Midterm elections are just a few days away and the security of the country’s voting systems and machines will be a top priority. 10 News talked with Randy Marchany, Virginia Tech’s information technology security officer, about the possible threats on Election Day. “There’s nothing more critical in a democracy than to vote and have that vote counted accurately,” Marchany said. He said one security concern is the age of the equipment and software currently in use. “A lot of localities across the country are using voting machines that have been around for 10 years, and in computer terms, that is geologic,” Marchany said. “That is in the dinosaur age in terms of what the technology was in 2008, 2006, and this is the type of machines that are being used.”Full Article: Old software, equipment create Election Day security concerns.
Wyoming voting officials have started looking into replacing aging election equipment across the state. A panel of state officials has been convened to determine whether new machines are needed and how much replacement would cost, as well as where to seek funding. “The State of Wyoming is responsible for providing citizens with an election process that can be trusted. Wyoming is leading the charge with this Task Force to ensure that no county is left with voting equipment at risk of deteriorating,” State Election Director Kai Schon said in a statement.Full Article: Murray announces plan to evaluate Wyoming's voting equipment | Wyoming | gillettenewsrecord.com.
The best laid plans of mice, men and elections officials often go awry and that’s exactly what happened to 12 years of studying and planning for Travis County, Texas Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir. Long before anyone ever thought to mention Russians and elections in the same breath, Travis County began looking for a way to improve the security of the county’s voting system and provide a verifiable paper trail. DeBeauvoir was upset that activists were attacking elections administrators for the design of voting systems and the purchase of DRE voting systems that did not have a paper trail.Full Article: electionlineWeekly.
As Americans celebrate Independence Day, it’s worth remembering that the right to vote in free and fair elections stands at the heart of that independence — and that this cherished right is under attack by a hostile foreign power. New revelations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election arrive regularly. Last month came news that Russian hackers had probed the voting networks in 21 states and had executed a cyberattack on a contractor that supplies voting software to states. “They will be back,” former FBI director James Comey warned in congressional testimony. In the face of this threat, the nation’s leaders, at the federal and state levels, have done little to harden defenses against future attacks. For the most part, President Trump has been in denial about Russian meddling, as if acknowledging the problem threatens the legitimacy of his election, and has focused instead on unproven allegations of extensive voter fraud.Full Article: On Independence Day, U.S. elections remain vulnerable.
What would it cost to protect the nation’s voting systems from attack? About $400 million would go a long way, say cybersecurity experts. It’s not a lot of money when it comes to national defense — the Pentagon spent more than that last year on military bands alone — but getting funds for election systems is always a struggle. At a Senate intelligence committee hearing last week about Russian hacking during last year’s election, Jeanette Manfra , the acting deputy under secretary for cybersecurity at the Department Homeland Security recommended that election officials have a paper-based audit process to identify anomalies after an election. While that’s the advice most cybersecurity experts give, right now more than a dozen states use electronic voting machines that have no paper backup. Replacing those machines would go a long way toward protecting one of the core functions of democracy, says Larry Norden of the Brennan Center for Justice in New York. “I don’t think that would cost a huge amount of money. I think it would probably cost between $200 million and $300 million to replace that equipment,” adding that $400 million is his top estimate.Full Article: Making U.S. Elections More Secure Wouldn't Cost Much But No One Wants To Pay : NPR.
Minnesota: Secretary’s push to replace aging election equipment signed into law | Faribault Daily News
Secretary of State Steve Simon is praising a new law that will help replace Minnesota’s aging election equipment, calling it a “critical and necessary investment” to ensure voting equipment works properly and consistently in precincts all around the state. Replacing aging equipment has been a major priority of Secretary Simon’s since taking office and was signed into law May 30. The bill creates a $7 million grant fund to replace Minnesota’s aging election equipment by 2018. It provides up to a 50 percent match between the state and counties for mandatory equipment and up to a 75 percent match for electronic poll books.Full Article: Secretary’s push to replace Minnesota’s aging election equipment signed into law | Community | southernminn.com.
California: Here’s why California officials want $450 million to upgrade elections technology | Press Enterprise
Imagine using a dial-up modem for Internet and VHS for entertainment in 2017. California elections officials say they face a similar situation with the technology used for a bedrock function of democracy. It’s why Secretary of State Alex Padilla supports a bill to raise $450 million through bonds to upgrade elections technology in California’s 58 counties. The bill, AB 668, passed the Assembly 56-19 on Wednesday, May 31. If it passes the Senate and is signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, California voters will decide whether to authorize the bonds in June 2018. Republicans argue the bill, known as the Voting Modernization Bond Act of 2018, is a costly and wrong-headed approach to upgrading elections systems. “The right to vote is our most important right,” said the bill’s sponsor, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, D-San Diego. “But local election officials have to rely on equipment that is rapidly becoming outdated or obsolete.”Full Article: Here’s why California officials want $450 million to upgrade elections technology – Press Enterprise.
