Jefferson County election officials, with the March 3 primary behind them, are looking toward what lies ahead as they continue struggling with old touchscreen voting machines that have become balky and prone to failure. Last week, on Super Tuesday, those shortcomings became apparent as technicians struggled to power the machines up and as poll workers struggled to keep them operating. According to Election Commissioner Stuart “Stu” Soffer, a number of poll judges said they won’t be back until the machines are replaced. The voting machines that Jefferson County uses are iVotronic touchscreen voting machines that were purchased from Election Systems & Software more than 15 years ago and were donated to the county from other counties that had upgraded to the new ExpressVote equipment after Jefferson County lost most of its iVotronic machines to water damage in 2018. The total cost of the 140 machines Soffer said the county needs, according to an estimate supplied by the Jefferson County Election Commission, is nearly $940,000. According to a formula worked out by the secretary of state’s office, to purchase the machines, the state would put in $618,434 from federal grant funds, leaving Jefferson County to come up with the remaining $321,367 — money that both Soffer and County Judge Gerald Robinson have said the county does not have.Full Article: Aging vote machines seen as issue.
Arkansas: ES&S iVotronic voting machines linked to problems, count delay in Jefferson County | Dale Ellis, Cynthia Howell, Emily Walkenhorst/Northwest Arkansas Online
Voting machine problems in Jefferson County delayed the vote count in both city and county races Tuesday night after poll workers in several locations were unable to close out the machines because of electronic failures. Technicians from the election commission had to manually close the machine at each affected location. The iVotronic touch-screen voting machines have been in service for about 15 years. Michael Adam, chairman of the Jefferson County Election Commission, announced shortly before 9 p.m. that final results would be delayed. The results were announced after 10:30 p.m. The primary got off to a rocky start during early voting when a ballot error in the Democratic Primary affecting four precincts that had the wrong state Senate race on the ballot was discovered over a week into early voting and after 152 voters had cast ballots in the wrong race. The four precincts, located in the city of Pine Bluff, were programmed with the Senate District 25 race between incumbent Sen. Stephanie Flowers of Pine Bluff and Efrem Elliott of White Hall, but should have been programmed with the Senate District 27 race between Keidra Burrell of Pine Bluff and former Rep. Garry Smith of Camden.Full Article: Old vote machines linked to problems, count delay in Jefferson County.
Arkansas: Voting machines’ ability in doubt; 11 Arkansas counties using old equipment | Dale Ellis/Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
As early voting enters its second week and the March 3 primary election looms, 11 of Arkansas’ 75 counties, including Jefferson County, will be recording votes on aging equipment that is sometimes balky, cranky, and prone to glitches that can turn the process of counting ballots into an endurance contest. Sixty-four counties have acquired voting equipment that is either new this year or purchased in the past several years. Jefferson County Election Commissioner Stuart “Stu” Soffer said the county’s 160 iVotronics machines, manufactured by Election Systems & Software, have been in service since 2006 and are showing their age, making the closing of polling sites and counting votes more laborious with each election cycle. The county purchased 175 iVotronics machines in 2005, all of which were damaged by flooding in the Election Commission offices in early 2018. The county is now using surplus machines that were donated by Grant and Craighead counties when they upgraded to the new Election Systems & Software system. “The machines are falling apart,” Soffer said. “I put 12 machines over there (at the Jefferson County Courthouse) for early voting, and one of them dropped dead the first day.”Full Article: Voting machines’ ability in doubt; 11 Arkansas counties using old equipment.
As an election year begins, Pulaski County has yet to complete its planned purchase of new voting equipment to replace an inventory of aging machines. Some ambiguity around funding has slowed the process for the state’s largest county by population, tightening timelines in advance of November’s general election that includes the vote for the presidency. Officials learned last fall that they won’t need to provide a match to access about $1.56 million in state funding to replace dated voting equipment, but election commissioners said in December that they’re not expecting a buy until at least February. Commission chairwoman Evelyn Gomez said the board prefers to first ask the Quorum Court — likely next month, though an appearance is not scheduled — if the county can dedicate any carryover funds to the purchase. “We can’t move forward until we have a budget,” Gomez, who is a Republican appointee, said at a Dec. 20 commission meeting. “We cannot contract with money we don’t have.” Pulaski County is among 21 counties set to receive a total of $8.2 million in state funds to replace voting equipment that’s past its prime. Allocated through Act 808 of 2019, the money came from a property tax relief trust fund surplus.Full Article: Election gear on county's to-do list.
