Louisiana is restarting its stalled effort to replace its voting machines, with the solicitation for bidders expected to go out shortly, Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin said Tuesday. New machines, however, won’t be in place quickly. Louisiana will continue casting ballots this fall on the same types of voting system that it has used for 15 years, without the paper backup advocated by many elections security experts. “It’ll be after the election. It won’t be for the presidential election, because we don’t have the time to get through the (bid) process completely,” Ardoin, the state’s chief elections official, told lawmakers during a House Appropriations Committee budget hearing. Allegations of improper bid handling derailed a previous effort to replace Louisiana’s voting machines, so the secretary of state’s office has had to redo its vendor search process. Ardoin’s office has $5.8 million in federal money for voting machines set aside whenever his agency enters into a new contract. He’s asking lawmakers to steer another $1.3 million in state financing to the plan in next year’s budget, to draw down additional federal dollars.Full Article: Louisiana Restarting Bid Process for New Voting Machines | Louisiana News | US News.
Sequoia Voting Systems
Louisiana: Secretary of State says 2020 election secure without paper ballots | David Jacobs/The Center Square
Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin hopes to acquire electronic voting machines that also record votes on paper, though he said this year’s elections will be secure even without a paper trail. Ardoin spoke Thursday evening at a panel hosted by LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communications. Panelist Susan Greenhalgh, policy advisor for the National Election Defense Coalition, said digital-only voting is the “most concerning” method from a security standpoint. Critics say Louisiana voting machines’ lack of a paper component goes against the national trend and violates best practices. Greenhalgh said voting machines can malfunction and can be “maliciously infected” even if they’re not connected to the internet. Paper ballots allow voters to see for themselves that their vote was tallied correctly, while a “black box” voting machine does not, she said. Paper backups also can be used to audit the electronic results, Greenhalgh added. “We need to trust the process,” she said.Full Article: Secretary of State says 2020 election secure without paper ballots – New Orleans CityBusiness.
Louisiana: How Louisiana ended up this year’s election security outlier | David Hawkings/The Fulcrum
The moment of truth for voting system reliability remains nearly nine months off, but already Louisiana has earned itself a troublesome and unique footnote in the story of the 2020 presidential election. It will surely be the only state running totally afoul of the new world of balloting best practices, which says creating and keeping a paper record is the only way to assure every vote is counted accurately (and recounted if need be) and properly reflects the will of the voter. There won’t be a single sheet of paper involved in tabulating the results in Louisiana on Election Day — unlike any of the other 49 states, according to a comprehensive study by Verified Voting, a nonpartisan group that promotes the integrity of elections. All 3,934 polling places will use entirely electronic voting machines that are at least 15 years old, and which do not generate printouts of anything as a fail-safe if something goes wrong.Full Article: How Louisiana ended up this year’s election security outlier - The Fulcrum.
Louisiana: Amid election fears, Louisiana is one of the last states to use aging Sequoia Advantage machines in 2020 | Sam Karlin/The Advocate
When voters in Louisiana go to the polls during the 2020 presidential election, they will cast their ballots on aging electronic voting machines that the nation has largely abandoned over concerns that they have no paper record that could serve as a fail-safe if something goes wrong. The state is moving toward getting new machines that will provide a paper record of votes, and Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, the state’s chief elections official, had aimed to have them ready for the 2020 elections. But the contract with a private vendor selected by Ardoin’s office was cancelled after a challenge to the bid process, stalling delivery of the new machines. Election security has taken on newfound importance in recent years, following Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. And in Louisiana, a string of cyber attacks against state and local governments that crippled public-facing departments and cost millions of dollars has shone a light on cybersecurity more broadly. Officials, including Ardoin, say they are more prepared to run secure elections in 2020 than ever before, following election interference in 2016 that caught many off guard and prompted reviews among federal and state policymakers. Still, Louisiana’s aging machines invite a greater risk of malfunction than newer equipment that features a paper backup, experts say. And while Ardoin insists there is no risk of hacking because the machines are not connected to the internet and aren’t programmed with computers that are connected to the internet, it is impossible to eliminate the risk of malware entirely, especially if the computers used to program the machines were inadvertently connected to the internet.Full Article: Amid election fears, Louisiana is one of the last states to use aging machines in 2020 | Elections | theadvocate.com.
