paper ballot

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Editorials: The malware election: Returning to paper ballots only way to prevent hacking | Lulu Friesdat/The Hill

The key takeaway of special counsel Robert S. Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election was that “There were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election … and that allegation deserves the attention of every American.” But with so much attention on what happened in 2016, we have lost much of the time available to protect the 2020 election. This was immediately apparent recently at DEF CON, one of the largest hacker conventions on the planet. The conference, where tens of thousands of hackers descend on the pseudo-glamourous “pleasure pit” that is Las Vegas, includes the Voting Village, a pop-up research lab with an array of U.S. voting equipment available for security researchers to compromise. They were terrifyingly successful. High school hackers and security professionals united to take control of almost every voting system in the room, most of it currently in use around the U.S. They found systems with no passwords, no encryption, and operating systems so old that young hackers often had no previous experience with them. That did not prevent them from completely dominating the machines. They accessed USB, compact flash and ethernet ports that were glaringly unprotected, and then proceeded to play video games and run pink cat graphics across the screens of ballot-marking devices and voter registration database systems.

Full Article: The malware election: Returning to paper ballots only way to prevent hacking | TheHill.

Editorials: Guess which ballot costs less and is more secure– paper or electronic? | Kevin Skoglund and Christopher Deluzio/PennLive

Pennsylvania’s counties are choosing new voting systems, with implications for the security, reliability, and auditability of elections across the commonwealth and beyond. Our organizations’ analysis of county selections reveals that several have decided to purchase expensive electronic machines with security challenges over the better option: hand-marked paper ballots. Pennsylvania—where vulnerable paperless machines have been the norm—needs new paper-based voting systems. But not all systems are the same. The main choice counties face is the style of voting and polling place configuration. They can have most voters mark a paper ballot with a pen and offer a touchscreen computer to assist some voters (a ballot-marking device or “BMD”). Or they can have all voters use touchscreen computers to generate a ballot (an all-BMD configuration). The hardware in each configuration is often the same, but this fundamental choice creates significant differences. In fact, our analysis shows that many counties have chosen the all-BMD configuration and are paying a hefty sum for it—twice as much per voter as counties that selected systems that rely principally on voters hand-marking their ballots. Pricier electronic systems also carry greater security risks and make it harder for voters to verify their ballots before casting.

Full Article: Guess which ballot costs less and is more secure-- paper or electronic? | Opinion - pennlive.com.

Pennsylvania: Most Pennsylvania counties pick paper ballots | John Finnerty/CHNI

Counties buying voting machines that allow voters to fill out paper ballots are paying half what counties buying tablet-based voting technology are paying, according to an analysis released Thursday by the University of Pittsburgh. Researchers examined the costs paid by 31 counties for voting machines, as counties across the state move to replace their election equipment before the 2020 presidential election. In total, the counties are calculated to spend $69 million on those systems. The state has told the counties to replace their voting machines with new equipment that provide a paper record of votes cast before the 2020 presidential election. That move was prompted by a settlement to a lawsuit filed by former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein after the 2016 election.

Full Article: Most Pa. counties pick paper ballots | News | sharonherald.com.

National: States and localities are on the front lines of fighting cyber-crimes in elections | Elaine Kamarck/Brookings

When it comes to fighting illegal intrusions into American elections, the states and localities are where the rubber meets the road—that is where American elections are administered. This authority is grounded in more than tradition; it derives from Article I, Section 4 of the Constitution. That section notes that while Congress has the authority to intervene in the setting of elections, election administration is largely a function of state and local government. Given this situation, election law and practice vary considerably from state to state, which leads to a number of ramifications. On the one hand, this decentralization makes it hard for a single cyberattack to take down the entire American election system. But having a fragmented system poses some disadvantages as well. Some states and localities are simply better equipped to protect against cyber intrusions than others, and an adversary seeking to sow doubt and confusion about the integrity of an election needs to compromise only a few parts of the entire system in order to undermine public confidence. The vulnerabilities in election administration exist at every step of the process, from the registration of voters, to the recruitment of poll workers for election day, to the books of registered voters at polling places, to the devices that capture and tally the vote, to the transmission of that data to a central place on election night and to the ability to execute an accurate recount. Every state and locality wants to run a fair election but they are limited by inadequate funding, the absence of trained personnel, and outdated technology.

