South Carolina voters are suing their state over its use of paperless voting machines amid worries that they are susceptible to hacking without detection. The complaint filed Tuesday seeks a declaration from the court that South Carolina has violated the plaintiffs’ fundamental right to have their votes counted and prevent the state from continuing to use the machines it currently has in place. The lawsuit largely resembles one that is ongoing in Georgia. With the midterm elections coming up in November, the lawsuit does not outline any short-term alternatives to using the state’s current machines. The plaintiffs in the Georgia lawsuit propose using provisional paper ballots that can be scanned with the machines the state uses for absentee ballots.
South Carolina: State’s 13,000 voting machines unreliable, vulnerable to hackers, lawsuit alleges | The State
Your right to vote is threatened in South Carolina. That’s the message of a lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Columbia against the S.C. Election Commission, its members and Marci Andino, the commission’s executive director. South Carolina’s thousands of digital voting machines are antiquated, break down, leave no paper trail of votes that can be audited, and have “deep security flaws” that make them vulnerable to hacking by Russians and others, the 45-page lawsuit alleges. “By failing to provide S.C. voters with a system that can record their votes reliably,” the Election Commission has deprived South Carolinians of their constitutional right to vote, the lawsuit says.
Arkansas: Lonoke County Voters Push for More Training after ‘Fiasco’ at Polls during Primary Election | FOX16
Problems at polling places on primary night in Lonoke County have many voters pushing for more training across the state. The Democratic Party of Arkansas has filed several complaints over issues there, with at least one more on its way from a former state lawmaker. The party first filed a lawsuit on election day, demanding all Lonoke County polling places remain open until 10 p.m., which was two and a half hours after they were supposed to close. Chief of Staff Taylor Riddle said Democrats could not vote for the first three hours of regular voting at the England Rec Center because machines were not set up and they had only Republican and non-partisan paper ballots. The Arkansas Supreme Court ultimately denied the party’s request so it filed a complaint with the State Board of Election Commissioners.
South Carolina is one of only five states whose voting machines create no paper trail that could be used to reconstruct the balloting if hackers found a way to change votes in an election. The state has used its touch-screen system since 2004, when Congress spent $4 billion to upgrade systems across the country. That eliminated punch-card systems like the one plagued by “hanging chads” in the crucial Florida recount of the 2000 Bush-Gore race. Lancaster County Elections Director Mary Ann Hudson, whose office has 190 of the paperless machines, is concerned about the dated equipment. “I doubt any of us would wait that long to replace our personal smartphones and computers,” Hudson said. “When you have a system as old as ours, you have to start thinking about possible options.” In the wake of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential race, many states are upgrading their machines and electoral databases and adding cybersecurity measures to assure the integrity of the voting process.
Although elections officials say they’re seeing more failures with their 13-year-old touch-screen voting machines, it could be years before voters get to cast ballots on a new statewide system that’s estimated to cost at least $40 million. “South Carolina has been using the current system since 2004, and it’s reaching the end of its useful life,” said Chris Whitmire, a spokesman for the state Election Commission. “We are seeing more issues with machines, the most common of which is touchscreen failure.” He added: “While no votes are lost when that happens — and we can handle isolated failures — we have to take steps to ensure the viability of the system in the years to come.”
While they weren’t catastrophic, a few problems in last week’s election revealed Luzerne County’s voting machines are starting to show their age, county Election Director Marisa Crispell said. The county started using touch-screen electronic voting machines in the 2006 primary, or 11 years ago. “Technology is constantly moving forward,” Crispell said. “Many people change phones every two years and regularly update their laptops. These machines are no different.” One example she cited: The touch-screen capabilities froze on a few machines in the election last Tuesday. After officials verified no votes were cast on the machines, they were taken out of service, Crispell said. In Larksville, a back-up retrieval device had to be used to collect election data from voting machines because the device normally used to load ballots and extract results — called a personal election ballot, or PEB — failed, Crispell said. Result tallies for several machines also had to be printed at the county election bureau, as opposed to polling places, because a few hand-held printers were not working properly, she said.
Pennsylvania: Effort to address Allegheny County voting machine vulnerabilities faces hurdles | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
A grassroots effort to examine — and likely replace — Allegheny County’s voting machines has itself been struggling for lack of a vote. Its latest challenge came Friday morning in the courtroom of Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Joseph James. At issue is a 16-page proposal to establish a “voting process review commission,” which would study the county’s electronic voting machines and recommend replacements. Under the measure, supported by the League of Women Voters and VoteAllegheny, voters would have to approve a referendum to pay for any new equipment. Activists fear that electronic touch-screen machines like those used in Allegheny County are susceptible to hacking — and that because those machines do not produce a hard copy of votes cast, there may be no way to get a reliable tally of votes.
Faced with increasingly convincing evidence that electronic voting systems can be hacked to alter election results, a majority of states are wisely moving to adopt voting methods that enhance security, in part by producing a paper ballot record that can be used to audit results. South Carolina should do the same. In fact, that’s the goal of the state Election Commission, if the Legislature will come up with $40 million to purchase the 13,000 new machines needed to serve every precinct in the state. The commission has attempted to get the Legislature’s attention for five years about the need to build up a fund to replace the existing machines. So far, legislators have demurred, awaiting the completion of new state standards for voting machine security. Those standards are expected to be completed in time for legislative review next year. Timely action will be needed if there is to be any chance to replace the 13-year-old touch-screen machines before the next general election in 2020.
In his Princeton University office, computer science professor Andrew Appel held up a small computer chip from a New Jersey voting machine. It’s the program that tallies your vote behind the curtain, inside the polling booth. It’s used in every single voting machine in 18 out of New Jersey’s 21 counties. It’s also outdated technology, and if you really wanted to, it’s not all that difficult to hack. “If you put a fraudulent program that adds up the votes a different way, you can install it in the voting machine by prying out the legitimate chip in there now and installing this fraudulent chip in the socket,” he said. Appel knows because he did it. Almost all of New Jersey’s 11,000 computerized voting machines are AVC Advantage systems. The Mercer County Board of Elections has a warehouse where the systems have been decertified in most of the country, but not here.
North Carolina: Replacing outdated machines will cost Madison County $400,000 | Asheville Citizen-Times
Madison County will have to invest more than $433,000 in new voting equipment before the next presidential election. The local Board of Elections at its monthly meeting inside its offices Sept. 20 discussed a plan to break up the expense over three years. “We’ll be replacing the whole voting system, the whole shooting match,” said Kathy Ray, the board’s director. “In addition to the equipment, we’ll need new supplies and materials to accommodate the new voting system.” The purchase is necessary because the machines currently in use, touchscreen iVotronic models, will be decertified by the state Sept. 1, 2019. That change will force the county to buy new machines that meet state guidelines. “The county commissioners need to know this,” board chairman Jerry Wallin said of the imminent expenditure, adding that the funds will come out of the budget crafted by the five-member panel. Wallin said he hand-delivered a memo outlining a plan to divide the expense over the next three budget years. “Did the county manager (Forrest Gilliam) pass out?” board member Dyatt Smathers asked with a smile.