National: ElectionGuard could be Microsoft’s most important product in 2020. If it works | Alfred Ng/CNET

Building 83 doesn’t stand out on Microsoft’s massive Redmond, Washington, headquarters. But last week, the nameless structure hosted what might be the software giant’s most important product of 2020. Tucked away in the corner of a meeting room, a sign reading “ElectionGuard” identifies a touchscreen that asks people to cast their votes. An Xbox adaptive controller is connected to it, as are an all-white printer and a white ballot box for paper votes. If you didn’t look carefully, you might have mistaken all that for an array of office supplies. ElectionGuard is open-source voting-machine software that Microsoft announced in May 2019. In Microsoft’s demo, voters make their choices by touchscreen before printing out two copies. A voter is supposed to double-check one copy before placing it into a ballot box to be counted by election workers. The other is a backup record with a QR code the voter can use to check that the vote was counted after polls close. With ElectionGuard, Microsoft isn’t setting out to create an unhackable vote — no one thinks that’s possible — but rather a vote in which hacks would be quickly noticed. The product demo was far quieter than the typical big tech launch. No flashy lights or hordes of company employees cheering their own product, like Microsoft’s dual screen phone, its highly anticipated dual-screen laptop or its new Xbox Series X. And yet, if everything goes right, ElectionGuard could have an impact that lasts well beyond the flashy products in Microsoft’s pipeline.

Wisconsin: Microsoft tests new voting technology in a small Wisconsin town | Bill Glauber/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Voters in the Town of Fulton, which is 8 miles north of Janesville in Rock County, gave Microsoft’s ElectionGuard software a tryout. ElectionGuard enables voters to verify that their ballot was counted through generating a ballot tracking code. The software also provides encrypted results. VotingWorks, a nonprofit voting software company, supplied the voting equipment, which consisted of card readers, tablets, ballot marking devices and printers. The process appeared seamless. After checking in, voters received a key card to insert into a tablet. They then selected candidates on a touch screen. They printed the ballot and placed it in the ballot box. They received a second printed piece of paper that provided a tracking code that they could use later to verify that their vote was counted, by logging into a Microsoft website.  The verification system does not allow the voter, or anyone else for that matter, to see who they voted for. Although it was the first time the software was used in an election, this was just a test. All of the paper ballots voters cast were to be hand-counted by local election officials.

Namibia: Election court challenge to be heard in January | Estelle De Bruyn/The Namibian

The Supreme Court will on 17 January hear arguments on the electoral challenge through which independent presidential candidate Panduleni Itula and four others are trying to get a rerun of Namibia’s presidential election. Supreme Court judge Dave Smuts today presided over a case management hearing with the various parties to the case to establish a timeline for the filing of court papers and to determine the date of the final hearing. Itula and the other four applicants are basing their attack on the conduct of the presidential election on the Electoral Commission of Namibia’s decision to make use of electronic voting machines (EVMs), and are arguing that the Electoral Act required that the ECN could make use only of EVMs accompanied by a verifiable paper trail.

India: ECIL Directs Disclosure of Information About Electronic Voting Machines and VVPAT Deployment in 2019 Elections | Venkatesh Nayak/The Wire

In September 2019, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative reported that the Bharat Electronics Ltd. (BEL) did a volte face under the Right to Information (RTI) Act about supplying information relating to Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and Voter Verified Paper Trail Units (VVPATs) deployed during the 2019 general elections. After demanding copying charges to provide the information I requested, the central public information officer (CPIO) returned the money, claiming that BEL did not hold some of the information and that disclosing names of engineers deputed to provide technical support for these machines at the constituency-level would endanger their lives. The CPIO also denied access to operational manuals relating to these machines. The CPIO of the Electronics Corporation Ltd (ECIL), which also supplied EVMs and VVPATs for use during the same elections, had also denied information sought in an identical RTI application. Now, in a welcome turnaround, the ECIL’s first appellate authority (FAA) has upheld my first appeal and directed its CPIO to provide access to all information which had been denied earlier. Meanwhile, the BEL’s FAA directed the CPIO to transfer the queries relating to the number of EVMs and VVPATs deployed during the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections to the Election Commission of India (ECI) but upheld his decision to reject information about engineers and operational manuals used.

