Florida: Even Without Russian Hacking, Florida’s Voting System Is ‘Not Secure,’ Says Election Expert | WJCT

The FBI will brief Florida’s congressional members this week on Russian attempts to hack the 2016 election, after the Mueller report revealed last month that the election system of at least one Florida county was compromised. But even before details emerge, a former supervisor of elections in Florida is saying he is not surprised that the state’s system was compromised. Ion Sancho, the longtime former supervisor of elections of Leon County, said Friday on The Florida Roundup that Florida’s election infrastructure is, frankly, “not secure.” “It’s been clear to me that the election infrastructure, not only in Florida but in the country, is not secure,” he said.

Florida: Ion Sancho, the voters’ advocate, steps down | Tallahassee Democrat

While Dave Jacobsen’s introduction hung in the air, more than 60 people rose to their feet for a standing ovation for Ion Sancho. Jacobsen had said the Leon County Elections Supervisor will be long remembered for his efforts to make voting easier and the ability to run a problem-free election. Sancho’s term as supervisor ends Tuesday. While Sancho was not available for comment for this story because his wife passed away on Wednesday, his decades-long career speaks for itself. Back in May 2016, Sancho beamed as he walked to the lectern at the Leon County Public Library. He wore an American flag bow tie. He’s an internationally-recognized elections experts and was featured in an HBO documentary 10 years ago. “The most basic civil right, no other right stands if you don’t get to vote for who represents you in government,” he said earlier when asked what he was going to talk about. Sancho has been strumming the same chord for 30 years — leafing through notebooks and recordings of radio, television or newspaper interviews the song remains the same. On this particular afternoon in May the chorus he wrote for the mix of retirees, downtown office workers, and university students was a ditty about career politicians and their bureaucratic henchmen attacking democracy’s foundation — fair, transparent elections.

National: Hacker threat extends beyond parties | Politico

The furor over the cyberattacks injecting turmoil into Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign obscures a more pervasive danger to the U.S. political process: Much of it has only lax security against hackers, with few if any federal cops on the beat. No one regulator is responsible for requiring campaigns, political operations and state and local agencies to protect the sanctity of the voter rolls, voters’ personal data, donors’ financial information or even the election outcomes themselves. And as the Democrats saw in Philadelphia this past week, the result can be chaos. The most extreme danger, of course, is that cyber intruders could hack the voting machinery to pick winners and losers. But even less-ambitious exploits could sway the results in a close election — anything from tampering with parties’ volunteer schedules and get-out-the-vote operations to deleting the registrations of frequent voters or knocking registration databases offline. Cyber scams aimed at campaign donors’ financial data, such as a just-disclosed hack aimed at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, could deter future contributors by making them fear identity theft. Or, as happened this past week to the Democratic National Committee, online thieves could get hold of a political operation’s embarrassing internal emails, creating headaches for a presidential candidate just before she accepts her party’s nomination.

Florida: Five Questions for Ion Sancho | Sunshine State News

Ion Sancho has long been one of the most-outspoken elections officials in Florida. But after overseeing this fall’s voting in Leon County, he will step down after nearly three decades as an elections supervisor. A familiar figure to those who have followed Florida’s frequent election controversies, Sancho often was quoted in The New York Times, Washington Post and other media outlets. He generally argued that elections officials hadn’t gone far enough in preserving the sanctity of the vote, and he sometimes sparred with state elections officials. He is perhaps best known for challenging the security of certain voting machines, for which some vendors refused to sell their machines to him. Sancho’s zeal for accurate voting springs from his own candidacy in a botched election, a 1986 race for the Leon County Commission in which thousands of people were unable to cast ballots. Two years later, Sancho ran for supervisor of elections and won. Retiring after seven terms, he plans to write a book on the 2000 election.

Florida: Proposed bills put greater scrutiny on Florida’s voter purges | News13

Seeking to hold Gov. Rick Scott to a higher level of scrutiny should his administration call for a purge of Florida’s voting rolls in 2016, Democratic lawmakers have filed measures to mandate the listing of purged voters according to party affiliation. Under SB 736 and HB 523, election supervisors would be required to give the Florida Department of State bi-annual lists of purged Democrats, Republicans and those who belonged to other party affiliations in each of the state’s 67 counties. The Scott administration has been roundly criticized by election supervisors and voting rights groups for ordering a problem-riddled voter purge in 2012. From a list of roughly 180,000 voters the administration believed to be non-citizens and therefore illegally registered, just 85 were identified as such and removed from the voting rolls.

