The Verified Voting Blog

This blog contains posts authored by the Verified Voting Team and by members of the Verified Voting Board of Advisors.

Verified Voting Comments On VVSG 2.0 v3

Download the letter here 

June 22, 2020

TO: The United States Election Assistance Commission (EAC)

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the proposed Voluntary Voting Systems Guidelines (VVSG) 2.0. Verified Voting’s mission is to strengthen democracy for all voters by promoting the responsible use of technology in elections.

Verified Voting applauds the diligent work that has occurred over the past several years to get to the final stages of VVSG 2.0 and agrees with Chairman Hovland that this is an important step toward improving election security.

Verified Voting has contributed to the development of prior versions of the VVSG since its inception in 2004. We appreciate the EAC’s invitation for public comments and that the EAC has incorporated a number of our suggestions throughout the years. Several of Verified Voting’s Board and Advisory Board members have participated in the development of earlier versions of the VVSG 2.0 as well as on several NIST-EAC Working Groups that helped develop the Requirements for the latest proposed VVSG 2.0.

The EAC should adopt the VVSG 2.0 as soon as possible and enforce the expiration of VVSG 1.0 and 1.1 in order to ensure that systems fulfill the most recent standards, rather than grandfathering election systems that continue to evolve. Read More

June Primaries Set the Stage for November; Verified Voting Outlines Recommendations to Ensure Integrity and Verifiability of Elections

The following is a statement from Verified Voting on the primaries conducted on June 2 and June 9. For additional media inquiries, please contact Aurora Matthews, aurora@newheightscommunications.com.

June 17, 2020 – The first set of primaries postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic have demonstrated the acute challenges associated with ensuring the accuracy, integrity and verifiability of elections. Public trust in the election results is contingent upon the principle that governs a democracy: that each voter has a free and fair opportunity to cast a ballot privately and have each ballot counted as cast. Any action that interferes with these principles undermines the democratic institution of voting. With just over four months before the general election, our democracy is at great risk if steps are not immediately taken to protect it.

We urge Congress to pass funding that election officials desperately need to bolster staffing, equipment, and other infrastructure, and we urge election officials and government at all levels to act quickly to: 

  • Ramp up vote by mail securely by following the guidance outlined in our COVID-19 election security recommendations 
  • Supply  ample emergency paper ballots and paper copies of voter registration lists at in person polling locations as a recovery plan for technology failures and managing high turnout in November 
  • Conduct post-election risk limiting audits of paper ballots to check that the ballots were counted accurately and bolster public confidence in the election outcomes
  • Plan for mitigating technology and voting equipment malfunctions, whether malicious or accidental

Since its founding, Verified Voting has advocated for the responsible use of technology in elections. Technology is a crucial component of election infrastructure – the choice of technology and its deployment directly impacts how votes are cast and counted. The responsible use of election technology can bolster public confidence in election outcomes and help voters cast their votes safely and securely. The irresponsible use of election technology not only destroys confidence in elections but also disenfranchises voters.

Our elections continue to face threats of foreign interference disrupting the integrity of our election results. But as we’ve seen this primary season, another direct form of interference with election technology — through unfair allocations, inadequate training, or incomplete preparations — is happening right now and has been happening in each and every election cycle since our organization’s founding. Failure to fix voting technology, improve the voter experience, and secure our elections is a 21st century form of disenfranchisement that can and must be corrected. Our democracy is at stake until every single eligible voter can vote safely and securely in November’s election.

 

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Verified Voting Statement for the Record House Admin Election Hearing

The following is a letter sent by Verified Voting to the House Administration Committee Subcommittee on Elections ahead of the hearing, “The Impact of COVID-19 on Voting Rights and Election Administration: Ensuring Safe and Fair Elections” on June 11, 2020. Download the letter here

June 10, 2020

The Honorable Marcia L. Fudge, Chairperson
House Administration Committee Subcommittee on Elections
1309 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20003

The Honorable Rodney Davis, Ranking Member
House Administration Committee Subcommittee on Elections
1309 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20003

Dear Chairperson Fudge, Ranking Member Davis and Members of the Subcommittee,

Verified Voting thanks you for the opportunity to submit a written statement and for this important hearing on the impact of COVID-19 on voting rights and election administration.