Pennsylvania: Misplaced votes mean new rules for Erie County poll workers, officials | Matthew Rink/GoErie
After the polls closed on Nov. 5, poll workers at Kury Hall in Millcreek Township suspected that something was amiss. Like all poll workers at the county’s 149 precincts, they were responsible for inserting a device called a PEB that records the votes from a flash drive on each machine and “closes out” the machine so that no additional votes can be recorded. When the PEB generated the results at Millcreek’s 4th Precinct, though, poll workers suspected that it had shown too few votes. “They had some sense that their number of total votes wasn’t correct,” Erie County Clerk Doug Smith said. “But they thought it would all come out in the wash. They didn’t think it was a serious thing and that we would catch it when we did the audit.” What followed was a perfect storm, Smith said, of poor communication between poll workers themselves and between poll workers and elections officials stationed at the Erie County Courthouse. It would result in roughly 400 votes not being tabulated on either Election Night or during the final audit, or count, conducted by elections officials days later. In fact, were it not for the razor-thin margin between Erie County Controller Mary Schaaf and her challenger, Erie County Councilman Kyle Foust, the controller-elect, the missing votes might never have been counted.Full Article: Misplaced votes mean new rules for Erie County poll workers, officials - News - GoErie.com - Erie, PA.
Indiana: Vanderburgh County will counter voters who refuse to use machines | Thomas B. Langhorne/Evansville Courier & Press
Suspicious voters who refuse to use voting machines at polling places will have no other option if Vanderburgh County’s chief elections officer has her way. County Clerk Carla Hayden said she will seek changes to Indiana law in the wake of a city election that saw three voters at Plaza Park School request — and receive — paper provisional ballots simply because they refused to use machines. The ballots ultimately were counted by election board members who said the voters were eligible. In at least one case, poll worker Don Gibbs said, a voter at Plaza Park explained he is suspicious about voting machines. “He said he just didn’t trust the machines. I didn’t ask why,” said Gibbs, the highest-ranking poll worker at Plaza Park. After calling the Vanderburgh County Election Office for guidance, Gibbs gave the three voters — he said they weren’t together — paper provisional ballots. By law, provisional ballots are sealed in security envelopes, kept apart from other ballots and acted upon later. Provisional ballots are the only paper ballots available at polling places in Vanderburgh County. Machines, not paper, are the county’s method of voting on election day.Full Article: Vanderburgh will counter voters who refuse to use machines.
Well before most people seriously imagined the Russians might attempt to interfere with U.S. elections, the N.C. General Assembly passed a law requiring that all voting machines used in the 2020 election and beyond generate a paper record showing how votes were cast. The legislature took this action in 2013 because it recognized security weaknesses in touchscreen voting machines, which provide no paper record of how ballots were cast. This makes the touchscreen systems more vulnerable to outside interference than voting systems with paper ballots. Now, here we are in the summer of 2019 and about one-third of North Carolina’s counties still have these touchscreen-only voting systems that don’t meet the paper ballot requirement enacted in 2013. Mecklenburg and Guilford, two of the state’s most heavily populated counties, are among those still using the touchscreen systems that don’t meet requirements of the law.Full Article: Election security | Opinion | journalpatriot.com.
North Carolina: With Guilford and Mecklenburg voting machines facing decertification, confusion looms for 2020 election | By Will Doran/Greensboro News & Record
Roughly a third of North Carolina voters use electronic machines with no paper ballots. But that might all change next year for the 2020 presidential election. Supporters of the change say it will help ensure election security, especially given reports from the FBI and other sources that the Russian government attempted to influence America’s 2016 elections and may have hacked into some U.S. voting software. But the switch has been held up for years, despite first being ordered in a 2013 law. Now, some officials — including some in Guilford County and the new state elections director — worry that there’s not enough time left to get new voting systems in place for the 2020 elections. Guilford County uses an electronic machine with a paper backup, said Chris Duffey, deputy director of the Guilford County Board of Elections. However, these DRE touch-screen machines, which use electronic ballot counting as opposed to paper tabulation, will be decertified by state law effective Dec. 1, he said. The law, adopted in 2013, aims to thwart cyber hackers who might have the skills to manipulate digital election results.Full Article: With Guilford and Mecklenburg voting machines facing decertification, confusion looms for 2020 election | Local News | greensboro.com.