Full Article: States and localities are on the front lines of fighting cyber-crimes in elections.

Georgia: Judge denies paper ballots in Georgia this year but requires them in 2020 | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A federal judge ruled Thursday that Georgia voters can cast ballots on the state’s “unsecure, unreliable and grossly outdated” electronic voting machines one last time, deciding it would be too disruptive to switch to paper ballots before this fall’s elections. But starting with next year’s presidential primary election, paper ballots will be required, according to the ruling by U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg. Her order barred the state from using its current electronic voting machines after this year’s elections.Election officials are already planning to upgrade the state’s voting system by buying $107 million in new equipment that will use a combination of touchscreens and printed-out paper ballots to check the accuracy of election results.If the state’s new voting system isn’t completely rolled out to all 159 counties in time for the March 24 presidential primary, Totenberg ruled that voters must use paper ballots filled out by hand. “Georgia’s current voting equipment, software, election and voter databases are antiquated, seriously flawed and vulnerable to failure, breach, contamination and attack,” Totenberg wrote. Totenberg wrote it would be “unwise” to immediately discard the state’s 17-year-old voting machines, which lack paper ballots that could be used to check the accuracy of election results. She wrote that it could be “a recipe for disaster” to force resistant election officials to switch to hand-marked paper ballots this year while they’re also transitioning to the state’s new voting system. Her 153-page ruling clears the way for 386 local elections to move forward as planned this fall, including votes for the Atlanta school board, the Fulton County Commission and city councils across the state.

Full Article: Judge rules against immediate switch to paper ballots in Georgia.

Editorials: Security improvements for South Carolina elections are welcome news | Charleston| Post and Courier

South Carolina’s new voting machines that leave a paper trail for audits and cannot be hacked remotely get their first workout Oct. 1 in a special election in Aiken County, and will be operable in all precincts around the state by November. But that’s not the only welcome improvement in the state’s election security. Others address training in cybersecurity for election workers and include frequent tests of the vulnerability of state systems to intrusion. These upgrades, a response to the ongoing threat posed by Russia and other foreign adversaries, are the product of a fruitful collaboration between the federal government and the states. The federal Election Assistance Commission provides an information clearinghouse for best practices and also certifies voting machines and associated hardware and software. The Department of Homeland Security keeps states up to date on the latest security threats. The states receive federal grants to help defray the added costs of enhanced security.

Full Article: Editorial: Security improvements for South Carolina elections are welcome news | Editorials | postandcourier.com.

National: Why paper is considered state-of-the-art voting technology | Karan Gambhir and Jack Karsten/Brookings

On June 27, the House passed a bill that would bolster America’s high-tech voting infrastructure with a low-tech fix: paper. Introduced by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-19), the SAFE Act requires that all voting machines involve “the use of an individual, durable, voter-verified paper ballot of the voter’s vote.” While the inclusion of paper ballots may seem like a technological step backward, the SAFE Act’s affinity for paper is not a quirk. Election security experts from Harvard, Stanford and the Brennan Center for Justice all recommend the phasing out of paperless voting, and twelve of the thirteen Democratic candidates who have declared a position on election security support mandating the use of paper ballots. Yet despite expert consensus, political activism, and availability of funding, opposition in the Republican-controlled Senate makes it unlikely that the SAFE Act or any paper ballot standard will be implemented by 2020. With no method to verify votes in the case of software or hardware failure, paperless voting machines represent a large vulnerability. Failure to act on election security risks not only a loss of trust in the next election, but in the democratic process as a whole.

Full Article: Why paper is considered state-of-the-art voting technology.

National: Senate Intelligence Committee report shows how electronic voting systems are inherently vulnerable to hackers. Fred Kaplan/Slate