Florida: Fight Over Online Voter Registration in Florida | WCTV

Plans for online voter registration are moving through the Florida legislature. Thursday, a Senate committee approved legislation that would implement the system. Leon County Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho says it’s seen as the last great hurdle to overcome in the area of voter registration. “We’re just talking about making the process convenient to citizens using technology that they’re already using for almost every other kind of application that’s being done,” said Sancho. But some election supervisors across the state say it appears the governor’s office is trying to kill the bill.

Florida: Rep. Alan Williams pushes online registration | Tallahassee.com

A Tallahassee legislator wants to bring voting registration into the Internet age. And he has the backing of the supervisors of election whose offices must deal with all the paper generated by the electorate. Florida would be the 21st state to implement an online voter registration system should lawmakers approve Rep. Alan Williams’ HB 227 this legislative session, according to the Pew Center. Williams, D-Tallahassee, hopes the system would be ready by the 2016 election. It will save money and get more people involved in the electoral process, he said. Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, has filed a companion bill (SB 228) in the Senate. “The byproduct of it is more people engaged in the electoral process,” Williams said. “We cannot continue to embrace a typewriter mentality in an iPad world.” Currently, a prospective voter can download a voter registration form online but still must mail it to a local supervisor of elections office, which must scan the document and mail it to the state to be approved, said Ion Sancho, Leon County supervisor of elections. The state then notifies local offices if the person is approved.

Florida: Voting in Leon County hits the new millennium | Tallahassee Democrat

As primary-elections wraps-up and general elections approaches in November, voter technicians are excited about the new technology they have. A new machine called I.C.E. will ultimately change the way voters vote in the future. The past decade technology has taken the world by storm. Here in Tallahassee the supervisor of elections Ion Sancho’s office and staff have worked hard in getting this new technology out to the capital cities voting poles and precincts. William Stewart a voting system tech here at the Leon County branch is hands on with this new technology. Testing and deploying voting equipment, the ImageCast Evolution also known to them as I.C.E. was the main attraction. “Combining two devices in one makes casting audio and visual ballots easier and faster for voters” said Stewart.

Florida: Elections officials muse: Should ‘no selection’ be a choice for voters? | Naples Daily News

With thousands of voters skipping over races on last month’s primary election ballot, some political watchers are privately musing whether it’s time to just put a “none of the above” option on Florida ballots. In fact, Leon County Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho says election officials have long kicked around the idea of whether to add a bubble for “no selection made.” “I wouldn’t call it ‘none of the above,’ though,” said Sancho, who was a key figure in the state’s 2000 presidential recount. “It’s too negative.” With “no selection made,” voters could signal they chose not to weigh in on a particular race rather than leaving to later interpretation whether they accidentally missed a race. That’s also seen as less contentious than a “none of the above” pick, which is viewed as a protest vote.

Florida: Leon County among first to automatically audit election | Tallahassee Democrat

With essentially the press of a button, Leon County became one of the first counties in the nation to conduct an independent, automatic audit of election results. In the past, the Supervisor of Elections Office was required to audit a randomly selected precinct and race as part of a post-election, state-mandated audit. The manual audits would take days to complete using temporary workers and result in audits that were not statistically reliable, said Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho. But on Wednesday, the elections office used new technology called ClearAudit, developed by a Boston-based company called Clear Ballot, to audit 100 percent of the Aug. 26 primary-election results in just moments. Florida is the first state in the nation to allow the use of the technology for audits, and Leon County was among the first four counties in the state to use it. The others are Bay, Putnam and St. Lucie counties.

Florida: Leon County Commission OKs money to buy new voting machines | Tallahassee Democrat

At Tuesday’s County Commission meeting, a proposal to fund $1.98 million for new voting machines pitted Leon County Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho and two commissioners on opposite ends. A brief heated exchange erupted between Sancho and Commissioner Bryan Desloge, who expressed strong hesitance to approve a no-bid vendor contract for 250 new hybrid voting machines that can be independently used by all voters, including those with varying disabilities. Erring on the side of transparency, Desloge and Commissioner John Dailey favored the county issue a request for proposals. Sancho explained only one company in the nation manufactures a modern voting machine to meet the needs of all voters, instead of using separate devices. Sancho said a request for proposals would result in the same company being picked and delay having devices in hand by November’s election.

Florida: Voter Purge 2.0 | Pensacola News Journal

Sparking howls from Democrats and the NAACP, Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner said last week that his office soon would begin Voter Purge 2.0, by sending local supervisors of elections the names of voters who might not be citizens. Who could disagree with the idea that only eligible citizens should vote? But there is more to the issue. First, the purge is a solution in search of a problem. The number of noncitizens registered to vote is minuscule, mostly because there is no incentive for intentional fraud. What immigrant would risk deportation for the small reward of casting one vote? In fact, “The Truth About Voter Fraud,” a 2007 report by Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School, stated: “We are not aware of any documented cases in which individual noncitizens have either intentionally registered to vote or voted while knowing that they were ineligible.”

