Media Release

Media Release: Verified Voting Calls on Gov. Tom Wolf and the Penn. General Assembly to Appropriate Funding to Replace Vulnerable Electronic Voting Machines

Marian K. Schneider: “Verified Voting calls on the Pennsylvania legislature to appropriate additional funding to subsidize the cost of replacement.”

The following is a statement from Marian K. Schneider, president of Verified Voting, formerly Deputy Secretary for Elections and Administration in the Pennsylvania Department of State, following Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget address to the joint legislative session on Tuesday morning. For additional media inquires, please contact aurora@newheightscommunications.com 

“The security of Pennsylvania’s elections is at a crossroads. In 2018, 83 percent of Pennsylvanians have voted on unverifiable direct recording electronic (DRE) systems. The state already recognizes the need to replace aging and vulnerable electronic voting machines with ones that have a voter-verifiable paper ballot or record of votes cast before the 2020 election. Governor Tom Wolf committed to this nearly a year ago, yet his budget address to the joint legislative session today falls short of providing the resources counties need to implement best election security practices. In light of the inadequacy of the funding request and the timing of the directive, the Governor should allow the 17 counties that already vote on paper ballots to keep their systems until more resources are available.  Regardless, the remaining counties who do not have a plan to replace their systems are risking another presidential election in which the reported outcome cannot be verified.

“The Governor doesn’t have to look any further than the bipartisan Blue Ribbon Commission on Pennsylvania’s Election Security’s report last week for funding options. The report, which published recommendations to help counties purchase electronic voting systems with paper ballots and implement mandatory post-election audits and election emergency plans before the 2020 presidential election, recommends legislators fully fund the replacement of vulnerable systems using creative financing mechanisms if possible. The Governor could also relieve counties that already provide paper ballots from the mandate to replace their systems immediately. For these counties, robust post-election audits can protect the integrity of the election outcomes with the existing systems.

“Verified Voting calls on the Pennsylvania legislature to appropriate additional funding to subsidize the cost of replacement. In addition, we urge the Department of State to insist that all newly-certified voting systems include the most secure features and will be ready for robust post-election tabulation audits. Given the threat of hacking and other cyberattacks, the cost of replacing Pennsylvania’s current systems in 50 counties is far outweighed by the cost of leaving our elections vulnerable.”

Media Release: To Enhance Election Security, Rhode Island Tests A New Way to Verify Election Results

Aurora Matthews, New Heights Communications, aurora@newheightscommunications.com, (301)221-7984

PROVIDENCE, RI – Rhode Island is making good on its promise to road-test risk-limiting election audits, following 2017 passage of legislation by the Rhode Island General Assembly, requiring them. Beginning with the presidential primary in April 2020, Rhode Island will become the second state to require these audits to verify election results. A “risk limiting” audit checks if the election result is correct. Specifically it checks the counting of the votes. A “risk-limiting” audit limits the risk that the wrong election result will be certified. It can catch errors which change the result and correct a wrong result.

For more background on the legislation, visit here: https://www.commoncause.org/democracy-wire/rhode-island-adopts-risk-limiting-election-audits/ and here: http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText17/HouseText17/H5704.pdf

To prepare for next year’s full implementation, the Rhode Island Board of Elections will conduct three pilot audits on January 16 and 17 at 50 Branch Avenue in Providence, Rhode Island beginning at 9:30 a.m. These pilot audits will be conducted with local election officials from Bristol, Cranston and Portsmouth, Rhode Island.

The purpose is to test three different methods for conducting risk-limiting audits. A variety of tasks will be conducted over two days, including hand tabulation of a sample of ballots. For purposes of planning future audits a time and measurement study will be conducted over the two days.

Rhode Island will demonstrate three types of audits:

  • Ballot-level comparison audit for Bristol precincts: This method A ballot-level comparison audit is an audit that is similar to checking an expense report. First the audit checks that the subtotals add up to the reported totals. And then individual ballots are checked against how they are recorded by the machine – similar to checking receipts against numbers in a spreadsheet.
  • Batch-level comparison audit for Cranston precincts: This method will check a random sample of ballot “batches” and compare the total vote count of those batches against the voting machine’s count. A batch will consist of between 250-300 ballots.
  • Ballot-level polling audit for Portsmouth precincts: This method will check a random sample of ballots with the reported outcome, not against the voting machine’s record of those votes. This is comparable to an exit poll. But instead of using the voters’ responses to questions, it checks marking of the actual ballots. Enough ballots are sampled to give election officials confidence that the outcome is correct.

“We strongly support the Rhode Island Board of Election’s piloting risk-limiting audits as they prepare for full implementation of our law in 2020. Given recent threats to US cybersecurity, risk-limiting audits help conduct accurate, fair elections, strengthening voter confidence in election results,” said John Marion, Executive Director of Common Cause Rhode Island. “We hope many other US states will follow Rhode Island’s example,” he added

“Rhode Island’s Board of Elections’ risk-limiting audit pilot is a critical step toward safeguarding our elections. Paper ballots, marked by hand or device, are the essential ingredient for ensuring that jurisdictions can recover from errors or tampering. Paper ballots coupled with routine risk-limiting audits are the best way to detect whether the software reported the election results accurately,” said Marian K. Schneider, president of Verified Voting.