Indiana: State to start seeing voting equipment changes | John Lynch/Ball State Daily

While some Hoosier voters will start seeing changes in electronic voting systems this election, Muncie will have to wait. In late July, the Indiana Election Commission approved the first voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) for electronic voting systems — a security measure that allows voters to independently verify their vote was correctly recorded, according to a press release from the Office of the Indiana Secretary of State. Almost half of the counties in Indiana use direct record electronic (DRE) machines, the press release stated. These machines have a paper trail in the back of the machines, but not visible to the voter. As a security measure, paper trails that are visible to the voter are being added to VVPAT electronic voting equipment, it stated. “Adding VVPATs to election equipment will help boost voter confidence and allow us to implement risk limiting audits,” said Secretary of State Connie Lawson in the press release. “Together, these practices will show voters at the polls their vote is safe and secure and following up with a post-election audit will confirm their vote was counted. As we prepare for the upcoming presidential election, we will be working to protect 2020 and beyond.”

India: VVPAT-auditing data and credibility of electronic voting machines | Atanu Biswas/The Tribune

Even as some top politicians are raising doubts and have made references to the alleged manipulation of EVMs (electronic voting machines), millions of voters in the country are getting confused. Common people don’t understand the mechanism of a complicated machine like the EVM. Rather, they depend on the institutions and/or their leaders to frame their opinions. However, there was a VVPAT-auditing of the EVMs — five per Assembly constituency of the country — as directed by the Supreme Court. One obvious, yet important, question is how the opinion on EVMs will be reframed with the VVPAT-auditing data. A voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) slip is nothing but a machine-generated ballot paper, verified by the voter himself/herself. And if the VVPAT counts are further tallied with the corresponding EVM counts, that would give a double-check. The objective of tallying VVPAT counts with the corresponding EVM counts is to check whether the EVMs are tampered with or not. If there is no mismatch for a machine, one can safely conclude that there is no tampering in that EVM, at least.

Indiana: Paper trails for electronic voting machines coming to Indiana | David Williams/WISHTV

Millions of dollars are going in to making sure the votes of Hoosiers are safe and verifiable. Soon, it will be much easier for you to verify your vote at the polls. “In 60 of our counties, if you vote on an electronic direct-record machine, you can’t actually see the tape. You can’t actually know how your vote is recorded,” Secretary of State Connie Lawson explained Wednesday. Inside a black box is a paper audit trail that’s added to existing electronic voting machines. So how does it work? “This machine allows me to verify my vote. If I hit verify, you can see this tape moves up,” Lawson explained. “I can see on paper exactly how this machine recorded my vote. It gives the voter more confidence that this is done properly.” That little paper isn’t a receipt, so voters can’t take it home. But, that means election officials can audit the results and confirm the vote was counted.

India: Why Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trails aren’t enough to build confidence in electronic voting machines | Atanu Biswas/Hindustan Times

Two months after the declaration of Lok Sabha election results, conspiracy theories about possible tampering of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) are still doing the rounds. That important opposition leaders have demanded a return to paper ballots and even openly supported EVM-rigging theories has lend credence to the latter – although some of their behavior can be attributed to just being bad losers. Still, doubts about EVMs have been planted, despite the fact that none of the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines showed a mismatch with the EVM count. The Supreme Court ordered the Election Commission of India (ECI) that five VVPATs per assembly constituency (AC) should be matched with the EVM count of votes. Statistically speaking this is adequate to remove doubts about possible tampering of EVMs. In an earlier article in HT dated April 27, 2018, this author had argued that tallying just
11, 29, 58 and 534 VVPATs per parliamentary constituency (PC) would allow us to find a rigged EVM with 95% probability for scenarios where 25%, 10%, 5% and 0.5% of the EVMs were tampered in a given PC. Are EVM rigging fears an example of conspiracy theories defeating statistical methods? Ironical as it may sound; an eighteenth century concept in statistics known as Bayes’ theorem can help