Just hours after Senate Republicans blocked a vote on a bill to make elections less vulnerable to cyberattacks, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a 67-page report, concluding that, leading up to the 2016 election, Russians hacked voting machines and registration rolls in all 50 states, and they are likely still doing so. The heavily redacted document, based on a two-year investigation, found no evidence that the hackers altered votes or vote tallies, though it says they could have if they’d wanted to. However, three former senior U.S. intelligence officials with backgrounds in cybersecurity told me that the absence of evidence isn’t the same as the evidence of an absence. One of them said, “I doubt very much that any changes would be detectable. Certainly, the hackers would be able to cover any tracks. The Russians aren’t stupid.” Hacking individual voting machines would be an inefficient way to throw an election. But J. Alex Halderman, a computer scientist who has tested vulnerabilities for more than a decade, testified to the Senate committee that he and his team “created attacks that can spread from machine to machine, like a computer virus, and silently change election outcomes.” They studied touch-screen and optical-scan systems, and “in every single case,” he said, “we found ways for attackers to sabotage machines and steal votes.” Another way to throw an election might be to attack systems that manage voter-registration lists, which the hackers also did in some states. Remove people from the lists—focusing on areas dominated by members of the party that the hacker wants to lose—and they won’t be able to vote.

Full Article: Senate Intelligence Committee report shows how electronic voting systems are inherently vulnerable to hackers..

National: You can easily secure America’s e-voting systems tomorrow. Use paper – Bruce Schneier | The Register

While various high-tech solutions to secure electronic voting systems are being touted this week to election officials across the United States, according to infosec guru Bruce Schneier there is only one tried-and-tested approach that should be considered: pen and paper. It’s the only way to be sure hackers and spies haven’t delved in from across the web to screw with your vote. “Paper ballots are almost 100 per cent reliable and provide a voter-verifiable paper trail,” he told your humble Reg vulture and other hacks at Black Hat in Las Vegas on Thursday. “This isn’t hard or controversial. We use then all the time in Minnesota, and you make your vote and it’s easily tabulated.” The integrity of the election process depends on three key areas: the security of the voter databases that list who can vote; the electronic ballot boxes themselves, which Schneier opined were the hardest things to hack successfully; and the computers that tabulate votes and distribute this information.

Full Article: You can easily secure America's e-voting systems tomorrow. Use paper – Bruce Schneier • The Register.

Editorials: Scientific evidence and securing the vote: Verdict is in, now we need the funds | Michael D. Fernandez/The Hill

The Senate Intelligence Committee recently released its much-anticipated report on election security and Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Alongside the alarming insights regarding Russian interference, there are critical recommendations based on scientific evidence regarding the security of our voting process, including the replacement of “outdated and vulnerable voting systems.” In too many counties across the country, ballots are being cast on insecure electronic systems. These direct recording electronic systems record a voter’s selection directly to the machine’s memory and automatically tabulate votes. Many leave no physical record of the vote cast. Within the scientific community, there has been consistent alarm regarding the security vulnerabilities of these direct recording electronic systems. Just last year, the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine issued a report finding that paperless direct recording electronic machines are not secure and should be removed from service as soon as possible. The committee of computer science and cybersecurity experts, legal and election scholars, social scientists, and election officials concluded that local, state, and federal elections should be conducted using human-readable paper ballots, either marked by hand or machine. Every effort should be taken to ensure that direct recording electronic machines are removed from service prior to the 2020 election. Regardless of the vendor or configuration, direct recording electronic systems are fundamentally unverifiable. While hacking is the most discussed concern, these systems are also vulnerable to everyday coding mistakes or errors that could lead to the same inaccurate results as malicious hacking. To effectively safeguard public confidence in our elections and democracy, we must  ensure that every vote is counted accurately.

Full Article: Scientific evidence and securing the vote: Verdict is in, now we need the funds | TheHill.

Editorials: North Carolina should require that all voting machines produce a clear ballot | Raleigh News & Observer

t seems obvious that when North Carolina voters cast their vote they should see a paper ballot showing their selections. But one-third of North Carolina counties — including Mecklenburg, but not any in the Triangle — are still using touchscreen voting machines that leave the recorded vote unclear to the voter and vulnerable to outside manipulation. The General Assembly recognized those weaknesses in 2013 when it passed a law that will require all voting machines used in the 2020 election and beyond to generate a paper ballot. But this being North Carolina and the subject being voting, this basic safeguard is turning into a dispute. For counties that still want to use touchscreen technology, the board must certify which voting machines counties can purchase that will meet the paper ballot requirement. The five-member State Board of Elections is temporarily split between two Republicans and two Democrats because of last week’s resignation by former Board Chairman Bob Cordle, a Democrat. The two Republican members want to approve a touchscreen machine that generates a paper ballot that accompanies each selected candidate’s name with a bar code that is read by an electronic tabulator. The two Democrats want all voting machines to generate a paper ballot with “human-readable marks,” such as a filled-in bubble. The board will vote on the requirements at its next meeting on Aug. 23.