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted many aspects of American democracy. Primaries have been rescheduled, processes for absentee ballots changed, and polling sites relocated, often with less than 24 hours’ notice. Through it all, election security and verification must continue to remain a priority as election officials and policymakers around the country respond and prepare for the 2020 general election.

Meeting the challenges presented by these threats requires immediate resources and planning because election officials are scrambling to run elections that are safe for voters and poll workers alike. While Congress included some initial funding in the CARES Act for election expenditures related to COVID-19, evidence from recent primaries makes it clear that additional funding is needed immediately to help election officials administer our elections safely and securely.  Verified Voting urges Congress to appropriate additional funding that matches the predictions of $3-4 billion necessary to properly run elections amid COVID-19 – to bolster staffing, equipment, and other infrastructure desperately needed.

This year, elections officials face a dual threat of the global pandemic and the cyber security threats that have not disappeared since the 2016 election. The measure of a successful election is public confidence that the election was conducted fairly and that the results are accurate. Providing reassuring answers after the election requires careful planning before the election.

Verified Voting applauds current provisions preventing federal funding from being spent on dangerously insecure online voting systems, but election officials need resources now to implement election security best practices and further prevent jurisdictions from moving towards risky electronic “solutions” that would allow electronic transmission of voted ballots over the internet, e.g via mobile app, email or fax.

As Congress and state election officials prepare for the 2020 general election, several measures can be implemented to address the challenges of running a secure election in the midst of a pandemic. Verified Voting offers seven recommendations that center on election security and verification with any expansion of vote by mail:

 

  1. Ballot Tracking: Many voters worry about their ballots being lost in the mail.
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Verified Voting Decries Efforts to Ramp Up Internet Voting; New Report from MIT and Univ. of Michigan Confirms Risks

The following is a statement from Marian K. Schneider, president of Verified Voting about the new report from MIT and the University of Michigan, “Security Analysis of the Democracy Live Online Voting System”. For additional media inquiries, please contact Aurora Matthews, aurora@newheightscommunications.com 

 

June 8, 2020 – “Computer scientists agree that electronic transmission of voted ballots — such as internet voting and mobile app voting — cannot be made secure. Sending voted material electronically elevates the risk of tampering with the elections to unacceptable levels. 

“The new analysis of Democracy Live’s OmniBallot platform by MIT and University of Michigan confirms this conclusion. Even amidst a global pandemic, states simply cannot risk moving to internet voting. Absentee voting exists in every state and with proper preparations states should act quickly to expand absentee voting so that voting is safer for voters and poll workers alike. The Senate should take swift actions to approve additional emergency funding for elections to allow state and local election officials to make the necessary preparations for the November election so that all votes are counted as cast.  

“As voting jurisdictions move to ramp up absentee voting by mail, voters with disabilities need an accessible option to participate in elections. Verified Voting and Common Cause recently published guidance for states selecting remote ballot marking systems for voters with disabilities to ensure that all voters have access to expanded vote by mail. As the researchers point out, safer configurations exist that allow voters with disabilities to use assistive features for marking a ballot and then printing and mailing it to the jurisdiction without sending information to remote servers that could compromise the system. We support those recommendations.”

 

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Verified Voting & California Voter Foundation’s Letter of Concern regarding California’s November election

The California Voter Foundation and Verified Voting are writing to express technological and security concerns about your bill, AB 860, which requires all counties to mail every registered voter a vote-bymail ballot for the November 3 Presidential Election. We appreciate all the hard work and negotiations that have gone into crafting both AB 860 and its companion bill, SB 423 and hope these comments help strengthen your proposal as well as planning for November. Provisional voting and VoteCal While we support the plan to mail every registered voter a ballot during this uncertain time, doing so may also result in widespread use of provisional voting in order to keep voters who received a mailed ballot from being able to cast an additional ballot. Counties could minimize the need for provisional ballots if they have access to real-time connectivity from voting sites to VoteCal, California’s statewide voter registration database, and can verify the voter’s mailed ballot has not already been received and also cancel that ballot to prevent double-voting. During the March Primary, VoteCal was inaccessible for periods during the morning and evening to several counties on Election Day, dramatically slowing down the voting process during those times. Los Angeles County’s technical issues, including problems syncing county voter data with VoteCal, contributed to long lines and hours-long wait times in some locations. If all counties will be depending on VoteCal for November to verify whether ballots have already been cast, it is imperative that this database be load- and stress-tested well in advance to ensure it can handle the amount of traffic that may occur when potentially thousands of voting sites across the state attempt to access the database in real time.