New Jersey: Questions of vulnerability surround New Jersey’s aging voting machines | Rob Anthes/Community News
In 2004, Hopewell resident Stephanie Harris went to her polling place for the presidential primary, never expecting what was about to happen would alter her life and the public discourse around voter security for the next decade and a half. When Harris entered the privacy booth that day, she saw one of Mercer County’s then-new touchscreen voting machines facing her, a model called the Sequoia AVC Advantage. She found her candidate of choice on the large paper ballot overlay, pressed the box next to the candidate’s name and then hit a large button at the bottom right of the machine to cast her vote. Typically, at this point, the AVC Advantage will make a noise to indicate a vote has been counted. For Harris, nothing happened. Harris exited the privacy booth slightly confused. A poll worker stopped her, and said her vote didn’t register and that she should try again. Harris did, four times with the same results. After the fifth time, the poll worker shrugged, and said, “Well, I think it worked.” Harris never received definitive confirmation her vote had been cast. To this day, she doesn’t know whether the machine recorded her vote. Harris couldn’t shake the feeling that her vote had been taken away. She asked the county for confirmation or at least an explanation. She didn’t get answers, but she did earn a new nickname, courtesy of a county freeholder—“the Incident in Hopewell.” So she sued.Full Article: Questions of vulnerability surround New Jersey's aging voting machines.
Despite a national uproar over election security, Louisiana voters will be casting their ballots next month in a statewide election on the same type of paperless voting machines the state has used since 2005. No changes are expected for the 2020 presidential election either. Allegations of improper bid handling derailed plans to replace to Louisiana’s voting machines, so the secretary of state’s office had to redo its vendor search process. The agency still is drafting the solicitation for bid proposals, so new voting machines aren’t coming soon. Still, Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin said voters should feel confident in the machines they will use to cast their ballots in the Oct. 12 and Nov. 16 elections for Louisiana governor, six other statewide positions and state legislative seats.Full Article: Analysis: New Louisiana election, same old voting machines - Washington Times.
New Jersey: Activists press for federal support to upgrade New Jersey’s vulnerable voting machines | Briana Vannozzi/NJTV News
Progressive activists on Tuesday called for an overhaul of New Jersey’s voting system, saying that the lack of a paper backup to the electronic machines at the polls in many counties could undermine the faith of voters that their ballots will be counted. “This is our most important fundamental right, the right to vote,” said Marcia Marley, president of BlueWave NJ. “And if it doesn’t count, why vote?” The activists are also looking to put pressure on federal lawmakers to approve $600 million for election security funding at the state level. The allocation has already been approved by the Democratic-majority House of Representatives but has failed to get any traction in the upper house, which is controlled by the GOP and led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican. Carrying signs that read “Moscow Mitch” and “Protect Our Elections,” the activists gathered outside the offices of the state’s two Democratic senators, Cory Booker and Robert Menendez. “Robert Mueller explained that the threat of foreign intervention in our elections is very much still alive and probably escalating for the 2020 elections,” said BlueWave NJ member Mark Lurinsky, referencing testimony before Congress by the former Special Counsel to the Justice Department who investigated Russia’s attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election.Full Article: Activists press for federal support to upgrade NJ’s vulnerable voting machines | Video | NJTV News.
