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California: Voting issues prompt a probe, grilling of Los Angeles County election chief | Matt Stiles/Los Angeles Times

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday ordered an investigation into complaints about long waits and equipment malfunctions that hampered voting at many poll centers during last week’s primary election. At a hearing on Tuesday, the supervisors ordered the county’s chief elections official, Dean Logan, to explain what they called “serious problems” for voters — and to address them before the general election in November. They didn’t mince words in telling Logan that they were dissatisfied and concerned with the performance of a new $300 million electronic voting system that his office unveiled for the primary. “We made it less accessible for people on Election Day. We made it less convenient. We made it less desirable to vote,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn, whose motion prompted the hearing. “I’m sorry to say I’ve lost confidence, and I know the public has lost confidence. We have to fix this.” Logan, who, in his more than decade on the job, has weathered controversies without such a public rebuke from the supervisors, apologized for the problems that voters experienced, but stood by his long-developed vision for a new voting system. “I hear you, and I hear the voices of our voters and of our poll workers. It was not the implementation we were hoping for. I regret that and I apologize,” Logan said. “I also accept and take seriously my responsibility for addressing these issues.”

Full Article: Voting issues prompt a probe, grilling of L.A. election chief - Los Angeles Times.

California: Los Angeles County built its new voting machines from scratch. Will they be ready? | Kevin Monahan, Ben Popken, Rich Schapiro and Cynthia McFadden/NBC

Los Angeles County has spent the last 10 years creating what it hopes is the voting system of the future, a $300 million fleet of cutting-edge machines built from scratch. But as it prepares to roll out the new equipment for the first time when early voting in California’s Democratic primaries kicks off next week, the county is in a race against the clock to shore up critical vulnerabilities highlighted in an alarming third-party assessment. The technical report commissioned by the California secretary of state identified a wide variety of security flaws and operational issues, including insecure ballot boxes and exposed USB ports that rogue actors could exploit to alter votes. “At first reading, it’s terrifying,” said Richard DeMillo, a computer science professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology who specializes in voting security. “There are things that are clear security vulnerabilities in the system that are brushed aside.” L.A. County Registrar Dean Logan, who is in charge of the system, said the majority of the security flaws have been fixed, and the county has complied with the requirements set out by California Secretary of State Alex Padilla. Padilla just last month approved the system for use in the Democratic primaries so long as certain conditions are met.

Full Article: LA County built its new voting machines from scratch. Will they be ready?.

California: Los Angeles County’s New Voting System Is Still Uncertified. Why Election Security Experts Are Worried | Libby Denkman/LAist

Los Angeles County is moving full steam ahead with plans to use its new election equipment for the first time in the upcoming presidential primary. The system, which includes high-tech “ballot marking devices,” has the potential to revolutionize the election industry, creating a transparent and fully accessible way to vote. But for all its innovations, some experts in the voting security community worry it’s not ready for prime time. For starters, the state has yet to sign off on the new technology — and it’s coming down to the wire: In-person voting begins in six weeks, on Feb. 22.

Certification testing has uncovered:

  • Dozens of critical user interface and security problems, according to recent published reports and conversations with experts.
  • The Secretary of State found vulnerabilities that left the door open to bad actors changing voting data and, ultimately, the outcome of an election.
  • Testers could also access and alter electronic records and get into physical ballot boxes — all without detection.

Some candidates for local offices are so disturbed by how ballots appear on the machines that cities like Beverly Hills are exploring lawsuits. But Dean Logan, the Los Angeles County Registrar Recorder, says his office has worked hard to address and mitigate all concerns. The issues with the actual voting system come at the same time L.A. County is fundamentally changing not just how but where people vote. Many observers are concerned that shift in voting location alone will lead to widespread confusion.

Full Article: LA's New Voting System Is Still Uncertified. Why Election Security Experts Are Worried: LAist.