Election Security and an Accessible Vote By Mail Option

Guidance by Common Cause and Verified Voting published today outlines that remote accessible vote by mail options that keep voters choices private and secure already exist and should be made available to voters with disabilities as states increase access to vote by mail. Download PDF During the COVID 19 pandemic, policymakers and elections officials are working to make voting safe, secure and accessible. As many jurisdictions expand vote by mail options, members of the disability community have pointed out that traditional vote by mail programs are not accessible to all voters. Some have urged that Congress adopt options for online voting to accommodate people with disabilities. It is paramount that jurisdictions accommodate all voters with a secure and safe voting option during the pandemic, including voters with disabilities. Online voting is not secure. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) and the Department of Homeland Security all agree that no practically proven method exists to securely, verifiably, or privately return voted materials over the internet. In a recently released document entitled Risk Management for Electronic Ballot Delivery, Marking and Return, all four agencies stated, “Electronic ballot return faces significant security risks to the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of voted ballots. These risks can ultimately affect the tabulation and results and can occur at scale.” In other words, the security risk is high. Despite what vendors may say, voting by email or via web portals jeopardizes the integrity of the election results; votes can be manipulated or deleted without the voter’s knowledge and the voter’s selections could be traced back to the individual voter.

Letter to New Jersey Governor regarding the use of internet voting options

Download the following letter sent on behalf of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, Common Cause, and Verified Voting, to express our concern about the use of internet voting options in New Jersey elections. Dear Governor Murphy, Attorney General Grewal, Secretary Way, and Director Giles: We write concerning the use of internet voting options in recent local elections, as well as statements from state officials that this limited implementation will serve as a pilot for potential expanded use in future elections.[1] We agree with the legal conclusions expressed in Professor Penny Venetis’s May 7th letter,[2] that the use of internet voting would violate the statewide court order issued in Gusciora v. Corzine,[3] and we are aware of new litigation brought by Mercer County Assemblyman Reed Gusciora and New Jersey citizen groups arguing the same. As Judge Feinberg recognized in Gusciora, “as long as computers, dedicated to handling election matters, are connected to the Internet, the safety and security of our voting systems are in jeopardy.” While we recognize the challenges that the pandemic poses for our democracy and the need to expand voting options to ensure free and safe elections, these expansions should not be done in a way that jeopardizes election security. And the overwhelming consensus among security experts is that no method of internet voting can be conducted in a secure manner at this time. For this reason, we strongly urge you to refrain from any further use of internet or mobile voting systems in 2020.

Verified Voting supports election funding, security measures in proposed HEROES Act

The following is a statement from Marian K. Schneider, president of Verified Voting in response to the House Democrats’ proposed coronavirus response package, the HEROES Act HR 6800. For additional media inquiries, please contact Aurora Matthews, aurora@newheightscommunications.com

Download PDF

May 13, 2020 — “COVID-19 created a new landscape for conducting elections and election officials need sufficient funds to ensure that voters can vote safely and know that their votes were counted accurately. We support the security measures that accompany the $3.6 billion in funding such as signature verification with opportunity to cure, ballot tracking and risk-limiting audits. Verified Voting also applauds the provisions preventing federal funding from being spent on dangerously insecure online voting systems.”

 

Verified Voting, a non-partisan election integrity organization, advocates for evidence-based elections where the majority of voters mark paper ballots, the voter verifies the ballot before casting, there is a strong chain of custody of the ballots, and robust post-election audits such as risk-limiting audits (RLAs) are conducted. Verified Voting’s COVID-19 recommendations on election security and verification can be viewed here.

 

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For additional media inquiries, please contact Aurora Matthews, aurora@newheightscommunications.com

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Verified Voting praises federal guidance issued opposing internet voting

The following is a statement from Marian K. Schneider, president of Verified Voting in response to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)’s guidance to states warning about security concerns with any voting system that uses the internet. For additional media inquiries, please contact Aurora Matthews, aurora@newheightscommunications.com

May 12, 2020 — “CISA’s new guidance validates what the election security community has long argued: that internet voting is dangerously insecure. Voting over the internet does not provide a way for jurisdictions to monitor, detect, respond, and recover from a potential attack, ” said Marian K. Schneider, president of Verified Voting.  “Conducting an election using internet voting would jeopardize the integrity of the election results, and in these uncertain times, it matters more than ever to improve the trustworthiness of our elections. We are working to ensure that this November’s election results will be resilient, and as the guidance shows, voting over the internet is simply not a safe and secure option for voters.”

