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Editorials: In order to prevent another voting debacle, turn to paper balloting | Lee C. Bollinger and Michael A. McRobbie/The Boston Globe

The Nevada caucuses may have skirted the chaos of Iowa and overcome last-minute fears that the use of new technology would lead to another voting fiasco. As such, we can all let out a collective sigh. But it would be a big mistake to double down on the fortunate outcome in Nevada and believe that what happened in Iowa will stay in Iowa. Iowa saw voting tallies delayed for days, in part, because of technological failure, specifically a not-ready-for-prime-time app. Helped by what seems a more decisive outcome, Nevada quickly declared a winner, but not before scrambling to bring in extra manpower and other resources to run its own complex caucus. Though Iowa-like errors and inconsistencies may yet be found in the Nevada count, there appears to be no evidence of malicious cyber activity in either state. Still, the nation’s first two caucuses heavily underscored the continued challenges and vulnerability of our election systems. They also suggested we may still not properly recognize the urgency of protecting this critical component of American democracy. More than three years after members of Congress and the American public learned about widespread Russian intrusion into our election infrastructure, our nation’s elections are still at major risk of being compromised. And, as Iowa clearly demonstrated, new technologies do not yet pose the answer.

Full Article: In order to prevent another voting debacle, turn to paper balloting - The Boston Globe.

Rhode Island: After Iowa fiasco, is Rhode Island’s voting tech ready for Primary Day? | John Krinjak/WLNE

Who knew a smartphone app could grind a caucus to a halt? Earlier this month in Iowa, it took days for Democratic officials to figure out who won. Here in Rhode Island, that fiasco is raising some eyebrows. “Any time there is a problem in an election in the United States, it’s troubling,” said Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea. With our primary coming up on April 28th, Gorbea wants to reassure concerned voters. “They might mistakenly believe that’s what’s happening in Iowa, could happen in Rhode Island, when it can’t. they have a completely different system. They have caucuses, we have primaries, and we are really well set up for our primary,” said Gorbea. She says Rhode Island is taking steps to make sure it all goes off without a hitch. “Every day until Primary Day and beyond, the state-whether it be the board of canvassers or at the state board of elections or in my office-we will all be working to make sure that that primary election happens smoothly,” said Gorbea.

Full Article: After Iowa fiasco, is RI's voting tech ready for Primary Day? - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather.

Florida: Florida’s best election security measure? Paper ballots. Nationally? It’s more complicated. | Christopher Heath/WFTV

Lessons learned from the 2016 election and the 2020 caucus in Iowa show it doesn’t take much to disrupt the ballot counting process. But in Florida, the best protection offered against election issues is simple, Orange County Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles said. “Every voter in Florida votes on paper,” Cowles said. For voters, that paper trail provides a sense of security. “(In) 2016 we all learned about elections and hacking,” Cowles said. Since then, Florida’s elections offices have been working overtime to protect the process by placing the voter registration database and ballot tabulation systems on separate servers.

Full Article: Florida’s best election security measure? Paper ballots. Nationally? It’s more complicated..

Editorials: Paper ballots still the best election system | Medford Mail Tribune

Sometimes, the old ways are still the best ways. We would argue that especially applies to election systems, despite continuing pressure to offer voters the option of casting ballots using smartphones or other devices. Jackson County is one of two Oregon counties that experimented with a smartphone app that allowed county residents overseas — most of them in the military — to vote in the Nov. 5, 2019, special election. Of 213 Jackson County voters eligible to participate, only 27 did. One reason could have been that the November ballot had only one item on it — a proposed bond levy to upgrade the county’s emergency communications system. Maybe a full ballot would have enticed more county voters stationed overseas to use the smartphone app. Maybe not. But the turnout isn’t the primary concern here. Anything that gives voters more options to participate is a good thing, in theory. In practice, voting systems that use the internet to transmit votes are inherently more vulnerable to hackers seeking to manipulate the outcome. They are also more likely to simply fail to perform as designed.

Full Article: Paper ballots still the best election system | Wire Commentary | heraldandnews.com.

