” in the ExpressVote XL by Northampton County election commissioners, the advocates said there is “no way to repair voters’ trust in the machines.” “If voters do not trust the machines, they cannot trust the outcome of the election,” the advocates said. “If that is to happen, the entire state of democracy starts to crumble under the weight of suspicion, distrust and frustration.”

Pennsylvania: Four questions Pennsylvania needs to answer to avert election chaos in 2020 | Emily Previti/PA Post

Pick an issue, any issue. Environmental health? Fiscal conservatism? Probation reform? You’re limited in your ability to influence how elected officials handle “your issue” — or anything else – if our voting systems aren’t secure and reliable. That’s why I’ve spent the past four months or so covering election security in Pennsylvania. Closely. So far, my attention has largely been on the replacement of voting machines throughout the state. That’s meant plenty of travel to observe and document different voting machine configurations at voter demonstrations in more than half a dozen counties. I’ve read, at this point, more than hundreds, maybe thousands, of pages of voting machine contracts and technical documents — not to mention filing the Right-to-Know requests required, in most cases, to obtain them. I’ve also sat through poll worker trainings and covered everything from local controversies to the first test-run of new election auditing procedures that ultimately will be in place statewide. And there will be more to come in 2020.

Pennsylvania: These Two Lawsuits Could Force Philadelphia to Purchase New Voting Machines | David Murrell/Philadelphia Tribune

Who knew something as seemingly mundane as voting machines could generate so much conflict? Then again, maybe we should know better — this is Philadelphia, where nothing related to politics is mundane. So of course the procurement process for the city’s 3,735 ExpressVote XL machines — which we wrote about here — was rife with allegations of impropriety, and an eventual City Controller audit concluded that the city had failed to ensure a transparent purchase without conflicts of interest. And that was before two lawsuits challenging the ExpressVote XL’s certification in the first place. The suits — one filed in state Commonwealth Court, one filed in federal court — share a central claim: that the machines, which were used by both Philadelphia and Northampton counties in November (not without some significant Election Day drama in the latter case), don’t satisfy the requirements of Pennsylvania’s byzantine 267-page election code. Needless to say, the stakes are high. If a judge agrees, Philadelphia could potentially have to return its machines — and after all that conflict! — for new ones that are compliant. We’ve broken down the details of the two suits. … “The ExpressVote XL elevates the risk to unacceptable levels, and some of those risks can’t be mitigated mainly because of the hardware design,” says Marian Schneider, a former Pennsylvania Department of State official and president of Verified Voting, a nonprofit that advocates for transparent elections.

Pennsylvania: Northampton County officials unanimously vote ‘no confidence’ in ExpressVote XL voting machine | Emily Previti/PA Post

Northampton County Election Commissioners unanimously supported a “vote of no confidence” in the county’s new voting machines after vendor Election Security & Software presented findings Thursday night from an investigation into tabulation errors and other problems when the system debuted. The incorrect tallies in last month’s election were linked to races with cross-filed candidates and straight-ticket ballots cast by voters. Cross-filed candidates are ones seeking an office on more than one party line, while the straight ticket option lets voters click one box to select every candidate on the ballot from one party. Voters also complained that the ExpressVote XL touchscreens registered votes they hadn’t cast. Commissioner Kathy Fox said it happened to her. “I didn’t even think I touched it,” Fox said at Thursday’s meeting. “And [the machine] recorded that vote. And so that made me a little nervous. Just because I don’t really think I was touching it.” According to ES&S, a selection on the XL can be triggered by an infrared sensor without the voter actually touching the machine. “It’s very thin, but you can make a selection just by getting just close enough,” said ES&S Vice-President of Product Development Adam Carbullido.

