Florida: 12-County Coalition in Florida Seeks New Voting Machines By Election Season | GovTech

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.

Philippines: Will Smartmatic bag 2016 voting machine deals? | CNN

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.

Philippines: Smartmatic bags P1.7-B voting machine contract | The Philippine Star

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.

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.

National: Elections Technology: Nine Things Legislators May Want to Know | The Canvass

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.

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.

Philippines: Comelec seeks alternatives | Manila Standard

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.

Editorials: Protect South Carolina’s votes: Return to paper ballots | Duncan Buell/The State

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.

Maryland: State going back to paper voting in 2016 | Herald Mail Media

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.”

Philippines: Smartmatic bags P1.2-B contract with Comelec | ABS-CBN News

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.

Philippines: Smartmatic: We own precinct count optical scan rights | Inquirer Business

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.

District of Columbia: Elections Board Says All Voting Machines Need To Be Replaced | WAMU

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.

Philippines: Comelec to reuse Precinct Count Optical Scan machines in 2016 polls | Manila Bulletin

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.

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.

Philippines: Comelec: Mix of old, new tech for 2016 polls | ABS-CBN News

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.

Philippines: Comelec elects to use PCOS, other machines in 2016 | Inquirer

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.

Philippines: Comelec to pick poll machine | 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.

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.”

Philippines: Reuse of Precinct Count Optical Scan machines recommended for 2016 polls | Rappler

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.

Australia: Electoral Commission proposes electronic vote counting for federal elections | ABC

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.”

Virginia: Voter Registrars Tackle New Voter ID Law | Charlottesville Newsplex

Registrars spent two days in Richmond this week at an annual training session put on by the Virginia Department of Elections. They discussed changes they are making to the voting process, and looked at the how those changes will impact voting experiences come November. “The system for creating photo ID’s at voter registration offices seems to be working very well. There haven’t been a great flood of people who have come in and asked for them,” said Albemarle County General Registrar Jake Washburne. … Another law now in effect for exactly a year is getting positive reviews.The Department of Elections says statewide voter online registration has been a success with tens of thousands of new voters signed up.

Missouri: Legislators Could Change the Way Missourians Vote | CBS

The Senate has endorsed legislation by Republican Senator Brian Nieves that could possibly change how Missouri voters cast their ballots. The legislation has been given first-round approval, but needs one more Senate vote before moving to the House. The law will require local election authorities to phase out the use of electronic voting machines. The touch screen method would be gone. The bill says when the current machines break, they can’t be repaired or replaced.

Virginia: Panel nixes voting machines measure | Richmond Times-Dispatch

Virginia localities may continue to use touch-screen voting machines at the polls beyond the 2014 election. A proposal that would have forced precincts to replace the so-called direct recording electronic machines with optical scan tabulators by November was defeated in the House Privileges and Elections Committee Friday after several panel members voiced concern with the financial burden of replacement. The measure, sponsored by Del. David I. Ramadan, R-Loudoun, would have created a fund to help localities cover half of the cost of new tabulators.

Virginia: Touch-screen voting machines get reprieve | Richmond Times-Dispatch

Virginia localities may continue to use touch-screen voting machines at the polls beyond the 2014 election. A proposal that would have forced precincts to replace the touch-screen machines, formally known as direct recording electronic machines, with optical scan tabulators by November was defeated this morning in the House Privileges and Elections Committee. Several panel members voiced concern with the financial burden. Some lawmakers prefer optical scan machines because they preserve a paper record of the ballots. The measure, sponsored by Del. David Ramadan, R-Loudoun, would have created a fund to help localities cover half of the cost of new tabulators. Under current law, local electoral boards are not permitted to replace old DREs with new equipment but they are allowed to use their old machines as long as they keep them operating.

Missouri: Voting Bill Shows Need For New Election Machines, Franklin County Clerk Says | The Missourian

Franklin County Clerk Debbie Door said a voting bill in the upcoming legislative session regarding paper ballots demonstrates the need for the county’s new election equipment. There has been a push in recent years to go to paper ballots, but finding the funding has been a problem, she said. With the county’s new machines, there will now be paper ballots for all the election results, Door said. The county commission recently purchased new election machines for $414,322 after Door said the equipment was needed. Paper ballots are useful when it comes to auditing elections, officials say.