California: Los Angeles County Offering New Ballot Casting Process For Voters in 2020 | R.J. Johnson /KFI

Los Angeles County’s antiquated voting system is getting a badly needed upgrade in time for the upcoming 2020 elections. Starting next year, more than 5.2 million residents will have the chance to use the Voting Solutions for All People, or VSAP, which aims to make voting for residents easier, more secure and transparent. The new Ballot Marking Devices were designed by the Registar-Recorder/County Clerk in response to the aging system and meant to make it easier for voters to to customize their voting experience to fit their needs. Voters will be able to access 13 languages, adjust the touch screen to a comfortable angle, change the display settings such as text size and contrast or go through the ballot using the audio headset and control pad. Rest assured, the Ballot Marking Device is NOT connected to any kind of a network or the internet. If you’re not as technically-savvy as others, don’t worry, the easy-to-follow instructions guide voters through the voting process without any need for assistance.

Full Article: L.A. County Offering New Ballot Casting Process For Voters in 2020 | KFI AM 640.

Philippines: Clans in Congress want to go ‘hybrid’: Comelec line change: 7 Duterte appointees to run 2022 elections | Malou Mangahas and Karol Ilagan/MindaNews

Clean, honest, inclusive, and credible elections might well turn into just a pipedream when the votes for president, vice president, legislators, and local officials come up in May 2022. As it is, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has already found itself confronted by big back and forward issues: unsettled flawed supplies contracts and weak project management systems that marked the May 2019 elections; five of its seven commissioners, and its executive director, retiring between January next year to February 2022; and an apparently concerted effort by politicians to write finish to its automated-election system or AES. Claiming fraud was triggered by defective vote-counting machines, politicians from old political clans led no less by President Rodrigo R. Duterte have urged Comelec and Congress to junk the AES and instead revert to a hybrid system of elections, or one that is partly manual and partly automated. But election observers worry that this hybrid system posits opportunities for ballot-box stuffing and snatching, and the dagdag-bawas system driven by the guns, goons, and gold of elections past. Complicating matters is the fact that the push for ‘hybrid’ elections is unfolding as Comelec prepares for impending major changes among its commissioners. In fact, by the time of the next synchronized presidential, legislative, and local elections in May 2022, the poll body will face a major topline change. Worse yet, the changing of guards could happen midway in the campaign period.

Full Article: Clans in Congress want to go ‘hybrid’: Comelec line change: 7 Duterte appointees to run 2022 elections | MindaNews.

United Kingdom: Subcontractor’s track record under spotlight as London Mayoral e-counting costs spiral | Kat Hall/The Register

Concerns have been raised over a key supplier of an e-counting system for the London Mayoral elections in 2020. The contract, split between Canadaian integrator CGI and Venezuelan-owned Smartmatic, will cost nearly £9m – more than double the procurement cost of £4.1m for the system at the last election in 2016. During a July hearing about the 2020 elections at the London Assembly Oversight Committee, members heard that Smartmatic, which builds and sells electronic voting tech, had worked on the Scottish elections. However, the London Assembly has since confirmed to The Register that Smartmatic was not involved. The company was also recently blamed for a number of technical glitches in the Philippine elections. The London Assembly was told costs had increased because the new vote-counting system offered better functionality than the previous procurement.

Full Article: Subcontractor's track record under spotlight as London Mayoral e-counting costs spiral • The Register.

Philippines: Smartmatic presents alternative digital poll system | Roderick Abad/Business Mirror

Following the success of the recent 2019 midterm elections, Smartmatic has vowed to keep on providing a secure voting technology and transparent poll process to the Philippines as the government looks for an alternative Automated Election System (AES). “Smartmatic has been a leader in providing an efficient, secure and transparent automated election system in many counties and in the Philippines. We want to continue this and strengthen our partnership with the government in providing a secure, faster and credible election system,” said Ramaakanth Sake, president of Smartmatic Asia Pacific. The company participated in the AES Technology Fair of the Department of Information and Communications Technology on July 15. The event had different local and global providers presenting their concept or prototype of an alternative AES that could be utilized for the 2022 national and local elections. Smartmatic showcased its latest direct recording electronic voting machines, which use a touch screen to eliminate the need for paper ballots and lessen the possibility of read errors. Per the elections technology firm, the touch screen would need a voter’s fingerprint prior to its perusal.

