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.Full Article: Voter Registrars Tackle New Voter ID Law.
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.Full Article: Legislators Could Change the Way Missourians Vote « CBS St. Louis.
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 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, also 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.Full Article: Voting Bill Shows Need For New Election Machines, Franklin County Clerk Says - The Missourian: County.
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.Full Article: Caroline approves new voting machines | The News Desk.
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.Full Article: A bill in the General Assembly would require the use of paper ballots in all North Carolina elections. | BlueRidgeNow.com.
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.Full Article: NY State Legislators Ready To OK Lever Voting Machines For NYC 2013 Primary And Runoff | New York Daily News.
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.Full Article: Poll integrity questioned.
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.Full Article: Charleston County considering a switch to paper ballots | Features | Charleston City Paper.
Voters in Montgomery County will be the first to use some of the latest high-tech voting machines. The black box sitting near the front office looks like a big trash can, but it’s a high tech voting tool and Montgomery County registar Randy Wertz, says Montgomery County is one of the first statewide to have it, “Well all you have to do after you plug it in is then you just turn it on. You push the little button back here.” The electronic guts of the Unisyn OVO optical scanner sit right on top. Montgomery County will test out this 6 thousand dollar machine during the Democratic primary next month.Full Article: Montgomery County has high tech voting machines - wdbj7.com.
Malfunctioning precinct count optical scanners (PCOS) yesterday compounded the usual concerns of missing voter names, ballot switching, vote buying and violent incidents on election day. Officials of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), however, agreed that the conduct of elections in the Visayas yesterday was generally peaceful. In Western Visayas, PCOS machines in some precincts in at least 10 areas in Negros Occidental malfunctioned and delayed the voting process, said provincial elections supervisor Wil Arceño. In precincts where the machines were inoperable, the Board of Election Inspectors kept the ballots in a secured envelope to be counted by another machine. Affected were the towns of Pulupandan, Manapla, Ilog, Isabela, and La Castellana as well as the cities of Kabankalan, Cadiz, Silay, Bago and Bacolod. The machines either had defective memory cards or LCD (liquid crystal display) screens. Some did not accept the ballots and others overheated, said Mr. Arceño.Full Article: Glitches, violence mar vote | BusinessWorld Online.
Maryland: Contractor salaries questioned as state moves to paper ballot voting system | Maryland Reporter
State election officials are planning to spend up to $1.2 million to hire just five contractors working for nine months, a high-dollar figure that has shocked key lawmakers and voter advocacy groups watching as the state transitions from touch-screen voting to paper ballots. The transition, which is scheduled for the 2016 presidential elections, will move the state from computerized voting without a paper trail to optical scan paper ballots. Under the recommendation of State Election Board Administrator Linda Lamone, the state budgeted $1.2 million for the five positions handling the initial transition. The elections budget calls for the senior project manager position to receive up to $350,000, the deputy project manager $300,000, two business analysts $210,000 each and a technical writer $170,000. The budget figures are estimates, since the elections board has not yet selected contractors. … State Election Board Deputy Administrator Ross Goldstein defended the expenses. In an email, he stated that the state estimated the cost using an existing state agency master contract for consulting and technical services. In that contract, vendors stated how much they will charge for a given service. “We used an average from different vendors under the master contract to come up with our estimates for each of the labor categories we need,” Goldstein stated.Full Article: Contractor salaries questioned as state moves to paper ballot voting system – MarylandReporter.com.
Last November, some Fairfax County residents reported long lines and wait times of more than three hours to cast their vote at the polls; some abandoned voting all together. But some 50 recommendations from Fairfax County’s new election commission — many of them focused on technology that will speed up parts of the voting process — could solve the problem. How quickly changes are made, though, depends on how much room officials can find in this year’s budget to implement new programs in time for the next presidential election. … The commission, which Chairman Sharon Bulova formed in December 2012, also recommended officials make electronic scanning voting machines – which scan paper ballots – available countywide. The commission argued the optical scanning machines were both faster and more reliable than the county’s touch-screen voting machines. Virginia’s General Assembly placed restrictions on the touch-screen voting machines in 2007 because of performance issues, and the commission noted in ots report that vendor has since gone under. “The [touch screen machines] are old and sometimes unreliable, taking time to reboot frequently or to get a replacement machine,” the report reads. Read the ReportFull Article: Touch Screen Voting 'Unreliable,' Commission Says - McLean, VA Patch.