Verified Voting, a non-partisan election integrity organization, advocates for evidence-based elections where the majority of voters mark paper ballots, the voter verifies the ballot before casting, there is a strong chain of custody of the ballots, and robust post-election audits such as risk-limiting audits (RLAs) are conducted. Verified Voting’s COVID-19 recommendations on election security and verification, which can be viewed here, note that voting via the internet or mobile app should not be used.

For additional media inquiries, please contact Aurora Matthews, aurora@newheightscommunications.com Read More

Groups continue to urge Puerto Rico Governor Vázquez Garced to veto internet voting bill

Today, key members from Verified Voting, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Brennan Center for Justice, and Protect Democracy met virtually with the Puerto Rico Governor’s office to urge Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced to veto P.S. 1314 before it becomes law on May 16. If passed, the bill would establish a pilot program for online voting during the 2020 election cycle, and ramp up to making online voting the default option for Puerto Rican voters by 2028. ICYMI, on March 19, three dozen experts joined Verified Voting in sending a letter to Governor Vázquez Garced outlining the dangers of internet voting  Read our blog post from March 20, or view the letter here:

DOWNLOAD ENGLISH VERSION

DOWNLOAD SPANISH VERSION

Dear Governor Vázquez Garced,

We, Verified Voting, the undersigned computer scientists and cybersecurity experts, write to urge you to veto Senate Bill 1314 which proposes implementing a system of internet voting in Puerto Rico. Under the provisions of this bill, Puerto Rico would phase in internet voting as the sole option for Puerto Rican citizens. As explained more fully below, internet voting cannot be accomplished securely and provides no meaningful way to verify that the computers captured or counted votes accurately. This concept is settled science, notwithstanding efforts to increase internet voting use in some areas. In the current climate when nation states have sought to interfere in other nations’ elections, Puerto Rico’s bill is a risky move. Indeed, last year the Report of the Select Committee on Intelligence of the United States Senate made bipartisan recommendations, among them that “states should resist pushes” to move their elections online because in their words, “no system of online voting has yet established itself as secure.” 1 Read More

Letter to Florida Governor – VETO CS/HB 1005

 

Download the letter here

25 March 2020

Hon. Ron DeSantis

Governor, State of Florida

The Capitol

400 S. Monroe St.

Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001

 

Dear Governor DeSantis,

 

RE:  VETO CS/HB 1005 – Voting Systems

 

Florida has had more than its share of election recount problems in the past. Please don’t expose the state to new problems on your watch. CS/HB 1005 is well-intentioned but exposes Florida to new risks of hacking, elections-failure and more embarrassment. It is neither a necessary nor a well conceived change to The Florida Election Code. Please veto the bill and give stakeholders a chance to revisit the issue and make better choices.

 

CS/HB 1005 seeks to take an uncertified “retabulation” technology, currently only authorized by DoS for non-binding post-certification audits and graduate the technology’s use to the big leagues – infamous Florida recounts.

 

This change has been heavily backed by Florida’s Supervisors of Elections, their association, the Florida Supervisors of Elections (FSE) and of course by the sole source vendor, Clear Ballot Group.

 

We appreciate the supervisors’ motivation: to speed up the manual recount process. As you experienced in your own election in 2018, Florida is prone to large, burdensome recounts. Florida  is the third most populous state and the biggest swing state with a very evenly balanced electorate – thus prone to close elections.

 

But this bill is not the solution, however much the supervisors would like it to be. It is dangerous.