Full Article: Smartmatic presents alternative digital poll system | BusinessMirror.

Philippines: Comelec on trial | Jejomar C. Binay/Manila Bulletin News

A few days after the mid-term elections in May, no less than President Duterte himself called on the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to replace Smartmatic owing to allegations of election fraud. Almost two months have passed since the President’s remarks. But after the perfunctory reactions from Comelec officials, it seems that the poll body has opted to keep mum on the touchy subject. The issue, however, would be hard to brush off. The positioning for the 2022 presidential elections is expected to start in earnest. But unlike the 2010 and 2016 presidential elections, there is now a cloud of doubt on the reliability of electronic voting. And in a span of nine years, it appears that Comelec’s credibility has plummeted from the nearly universal acclaim it received in 2010. The descent to ignominy began in the eyes of many observers in 2017, with a very public spat with then Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista. Among the many damning revelations made were supposed documents showing alleged commissions received by the former poll chief from their election technology supplier, Smartmatic.

Full Article: Comelec on trial » Manila Bulletin News.

Philippines: Smartmatic still wants to be part of Philippine elections | Ralf Rivas/Rappler

Technology company Smartmatic remains optimistic that it will still be the government’s pick to be the provider of vote-counting machines (VCMs) for succeeding elections, despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s view that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) must end ties with them. Machines that reject ballots, transmission delays, and over-voting which eventually led to votes not being counted were just some of the problems encountered during the May 2019 elections. The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the Comelec hosted a technology fair on Monday, July 15, to scout for possible alternatives to Smartmatic’s system. Despite the President’s criticism, Smartmatic showed up and presented hardware such as a direct recording electronic voting machine or touchscreen.

Full Article: Smartmatic still wants to be part of Philippine elections.

Philippines: Supreme Court junks pleas on source code review in vote counting machines | Benjamin Pulta/The Inquirer

The Supreme Court (SC) has turned down petitions, which seek to compel the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to allow groups to open and review the source code in the vote counting machines (VCMs) as provided for under Republic Act 9369 or the Election Modernization Act of 1997. In an banc decision dated April 30 and released Monday, the High Court likewise denied the motion of the petitioners — Sen. Richard Gordon, the Bagumbayan-NVP Movement Inc. and Tanggulang Demokrasya — to hold former Comelec chair Sixto Brilliantes Jr. in contempt for his failure to comply with his commitments to the Court during the May 8, 2013 oral arguments to, among others, make the source code available for review and to grant more time to the parties to comply with the requirements to do so. “In deciding that Chairman Brillantes is not liable for indirect contempt, the Court focuses solely on the undertakings that were directly promised to the Court, not those which the petitioner feels were promised,” the SC added. The High Court dismissed on the ground of “being moot and academic” while their plea to cite Brilliantes for contempt was junked for “utter lack of merit.”

Full Article: SC junks pleas on source code review in vote counting machines | Philippine Canadian Inquirer.

Philippines: Gordon, groups lose bid to scrutinize source code | Tetch Torres-Tupas/The Inquirer

The Supreme Court has dismissed the petitions filed by Senator Richard Gordon and two other groups asking that it compel the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to allow groups to open and review the source code in the vote-counting machines provided for under Republic Act 9369 or the Election Modernization Act of 1997. Petitioners Bagumbayan-NVP Movement Inc. and Tanggulang Demokrasya specifically want the high court to ask the Comelec to use digital electronic election returns and provide for the basic security safeguards, which include the source code review, vote verification, and random audit in compliance with RA 9369. The high court took note of the existence of several rules and resolutions governing the conduct of the automated elections, including Resolution No. 10458 (General Instructions for the conduct of Random Manual Audit relative to the May 13, 2019 Automated National and Local Elections and subsequent elections thereafter), on December 5, 2018, Resolution No. 10460, or the General Instructions on the constitution, composition and appointment of the Electoral Board; use of the Vote Counting Machines; the process of testing and sealing of the Vote Counting Machines; and the voting, counting and transmission of election results, among others.

