post election audit

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Georgia: Bill seeks switch to ballot-marking devices for Georgia elections | Atlanta Journal Constitution

A broad elections bill introduced Thursday would replace Georgia’s electronic voting system with touchscreens that print ballots before they’re counted. The printed ballots would create a paper trail to check the accuracy of election results. Georgia’s current direct-recording electronic voting machines lack a paper backup. The legislation, House Bill 316, follows the recommendations of a voting commission created by Gov. Brian Kemp last year when he was secretary of state. The commission favored the touchscreens, called ballot-marking devices, over paper ballots filled out with a pen or pencil. Election integrity advocates say paper ballots filled out by hand are more secure, but supporters of ballot-marking devices say they’re easier to use and more likely to accurately record votes. Ballot-marking devices print ballots that are then counted by optical scanning machines.

National: Lawmakers quiz officials on 2020 election security measures | The Hill

Lawmakers questioned federal officials Wednesday about the importance of passing election security measures ahead of the 2020 contests, pressing witnesses on the threat posed by foreign actors to influence U.S. elections. Christopher Krebs, director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), testified during the House Homeland Security Committee hearing Wednesday that the federal government is “lightyears ahead” of where it was in 2016 when it came to communicating with state and local officials. But he said improving outreach and communication with those officials is a top priority for his department ahead of 2020. Krebs also said that being able to audit elections is a pressing issue for his agency, and that records of votes, like paper trails, will help officials confirm election results. The DHS official added that basic cybersecurity remains a crucial issue, saying he fears any gaps could expose vulnerabilities in systems that could be abused by hackers.

Full Article: Lawmakers quiz officials on 2020 election security measures | TheHill.

National: Cyber chief pushes audits as key to election security | FCW

The nation’s top cybersecurity official told Congress that the ability to audit voting machines after elections is critical for ballot security. “The area that I think we need to invest the most in the nation is ensuring auditability across infrastructure,” Christopher Krebs, head of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said at a Feb. 13 hearing of the House Homeland Security Committee. “If you don’t know what’s happening and you can’t check back at what’s happening in the system — you don’t have security.” While 34 states and the District of Columbia have some laws mandating post-election audits, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Congress has been unable to agree on how hard or soft to make such language in legislation. Krebs and Election Assistance Commission (EAC) Chair Thomas Hicks endorsed the need for greater auditability, though both deferred to states on the question of whether it should be done digitally or by hand.

Full Article: Cyber chief pushes audits as key to election security -- FCW.

India: For democracy’s sake, electronic voting machines must have proper VVPAT-based audit | Hindustan Times

The bizarre claim made in London recently about the alleged hacking of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in previous elections has done more harm than good by diverting public attention from genuine concerns about EVMs and the Election Commission of India’s (ECI) lack of transparency in the matter. The controversy over the security of EVMs dates back to the early 2000s, and is not confined to India. A consensus has emerged that voters can’t verify whether their votes have been recorded and counted correctly, and that miscounts due to EVM malfunction or fraud are undetectable and unchallengeable. Hence, an additional verifiable physical record of every vote cast in the form of voter verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) is required. In 2013, the Supreme Court mandated the use of EVMs with VVPAT units, and ECI has been deploying these in assembly elections from 2017 onwards.

Full Article: For democracy’s sake, EVMs must have proper VVPAT-based audit | analysis | Hindustan Times.

Pennsylvania: Why it could be much harder to steal the vote in swing state Pennsylvania | Salon

Pennsylvania, the 2016 battleground state where many counties refused to conduct a presidential recount, has settled a lawsuit with Green Party candidate Jill Stein and state residents, agreeing to have paper ballot-based voting in place by 2020 and a new audit process to verify vote counts before election results become official by 2022. “It’s a major improvement to have paper ballots,” Stein said Thursday. “That’s really critical. And it’s really important that we be watchdogging this, and that the issues of transparency and accountability be paramount. And [that] we constantly be measuring [what unfolds] against a very high bar for transparency and accountability.” The settlement comes two years after one of the most frustrating post-presidential election efforts to attempt to verify the outcome, where an unconventional candidate trailing in pre-election polls, Republican Donald Trump, had, in fact, won the three closest-margin states, according to the preliminary unofficial results in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

Full Article: Why it could be much harder to steal the vote in swing state Pennsylvania | Salon.com.