New Hampshire: Why did the primary go smoothly with record turnout? Low tech is good tech | Geoff Forester and David Brooks/Concord Monitor

A nationally known computer hacker, a term he wears proudly, helped keep an eye on New Hampshire’s primary Tuesday but says you didn’t need computer smarts to see that it went well. “One big thing is no lines. When you go around the United States, usually the first thing you see if there are problems are long lines of people who can’t get to vote,” said Harri Hursti, a cybersecurity analyst who founded DefCon, the nation’s best-known gathering of people interested in computer security. Hursti has worked with the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s office since about 2005, when he met Secretary of State Bill Gardner at a conference. His presence here for Tuesday’s primary was of particular importance because of the meltdown of the Iowa caucuses caused largely by the use of an untested app. During a discussion Wednesday morning as election officials completed counting votes from around the state he was almost effusive about how things went.

Full Article: Why did the primary go smoothly with record turnout? Low tech is good tech.

Kansas: Senate panel considers bill requiring paper ballots in Kansas elections | Sydney Hoover/The Topeka Capital-Journal

The Senate Ethics, Elections and Local Government committee heard testimony Wednesday on a bill that would require all Kansas counties to use paper ballots to count votes. Ballots would have several requirements, including the voter’s signature. Votes would be counted by hand or using vote-tabulating equipment that would tally the paper ballot. “At one time, everything was paper ballots, but now Kansas currently has a mix,” said Sen. Richard Hildebrand, R-Baxter Springs. “Once you cast your ballot, you are up to whatever the machine says you voted without the verification from the voter.” Hildebrand said the bill would eliminate the chance of issues such as those during the Iowa caucuses, where a faulty mobile application failed to transmit votes and caused a delay in results.

Full Article: Senate panel considers bill requiring paper ballots in Kansas elections - News - The Topeka Capital-Journal - Topeka, KS.

New Hampshire: Windsor’s Oak Voting Machine Still Works After Only 130 Years (Eat Your Heart Out Iowa) | Paula Tracy/InDepthNH

There “ain’t no app” to mess up voting in this town of 122 registered voters. Just an oak ballot box that since 1892 has been collecting the paper ballots on election day with a hand crank. Yup, it’s still used today. Then the ballots are counted by hand. On the 100th anniversary of the New Hampshire Primary, Secretary of State William Gardner stopped by in the tiny town of Windsor to see the box, with its hand-cut dovetail corners. It dings happily as Pat Hines, election moderator, feeds each ballot into the antique box, still with its original hardware intact. By noon, 18 of the town’s 122 registered voters had come by and added two new ones in same-day voting. Perhaps some of the success for the primary and its 100 years has to do with flinty, thrifty Yankee towns like Windsor who decided the wood box and paper did not need to be updated and have stuck with the tried and true.

Full Article: Windsor's Oak Voting Machine Still Works After Only 130 Years (Eat Your Heart Out Iowa) - InDepthNH.orgInDepthNH.org.

New Hampshire: How New Hampshire votes: Pencils and paper | Ben Popken/NBC News

New Hampshire’s election system is decidedly old school: paper ballots hand-marked by voters. That’s mostly a good thing, election technology experts told NBC News. After Iowa’s caucuses were thrown off in part due to a faulty smartphone app, election technology is now the focus of national scrutiny. But like any election system, New Hampshire’s isn’t bulletproof. Aging equipment and a few tweaks to its system for 2020 still present opportunities for confusion or disruption for Tuesday’s vote. When asked about his state’s election security during a meeting of the state’s Ballot Law Commission before the 2018 midterms, New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner held up a pencil. “Want me to give it to you and see if you can hack this pencil?” Gardner said. “We have this pencil. This is how people vote in this state. And you can’t hack this pencil.” The biggest immediate difference between the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary is in the format itself. Iowa uses a caucus system in which people physically and publicly line up and go through rounds of “realignment” depending on which candidates receive enough support. New Hampshire, like most other states, uses a primary, in which voters largely cast secret paper ballots, as in the general election.

Full Article: How New Hampshire votes: Pencils and paper.

New Hampshire: Primary might be the most technophobic election in the country. | Aaron Mak/Slate

There will be no app malfunctions during the New Hampshire primary for one simple reason: There will be no apps. In the troubled aftermath of the Iowa caucuses, officials in charge of the state’s elections on Tuesday are touting their stubbornly analog approach to voting. Rather than overhauling polling places with mobile apps and voting machines, the Granite State has long opted to stick with democracy’s old faithfuls: pencils and paper ballots. According to officials, not only does the state’s electoral Luddism result in fewer glitches, but it also acts as an old-school cybersecurity measure. “You can’t hack a pencil” has become something of a catchphrase for New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner in the run-up to the primary. Most polling places in New Hampshire use printed voting registration lists, instead of tablets and laptops, to check people in (poll workers in North Carolina, in contrast, recently had trouble with getting poll books to function on laptops). People then receive a paper ballot, though voters with disabilities can use voting machines, as is required by federal law. The machines, however, ultimately mark a physical ballot. The ballots then go through optical scanners that have all their external ports except for the one for power disabled, and which are programmed by computers disconnected from the internet.