 

The problems with this bill:

 

  • Paper ballots: This bill does not require that recounts look at the actual paper ballots – the legal ballots of record. Rather it relies on hackable retabulation and digital images.[1] Florida has paper ballots for a reason. They provide the security we’ve come to understand does not exist with digital data. Computer scientists, cryptographers, and cyber security experts all agree, elections should rely on the paper ballots. [2]

 

  • Threat to National Security: This bill increases risks to Florida’s election security and therefore also to national security in several ways.
    • The bill makes Florida elections more dependent on hackable digital tabulation without requiring that digital information first be confirmed by a scientific check against the paper.[3] (Sponsors added language saying the paper ballots would be “available” but they failed to require a proper, scientific check to the paper ballots. “Availability” of the paper ballots is of little value by itself.)  o The bill further outsources Florida elections to third party vendors over whom Florida has little or no control. We know such vendors have been hacked in the past and here we contemplate expanding our threat profile to third party vendors when we should be reducing it.
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Letter to Florida Governor – Provisional Support for Florida Supervisors of Election’s (FSE’s) COVID-19-Related Requests for Executive Orders

 

Download the letter here

 

14 April 2020

Hon. Ron DeSantis

Governor, State of Florida

The Capitol

400 S. Monroe St.

Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001

 

Dear Governor DeSantis,

RE:  Provisional Support for FSE 7 April 2020 COVID-19-Related Requests for Executive Orders

Verified Voting writes to lend our provisional support to the Florida Supervisors of Election’s (FSE’s) 7 April 2020 letter (attached) requesting you order several provisions, as soon as possible, to assist FSE members to address the extraordinary conditions they face to conduct the remaining 2020 elections.

We thank FSE members, their staffs and volunteers, as well as you, your staff, and all those at the Department of State who must scramble, sometimes in hazardous conditions, to conduct elections on schedule during this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.

We support FSE’s request that you make Supervisors “a priority for the acquisition of supplies like hand sanitizer and other resources to ensure in-person voting is in accordance with CDC and FDOH guidelines.” Elections workers are indeed part of Essential Services, per EO-20-91 ESSENTIAL SERVICES LIST, making such prioritization both appropriate and essential.

It is also essential to fundamental American democracy to keep elections on schedule even during periods when it is extremely challenging to do so. There is a great body of precedent for that principle, perhaps most famously when President Lincoln refused to postpone the 1864 Presidential election in the midst of The Civil War, saying, “We cannot have free government without elections; and if the rebellion could force us to forego, or postpone a national election, it might fairly claim to have already conquered and ruined us.”

With that principle in mind, we support FSE’s request for greater flexibility at the county level. Our 67 counties have unique characteristics meaning, at this extraordinary time, one set of means and methods may not fit all, even while an equal opportunity to cast a ballot must remain the standard for all.

FSE requests you reference EO-19-262 and order similar remedies today in response to COVID-19, as you did then in response to the impacts of Hurricane Michael. We agree with one important caveat.

FSE requests at bullets one, two and three that you:

  • “suspend applications of provisions of Section 101.657(1)(a) and (b), Florida Statutes, and allow each county Supervisor of Elections to designate additional or alternative Early Voting site locations.” and;
  • “Allow counties the option of beginning Early Voting up to 22 days prior to the August and November 2020 elections, notwithstanding the provisions of Section 101.657(1)(d), Florida Statutes, and allow Early Voting to continue, at the chosen locations, through 7:00 p.m. on Election Day.”
  • “concerning relocation or consolidation of polling places, suspend the provisions of sections 101.001
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Verified Voting signs onto AAAS letter opposing online voting

Verified Voting  and members of the Board and Board of Advisors signed onto a letter drafted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) urging states against using internet voting solutions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Read the letter here:

Download the letters (pdf)

Letter to Governors and Secretaries of State on the insecurity of online voting

April 9, 2020

Dear Governors, Secretaries of State and State Election Directors,

We are writing to share information on the scientific evidence regarding the security of internet voting. Based on scientific evidence, we have serious concerns about the security of voting via the internet or mobile apps.

The COVID-19 pandemic presents an unprecedented challenge to American elections. At this time, internet voting is not a secure solution for voting in the United States, nor will it be in the foreseeable future. Vote manipulation that could be undetected and numerous security vulnerabilities including potential denial of service attacks, malware intrusions, and mass privacy violations, remain possible in internet voting.

We urge you to refrain from allowing the use of any internet voting system and consider expanding access to voting by mail and early voting to better maintain the security, accuracy, and voter protections essential for American elections in the face of an unprecedented public health crisis.

Internet voting is insecure.

