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South Carolina: Tony Shaffer: New Report Highlights Urgent Need to Replace South Carolina Voting System | FITSNews

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have confirmed that Russian hackers targeted all 50 states during the 2016 elections – not just the 21 states previously reported. This new information highlights the urgent need to replace South Carolina’s old, vulnerable digital touchscreen “DRE” voting machines. As a cyber operations expert with nearly forty years of national security experience, I feel the need to speak up: It’s critical to deter and mitigate these threats before the 2020 elections. South Carolina is moving in the right direction. The legislature has appropriated $40 million for a new voting system and, to ensure a smooth procurement process, given responsibility for procuring the system to the S.C. Department of Administration (SCDOA). As the department examines the available systems, it should carefully consider the efficiency, cost, and security of each system. It should also avoid the mistakes made in Georgia, where the legislature fast-tracked a bill requiring a $150 million voting system comprised of ballot-marking devices (BMDs) without considering a more secure, lower-cost system of hand-marked paper ballots. BMDs, which require voters to select their preferred candidates using a touchscreen, may be more high-tech than paper ballots but are by no means higher quality. BMDs contain vulnerable computer systems that can be hacked to change ballots after they are cast. Although BMDs print a paper record of votes cast, they often do so in barcode format, making it impossible for voters to ensure that their vote will ultimately be recorded accurately. And like any machine, BMDs are susceptible to technical glitches and power outages, increasing chances that voters will be forced to wait in long lines on election day.

Full Article: Tony Shaffer: New Report Highlights Urgent Need to Replace SC Voting System – FITSNews.

Editorials: Good, bad and ambiguous in Georgia’s new voting system | Wenke Lee/Atlanta Journal Constitution

Although I’m pleased the Georgia General Assembly acted quickly this session to address flaws in our current voting equipment, I remain concerned that, overall, our state has chosen the less-secure, more-cumbersome, costly option and that too many details — essential for election security and voter confidence — are still undefined. First, let’s review what’s right about HB 316 and what Georgia gained. It requires: pre-certification election audits to validate initial outcomes; “voting in absolute secrecy;” that voting equipment produce a paper record in a format readable by humans, and that equipment will “mark correctly and accurately.” I’m also pleased that voter education is part of this bill, in the albeit very modest stipulation that poll workers post signs reminding voters to read, review, and verify paper printouts before casting their final votes. What’s bad about HB 316 is what it could have accomplished but did not: human-readable, hand-marked paper ballots — by far the most cost-effective and cybersecure method of voting. Instead, it establishes a system where electronic ballot markers (EBMs) are used to generate a paper receipt of voter selections — rather than a hand, holding a pen to paper. Overwhelmingly, citizens, computer scientists, cybersecurity experts, and nonpartisan groups recommended and requested hand-marked paper ballots in Georgia over any other method. I am baffled as to why state lawmakers repeatedly ignored such an overwhelming cry.

Full Article: Opinion: Good, bad and ambiguous in new voting system.

Editorials: Georgia’s voting system must be secure, accessible, auditable | David Becker and Michelle Bishop/Atlanta Journal Constitution

Russia attacked our election infrastructure and spread disinformation in the 2016 election, and continues to interfere in our elections. While there remains zero evidence that any votes in any election have been changed, Russia achieved its goal of dividing this country and reducing Americans’ confidence in their democracy. Russia’s efforts are likely to continue through 2020, and it is critical now more than ever that we come together to secure our democratic systems, upgrade outdated voting technology, and improve auditing ballots post-election, to ensure that every eligible American is able to cast their ballots accurately and with confidence. There is a consensus among the intelligence community and cybersecurity experts that human-readable paper ballots, which can be audited by comparing them to the official tally of votes, are necessary to secure our elections. As a result, states such as Georgia are responding — moving toward paper-based voting systems for 2020 and planning for more robust audits to ensure the count is accurate, regardless of foreign interference.There are basically two types of voting systems that accommodate paper ballots. The most common are hand-marked ballots, where the voter fills in a bubble or connects an arrow. These ballots are then fed into a scanner that is programmed to read those handmade marks as votes in particular races, and those votes are tabulated to determine the winner. These systems have some advantages – they are considered cheaper by some (at first, though the costs of printing ballots adds up over time, and the cost benefits, if any, shrink), and voters are familiar with them.