Virginia: Caroline County approves new voting machines | The News Desk

The Caroline County Board of Supervisors Tuesday night approved the purchase of 11 new voting machines that will likely be installed before the November election. Members of the electoral board and the county’s voter registrar asked the board for $50,763 to purchase optical scan voting machines. The county currently uses touchscreen voting machines. John Nunnally, vice-chair of the electoral board, told the supervisors that all localities are facing an unfunded mandate from the state that they replace their machines with optical scan machines by 2016. That means that instead of touchscreen machines, voters would use a paper ballot and feed it into the optical scan machine. Nunnally said the change could cut down the time it takes to vote and reduce lines. The machines the county has now are about 10 years old and have problems that require more immediate replacement, according to a staff memo. Additionally, the memo says that if the county purchases the machines now, the county will get a better deal than waiting until 2016, when there is more competition and more localities are in the market for the machines.

North Carolina: General Assembly bill would require the use of paper ballots in all North Carolina elections | BlueRidgeNow.com

Board of Elections members expressed their opposition Wednesday to a bill in the General Assembly that would require the use of paper ballots in all North Carolina elections, a move that could cost Henderson County half a million dollars to implement. “I’m just amazed by this,” said board member Bob Heltman. “I’m perplexed. (It) sounds foolish as hell to me.” “I don’t think we need to be stepping back in time,” agreed Chairman Tom Wilson, referring to the days when illegibly marked paper ballots had to be hand-examined by elections officials, slowing returns. House Bill 607, sponsored by Reps. Bert Jones (R-Rockingham) and Justin Barr (R-Albemarle), would require that all state boards of elections tally paper ballots using optical scanners and would prohibit the use of touch screen voting systems currently used by Henderson and 35 other counties.

New York: State Legislators Ready To OK Lever Voting Machines For NYC 2013 Primary And Runoff | New York Daily News

The Senate and Assembly are expected to vote as early as Thursday on legislation that would allow the city Board of Elections to use lever machines in the primary and run off elections, lawmakers said Tuesday. Modern optical scan voting machines would still be used for the general election. “We need to save the Board of Elections from itself and the City of New York from an embarrassing election process,” said Sen. Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn), a sponsor of the measure.

Philippines: Poll integrity questioned – CBCP Notes Large-Scale Vote-Buying, Disenfranchisement, Transmission Failures | Manila Bulletin

Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma yesterday asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to seriously address questions raised regarding the conduct of the May 13 midterm polls. The Comelec should particularly explain why the second automated polls seemed to be “out of tune,” Palma said. He issued the call a day after the CBCP National Secretariat for Social Action (Nassa) issued a statement questioning the last elections. On Tuesday, the Catholic Church’s social action arm said the May elections was a “mockery of our democracy” and the results were “questionable, citing the large-scale vote-buying, disenfranchisement of voters, malfunction of voting machines, corrupted compact flash cards, and transmission failures among others. “Nassa is not blind to the glaring discrepancies and election violations, the highly-suspicious interventions during the canvassing, and the possible manipulation of election results during the lull hours of transmission, canvassing and consolidation of votes,” the statement reads. “In principle, there are many valid points raised because a lot of people thought the elections were okay, but we all know that like in music it was out of tune, which puts into question so many things,” said Palma.

South Carolina: Charleston County considering a switch to paper ballots | Charleston City Paper

Before the start of last Wednesday’s sparsely attended Charleston County Board of Elections and Voter Registration meeting, Frank Heindel turned around in his seat to ask a question of the woman sitting behind him: “You don’t think I’m crazy, do you?” Heindel, a Mt. Pleasant resident, has almost single-handedly taken up the crusade of reforming South Carolina’s electronic voting system, and the idea he presented to the BEVR last week might sound crazy to the uninitiated: He wants the county to go back to using paper ballots. “I believe every citizen in Charleston County deserves an election process that is transparent, conforms to existing laws, and can produce an audit paper trail,” Heindel said. The board heard him out, and it voted to have its executive director look into new options for the November 2013 general elections — including new electronic machines and old-school paper ballots read by optical scanners. Heindel’s full proposal was that the county conduct some, if not all, local elections this November without using its iVotronic touchscreen voting machines, which the election-integrity hellraiser says are flawed due to problems like vulnerability to virus attacks and a lack of hard-copy verification. Heindel also asked the board to require a post-election audit be conducted.