Full Article: NC should require that all voting machines produce a clear ballot | Raleigh News & Observer.

North Carolina: State elections board delays mandating readable election ballots | Emery P. Dalesio/Associated Press

The state elections board declined Thursday to decide whether the next generation of voting machines should be required to furnish a paper printout so voters can read and confirm their ballots. One-third of North Carolina’s 100 counties must replace their current touch-screen voting machines after this year’s elections. The counties buy the machines but only from those vendors approved by the state Elections Board. A decision shaping how ballots will be cast and counted for years to come could come at the board’s Aug. 23 meeting. Some voters, supported by elections board member Stella Anderson, want to add a new requirement that ballot machines “produce human readable marks on a paper ballot” allowing voters to confirm their “intent as evidence by the mark on the ballot.”

Full Article: North Carolina delays mandating readable election ballots - Fairfield Citizen.

National: Bring Back Paper Ballots: Senate Intelligence Committee report shows how electronic voting systems are inherently vulnerable to hackers. | Fred Kaplan/Slate

Just hours after Senate Republicans blocked a vote on a bill to make elections less vulnerable to cyberattacks, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a 67-page report, concluding that, leading up to the 2016 election, Russians hacked voting machines and registration rolls in all 50 states, and they are likely still doing so. The heavily redacted document, based on a two-year investigation, found no evidence that the hackers altered votes or vote tallies, though it says they could have if they’d wanted to. However, three former senior U.S. intelligence officials with backgrounds in cybersecurity told me that the absence of evidence isn’t the same as the evidence of an absence. One of them said, “I doubt very much that any changes would be detectable. Certainly, the hackers would be able to cover any tracks. The Russians aren’t stupid.” Hacking individual voting machines would be an inefficient way to throw an election. But J. Alex Halderman, a computer scientist who has tested vulnerabilities for more than a decade, testified to the Senate committee that he and his team “created attacks that can spread from machine to machine, like a computer virus, and silently change election outcomes.” They studied touch-screen and optical-scan systems, and “in every single case,” he said, “we found ways for attackers to sabotage machines and steal votes.”

Full Article: Senate Intelligence Committee report shows how electronic voting systems are inherently vulnerable to hackers..

Georgia: Judge could order Georgia to make interim voting system fix | Kate Brumback/Associated Press

Georgia allowed its election system to grow “way too old and archaic” and now has a deep hole to dig out of to ensure that the constitutional right to vote is protected, according to U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg. Now Totenberg is in the difficult position of having to decide whether the state, which plans to implement a new voting system statewide next year, must immediately abandon its outdated voting machines in favor of an interim solution for special and municipal elections to be held this fall. Election integrity advocates and individual voters sued Georgia election officials in 2017 alleging that the touchscreen voting machines the state has used since 2002 are unsecure and vulnerable to hacking. They’ve asked Totenberg to order the state to immediately switch to hand-marked paper ballots. But lawyers for state election officials and for Fulton County, the state’s most populous county that includes most of Atlanta, argued that the state is in the process of implementing a new system, and it would be too costly, burdensome and chaotic to use an interim system for elections this fall and then switch to the new permanent system next year.

Full Article: Judge could order Georgia to make interim voting system fix | Federal News Network.

India: Revert to ballot papers, demand activists | Manan Kumar/DNA

A large number of civil rights groups including National Alliance for People’s Movement (NAPM) and Nation for Farmers (NFF) along with several political parties have decided to launch a nationwide people’s movement on August 9 to reject Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and bring back paper ballot in elections. “We will be starting it on the eve of Quit India movement with the slogan “EVM Bharat Chhodo, Ballot Paper Vapis Lao,” said Dr. Sunilam, convenor of NAPM. The two-day meeting participated by representatives of political parties discussed the shocking 2019 elections results that paled even the election results of 1977 when anger was at its height against the Indira Gandhi government.

Full Article: Revert to ballot papers, demand activists.

