Lyon County Clerk Tammy Vopat asked commissioners to consider investing in new voting equipment in the coming weeks during a meeting at the courthouse Thursday morning. The equipment which is currently being used in the county is reaching the end of its life. Vopat said the voting machines currently used by the county are 18 years old, and used in conjunction with a tabulating machine well over 30 years old. Vopat provided commissioners with information about equipment from two companies which have been certified by the State of Kansas and are used by other counties in the region. “We have been working very, very hard and for a long time researching election equipment,” Vopat said. “There have been some big counties that have done that and we’ve been watching and taking notes, and listening about what they did, how they did and what they liked and what they didn’t like. That’s been in the process now for probably three years.”
A U.S. senator wants to know how well the country’s top six voting machine manufactures protect themselves against cyberattacks, a move that comes just weeks after federal authorities notified 21 states that they had been targeted by Russian government hackers during the 2016 presidential election. In a letter Tuesday to the CEOs of top election technology firms, Sen. Ron Wyden writes that public faith in American election infrastructure is “more important than ever before.” “Ensuring that Americans can trust that election systems and infrastructure are secure is necessary to protecting confidence in our electoral process and democratic government,” writes Widen, an Oregon Democrat.
Just last weekend, a long-running hackers convention in Las Vegas lined up a dozen U.S. electronic voting machines, many of which were obtained from government auctions and second-hand sources like eBay, and unleashed attendees on them. By the end of the weekend, all of the machines had been breached in one form or another. And while most of the equipment was somewhat out of date in terms of technology, a few of the models are still in use. DefCon 25 organizers said the exercise was about illustrating and helping address security vulnerabilities in the U.S. election system, a popular national conversation topic following allegations that are still under investigation of outside meddling in the 2016 election cycle. On Wednesday, another lineup of voting machines popped up at the Utah Capitol. This time, however, the event was aimed at giving members of the public an opportunity to audition some of the latest in voting technology as part of a state process to choose a new provider of voting equipment for county officials who operate Utah elections.
Secretary of State Mark Martin has decided to purchase a statewide, integrated voting system, including new voting equipment, through a Nebraska-based company although its proposal costs millions more than systems offered by two other companies. The company, Elections Systems & Software (ES&S), submitted a proposal costing $29,928,868; California-based Unisyn Voting Solutions submitted $24,407,805; and Austin, Texas-based Hart InterCivic proposed $18,789,997, Martin spokesman Chris Powell said Monday. When it requested proposals from companies, Martin’s office said they couldn’t exceed $30 million. “The primary factor in the selection of ES&S was capabilities,” Powell said.
Secretary of State Mark Martin’s office has extended the deadline for companies to submit proposals to sell the state new voting machines and has also changed a part of the specifications. The state Board of Election Commissoners Wednesday approved some voting machines sold by Election Systems and Software and by Unisyn voting Solutions, with a deadline of Monday for other companies hoping to qualify to sell machines for 75 counties. It could be a $30 million deal. Vendors had complained that the specifications favored ES&S, which supplied the machines the state currently uses. This became more of an issue because Doug Matayo, a former Republican legislator who’d been Mark Martin’s chief of staff, runs a consulting firm recently hired by ES and S, though he’s said not to be working on this specific deal.
The state Board of Election Commissioners on Wednesday approved three pieces of voting equipment apiece for Nebraska-based Election Systems & Software and California-based Unisyn Voting Solutions to make them eligible to be purchased by Secretary of State Mark Martin for the state’s 75 counties. With Board Chairman A.J. Kelly abstaining, the seven-member board decided that the voting equipment meets the requirements of state law. The equipment consists of two ballot scanners and an electronic marking device used in combination with the scanners “as a combo voting machine,” for each company, according to board records. These pieces of equipment would allow voters to cast paper ballots or mark their votes on electronic screens.