Pennsylvania: State commits to new voting machines, election audits | Associated Press

Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration is settling a vote-counting lawsuit stemming from the 2016 presidential election, in part by affirming a commitment it made previously to push Pennsylvania’s counties to buy voting systems that leave a verifiable paper trail by 2020. Paperwork filed Thursday in federal court in Philadelphia caps a lawsuit that Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein filed in 2016 as she sought recounts in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan. All three states had a history of backing Democrats for president before they were narrowly and unexpectedly won by Republican Donald Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton. Months ago , Wolf, a Democrat, began pushing counties to upgrade to voting machines that leave a paper trail as a safeguard against hacking by 2020. Four in five Pennsylvania voters use machines that lack an auditable paper trial.

Full Article: Pennsylvania commits to new voting machines, election audits | Myrtle Beach Sun News.

Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania to Dump Paperless Voting Machines, Agrees to Election Audits | IVN

Dr. Jill Stein won a major legal victory in Pennsylvania as state officials agreed to a settlement in her post-2016 election lawsuit. Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration guaranteed voting machines with verifiable paper trails, and agreed to an automatic, robust audit in 2022. … Dr. Stein filed the lawsuit in 2016 as she sought recounts in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin — the three states that decided the election for President Donald Trump. The recounts raised concerns of several ballots that were missing or uncounted, but didn’t change the election results. 

Full Article: Pennsylvania to Dump Paperless Voting Machines, Agrees to Election Audits - IVN.us.

Wisconsin: Expanded Audits Of Voting Equipment Underway | Wisconsin Public Radio

More communities are taking part in audits of voting equipment in Wisconsin this year. The Wisconsin Elections Commission is requiring audits of voting equipment in 5 percent of the state’s wards and at least one in every county. Commission spokesman Reid Magney said audits were expanded due to concerns over election security. “There are a number of national groups that have determined post-election audits are a best practice, that states should be verifying the results of elections before they’re certified,” said Magney. “Our commission has taken that to heart and used an existing audit that we already do to start meeting that best practice.” For the first time this year, the audits must be completed before the state certifies election results next month.

Full Article: Expanded Audits Of Wisconsin Voting Equipment Underway | Wisconsin Public Radio.

Wisconsin: Hand count underway to ‘ensure integrity’ of Wisconsin elections | WBAY

Clerks across our state are in the middle of a renewed effort to ensure Wisconsin’s elections are accurate and secure. For the first time this year, the Wisconsin Elections Commission is asking more clerks — at least one in every county — to hand count a select amount of ballots and compare results to what machines counted. While there’s not been an issue with inaccuracy, they hope this lets voters see that for themselves. In the Green Bay City Clerk’s office, the audit begins at promptly 9:00 a.m. Staff take out ballots cast in two east-side wards and hand count the results — twice. They’re then compared to the results machines tabulated on election night.

Full Article: Hand count underway to 'ensure integrity' of Wisconsin elections.

Wisconsin: Election Commission orders hand counts of paper ballots | Wisconsin Gazette

Election officials have ordered hand counts of paper ballots from 5 percent of the state’s voting machines in an effort to audit the accuracy of Election Day results. Currently, election officials only check to verify that the number of paper ballots cast matches the number counted by the machines. But, in 2006, the state adopted a law requiring officials to ascertain whether the actual candidates selected on paper ballots corresponds with the machine count of votes for those candidates. In the past, the state has ignored that law. But questions raised by Russian interference in the 2016 elections prompted the Wisconsin Election Commission to take a step toward compliance with the law, said Karen McKim, the coordinator of Wisconsin Election Integrity, a bipartisan nonprofit group that advocates for fair elections. She praised the election commission for taking the step.

Full Article: Wisconsin Election Commission orders hand counts of paper ballots | News | wisconsingazette.com.

California: California doesn’t need better voting machines — it needs better audits, experts say | The Peninsula Press

When voters in Alameda and Santa Clara County head to the polls on Nov. 6, about one percent will cast their ballots on electronic voting machines that have known security vulnerabilities. California has safeguards in place. In addition to requiring paper records for votes cast on electronic machines, California also manually audits one percent of all ballots cast, to make sure there’s no discrepancy in the numbers. Now, experts like David Dill, a computer science professor at Stanford and founder of Verified Voting, are saying that isn’t enough, and are pushing states like California to implement more rigorous auditing methods. “The problem of protecting machines is pretty unmanageable, even with the best and most modern hardware … so what you need to do is select a bunch of ballots at random and hand count them in order to make sure the electronic counts are accurate,” says Dill.