Full Article: New Hampshire primary might be the most technophobic election in the country..

Editorials: The Iowa disaster makes it clear that we should stick to doing things the old fashioned way | The Washington Post

It’s 2020. Should Americans really still be voting with pen and paper? The answer, amplified by this week’s meltdown in Iowa, is a resounding “yes.” The inaugural Democratic primary caucuses were thrown into disarray after the state’s vote-recording app imploded. Volunteers struggled to download the largely untested product, or to upload their counts onto it once they’d managed to get in. On top of that, what state party officials called a “coding issue” caused the program to spit out incorrect numbers even when results were successfully input. The one bit of good news amid all the bad: There’s a paper trail. Because precinct captains kept handwritten tallies of the outcome, voters can expect a reliable analog answer in the end — no matter how dysfunctional the digital system that delayed it. Election security experts have been insisting on backup paper ballots for votes everywhere, though it’s likely eight states will still be paperless come November’s presidential race. They’ve also been insisting that officials use the backups to conduct what are called risk-limiting audits: hand counts of a sample of all votes to make sure the computers have gotten it right.

Full Article: The Iowa disaster makes it clear that we should stick to doing things the old fashioned way - The Washington Post.

India: What India can learn from the clamour for paper ballots in the US | Mala Jay/National Herald

The United States, the world’s most developed nation, is having serious problems with its electronic voting system that India cannot afford to ignore. The last few days have been so traumatic in the state of Iowa that it has triggered demands for a total manual recount and for a return to the “good old paper ballot”. Just three headlines in influential newspapers convey the message.  One says: “Don’t entrust Democracy to the Techies”. The other says: “The Iowa election fiasco proved one thing:  over-reliance on electronic machines in the election process makes Democracy more opaque”. The third was a plaintive cry:  “Please let’s go back to paper voting”. What happened during counting of votes in Iowa on Monday can be summed up in three words – Spectacular Software Glitch. Just like what the Election Commission of India keeps repeating, those in charge of the primary election in the State of Iowa had claimed that the electronic voting system was “fail-safe” and “tamper-proof”. But some of America’s leading politicians – like Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, all of whom are feverishly trying to win the nomination to become the Democratic Party candidate against Donald Trump in the US presidential election in November – were stunned when the results of Monday’s election caucus were withheld because a computer application crashed.

Full Article: What India can learn from the clamour for paper ballots in the US .

Editorials: Verifying caucus votes is easy. Iowa could have been much worse. | Edward W. Felten /The Washington Post

On Monday night, political enthusiasts across America waited for votes in the Iowa caucuses to be tabulated. And waited. And waited some more. Because of an ill-designed and poorly tested app, precinct captains couldn’t transmit their vote totals to the tabulators. This was embarrassing for Democratic Party officials and their technology vendor, but it was far from the worst thing that could have happened. In the end, the results will be tabulated correctly. Democracy worked, if a bit more slowly than some might have preferred. But a much bigger failure is still possible, and we’re still not properly prepared for it. The good news is that the problem in Iowa manifested in the tabulation of votes across precincts, which is the easiest part of an election to secure. There was ample public evidence of the vote count in each precinct: Voters filled out paper ballots, and precinct captains conducted public head counts. The rest — adding up votes and calculating delegate counts — is just arithmetic that candidates, journalists and citizens can replicate for themselves. The count went on, it just went didn’t go on as quickly as expected. What we need most from our election systems is resilience. Even in the absence of a cyberattack, things will go wrong. A resilient system can detect problems, recover and reconstruct the accurate result from solid evidence. That’s what we saw in Iowa. Voters made their intentions clear, and the in-precinct paper ballot count was low-tech and public — as resilient as one could hope for. When something went wrong, officials fell back to a verifiable solution. The system worked, even if the app didn’t.

Full Article: Verifying caucus votes is easy. Iowa could have been much worse. - The Washington Post.

