After the Bush-Gore debacle in 2000, Florida became proactive. Punch cards and hanging chads were replaced with optical scanners.
But that was 15 years ago, and those new optical scanners are now old technology. “It’s an area of concern,” said Highlands County Elections Supervisor Penny Ogg. Her office has kept maintenance agreements. “They get a yearly going over by the vendor,” Ogg said.
Nevertheless, Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner has placed Highlands in a 30-county mix for voting machine replacements. A 12-county coalition with 14-year-old machines has asked for grants from the Department of State, and they’re asking the state with its greater purchasing power to buy the machines.
After the Bush-Gore debacle in 2000, Florida became proactive. Punch cards and hanging chads were replaced with optical scanners.
With less than a year left before the 2016 elections, it’s more likely that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) will turn to Smartmatic for most voting machine deals. It was the very company that supplied precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines to the government during the 2010 and 2013 elections. A forum held at the Luneta Hotel on Wednesday (August 12) aimed to address two issues: why the company keeps landing supply deals with Comelec, and whether or not automation is the way to go next year. Smartmatic Asia-Pacific President Cesar Flores said that the reason the company has won practically every bidding to supply vote counting machines is because it has offered the best price. Flores presented data from Smartmatic’s operations in different countries. He pointed out that the sizeable production capacity enables the company to lease or sell the machines at a lower price than most companies. There were questions about alleged failures and glitches in the 2010 and 2013 polls — but Flores said those were mostly untrue, and are marginal.Full Article: Will Smartmatic bag 2016 voting machine deals? - CNN Philippines.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has approved the awarding to Smartmatic-Total Information Management (TIM) of the contract to lease 23,000 optical mark reader (OMR) machines for the 2016 polls. In Resolution No. 2015-004, the Comelec Special Bids and Awards Committee -1 (SBAC-1) has recommended the issuance of the “Notice of Award” to the joint venture for its bid offer of more than P1.7 billion. “SBAC-1 resolves to recommend to the head of the procuring entity the issuance of the Notice of Award (to the joint venture) as the bidder with the lowest calculated responsive bid for the lease with option to purchase of election management system and precinct-based OMR or optical scan system,” the committee said. The project has an approved budget of P2.5 billion, but Smartmatic-TIM’s bid offer was only P1.72 billion.Full Article: Smartmatic bags P1.7-B voting machine contract | Headlines, News, The Philippine Star | philstar.com.
National: The rise of the machines: Many states, localities get new voting equipment for 2016 | electionlineWeekly
While issues like early voting, voter registration and voter ID have certainly grabbed the headlines of late, another elections issue will literally be in front thousands of voters in 2016 — new voting systems. Nationwide many states and counties are moving to new voting systems for the first time in more than a decade in advance of the 2016 election cycle. For some jurisdictions the switch to a new voting system was mandated by state legislatures that wanted to move to paper-based systems. For others, it’s a matter of age. Many states and counties replaced their voting machines following the 2002 election and in a world where people replace their phones every two years and personal computers almost as frequently, 10+-year old voting machines are, well, old. Although budgeting and procurement are certainly taking center stage now, soon enough it will be training and voter education. It’s a lot to get done with an election calendar that grows shorter as more and more states jockey for position with their elections calendars.Full Article: electionlineWeekly.
What makes you lose sleep?” That’s what NCSL staff asked members of the National Association of State Election Directors back in September 2012. The answer wasn’t voter ID, or early voting, or turnout, as we expected. Instead, it was this: “Our equipment is aging, and we aren’t sure we’ll have workable equipment for our citizens to vote on beyond 2016.”That was NCSL’s wake-up call to get busy and learn how elections and technology work together. We’ve spent much of the last two years focusing on that through the Elections Technology Project, funded by the MacArthur Foundation. One thing we learned is that virtually all election policy choices have a technology component. Just two examples: vote centers and all-mail elections. While both can be debated based on such values as their effect on voters, election officials and budgets, neither can be decided without considering technology. Vote centers rely on e-poll books, and all-mail elections depend on optical scan equipment to handle volumes of paper ballots.Below are nine more takeaways we’ve learned recently and that legislators might like to know too. Most of the equipment in use around the nation was bought with federal money made available through the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA). That was before smartphones were invented, and even iPods were new technology. And a significant portion of the country uses equipment that was bought well before that.Full Article: States and Election Reform | The Canvass: May 2015.
Philippines: Hybrid system of manual voting, automated canvassing pitched for 2016 elections | InterAksyon
Saying time was running out for the task of refurbishing the 82,000 Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines, a lawmaker on Wednesday pushed for a hybrid system of elections for May 2016. “It will be manual voting and automated canvassing,” Bayan Muna partylist Representative Neri Colmenares said at the regular news conference of the minority bloc at the House of Representatives. “With this, there is no need for billions of pesos and sophisticated technology,” he added. What will be needed are laptops and a secured program that will be used to canvass the total number of votes from the precinct level up to the national level, according to Colmenares. “The checks and balance will be at the canvassing of votes at the precinct level, because people will know the results there,” he said.Full Article: Hybrid system of manual voting, automated canvassing pitched for 2016 elections.