Full Article: California doesn’t need better voting machines — it needs better audits, experts say - Local: In The Peninsula.

Colorado: A Safe Place for Elections | State of Elections

Colorado is known for more than just picturesque mountain views and crystal-clear rivers. The Centennial State touts some of the best education, healthcare, and the best state economy in the nation. To add to this impressive list of achievements, Colorado has been christened as the safest state in the nation to host an election. Colorado’s impressive new title come from two different sources: The Washington Post and Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen Nielsen. Over the last decade, Colorado took several steps forward in election security to ensure the integrity of its elections. First, Colorado implemented a first-of-its-kind risk-limiting audit. In 2013, the Colorado legislature codified this new auditing technique (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 1-7-515 (2013)), which was required for the 2017 elections and all “primary, general, coordinated, or congressional vacancy elections thereafter.” A risk-limiting audit is a form of statistical analysis that requires officials to match certain paper ballots with the electronic voting machines’ interpretation of the ballots. This ensures that the machine read the ballot correctly.

Full Article: A Safe Place for Elections - State of Elections.

Kansas: Post-Election Audits In Kansas Begin With 2019 Elections | KMUW

Starting next year, Kansas counties are required to do post-election audits. The check will make sure the voting process — from equipment to office procedures — is done correctly, and the election results are accurate. According to legislation approved earlier this year, a county election board will review at least one contested race on federal, state and county levels. According to legislation approved earlier this year, a county election board will review at least one contested race on federal, state and county levels. The audit will be a hand recount of paper ballots, regardless of the method of voting, in one percent of randomly selected voting districts in each county.

Full Article: Post-Election Audits In Kansas Begin With 2019 Elections | KMUW.

Media Release: Wisconsin Proves It’s Not Too Late for States to Take Key Election Security Steps Before November

Nearly 20 U.S. States Do Not Audit Election Results by Checking Paper Ballots Against Machine Counts or Lack a Paper Ballot to Conduct Effective Audits

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Wisconsin’s action last week requiring a post-election audit will help secure the November vote and should be followed by states that lack such protections, according to Public Citizen and Verified Voting.

On Tuesday, the Wisconsin Election Commission (WEC) took a key step to secure the vote by requiring an audit of November’s election results before they are made official. The commission voted to randomly select five percent of voting machines in the state to be audited the day after the 2018 general election. For the audit, municipal clerks will hand count ballots from randomly selected machines, comparing what’s on the paper ballot to what the machine recorded. They will do this across four races before the vote count is finalized. (See WEC meeting minutes pages 34 and 49.)

Wisconsin’s action shows that it’s not too late to commit to auditing the 2018 vote counts before finalizing results, Public Citizen and Verified Voting said. Votes can – and should – be checked against voter-marked paper ballots for accuracy.

Wisconsin: State expands use of post-election audits | StateScoop

Wisconsin officials were praised Friday by election-security advocates for expanding the state’s use of post-election audits. The Wisconsin Elections Commission announced that it voted unanimously Tuesday to require audits in 5 percent of precincts throughout the state after every vote, beginning with the Nov. 6 general election. The decision is evidence that the clock has not run out yet on states seeking to improve their ballot-security procedures before Election Day, said representatives of Verified Voting, which advocates for paper-based voting systems and Public Citizen, a consumers’ rights group. Under Wisconsin’s new system, election officials will randomly select at least 183, or 5 percent, of the state’s 3,660 precincts to review voting equipment. The audit sample will include at least one precinct from each of the state’s 72 counties, but no more than two precincts from any single municipality. 

Full Article: Wisconsin expands use of post-election audits.

National: Paper backups and audits: Officials preparing for midterms | GCN

With midterm elections right around the corner, election officials says they’re focused on putting contingency plans in place so voting can continue even if systems are disrupted. Edgardo Cortés, the former Virginia Commissioner of Elections and current Election Security Advisor at the Brennan Center for Justice, said he is focused on low-tech plans to ensure voting continues to take place. These plans include having enough provisional ballots and having a back-up paper poll book at each voting location — “things that will keep the process going and allow people to vote even if we end up with a worst-case situation,” Cortés said at a Sept. 24 Brennan Center event.

