Editorials: Elections in North Carolina: We must keep high standards | Chris Telesca/News & Observer

North Carolina has consistently ranked high in election integrity since we passed a tough verified voting law in 2005. But – in the name of “competition” – some folks want to take us back to the bad old days before the law was passed, when our standards were low to non-existent. We can’t let that happen. Prior to 2005 our counties used 18 different types of voting machines, vendor support was infrequent, maintenance was limited, training was sparse, and security was a joke. Each county did their own thing with ballot printing, and few complied with federal laws and standards. In 2004, we saw many election problems that came largely from decades of not having or complying with election integrity standards. We had a Florida-style meltdown in Carteret County when 5,000 votes were lost at one early voting location, which almost forced a $7.5 million statewide redo election. After the meltdown, the General Assembly in August 2005 passed the Public Confidence in Elections Act with unanimous bipartisan support. The law created statewide standards administered by the State Board of Elections.

Georgia: Cagle, Kemp battle over Georgia voting system | The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Two of the most prominent Republicans in the race for governor locked in a war of words Thursday over a proposal that would replace the state’s aging voting system with paper ballots. It was the most public rift yet between Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, the two candidates in the governor’s race with statewide victories under their belts. And their feud, which escalated throughout the day, signaled the debate over the 16-year-old touch-screen voting network could play a larger role in the race to succeed Gov. Nathan Deal. It started when Cagle announced he would back a measure to scrap the state’s touch-screen voting machines and largely replace them with a paper-based system. He told WABE that a paper-ballot trail ensures “no games” could be played with votes.

Delaware: Department of Elections pursues voting machine modernization | Delaware State News | Delaware State News

On Thursday morning, the Kent County Department of Elections completed its inspection of all 32 voting machines that will be used in the upcoming Kent County Levy Court special election. … In addition to routine inspection, the department recently has been pursuing modernization of voting equipment. Last year, state election commissioner Elaine Manlove requested a task force to review existing equipment (House Bill 342). On Tuesday the resulting task force met for the first time to discuss a strategy.

Utah: Glitch temporarily disrupts voting in Washington County | The Salt Lake Tribune

Jen McDonald got to her polling location in downtown St. George at 8 a.m. Tuesday, and was informed “there was a glitch” in the voting machines — so she filled out a paper ballot. When Kate Davidson, McDonald’s sister-in-law, went to her polling place on St. George’s south side about 10:30 a.m., the news was worse: “They said, ‘We’re out of ballots and our machines aren’t working.’ ” Davidson, with her 3-year-old and 8-month-old in tow, was given three options: Wait around 20 minutes or longer for the machines to be fixed, go to another polling location where paper ballots were still available, or come back in the afternoon. She chose to come back later.

Arkansas: Jefferson County election chief urges inquiry at courthouse; access to voting machines by one campaign reported | Arkansas Online

At least one campaign in Tuesday’s runoff elections in Jefferson County had access to voting machines and voting records at the Jefferson County Courthouse after hours Monday evening, according to the election commission chairman. Michael Adam, chairman of the Jefferson County Election Commission, called for Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney Kyle Hunter to review courthouse surveillance footage after it was reported that workers for Jefferson County judge candidate Henry “Hank” Wilkins IV’s campaign “went places in the courthouse they weren’t supposed to be.” Adam said it wasn’t clear whether the workers would have been able to manipulate voting records, but he said they could have accessed voter sign-in sheets and voting machines.

Texas: Counties grapple with aging electronic voting systems | KXAN

As the 2016 election approaches, Texas counties are looking toward future elections and the possibility that the machines you use to vote might begin breaking down. “The longer we delay purchasing new equipment, the more problems we risk,” the authors of a 2015 report from the Brennan Center for Justice wrote. “The biggest risk is increased failures and crashes, which can lead to long lines and lost votes.” The report points to a lifespan of 10 to 20 years for key components in the electronic systems. Travis County uses machines from 2001. Williamson County uses a system that it purchased around 10 years ago, putting both systems in the range for issues.

National: Should primary voters be worried about aging voting machines? | PBS

As this year’s presidential primaries move beyond the First Four states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina, and into the dozen “Super Tuesday” states voting on March 1, millions of Americans will find themselves exercising their right to vote on computerized machines from the pre-iPhone era running on software like Windows 2000 with hardware like 512 kilobyte memory cards. “It’s concerning because this is the infrastructure for our elections,” said Lawrence Norden, co-author of America’s Voting Machines at Risk, a recent Brennan Center for Justice report found 43 states have counties using voting equipment 10 to 15-years-old. “The most immediate short-term concern is that we get more failures on election days – that machines crash or shut down or have to be taken out of service, because they’re not working like they’re supposed to,” Norden said. “That can create chaos at the polling place and long lines

Philippines: More than 50,000 vote machines undelivered | The Manila Times

Some 45,000 out of the 97,519 vote counting machines (VCMs) that will be used by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in the coming synchronized local and national polls have arrived in the country. Comelec spokesman James Jimenez on Friday disclosed that of the number, 20,944 units had been delivered to the Comelec’s warehouse in Santa Rosa, Laguna, while the remaining 24,000 were still awaiting release by the Bureau of Customs (BoC). According to Jimenez, full delivery that accounts for the remaining 52,575 machines would be made by the end of the month as agreed upon by the Comelec and technology provider Smartmatic Corp. He explained that the voting machines would undergo hardware testing before they are accepted by the poll body to ensure that they are functional.