With only a year, two weeks and three days to go before the 2016 polls, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) is considering using only the 23,000 optical mark reader (OMR) machines that are the subject of a public bidding, under a centralized setup, a spokesman for the agency said Wednesday. Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said this “central count optical system” would bypass the need for the old 81,000 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines, after the Supreme Court nullified a negotiated contract with Smartmatic-TIM to have them refurbished and repaired. “What we plan now is to use the machines that are still in the bidding process. We are considering using the 23,000 OMR units for a central count optical system,” Jimenez said. The CCOS would entail transporting ballots from a group of precincts to a designated voting center where they would be scanned and tabulated.Full Article: Comelec seeks alternatives - Manila Standard Today.
With South Carolina poised to acquire a new election system to replace the mid-2000s system bought with federal funds, now is the time for citizens to get involved in what should be an open, transparent acquisition process. I recently chaired the annual conference of the Election Verification Network, which focused on the similar choices that local election officials face the nation over. The usual vendors are offering very few options, but virtually all jurisdictions are abandoning direct recording electronic systems like South Carolina’s and again adopting paper ballots that can be viewed by the voter, sampled and audited afterward, and provide a simpler system for poll workers.Full Article: Buell: Protect our votes: Return to paper ballots | The State The State.
Even with the technology available today, Maryland will go back to a paper-based voting system in 2016. The state Board of Public Works last month approved a $28.1 million contract to replace the current touch-screen voting system with machines that scan paper ballots, which can be marked by voters using a pencil or pen. The move comes more than seven years after state lawmakers, seeking a new system with a “voter-verifiable paper record,” approved legislation to replace the touch-screen machines, which have been noted to be unreliable and susceptible to fraudulent activity, according to published reports. Washington County Elections Director Kaye Robucci met with the county Board of Commissioners on Jan. 13 to talk about some of the changes coming with the new system, saying it is expected to be in place for the April primaries of the 2016 presidential election.
Robucci said later in the week that while voters in the county seemed to like the touch-screen voting system, there were others who “never fell in love with it. They didn’t like that they didn’t have a ballot to review, like a paper ballot,” she said. “They were convinced that you could hack the machines. …. We didn’t have any problem with them in Washington County, and it was something that the voters were starting to like, I thought.”
Voting 5-2, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has decided to tap Smartmatic Total Information Management Corp. to refurbish the 80,000 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines to be used in the May 2016 presidential polls. With this development, the poll body will no longer bid out a contract for the repair of the voting machines. “The Comelec en banc has opted to give the project to Smartmatic, with 5-2 votes before the Christmas break. So there will no longer be a public bidding on this,” a Comelec source said over the weekend. Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes along with Commissioners Lucenito Tagle, Elias Yusoph, Christian Robert Lim and Al Parreño voted to extend the warranty of the PCOS machines with Smartmatic. Those who opposed the proposal were Commissioners Luie Guia and Arthur Lim.Full Article: Smartmatic bags P1.2-B contract with Comelec | ABS-CBN News.
Smartmatic International has maintained that it has exclusive rights over the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines, which gives it sole authority to refurbish the equipment for the 2016 presidential balloting. Cesar Flores, the Venezuelan firm’s president for Asia, said the Commission on Elections (Comelec) should award the contract to repair and upgrade 80,000 PCOS machines to Smartmatic as it owned the rights to its parts. “If you open this to other bidders, the other bidders will try to [get into the] parts, which they cannot [do so] because we have exclusivity on those parts,” Flores told reporters in a recent interview. He added that the Comelec would benefit a lot if it would forgo its plan to bid out the project and award it instead to Smartmatic as the former wouldn’t have to seek a recertification if new software were needed for some of its parts.Full Article: Smartmatic: We own PCOS rights | Inquirer Business.
The D.C. Board of Elections says that the city’s voting machines are outdated and in need of replacement, an admission that comes only weeks before what could be a close mayoral election. In a report on the Apr. 1 primary published last week, the board said that a majority of the city’s touch-screen and optical scanner voting machines are outdated, exceeding the recommended 10 years of use. As such, they will be difficult to maintain for future elections. “The District of Columbia’s mechanical and digital voting and tabulation system… is in need of replacement,” says the report. “The BOE’s voting systems are over a decade old and are reaching the end of their operational life.” In the report, which was supposed to have been published in July but was delayed by three months, the board says that a large number of the city’s voting machines are refurbished units purchased “at a steep discount” in 2009. Given that they were in use before being purchased by D.C., the report says that the machines are older than what a federal election assistance commission recommends for use by local jurisdictions.Full Article: D.C. Elections Board Says All Voting Machines Need To Be Replaced | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio.