Full Article: Paper backups and audits: Officials preparing for midterms -- GCN.

National: How Vulnerable Are Electronic Voting Machines? | WBUR

A federal judge ruled this week that Georgia does not have to replace its electronic voting machines with machines that create paper records before the election in November. In her ruling, though, the judge noted she’s “gravely concerned” about Georgia’s slow pace in addressing electronic voting vulnerabilities. Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson talks with Marian Schneider, president of Verified Voting, a nonpartisan nonprofit that advocates for accurate and verifiable elections, about those vulnerabilities and how secure electronic voting machines are.

On her opinion of the judge’s ruling in Georgia: “I do think that it’s a significant decision, but I think that the judge was concerned about the amount of time before the election, that there wasn’t enough time to smoothly implement paper ballots. “There’s only seven weeks between now and the election, and the early voting would start soon, too. So I think that was a greater concern for the court, but I think the judge made a lot of very significant findings about the vulnerabilities that are present in paperless computer systems that count our votes.”

Full Article: How Vulnerable Are Electronic Voting Machines? | Here & Now.

National: 6 Ways to Fight Election Hacking and Voter Fraud, According to an Expert Panel | The New York Times

Amid a chorus of warnings that the American election system is ground zero for foreign attackers, a panel of leading scholars and election experts issued a sweeping set of recommendations on Thursday for how to make elections more secure. Several similar reports have been issued lately, but this one is different. It not only carries a blue-ribbon pedigree from the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, but it also suggests ways to address allegations of domestic voter fraud, which Republicans have leveled for years. The report notes the significant challenges of securing elections. In 2016, Americans voted in 178,217 precincts and 116,990 polling places. Under the Constitution, each state controls its own election procedures, and officials jealously guard their authority against federal interference. The rules vary so wildly that uniform standards are almost impossible. Still, many of the report’s proposals can be applied nationwide. Here are six ways the panel says that election security can be improved:

1. Use paper ballots to establish a backup record of each vote. Even if voter databases and other equipment aren’t connected to the internet, experts said, it will be hard to protect computer systems from cyber threats. As a result, they recommend that by 2020, every voting machine nationwide should generate a backup paper record of each vote. Currently, five states — Georgia, South Carolina, Louisiana, Delaware and New Jersey — and portions of several others do not maintain a paper trail.

Full Article: 6 Ways to Fight Election Hacking and Voter Fraud, According to an Expert Panel - The New York Times.

National: The Best Way To Secure US Elections? Paper Ballots | Dark Reading

Voting machines that do not provide a paper trail or cannot be independently audited should immediately be removed, concludes a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine is recommending the use of human-readable paper ballots as the best way to protect the security and integrity of US elections, at least in the immediate future. In fact, the committee behind the report wants election officials to consider ditching voting methods that do not provide a reliable paper-verifiable audit trail as early as the upcoming 2018 midterms and for all local, state, and federal elections by 2020. It also does not want jurisdictions to permit the use of the Internet and Internet-connected systems to return marked ballots until “very robust guarantees” of security and verifiability are developed. Other recommendations include the need for states to mandate risk-limiting audits prior to the certification of election results and routine assessments of the integrity of voter registration systems and databases.

Full Article: The Best Way To Secure US Elections? Paper Ballots.

Verified Voting Blog: Four ways to defend democracy and protect every voter’s ballot | Douglas W. Jones

This article was originally posted at phys.org.
As voters prepare to cast their ballots in the November midterm elections, it’s clear that U.S. voting is under electronic attack. Russian government hackers probed some states’ computer systems in the runup to the 2016 presidential election and are likely to do so again – as might hackers from other countries or nongovernmental groups interested in sowing discord in American politics.

Fortunately, there are ways to defend elections. Some of them will be new in some places, but these defenses are not particularly difficult nor expensive, especially when judged against the value of public confidence in democracy. I served on the Iowa board that examines voting machines from 1995 to 2004 and on the Technical Guidelines Development Committee of the United States Election Assistance Commission from 2009 to 2012, and Barbara Simons and I coauthored the 2012 book “Broken Ballots.”

Election officials have an important role to play in protecting election integrity. Citizens, too, need to ensure their local voting processes are safe. There are two parts to any voting system: the computerized systems tracking voters’ registrations and the actual process of voting – from preparing ballots through results tallying and reporting.

Full Article: Four ways to defend democracy and protect every voter's ballot.