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Georgia: Groups warn of hidden costs of new Georgia voting machines | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia taxpayers could be saddled with tens of millions of dollars in hidden costs for new voting machines, according to calculations released Wednesday by three groups critical of the state’s election spending. The groups, which span the political spectrum, said a $104 million contract for a new statewide voting system fails to provide enough money for voting machines, equipment, software and personnel, resulting in an estimated $82 million shortfall. The Georgia secretary of state’s office responded that the groups’ estimates are incorrect, the voting system is within its budget, and the state government has already ordered 3,000 additional machines to meet voters’ needs. The cost analysis was produced by Fair Fight Action, a voting rights group founded by former Democratic nominee for governor Stacey Abrams; FreedomWorks, which advocates for free markets and small government; and the National Election Defense Coalition, an election security organization. “By imposing this unfunded mandate, the secretary of state has put all 159 counties in a position of either enacting massive local tax hikes or facing widespread lawsuits at taxpayer expense,” said Jason Pye of FreedomWorks.

Full Article: Georgia voting machines include pricey hidden costs, groups say.

Editorials: Hand-marked Paper Ballots: How this Tried-and-True Method Makes Us More Secure | Bennie J. Smith/Memphis Commercial Appeal

In 2016, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg shared a photo on Instagram (owned by Facebook) to celebrate Instagram’s historic milestone of reaching 500 million users. Though Zuckerberg was excited to share his company’s success, headlines instead focused on the unintended revelation that his laptop’s webcam and mic were covered with tape. As one of the greatest high-tech inventors, he knows the dangers of modern technology and reveals his simple low-tech method of protection from hackers. One thing is clear, he doesn’t blindly trust technology, and neither should you.We’ve blindly trusted voting technology until it recently came under intense scrutiny. Many technologists, concerned citizens and others now want to replace voting machines with hand-marked paper ballots to record our votes. Combined with post-election audits, these low-tech methods provide evidence that voters’ choices were counted correctly when tabulated. If you think about it, paper marked by a human is immune to any virus since no computer is involved. It’s your starting line in an election, with its most important fact (true voter intent) undeniably created by you. Your available choices and who you chose are both verifiable and documented. Voters unable to mark a ballot by hand will need ballot-marking device choices.

Full Article: Shelby County voting machines elections computers errors.

Georgia: Problems with new Georgia voting system found in test election | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Voting machines rebooted in the middle of voting. Computers couldn’t program the cards voters use to activate voting machines. One voter inserted a driver’s license into the voting machine, causing it to go blank. Those were some of the 45 incidents reported during a test run of Georgia’s new voting system, according to a summary from the secretary of state’s office. The pilot was conducted in six counties, where 27,482 ballots were cast in this month’s election. The test identified issues with the voting system, which combines touchscreens with printed-out paper ballots, that can now be corrected before it’s used statewide in the March 24 presidential primary, said Gabe Sterling, the chief operating officer for the secretary of state’s office. “These problems are mainly human-based,” Sterling said. “We can train and train, and our plan is to train again. That’s going to be the main thing that’s going to make these things work properly.” Sterling said he’s confident that the state’s voting system will be ready for the presidential primary, and all equipment is scheduled for delivery by late January.

Full Article: Georgia election officials say they'll fix voting system issues.

Georgia: Voting machine critics investigated by Georgia election officials | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia election officials are investigating two prominent critics for allegedly intruding into voting areas during a test run of the state’s new voting machines. The two people under investigation said the investigation is an intimidation tactic by Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office. Marilyn Marks, a plaintiff in a lawsuit demanding that Georgia switch to hand-marked paper ballots, and Richard DeMillo, a Georgia Tech cybersecurity expert, are accused of “interfering with voters by being in an unauthorized area” during the Nov. 5 election, said Walter Jones, a spokesman for Raffensperger. “The secretary of state takes voters’ reports that individuals are violating election law and undermining the integrity of our state and local elections seriously,” Jones said in a statement. Marks said Raffensperger is attempting to marginalize skeptics of the state’s new voting system, which combines touchscreens and printed ballots. The system is scheduled to be rolled out to voters statewide during the March 24 presidential primary.

Full Article: Georgia election officials accuse critics of voting machines.