National: In a bid for better security, elections are going analog | Christian Buckler/Marketplace

ary Scott can tell you a lot about the internet. Or rather, how little of it his machines are connected to. “There’s always some barrier between these machines and any online systems,” said Scott, the general registrar and director of elections for Fairfax County, Virginia. Standing next to one of several DS200 voting machines set up for training purposes in the Office of Elections in Fairfax County, he emphasized that none of the fleet of voting machines he oversees have ever been connected to the internet. Neither have any of the computers used to program them, nor the machines that will receive the final vote count. The most surprising piece of technology involved in Fairfax’s voting approach might well be the oldest one: paper. “We got a lot of resistance from the public because they wanted to know why we were going ‘backwards’ to paper, but it’s a much more secure method of doing it,” Scott said.  Fairfax County initiated a move toward paper ballots years before Virginia decertified paperless voting machines across the state, aligning with the latest shifts in thinking about election security—both in the U.S. and abroad. The embrace of paper by districts like Fairfax marks a change in the nationwide trend toward electronic voting infrastructure that can be traced back to the Help America Vote Act of 2002.

Full Article: In a bid for better security, elections are going analog - Marketplace.

National: Pennsylvania voting debacle gives ammunition to paper ballot push | Joseph Marks/The Washington Post

Massive voting machine failures in a Pennsylvania county in November are giving election security advocates fresh ammunition to call for nationwide paper ballots. The problems, which may have been caused by a software glitch, resulted in some Northampton County residents who tried to vote straight-ticket Democrat initially registering as straight-ticket Republican. It also incorrectly showed a Republican judicial candidate winning by a nearly statistically impossible margin, the New York Times’ Nick Corasaniti reports. In this case, voters got lucky. The county had paper backups for all the votes the machine counted incorrectly. They showed the Democrat judicial candidate Abe Kassis — who the computer tally said got just 164 votes out of 55,000 ballots — actually narrowly won the race. But about 16 million Americans spread across eight states won’t have a paper backup for their votes in 2020. That means a similar software glitch or a malicious hack by Russia or another U.S. adversary could cause mass uncertainty about an election’s outcome or even result in the wrong candidate taking office. Even in Pennsylvania, it could have been different. The machines that malfunctioned in November were just purchased this year in response to a statewide mandate to upgrade to new voting machines with paper records.

Full Article: The Cybersecurity 202: Pennsylvania voting debacle gives ammunition to paper ballot push - The Washington Post.

Mississippi: Paper ballots offer extra election security | Caleb Bedillion/Daily Journal

Amid ongoing anxiety about election hacking and foreign interference, Lee County continues to use what many experts deem the most secure voting system: the paper ballot. In Mississippi, the bulk of the state’s 82 counties use fully electronic voting systems. But about a dozen or so counties use paper ballots. And that number is increasing. “The shift is we’re going back,” said Lee County Circuit Clerk Camille Roberts Dulaney. A Republican about to begin her second term, Dulaney said hand-marked ballots build voter confidence and ensure the integrity of the election. “It just feels safer to me,” Dulaney said. In North Mississippi, Choctaw County is among those exploring a return to a system that incorporates paper ballots. With touch-screen machines nearing the end of their life, the county tested new machines this year that produced a paper ballot. “We wanted to know if there was something new,” said Deputy Circuit Clerk Linda Miles. The county used machines built by VotingWorks, which provided them free of charge to test in this year’s statewide primary and general elections.

Full Article: Paper ballots offer extra election security | Local News | djournal.com.

Editorials: Hand-marked Paper Ballots: How this Tried-and-True Method Makes Us More Secure | Bennie J. Smith/Memphis Commercial Appeal

In 2016, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg shared a photo on Instagram (owned by Facebook) to celebrate Instagram’s historic milestone of reaching 500 million users. Though Zuckerberg was excited to share his company’s success, headlines instead focused on the unintended revelation that his laptop’s webcam and mic were covered with tape. As one of the greatest high-tech inventors, he knows the dangers of modern technology and reveals his simple low-tech method of protection from hackers. One thing is clear, he doesn’t blindly trust technology, and neither should you.We’ve blindly trusted voting technology until it recently came under intense scrutiny. Many technologists, concerned citizens and others now want to replace voting machines with hand-marked paper ballots to record our votes. Combined with post-election audits, these low-tech methods provide evidence that voters’ choices were counted correctly when tabulated. If you think about it, paper marked by a human is immune to any virus since no computer is involved. It’s your starting line in an election, with its most important fact (true voter intent) undeniably created by you. Your available choices and who you chose are both verifiable and documented. Voters unable to mark a ballot by hand will need ballot-marking device choices.