Full Article: Opinion: Voting system must be secure, accessible, auditable.

New York: Oversight Committee head calls for halt on voting machines | New York Post

The chair of the City Council’s Oversight and Investigations Committee is calling for a halt to the Board of Elections’ plan to use machines supplied by a company with a spotty record for this fall’s early voting. “I’m against rigging the process in favor of a contractor with a dubious track record,” said Councilman Ritchie Torres (D-Bronx). Election Systems & Software came under fire after its ballot scanners reportedly jammed at polling places across the city in November’s elections. “There needs to be an investigation of the performance and conflicts of interest involving ES&S. There should be a competitive bidding process,” Torres said. BOE Executive Director Michael Ryan is also on the hot seat after it was revealed last year that he failed to report several posh business trips paid for by ES&S. He subsequently stepped down from an unpaid gig on the contractor’s advisory board.

Full Article: Ritchie Torres calls for removal of faulty voting machines.

Pennsylvania: Philadelphia controller subpoenas city elections officials over voting machine decision | Philadelphia Inquirer

Philadelphia City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart last week subpoenaed the city’s elections officials for documents related to the controversial selection of new voting machines. Rhynhart’s subpoena is the most-pointed official effort known to date to obtain information about a voting machine selection process that critics have decried as opaque, lacking true public input, and biased. The items requested in the subpoena, dated April 1, include copies of all proposals received, the names of all committee members who scored them, and copies of those evaluations. The information was originally due by Tuesday, but the City Commissioners’ Office was granted an extension. (The new deadline was unclear Thursday; the Controller’s Office declined to comment on the subpoena.) Nick Custodio, deputy commissioner under Chairwoman Lisa Deeley, said only that the city’s Law Department “is handling everything as it relates to the request” from Rhynhart. He declined to comment further.

Full Article: Voting Machine Selection Prompts Subpoena in Philadelphia.

Pennsylvania: Philadelphia commissioner breaks silence to criticize voting machine decision and call for new selection | Philadelphia Inquirer

Philadelphia City Commissioner Anthony Clark, who rarely says anything at board meetings and has a reputation for not showing up to work, suddenly spoke up Wednesday to say he favors invalidating the city’s choice of voting machines and restarting the selection process. His comments, which caught nearly everyone by surprise, were delivered almost casually during the commissioners’ weekly meeting, after City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart urged the elections officials to nullify the controversial selection of new systems. “Today I request that this body vacate the commissioners’ earlier decision and draft and reissue a new, fair” request for proposals, Rhynhart said after calling the selection process opaque and biased. “Please don’t deny Philadelphia’s voters a true voice in the selection of these machines.” Clark, who had not spoken publicly about the decision and did not cast a vote when the commissioners chose the system, responded: “Well, I’d just like to say that I do support your recommendation. That’s all I have to say at this time.” Advocates have for months implored Philadelphia election officials to select a hand-marked paper ballot system rather than the ES&S ExpressVoteXL system that was chosen Feb. 20 have accused the commissioners of illegally selecting that machine and called for that vote to be nullfied.

Full Article: Philly commissioner breaks silence to criticize voting machine decision and call for new selection.

Georgia: Critics say new voting system planned for Georgia is flawed | Associated Press

Critics of Georgia’s outdated voting system told a judge on Tuesday that a new system outlined by lawmakers has many of the same fundamental flaws and is unconstitutional. A law signed last week by Gov. Brian Kemp provides specifications for a new voting system. Bids are due later this month, and state officials say they plan to implement the new system in time for next year’s presidential election. Lawyers for the Coalition for Good Governance and for a group of voters, who had filed a lawsuit challenging Georgia’s election system, told U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg they plan to ask her initially to stop the state from using the current machines for special and municipal elections scheduled this year. Ultimately, they said, they want her to prohibit the state from using the current paperless machines, as well as the ballot-marking machines provided for in the new law. Lawyers for the state argued complaints about the current voting system have been made irrelevant by the new law and that complaints about ballot-marking machines can’t be considered yet because the state hasn’t even selected a new system.

Full Article: Critics say new voting system planned for Georgia is flawed | WSB-TV.