Georgia: Election officials investigate prominent critics | Ben Nadler/Associated Press

Georgia election officials have opened an investigation into two prominent critics of the state’s new touchscreen voting machines, secretary of state Brad Raffensperger’s office confirmed Wednesday. Those critics called the investigation an attempt to intimidate detractors of the new machines. Marilyn Marks, executive director of the nonprofit Coalition for Good Governance, and Richard DeMillo, a cybersecurity expert and Georgia Tech professor, are accused of “interfering with voters by being in unauthorized areas” of voting locations while observing pilot elections conducted on the new machines on Nov. 5. Raffensperger spokesman Walter Jones says the investigation was launched after complaints from “poll workers and voters” and that Marks and DeMillo were “in an area of the polling place where only voters and election officials are allowed to be.” Marks responded, “I have absolutely no idea what this could be about other than just an effort to try to discredit us, because much of what we observed was not pretty.” Marks said they worked with local election officials that day and hadn’t heard any concerns at the time. She said Raffensperger should be promoting open and transparent elections rather than “trying to make examples of people who want to exercise their right to learn more, who want to observe, who want to promote transparency.”

Full Article: Georgia election officials investigate prominent critics - StarTribune.com.

Pennsylvania: ‘You should be pretty worried’: Fixing York County’s election system before 2020 votes | Logan Hullinger/York Dispatch

The maker of York County’s new voting machines pledged to have support on hand for all of next year’s elections after a tumultuous rollout of the system earlier this month that delayed election results for days. A representative for Dominion Voting Systems made the announcement Thursday, Nov. 14, during a debriefing that included the county commissioners, nearly all of the county’s state lawmakers, poll workers and election officials. Kay Stimson, the company’s vice president of government affairs, said Dominion also would work with county officials to reevaluate the number of machines needed in each of the 159 precincts. Based of the problems during the Nov. 5 municipal election, Lawmakers were particularly concerned about the 2020 voting — which includes a special election in January, the primary in April and the presidential contest in November. “If you voted in York, you should be pretty worried,” state Rep. Seth Grove, R-Dover Township, said after the meeting.

Full Article: 'You should be pretty worried': Fixing York County's election system before 2020 votes.

National: Expensive, Glitchy Voting Machines Expose 2020 Hacking Risks | Kartikay Mehrotra and Margaret Newkirk/Bloomberg

The first sign something was wrong with Northampton County, Pennsylvania’s state-of-the-art voting system came on Election Day when a voter called the local Democratic Party chairman to say a touchscreen in her precinct was acting “finicky.” As she scrolled down the ballot, the tick-marks next to candidates she’d selected kept disappearing. Her experience Nov. 5 was no isolated glitch. Over the course of the day, the new election machinery, bought over the objections of cybersecurity experts, continued to malfunction. Built by Election Systems & Software, the ExpressVote XL was designed to marry touchscreen technology with a paper-trail for post-election audits. Instead, it created such chaos that poll workers had to crack open the machines, remove the ballot records and use scanners summoned from across state lines to conduct a recount that lasted until 5 a.m. In one case, it turned out a candidate that the XL showed getting just 15 votes had won by about 1,000. Neither Northampton nor ES&S know what went wrong. Digital voting machines were promoted in the wake of a similarly chaotic scene 19 years ago: the infamous punch-card ballots and hanging chads of south Florida that tossed the presidential contest between George W. Bush and Al Gore into uncertainty.

Full Article: Expensive, Glitchy Voting Machines Expose 2020 Hacking Risks - Bloomberg.

Georgia: Problem with new election equipment delays voting in Georgia counties | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A glitch with Georgia’s new voter check-in computers caused delays in most of the six counties testing it, causing some precincts to stay open late to accommodate voters who left without casting their ballots. The problem occurred in at least four of the six counties where the new voting system was being tested Tuesday before it’s rolled out statewide to 7.4 million registered voters during the March 24 presidential primary. Most Georgia voters were still using the state’s 17-year-old voting technology Tuesday. Poll workers weren’t able to create voter access cards on new voting check-in computers manufactured by KnowInk. Those cards activate touchscreen voting machines so that they display the ballot associated with the jurisdictions where voters are registered. In Decatur County, near the Florida border, some voters waited 45 minutes for the problem to be fixed. Decatur election officials decided to keep precincts open an hour later, until 8 p.m. “Let’s get these kinks resolved now, before March 24,” said Carol Heard, chief elections officer for Decatur County. “My hair was red before today. Now it’s gray.” The same issue also occurred in Bartow, Carroll, Paulding and Lowndes counties. Catoosa County had no problems.

Full Article: Elections: 'Glitch' in new equipment delays voting in Georgia counties.