Voting Blogs: Florida Secretary of State Faces Uprising by County Election Officials After Absentee Ballot Directive | BradBlog

At this point, the slogan for Republican Secretaries of State around the country seems to be: “If it ain’t broke, break it!” That’s certainly the case in Florida, where Sec. of State Ken Detzner — fresh off his and Governor Rick Scott’s embarrassing and failed 2012 purge of supposed “non-citizen voters” from the rolls (with another more recent attempt underway since then) — is at it again. And this time, Detzner seems to be facing a full-blown uprising from county Supervisors of Elections (SOE) refusing to carry out a new directive which would make it more difficult for absentee voters to cast their ballot. The elected SOEs are claiming that the new directive by Detzner, an appointee of Gov. Rick Scott (R), was neither asked for nor necessary under state law. They Supervisors have also denied Detzner’s initial claim that the directive was issued in response to requests by two SOEs. Last week, Detzner issued a directive [PDF] to county SOEs instructing them that they may no longer allow voters to use secured remote absentee ballot drop-off stations created at locations like public libraries and tax-collectors offices. Suddenly, according to Detzner’s new rules, all absentee ballots must either be mailed in, or dropped off at county election offices.

North Carolina: Florida Election Official: Cutting early voting times a mistake | WRAL.com

The House Elections Committee heard from a Florida official Wednesday who said that curtailing early voting hours during the 2012 election led to long lines on Election Day. “It was a nightmare,” said Ion Sancho, supervisor of elections in Leon County, Fla. Sancho and Brian Kemp, Georgia’s secretary of state, were invited to speak mainly about how voter identification requirements are handled in their states.  Florida cut back early voting from 14 days to eight days in 2012. Lawmakers in the House and Senate have filed bills that would curtail early voting in North Carolina. For example, House Bill 451, filed by Rep. Edgar Starnes, R-Caldwell, would cut North Carolina’s early voting period by a week, to roughly 10 days, and outlaw early voting on Sundays. Sancho said that lawmakers in Florida have taken up a bill to both restore the early voting period to a full two weeks and allow for Sunday voting. Florida counties haven’t been able to open enough voting-day locations to keep up with population growth, he said, calling early voting “our safety valve.”

National: Cyberattack on Florida Primary Election Not First Such Attack | The New American

In what is being touted as the first known cyberattack on a U.S. election, many mainstream news outlets are reporting on the approximately 2,500 bogus absentee ballot requests that were flagged as suspicious by Miami-Dade County’s absentee ballot processing software in last year’s primary elections. A Miami-Dade County grand jury investigated the incident and described it as: a scheme where someone created a computer program that automatically, systematically and rapidly submitted to the County’s Department of Elections numerous bogus on-line requests for absentee ballots.

Fortunately, the software had safeguards that verified IP addresses on the absentee ballot requests. That was instrumental in detecting this cyberattack, but the incident still leaves questions unanswered regarding the inherent insecurity of the Internet and why it should be used at all in the balloting phase of elections. There’s also the question of how many cyberattacks might have been carried out elsewhere or at other times that were not detected.

Florida: Provisional ballots spike, but Florida elections supervisors say they’re not needed | MiamiHerald.com

A new law resulted in a spike in the number of provisional ballots this election year. But elections supervisors say there’s no evidence they’re needed and they just cause extra paperwork. It’s the most unreliable way to vote, a last resort in which half of the ballots are disqualified. Created by Congress a decade ago, the provisional ballot was intended as a final attempt to preserve the right to vote for someone whose eligibility is in doubt. Florida saw a surge in such ballots in 2012 even though turnout was nearly the same as four years ago.

National: As More Vote by Mail, Faulty Ballots Could Impact Elections | NYTimes.com

On the morning of the primary here in August, the local elections board met to decide which absentee ballots to count. It was not an easy job. The board tossed out some ballots because they arrived without the signature required on the outside of the return envelope. It rejected one that said “see inside” where the signature should have been. And it debated what to do with ballots in which the signature on the envelope did not quite match the one in the county’s files. “This ‘r’ is not like that ‘r,’ ” Judge Augustus D. Aikens Jr. said, suggesting that a ballot should be rejected. Ion Sancho, the elections supervisor here, disagreed. “This ‘k’ is like that ‘k,’ ” he replied, and he persuaded his colleagues to count the vote. Scenes like this will play out in many elections next month, because Florida and other states are swiftly moving from voting at a polling place toward voting by mail. In the last general election in Florida, in 2010, 23 percent of voters cast absentee ballots, up from 15 percent in the midterm election four years before. Nationwide, the use of absentee ballots and other forms of voting by mail has more than tripled since 1980 and now accounts for almost 20 percent of all votes.