California: Riverside County proposes spending millions to replace vote-counting systems by 2020 election | Sam Metz/Palm Springs Desert Sun
For the past 11 years, the Riverside County Registrar of Voters has used vote-counting machines that can take more than a month to finish counting ballots. It took 32 days before the registrar could count all the votes and certify the results of the 2018 midterm elections. But now, a threat from Secretary of State Alex Padilla to withdraw certification from counties with voting systems that don’t meet the 2015 California Voting Systems Standards is forcing Riverside County to spend millions on new vote-counting machines. “While county officials have worked diligently to keep equipment up and running, our democracy faces increasingly sophisticated threats from nefarious actors, both foreign and domestic,” Padilla said in February press release. “Some counties use machines that are so old that vendors no longer make replacement parts.” Riverside County’s 2019-2020 proposed county budget, which the supervisors begun reviewing this week, earmarks more than $2 million to buy a vote-sorting machine to process mail ballots and lease state-certified equipment that will bring them into compliance.Full Article: Riverside Co. proposes spending millions to replace vote-counting systems by 2020 election.
New Jersey: On Eve of Primaries, New Jersey Is at Early Stage of Shoring Up Election Security | NJ Spotlight
New Jersey wasn’t one of the 21 states whose electoral systems were targeted by Russian hackers in 2016, but it has weaknesses at both state and county level. With less a month to go before this year’s primary elections, New Jersey officials are continuing to fortify state and county election infrastructure, including the addition of more new voting machines with a verifiable paper trail, to ensure the integrity of elections. Secretary of State Tahesha Way, who oversees elections, told the budget committees of both houses of the Legislature last week that while New Jersey was not one of the 21 states that Russian hackers targeted or scanned in 2016, the state is taking several steps to prevent any unwanted access to its election systems. Her department has also been working with counties to assess the security of their machines and data. “The soundness of our elections sits at the top of my agenda,” Way told lawmakers, several of whom expressed concern about the safety of the state’s election infrastructure and whether she is getting enough money to fund necessary security upgrades. “The Department of State has been extremely proactive on election security and has become recognized for these election integrity efforts,” Way said. New Jersey received almost $9.8 million in federal funds through the Help America Vote Act, and is matching that with about $500,000, to spend over five years updating and enhancing the security of voting machines and systems. DOS has some leeway in deciding how to spend the money and has outlined how it expects to do so.Full Article: On Eve of Primaries, NJ Is at Early Stage of Shoring Up Election Security - NJ Spotlight.
Editorials: Whether our elections were hacked or not, New Jersey needs new voting machines, politician says | Brendan W. Gill/nj.com
As the election year of 2020 approaches, it is clear that technology has changed the world we live in. The overwhelming majority of the changes have been beneficial, but we must always remember that as time and technology progress, we must adapt accordingly. In the days, months, and years following our most recent presidential election, all of us have been bombarded with allegations and news coverage about the possibility that our elections were manipulated. I am compelled to express, emphatically, that protecting the accuracy and veracity of our election results is the most important issue that we need to address to protect our democracy. To that end, I wholeheartedly support Essex County purchasing voting machines that will employ the use of optical scanners and hand-written ballots. My decision to support the purchase and implementation of these voting machines is not driven by the results of the previous presidential election, or any election. There have been many occasions in which an entire segment of a given electorate has been disappointed with the outcome at the polls. However, we can all agree that the integrity of our voting process must be protected.Full Article: Whether our elections were hacked or not, we need new voting machines, politician says - nj.com.
Louisiana’s secretary of state told lawmakers Tuesday that he hopes to restart efforts to replace thousands of voting machines this summer, after the last effort was derailed by allegations of improper bid handling. Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, who oversees state elections, said the voting machine replacement work won’t be complete for the fall election, so his office will spend $2 million renting temporary machines. Ardoin told the House Appropriations Committee his office will rent early-voting machines for the October and November elections, when all of Louisiana’s statewide and legislative positions are on the ballot. The office will use spare parts to make sure the decade-old Election Day voting machines are running properly. “Because the last (bid process) didn’t work out so well, we’re working very hard to maneuver to make sure that we are settled for the fall election,” Ardoin said. A multimillion-dollar contract award to replace Louisiana’s voting machines was scrapped in October after the state’s chief procurement officer said the secretary of state’s office didn’t follow legal requirements in choosing the winning vendor, Dominion Voting Systems.Full Article: Louisiana renting early-voting machines for fall election - SFGate.