Indiana: 1st paper audit trail for election machines OK’d | Niki Kelly/The Journal Gazette

The Indiana Election Commission recently approved the first voter-verifiable paper audit trail for electronic voting systems — though it’s unclear when Allen County might see the mechanism. The VVPAT, as it is called by election officials, is a security measure that allows voters to independently verify their vote was correctly recorded. In Indiana, almost half the counties use direct record electronic machines. There is a paper trail in the back of the machines, but it is not visible to the voter. As a security measure, paper trails that are visible to the voter are being added to those machines. Lawmakers provided $10 million in the current budget to equip 10% of electronic voting equipment with a VVPAT. Voters will start seeing the equipment at the polls this fall, according to the Secretary of State’s office. By 2029, all voting equipment in the state will be required to have a voter verifiable paper trail.

Indiana: Paper trails for electronic voting equipment approved by Election Commission | The Statehouse File

The Indiana Election Commission on Monday approved the state’s first voter electronic voting system with a verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT), which will allow voters to confirm that their votes have been correctly recorded. Direct record electronic machines are currently used in almost half the counties of Indiana. With these machines, there is a paper trail located in the back, but not visible to the voters. With the new security measure, voters will now be able to view the paper trails when they are added to the electronic voting equipment. “Adding VVPATs to election equipment will help boost voter confidence and allow us to implement risk limiting audits,” said Secretary of State Connie Lawson in a news release. “Together, these practices will show voters at the polls their vote is safe and secure and following up with a post-election audit will confirm their vote was counted.”

India: Supreme Court orders Election Commission to increase VVPAT verification from one Electronic Voting Machine to five | India Today

The Supreme Court on Monday ordered the Election Commission to increase the Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips from one Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) per Assembly constituency to five. The Supreme Court observed that increase in VVPAT verification “would be of greater satisfaction not only of political parties but also for the entire electorate”. “This court would like to observe that neither the satisfaction of the Election Commission, which is a constitutional body, nor the system of EVMs, is being doubted,” the bench said. The bench also said that it was not questioning the accuracy of election results, but the issue was of satisfaction of the electorate. The court’s direction came on a plea by leaders of 21 opposition parties who wanted it to be hiked to 50 per cent of EVMs per Assembly constituency. The opposition parties had argued that the Election Commission was conducting VVPAT matching for less than 0.44 per cent of EVMs in the country.

New Jersey: New voting machines being tried in districts across the state | NorthJersey.com

A decade after New Jersey voters were promised more secure voting machines, some districts will receive new machines through a federally funded pilot program. Voters in Gloucester, Union and Essex counties have already seen new machines, and Passaic County intends to join the pilot this year. Meanwhile, Bergen County officials are taking a wait-and-see approach. Robert Giles, director of the state Division of Elections, wrote to county election officials in September to explain one of the initiatives: the Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail pilot. “This pilot program will afford counties the opportunity to purchase and test new VVPAT voting machines,” Giles wrote. “The goal of this pilot program is to assist counties to begin the process of transitioning from their current paperless voting systems to the new voting systems that produce a voter-verifiable paper record of each vote cast.” The program rolls out in a climate of heightened concern over ballot security. “It’s a step forward; there are better ways to do it and worse ways to do it,” Professor Andrew Appel of Princeton University said about the upcoming replacements.

Texas: SB9, Election Integrity And Voter Rights | Texas Public Radio

The next time Texans vote in a stateside election will be Super Tuesday, on March 3, 2020. Ten states are expected to hold their primaries and caucuses on Super Tuesday, including three big ones: Texas, California and Virginia. There will be a lot on the line for the national and local primary races in Texas, and voting could look very different on that day … if Senate Bill 9 is passed. SB 9 is also known as the Omnibus Elections Integrity Bill. It’s sponsored by Republican State Sen. Bryan Hughes. And in there is a long list of proposed fixes to the way elections are held and ballots are counted in Texas. Some of the big changes would include a requirement for counties to have a paper-vote receipt trail. Critics of the bill say it does nothing to address the biggest problem with voting in Texas. They say it’s too difficult to register and vote. They complain SB9 would make it even harder to vote.