Pennsylvania: No confidence: Northampton County election board calls for new voting machines for 2020 | Tom Shortell/The Morning Call

A month after widespread problems plagued the general election, the Northampton County Election Commission Board voted 4-0 to express no confidence in its new election machines. At the same meeting Thursday evening, representatives of the county’s Democratic and Republican committees called on the county to move away from the machines and perform an independent analysis of the results. “We believe the problems the machines exhibited this year will make it virtually impossible to restore voters’ confidence heading into 2020. We’d recommend avoiding that by not using them again,” said Democratic Chair Matthew Munsey. Despite the bipartisan condemnation of the machines, it’s unclear how county residents will cast their vote in the upcoming presidential elections. Richard Santee, the board’s solicitor, said the decision to reject these machines must be made in conjunction with Northampton County Council and Executive Lamont McClure. Some council members have demanded a refund on the machines, though McClure has continued to stand by them. Even if there was universal agreement, it would be logistically difficult to swap systems in time for the April 28 primary. The board, council and McClure’s administration would have to reach a consensus on getting rid of the machines, selecting a new system, purchasing it, training staff and delivering the machines to the polls in less than four months. “I can’t imagine what we are going to do between now and April,” said Council President Ron Heckman, who attended the meeting as a member of the public. “What’s the alternative?”

Pennsylvania: State officials break silence on controversial ExpressVote XL voting machine | Emily Previti/PA Post

After weeks of silence, state officials have shed some light on their stance that the ExpressVote XL voting machine should remain in use, despite a shaky debut in Pa. during the last election and legal challenges over its shortcomings. In their first public comments about the XL, they laid out their position in 418 pages filed last week in response to plaintiffs’ claims in a federal lawsuit over Pennsylvania’s election system. That case was settled more than a year ago, but plaintiffs led by ex-Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein recently asked a federal judge to enforce the settlement terms. They claim the Pa. Department of State hasn’t upheld the agreement’s parameters for upgrading voting systems statewide by the end of the year. And they’ve asked U.S District Court Judge Paul S. Diamond to order DoS to decertify the ExpressVote XL voting machine, the pick in three Pa. jurisdictions (Philadelphia, Northampton and Cumberland counties).

Pennsylvania: Another lawsuit targets Philadelphia’s voting machines | Associated Press

Pennsylvania is facing another lawsuit over its certification of a voting machine bought by Philadelphia and that was at the center of an undercount in one Pennsylvania county’s election last month. The lawsuit was filed late last week by a pair of election security advocacy organizations and 13 registered voters who live in Philadelphia or Northampton County, where the undercount occurred. The lawsuit asks the state Commonwealth Court to block Pennsylvania’s certification of the ExpressVote XL touchscreen system made by Omaha, Nebraska-based Election Systems & Software. The plaintiffs say the voting system can’t ensure that each vote is properly recorded and counted, doesn’t allow voters to keep their choices secret, doesn’t offer equal access to disabled voters and uses ballot cards that don’t comply with state requirements. Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration declined comment Monday. It will have 30 days to respond in court. In a separate case in Philadelphia’s federal court, Wolf’s administration is defending its certification of the ExpressVote XL.

Pennsylvania: Suit filed in Pennsylvania court challenges widely used electronic voting machine | Emily Previti/PA Post

The Pennsylvania Department of State is facing another lawsuit demanding decertification of the controversial ExpressVote XL voting machine. In addition to conflicting with Pa.’s election code, the XL’s design violates voters’ rights under the state constitution to cast a secure and secret ballot, according to the 224-page lawsuit filed in Commonwealth Court late Thursday by the National Election Defense Coalition, Citizens for Better Elections and 13 individual Pa. voters. The filing comes one day after Election Systems & Software announced the findings of its investigation into problems – including incorrect vote counts in certain races – with XL machines used by Northampton County in the November general election. In addition to Northampton’s tabulation problems, voters there and in Philadelphia, where the machine also debuted, reported other complaints, including over-sensitive touchscreens and excessively long lines. Those experiences are raised in the new filing as proof of the machine’s alleged deficiencies.

Pennsylvania: Northampton County Council presses for assurances that errors won’t occur in 2020 presidential election | Tom Shortell and Christina Tatu/ The Morning Call

Election Systems & Software, the largest voting machine company in the United States, failed to catch errors its employees configured into Northampton County’s new machines, leading to widespread problems this Election Day. Adam Carbullido, a senior vice president with ES&S, said the errors resulted in some voters having difficulty casting ballots. Other mistakes by ES&S allowed a flawed electronic ballot to be distributed to polling places across the county. The errors should have been caught during pre-election testing, Carbullido said, but ES&S failed to properly train county employees and to review the test results. “On behalf of ES&S, I apologize to Northampton County, its administration, County Council members, election officials and staff and, most importantly, to the voters,” Carbullido said Thursday at a news conference in Easton with county Executive Lamont McClure at his side. The Election Day fiasco led Northampton County residents and some elected officials to question the wisdom of entrusting the next election to ES&S’ ExpressVote XL machines. Northampton County Council members have demanded a refund on the $2.8 million purchase, and some have called for a different system for the presidential election. In 2016 the county helped elect Republican President Donald Trump after supporting Democrat Barack Obama four years earlier.

