Election machines used in more than half of U.S. states carry a flaw disclosed more than a decade ago that makes them vulnerable to a cyberattack, according to a report to be delivered Thursday on Capitol Hill. The issue was found in the widely used Model 650 high-speed ballot-counting machine made by Election Systems & Software LLC, the nation’s leading manufacturer of election equipment. It is one of about seven security problems in several models of voting equipment described in the report, which is based on research conducted last month at the Def Con hacker conference. The flaw in the ES&S machine stood out because it was detailed in a security report commissioned by Ohio’s secretary of state in 2007, said Harri Hursti, an election-security researcher who co-wrote both the Ohio and Def Con reports. “There has been more than plenty of time to fix it,” he said.
When Douglas County Election Commissioner Brian Kruse tells election officials from other states how votes are counted in Nebraska’s largest county, the responses vary. “Oh, that’s painful,” is one response. “How long did you work?” is another. “We like to say, ‘Well, 26 hours, but we loved every minute of it,’” Kruse told members of the Nebraska Legislature’s Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee during a hearing Thursday. In Douglas County, all of the ballots are brought to a central location and tallied. Kruse compared that with Birmingham, Alabama, where votes on election night are tallied at the precincts and results are reported in about four hours.
Canyon County election officials say they have identified the culprit behind Election Day’s slow vote counting process: hundreds of ballots with tiny flaws. Canyon County was among the state’s slowest for counting ballots after polls closed on Nov. 8. In fact, the county finally posted unofficial results at 6:49 a.m. Nov. 9, beating out Bonner County, the last of Idaho’s 44 counties to finish counting, by about four hours. Initially, Canyon County officials believed the delays were caused by voters marking ballots illegibly, causing the machines to spit out ballots and election staff to review and tally each by hand. County spokesman Joe Decker also attributed the slow pace to troubleshooting and the time it took to call in a technician. … County officials then reached out to the printing company, Caxton Printing Ltd., and encouraged company officials to look at whether “timing tracks” — a sequence of squares and other shapes printed on the edges of both sides of the ballot — were properly aligned. Scott Gipson, president of Caxton Printing, reviewed some of the ballots and concluded that between 800 and 1,000 ballots printed for Canyon County had misaligned timing tracks.
The delays in counting votes and the trouble handling party symbol votes that plagued the 2014 election will repeat themselves in 2016, unless the Legislature acts or a lawsuit is filed and won in the next several months, elections officials told the V.I. Legislature this week. The Legislature met as the Committee of the Whole on Tuesday evening to hear from elections officials. The territory purchased new vote tabulating machines after Adelbert Bryan, who was at the time the St. Croix Elections Board chairman, waged a campaign to get rid of the territory’s previous machines, alleging, without evidence, possible widespread conspiracies to rig the territory’s elections and making numerous dubious claims about the old machines. In a test run shortly before the general election in 2014, the brand new ES&S ballot tabulators counted votes in a surprising way, due to the unique V.I. electoral system where senators vie to be the top seven vote-getters in their district.
Like most political aficionados, Paul Woods looks forward to the excitement of the polls closing and the results pouring in each Election Day. For the past several years, though, Ada County’s results have not poured in. They’ve trickled. Woods had to wait 11 hours after Ada County’s polls closed in the November 2014 election to find out whether he won his race to become an Ada County Highway District commissioner. (He did.) “I stayed up until 2:30 in the morning and they still were not in,” Woods lamented. “I got up at 6 and checked and they were almost done.” Other Idaho counties had tallied ballots and sent election workers home to bed hours before Ada County posted final election results at 7 a.m. In 2012, ballot counting didn’t wrap up until 8 a.m. … Remember Zip disks and Zip drives? That once-cutting-edge computer storage technology fell out of favor around the turn of century. But that bygone technology is still at the heart of Ada County’s election system – and at least part of the reason results take so long.
The Idaho Republican Party is encouraging two of its candidates to ask for recounts in elections that they narrowly lost to their Democratic challengers in the Nov. 4 election. Republican state Rep. Thyra Stevenson of Lewiston lost to Democrat Dan Rudolph by 26 votes. Meanwhile, in the same legislative district, fellow Republican Mike Kingsley lost to House Minority Leader John Rusche by 48 votes. Idaho Republican Party’s Executive Director David Johnston told the Lewiston Tribune in a story that ran Saturday that the narrow margins in both races warrant a recount.