Full Article: Gordon, groups lose bid to scrutinize source code.

Editorials: Venezuela’s insecure elections have caused political uproar | Kristen Nyman/The Detroit News

Venezuela uses what has been referred to as the most secure voting system in the world. Its Smartmatic voting machines are theoretically tamper-proof, requiring biometric voter authentication twice during the process. The system operates offline during the time votes are cast, so any direct attempts by hackers to change votes are rendered ineffective. The machines generate paper copies of votes, which are placed in a secure lockbox and counted manually multiple times for verification. Voter-verified paper trails are generated in the form of take-home receipts. Finally, the system is auditable at every stage of the vote. On the surface, it is difficult to see how the voting process could be more secure. Yet despite this impressive level of security, Venezuelans are violently protesting in the streets less than a year after the vast majority apparently elected President Nicolas Maduro using these highly secure Smartmatic machines. This begs the question: How did Maduro go from winning with almost 70 percent of the vote one year to hanging onto his presidency by a thread the next? The short answer is that Maduro never had the support of the people to begin with, and that his second term was the result of a fraudulent election.

Full Article: Opinion: Venezuela's insecure elections have caused political uproar.

Philippines: Voting machine glitches disrupt Philippines poll | Andreo Calonzo and Philip J. Heijmans/Washington Post

Malfunctioning machines and hundreds of arrests for suspected vote buying disrupted the Philippines’ midterm elections on Monday. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is poised for a majority win in both houses of Congress, even with slowing economic growth and controversial policies including a deadly drug war. Over 18,000 government positions are up for grabs in the midterm elections, including half of the 24-seat Senate and about 300 posts in the House. Polls are set to close at 6pm and among the stumbles have been defects in 600 voting machines, causing long queues and delays in several areas, the Commission on Elections said.

Full Article: Voting machine glitches disrupt Philippines poll.

Georgia: Voting system contract attracts bids from large election companies | Atlanta Journal-Constitution

At least four election companies submitted confidential bids before Tuesday’s deadline to sell voting machines to Georgia, which plans to become the first state to roll out touchscreen-and-printer voting technology for every voter starting next year. The competition for the state’s $150 million contract will now be evaluated by government officials, and a decision on the state’s next election company is scheduled for mid-July. The selection process will fuel debates over election integrity and ongoing lawsuits following a contentious decision by the Georgia General Assembly to switch from electronic voting machines to a similar system that adds printed-out paper ballots. Critics say both systems are inherently insecure, and they want Georgia to use paper ballots filled out by hand. The Secretary of State’s Office wouldn’t release any information about the companies bidding on the contract, citing a state law that exempts proposals and cost estimates from public disclosure until the government gives notice of intent to award a contract to the successful bidder. The law says disclosure would undermine the goal of obtaining the best value during negotiations. But four large election companies confirmed to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that they submitted bids before Tuesday’s deadline.

Full Article: Georgia receives bids for $150 million voting system.

South America: E-voting firm Smartmatic could miss out on Brazilian and Venezuelan election | BNamericas

The printers developed by Venezuelan-owned e-voting firm Smartmatic have been rejected this week in a vote-casting compliance test carried out by Brazil’s top electoral court TSE. The test concluded that Smartmatic’s “engineering model” did not comply with the bidding requirements. While the QR codes printed by the Smartmatic model were read correctly by electronic devices, the proportions of the codes did not meet the requirements, TSE said. Smartmatic had won with a 67.3mn real-bid (US$20.7mn) a public tender held in January by TSE to provide 30,000 printers for Brazil’s general elections in October. Those printers are expected to be integrated to the same number of voting machines to give voters a paper copy of their vote. … Meanwhile, Smartmatic is also most certainly out of the April elections in the country where it began its operations: Venezuela.

Full Article: E-voting firm Smartmatic could miss out on LatAm's key election year - BNamericas.