A bill that would pay to replace all of Nevada’s electronic voting machines was introduced in the Assembly on Thursday. Assembly Bill 519 would provide a total of $8 million to the Secretary of State’s Elections Division. County elections officials have repeatedly told lawmakers the Sequoia machines are now so old they’re failing, causing numerous problems for poll workers in early voting as well as on election day. Those machines are now more than a decade old and were the state’s first electronic voting system, replacing the old punch card voting machines.
Last week Secretary of State Steve Simon undertook a tour of all 87 counties. He wanted to learn about the local government’s experiences during the 2016 election. His goal was to get the State to give some kind of grant or match to help with the cost of replacing aging voting machines. In 2002, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act, which was a one time federal fund to help purchase equipment. Minnesota purchased most of its equipment between 2004-2007. According to the vendors, the machines are good for 10 years, and can be pushed to 15 years max. In 2017, the max is getting dangerously close. It costs roughly $10,000 per polling location to upgrade. Simon’s case for State funding is that upgrading the machines is a mandatory cost that can’t be deferred. The previous generation of machines was purchased with help from federal funding for all 50 states. 43 states are in need of upgrades.Full Article: Simon urges funding for voting equipment.
A legislative panel on Wednesday narrowly rejected a bill that would transfer $18.5 million in surplus funds from the state Insurance Department’s trust fund to the secretary of state’s office to buy voting equipment for counties. The 14-member subcommittee’s 7-2 vote on Senate Bill 297, sponsored by Sen. Bart Hester, R-Cave Springs, fell one vote short of the eight votes required for approval. Hester said the money would buy “much-needed voting machines in each of our districts.” SB297 also would grant the secretary of state’s office $34.5 million in spending authority for county voting system grants.Full Article: Bill to buy poll gear falls short.
Virginia: Botetourt election officials raise concerns about security of voting machines | Roanoke Times
The board that oversees elections in Botetourt County is raising questions about a building where voting machines are stored next to the offices of an elected official. At a meeting this week, the county’s electoral board voted 3-0 to seek an opinion from Virginia’s attorney general on “whether it violates voting systems security” to keep the machines in close proximity to offices occupied by Commonwealth’s Attorney Joel Branscom and his staff. “The Board’s concerns are obvious,” it wrote in a letter asking for legal advice from Attorney General Mark Herring.Full Article: Botetourt election officials raise concerns about security of voting machines | Botetourt News | roanoke.com.
Lawmakers need to look seriously at replacing Nebraska’s election equipment even though it could cost the state $20 million to $30 million, a leading senator said Wednesday. Sen. John Murante of Gretna said the current equipment is on pace to fail and create major headaches for counties, which are responsible for administering elections. “We simply cannot do nothing,” said Murante, the chairman of the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee. “That is not an option.” His comments during a legislative hearing drew support from Secretary of State John Gale, who said the state should continue covering the cost rather than counties.Full Article: Senator: Nebraska voting equipment needs to be replaced | The Sacramento Bee.
Minnesota’s local government officials say searching the eBay online auction site for voting machine parts is not the best way to keep the foundation of democracy running smoothly. The company that made much of Minnesota’s voting equipment, especially for disabled voters, has moved on to newer technologies and parts for machines used in most Minnesota polling places are hard to find. “The best answer to that is eBay,” Administrative Services Director Deborah Erickson of Crow Wing County told a Minnesota House committee Wednesday, March 1, before the panel approved a bill providing counties $14 million next year.Full Article: Dated voting machines needing improvements | Republican Eagle.
India: Election Commission plans to replace all pre-2006 EVMs with advanced M3 machines | The Economic Times
With Prime Minister Narendra Modi having advocated simultaneous Lok Sabha and state assembly polls in several of his public speeches and President Pranab Mukherjee lending him support, sufficient background is being created for the roll out of this major election makeover. While the Election Commission of India waits for the government to take more concrete legal action, it is alongside readying the new age EVM to take on the challenge. The latest avatar of the Electronic Voting Machine is called ‘M3’ and the Election Commission is looking to ramp up its production ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The plans are to replace all pre 2006 EVMs with the M3- a more sophisticated machine with built in self diagnostics, minimal chances of machine failure and the ability to clamp shut the moment any tampering effort is made.Full Article: Election Commission plans to replace all pre-2006 EVMs with advanced M3 machines - The Economic Times.