The call of a non-government organization to junk the reuse of the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines in the May 2016 polls was rejected by the Comission on Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday. Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said they cannot junk the PCOS machines because they were not given enough budget allocation for a new automated election system (AES). “We don’t have money for that,” he said in an interview. Earlier, Government Watch urged the Comelec to use a new AES in the next polls instead of reusing the PCOS machines citing alleged cases of discrepancies between the results of physical count of ballots and the voting machines as reason.Full Article: Comelec to reuse PCOS machines in 2016 polls | Manila Bulletin | Latest Breaking News | News Philippines.
Maryland: Back to the future voting: Elections board demonstrates new paper ballot | Maryland Reporter
Maryland’s Board of Elections put on a demonstration last week of two potential voting systems that will have voters producing paper ballots again for the 2016 Presidential Primary Election. At the University of Baltimore, citizens could test drive the Everyone Counts and ES&S (Elections Systems & Software) universal-voting systems that will produce paper records readable by optical scanners in every precinct. A 2007 Maryland law required the State Board of Elections to have a paper record of each ballot to be used to efficiently for later audits or potential recounts. State election officials insisted the current touch-screen computerized voting was accurate and reliable, and less prone to voter error.Full Article: MarylandReporter.com | The news site for government and politics in the Free State.
The Commission on Elections will be reusing the existing Optical Mark Reader technology as the primary voting system for the 2016 Presidential Elections. Chairman Sixto Brillantes made the announcement to the media Tuesday afternoon following an en banc meeting of the Commission. Brillantes said that the en banc has decided to adopt in general the recommendation of the Comelec Advisory Council to reuse the existing technology, “provided that the existing machines be subjected to rigorous quality assurance and testing processes” and “that the security features and minimum system capabilities required by law will be fully implemented.” Brillantes said that the Commission is looking to purchase or lease between 10,000 to 41,000 additional precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines to augment the existing 80,000 purchased machines.Full Article: Comelec: Mix of old, new tech for 2016 polls | ABS-CBN News.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has decided to use another voting technology aside from the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines in 2016, an agency official told reporters on Monday. The official, who declined to be identified for lack of authority to speak, said the commission en banc adopted the recommendation of the Comelec Advisory Council (CAC) to use “multiple or mixed technologies” in the elections to accommodate more voters. “In principle, it has been decided to use mixed technologies. It is not a total adoption but we are basically following the CAC recommendation, although there will be some modifications,” the source said.Full Article: Comelec elects to use PCOS, other machines in 2016 | Inquirer News.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is set to decide Tuesday on the automated election system (AES) it will use for the presidential polls in 2016. The decision of the commission en banc will be based on the recommendation of the Comelec Advisory Council (CAC), which it submitted last week, and which is to reuse the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines as the primary system, Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. said in a recent interview. “Probably we will have a decision in our next en banc meeting… hopefully we will have a consensus because the CAC is just recommendatory,” Brillantes said.Full Article: Comelec to pick poll machine | Inquirer News.
Wyoming: Secretary of state race highlights counties’ differing election equipment | Billings Gazette
As primary election results poured in late Tuesday night, the seesaw battle in the secretary of state race became the main event. Ed Murray and Ed Buchanan hovered at 36 percent of the vote, trading the lead throughout the night. One cloud loomed over the race until the bitter end. Laramie County, Murray’s home turf, had yet to report the entirety of its results with more than 80 percent of the state’s precincts reporting. The time it took to get the results from Laramie County, while adding drama to the race, left many in the age of instant gratification wondering what took so long. Laramie County Clerk Debbye Balcaen Lathrop said there were no issues in reporting the vote. “If people had any kind of memory, they would know that we finished last night about the same time we did in the primary two years ago and four years ago,” she said. “The reason the focus was on Laramie County last night is people knew that our results would change the secretary of state’s race.”Full Article: Secretary of state race highlights counties' differing election equipment.
The Comelec Advisory Council (CAC) is recommending the reuse of existing precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines and the use of one or more voting technologies for the 2016 national elections. CAC Chairman Louie Casambre announced the body’s recommendations during the joint congressional oversight committee (JCOC) hearing on the automated election system at the Senate on Thursday, August 14. The recommendations were submitted to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday. The CAC recommended the optical mark reader (OMR) technology used by the PCOS machines to be the primary voting technology in 2016. “The electorate and the election officials are used to it already,” explained Casambre.Full Article: Reuse of PCOS machines recommended for 2016 polls.
Future federal elections should use electronic vote counting to improve the accuracy of results, the ACT Electoral Commission has said. A joint parliamentary committee has been considering election methods after almost 1,400 votes went missing in Western Australia during the federal election. The problems led to a fresh Senate poll being held in WA and the resignation of Australian electoral commissioner Ed Killesteyn. ACT electoral commissioner Phil Green told the committee there were miscounts in every division in Western Australia. “Hand counting and hand sorting by using humans alone is an error-prone thing,” he said. “I think if you look at the result of the recount in Western Australia you can see that hand counting even a single first preference on a ballot paper is something that human beings aren’t very good at, but computers are very good at it.”Full Article: ACT Electoral Commission proposes electronic vote counting for federal elections - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).