India: For democracy’s sake, electronic voting machines must have proper VVPAT-based audit | Hindustan Times

The bizarre claim made in London recently about the alleged hacking of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in previous elections has done more harm than good by diverting public attention from genuine concerns about EVMs and the Election Commission of India’s (ECI) lack of transparency in the matter. The controversy over the security of EVMs dates back to the early 2000s, and is not confined to India. A consensus has emerged that voters can’t verify whether their votes have been recorded and counted correctly, and that miscounts due to EVM malfunction or fraud are undetectable and unchallengeable. Hence, an additional verifiable physical record of every vote cast in the form of voter verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) is required. In 2013, the Supreme Court mandated the use of EVMs with VVPAT units, and ECI has been deploying these in assembly elections from 2017 onwards.

Verified Voting Blog: Continuous-roll VVPAT under glass: an idea whose time has passed | Andrew Appel

This article was originally posted at Freedom to Tinker on October 19, 2018. States and counties should not adopt DRE+VVPAT voting machines such as the Dominion ImageCast X and the ES&S ExpressVote. Here’s why. Touchscreen voting machines (direct-recording electronic, DRE) cannot be trusted to count votes, because (like any voting computer) a hacker may have…

Botswana: Electoral Bill introduces electronic voting machine paper trail | Mmegi Online

“The Bill introduces (a) VVPAT printer to ensure that votes are supplemented by a permanent paper record of each electronic vote for purposes of auditing electronic ballots,” says the Bill presented by the Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Eric Molale. It further states that the introduction of VVPAT necessitated redrafting of the Amendment in order to synchronise the procedures for the EVM with the verification process provided by the VVPAT printer ballot slips. It will distinguish the EVM voting procedure from voting by ballot paper, while it retains other provisions such as registration of voters, preparation of rolls, deletion of supplementary rolls, assistance of voters by election officers and increase in penalties.

India: Poll panel’s plan to use VVPATs in 2019 elections on track | The Economic Times

EC’s bid to conduct the 2019 general elections using an entirely new set of electronic voting machines with Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) is running four weeks behind schedule. While the general elections are scheduled to be held in May 2019, the 16-lakh VVPAT machines to be used in the polls were to be received by September 2018. According to EC officials, who are closely monitoring the procurement of the machines, the delay has been caused by minor ‘slippages’ related to security of EVMs. EC officials, however, said the plan to use VVPAT machines in 2019 was still on track and such machines would be used across all booths for the first time. ET has learnt that in a review meeting on Wednesday, there were discussions around the security of EVMs which has led to the delay. “Even though we are looking at using new EVMs for the election, it is important that all loose ends related to security are cleared,” a highly placed official said.

India: Election Commission to get 30,000 VVPAT machines by September | Times of India

The Election Commission (EC) is expected to get delivery of around 30,000 voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) voting machines by the first week of September, enabling it to hold 100% paper trail-based assembly polls in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh at the end of this year. The commission, which has a stock of 53,500 VVPAT machines, requires around 70,000 units for Gujarat polls and around 15,000 units to conduct Himachal Pradesh elections. The additional 30,000 machines will complete the requirement for two state polls.

India: Election Commission to tally paper trail slips with electronic voting machines in 5% booths in each assembly seat | The Indian Express

In a bid to further reinforce the credibility of electronic voting machines, the Election Commission (EC) has decided to mandatorily tally paper trail slips with the results of EVMs in five per cent of polling stations in each assembly seat, for all state and Lok Sabha elections. The counting of paper trail slips, however, will not take place in more than 14 polling stations and less than five polling stations in each assembly seat. The stations will be selected or identified at random. This change in the vote counting process will, by the EC’s estimate, delay the announcement of poll results by three hours. The Commission has already decided to link all EVMs with Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines in the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections, scheduled to be held towards the end of this year. VVPAT machines produce a printout of the vote cast using an EVM. The printed ballot slip is deposited in a box and can be used to resolve any dispute regarding the election.