North Dakota: Jaeger hopes to restore funding for voting machines, electronic poll books | Prairie Public Broadcasting
Secretary of State Al Jaeger is hoping the state Senate will restore funding for new voting machines and new electronic poll books. Jaeger proposed a $6 million expenditure to replace the voting machines, as well as another $4 million to have electronic poll books in all the counties. But the House nixed both items. Jaeger said the current voting machines were purchased in 2004 as part of the federal Help America Vote Act. He said the counties have had to cannibalize existing machines for parts to keep some of the machines running.Full Article: Jaeger hopes to restore funding for voting machines, electronic poll books | Prairie Public Broadcasting.
Michigan limped through the last election on machines that were more than a decade old, but clerks across the state will soon purchase new ones under contracts approved by the State Administrative Board on Tuesday. “Every election currently, we’re always dealing with different types of mechanical breakdowns … just because the equipment is old and it’s time to upgrade to new technology,” said City of Walker Clerk Sarah Bydalek, who is president of the Michigan Association of Municipal Clerks. Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum said the old machines her precincts use come with humidity issues, and jam if ballots absorb too much moisture. But clerks are expecting those issues to decrease with a statewide rollout of new voting machines by Aug. 2018. The State Administrative Board approved 10-year contracts with three different vendors: Dominion Voting Systems, Election Systems and Software and Hart InterCivic. Secretary of State spokesman Fred Woodhams said each county clerk would choose a system to go with, and local clerks in that county would purchase that system.Full Article: Michigan voters may see new voting machines as soon as August | MLive.com.
Ohio: Secretary of State Jon Husted wants feds to butt out on running state elections | Cleveland Plain Dealer
Secretary of State Jon Husted said cyber attackers would have a hard time disrupting Ohio’s elections but expressed concern about what the federal government could do if it took over the state’s election computer systems. Husted, the state’s chief elections officer, wrote to congressional leaders Thursday asking that the House and Senate make clear that federal agencies cannot involve themselves in the election process. The letter was prompted by comments from Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson that his department would review whether state election systems should be considered as “critical infrastructure” under the Homeland Security Act of 2002. Such a designation would give the federal government ability to step in to protect those systems.Full Article: Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted wants feds to butt out on running state elections | cleveland.com.
Before hundreds of thousands of S.C. Republican voters head to the polls Saturday for their party’s presidential primary, poll workers will be setting out roughly 13,000 voting machines that were purchased more than a decade ago — in 2004. Those machines have a life expectancy of about 15 years, meaning they should be OK Saturday. However, the S.C. Election Commission is asking lawmakers for $41.5 million for a new voting machines. “We’re still confident in our current voting system,” said Election Commission spokesman Chris Whitmire. But, Whitmire added, the voting machines are kind of like a family car — it’s not a good idea to wait until it breaks down to start the search for a replacement.Full Article: THE BUZZ: S.C. Election Commission wants $41.5 million for new voting machines | The State.
As jurisdictions across the country are preparing for 2016’s big election, many are already thinking of the next presidential election—2020 and beyond. This is especially true when it comes to the equipment used for casting and tabulating votes. Voting machines are aging. A September report by the Brennan Center found that 43 states are using some voting machines that will be at least 10 years old in 2016. Fourteen states are using equipment that is more than 15 years old. The bipartisan Presidential Commission on Election Administration dubbed this an “impending crisis.” To purchase new equipment, jurisdictions require at least two years lead time before a big election. They need enough time to purchase a system, test new equipment and try it out first in a smaller election. No one wants to change equipment (or procedures) in a big presidential election, if they can help it. Even in so-called off-years, though, it’s tough to find time between elections to adequately prepare for a new voting system. As Merle King, executive director of the Center for Election Systems at Kennesaw State University, puts it, “Changing a voting system is like changing tires on a bus… without stopping.” So if election officials need new equipment by 2020, which is true in the majority of jurisdictions in the country, they must start planning now.Full Article: The Canvass | November-December 2015.
Next year’s elections in Brazil will be processed manually due to substantial cuts in public spending, it emerged yesterday. This is the first time elections will be carried out through paper-based means since 2000, when electronic voting machines were used to process all votes. E-voting in Brazil was first introduced in 1996 and rolled out gradually in the following years. Municipal elections will take place in October 2016. According to an official statement, more than R$428m ($109.6m) in resources will not be released to the Superior Electoral Court, which impacts the ability to buy the electronic voting devices and other required equipment. “The biggest impact [of the budget cuts] is around the purchasing of electronic voting equipment, as bidding and essential contracting is already underway and [to be concluded] by end of December, with committed spending estimated at R$200m ($51.2m)” the statement added.Full Article: Brazil cans e-voting due to recession | ZDNet.