Pennsylvania: Problems with York County’s new paper ballots | Shelly Stallsmith/York Daily Record

Jerry Brenchley has lived in West Manheim Township, York County, since 1984. Before that, he lived in Los Angeles. The 72-year-old voted in every election in both areas because his grandparents told him that’s the only way to make sure his voice is heard. Brenchley’s voice isn’t going to be heard in this election because, for the first time, he didn’t vote. He and his wife tried, he said. They stood in line at St. David’s Evangelical Lutheran Church for nearly an hour and still hadn’t reached the registration table to get a ballot. “There were five or six ladies handing out ballots,” Brenchley said. “And one came out and said, ‘I’m sorry, they just sent us one machine.’ People were walking out. “This stinks, I mean it really stinks.” Brenchley isn’t alone in his complaints. Voters around York County were voicing concerns about the new paper ballot system. They are worried about this year’s election, but Tuesday’s long lines and voting difficulties have them more concerned about next year’s presidential election. “We waited 2½ hours to vote in 2016,” Valerie Herman said Tuesday. “If things don’t change for next year, we’ll have to camp out.”

Full Article: Election 2019: Problems with York County's new paper ballots.

Georgia: State rushes to install voting machines before 2020 election | Mark Niesse & David Wickert/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

With a presidential election on the line in 2020, Georgia is switching to a new voting company, Dominion Voting Systems, that state evaluators ranked second-best and that critics said will leave elections vulnerable. Dominion, based in Denver, must rush to install 30,000 voting machines for 7 million Georgia voters before the March 24 presidential primary, the largest rollout of elections equipment in U.S. history. Most voters in Tuesday’s local elections will cast ballots on Georgia’s 17-year-old machines, and voters in six counties are testing Dominion’s machines. The company faces intense scrutiny in Georgia, one of the most competitive states in the nation entering an election year featuring President Donald Trump and two U.S. Senate seats on the ballot. The challenge for Dominion is to seamlessly introduce computer-printed paper ballots in a state criticized last year over allegations of vote flipping, missing voter registrations, precinct closures, long lines and voter purges. The swift transition to new voting equipment has raised eyebrows far from Georgia. “What Georgia is trying to do basically blows my mind,” said Dwight Shellman, an election official at the Colorado secretary of state’s office. His state adopted a Dominion system in 2016. “We had 2 1/2 years to do it, and it was challenging,” Shellman said. “I can’t imagine implementing the number of counties Georgia has in, what, two months? Three months?” Actually, the work will take eight months. But the challenge remains daunting.

Full Article: Georgia rushes to install voting machines before 2020 election.

Georgia: Voters begin casting ballots on new Georgia election system | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The first Georgia voters to test the state’s new voting machines cast their ballots Monday, with some voters in Paulding County praising the addition of a paper ballot and others saying the voting equipment was more cumbersome than what they’re accustomed to using. Election officials rolled out the new voting system in six counties for local elections as in-person early voting began Monday. The $107 million system, which combines touchscreens and computer-printed paper ballots, will be used by all voters statewide on March 24 for the presidential primary. A few minor problems surfaced when polls opened in Paulding, located about 35 miles west of Atlanta.

Full Article: Voters begin casting ballots on new Georgia election system.

Alaska: State buying new voting machines for 2020 | Amanda Bohman/Fairbanks Newsminer

The state of Alaska is replacing the voting machines used in Fairbanks and elsewhere starting with the August 2020 state primary election, according to state and borough elections officials. That means Tuesday’s election was the last regular election for the AccuVote machines that have been used here for the past 20 years. The new machines are ImageCast Precinct ballot counters, or ICPs. The voter experience will not change much, officials said. People will continue to vote privately in a booth and then feed their ballot into a machine that tabulates the votes. The process will take a few seconds longer because the new technology captures an image of each ballot, officials said. The city of Valdez has been using the ICP machines for a few years. The clerk said they work well. “We love it. My voters love it. I haven’t had any problems with their equipment at all,” Valdez City Clerk Sheri Pierce said. The machines are made by Dominion Voting Systems, the same company that manufactured the AccuVote machines.

Full Article: State buying new voting machines for 2020; Fairbanks affected | Local News | newsminer.com.