Georgia: State moving forward with new type of voting system; some opponents react | WSAV

How you vote in Georgia will be changing, according to a new law signed recently by Governor Brian Kemp. The law calls for scrapping the old, and now somewhat controversial, voting machines. Those will be replaced with a new system including what is termed “Electronic Ballot Marking Devices” as well as new types of digital scanners to actually record votes. Supporters, which include many state lawmakers as well as Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, say the new system will provide a verifiable paper trail. Opponents say just the opposite. “The state is going to spend $150 million to $200 million and not be one bit better off than they are today,” said Marilyn Marks from the Coalition for Good Governance. “They should just keep the un-auditable system.”  Marks’ group is still embroiled in a lawsuit with the State of Georgia over issues from the 2018 election. Marks has a list of concerns starting with the Electronic Marking Devices, which it’s said will print out a paper ballot that can then be verified by a voter and ultimately scanned by the digital scanner to actually cast the ballot. She says two of the largest vendors that make these machines don’t really provide a paper ballot per se, but actually something more like a bar code. Marks asserts any new system will not truly have a verifiable paper trail and that she expects “many court challenges.”

Full Article: Georgia moving forward with new type of voting system; some opponents react.

Georgia: Governor inks law to replace voting machines  | Atlanta Journal Constitution

Gov. Brian Kemp signed legislation to replace Georgia’s electronic voting machines with a touchscreen-and-paper ballot election system, after a polarizing debate over how to balance the integrity of the vote with ensuring accurate election results. The Republican was long expected to sign House Bill 316, which divided Republicans and Democrats over whether voters should use computer-printed ballots or paper ballots bubbled in with a pen.But the timing and quiet nature of the bill signing was peculiar: His office said in a notice posted on his website Wednesday that Kemp inked the bill, along with 20 lower-profile measures, on Tuesday during the last day of the legislative session.The overhaul was introduced with Kemp’s blessing after his narrow election victory over Democrat Stacey Abrams, who cast the Republican as an “architect of voter suppression” and accused him of creating barriers to ballot access. 

Full Article: Georgia governor inks law to replace voting machines .

Georgia: Paulding’s Holden leading state election officials group preparing for new voting system | mdjonline

Paulding’s election supervisor will help lead a new statewide election workers organization as they learn to operate a new electronic voting system by the 2020 presidential election. Deidre Holden will join with Athens-Clarke County elections director Charlotte Sosebee to lead the new Georgia Association of Voter Registration and Election Officials after the merger of two long-standing groups whose members were involved in conducting Georgia elections for half a century. The two groups, the Voter Registrars Association of Georgia and the Georgia Election Officials Association, worked for years to merge after their members increasingly were assigned the same duties in recent decades, Holden said. The new group is forming as election officials statewide begin training to operate the new $150 million system of ballot-marking devices the Georgia General Assembly approved this year. Paulding’s elections office will use the new machines in the Dallas and Hiram municipal elections in November as part of a pilot program, Holden said.

Full Article: Paulding's Holden leading state election officials group preparing for new voting system | News | mdjonline.com.

Georgia: Georgia likely to plow ahead with buying insecure voting machines | Politico

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is poised to sign a bill to overhaul the state’s voting system with machines that are widely considered vulnerable to hacking. The new equipment would replace the state’s paperless, electronic machines — technology so risky that a federal judge said last year that its continued use threatened Georgians’ “constitutional interests.” But security researchers say similar risks exist in the new electronic machines that the GOP-led legislature has chosen, which would embed the voter’s choice in a barcode on a slip of paper. The warnings from cybersecurity experts, election integrity advocates and Georgia Democrats are especially troubling given the abundant warnings from U.S. intelligence leaders that Russia will once again attempt to undermine the presidential election in 2020. “The bill’s sponsors made false and misleading statements during the entire legislative session in hearings leading up to the vote, often flatly contradicting objective evidence or mischaracterizing scientific writing,” said Georgia Institute of Technology computer science professor Rich DeMillo, who testified throughout the process.

Full Article: Georgia likely to plow ahead with buying insecure voting machines - POLITICO.

National: State election officials opt for 2020 voting machines vulnerable to hacking | Politico

Election officials in some states and cities are planning to replace their insecure voting machines with technology that is still vulnerable to hacking. The machines that Georgia, Delaware, Philadelphia and perhaps many other jurisdictions will buy before 2020 are an improvement over the totally paperless devices that have generated controversy for more than 15 years, election security experts and voting integrity advocates say. But they warn that these new machines still pose unacceptable risks in an election that U.S. intelligence officials expect to be a prime target for disruption by countries such as Russia and China. The new machines, like the ones they’re replacing, allow voters to use a touchscreen to select their choices. But they also print out a slip of paper with the vote both displayed in plain text and embedded in a barcode — a hard copy that, in theory, would make it harder for hackers to silently manipulate the results. Security experts warn, however, that hackers could still manipulate the barcodes without voters noticing. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine has also warned against trusting the barcode-based devices without more research, saying they “raise security and verifiability concerns.”

