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 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.
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.
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.
Legislation 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.
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’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.
Kansas: With 3.5 weeks until election, Johnson County gets certification for update to voting machine software that caused reporting delays in August | Shawnee Mission Post
Officials have signed off on a patched version of the software program that will power Johnson County’s voting system next month. The question is, will it work? A month and a half after the company announced it had rewritten the portion of its software program that led to massive reporting delays in the August primary elections, Election Systems & Software has received federal and state certification for the software’s use in the Nov. 6 general election, Johnson County announced today. ES&S submitted the corrected software program to the Election Assistance Commission for review on Sept. 5 and received notice of certification on Oct. 4. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office announced today that it was granting state certification to the system as well.Full Article: With 3.5 weeks until election, Johnson County gets certification for update to voting machine software that caused reporting delays in August.
Delaware lawmakers on Monday approved a $13 million contract for Election Systems & Software to supply roughly 1,500 of its new ExpressVote XL voting machines, the state’s first new voting system in decades. But some watchdogs are questioning whether state officials chose the best equipment when they chose to purchase a new and largely unproven voting system. “They had it in their minds to choose this system regardless of the facts about it,” said Jennifer Hill, director of Common Cause Delaware. “This system is brand new so we don’t know what to expect.” Those claims did not dissuade lawmakers Monday from approving a $13 million contract to buy a fleet of new voting machines, along with new systems for registering voters, checking them in at their polling places and counting absentee ballots.Full Article: Delaware's first new voting machines in decades are on their way.
Verified Voting Blog: Serious design flaw in ESS ExpressVote touchscreen: “permission to cheat” | Andrew Appel
This article was originally posted at the Freedom to Tinker blog.
Over the past 15 years, almost all the states have moved away from paperless touchscreen voting systems (DREs) to optical-scan paper ballots. They’ve done so because if a paperless touchscreen is hacked to give fraudulent results, there’s no way to know and no way to correct; but if an optical scanner were hacked to give fraudulent results, the fraud could be detected by a random audit of the paper ballots that the voters actually marked, and corrected by a recount of those paper ballots.
Optical-scan ballots marked by the voters are the most straightforward way to make sure that the computers are not manipulating the vote. Second-best, in my opinion, is the use of a ballot-marking device (BMD), where the voter uses a touchscreen to choose candidates, then the touchscreen prints out an optical-scan ballot that the voter can then deposit in a ballot box or into an optical scanner. Why is this second-best? Because (1) most voters are not very good at inspecting their computer-marked ballot carefully, so hacked BMDs could change some choices and the voter might not notice, or might notice and think it’s the voter’s own error; and (2) the dispute-resolution mechanism is unclear; pollworkers can’t tell if it’s the machine’s fault or your fault; at best you raise your hand and get a new ballot, try again, and this time the machine “knows” not to cheat.Full Article: Serious design flaw in ESS ExpressVote touchscreen: “permission to cheat”.
Delaware is set to have new voting machines for the 2020 presidential election, with the goal of putting them in place by May’s school board elections. A task force given the responsibility of approving a contract with a vendor to replace the current machines unanimously approved the selection Tuesday, although the choice must still go before the Joint Committee on Capital Improvement. That committee will meet Monday, enabling lawmakers to review and vote on the selection of Election Systems & Software. If the contract is approved, the company will provide machines and other products, including a new database application, to the state. The cost has not been publicly released and will remain private unless the contract is finalized. Officials have up to $13 million to spend, with $3 million of that coming from the federal government and the rest coming from state funds allocated in the capital bond bill.Full Article: New $12 million voting machines will provide ‘paper trail’ - Delaware State News | Delaware State News.
A task force charged with finding new voting machines for Delaware made its decision Tuesday. The task force voted unanimously to award the contract to Election Systems and Software. Its voting machines creates a paper ballot that it marks and tabulates for the voter. But some advocates like Stan Merriman criticized the task force, saying its work lacked transparency and it failed to consult outside experts. “Instead the task force bill treated this historic event as just another routine purchase of machines, failing to imagine a different future,” he said. “Again, machines over methods.” Jennifer Hill with Common Cause Delaware says other states using ESS’s machines have experienced some issues. Some advocates were also upset the new system doesn’t include paper ballots that voters fill out themselves or a vote by mail system.Full Article: Task force approves new voting system for Delaware amid criticism | Delaware First Media.
Kansas: ‘This makes no sense’: Johnson County knows election delay’s cause. Critics skeptical of fix | The Kansas City Star
Faulty software code was to blame for an overnight delay in Johnson County’s primary election night results, an embarrassing ordeal that kept people across the country waiting for the outcome to several high-profile Kansas races. “The slow reporting of results was unacceptable and we apologize,” Tom Burt, president and CEO of Election Systems & Software, said in a statement Monday. “We know the election office and other Johnson County government leaders put their faith in us and we let down our valued partners.” Burt went on to say that the Omaha-based company, the county’s elections vendor, has rewritten the portion of the code that caused the delay and initial tests of that new code were successful. He said testing will continue so the new software can be certified prior to the general election. … “The big issue apparently is that they didn’t test this system at scale,” said Duncan Buell, professor of computer science and engineering at the University of South Carolina, who has studied that state’s election results extensively. “You need to test for all possible scenarios.”Full Article: JoCo knows election delay’s cause. Critics skeptical of fix | The Kansas City Star.
It might not be the first-of-its-kind, open-source software voting system that Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir has sought for more than a decade, but the county will have a voting system with a paper trail by the November 2019 election. Travis County commissioners Tuesday unanimously approved the purchase of an about $8.2 million electronic voting system with paper backup from Election Systems & Software. About $1.5 million in costs for other election day equipment will need to be approved in coming weeks, bringing the total cost to about $9.7 million. The county will be among the first in the nation to commit to rigorous statistical auditing using that backup.Full Article: Travis County to move to voter verified system with paper trail.
When you go to the polls to vote for governor between now and Tuesday, don’t be surprised if you don’t see every candidate that you’re expecting to see on your ballot. They’re all there, but you may have to look a little deeper than usual to find the candidate you want to vote for. Because of an unforeseen software glitch in Sedgwick County’s new voting machines, not all the candidates’ names appear on the first screen when the voting machine gets to the gubernatorial election. To see all the names, you have to touch “more” at the bottom of the screen, which opens another page with the rest of the candidates. So on the first screen page that comes up when you’re voting in the governor race, you might see, for example, Gov. Jeff Colyer’s name, but not his chief rival, Kris Kobach. Or you might see Kobach’s name but not Colyer’s. Or you might see both, or neither.Full Article: Software glitch is confusing voters in election for governor | The Wichita Eagle.