Georgia: State’s voting machines could be at risk from age | Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Thousands of voting machines used for elections across Georgia are at least 13 years old and dangerously close to becoming outdated, according to a recent national report documenting the age of machines used across the nation. State officials, however, say voters should have no doubts that they are maintained well and in good working order. They also don’t plan to replace them any time soon, despite concerns from both local election officials and voting advocates that Georgia needs to start planning for an overhaul that could cost millions of dollars. “We have done a very good job taking care of this equipment,” said Merle S. King, who leads the Center for Election Systems at Kennesaw State University. The center since 2002 has worked on behalf of the state to oversee the operation of the machines and make sure the intricate web of Georgia’s voting system performs smoothly for every federal, state and county election held across the state.

Philippines: Comelec doubtful on touch screen technology | Philippines Star

Voters in the coming elections may not be able to try out the new automated election system (AES) after all. The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is reportedly having second thoughts on pilot-testing the touch screen technology and Internet voting system for the 2016 electoral exercise. A Comelec source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the commission is reviewing a previous decision to pilot test the Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) or touchscreen technology.

Philippines: Comelec willing to shelve Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) technology | The Manila Times

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) may abandon a planned pilot-testing of a touchscreen voting system or Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) technology in Pateros, Metro Manila for the 2016 elections as some lawmakers and information technology experts criticize the system for being expensive and less transparent. If it will do away with the DRE testing, the poll body will have no choice but to use the existing Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines. Acting Comelec Chairman Christian Robert Lim, during a recent hearing of the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on the Automated Elections System (JCOC-AES), said the poll body can still cancel the pilot-testing of the DRE technology since the contract for the supply of DRE machines has not been awarded. Sen. Aquilino Pimentel 3rd, chairman of the joint panel, asked Lim about the possibility of shelving the touchscreen voting in 2016 and use PCOS or the transparent and credible election system (TCrES), which is being pushed by various election watch groups and Filipino IT experts.

Philippines: Smartmatic lone eligible bidder for touchscreen voting system | Rappler

The joint venture led by Smartmatic-Total Information Management (TIM) Corporation was the only bidder that passed the first stage of the bidding for the lease of touchscreen voting machines for the 2016 national elections. On Tuesday, December 16, the bids and awards committee (BAC) of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) voted 3-2 to declare the Smartmatic-TIM joint venture eligible to proceed to the second stage of the bidding process. Bids committee chairperson Helen Aguila-Flores, vice chairperson Jubil Surmeida, and member Divina Blas-Perez voted for Smartmatic-TIM’s eligibility, while members Charlie Yap and Maria Juana Valeza deemed Smartmatic-TIM as ineligible.

Philippines: Comelec to test touchscreen voting system in 2016 polls | BusinessMirror

THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) said on Monday that it has approved the pilot-testing of touchscreen and Internet voting sytems in Pateros, Metro Manila, and select sea-based Filipinos during the 2016 elections. Both Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes and the Committee on Overseas Absentee Voting head, Commissioner Lucenito Tagle, disclosed during separate interviews that the poll body has already issued a resolution formalizing the commissioners’ consensus to test the touchscreen and Internet voting systems. “We have already issued a resolution, which is to use all the 410 Direct Recording Electronic [DRE] units in Pateros since it fits the requirements of pilot-testing,” Brillantes said. Meanwhile, Smartmatic-Total Information Management Corp. has to overcome yet another legal challenge in order to advance to the next stage of the bidding for additional voting machines for use in the 2016 national elections. This after the bids and awards committee of the Commission on Elections was asked to exclude the Venezuelan firm from the proceedings on grounds of eligibility.

Maryland: Use of old voting machines angers state senators | Baltimore Post-Examiner

Sen. Richard Madaleno said Thursday on the floor of the Senate he was shocked by the news that Maryland will not be replacing old touchscreen voting machines with more advanced technology before the 2014 election. “I was under the impression that we were going to have new voting machines in place by then,” Madaleno said during debate on a bill to make voting easier. He added he was concerned that an amendment on that bill calling for the State Board of Elections to research voters’ wait times would distract the board from the urgent task of purchasing modern voting machines. “I’m worried that we’re inadvertently giving the State Board of Elections an excuse to say that they’re not able to get the new voting system,” said Madaleno, a Montgomery County Democrat. The amendment was later passed.

West Virginia: Jefferson County Blames Glitch For Late Returns | Wheeling News-Register

Unofficial election night results show Jefferson and Harrison counties had the highest voter turnout for the 2012 presidential election among local counties in Ohio and West Virginia. Jefferson County also was the last of the local counties to complete its ballot count, with final numbers not being reported there until after 2:30 a.m. Wednesday. Election officials blamed a computer glitch and a high number of early absentee ballots for the delay, and Jefferson County Board of Elections members are expected to meet soon to discuss election night issues. Both Jefferson and Harrison counties had voter turnouts of 66 percent.

National: New Election System Promises to Help Catch Voting-Machine Problems | Wired

When voting system activists in the U.S. managed to get many paperless electronic voting machines replaced a few years ago with optical-scan machines that use paper ballots, some believed elections would become more transparent and verifiable. But a spate of problems with optical-scan machines used in elections across the country have shown that the systems are just as much at risk of dropping ballots and votes as touchscreen voting machines, either due to intentional manipulation or unintentional human error. A new election system promises to resolve that issue by giving election officials the ability to independently and swiftly audit the performance of their optical-scan machines.

