Paper Ballots

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Editorials: Russia will be back. Here’s how to hack-proof the next election. | Tom Donilon/The Washington Post

We now know that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a comprehensive effort to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. This mission involved the cybertheft and strategic publication of politically sensitive emails, the placement and amplification of misinformation on social media, overt propaganda and efforts to penetrate the systems of dozens of state election authorities. … First, President Trump must unequivocally acknowledgeRussia’s attack on the 2016 election and clearly state that any future attack on our democratic institutions will not be tolerated. One of the oddest aspects of the president’s foreign policy to date is his refusal to criticize — let alone condemn — Russian hostility, be it directed at our elections or Ukraine, Syria or Afghanistan. The president continued to make inconsistent statements in Warsaw, claiming that “nobody really knows” whether Russia meddled in the 2016 election. No president should accept the representations of a foreign adversary over the considered conclusions of his own intelligence services. In all events, the president should demand a plan from his national security team to deter and prevent election attacks. Read More

National: Safer Elections Mean Newer Equipment, No Networks | StateTech Magazine

Among the many contentious arguments of the 2016 presidential election was the question of the security of the vote itself. Accusations flew, with claims that the election would be rigged or hacked in some way. In part, those accusations were lent credence by the state of voting equipment in the United States. In many localities, equipment is approaching the end of its useful life; many states and counties last upgraded with the help of federal funding provided through the Help America Vote Act of 2002. “As the 2000 election demonstrated, and now again, elections in general and voting technology in particular is a highly under-resourced and underappreciated part of our democratic infrastructure,” says Professor Charles Stewart III of the MIT Election Data and Science Lab. Read More

Editorials: We should all be voting on paper | Avi Green/Daily Record

Here is a frightening prospect: with four weeks to go before Election Day, some of America’s voting machines are not as secure as they could be. For years, the idea that hackers might mess with a U.S. election seemed more like the plot of a novel than a real possibility. As a result, election administrators have tried to save taxpayer money by using the same machines year after year, even after vulnerabilities with some voting machines were exposed. This year is different. Cyber attackers in Russia have targeted U.S. election systems, taking aim at the Democratic National Committee and voter registration databases of more than 20 states. The risk is small, but real. Let’s start with good news: you can trust the national outcome. Most Americans vote on paper ballots. Those ballots are mainly counted by efficient, accurate optical scan voting machines, and, in most states, they are also audited — hand-counted in public in a small number of randomly selected precincts — to make sure that the optical scan machines are working right. If the election is close enough to merit a recount, or if a random audit shows an anomaly, more precincts can be counted by hand. Read More

Pakistan: Voting machine: ‘Conventional’ ballot papers likely to be used in 2018 polls | The Express Tribune

In a sign that it has virtually abandoned the proposal of using electronic voting machines, the Election Commission of Pakistan has begun preparations for ballot paper procurement well ahead of the 2018 general election. On Monday, the poll supervisory body convened a meeting of all stakeholders to review arrangements for printing ballot papers. Following the 2013 general elections, the ECP had proposed the use of EVMs in the next general elections. However, the proposal is still at a nascent stage and unlikely to be enforced by 2018 due to technical and legal hitches. Read More

Editorials: Voting technology should go back to the future | John Phillips/The Orange County Register

The internet and smartphones have revolutionized the way we live our lives in fundamental, and, in my opinion, fantastic ways. It’s now possible to do your banking, buy airline tickets and pick your seats at the movies all while you wait in the lobby at the dentist’s office. There’s virtually nothing you can’t do on your favorite electronic device – except vote. And it should stay that way. Give me Scantrons and hanging chads any day of the week over online, or even electronic, voting, where domestic hackers and foreign agents potentially have the ability to alter the result of a U.S. election. Think about the chaos that swept through the state of Florida after the 2000 presidential election in response to an extremely close election – and then think about what would be in store for us if the losing candidate pins their loss on foreign espionage. We’d be at each other’s throats faster than you could say “banana republic.” Read More

Editorials: Tighten ballot security | USA Today

Fears that the Russians could hack the voting system on Nov. 8 and wreak havoc in the presidential election are running high amid suspicions that Russians hacked into computers at the Democratic National Committee and after foreign intruders managed to get into voter registration databases in Arizona and Illinois. While computer scientists and election experts will never say never, hacking the actual voting systems is highly implausible. But if the worst happened — hackers seeking to manipulate the outcome — you’d want a foolproof backup system. Yet voting systems in nearly a third of the states lack a key safeguard: a paper record of individual votes. Five states — Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana, New Jersey and South Carolina — use paperless electronic voting machines as their primary equipment statewide. Nine others, including swing states Pennsylvania and Virginia, use them in some counties, according to a report by the Brennan Center for Justice. Read More

Pennsylvania: Aging voting machines prompt concern about election security | CNHI

Decade-old voting machines in much of the state are creating concern as they age, with lawmakers now urging a review of the systems. This comes as Pennsylvania’s widespread use of touch-screen voting is viewed with suspicion by supporters of Donald Trump. Many already feel the Republican presidential nominee is campaigning up-stream, and Trump has suggested that if he loses, it will be because voting systems in Pennsylvania and elsewhere are rigged. “I think paper ballots that the voter fills in circles with ink that are read by optical scanners would be a good way to go,” said Rep. Brad Roae, R-Crawford County, a member of the House State Government Committee. Roae attended Trump’s Erie rally on Friday and has said he supports the nominee. Read More

California: San Jose recount drama tests faith in system | San Jose Mercury News

Nearly two months after the June election, the scene at the Santa Clara County registrar’s office calls to mind a high-stakes blackjack game without the bright felt table or the waitresses hawking drinks. The registrar’s official behind the table, Jason Mazzone, counts out the ballots from each precinct and then produces the questioned ballots, spreading them out like a dealer showing the house’s hand. A team of political operatives from the San Jose District 4 council race moves forward to photograph the results. This isn’t just an unprecedented second recount of votes in a stunningly close election. It’s also an extraordinary clash of generations and a test of faith in the political process in a district where both the incumbent and challenger are Vietnamese-American. Read More

National: How the U.S. Ended Up With Today’s Paper Ballots | TIME

We send emails instead of hand-written letters, we buy Kindles instead of books, we use iPads instead of pen and paper—and yet, voting is still mostly left to good old-fashioned paper. Voting technology has essentially remained at a standstill for decades. Still, some things have stayed the same even longer: the same concerns for security and secrecy that have kept paper dominant were also the driving forces behind voting policy in the early years of the United States. … Most states use a combination of electronic and paper technology. Only five states (Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana, New Jersey, South Carolina) have paper-free voting and some states (Colorado, Oregon, and Washington) send all constituents a paper ballot in the mail. Even more states use a combination of electronic and paper at polling places. Given how much technology has advanced in recent years, it’s fair to wonder why we continue to vote with paper. However, there are good reasons why the U.S. is hanging on to paper ballots. Read More

Maryland: New voting machines debut with few reported glitches | The Washington Post

Despite fears of a botched debut of Maryland’s new voting machines, state election officials say they received few reports of glitches and voter confusion in Tuesday’s primary. The election marked Maryland’s long-awaited switch to paper ballots tallied by scanner, nearly a decade after lawmakers decided to ditch electronic machines that leave no paper trail. Late last year, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and his administration raised concerns about election officials’ rushing the new machines into service. They relented when the machine vendor, Election Systems and Software, offered to devote additional staff and resources on a successful rollout. Read More