New Jersey: New Jersey was going to have paper-based voting machines more than a decade ago. Will it happen by 2020? | Philadelphia Inquirer
New Jersey was once poised to become a national leader in election and voting security. Instead, it now lags most states — including Pennsylvania and Delaware — by relying on aging, paperless machines that experts say are vulnerable to attack and can’t be properly audited. There are no statewide plans to buy new machines; nor is the state urging counties to buy new systems, in contrast to Pennsylvania, where Gov. Tom Wolf has ordered all 67 counties to have new machines by next year’s primary election. “We are doing what we can with the funding that we have and the situation that we’re in,” said Robert Giles, who heads the state’s Division of Elections. The challenge, he said, is funding. Counties are left to their own initiatives. But the current machines are nearing death. The money will have to come from somewhere, said Jesse Burns, head of the League of Women Voters of New Jersey. “Time, it has run out. So there’s no more kicking it down the road,” she said.Full Article: N.J. was going to have paper-based voting machines more than a decade ago. Will it happen by 2020?.
Republican Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin said new voting machines will not be in place for the 2019 fall election cycle when the governor, attorney general, four other statewide elected positions and all 144 members of the Louisiana Legislature will be picked. The machines were supposed to be up and running before next year’s big campaign season, until the purchasing process stalled over concerns that the secretary of state’s office didn’t handle bidding properly. Ardoin has said his office made a mistake during the procurement process, but also blames Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration for the months-long delay and problems. The holdup means there isn’t enough time to purchase the machines and train local election officials to use them before the October 2019 elections, according to the secretary of state’s office.Full Article: Louisiana won’t have new voting machines for 2019 governor’s race | nola.com.
Florida: Palm Beach County is the lone county to reject sensors that detect hackers | Tampa Bay Times
To help deter hackers from infiltrating voting systems, the federal government offered all of Florida’s 67 counties a tool to detect and monitor electronic intruders. While the technology does not stop hackers, it alerts officials about possible threats and allows them to respond faster when data may be at risk. Only one county—Palm Beach—rejected the technology in the months prior to Election Day. That could change now that Palm Beach County plans to update its system next year. “We didn’t think it was a good time to put some function on a legacy system,” said Palm Beach Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher. “We’ll take a look next year when we buy new equipment.”Full Article: Palm Beach County is the lone county to reject sensors that detect hackers | Tampa Bay Times.
A voting system has to do two things: Count votes correctly and keep them secure. The Sequoia voting system in Palm Beach County, harshly criticized and already old in 2007 when the county paid $5.5 million to keep it, has for years come under fire for not reliably doing one or the other — or both. The aging system made headlines again last week, when high-speed vote counters appeared to overheat. That delayed vote counting in the nationally watched Florida recount. Why Palm Beach County didn’t update its aging vote-counters. Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher Thursday reiterated her belief that equipment malfunctions are at fault for a failure to finish a machine recount in four races by a state-mandated deadline. The county’s equipment is so outmoded she didn’t have time to even start the recount of nearly 600,000 ballots in two of the statewide races.Full Article: Palm Beach County voting hardware has storied history of snafus.
Palm Beach County’s race to recount votes is heating up — literally. The county’s decade-old ballot-counting machines overheated and gave incorrect totals, forcing the county to restart its recount of about 175,000 early votes., supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher said Tuesday night. The department has flown in mechanics to repair the machines. “We’re disappointed by the mechanical problems that are going to cause a further delay in the recount,” Bucher told reporters. “It became evident through the vigorous pace of counting that the machines used for the recount were starting to get stressed.” The malfunctions resulted in the loss of more than a day’s work. Bucher said on Monday that her office wouldn’t be able to meet the 3 p.m. Thursday deadline imposed by the state. On Saturday, state election officials said Florida’s 67 counties had to recount the more than 8 million ballots cast statewide because the results in three major elections — U.S. Senate, governor and agriculture commissioner — were under the 0.5 percentage point threshold that triggers the mandatory recount, according to state law.Full Article: Palm Beach forced to start over after voting machines overheat | Miami Herald.