Venezuela: False Election Turnout Reported, Voting Company Says | The New York Times

The Venezuelan government reported false turnout figures for its contentious election over the weekend, announcing a tally that had been altered by at least one million votes, a software company involved in setting up voting systems for the country said on Wednesday. “We know, without any doubt, that the turnout of the recent election for a National Constituent Assembly was manipulated,” the company, Smartmatic, said in a statement. The vote was part of an ambitious plan by the government to consolidate power. President Nicolás Maduro instructed Venezuelans to select from a list of trusted allies of the governing party — including his wife — who will rewrite the nation’s Constitution and rule Venezuela with virtually unlimited authority until they finish their work.

Full Article: Venezuela Reported False Election Turnout, Voting Company Says - The New York Times.

National: Voting machines and election systems – a quick look | Associated Press

Digital voting machines are in the spotlight in Venezuela, where the head of Smartmatic, a maker of election systems used in the country’s tumultuous constituent-assembly election, said Wednesday that the official turnout figure had been “tampered with .” The company’s CEO said the count was off by at least 1 million votes — possibly in either direction. Tibisay Lucena, head of Venezuela’s National Electoral Council, dismissed that allegation as an “irresponsible declaration” that might lead to legal action. The government-stacked electoral council claims more than 8 million people voted in the election for a nearly all-powerful constituent assembly. Independent analysts have expressed doubts at that number. Here’s a look at the technology and politics of voting machines and election systems. The voting-machine market is a speck in the prodigious tech sector. Iowa University computer scientist Douglas Jones estimates its annual revenues in the United States at less than $200 million — roughly what Google pulls in every day. It’s much harder to get reliable information about the fragmented global market for election systems.

Full Article: Voting machines and election systems - a quick look | Colorado Springs Gazette, News.

Venezuela: Election results ‘manipulated’ by at least 1 million votes, polling company says | The Washington Post

Election results decried by government opponents as a brazen power grab were manipulated by at least 1 million votes, the company that provided Venezuela with its voting system said Wednesday. Antonio Mugica, chief executive of London-based Smartmatic, which has provided technology for Venezuelan elections since 2004, said it detected an inflated turnout figure Sunday through the nation’s automated balloting system. “With the deepest regret, we have to say that the turnout data presented on Sunday, July 30 for the constituent election was manipulated,” Mugica said at a news conference in London. His company’s analysis of the data, Mugica said, suggested an inflated number of “at least 1 million” — a potentially important difference that would allow the government to claim a higher turnout than an opposition-held unofficial ballot last month.

Full Article: Venezuela election results ‘manipulated’ by at least 1 million votes, polling company says - The Washington Post.

Venezuela: Election turnout figures manipulated by one million votes: election company | Reuters

Turnout figures in Venezuela’s Constitutional Assembly election were manipulated up by least 1 million votes, Smartmatic, a company which has worked with Venezuela since 2004 on its voting system, said on Wednesday. “We know, without any doubt, that the turnout of the recent election for a National Constituent Assembly was manipulated,” Smartmatic CEO Antonio Mugica said at a news briefing in London. Mugica said Smartmatic, which has provided electronic voting technology for elections around the world, was able to detect the overstated officially announced turnout because of Venezuela’s automated election system. “We estimate the difference between the actual participation and the one announced by authorities is at least 1 million votes,” he said.

Full Article: Venezuelan election turnout figures manipulated by one million votes: election company.

Australia: New South Wales Electoral Commission given $5.4m to rebuild iVote | iTnews

The NSW Electoral Commission scored $5.4 million in this year’s state budget to rebuild its iVote online voting system in time for the next state election in 2019. The funding is part of a $23 million package to improve the agency’s online systems, which will also see the introduction of “an end-to-end solution for the disclosure of political donations, expenditure and the lodgement of public funding claims,” budget documents state. Last month the NSWEC asked the market to suggest off-the-shelf software that could replace the online voting system’s current core platform. “The RFI [request for information] process will give suppliers the opportunity to demonstrate new or innovative solutions that may better meet the needs of the NSWEC,” the agency said at the time.

Full Article: NSW Electoral Commission given $5.4m to rebuild iVote - Strategy - Software - iTnews.