North Carolina: Legislators seek reprieve for Guilford County voting machines | Greensboro News and Record
Ask and ye shall receive — or at least get a reasonable shot at receiving. Two local legislators introduced a bill this week approving more than two years of additional life for Guilford County’s voting machines, only a week after county leaders formally petitioned the General Assembly for just such help. If passed, the bipartisan measure introduced by state Reps. Jon Hardister, R-Whitsett, and Amos Quick, D-Greensboro, would give county taxpayers a reprieve on the estimated $8 million cost of replacing the county’s 1,400-plus machines. The measure also would apply to Alamance County, which faces a similar dilemma and an estimated $2 million in replacement costs. Hardister said Friday afternoon that he filed the bill with Quick and fellow Reps. Dennis Riddell, R-Snow Camp, and Frank Iler, R-Oak Island, after a conversation with Guilford County Board of Elections Director Charlie Collicutt.Full Article: Legislators seek reprieve for Guilford voting machines | Local News | greensboro.com.
South Carolina: Gov. McMaster removes elections board in Richland County that missed 1,040 votes | Post and Courier
Gov. Henry McMaster stepped in Thursday and punted all four members of the Richland County Elections Board after 1,040 votes were not counted in the fall, the county’s fourth major elections blunder in eight years. State law says the governor can remove county elections board members for “incapacity, misconduct or neglect of duty.” “South Carolinians’ confidence in the lawful and professional oversight of elections must never be jeopardized,” McMaster said after issuing an executive order. “The repeated actions and behavior of these officials are wholly unacceptable and cannot be tolerated,” his message continued. “To regain and maintain Richland County voters’ confidence at the ballot box, the entire board must be replaced with new leadership.”Full Article: Gov. McMaster removes elections board in SC's capital county that missed 1,040 votes | Palmetto Politics | postandcourier.com.
The Johnson County Election Board and Commissioners are cutting ties with software vendor that caused system crashes which resulted in thousands of voters waiting in lines for hours during the November 6 election. The Johnson County Commissioners voted Monday to adopt Election Board recommendations that the county terminate its contract with Omaha-based Election Systems and Software. “We just want to ensure that we have a good election,” said Johnson County Clerk Trena McGlaughlin. “We don’t want to have any issues this year. And we want to make everyone happy.” An investigation by Ball State’s VSTOP team, for the Indiana Secretary of State, determined ES&S systems were not properly set up for the high voter turnout the county saw on election day. A system slow-down quickly brought voting to a standstill at multiple voting sites across the county. Thousands of voters were left waiting in line for several hours as election officials and technical advisors struggled to get e-poll books back up to speed.Full Article: Johnson County to change election equipment before May Primary | FOX59.
South Carolina: State needs new voting machines before 2020, election officials say | Post and Courier
The debate over what type of new voting machines South Carolina should purchase may be vexing lawmakers in the Statehouse, but many county election officials have reached one consensus: the state needs new polling equipment and soon. The 15-year-old computers that roughly 3.1 million registered voters currently use are costing tens of thousands of dollars to maintain, a burden that falls onto the state’s 46 counties. And at least a few local election directors worry the aging equipment could result in longer lines at polling places if the Legislature doesn’t find the money for a new statewide system this year. Parts for the current computerized voting system somtimes have to be recycled from other machines, they pointed out. And even if a few machines go down, it could take longer for South Carolinians to cast their votes at precincts, especially in a presidential election year like 2020.Full Article: SC needs new voting machines before 2020, election officials say | News | postandcourier.com.
South Carolina: Judge dismisses lawsuit claiming South Carolina’s voting machines endanger voter rights | The Hill
A federal judge on Friday dismissed a lawsuit claiming that South Carolina’s antiquated voting machines infringed upon residents’ right to vote. U.S. District Court Judge Michelle Childs said the machines could impose “some conceivable risk” to the state’s ability to accurately count votes, but the suit did not prove there was a “substantial” threat to the right to vote, The State reported. “A plaintiff…must do more than merely assert that there is some conceivable risk that she will be harmed on account of defendant’s actions,” wrote Childs, who is an appointee of former President Obama.Full Article: Judge dismisses lawsuit claiming South Carolina's voting machines endanger voter rights | TheHill.
South Carolina: Richland County failed to count hundreds of November election ballots | Post and Courier
Ballots cast by 1,040 Richland County voters were not counted in last November’s election — another voting mishap in the state’s capital county. While the missing ballots did not affect the outcome of any races and accounted for less than 1 percent of the 142,805 votes cast in the county, the failure to count all votes damages public trust, experts said. “It’s sends a very bad message that people cast a vote, and it might not matter,” Duncan Buell, a University of South Carolina professor who researches voting machines, said Thursday. “This is a big deal.” Richland County missed 832 in-person absentee votes from two voting machines that malfunctioned and 208 votes from two machines at two precincts that were closed incorrectly, Richland County Elections Director Rokey Suleman said.Full Article: SC's capital county failed to count hundreds of November election ballots | Palmetto Politics | postandcourier.com.