Pennsylvania: Northampton County election fiasco with new voting machines happened because they were set up incorrectly | Jonathan Lai/Philadelphia Inquirer

When votes were tallied last month using new voting machines in Northampton County, it was quickly obvious that something had gone wrong. The numbers were so clearly inaccurate that a judge ordered the machines impounded. Scanners were brought in to help count ballots, and voters questioned the integrity of the machines and the security of the election. The fiasco heightened concerns about the 2020 presidential election in Pennsylvania as the state looks to implement new voting machines in all 67 counties before the April primary. It turns out the machines had been set up improperly, county officials and the voting machine vendor said Thursday, a week after they began an investigation. The machines weren’t prepared to read the results of the specific ballot design used in Northampton County, and dozens of machines had touchscreens that weren’t properly calibrated. Adam Carbullido, an executive at Election Systems & Software, the Omaha, Neb.-based vendor of the ExpressVote XL machines used in Northampton County, said in a statement that the company “takes full accountability” for the mistakes and is reconfiguring the county’s machines.

Pennsylvania: Lawsuit seeks to force Pennsylvania to scrap these electronic voting machines over hacking fears | Joseph Marks/The Washington Post

Election security advocacy groups are suing the state of Pennsylvania today to stop some counties from using controversial voting machines they say are vulnerable to hacking by Russia and other adversaries in 2020. The suit, shared exclusively with The Cybersecurity 202, comes just weeks after these particular machines had technical issues and went haywire and called the wrong winner in a county judge’s race in November. The groups say hackers could do far worse to these electronic machines if they tried.  Concerns about hacking are supersized in Pennsylvania — a battleground state that could be vital to determining the next president. The ExpressVote XL machines, designed by Election Systems & Software, are being used in three counties that account for about 17 percent of the state’s registered voters, including Philadelphia County, the largest in the state. That’s more than enough to tip a close election.

Pennsylvania: Administration defends voting machines blamed in undercount | Marc Levy/Associated Press

Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration asked a federal court Thursday to reject a challenge to its certification of voting machines bought by Philadelphia and two other Pennsylvania counties, while the machine’s maker accepted responsibility for problems that led to badly undercounted returns in a judicial race last month. In a federal court filing, Wolf’s administration said the plaintiffs, former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and several supporters, knew Pennsylvania was about to certify the ExpressVote XL touchscreen system when the sides settled the election-security lawsuit. “Many months had passed” before the plaintiffs objected to the certification of the machines, made by Omaha, Nebraska-based Election Systems & Software, lawyers for the Wolf administration said in the filing. The settlement agreement’s terms are clear and the ExpressVote XL complies with them, they wrote. The court fight casts doubt onto how 17% of Pennsylvania’s registered voters will cast ballots in the April 28 primary election, as well as next November, when the state is expected to be one of the nation’s premier presidential battlegrounds.

Pennsylvania: How Pennsylvania’s election security lawsuit settlement led to the last minute challenge of the state’s top-selling touchscreen voting machine | Emily Previti/PA Post

Three Pennsylvania counties could end up scrambling to replace brand new voting machines before the 2020 election – a situation stemming largely from the loose terms of the 2018 legal settlement that mandates new voting machines across the state. Plaintiffs led by former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein say one system in particular never should have been certified in the first place and are asking a federal judge to force the state to decertify it. The ExpressVote XL doesn’t meet the agreement’s requirements for paper-based systems that produce auditable results and let voters verify ballots before they are cast, they claim. The Stein plaintiffs made their move about a month ahead of the year-end deadline for Pennsylvania counties to buy new machines, and well after most counties already spent or committed more than $150 million to buy machines certified by the Pennsylvania Department of State. It also comes amid Northampton County’s investigation into why the XL tabulated results incorrectly in some races in the Nov. 5 general election. Philadelphia debuted the machines that day, too, with comparatively minor issues. Stein spokesman Dave Schwab says they’re acting at this juncture, in part, because the settlement requires the parties to attempt to resolve any differences among themselves before seeking court intervention.