A purchase approved Thursday by the Cape Girardeau County Commission will allow visually impaired voters a little more autonomy when it comes to casting ballots. Starting with April’s election, the county’s accessible voting units will have larger screens — 15 by 15 inches versus the 7-by-3-inch screens currently in use. County Clerk Kara Clark Summers said the larger screens were not available when the county originally purchased accessible voting equipment. The requirements included in the Help America Vote Act of 2002 were the kick-start that brought such equipment to many counties, including Cape Girardeau.
Benton County’s election commissioners favor staying with the company that now provides electronic voting machines to the state, saying it appears best suited to meet the county’s needs. Arkansas is looking at replacing voting machines and systems now in use as they approach the end of their 10-year life span. The state uses voting machines and equipment from Election Systems & Software, one of three companies vying for Arkansas’ business. A measure to appropriate $30 million for new voting equipment is pending in the state Legislature. Counties could receive new equipment this summer if funding is approved, said Kim Dennison, the county’s election coordinator. The commissioners have attended demonstrations of new voting systems by ES&S and by Unisyn Voting Solutions. A presentation by Hart Intercivic, the third company, is set for 9 a.m. today at the Washington County Courthouse in Fayetteville.
The race is on to replace Washington County’s decade-old voting equipment before the 2016 presidential election, the county’s election coordinator said Thursday. Two vendors will meet with election commissioners as part of the companies’ statewide push to grab Arkansas’ next voting equipment contracts, said coordinator Jennifer Price during the commission’s first meeting of the new term. California-based Unisyn Voting Solutions and Nebraska-based Election Systems & Software are both angling for the state’s attention, Price said. Election Systems & Software provides the state’s current equipment and support. New contracts could net either company tens of millions of state taxpayers’ dollars, Price said. “It’s the money that’ll be the holdup,” Price told the three commissioners, who oversee all city and county votes. “The state appropriating the money is the biggest hurdle.”
Floyd County Clerk Christy Eurton made a formal request Tuesday night for 86 more voting machines, along with accompanying scanners and e-poll books totaling $410,000. She will have to wait another month for an answer. The Floyd County Council unanimously voted to table her request until the Feb. 10 meeting. In the next 26 days, councilmen Jim Wathen, John Schellenberger and Brad Striegel will meet with Eurton and the other two members of the election board, Rick Fox and William Lohmeyer, to look at data and further discuss the issue. That committee will report back to the full council next month with a recommendation. The county currently has 70 voting machines, which the election board said is not nearly enough. Eurton said she is on a tight time frame, since the 2015 municipal election primary will be held May 5 and will now include the entire county following the New Albany-Floyd County School Board’s decision Monday to place an $80 million referendum on the ballot. “More machines will only fix part of the problem,” Striegel said after Eurton’s presentation. “I want to see more data.”
One fun reason not to join Yavapai County’s Permanent Early Voting List is to check out the latest high-tech voting machines. The Yavapai County Recorder’s Office and its Elections Department have brand new touch-screen voting machines that talk to users and let them know if they voted for too many or too few candidates. While that’s the most visible of the new voting equipment, the county also has new ballot scanning machines. They count ballots so fast that poll workers at vote centers will no longer scan and modem results to the main Prescott office from various voting centers around the county. Instead, vote center workers will drive to Prescott with the ballots so they can be scanned and counted on the new high-speed machines. Noting that three-fourths of voters now vote early anyway, Recorder Leslie Hoffman and Elections Director Lynn Constabile think ballot counting will get done about the same time as it has in the past, since they are restricted on when they can start. “I have a feeling it’s going to be the same amount of time,” Constabile said.
Those fancy voting machines with touch-pad screens will no longer be used in elections in Clay County. County Clerk Kayla Wang, also the county’s election officer, recommended that the county follow what other counties are doing and return to voting on a paper ballot, according to the meeting minutes. The recommendation is based on presentations commissioners and the Clerk;s Office attended on new voting equipment, which included two demonstrations over the last couple of months. Expense is part of the reason the county is returning to paper ballots. The main reason is that the current election equipment that Clay County uses is no longer being made or supported, Wang said. Most of the state of Kansas is going back to voting on a paper ballot and using a precinct counter at each polling place to tabulate the votes.