Full Article: State election officials opt for 2020 voting machines vulnerable to hacking - POLITICO.

National: New ‘Hybrid’ Voting System Can Change Paper Ballot After It’s Been Cast | WhoWhatWhy

For years, election security experts have assured us that, if properly implemented, paper ballots and routine manual audits can catch electronic vote tally manipulation. Unfortunately, there is no universal definition of “paper ballot,” which has enabled vendors and their surrogates to characterize machine-marked paper printouts from hackable ballot marking devices (BMDs) as “paper ballots.” Unlike hand-marked paper ballots, voters must print and inspect these machine-marked “paper ballots” to try to detect any fraudulent or erroneous votes that might have been marked by the BMD. The machine-marked ballot is then counted on a separate scanner.

Most independent cybersecurity election experts caution against putting these insecure BMDs between voters and their ballots and instead recommend hand-marked paper ballots as a primary voting system (reserving BMDs only for those who are unable to hand mark their ballots). But vendors and many election officials haven’t listened and are now pushing even more controversial “hybrid” systems that combine both a BMD and a scanner into a single unit. These too are now sold for use as a primary voting system.

Unlike hand-marked paper ballots counted on scanners and regular non-hybrid BMDs,  these new hybrid systems can add fake votes to the machine-marked “paper ballot” after it’s been cast, experts warn. Any manual audit based on such fraudulent “paper ballots” would falsely approve an illegitimate electronic outcome. According to experts, the hybrid voting systems with this alarming capability include the ExpressVote hybrid by Election Systems & Software, LLC (ES&S), the ExpressVote XL hybrid by ES&S, and the Image Cast Evolution hybrid by Dominion Voting.

Full Article: New 'Hybrid' Voting System Can Change Paper Ballot After It’s Been Cast - WhoWhatWhy.

Georgia: Final vote approves new Georgia statewide voting machines | Atlanta Journal Constitution

ExpressVoteLegislation to replace Georgia’s electronic voting machines with a touchscreen-and-paper ballot election system is heading to Gov. Brian Kemp for his signature after winning final approval from state lawmakers Thursday. The Georgia House’s 101-69 vote, mostly along party lines, concluded a polarized debate over how to protect democracy and ensure accurate election results. Republicans and Democrats fiercely disagreed over whether voters should use computer-printed ballots or paper ballots bubbled in with a pen. The Republican majority’s decision to go with voting machines and printed ballots comes in time for the system to be in place for next year’s presidential election, when the state’s 7 million registered voters will be eligible to cast their ballots.

Related: How electronic voting with a paper ballot would work in Georgia

The $150 million statewide system that won approval includes the same kind of touchscreens that Georgia voters have been using for the past 17 years. Printers are designed to spit out paper ballots for voters to review and then insert into a scanning machine for tabulation. The state’s current voting machines lack a paper ballot.

Full Article: Final vote approves new Georgia statewide voting machines.

Georgia: Secretary of State seeks to replace criticized voting machines | Associated Press

Georgia’s new elections chief asked lawmakers Wednesday for $150 million to replace the state’s outdated electronic voting machines. In doing so, he all but closed the door on a hand-marked paper balloting system that experts say is cheapest and most secure. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger told Georgia legislators meeting for budget hearings that a new voting system is his top priority. Cybersecurity experts and voting integrity activists say the touch-screen machines Georgia has used since 2002 are vulnerable to hacking and can’t be audited effectively because they produce no verifiable paper record. The current machines and Georgia’s registration practices became the subject of national criticism during last year’s governor’s race between Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp. Kemp served as secretary of state and refused calls to resign from overseeing his own election. He stepped down two days postelection after declaring himself the winner.

Full Article: Georgia SOS seeks to replace criticized voting machines.