Full Article: Shelby County voting machines elections computers errors.

Texas: Paper-Based Voting Takes Hold in Texas | Erin Anderson/Texas Scorecard

This November, Texas voters may be less surprised by what’s on their ballots than by what their ballots look like. Dozens of counties across the state—including Collin, Dallas, and Tarrant—are rolling out brand-new, “hybrid” voting systems that combine paper-based and electronic balloting. With hybrid systems, voters use an electronic touch screen to mark paper ballots, which are then counted using a separate tabulating machine. Voters can confirm their selections on paper before scanning their ballots for electronic counting, and election officials have a paper record to use for audits and recounts. Electronic ballot-marking eliminates stray marks and over-votes (marking more than one choice in a race) that can make it difficult or impossible to interpret a voter’s intent. The systems include multiple security features and are not connected to the internet. “Russia cannot tie into this voting equipment,” Collin County Elections Administrator Bruce Sherbet said at a training class for election workers last week, adding that the rollout has been very smooth during early voting.

Full Article: Paper-Based Voting Takes Hold in Texas - Texas Scorecard.

National: Cybersecurity and Democracy Collide: Locking Down Elections | Andrew Westrope/Governing

When asked at a congressional hearing if Russia would attack U.S. election systems again in 2020, Special Counsel Robert Mueller was unequivocal: “It wasn’t a single attempt,” he said. “They’re doing it as we sit here, and they expect to do it during the next campaign.” Presidential campaigns are now underway, and election systems are still vulnerable. From voter registration databases to result-reporting websites to the voting machines themselves, researchers have identified soft spots across the system for hackers to exploit, meaning cybersecurity is now a front line of defense for American democracy. There are many parties working on this problem — secretaries of state, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), EI-ISAC (Elections Infrastructure Information Sharing and Analysis Center), various nonprofits and private companies — and a few common refrains between them. They’re all pushing for paper ballots, vulnerability screenings, staff training, contingency plans, audits and, above all, more consistent funding. And they all have the same basic message for state and local officials: The security of our elections is riding on you.

Full Article: Cybersecurity and Democracy Collide: Locking Down Elections.

Editorials: A bipartisan idea to secure elections: paper backup of electronic votes | Dallas Morning News

Our elections must be secure. And just as important as the integrity of our ballot boxes is voter trust in that integrity. In an age of political division, this is something we agree on across political lines here in Texas. We know that’s true because the Texas Lyceum’s annual poll, just released, showed that 84% of respondents said it is important to ensure ineligible voters are prevented from voting, and 92% said it’s important to ensure that all eligible voters are permitted to vote. We would like to see both of those numbers at 100%, but this is an imperfect world, and we accept these powerful majorities as a statement that Texans understand the importance of the ballot box. A troubling element did emerge from the poll. Just 62% of respondents say they are confident that the voting system in Texas is secure from hacking and other technological threats. Here again, Texans get it right. Few of us are naive enough now to think that electronic ballots are not vulnerable.

Full Article: Electronic voting isn't enough. We need a paper trail.

Editorials: Paper ballots are essential to securing our elections and our democracy | Lee C. Bollinger and Michael A. McRobbie/The Hill

Public confidence in the integrity and security of our elections is essential for democracy to be a trusted means of governing, and that very confidence is now under unprecedented attack by foreign adversaries. A newly released report from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, as well as recent congressional testimony by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, indicated that in 2016 Russia attempted intrusions into the election infrastructure of all 50 states. In one of the most dramatic moments of his testimony, Mueller said that Russia is at it again “as we sit here.” With just 15 months until the next round of major state and federal elections, and as Congress continues to debate the sources of and steps to combat the cyberattacks, it is sobering to consider the effect that a deep erosion of public confidence in the election process could have. It would be devastating to Americans’ faith in our democracy and the legitimacy of our elected government. For these reasons, state and federal leaders must act with urgency to secure our elections. As co-chairs of the committee convened in 2016 by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine to address voting security, we concluded that the nation should immediately take three actions to strengthen the safeguards for election systems against the mounting cyberthreats.

Full Article: Paper ballots are essential to securing our elections and our democracy | TheHill.