The Cherokee Nation’s Election Commission on Dec. 10 unanimously voted to purchase election equipment from Texas-based Hart InterCivic with the expectations of running its own elections in 2015. Election Services Director Connie Parnell said she first contacted the Tribal Rights Employment Office to see if there were any Cherokee-owned election manufacturers from which the EC could purchase the equipment. After learning there were no such companies, the EC moved forward with finding a provider. “There is not a lot of companies left. They’ve all bought out each other,” Parnell said. “And of those that are left – ES&S, Dominion, Hart InterCivic – those are your three major companies that produce election equipment. And they are the manufacturers. They aren’t the middle man.” Parnell said she contacted five companies but only two were interested in working toward the EC’s goal of running its own elections, Hart InterCivic being one.
Voters in Montgomery County will be the first to use some of the latest high-tech voting machines. The black box sitting near the front office looks like a big trash can, but it’s a high tech voting tool and Montgomery County registar Randy Wertz, says Montgomery County is one of the first statewide to have it, “Well all you have to do after you plug it in is then you just turn it on. You push the little button back here.” The electronic guts of the Unisyn OVO optical scanner sit right on top. Montgomery County will test out this 6 thousand dollar machine during the Democratic primary next month.
Hamilton County election officials said the current voting machines are worn out and a new system needs to be in place by the next major election in May 2014. Charlotte Mullis-Morgan, election administrator, said, “We prayed our way through the November and March elections.” She said the new machines may cost in the range of $1 million. She said there are federal funds available to cover the cost. When the election office purchased the current machines in 1998, they were in advance of a number of other election offices on the new-type machines. The cost was covered by county taxpayers. When federal funds later became available to buy voting machines, the county applied for retroactive funds but did not get them.
St. Charles County voters will cast ballots in new voting machines when they go to the polls in April 2014. The County Council voted 6-1 Monday night to spend $1 million for 130 optical scan and 130 disability-capable voting machines from Unisyn Voting Solutions Inc. County Elections Director Rich Chrismer said he expects the new machines to be delivered by June and that they should last eight to 10 years. “I’m happy for the voters because I didn’t trust the machines we had,” Chrismer said Wednesday. Chrismer has been trying to convince the council for the past year that the machines used during the last seven years are at the end of their life cycle and need to be replaced to avoid trouble at the polls. The council voted 4-1 in February 2012 to buy new machines for $1.2 million, but County Executive Steve Ehlmann vetoed that bill because only one bid had been received, and the council later withdrew the bill.
Tennessee: Sevier County’s voting machines to stay in place for liquor measure | Knoxville News Sentinel
Same issue. Same voting machines. For the second time, the Sevier County Election Commission has effectively decided to retain the current voting machines for a March 14 re-vote on the question of offering liquor by the drink in Pigeon Forge. Commissioner John Huff said Thursday he favors keeping the machines for two reasons. “The people who vote are already familiar with them, and our poll workers are familiar with them,” he said. The March 14 vote was set after a judge voided a Nov. 6 due to ballot errors. Huff said those errors were because of human error, not because of a problem with the machines.
After weeks of research and a day of shopping, Page County Board of Supervisors unanimously agreed to purchase new voting equipment during their Tuesday, Jan. 22, meeting. Supervisors agreed to spend $97,084 for new equipment under the brand name Unisyn they viewed Tuesday, Jan. 8 in Clarinda. The cost includes trade-in value of existing equipment and three-year, 0 percent interest financing. The county will use reserve funds in the Local Option Sales Tax budget. Page County Auditor Melissa Wellhausen, whose office oversees elections, said the new equipment is expected to be used for the school board elections on Sept. 10.
St. Charles County is just about to close a deal to purchase hundreds of new, state-of-the-art voting machines. But don’t worry taxpayers — the cost won’t be passed on to you. Like a squirrel storing nuts for the approaching winter, St. Charles county elections director Rich Chrismer has been salting away money raised by leasing out his machines to other election authorities throughout the county. He says that means he’s now been able to save up the million dollars or so needed to purchase 260 voting machines, split evenly between optical scan and ADA-compliant versions.