Georgia: Under Court Order, Georgia Rolls Out New Voting System | Daniel Jackson/Courthouse News

The plastic film protecting the screens of four tablets used to mark ballots were not yet peeled off, though they were growing dog-eared on the edges, when residents of Catoosa County became some of the first voters in the state to test Georgia’s new voting machines. About 50 residents of Catoosa County sipped on fruit punch in the building that houses the Catoosa County Elections & Voter Registration Department Monday evening. In a few moments, they were about to cast ballots in a demonstration election that asked questions such as the name of Georgia’s state bird (the brown thrasher). Georgia announced in July that it had chosen a new method of conducting elections after a contentious 2018 gubernatorial election left voting rights activists questioning the integrity of the state’s voting system. A ballot-marking system that allows voters to fill out their votes on a screen, which prints out a ballot, which the voter then feeds into a scanner produced by Dominion Voting Systems was the winning bid, costing the state $107 million. Most Georgia voters will continue to use the old system, which records votes digitally, one last time in November elections this year. Catoosa County, a short drive from the Tennessee city of Chattanooga, is one of six counties piloting the new system, which include Carroll, Bartow, Decatur, Paulding and Lowndes counties. It’s a voting system that, according to its critics, failed to solve the problems of the old voting system.

Full Article: Under Court Order, Georgia Rolls Out New Voting System.

Louisiana: Early voting errors prompt paper ballots | Robb Hays/WAFB

A small number of errors with Louisiana’s early voting machines has led to some voters having to use a paper ballot, election officials said Tuesday, Oct. 1. Louisiana Secretary of State spokesman Tyler Brey says, as of late Tuesday afternoon, the error has only occurred 20 times among the nearly 120,000 votes cast statewide thus far. At least one of the errors occurred with an early voting machine at the Coursey Boulevard location in Baton Rouge. In that case, the machine displayed an error message after the voter had made his selections for all races and tried to submit his ballot, that voter reported. Brey says the paper ballots are counted on election night after being verified by the Board of Elections Supervisors in each parish.

Full Article: Early voting errors prompt paper ballots.

Georgia: State gets new election machines, but paper ballots abound | Mark Niesse and Arielle Kass/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The 2,271 people eligible to vote in Chattahoochee Hills may feel like they’re stepping back in time whenever they cast a ballot for the City Council or mayor. In much of the rest of the state, electronic voting machines are standard for each and every election. But in Chattahoochee Hills and about 70 other cities, residents vote using paper ballots. In many of those cities, the votes are even tallied by hand.On election night in Chattahoochee Hills, residents can pile into City Hall to watch City Clerk Dana Wicher and a handful of poll workers open a locked metal ballot box and call out the names on each ballot. Like keeping score at a baseball game, they can even tally along.As the debate rages over whether Georgia’s new touchscreen-and-printed-ballot voting system is secure, voters in cities across the state will continue to fill out their ballots with pens this November. They won’t use any modern technology during their municipal elections. State law exempts cities from having to use the uniform voting system mandated for county, state and federal elections.“Folks like coming in and doing the paper ballots. It’s that old-town community feeling,” Wicher said. “There is some suspense. There’s probably more transparency with the paper system.”

Full Article: Georgia gets new election machines, but paper ballots abound.

Georgia: Voters raise concerns about new voting system to state board | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Voters told Georgia’s election board Wednesday they’re deeply worried about the security and accuracy of the state’s new voting system and they urged the board to enact strong rules that ensure vote counts are correct.
The Secretary of State’s office announced it has started creating standards for recounts, audits and security of paper ballots that will be printed out by voting machines, which are scheduled to be used by Georgia voters statewide during the March 24 presidential primary.The 10 voters who spoke to the State Election Board, which is responsible for making election rules and investigating violations, said they distrust the $107 million voting system that Georgia bought from Denver-based Dominion this month. They doubted that computer-printed ballots will safeguard elections.“If a voter cannot recall every race and choice, she cannot identify whether the machine printout accurately reflects her intentions, or instead added, dropped or changed one of her choices,” said Rhonda Martin, a Fulton County voter. “No valid audit can be conducted on the basis of unverifiable source documents.”

Full Article: Voters ask Georgia election board to protect elections.

Georgia: Voters challenge legality of new election system | Kate Brumback/Associated Press

Georgia voters who want hand-marked paper ballots are challenging the new election system state officials are rushing to implement in time for next year’s presidential primaries, saying the new touchscreen machines remain vulnerable and their results unverifiable, even though they produce paper records. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced the state’s purchase of a $106 million election system from Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems last month, with plans to replace the outdated election management system and paperless touchscreen voting machines in use since 2002. He then certified the new system on Aug. 9, and said it will be in place in time for the March 24 primaries. The voters’ petition, seeking a withdrawal of the certification and a re-examination of the Dominion system, was submitted Monday to Raffensperger’s office. It says the system doesn’t meet Georgia’s voting system certification requirements and doesn’t comply with the state election code. Georgia law allows voters to request that the secretary of state “reexamine any such device previously examined and approved by him or her” as long as at least 10 voters sign onto the request. The petition submitted Monday includes signatures of more than 1,450 registered voters from 100 counties, including some elected officials, and was filed by voting integrity advocates and the state Libertarian Party. Additionally, some of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the state’s outdated voting system filed an amended complaint on Friday asking U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg to prohibit the state from using the new Dominion system, calling it “illegal and unreliable.”

