Rebecca Wilson

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Maryland: Back to the future voting: Elections board demonstrates new paper ballot | Maryland Reporter

Maryland’s Board of Elections put on a demonstration last week of two potential voting systems that will have voters producing paper ballots again for the 2016 Presidential Primary Election. At the University of Baltimore, citizens could test drive the Everyone Counts and ES&S (Elections Systems & Software) universal-voting systems that will produce paper records readable by optical scanners in every precinct. A 2007 Maryland law required the State Board of Elections to have a paper record of each ballot to be used to efficiently for later audits or potential recounts. State election officials insisted the current touch-screen computerized voting was accurate and reliable, and less prone to voter error.

Full Article: MarylandReporter.com | The news site for government and politics in the Free State.

Maryland: Elections chief predicts smooth absentee voting | Baltimore Sun

Maryland’s top elections official expressed confidence Friday that the state will deliver absentee ballots to voters smoothly and on time despite a change in plans ordered just two months before the June 24 primary. The State Board of Elections decided this week not to move forward with a system that would have allowed voters who receive an absentee ballot through the Internet to mark their choices on a computer screen before printing the ballot and mailing it in. Linda H. Lamone, administrator of the elections board, said the agency will do what is needed to comply with the decision of the five-member panel. … Lamone and her staff have interpreted the board’s action as preventing them from offering the ballot-marking function — which had been eagerly anticipated by advocates for the disabled — but allowing them to go forward with the part of the system that would let any voter go online to ask for and receive an absentee ballot over the Internet. If that interpretation stands, the board decision will be a hollow victory for election security advocates who had opposed both parts of the system. Michael Greenberger, a University of Maryland law professor, said the delivery system opens the door to election fraud much wider than the marking tool would have. Greenberger contends that the two systems are inseparable and that the board’s decision to offer online delivery is inconsistent with state law. He said he does not plan to sue. 

Full Article: Elections chief predicts smooth absentee voting - baltimoresun.com.

Maryland: Absentee ballots downloaded online raise security issues, as does Election Day voter registration | MarylandReporter.com

A new Maryland law allowing voting by mail with a ballot downloaded online has some voter advocacy groups alarmed that adequate security measures will not be in place for the 2014 elections. Election Day voter registration and the future of online voting were also among the hot button issues debated at a forum this week, hosted by the Maryland League of Women Voters in Annapolis. The bill, Election Law – Improving Access to Voting, extends the right to all Maryland absentee voters to download and mark their ballots online. Ballots would then be mailed in to local election boards rather than tallied online. Previously only overseas voters and military personnel were allowed by law to obtain and mark ballots on the Internet. Under Maryland’s no-excuse absentee voting law, any Maryland voter is allowed to receive an absentee ballot without having to provide a reason for being absent on Election Day. Cyber-security hawks like Rebecca Wilson of SAVE our Votes said Maryland has no process for examining voter’s handwritten signatures that are required for all the new potential mailed in absentee ballots. “Maryland is moving increasingly to vote by mail,” Wilson said. “How does the [election official] know the person on the computer is the real voter?” Wilson cited four western states that either vote entirely by mail — Washington and Oregon – or by a large percentage – California and Colorado.

Full Article: Absentee ballots downloaded online raise security issues, as does Election Day voter registration – MarylandReporter.com.

Maryland: Contractor salaries questioned as state moves to paper ballot voting system | Maryland Reporter

State election officials are planning to spend up to $1.2 million to hire just five contractors working for nine months, a high-dollar figure that has shocked key lawmakers and voter advocacy groups watching as the state transitions from touch-screen voting to paper ballots. The transition, which is scheduled for the 2016 presidential elections, will move the state from computerized voting without a paper trail to optical scan paper ballots. Under the recommendation of State Election Board Administrator Linda Lamone, the state budgeted $1.2 million for the five positions handling the initial transition. The elections budget calls for the senior project manager position to receive up to $350,000, the deputy project manager $300,000, two business analysts $210,000 each and a technical writer $170,000. The budget figures are estimates, since the elections board has not yet selected contractors. … State Election Board Deputy Administrator Ross Goldstein defended the expenses. In an email, he stated that the state estimated the cost using an existing state agency master contract for consulting and technical services. In that contract, vendors stated how much they will charge for a given service. “We used an average from different vendors under the master contract to come up with our estimates for each of the labor categories we need,” Goldstein stated.