Venezuela: National Electoral Council Says Voting System is “Armoured” for Presidential Vote |

Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) undertook its final test of voting machines yesterday as part of preparations in the lead up to the presidential vote on Sunday, when incumbent President Hugo Chavez will stand against right-wing opponent Henrique Capriles Radonski. 600 voters representing each of Venezuela’s 24 regional states were brought to a large CNE warehouse in the central Miranda state for the test yesterday. While the participants voted on the 200 randomly selected machines, CNE technicians, representatives of the presidential candidates, and the electoral accompaniment mission from the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) were able to assess the functioning of the voting system. The audit was also used to test the functioning of the electronic transmission of voting information to the CNE’s central totaling system.

Editorials: Ignoring the real threat of fraud | Lawrence Norden/

Why are states with new voting restrictions so unconcerned about fraud that is the real threat to our elections? Over the past 18 months, in a bitterly partisan environment, several states have passed new restrictions on access to voting. They often say they did so to prevent fraud. But something doesn’t add up. The very states that passed the most restrictive laws have also failed to take basic security steps recommended by experts to prevent fraud — steps that nearly every other state in the country has taken. Let’s look at the most controversial (and common) of the new voting laws. Nine states have passed restrictive voter ID requirements that could be in effect this November, depending on the outcome of legal challenges. Under these laws, if a voter cannot produce a specified type of government-issued photo identification — most commonly, a driver’s license — his or her vote will not count. Period. Because millions of Americans do not have the kind of ID required by these laws, the Brennan Center for Justice and others have objected to them. We argue that there should be some way for people who don’t have the ID required by these laws to verify who they are and cast a ballot that will count.

Voting Blogs: I Have CONFIDENCE … in the Election System? | Election Academy

Very often, when you listen to election policy debates, you hear one (and usually both) sides invoking the value of “voter confidence”. The term isn’t very well-defined, but it is thought to capture a general sense of satisfaction with and acceptance of the election system. It also has a certain appeal; if democracy rests on the consent of the governed, confidence can be considered an important measure of the degree to which voters accept the results of elections and the frequent transfer of power between parties or individuals who otherwise fiercely disagree. Fortunately, voter confidence has been a popular subject of study by political scientists, who examine responses to public opinion surveys to divine how confident (or not) voters are about voting systems and procedures.

National: The Dangers of Man-in-the-Middle in Voting Machines |

The Election Day is fast approaching in every state in the country. Security experts and researchers from Vulnerability Assessment Team or VAT at Argonne National Laboratories made a video that demonstrates a simple and non-cyber man-in-the middle or MITM attacks on the voting machine – the Diebold AccuVote TS Electronic Voting Machine. The researchers Jon Warner and Roger Johnston inserted customized hardware costing only 10 dollars into the Diebold AccuVote TS.

They were able to read the touchscreen vote using it and they were able to alter the information that was stored within. Changing the electronic votes isn’t really new; however, with the addition of a 16 dollars, the team was able to have a remote control that can operate and perform the MITM attacks even if they were miles away from the machine.

It was even stated that the levels of sophistication needed to accomplish the deed was comparably easy; even starters can accomplish it without any hardships. The same multi-disciplinary team of Argonne National Laboratories that is composed of physicists, digital computer forensics experts, computer engineers, white hat hackers, security researchers and also social scientists has demonstrated the same flaws on the machines of Sequoia Voting Solutions.

Voting Blogs: L.A.’s Elections Overhaul Could Provide a New Model |

Dean Logan, the registrar-recorder/county clerk in Los Angeles County (the largest voting district in the country), is currently facing a daunting goal that will affect over 4 million voters: completely overhauling its dated election system over the next five years. Recognizing that it’s time for a change, Logan and his office are now trying to determine what, exactly, should they replace their election system with. They might wind up with something truly unique, something of the people.

The current system, Logan says, lacks the flexibility to suit the county’s increasingly diverse population. The county currently uses something like a punchcard voting system adapted from technology developed more than 40 years ago. Voters slide a paper ballot into a template with candidate names and mark it with ink. The ballots can be tabulated quickly, are easy to store, and provide a physical record of each vote. But they don’t list candidate names on the actual paper — those appear on the template — so it’s difficult for those who use the increasingly popular mail-in option to case their votes. The system also offers little in the way of of sophisticated language assistance or help for disabled voters.

“It’s old technology,” Logan says. “It’s not going to sustain a whole lot longer.”
None of the system’s original developers are employed by the county, and it’s become increasingly difficult to find people “with requisite skills in obsolete mainframe technologies” to replace retiring staff, according to a county report. Purchasing a new system don’t fit well with L.A. County’s operations: direct-recording electronic (DRE or touchscreen) machines are too expensive to be rolled out and maintained across 5,000 polling locations. A low-tech system — such as one that relies on hand-counting — could yield inaccuracies in a county as large as Los Angeles.

South Carolina: Audit shows Richland, Colleton Counties had most 2010 ballot problems |

State election officials have finished a county-by-county review of the November 2010 vote, concluding that Richland County was one of the biggest offenders in miscounting those general-election ballots.

The eight-month auditing process determined that “human error” was the culprit in mistakes made in “a number of counties” across South Carolina, said Chris Whitmire, assistant director of the S.C. Election Commission. The discrepancies would not have changed the outcome of any race or issue, Whitmire said.

Conducting the audit forced state officials to develop a new computer program that counties can use to identify specific problems in data collection from the touchscreen machines. The state has been using the machines for six years. “We think future elections are going to be better because of it,” Whitmire said.

Wisconsin: Supreme Court recount cost $520,000-plus, survey shows |

The recent recount in the Wisconsin Supreme Court race between Justice David Prosser and challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg cost counties more than $500,000, an Associated Press survey found.

The AP queried election officials in all 72 counties, asking for their best cost estimates. Seventy counties reported spending a total of nearly $520,500. The actual cost was likely higher because two counties and the state didn’t provide estimates.

Waukesha County appears to have spent the most. It estimated its cost at $129,000, with more than a third of that going to pay a retired judge who oversaw the recount after the embattled county clerk recused herself.