Internet voting, which includes email, fax, and web-based voting as well as voting via mobile apps such as Voatz, remains fundamentally insecure. 12345678910 Scientists and security experts express concern regarding a number of potential vulnerabilities facing any internet voting platform, including malware and denial of service attacks; voter authentication; ballot protection and anonymization; and how disputed ballots are handled. Importantly, there is no way to conduct a valid audit of the results due to the lack of a meaningful voter-verified paper record. If a blockchain architecture is used, serious questions arise regarding what content is stored in it, how the blockchain is decrypted for public access, and how votes are ultimately transferred to some type of durable paper record.11  No scientific or technical evidence suggests that any internet voting system could or does address these concerns.

A 2018 consensus study report on election security by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), the most definitive and comprehensive report on the scientific evidence behind voting security in the U.S., stated:

“At the present time, the Internet (or any network connected to the Internet) should not be used for the return of marked ballots. Further, Internet voting should not be used in the future until and unless very robust guarantees of security and verifiability are developed and in place, as no known technology guarantees the secrecy, security, and verifiability of a marked ballot transmitted over the Internet.” 

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Verified Voting releases COVID-19 election security recommendations

Download Verified Voting's guidance here The COVID-19 epidemic has impacted many aspects of American democracy. Primaries have been rescheduled, processes for absentee ballots changed, and polling sites relocated, often with less than 24 hours’ notice. Throughout it all, election officials have been and will continue to be essential workers on the front line of protecting our democracy amidst this pandemic. People have risked their lives to ensure that others can cast their ballots. Given Verified Voting’s mission, these recommendations center on election security and verification, but they can only be implemented if election officials are safe and supported.  COVID-19 and Trustworthy Elections Election security and verification must remain a priority as election officials and policymakers around the country respond to the COVID-19 epidemic. Even with changes in procedures, the measure of a successful election is public confidence that the election was conducted fairly. Hostile nation-states and others will strive to raise doubts: Were some voters denied a chance to vote? Were some votes cast illegally? Were some votes cast inaccurately? Were some ballots added, removed, or altered? Were the ballots miscounted? How do we know?  Providing reassuring answers after the election requires careful planning before the election by many stakeholders. Election officials will need time, resources, technical assistance, and support to do the work needed to secure the election.

Verified Voting Puerto Rico Veto Letter P.S 1314

DOWNLOAD ENGLISH VERSION

DOWNLOAD SPANISH VERSION

 

March 19, 2020

Hon. Wanda Vázquez Garced (via email)

Governor of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico

La Fortaleza

San Juan, Puerto Rico

RE:      Veto of Senate Bill 1314, “Puerto Rico Electoral Code of 2020”  – Internet Voting

Dear Governor Vázquez Garced,

We, Verified Voting, the undersigned computer scientists and cybersecurity experts, write to urge you to veto Senate Bill 1314 which proposes implementing a system of internet voting in Puerto Rico. Under the provisions of this bill, Puerto Rico would phase in internet voting as the sole option for Puerto Rican citizens. As explained more fully below, internet voting cannot be accomplished securely and provides no meaningful way to verify that the computers captured or counted votes accurately. This concept is settled science, notwithstanding efforts to increase internet voting use in some areas. In the current climate when nation states have sought to interfere in other nations’ elections, Puerto Rico’s bill is a risky move. Indeed, last year the Report of the Select Committee on Intelligence of the United States Senate made bipartisan recommendations, among them that “states should resist pushes” to move their elections online because in their words, “no system of online voting has yet established itself as secure.” 1 Read More

Recommendations for Election Officials and Voters ahead of March 17 Primaries

The following is a statement from Marian K. Schneider, president of Verified Voting in response to concerns around the March 17 primaries and the COVID-19 pandemic. For additional media inquiries, please contact aurora@newheightscommunications.com

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – (March 16, 2020)We understand the growing concerns about keeping voters safe at the polls amid the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), which is why it’s more important than ever that election officials have the tools, support and funding they need to comply with the CDC’s guidelines for containing COVID-19 at polling locations. Additionally, voters should check their polling place location with their county’s election office in case the location has moved.”

For more guidelines, please visit the CDC’s ‘Recommendations for Election Polling Locations.