Election commissioners in Jefferson County are at an impasse over the need to replace the county’s antiquated voting machines and the cost to replace them. The county currently uses iVotronics voting machines and software supplied by Election Systems & Software in its 39 polling sites. It owns about 150 machines that are kept in the Election Commission office in Pine Bluff. Commissioner Stu Soffer recently presented a proposal from Election Systems & Software for the purchase of 140 ExpressVote voting machines, the latest model of electronic voting machines available from the company. Included in the proposal were 140 ExpressVote kiosks, 43 model DS200 vote tabulators, 74 printers and 74 tablet computers, as well as all related software and training.The total cost for the hardware, software and support services included in the proposal was $882,361,52. Post-warranty license, maintenance and support fees would add an additional $42,201 annually.Full Article: Old voting machines divisive issue for county in Arkansas.
A federal judge will decide whether to toss out a lawsuit asking for federal oversight of South Carolina’s purchase of new voting machines, at a cost of up to $60 million. After a nearly two-hour hearing in Columbia, U.S. District Judge Michelle Childs said she would make a decision within 10 days. Childs could dismiss the lawsuit, which asks for a court order requiring the S.C. Election Commission to buy new, high-security voting machines. Or she could let the suit proceed. During Tuesday’s hearing, S.C. Assistant Attorney General Wesley Vorberger, representing the S.C. Election Commission, told Childs the lawsuit is unnecessary. The Election Commission, he said, already is seeking bids for new hacker-resistant voting machines for use in the 2020 election.Full Article: Federal judge could intervene in SC’s decision to buy voting machines.
S.C. election officials took a small step Tuesday toward changing the way the state votes in 2020. The S.C. Election Commission requested $60 million Tuesday from legislators to buy a new voting system in time for the next statewide election, a system that — for the first time in a decade — would produce a paper trail of ballots cast. The Election Commission has requested money for new voting machines before and been denied. However, this request comes in a favorable budget year amid national concern around election security. State lawmakers have said they want to make a switch to paper-trail ballots in time for the 2020 election, using money from $1 billion in added state revenues. But there will be hurdles to overcome. Gov. Henry McMaster unveiled his budget proposal Tuesday and included only $5 million for new voting machines.Full Article: SC election officials ask for change to paper ballots in 2020 | The State.
Dr. Duncan Buell believes the voting system in South Carolina needs to be changed. Dr. Buell recently looked into data from the primaries and general election in 2018 for a League of Women Voters of South Carolina report. “We have an extremely complicated system,” he said. Dr. Buell said there were instances where votes were miscounted or counted twice. He said most of the problems come from the election system itself. “The system doesn’t have enough built into it,” he said.Full Article: Replacing South Carolina’s aging voting system.
South Carolina: How often do South Carolina’s voting machines mess up? New election report details count problems | The State
In the last election, some votes in South Carolina got counted twice. Others were credited to the wrong candidate. Also, one observer thinks, the state’s 14-year-old voting machines are starting to show their age, producing other errors. Those are some of the conclusions in a report released last week by the League of Women Voters of South Carolina. On Jan. 22, the league will host a public forum at the Richland County Public Library on ways to improve the state’s election system. The group is backing efforts in the S.C. Legislature to require a paper ballot system. “Over the years, they’ve made upgrades, and it’s still flawed,” Lynn Teague, vice president of the league, said of the state’s existing voting system. “They’re still counting votes wrong … and all this without someone deliberately trying to mess with the system.”Full Article: SC voting machine problems detailed in 2018 election report | The State.
South Carolina: ES&S iVotronic voting machines miscounted hundreds of ballots, report finds | StateScoop
An analysis of South Carolina’s voting equipment found that state election officials miscounted hundreds of ballots during the primary and general elections in 2018 because of “continued software deficiencies.” Conducted on behalf of the League of Women Voters by Duane Buell, a computer science professor at the University of South Carolina, the study published last week found that in one primary race, voting machines in one precinct double counted 148 votes. During the general election in another precinct, more than 400 votes were awarded in the wrong county board race. In both instances, Buell found, the improperly counted voters were logged by the South Carolina State Election Commission as official results. Neither case involved enough votes to swing the outcome of an election, but Buell told StateScoop the incidents demonstrate the state continues to use poorly designed software that poll workers, many of whom are volunteers working long shifts, struggle to operate correctly.Full Article: South Carolina voting machines miscounted hundreds of ballots, report finds.