Minnesota: Counties face replacing vote machines | St. Cloud Times

It’s been more than a decade since the Help America Vote Act, which pumped federal dollars into states to upgrade their voting equipment to avoid a repeat of the disastrous problems of the 2000 election. Now, that equipment is starting to show signs of age. Local governments are starting to think about replacing it in the next few years — this time, without federal help. Sherburne County is the first area county to do so. On Tuesday, the county board voted to accept a bid from Colorado-based Dominion Voting Systems for about $490,000 for a countywide upgrade of election equipment in time for the 2016 election.

Minnesota: Secretary of state wants to replace aging voting machines | Pioneer Press

Minnesota’s aging voting machines are wearing out and will soon need to be replaced. That’s the message Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon said he heard “loud and clear” from local officials during his recently completed tour of all 87 Minnesota counties. Most cities, counties and townships use electronic election equipment that is at least 10 years old and getting close to its “10- to 15-year useful lifespan — and 15 is sort of a stretch,” Simon said in a recent interview. There’s a growing risk the voting machines will fail or crash, resulting in lost votes or long lines at polling places. “I’m hearing loudly and clearly from election administrators and others concerned about elections that this is an issue we need to address sooner rather than later and not wait until it becomes a crisis — and they need help,” Simon said.

Thailand: Somchai defends voting machine purchases | Bangkok Post

An election commissioner has defended the procurement of voting machines in the latest showdown between the commissioners and a former secretary general. The Election Commission (EC) decided on Dec 8 not to renew the employment contract of secretary general Puchong Nutrawong because his performance evaluation did not meet the requirement. Mr Puchong, who worked for the EC for 18 years, claimed his removal was not fair and that he could not do his job properly because the EC commissioners kept intervening with the administration.

National: Outdated Voting Machine Technology Poses Security and Election Risks | StateTech

Votes being registered for the wrong candidate. Voting machines running out of memory. Election officials searching eBay for outdated notebook computers. These are just a few of the nightmarish scenarios state and local officials face as the country’s voting machines age and break down. A recent report by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law found that the expected lifespan of core components in electronic voting machines purchased since 2000 is between 10 and 20 years, and for most systems it is probably closer to 10 than 20. Experts surveyed by the Brennan Center agree that the majority of machines in use today are either “perilously close to or exceed these estimates.”

Virginia: Calibration issues found with voting machines | The Gazette-Virginian

Chris Hudson, a former investigator with the Halifax County Sheriff’s Department who unsuccessfully ran against incumbent Sheriff Fred S. Clark in the Nov. 3 election, told supervisors they need to act immediately on replacing the county’s voting machines. Hudson, who came in third in the sheriff’s race in November behind winner Fred Clark and Thomas Logan, voiced concerns during the public comment period of Monday’s board of supervisors meeting about what he described as “a major issue” with the county’s 51 voting machines used in the Nov. 3 election. Filing for an investigation to take place immediately after the election, Hudson said his issue was to address a calibration problem with the machines. “I was advised I had to wait 30 days before the process could start, so the process started Friday,” he told supervisors.

California: Electronic voting machines leased by Del Norte County | The Triplicate

The county will lease almost two dozen new voting machines as part of a statewide effort to improve election administration and enhance accessibility for voters. Last week the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors approved an agreement with Dominion Voting Services, sole certified provider of voting machines compliant with both federal and state regulations. The new electronic devices will be more accessible to the vision- and hearing-impaired, said county clerk-recorder Alissia Northrup. They will also tally votes in real time, meaning results will come in much sooner after polls close on a given election day. The agreement lasts through 2021 at more than $110,000 per year. By leasing rather than purchasing, the county will have an easier time complying with any yet-upcoming technology requirements in six years hence. It’s not too hard to imagine those standards changing in short time, since the state is currently processing a small flurry of voting-related legislation.