Lawmakers went into back to back sessions today to discuss a pair of bills – the first of which would address funding to purchase new tabulation equipment for the Guam Election Commission. “Si yu’os ma’ase to all of them for their support,” said Guam Election Commission executive director Maria Pangelinan. She refers to swift action by lawmakers today on addressing funding for new tabulation machines. It was last week when Bill 334 lapsed into law appropriating $206,000 from the Supplemental Appropriation Revenue Fund for the purchase of the machines along with ballot stock and coding services. However BBMR recently informed her that there is actually no funding in the SAR account. “So because of that, the only option they would have is to see about using fiscal year funding that was brought up to the attention of the commissioners and we all know that the commissioners and I don’t want to have a deficit at the end of the fiscal year,” she said.
The Guam Election Commission wants to have new voting tabulators for this year’s elections and now is one step closer to that goal. The commission released an invitation for bids on Feb. 19 for a central count voting system with software and professional services, according to the bid documents. The bids are due by March 14, said Maria Pangelinan, the commission executive director. That’s a system capable of counting voting results from multiple precincts at a single location. During the 2012 General Election, the GEC had problems with at least three of its four tabulators.
Editorials: It’s time for Guam Election Commission to update election equipment, policies | Pacific Daily News
With the 2014 elections fast approaching, it’s imperative that the Guam Election Commission moves with urgency to address its outdated equipment. The 2012 elections made it clear that the island’s current tabulating machines are old and falling apart. During the 2012 General Election, the Election Commission had problems with at least three of its four tabulators. Those problems drew attention to the age of the machines. The four tabulators are based on technology from the 1980s. It’s time for the Election Commission to move forward with its primary focus on updating equipment and technology. GEC Executive Director Maria Pangelinan said the commission is expecting to announce an invitation for bids for new tabulators by next month. Pangelinan and the commission need to ensure that these new tabulators fit the needs of our community and come with the appropriate support and regular maintenance.
Next election could run faster and smoother if the Guam Election Commission can purchase new tabulators. During last year’s General Election, the GEC had problems with at least three of its four tabulators. Those problems drew attention to the age of the machines, and the GEC has since looked at whether it would be feasible to keep using them, Director Maria Pangelinan said. The four tabulators are based on technology from the 1980s, according to Pacific Sunday News files. And Pangelinan estimates the machines are at least 20 years old and have been well-used throughout those years. Pangelinan said correspondence with the vendor found that repairing the machines would cost about $35,000 each. She said the election commission decided that it would be too costly to repair the old machines. As a result, the commission is requesting information to purchase new tabulator machines.
The Guam Election Commission (GEC) does not know how much it will be getting in the upcoming fiscal year. Executive Director Maria Pangelinan says in the first substitute budget bill, over $900,000 was budgeted for GEC. However, in the current version of the recently passed Bill 38, GEC was lumped into the Executive Branch’s budget. She notes their appropriation was lumped together before in previous budgets. However, no line item has identified what GEC would receive this time around. Pangelinan says this is a problem as they prepare for the 2014 gubernatorial election. She also explains the money to fix two of their tabulators is not factored in yet because they just received the notice today [Wednesday] about the overall costs.
Election integrity advocate Marilyn Marks has filed a Help America Vote Act (HAVA) complaint with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office concerning the Saguache County 2012 General Election. The complaint was filed after examination of M-100 machine tapes showed apparent discrepancies in the vote tabulation. Marks’ activities in Saguache County came under fire this summer and fall prior to the general election after commissioners candidates Jason Anderson and Ken Anderson, who later won their election bids made it clear they felt Marks was unjustly interfering in Saguache County business and should butt out.
Flathead County District Court Judge Stewart Stadler ruled Friday that a statewide recount is warranted for the state Superintendent of Public Instruction race, but a state attorney told Stadler his ruling would be appealed to the Supreme Court Monday. Even though the Republican candidate in the race, Martin City resident Sandy Welch, has to pay for the recount, Friday’s proceedings turned out to be a legal skirmish involving issues beyond vote counting. Amy Eddy, a Kalispell attorney representing Democratic incumbent Denise Juneau, said Welch’s team is aiming to “disenfranchise voters” by challenging and disqualifying ballots that may be legally tainted.