India: Future elections will be held with paper trail, Election Commission tells political parties | Telugu 360

The Election Commission on Friday ruled out any possibility of the EVMs being tampered with in elections even as it announced that all future elections will be held with VVPAT slips to prevent any doubts while the AAP demanded ‘hackathon’, a view others were not apparently enthusiastic about at an all-party meeting convened to discuss worries over the machines. At the end of the day-long meeting, Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi that the poll panel will hold a “challenge” for political parties to prove their allegations that the machines were or could be tampered with. “All future elections will be mandatorily held with VVPAT (Voter-verifiable paper audit trail),” he said. “The Commission will hold a challenge and offer an opportunity to political parties to demonstrate that the EVMs used in the recently-concluded assembly elections were tampered or the EVMs can be tampered with even under the laid down technical and administrative safeguards,” he added.

India: Assembly passes resolution on use of VVPAT slips as directed by Supreme Court | The Tribune

Three days before the all-party meeting called by the Election Commission of India (ECI) to discuss the concerns over electronic voting machines’ (EVMs) reliability, the AAP on Tuesday conducted a mock poll inside the Delhi Assembly to back its allegations that EVMs can be “hacked” and claimed “such rigging” has led to BJP’s successive wins in the recent elections across the country. To lend credence to the whole exercise in the House, the Arvind Kejriwal-led party had invited representatives of the CPI (M), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD, Trinamool Congress (TMC), Janata Dal (U) and Samajwadi Party to see EVMs hacking. CPI-M leader Nilotpal Basu, RJD’s Manoj Jha and leader from the TMC were seen seated in the gallery to see the live demo.
In course, the AAP dared the BJP-led Centre and the ECI that given a chance it can get the EVMs “tampered” through its engineers within 30 hours and in poll-bound Gujarat it requires “just three hours” for the same, before the House adopted a resolution demanding that every election in the country henceforth be held using voter-verified paper audit trail or VVPAT slips as directed by the Supreme Court.

India: Election Commission to buy VVPAT machines in 2 years, issues letter of intent to manufacturers | India TV

The Election Commission has issued a letter of intent for purchase of 16,15,000 Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail ( VVPAT) machines in the next two years to be used in all polling stations in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The Commission issued letter of intent to ECIL and BEL — both PSUs — on Friday, two days after the Union Cabinet cleared its proposal to buy 16,15000 voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) units at an estimated cost of Rs 3,173.47 crore. The poll panel has informed them that the machines would be bought during 2017-18 and 2018-19. The Commission will buy 8,07,500 VVPAT units each from the two manufacturers by September, 2018.

India: Congress questions Government’s ability to provide VVPATs by 2019 elections | Deccan Chronicle

With the Election Commission’s decision to monitor production of the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) by the 2019 assembly elections, the Congress Party on Thursday questioned the government’s ability of providing these machines. “We need at least 16 lakh Paper Trail machines before the 2019 elections. Whether the government will be able to fulfill the target or not is a crucial question. It’s a much wider issue and for the purity of election process it is essential. If the EVMs are not functionally accurate then they cannot be used,” Congress leader K.C. Mittal said. He further said the issue needs to be investigated by expert committees. “In the 2014 parliamentary elections I had raised objections. There is something wrong with the EVMs. The Uttar Pradesh Election Commissioner says he cannot hold municipal elections with the earlier EVMs. Then why were the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh held on the same EVMs? These questions need to be answered,” he added.