Georgia: Watchdog says Georgia Voting Machine Commission Recommended “Unsafe Voting Systems” | AllOnGeorgia

The final report expected this week from Brian Kemp’s Secure, Accurate and Fair Elections (SAFE) commission will recommend voting systems that experts deem unsafe. The report will recommend electronic ballot markers over hand marked paper ballots including ballot markers that embed hidden unverifiable votes in digital bar codes for tabulation. Such systems were strongly discouraged as security risks by computer scientists, Election Integrity advocates, public speakers at all commission meetings and even the commission’s own cyber security expert.

Full Article: Watchdog says Georgia Voting Machine Commission Recommended "Unsafe Voting Systems" - AllOnGeorgia.

Georgia: Lawmakers prepare for fight over switch to paper ballots | The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Battles over election integrity that helped define Georgia’s race for governor will play out at the Capitol this year, when state legislators plan to replace the state’s 27,000 electronic voting machines and review voting access laws. The multimillion-dollar purchase of a more secure statewide voting system is a priority for this year’s legislative session, which starts Monday. Legislators generally agree that the state should start using paper ballots to replace the all-digital touchscreen system in place since 2002, but they strongly differ over what kind of paper-based system to buy. Intense debates over voter disenfranchisement are also certain to arise. A bill has already been filed to curb mass voter registration cancellations, and other measures could address ballot cancellations, voting hours, early voting times, precinct closures and district boundaries.

Full Article: Elections and paper voting debated by Georgia legislators.

New Jersey: Progress Seen in Test of Paper-Trail voting Machines that Allow Audit of Results | NJ Spotlight

Review of midterm election offers assurance that electronic vote counts are reliable, but lawmakers show limited interest in deploying the technology statewide. New Jersey’s first pilot tests of voting machines that provide a way to verify results proved successful in the last election, and now some officials are looking forward to expanding testing later. Typically, elections with state Assembly seats topping the ticket — like this coming fall — have low turnouts and so make this an ideal time to roll out new machines. These machines include a paper ballot alongside an electronic screen which both allows voters to check that their choices were properly marked and keeps a paper trail for the elections board. Fewer people casting ballots should help reduce the wait some may experience as voters who may be confused by the new technology take more time on the machine.

Full Article: Progress Seen in Test of Paper-Trail voting Machines that Allow Audit of Results - NJ Spotlight.

Florida: Something Very Odd Happened With Broward County’s Ballots in the Florida Senate Election | Slate Kim

Florida has retained the championship belt for election shenanigans, as three statewide races could be headed for a recount. The gap between Rick Scott and Bill Nelson, in the election for the latter’s Senate seat, has only continued to narrow. The race was already within the 0.5 percent margin needed to trigger a recount on Wednesday, when Scott had roughly a 35,000-vote lead. That’s been cut in half to about 17,000 as ballots have continued to come in. While Scott is still the favorite to ultimately win, FiveThirtyEight has shifted the race from “likely Republican” to “lean Republican.” One reason for hope for Nelson is that a traditionally Democratic area, Broward County, has so far reported fewer votes for the Senate race compared with the gubernatorial race, according to data compiled by MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki. In other Florida counties, no such discrepancy exists. While some of the discrepancy could be due to genuine undervotes—for instance, the design of the ballot may have led some voters to miss it and not vote in that race—it’s possible that the county hasn’t correctly counted all the ballots. About 24,000 ballots in Broward County registered a vote in the governor’s race but not for the Senate race.

Full Article: Florida Senate election: missing votes in Broward County..

New Jersey: State to begin using newer, more secure voting machine – experts say the state is making a new mistake in the process | News12

New Jersey election officials are taking steps to replace the state’s outdated voting machines, which are vulnerable to hacking. But some experts say the state is making a new mistake in the process. Voters in New Jersey use some of the oldest, least secure voting machines in America. Ten years ago, Princeton professor Andrew Appel demonstrated the machines could be hacked. They also produce no paper backup, so Appel says, “You can’t really recount or audit. Whatever the computer says, whether it’s hacked or not, is what you have to rely on.”  That may soon change. New Jersey election director Robert Giles says all 21 county election boards are on board with transitioning to new machines that produce voter-verified paper trails. Enter the ExpressVote XL, being used for the first time next week in Westfield, before being rolled out Union County-wide. County election officials let Kane In Your Corner test the equipment, which features a 32-inch touch screen.

Full Article: KIYC: Union County to begin using newer, more secure voting mach.