As Superintendent of Public Instruction candidate Sandy Welch prepares for her Kalispell District Court hearing tomorrow, a letter from the Lewis and Clark County Elections Supervisor confirms a software error in their ballot counting machines. Welch’s application emphasized six specific counts where adequate probable cause is presented to the court on ballot counting errors that may have falsely affected the superintendent race. Two of the six counts noted specific errors in the use of model 650 ballot counting machines.
Alleging widespread voting machine errors and other Election Day problems, Republican Sandy Welch requested a manual vote recount Monday in the race she narrowly lost for Montana schools superintendent. Official results had Democrat Denise Juneau leading Welch by 2,231 votes out of more than 468,000 cast in the Nov. 6 election. An elections expert said Monday that slim margin is likely too large for Welch to overcome. But Welch, a Martin City education consultant, said voting glitches in Lewis and Clark, Yellowstone, Beaverhead, Missoula and other counties were widespread enough that she can make up the difference and prevail on a recount.
South Carolina: Richland County vote: Finlay, Dixon, Penny Tax appear winners in count | TheState.com
In a count delayed a week, Kirkman Finlay appeared to prevail over Joe McCulloch, 7,207 to 6,891 in House District 75, in one of tightest and most closely watched races in Richland County’s botched Nov. 6 election, according to preliminary results from Wednesday’s tally. Finlay, a Republican, had 6,771 votes, and McCulloch, a Democrat, had 6,506 in the original count. Totals came just after 11 p.m. Wednesday – eight days after the election marked by huge outcries from voters and candidates alike and a tumultuous legal back-and-forth that led courts to interrupt Richland County’s vote before the count was complete last week.
The sun had set twice since Election Day and still Yellowstone County workers were counting votes Thursday afternoon on ballot machines that jammed after a couple of dozen ballots. With right around 70,000 voters turning out for the general election, it was the worst possible time for things to go haywire. Elections Administrator Bret Rutherford and his predecessor, Duane Winslow, said several things had tripped up their count. The biggest snag appears to be folded absentee ballots, of which Yellowstone County issued about 53,000. “It really was just the jamming that was the main issue,” Rutherford said.
A task force report issued Friday by South Dakota Secretary of State Jason Gant says Davison County’s ballot scanner is “100 percent accurate.” That means human error by the Davison County Auditor’s Office, which is led by Auditor Susan Kiepke, herself an elected official, was the culprit in a June 5 miscount that left the county’s primary election results in doubt for several days. “My statement to South Dakota voters,” Gant said in an interview following the issuance of the report, “is that the machines we use to count our ballots are 100 percent accurate.”
South Dakota: Winners remain after lengthy recount in Davison County, but numbers change | The Daily Republic
The winners are the same: Tracy, Gunkel, Vehle, Putnam, Kriese and one-way streets. The vote totals and margins, however, did change after the votes cast in Tuesday’s local elections were counted twice more Thursday at the Davison County Courthouse in Mitchell. The new counts had been deemed necessary Wednesday after Auditor Susan Kiepke acknowledged errors in Tuesday’s results. Thursday, Kiepke blamed the errors on the county’s vote-counting machine or the software used with it. Vote totals seem to have been changed at “random,” she said. “It appears to be a software problem,” she said. A technician from Election Systems & Software, of Omaha, Neb., spent the day in the office trying to figure out what went wrong and assisting with the recount. He said he is not permitted to disclose his name and declined to answer most questions, but he defended the machine. “Nothing. I didn’t find nothing wrong with the machine,” he said.
Leigh Riggleman pulled an all-nighter in Lincoln County after running into problems with a ballot scanner in the primary election. “There was no fix,” said Riggleman, assistant election administrator, on Wednesday. “The technician adjusted and adjusted and adjusted, and called, and talked to people, and it was merely a matter in some cases of running them (ballots) through a second time.” At least three counties reported problems with ES&S 650 ballot scanners in this week’s primary: Lincoln, Sanders and Powell counties. On Wednesday, an election official in Powell County said trouble originally attributed to the scanner was actually due to voter error. While the tallying took more time in some cases, Riggleman said voters can rest assured their ballots were properly counted: “I am still – even with all the problems – still satisfied with the integrity of our election process. I think across the state, we strive to do whatever we can to make sure the public doesn’t question our integrity.” ES&S did not return a voicemail left Wednesday afternoon on its media line, and a company field director also did not return a call for comment.