India: Cabinet clears Election Commission’s proposal to buy new paper trail machines | The Indian Express

The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, cleared the Election Commission’s proposal to buy new Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines on Wednesday. Ahead of the 2019 General Elections, the EC has been given the go ahead to procure 16,15,000 units, at an estimated base price of Rs. 3,173.47 crore. Since June 2014, the EC has reportedly given at least 11 reminders to the Centre seeking funds for VVPAT machines. “Amount of Rs. 3173 crores have been approved to acquire 16.15 lakh VVPAT machines,” confirmed Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday, reported news agency ANI.

India: Election Commission wants more funds to buy VVPAT machines that generate paper trail of votes | Hindustan Times

The Election Commission has again knocked on the government’s door for immediate release of funds to procure voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines, following the Opposition parties raising their pitch for abandoning electronic voting machines (EVMs) for paper ballots. In a terse letter to the law ministry, the election commission has made an oblique reference to the skepticism over the use of EVMs by the Opposition parties. “It is felt that the process of procurement of VVPATs cannot be delayed any longer given prevailing environment,” the commission said in its letter on March 22. Sources said this is the 11th reminder to the government, though EC officials did not confirm this.

India: Election Commission served notice by top court on efficacy of Electronic Voting Machines | Times of India

The Supreme Court today served a notice to the Election Commission on a complaint filed seeking an investigation into the efficacy and accuracy of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) that some politicians recently said can be “easily manipulated.”
The top court however refused to grant the petitioner’s request to issue a notice to the CBI on the same issue. ML Sharma, the petitioner, had filed the petition after BSP leader Mayawati and then AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal raised questions about EVMs, saying their parties suffered big defeats in UP and Punjab, respectively, because of these machines that had been “tampered with”.

India: Electronic voting machine fraud? Roll out VVPATs, only way to silence doubting politicians, say ex-CECs | The Indian Express

Calling for a quick rollout of the Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines in all polling stations across the country, former Chief Election Commissioners S Y Quraishi and H S Brahma have said that the paper trail system is the only way to silence politicians raising doubts over alleged tampering of electronic voting machines or EVMs. Speaking at The Indian Express Idea Exchange event on Monday (transcript will be published in The Sunday Express), Brahma said: “I personally feel worried when political parties and politicians question the credibility of voting machines. The credibility of EVMs has been established beyond doubt through court judgments. Having said that, I think, once we cover all polling stations with VVPATs, it will put an end to 90 per cent of the allegations leveled against EVMs and we will have the most dependable election process in the world.”

India: Letters for 2 years, SOS to PM, Election Commission still awaits paper trail funds | The Indian Express

In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi four months ago, the Election Commission sought urgent release of funds to procure enough Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines to cover all polling stations ahead of the next Lok Sabha elections in 2019. The EC has sent over 10 reminders to the government on the matter, since June 2014, and the letter to Modi by Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi, on October 25, 2016, was an SOS of sorts. The CEC very rarely writes directly to the PM, with its communication to the government on electoral matters normally limited to Law and Home ministries. Several parties, including the BSP, Samajwadi Party and Aam Aadmi Party, have raised doubts about tampering of EVMs following the Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand results. Before the 2014 general elections, the BJP had talked of EVM tampering on many occasions.

New Jersey: Lawmakers want to require ‘paper trail’ for voting machines | NJ.com

A group of state lawmakers wants to re-enforce an old requirement that voting machines in New Jersey produce a paper trail. A bill introduced in the state Assembly would require new voting machines purchased or leased after its passage to produce a paper record of each vote cast. A law passed more than a decade ago requiring hard copies of vote tallies was later suspended for lack of funding. The bill’s sponsors said in a statement that electronic machines that produce a paper record are now more widely commercially available.

New Jersey: New bill would require New Jersey voting machines to leave paper trail | News 12

Four Democrats in the New Jersey Assembly have introduced a bill that would require voting machines to leave a paper trail of each vote cast. Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker says previous equipment failures and programming errors have resulted in costly disputes that cast doubt on election results. Zwicker says paper records would assure voters that their ballots are counted properly “We want to give people confidence that when they vote, their vote counts and that it went toward the person they were intending to vote for,” Zwicker says.