Pennsylvania: The paper chase: On the trail of new voting machines | Jodine Mayberry/Delco Times

Dolores Shelton brought the house down. “The younger generation came out of the womb knowing how to do this,” the longtime Chester activist and poll worker said, jabbing the air as if she were navigating a cellphone. “Some of us have been out (of the womb) a long time so you need to keep things simple. It’s hard enough to get people to come out and vote.” And what she said next brought applause, cheers and nearly a standing ovation at Tuesday afternoon’s public forum on voting machines. “We need more help. We used to work for nothing. Now when you ask someone to work the polls, the first thing they say is ‘How much does it pay?’” (Hint: not enough.) It was amazing that County Council and the election board managed to get more than 200 people – standing room only in the County Council meeting room – to come out at 4 o’clock on a weekday afternoon for a discussion of voting machines. Who knew anybody cared that much about what kind of machine the county chooses to replace our current touch screen system, especially since the ones being offered are so similar?

Full Article: Jodine Mayberry: The paper chase: On the trail of new voting machines | Opinion | delcotimes.com.

National: Three states responsible for half of all paperless e-voting machines in 2018, survey finds | Derek B. Johnson/FCW

Lawmakers and election security experts have focused much of their energies over the past two years on doing away with paperless Direct Recording Electronic voting machines. While such machines are not inherently more vulnerable to being hacked than other types of voting equipment, information security experts say they represent a unique threat because if compromised, they have no backup paper trail that officials can use in audits to detect discrepancies and determine an accurate vote count. Survey results from the Election Assistance Commission showed that just three states — Pennsylvania, Georgia and Texas — were responsible for more than half of all DRE voting machines without voter verified paper trails used across the nation in 2018. The latest Election Administration and Voting Survey released June 27 also showed that 202,599 of the nation’s 334,422 voting machines used in the 2018 election were DRE machines. About one third (67,535) of those machines had paper backups in place, but 135,064 did not.

Full Article: Three states responsible for half of all paperless e-voting machines in 2018, survey finds -- FCW.

India: Activists write open letter to parties, seek all future elections be held with paper ballots | The Times of India

A group of activists Thursday jointly demanded that all elections in the country in future should be held with paper ballots, following reports of alleged irregularities in functioning and transport of electronic voting machines during the recent Lok Sabha polls. At a press conference here, the activists from different organisation also released an ‘open letter’ addressed to political parties, saying, “The opposition parties should raise the matter with the electoral authorities.” Activist and poet Gauhar Raza, former DUTA chief Nandita Narain, JNUSU president N Sai Balaji, AISA Delhi president Kawalpreet Kaur and Shabnam Hashmi, among others, cited various incidents reported during the Lok Sabha polls. “There were reports of several EVMs being left unattended, or many voters complaining about malfunctioning of EVMs. Then, there was a debate over counting of VVPATs. The elections left several doubts in our minds,” Kaur told reporters.

Full Article: Activists write open letter to parties, seek all future elections be held with paper ballots | India News - Times of India.

India: Satara MP demands re-election using ballot papers | Anagha Deshpande/The Hindu

Nationalist Congress Party MP from Satara Udayanraje Bhosale on Monday voiced support for the ballot paper voting system as against the Electronic Voting Machine, which has been mired in controversy following multiple allegations of rigging. Mr. Bhosale’s statement comes days after Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi president Prakash Ambedkar announced he would be taking the issue to court. Saying that the EVM process was ‘manipulative’, Mr. Bhosale said that a difference of 672 votes was observed between the votes cast and votes counted in constituencies like Wai, Koregaon, Karad, Patan and Satara. “The statistics are there for everyone to see. It is clear that something was wrong with the entire election process. I don’t know why they call the EVMs fool-proof,” Mr. Bhosale said.

Full Article: Satara MP demands re-election using ballot papers - The Hindu.

North Carolina: Bill to spare DRE voting machines advances | Taft Wireback/Greensboro News & Revord

State legislators approved a bill Wednesday that could delay an estimated $8 million expense for Guilford County by giving its voting machines a temporary reprieve. The state House voted unanimously for HB 19, which would open the door for Guilford, Forsyth, Alamance and other counties to keep using “Direct Record Electronic” voting machines through the next general election. The current deadline for using such machines is December, which Guilford election officials estimate could cost the county about $8 million in the midst of a lean budget year. The new measure does not name Guilford specifically — or any other county — but it gives local officials statewide the option of asking their county election staff to seek a reprieve from the state Board of Elections in Raleigh.

Full Article: Bill to spare Guilford-style voting machines advances | Local News | greensboro.com.