Pakistan: Giving voting right to expats not feasible: Minister | The Nation

Election experts, government officials and lawmakers yesterday concluded that giving voting right to overseas Pakistanis was practically impossible though lawmakers of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) stuck to politics of idealism insisting on giving rights to voters abroad. The sub-committee of Electoral Reforms Committee was informed by officials of Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) that the mock voting exercise in Pakistani missions abroad went unsuccessful and proposed that participation of Pakistanis living abroad in election will be a futile exercise without any success. The meeting was told that it took two weeks to receive the results of votes polled by 67 voters in seven Pakistani missions during the mock exercise. Voters had cast votes through postal ballots and email. Minister for Climate Change Zahid Hamid who is also convener of the committee told reporters that Tuesday’s briefing by ECP and Nadra officials was evidence that the project of giving voting rights to overseas Pakistanis was not feasible at all.

Arizona: Counties Look to Replace Outdated Voting Machines | Arizona Public Radio

Most voting machines are only designed to last about a decade. A new study shows many of the machines in use across the U.S. are close to that age, and that could increase the chances of voting irregularities for the 2016 election cycle. Arizona Public Radio’s Justin Regan reports. The Brennan Center for Justice says the outdated machines are more susceptible to hacking and other security problems. Replacement parts for the older machines are also hard to find, and their internal computers crash more often, which could slow down the voting process.

Virginia: Election Officials Discuss Voting Issues | WVIR

Virginia’s election officials say they have a lot of work to do before the presidential primary in a few months. Members of the Virginia State Board of Elections (SBE) met in Richmond Monday to discuss issues that came up during the recent elections: there were problems with some voting machines, as well as the commonwealth’s voter identification policy. Officials said, overall, things went smoothly earlier this month. However, they are concerned that more voters will likely come out to the polls for the March 1 primary, and issues must be addressed before then. “These machines are going to go down, and if you think it was a problem in this election, great balls of fire, what is going to happen if they go down on presidential, or even in the primary?” SBE Vice Chair Clara Belle Wheeler said.

Maryland: Elections chief rejects delay in launching new voting system | Baltimore Sun

The Hogan administration has raised concerns that Maryland’s new $28 million voting system may not be ready for the April 26 primary, but the state’s top election official has rejected the idea of delaying the launch and using old machines. In a memo to the State Board of Elections obtained by The Baltimore Sun, elections administrator Linda H. Lamone warned that continuing to use Maryland’s old touch-screen voting system would be “very risky.” Lamone told board members that “it has been suggested” the state use the older system for the primary with an eye to implementing the new one for the November general election. Her memo did not specify who offered the suggestion, but the Hogan administration acknowledged Friday that its Department of Information Technology had raised “grave concerns” about the state’s new paper-based system.

Maryland: Agencies spar over readiness of Maryland’s new voting system | The Washington Post

Maryland technology officials are questioning whether the state can successfully implement its new paper-ballot voting system in time for the 2016 election cycle, citing a host of issues that include dozens of unresolved hardware and software problems. David A. Garcia, secretary for Maryland’s Department of Information Technology, last week expressed “strong concerns” to State Board of Elections Administrator Linda H. Lamone about the project’s progress, according to a statement on Friday from the Information Technology department. The state legislature approved a switch from digital to paper-ballot machines more than seven years ago, responding to concerns about reliability, accessibility and security with the electronic system. However, lawmakers did not fund the change until last year.

Ohio: Dispute over changes to Ohio’s voting system heads to trial | Associated Press

Democrats in the swing state of Ohio have filed a federal lawsuit claiming a series of voting-related changes made by Republicans disproportionately burden voters who lean Democratic and violate certain constitutional rights. The state’s Republican elections chief contends the voting process is fair and has called the lawsuit politically motivated. … The Ohio Organizing Collaborative filed the lawsuit in May in Columbus federal court. But attorneys for the nonprofit recently withdrew the organization from the case, saying it lacked the “institutional capability” to remain a plaintiff. The state’s Democratic Party and Cuyahoga and Montgomery county parties took its place. They join three Ohio residents who are also plaintiffs. They are suing Jon Husted, the state’s Republican elections chief, and Mike DeWine, Ohio’s attorney general, over the voting policies.

Iran: Electronic Voting Machine Unveiled in Iran | Tasnim News Agency

Iran’s Interior Ministry on Saturday unveiled an electronic voting machine which, if authorized by the country’s Guardian Council, will come on stream in nine major cities for upcoming elections in February 2016. The Interior Ministry has plans to employ the electronic machines as ballot boxes in 9 big cities for the parliamentary and Assembly of Experts elections, both due to be held on February 26, 2016.

Maryland: Election boards prepare for new voting processes | WBAL

When Maryland voters head to the polls next year, there will be two different systems in place for both early voting and the general election, including the use of paper ballots. The Baltimore City Board of Elections provided a first look at the new way of voting being rolled out across the state next year. Maryland is going back to a paper ballot for the general election, but early voting in April will involve paper and a computer. City election director Armstead Jones said the new system will help create oversight. “Several years ago people talked about wanting a receipt,” Jones said. “Unfortunately they still won’t have a receipt, but the paper will serve as a backup.”