While other supervisors of elections throughout the state have remained confident that they will complete recounting ballots cast in November, Palm Beach County’s elections supervisor remains skeptical they will complete counting each race subject to recounts by the Thursday afternoon deadline set by the state.
Susan Bucher has repeatedly asked for additional funding to update antiquated voting machines and blasted state officials for not extending the deadline so the county can count every vote.
Bucher said Monday it was irresponsible for the state to implement and not extend the deadline despite delays in ballot tabulation.
Palm Beach County first got its voting machines in 2007. It uses an optical scanning software that only allows each individual race to be scanned.
There are only eight machines in Florida’s third-largest county to scan nearly 600,000 ballots cast.
… While Bucher is hoping to receive more than $11 million from the county to replace the old voting machines, the changes will not happen until Palm Beach County goes through budget requests in March.
Bucher, who has repeatedly criticized the state’s division of elections, has called for serious elections reform prior to the recounts. Earlier this month, before the election, she referred to the state’s online voter registration system as a “mess” during an interview with the Palm Beach Post.Florida elections: Palm Beach County recount delays caused by old voting machines.
New Jersey: There’s Money for Upgrading Election Security but Little for Vital Paper Trail | NJ Spotlight
Despite expert opinion that, without paper ballots, New Jersey’s election system is far from secure, state allots negligible amount to remedy that weakness. New Jersey plans to spend $10.2 million to enhance election security over the next several years, but will use only part of it to conduct a small pilot project involving what some experts say is the most important change the state needs to make: moving to a system of paper ballots. The Center for American Progress has rated New Jersey’s election system among the least secure in the nation, in large part because there is no way to independently audit ballot results should a hacker meddle with the programming of one or more election machines. Pending legislation (Full Article: ) calls for the state to upgrade its voting machines to ones that have a paper trail and county clerks agree that change is needed. New Jersey is only taking the smallest step in that direction.There’s Money for Upgrading NJ Election Security but Little for Vital Paper Trail - NJ Spotlight.
A nearly $10 million infusion of cash meant to shore up New Jersey’s highly vulnerable voting system is welcome, but it’s not enough, and it won’t measurably address one big problem – the state’s lack of a verifiable paper record of votes cast. Indeed, the federal grant money the state secured this spring from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission is a fraction of what is needed to transform the state’s election infrastructure, which a number of election experts view as susceptible to hacking or worse.Full Article: Editorial: More changes needed to safeguard NJ elections.
New Jersey: State spending $10M to fix one of most vulnerable voting systems in US | NorthJersey.com
With less than three months until a midterm election that could shift control of the House, New Jersey is planning to spend nearly $10 million in federal money it received this spring to strengthen what is widely considered one of the most vulnerable voting systems in the country. But the grant money from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission is a fraction of what’s needed to improve the state’s election infrastructure from the threats federal officials say are being directed at the U.S., leaving New Jersey susceptible to outside influence when it may also serve as a Congressional battleground. While election officials across the state remain confident that hacking or voting fraud is unlikely — or at least detectable — the 2016 presidential election showed that outside forces are constantly coming up with novel ways to infiltrate the country’s election systems and disrupt one of the most sacred rituals of democracy. “It’s very likely we’ll be susceptible to hacking,” said Aquene Freechild, co-director of a voting campaign for Public Citizen, a liberal nonprofit advocacy group based in Washington, D.C. “The problem in New Jersey is you wouldn’t know if there was a hack or not.”Full Article: NJ spending $10M to fix one of most vulnerable voting systems in US.