Friday, March 18, 2011

House committee questions future of EAC, MIT asks "How Long Before Hackers Steal Votes?"

CO: Gessler sues for access to Saguache ballots - The Denver Post

Secretary of State Scott Gessler filed a lawsuit Wednesday seeking access to voted ballots from the 2010 Saguache County general election, arguing the county clerk doesn't have the power to stop him from "inspecting and reviewing all aspects of the election process." The complaint, filed in the 12th Judicial District in Saguache, asks a judge for an injunction requiring Saguache County Clerk and Recorder Melinda Myers to "obey the secretary's order" to make the ballots available. Gessler announced Tuesday that his staff would travel to Saguache this week to lead a hand review of three races, including Myers' re-election bid. But Myers threw a wrench in Gessler's plan late Tuesday, when she e-mailed a letter to his office indicating she wouldn't unseal the ballots without a court order. Read More

ID: When to count absentee ballots subject of committee hearing «

How many hours before an election should county clerks be able to open ballots? Should clerks be limited to open ballots only on Election Day? Those are the questions that came before the House State Affairs Committee Thursday and panel members couldn’t decide, so they moved to strip any time frame references from the legislation. The time frame provision was only one element of a mini-elections reform bill pitched by the secretary of state’s office. The bill also includes clarification for identification requirements for voting on Election Day. Read More

KS: Weaker voter ID bill passes in Kansas Senate -

The Kansas Senate Ethics and Elections Committee on Thursday passed a weakened version of Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s bill to require a photo ID and proof of citizenship for voters. Senators stripped HB 2067 of provisions that would have given Kobach the authority to criminally prosecute allegations of voter fraud. The committee also voted to delay until 2013 the start date at which new voters will have to provide proof of citizenship when they register. Kobach said the action virtually ensured that photo ID will be required when voters go to the polls or send in absentee ballots in 2012. Read More

NM: Judge says AG cannot prosecute case against former secretary of state |

A district court judge has ruled the New Mexico Attorney General's office cannot prosecute a case against the former secretary of state and three other defendants. District Court Judge Pat Murdoch ruled a new prosecutor must be found. Former Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron and three others are accused of misusing taxpayer money in a 2006 ad campaign to educate voters. Read More

NC: Voter ID Bill Stirs Legislative Passion - WFAE 90.7 FM

A bill in the legislature that would require North Carolinians to show a photo ID at the polls has become a flashpoint of controversy among lawmakers. The measure's Republican sponsors say the bill aims to fight voter fraud and ensure that every vote is counted. But Democrats believe the proposal is a regressive measure aimed at keeping many of their supporters away from the polls. Read More

TN: Counties left to bear cost of paper ballots | The Tennessean

In 2008, the Tennessee General Assembly mandated voters cast their vote on a paper ballot that would then be scanned into a computer in order to record each vote cast. The scanners required to implement the mandate are to be purchased by the state using funds from a federal grant provided by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). The federal Election Assistance Commission, which oversees the expenditure of HAVA funds, has ruled that HAVA funds cannot be used to purchase the paper ballots, only the machines. Because the state of Tennessee did not provide the funds for counties to purchase paper ballots, the mandate to use paper ballots will result in each of Tennessee's 95 counties identifying local funding to purchase paper ballots. The current estimated cost to counties to implement paper ballot voting is in excess of $10 million, of which hundreds of thousands of unused ballots and millions of dollars will be shredded during low voter turnout elections. Read More


House committee questions future of Election Assistance Commission -

The House Administration Committee is questioning the long-term viability of the independent commission established in the wake of the contested 2000 presidential election to improve how elections are conducted nationwide. The U.S. Election Assistance Commission, established by the Help America Vote Act of 2002, has disbursed over $3 billion in “requirements” payments to states to update voting machines and enhance election administration, but the commission has seen that funding significantly decline in recent years. At the Elections Subcommittee hearing Thursday on its operations and fiscal 2012 budget request, lawmakers targeted the commission’s funding, bureaucracy and current lack of a quorum. Read More

How Long Before Hackers Steal Votes? - MIT Technology Review

When the stakes are high enough, hackers have figured out how to defeat all manner of computers not even connected to the internet: ATM machines, credit card readers on gas pumps; you name it. How long then, in a society in which elections are already bought and sold through political action committees and K-Street lobbying, before the monetary incentive to steal votes from the latest generation of voting machines exceeds the difficulty of pulling it off? That, indirectly, is the question asked and answered in a just-released judge's summary (pdf) of testimony from a trial conducted in 2008-2009 in which the state of New Jersey was sued for insufficiently guaranteeing the physical security of its electronic voting machines. Experts called during the trial asserted that that the state's existing security methods, consisting primarily of tape that should reveal evidence of tampering if key parts of a voting machine are removed or opened, were insufficient. So New Jersey expanded the number of physical seals on its machines from three to six. Subsequently, the same experts testified that these measures were essentially useless in the absence of training for election workers in the proper use of these seals, and that the seals interfered with legitimate maintenance of the machines. In other words: New Jersey's electronic voting machines, which are emblematic of machines across the U.S., remain vulnerable to attack by hackers who could inject software or hardware to skew vote counts. Read More


Phillippines: Bishop nixes PCOS machines for ARMM polls | ABS-CBN News

A Catholic bishop has joined calls opposing government's plan to reuse the controversial Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) elections in August. According to a report on the CBCP website, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo urged the Commission on Elections (Comelec) not to use the machines and instead go back to the manual system. “What we are opposing is reusing the Smartmatic PCOS machines,” he said during Thursday's rally outside the Comelec office in Intramuros, Manila. “There are lots of issues about the machines that remain unresolved until now.” Read More

Russia: Vote padding alleged in recent elections - RIA Novosti

The opposition has rejected the results of regional elections held across Russia on March 13, accusing the authorities of falsifying the figures. According to observers from the A Just Russia party, 238 people voted for United Russia, 77 for the KPRF, 41 for A Just Russia, 84 for the LDPR and 8 for Patriots of Russia at Constituency No. 472 in the Ust-Vym District of the Komi Republic when they went to the polls to elect city council deputies. These figures are recorded in official records approved after the votes were counted. But the official results issued by the state election system show an entirely different picture: United Russia got 415 votes, KPRF only 17, and the remaining parties got just one vote each. As a result, United Russia’s percentage rose from 52.3% to 91%. “In this constituency, A Just Russia supporters were robbed of 95% of the votes,” protested Oleg Mikheyev, who runs the party headquarters. He said the party was stripped of its votes in this way at at least one other constituency. A Just Russia has filed complaints with the republic’s election committee and is determined to challenge the results. Currently, returns reported by observers and in official records are being compared in several other regions and early findings are pointing to similar discrepancies in Nizhny Novgorod, Mikheyev said.Complaints have been received, and are being followed up, said Natalya Makarova, head of the republic’s election commission staff. Read More

UK: Kinnock brands AV machine allegation ‘a stupid smear’ - WalesOnline

Labour leader Lord Kinnock has accused opponents of smearing him over allegations that a company of which he is a director could make millions if the method of electing MPs is changed. The former Islwyn MP is a leading supporter of the campaign for a Yes vote in May’s referendum on introducing the Alternative Vote. He is also a director of DRS, a data-handling firm whose products include vote counting machines. According to the company’s annual reports, Lord Kinnock has earned around £100,000 in fees from DRS since 2005. Company records show that in 2009 he held 30,000 shares in the firm, worth around £6,000. “AV does not require machine voting or counting, as 90 years of experience in Australia has shown. I have certainly never advocated that machine voting or counting should be used and I don’t know anyone who has suggested such a thing." Read More

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