Full Article: Georgia voters challenge legality of new election system.

Georgia: Lawsuit says new Georgia voting system should be stopped | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Voters who want paper ballots filled out by hand asked a federal judge late Friday to prevent Georgia from using the $107 million voting system the state just bought. The request comes a day after the judge ruled that voters must use some type of paper ballots next year, but her decision didn’t address the legality of the state’s new voting system.Election officials plan to replace Georgia’s 17-year-old electronic voting machines with a system that combines touchscreens with paper ballots. Voters will pick their candidates on a 21.5-inch tablet that’s connected to a ballot printer starting with the March 24 presidential primary.The lawsuit, filed by voters and election integrity advocates, alleges the new voting machines will remain vulnerable to hacking, malware, bugs and misconfiguration.But state election officials have said that paper ballots will ensure the accuracy of results during recounts and audits.In addition, the lawsuit said the printed ballots aren’t truly verifiable. Although voters will be able to review ballots before casting them, the ballots embed voters’ choices in bar codes that are only readable by scanning machines.“No elector can visually review and confirm whether the bar code accurately conveys their intended selections,” according to the amended complaint.

Full Article: Lawsuit says new Georgia voting system should be stopped..

Georgia: Judge Says Georgia To Use Old Electronic Voting Machines For 2019 Elections | Stephen Fowler/NPR

A federal judge has denied a request to move all of this fall’s municipal elections in Georgia away from “unsecure, unreliable and grossly outdated technology” and toward hand-marked paper ballots that are optically scanned and counted. The order from U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg Thursday also requires the state to cease using its direct-recording electronic voting machines after 2019 and expresses doubts about the state’s ability to roll out its new ballot-marking device system in time for the March 24, 2020, presidential primary election. In the decision, Totenberg also directs the Georgia secretary of state’s office to develop a plan to “address errors and discrepancies in the voter registration database” and have paper copies of poll books at each voting precinct. The state must also create a contingency plan for the 2020 elections in case the new system is not completely rolled out. That includes designating several pilot jurisdictions that will use hand-marked paper ballots with optical scanners in their elections this fall. A group of election integrity advocates and Georgia voters sued the secretary of state’s office in 2017 alleging that the current DRE system is not secure and is vulnerable to hacking. Last year, Totenberg denied a similar motion for preliminary injunction that would have blocked the DREs from being used in the 2018 midterm election. The current motion sought to prevent the machines from being used this fall in several hundred local elections.

Full Article: Judge Says Georgia To Use Old Electronic Voting Machines For 2019 Elections : NPR.

Georgia: Judge denies paper ballots in Georgia this year but requires them in 2020 | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A federal judge ruled Thursday that Georgia voters can cast ballots on the state’s “unsecure, unreliable and grossly outdated” electronic voting machines one last time, deciding it would be too disruptive to switch to paper ballots before this fall’s elections. But starting with next year’s presidential primary election, paper ballots will be required, according to the ruling by U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg. Her order barred the state from using its current electronic voting machines after this year’s elections.Election officials are already planning to upgrade the state’s voting system by buying $107 million in new equipment that will use a combination of touchscreens and printed-out paper ballots to check the accuracy of election results.If the state’s new voting system isn’t completely rolled out to all 159 counties in time for the March 24 presidential primary, Totenberg ruled that voters must use paper ballots filled out by hand. “Georgia’s current voting equipment, software, election and voter databases are antiquated, seriously flawed and vulnerable to failure, breach, contamination and attack,” Totenberg wrote. Totenberg wrote it would be “unwise” to immediately discard the state’s 17-year-old voting machines, which lack paper ballots that could be used to check the accuracy of election results. She wrote that it could be “a recipe for disaster” to force resistant election officials to switch to hand-marked paper ballots this year while they’re also transitioning to the state’s new voting system. Her 153-page ruling clears the way for 386 local elections to move forward as planned this fall, including votes for the Atlanta school board, the Fulton County Commission and city councils across the state.

Full Article: Judge rules against immediate switch to paper ballots in Georgia.