Full Article: Contractor salaries questioned as state moves to paper ballot voting system – MarylandReporter.com.

Maryland: Outdated voting machines will not be replaced before 2014 election | MarylandReporter.com

When the gubernatorial election rolls around next year, most of Maryland’s touch-screen voting machines will be past their prime. The state is already facing a shortage of voting machines, with only four jurisdictions in the last presidential election providing enough to meet state regulations. In 2014, voting machines in 23 of the state’s 24 jurisdictions will be at least 10 years old, reaching the limit of the manufacturer’s guarantee. Roughly a third of these machines will have exceeded their useful life as determined by the manufacturer. State voters will have to wait three years before they can use upgraded voting machines with a verifiable paper trail, a delay which is angering election reformers. “If we had the money put into the 2013 budget, we’d have had a shot,” said Linda Lamone, administrator of the State Board of Elections, during her testimony Friday before the Senate Health and Human Services Subcommittee.

Full Article: Outdated Md. voting machines will not be replaced before 2014 election – MarylandReporter.com.

Maryland: Proposed online ballot system called vulnerable to cyberattack | The Washington Post

A controversial change in Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s otherwise popular bill to expand early voting could lead to voter fraud and expose the state’s elections to cybersecurity threats, according to a voting group and election technology experts. The provision, sought for more than a year by Maryland’s State Board of Elections, would allow any Marylander to receive a password by e-mail to download and mark a ballot at home before mailing it back to elections officials. But the problem, critics warn, is that the e-mail system lacks basic protections and there would be no signature verification or other means to ensure that the person for whom the ballot is intended is actually the person who casts it. Experts have also warned that the proposed online ballot delivery system could be hacked on a massive scale because of a second and related vulnerability that still exists with the state’s new online voter registration system. Maryland residents can register to vote online with a driver’s license number. But in Maryland, that number is a formula of a resident’s name and birth date that can be found online.

Full Article: Maryland’s proposed online ballot system called vulnerable to cyberattack - The Washington Post.

Maryland: Online voter registration vulnerable to attack, researchers say | The Washington Post

A voting rights group and some of the nation’s leading researchers on election technology are urging Maryland voters to check the accuracy of their online voter registration files after warning that the data had been left vulnerable to tampering. Researchers at the University of Michigan, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and a former president of the Association for Computing Machinery wrote to Maryland officials late last month urging them to take immediate steps to better protect a new system that allows Marylanders to update their voter registration online. The letter warned that anyone with access to a Maryland voter’s full name and birth date could exploit a simple online tool to change the voter’s address, party affiliation or other information. Such changes, especially a change of address, could lead to a voter’s ballot not being counted normally on Election Day.

Full Article: Maryland’s online voter registration vulnerable to attack, researchers say - The Washington Post.

Maryland: Online ballot marking for absentee voters approved, but potential for fraud questioned | MarylandReporter.com

Thousands of absentee voters from Maryland will be the first to mark their ballots online this fall, as the attorney general gave the green light to the State Board of Elections Thursday. But at least one advocacy organization said the new online ballot marking program, along with the state’s just started online registration process, is open to voter fraud. The long-awaited formal opinion from the attorney general  gave the elections board the official OK to implement online ballot marking software without having to undergo state or federal certification, which a watchdog group opposed. The five-member board voted unanimously during their monthly meeting to proceed with the new online tool. The ballot marking “wizard” will allow military and overseas voters, also referred to as Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) voters, to mark their absentee ballots online, a step designed to make the final processing of their ballots more efficient, the state board said. After the approval, a voting rights advocate told the board about a possible security vulnerability, one she said that would not only affect the state’s new online voter registration system but could potentially extend to the November elections.

Full Article: Online ballot marking for absentee voters approved, but potential for fraud questioned – MarylandReporter.com.