National: Does Your Vote Count? | CBS Miami

Ion Sancho is a man on a mission.  Just weeks from the presidential election, one of the most veteran election supervisors in the state of Florida, thinks there’s plenty for him and his colleagues to lose sleep over. What keeps him awake at night?  Whether you can trust the machine you will be voting on. “We still have not secured the process to ensure that that machine has read that ballot correctly and it is 100 percent accurate. Because it is wrong to assume that the machines are always right. They’re not, ” Sancho tells CBS4  Chief Investigator Michele Gillen. “I think the citizens should be screaming from the rooftops,” he punctuates with the candor and directness he is known for. For many voters Sancho’s words hold weight. He was the first elections supervisor in America to dare a “look under the hood” of a voting machine, to see if the machines were recording votes properly and if they could be hacked. ” I sanctioned the first investigation of a voting system without the vendor’s authorization,” Sancho recalls.

Florida: Ex-felons need voting rights restored, group says | MiamiHerald.com

Hundreds of thousands of Florida ex-felons who have completed their sentences still can’t vote, a prohibition that is hindering their re-entry into society, a group of voting rights advocates said Tuesday as they urged Congress to step in. Changes made last year in Florida have stopped restoration efforts for ex-felons who have served their prison sentences or completed probation, a shift in policy that came four years after former Gov. Charlie Crist and the Cabinet voted to join most other states and automatically restore the rights of felons who had paid their debt to society. Hampered in efforts to change state law, Mark Schlakman, a Democratic candidate for Congress and Walter McNeil, former Department of Corrections secretary, on Tuesday urged Florida’s congressional delegation to push for federal law changes to require automatic restoration of civil rights for federal elections.

Florida: Advocates calls for federal action to restore ex-felons’ voting rights | Naked Politics

Hundreds of thousands of Florida ex-felons who have completed their sentences still can’t vote, a prohibition that is hindering their re-entry into society, a group of voting rights advocates said Tuesday as they urged Congress to step in. Changes made last year in Florida have stopped restoration efforts for ex-felons who have served their prison sentences or completed probation, a shift in policy that came four years after former Gov. Charlie Crist and the Cabinet voted to join most other states and automatically restore the rights of felons who had paid their debt to society. Hampered in efforts to change state law, Mark Schlakman, a Democratic candidate for Congress and Walter McNeil, former Department of Corrections secretary, on Tuesday urged Florida’s congressional delegation to push for federal law changes to require automatic restoration of civil rights for federal elections. The practical result, said Leon County Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho, would be that state election officials would follow suit because a dual registration system for state and federal elections would not work.

Florida: State, feds and elections supervisors continue war of words over voter purge | WFSU

At the Leon County Supervisor of Elections Office, volunteers sign up to work with the League of Women Voters. One of the group’s core missions is to help people participate in democracy by registering them to vote.  On Wednesday, about 15 volunteers showed up to become voter registrars. One of them is Katie Pospyhalla, a college student majoring in Middle Eastern studies who said people her age don’t care enough. “And it’s something that I kind of hope to change. I kind of want to be like, ‘Wake up! These are your issues too and you need to get involved…nicely, of course,” she laughed. A battle is heating up over Florida voters, but it isn’t political candidates who are fighting. Voter registration groups claimed victory in court as a judge struck down parts of the state’s election law last week. And this week, the state stands defiant against a federal order to stop purging non-citizen voters. These fights over voting rights have pitted Florida Governor Rick Scott against the federal government and all 67 of the state’s supervisors of Elections.

Florida: Florida county elections supervisors won’t resume voter purge | MiamiHerald.com

Florida’s noncitizen voter purge looks like it’s all but over. The 67 county elections supervisors — who have final say over voter purges —are not moving forward with the purge for now because nearly all of them don’t trust the accuracy of a list of nearly 2,700 potential noncitizens identified by the state’s elections office.The U.S. Department of Justice has ordered the state to stop the purge. “We’re just not going to do this,” said Leon County’s elections supervisor, Ion Sancho, one of the most outspoken of his peers. “I’ve talked to many of the other supervisors and they agree. The list is bad. And this is illegal.” So far, more than 500 have been identified as citizens and lawful voters on the voter rolls. About 40 people statewide have been identified as noncitizens. At least four might have voted and could be guilty of a third-degree felony. The eligibility of about 2,000 have not been identified one way or the other.