Sen. Richard Madaleno said Thursday on the floor of the Senate he was shocked by the news that Maryland will not be replacing old touchscreen voting machines with more advanced technology before the 2014 election. “I was under the impression that we were going to have new voting machines in place by then,” Madaleno said during debate on a bill to make voting easier. He added he was concerned that an amendment on that bill calling for the State Board of Elections to research voters’ wait times would distract the board from the urgent task of purchasing modern voting machines. “I’m worried that we’re inadvertently giving the State Board of Elections an excuse to say that they’re not able to get the new voting system,” said Madaleno, a Montgomery County Democrat. The amendment was later passed.Full Article: Use of old voting machines angers state senators - Baltimore Post-Examiner.
Tennessee: Sevier County’s voting machines to stay in place for liquor measure | Knoxville News Sentinel
Same issue. Same voting machines. For the second time, the Sevier County Election Commission has effectively decided to retain the current voting machines for a March 14 re-vote on the question of offering liquor by the drink in Pigeon Forge. Commissioner John Huff said Thursday he favors keeping the machines for two reasons. “The people who vote are already familiar with them, and our poll workers are familiar with them,” he said. The March 14 vote was set after a judge voided a Nov. 6 due to ballot errors. Huff said those errors were because of human error, not because of a problem with the machines.Full Article: Sevier County's voting machines to stay in place for liquor measure » Knoxville News Sentinel.
St. Charles County is just about to close a deal to purchase hundreds of new, state-of-the-art voting machines. But don’t worry taxpayers — the cost won’t be passed on to you. Like a squirrel storing nuts for the approaching winter, St. Charles county elections director Rich Chrismer has been salting away money raised by leasing out his machines to other election authorities throughout the county. He says that means he’s now been able to save up the million dollars or so needed to purchase 260 voting machines, split evenly between optical scan and ADA-compliant versions.
A political analyst in Manila has defended the use of optical-scan voting machines in the upcoming Philippine elections after a migrant-rights group questioned their reliability. Abu Dhabi and Dubai are among five Middle East cities where the automated system will be used by the Philippines’ Commission on Elections (Comelec). The others are Kuwait, Riyadh and Jeddah. Overseas voters have one month to cast their votes from April 13, while those in the Philippines will vote on election day, May 13. Precinct Count Optical Scan machines were first used in the May 2010 national elections.Full Article: Electronic voting for Filipinos expands to UAE - The National.
Ion Sancho is a man on a mission. Just weeks from the presidential election, one of the most veteran election supervisors in the state of Florida, thinks there’s plenty for him and his colleagues to lose sleep over. What keeps him awake at night? Whether you can trust the machine you will be voting on. “We still have not secured the process to ensure that that machine has read that ballot correctly and it is 100 percent accurate. Because it is wrong to assume that the machines are always right. They’re not, ” Sancho tells CBS4 Chief Investigator Michele Gillen. “I think the citizens should be screaming from the rooftops,” he punctuates with the candor and directness he is known for. For many voters Sancho’s words hold weight. He was the first elections supervisor in America to dare a “look under the hood” of a voting machine, to see if the machines were recording votes properly and if they could be hacked. ” I sanctioned the first investigation of a voting system without the vendor’s authorization,” Sancho recalls.Full Article: CBS4 Investigates: Does Your Vote Count? « CBS Miami.
Connecticut’s Republican Party asked the state’s highest court on Wednesday to give GOP candidates the top line on the state’s November ballot, a challenge that could affect voting in the closely watched contest for an open U.S. Senate seat. The outcome of the governor’s race determines which party holds the first line. But state Republicans argued the secretary of the state was wrong to list Democrats first because their candidate, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, relied on votes from a third party to put him over the top in the 2010 election. Since lever voting machines have been replaced with optical scan machines, both sides in dispute say it matters less which party is on the top line of ballots. But academics say recent studies have demonstrated ballot order can make a small yet significant difference.Full Article: Connecticut Supreme Court hears ballot-line issue - Norwich, CT - The Bulletin.