 

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Big takeaways from Super Tuesday

Verified Voting was on the front line on Tuesday, March 3 at the Election Protection National Hotline, and from our vantage point, there were some SUPER clear takeaways from Super Tuesday:

Preventing long lines. Reports in Texas and California, the two largest Super Tuesday states, showed hours-long voting wait times. The waits stemmed from problems that included connecting to voter registration databases, machine equipment failures, and too few voting machines that were overwhelmed by high turnout. Verified Voting continues to urge all jurisdictions to plan for technology failures and have enough resources (including paper ballots, equipment, poll workers) to handle high turnout and ensure that every voter can vote. Election officials can check out the Bipartisan Policy Center’s project “Improving the Voter Experience” for guidance on preventing long lines; line optimization tools are available from the Voting Technology Project and on the  Election Assistance Commission’s (EAC) website.

Unnecessary scarcity. When precincts use all computerized devices for all voters, polling locations may not have enough machines to allow voters to cast their ballots relatively quickly and easily, resulting in unnecessary scarcity. Voting equipment shortages can disproportionately affect marginalized communities, and were reported in some of the largest counties in Texas, such as Bexar, Dallas, Harris, Tarrant and Travis counties. In addition to the increased security risks of BMDs and direct recording electronic machines (DREs), lack of availability is why we recommend that a majority of voters mark paper ballots by hand (supplemented by ballot marking devices for voters who need to use one) and oppose using ballot marking devices for all voters. Jurisdictions can avoid unnecessary scarcity with hand-marked paper ballots because they can more readily scale up in the face of heavy turnout. Read More

Verified Voting Data Shows Super Tuesday Voting Systems and Polling Equipment Trends Across States

This Super Tuesday, voters in the 14 states holding primaries will encounter a range of voting methods and polling equipment. Verified Voting maintains a comprehensive database of voting systems being used across the United States (see the Verifier) and is observing a number of trends across Super Tuesday states, including:
  • California - Los Angeles County is rolling out Voting Solutions for All People (VSAP), their in-house designed and publicly-owned ballot marking device (BMD) for all voters
  • North Carolina - More than half of North Carolinians are voting with new equipment, and seven counties are using BMDs for all voters. Verified Voting opposes the use of commercially-available BMDs for all voters because research suggests few voters actually check the paper outputs with enough attention to catch errors
  • Tennessee - 70% of registered voters will vote on unverifiable direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting machines; a few counties are using hand-marked paper ballots or BMDs
  • Texas - 36% of registered voters are voting on unverifiable DREs, and about half of all Texans will be using new voting equipment

Verified Voting Calls on Florida to Rely on Paper Ballots for Election Recounts – Not Ballot Images

Verified Voting urges the Florida legislature to amend HB 1005 and SB 1312 to require a public manual comparison audit to check that electronic election result tabulations agree with the voter-verified paper ballots to a reasonable scientific standard. Election security researchers agree that all electronic vote tabulations should routinely be manually checked against paper ballots. A retabulation system can facilitate this verification: election officials can examine a relatively small random sample of the voted paper ballots to ensure that the system counted each ballot accurately. Given heightened public concern about security threats, it is important now more than ever to demonstrate – not just assert – that computerized systems performed correctly. “For Florida recounts to give Floridians the faith in election results that they deserve, recount procedures must demonstrate, to a reasonable scientific standard, that the computers counted the paper ballots accurately,” said Dan McCrea, Florida Director of Verified Voting. “As members of the Florida legislature recognized in a public hearing – that paper is the best evidence – we urge the legislature to amend the bill to routinely check this evidence.”

Highlights from Verified Voting’s Quarterly Field Report

Highlights from Verified Voting’s Quarterly Field Report

Check out our state highlights from February 2020’s Verified Voting Quarterly Field Report. For the full report (including recent publications, events, and press highlights), click here. 

California

We are continuing to advise the state on proposed risk-limiting audit regulations and Director of Science and Technology Policy Mark Lindeman and Senior Advisor Pamela Smith collaborated with the California Voter Foundation and other partners in submitting a public comment letter responding to the regulations. Read the letter here. Pam Smith also provided a comment on the certification process for Los Angeles County’s VSAP 2.0 system, available here.

Florida

Florida Director Dan McCrea and Mark Lindeman joined our lobbying team January 21 and 22 for an intense two-day schedule of stops at the Tallahassee Capitol. While there, we met with numerous Senators, Representatives, key staff, and the Secretary of State on HB 1005/SB 1312, which proposes to expand the use of their insecure image audit system from post-certification audits to conducting recounts. We oppose the bill as written, and are working to pave a path forward. We also met with Representatives to advise them on the risks of opening the door to internet voting. Read More