Activists are pushing for South Carolina to adopt a paper-ballot election system. Several called for the change at the S.C. State House Wednesday, a day after the state Election Commission requested $60 million from the Legislature to buy new voting machines. “Our central mission is to make government work,” said Holley Ulbrich, president of the League of Women Voters of South Carolina, “so we have to make sure we have a voting system with optically scanned paper ballots that is faster, easier and unhackable.” A paper system would replace the current touchscreen-only voting machines that South Carolina has used since 2004. Those machines have been criticized as error prone and vulnerable to hacking. “These machines are older than the iPhone,” said ACLU of S.C. director Shaundra Young Scott. “We want to show citizens can trust the system, and that South Carolina is a progressive state.”
Today, Georgia’s “Secure, Accessible, and Fair Elections (SAFE) Commission” delivered to the state legislature a final recommendation for new, more reliable election equipment. I was honored to serve as a cybersecurity expert for the SAFE Commission to help improve a process at the very core of democracy – secure elections and the right to a private vote. However, I ultimately chose to vote against the Commission’s final report even though we agreed on many points. Below is a summary of everything I believe Georgia must consider going forward. The SAFE Commission was charged with studying options for Georgia’s next voting system, and our discussions focused heavily on which type of voting equipment to use at physical polling places, risks to election security and hacking methods, concerns for voter accessibility at physical polls, and intergovernmental coordination. State legislators next will review and ultimately determine which new election system to adopt, which new processes to enact or change, and how best to appropriate funds for purchase, maintenance, staffing, training, and voter education.
Along with a new Georgia election system, a government panel is also proposing changes to state laws intended to make voting easier and more accurate. The panel, appointed by Gov.-elect Brian Kemp last summer, voted Thursday to recommend that the General Assembly revise how the state handles recounts, absentee ballots and election audits.
Philadelphia needs new voting machines, and they need them fast. But before officials settle on a new device, they are asking for the public’s input. Gov. Tom Wolf wants every county throughout the state to purchase a voting system with a verifiable paper trail, and officials in Philadelphia want their system to be in place by year’s end. “Security experts say that the best kind of machine is something that is air gapped from the Internet. They found that hand marked paper ballots are the best and that’s because there’s very little technology between the voter and the actual vote,” said Tim Brown, who joined a dozen other Philadelphians Thursday to give their suggestions on what they want from a new voting system at a Philadelphia City Commissioners’ comment session.
Georgia: SAFE Commission recommends new voting machines, meeting to wrap up Thursday | Rome News Tribune
A state committee charged with recommending changes to Georgia’s voting machines is slated to hold its final meeting Thursday in Atlanta. The Secure, Accessible & Fair Elections Commission plans to take a final round of public comment before discussing recommendations that have come out of three meetings with voting rights advocates, cybersecurity experts, elections officials and vendors. Rep. Eddie Lumsden, R-Rome, said he expects action during the 2019 Georgia General Assembly session that starts Monday. Lumsden said he’s looked at the voting machine options being proposed, but he’s waiting for committee hearings in the Legislature to decide where he stands.
Georgia’s outdated and unverifiable electronic voting machines will likely be replaced next year with paper ballots. But lawmakers and voters are debating what kind of paper-based voting system will deliver the most accurate and trustworthy results. Once considered cutting-edge, the state’s 16-year-old electronic voting machines have come under fire because there’s no way to ensure they’re producing accurate outcomes. They lack an independent paper record that could check results stored on computers. The machines, put into service after contentious recounts in Florida during the 2000 presidential election, pose a “concrete risk” to the state’s elections, a federal judge ruled in September. Election results could be hacked if someone gained access to voting machines or government election computers, according to testimony from computing experts. Some voters reported that the machines flipped their votes from one candidate to another in November’s election for governor. And there were low vote totals in the lieutenant governor’s race, which a lawsuit blames on the voting machines.
Georgia: Voting Machine Panel Agrees Georgia Needs Paper Ballots By 2020, Disagrees On How To Mark Them | WABE
There was mostly cordial agreement Wednesday in the Macon office of Georgia’s Secretary of State about how the state’s elections should change. Democrats, Republicans, local election officials and one cybersecurity expert on a panel tasked with reviewing Georgia’s options for new voting machines were united. The state’s system should include a paper trail voters can check for themselves, it should be auditable, voter education should be a focus as the new machines are rolled out, and the new system should be in place before the 2020 presidential elections. “In the middle of a very contentious election year,” Republican state Sen. Brian Strickland said, “I love that we are a nonpartisan group that all have the exact same goal in mind, and that’s to make sure that we have a safe, secure and trustworthy election process where every person’s vote is counted.”
Georgia: Hand-Marked Ballots ‘Best Approach’ For New Voting Machines, Expert On Georgia Panel Says | WABE
It would be a “much less desirable approach” for Georgia’s next voting system to feature computers that mark paper ballots for voters based on their selections, according to the lone cybersecurity expert on a panel tasked with making recommendations for replacements to the state’s electronic-only machines. The co-executive director of Georgia Tech’s Institute for Information Security and Privacy, Wenke Lee, made his recommendation in a memo sent to the Secure, Accessible and Fair Elections (SAFE) Commission in October, and it was obtained by WABE this week. “The best approach,” Lee wrote, “is to require the voters to hand mark paper ballots that are scanned and tallied by cyber system but also dropped into a safe box. This is because marking each vote captures and verifies the voter’s intention in a single act.”
Georgia: A panel reviewing a new Georgia election system remains divided | The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A group responsible for vetting a more secure and trustworthy Georgia voting system struggled Wednesday to reach agreement over whether to pursue hand-marked paper ballots or touchscreen machines that print ballots. The group of election officials, state lawmakers, political party representatives and voters debated the state’s options to replace its 16-year-old electronic voting machines but didn’t make any decisions Wednesday. The Secure, Accessible & Fair Commission, created by Gov.-elect Brian Kemp last spring when he was secretary of state, plans to hold its final meeting in early January to make recommendations to the Georgia General Assembly. Though the commission failed to reach a consensus, its members heard overwhelming support from the public for hand-marked paper ballots, which voters would bubble in with a pen and then insert into scanning machines. Of 27 people who spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting, only one — a county elections director — said he wanted a system other than manually filled-in paper ballots.
Patrick McDaniel said elections in the United States have historically been fair and secure, but there are challenges. McDaniel is the Weiss Professor of Information and Communications Technology at Penn State and one of the organizers of the Symposium on Election Security, held Monday at the Penn Stater Conference Center. At a time when the integrity of elections is in the headlines, the conference drew experts and national leaders in election security. McDaniel said the more that can be done by the 2020 election, the better. That includes having voter-verified paper ballots used in all states.