US Virgin Islands: Attorney General Walker Says Voters Must Feed Ballots Themselves | St. Croix Source

In a formal opinion he issued this week, acting Attorney General Claude Walker told the St. Croix District Board of Elections that voters must be allowed to feed their own ballots into voting machines in the upcoming 2016 elections. Walker was responding to the board’s request for his interpretation of two major court cases affecting how ballots are processed: the 1968 U.S. District Court of the Virgin Islands case of Melchior v. Todman, and the 2014 V.I. Supreme Court case of Mapp v. Fawkes. In his letter to St. Croix Board of Elections Chairwoman Liliana Belardo de O’Neal, Walker said the 1968 case no longer applies because the law it addressed was repealed.

Voting Blogs: Election Day 2015 had a little bit of everything: glitches, snafus, rats, successful pilots and unsuccessful pilots | electionlineWeekly

“There was no line at the polling place. The line was almost out the door at Starbucks.” — an email from a Kentucky voter to her daughter.

There was snow, there was rain, there were blue skies and warm temperatures. Poll workers overslept, stole voting equipment and didn’t know how to use new technology. Voting machines malfunctioned and ballot-counting machines chugged along. There were new voting systems that worked flawlessly and there were those that didn’t. Turnout out was historically low and turnout was relatively high. Oh and there were rats.

Ohio: Voting machine glitches delay Portage County election results until Wednesday | Akron Beacon Journal

It took 12 hours before the Portage County Board of Elections could post results from Tuesday’s elections because of a “computer server” issue. Four in-house technicians and several state and national technicians via telephone from Dominion (the machine vendor and support company) got things working again. “Some of the candidates called to see what was happening and to confirm results this morning,” said Board of Elections Director Faith Lyon. “This has never happened before. The final unofficial results were available by 7 a.m. [Wednesday]. She said there were no glitches in the system during a test run on Friday, prior to Election Day. But on Tuesday night, there were problems.

New Jersey: Monmouth County election vendor deleted mail-in votes online | Asbury Park Press

Monmouth County officials — for yet another year — are trying to figure out how election results ended up so jumbled online that they made a handful of candidates and referendum questions look like they lost when they actually won. Monmouth County officials said they believe staff from Dominion Voting Services, the county’s elections software vendor, accidentally “deleted” results Tuesday night from the vote-by-mail ballots. The mailed ballot numbers were later recovered and added to the final tally online Wednesday morning. Monmouth County Clerk Christine Giordano Hanlon apologized to candidates whose results changed and vowed to push for a solution from Dominion. “Our problems with Dominion have become chronic and will not be tolerated. We are continuing to investigate the situation and will be holding Dominion fully accountable,” she said in a five-paragraph statement issued Wednesday morning. The flaws came in an off-year election where New Jersey had anemic voter turnout. Monmouth and Ocean counties had voter turnouts of 23 percent.

Virginia: State Moves Back to Paper Ballots for the Election | Newsplex

Charlottesville resident Paul Jacob has been rocking the vote since he was 18. He’s been voting for nearly 60 years now and he’s seen quite a few changes. “From marking X’s, to punching holes,” said Jacob. “To the computers.” At Tuesday’s election, he’ll see one more. The city registrars office is taking people back to the future when it comes to voting. Touch screens are now a thing of the past and paper is back in style. One reason for the change is because of problems with voting machines in previous years. Another reason is computer hacking. Hacks have occurred across the United States, including Washington, D.C. To prevent that, Rick Sincere from the Electoral Board says the Commonwealth is steering away from computer voting statewide.

Colorado: Eight counties to test new voting machines | Castle Rock News

Douglas County is one of eight counties that will be testing new voting machines this election season. The effort is part of an attempt by the Colorado secretary of state’s office to possibly unite all of the state under one system. As part of that initiative, four small counties and four large counties, including Douglas, were asked to pilot next-generation equipment. The other test counties are Adams, Denver, Garfield, Gilpin, Jefferson, Mesa and Teller. They will be trying out four different vendors. According to the secretary of state’s office, the upgrades to newer machines will cost about $10 million to $15 million and the counties will be dividing the cost, if the program moves forward following the test period. There is no charge to the counties during the test period.

Kansas: Secretary of state dismissed from lawsuit seeking voting machine tapes | Associated Press

The top election official in Kansas was dismissed as a defendant from the lawsuit filed by a Wichita mathematician seeking voting machine tapes after finding statistical anomalies in election counts. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said in a statement Thursday he was pleased but not surprised. The move leaves Sedgwick County Elections Commissioner Tabitha Lehman, whose office actually has the tapes, as the only defendant in the case.