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.
South Carolina: Wrong Votes and System Failures Mar South Carolina Elections, Report Finds | WhoWhatWhy
South Carolina miscounted hundreds of votes in the 2018 primary and midterm elections, according to a new report by the League of Women Voters state chapter. The errors cast doubt on the quality of programming in the election computers, on the functionality of the old hardware, and on the state’s current election infrastructure itself. (Neither political party was favored by these problems.) The state even upgraded the software on its voting machines before these elections, yet failed to fix basic problems. “These are old machines, the software quality is questionable, there are bugs that contributed to the votes being counted wrong, and we need to find a new system,” Duncan Buell, the report’s author, told WhoWhatWhy. “I think the next step is to stop using them and going to something else. Given that known bugs in the software were not fixed in the revision, I would not hold my breath for software I would trust.”Full Article: Wrong Votes and System Failures Mar South Carolina Elections, Report Finds - WhoWhatWhy.
South Carolina: Election Commission requesting new voting system that they say must have paper trail | Post and Courier
South Carolina election officials have taken a key step toward replacing the state’s 13,000 outdated voting machines and want the new system to generate a paper record after each ballot is cast. The state Election Commission on Friday outlined its call for a “statewide voting system solution” in a request for proposal, or RFP. The RFP marks the first formal step in soliciting contracts or bids from voting system vendors. Officials want the new system implemented by January 2020, ahead of the next presidential election. The touchscreen machines South Carolina voters have used since 2004 provide no paper record, making the Palmetto State one of five states where voting machines do not leave a paper trail behind. That means when there’s a contested election or a suspected security breach, there is currently no paper component for auditing results.Full Article: SC Election Commission requesting new voting system that they say must have paper trail | Palmetto Politics | postandcourier.com.
A bipartisan group of legislators Tuesday proposed switching to paper ballots, even mail-in ballots, to replace the state’s “archaic” voting machines before South Carolinians cast their votes in the 2020 presidential election. Four S.C. House and Senate legislators said Tuesday they will pre-file bills next month to address the state’s aging voting machines and how the state should pay for a new voting system. “A voting system that is not only fair but also gives voters confidence that their vote has been cast and their vote has been … counted,” said state Sen. Thomas McElveen, D-Sumter. Money for a new voting system should not be that hard to find in what is developing as a flush budget year.Full Article: Should South Carolina ditch outdated voting machines, switch to paper?.
South Carolina: Legislators call for return to paper-based voting in South Carolina | The Post and Courier
Returning to paper ballots may be the solution for eliminating lines and ensuring all votes are counted correctly, a group of South Carolina legislators said Tuesday. While there’s wide support in the Legislature for replacing South Carolina’s 13,000 antiquated voting machines before the 2020 elections, what the next system should look like is up for debate. State election officials are seeking $60 million in the upcoming budget for a new system with a paper component for auditing. The touchscreen machines South Carolina voters have used since 2004 provide no paper record. “It’s shocking to me we have no paper trail,” said Rep. Beth Bernstein, D-Columbia. She was among several legislators Tuesday who said paper printouts won’t suffice. They advocate going old school with paper ballots. “We don’t want a machine auditing a machine,” said Sen. Thomas McElveen, D-Sumter. “We want something tangible.”Full Article: Legislators call for return to paper-based voting in South Carolina | News | postandcourier.com.
South Carolina election officials said Friday they’re pushing ahead with plans to replace the state’s nearly 13,000 electronic voting machines in time for the next presidential election in 2020, following complaints by some voters last week that the aging equipment changed their ballots or simply broke down, causing extreme wait times at polling places. The State Election Commission said it is requesting $60 million from South Carolina lawmakers to swap out the existing equipment, which was purchased in 2004, for a balloting system that can produce a paper ballot. The machines the state currently uses to conduct elections only offer voters a touchscreen interface and are not capable of printing out paper backups of votes that can be audited. South Carolina is one of five states that exclusively use these types of machines — known as direct-recording electronic, or DREs — to collect votes, along with Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana and New Jersey. Several other states, including Texas and Pennsylvania, use DREs as their main type of voting equipment.Full Article: Glitchy voting machines in South Carolina spur new investment.
South Carolina: Old voting machines blamed for some Election Day problems. Will State replace them? | The State
Voting equipment that’s older than the first iPhone is being blamed by some election officials in South Carolina for some problems voters experienced on Election Day. State and local election officials are calling on S.C. lawmakers to pay up for new voting equipment in time for next year’s local elections to head off any further issues that could arise during the next general election. “Most of our issues that we had on Election Day were as a result of the age of the equipment,” said Rokey Suleman, Richland County’s elections director. “We desperately want to have this (new) equipment and run it through the fall elections in 2019, because if we implement it for the first time in presidential preference primaries, which are going to have high turnout, or in the presidential election, it’s going to have an impact.” South Carolina’s current voting machines were purchased in 2004. The first iPhone was released three years later.Full Article: Outdated SC voting machines caused some Election Day issues | The State.