“Rhode Island is helping lead the nation toward the future of election administration and election security by piloting risk-limiting audits,” said Lawrence Norden, deputy director of the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program. “They are the gold-standard in post-election checks, and implementing them across the country is essential to catching problems with vote tallies and ensuring voter confidence. The pilots offer a great learning opportunity for officials and advocates alike, and they will help improve RLA processes as these audits become more widespread.”

Media Release: Verified Voting Welcomes Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams to its Board of Advisors

Wayne Williams: “I’m excited to share my expertise so that we can continue to strengthen our nation’s election systems and voters’ confidence in those systems.”

Verified Voting, a leading national organization focused solely on making our voting technology secure, welcomes Wayne Williams to its Advisory Board. Williams, while serving as Colorado Secretary of State from 2015 to 2019, adopted new voting standards requiring voter-verifiable paper ballots and implemented the nation’s first statewide risk-limiting audit (RLA) in Colorado.

“Voter confidence in elections is critical for Americans’ faith in our democratic republic. The election reforms we adopted in Colorado, including paper ballots and the nation’s first full risk-limiting audit, helped encourage Coloradans to vote in record numbers. I’m excited to share my enthusiasm and election expertise on the Verified Voting Board of Advisors so that we can continue to strengthen our nation’s election systems and voters’ confidence in those systems,” said Williams.

Under Williams’ leadership, Colorado led the nation in voter registration and turnout. He also served on the Executive Committee of the National Association of Secretaries of State for three years. Prior to serving as Secretary of State Williams served as El Paso County Clerk & Recorder, where he successfully ran elections in Colorado’s most populous county. Williams graduated magna cum laude from Brigham Young University, received his law degree from the University of Virginia and is a Certified Elections/Registration Administrator. Williams is also a Harry S. Truman Scholar and received the Medallion Award from the National Association of Secretaries of State for his efforts in protecting the right to vote during the fire-ravaged primary election in 2012.

“Wayne Williams brings extensive expertise as an on-the-ground election official and we are delighted to have him join Verified Voting’s Advisory Board,” said Barbara Simons, Verified Voting’s Board Chair.

View the full list of Verified Voting Advisory Board members here.

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

Media Release: Election Security Experts Applaud City of Fairfax, VA and Orange County, CA for Leading in New Election Integrity Methods

New Reports from Verified Voting Show How Risk-Limiting Audits in California and Virginia Can Improve Election Security and Public Confidence

WASHINGTON, D.C – Robust post-election audits are changing the election security landscape and the City of Fairfax, Virginia and Orange County, California are leading the way. Risk-limiting audits (RLAs) of voter-marked paper ballots can promote election security and public confidence by providing rigorous statistical evidence that election outcomes match the ballots — and a means to detect and correct outcomes that don’t match. If the method is widely adopted it will bolster confidence in elections. In the months leading up to the midterms, the City of Fairfax and Orange County implemented pilot projects that, as documented in two new reports by the Verified Voting Foundation, with funding support from Microsoft, demonstrated the benefits of risk-limiting audits.

The “Pilot Risk-Limiting Audit” reports, released today at the MIT Election Audit Summit, detail how Orange County and the City of Fairfax conducted pilots — in June and August 2018, respectively — and how these pilots provide lessons for election officials and policymakers around the country.

“The pilots in the City of Fairfax and Orange County provide a framework for risk-limiting audits and are a positive step toward more widespread use of this method going forward,” said Marian K. Schneider, Verified Voting’s president.

The reports discuss the process of developing the pilots, as well as the implementation. An RLA of the tabulation of an election contest checks a random selection of voted paper ballots or voter-verifiable paper records. This statistically-sound audit can stop as soon as it finds strong evidence that the reported outcome was correct. Or, if the reported outcome was wrong because ballots were miscounted in the tabulation, an RLA is very likely to lead to a full hand recount that corrects the outcome.

Colorado became the first state to conduct statewide RLAs in 2017. New Mexico uses a related procedure, and Rhode Island will soon follow suit. The RLA pilots in the City of Fairfax and Orange County represent a growing interest from election officials looking for a reliable and efficient way to provide strong statistical evidence to confirm reported results of vote tallies. Other states looking to replicate robust post-election audits like RLAs must require voters to vote on voter-marked paper ballots, either marked by hand or using ballot marking devices. Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machines that produce “voter-verifiable paper audit trails” provide, at best, an obsolescent stopgap: most voters never check them, and often they are hard to audit.

The reports on the RLA pilots in Orange County and the City of Fairfax demonstrate the importance of frequent audit pilots that include election officials in the design – reducing the burdens on officials and audit staff while also creating support around RLAs – as well as the need for funding to purchase election technology that supports efficient audits. The reports suggest that in addition to this technology, laws and procedures must also be designed with audits in mind in order to help states safeguard elections with robust post-election audits.

“Protecting the integrity of the voting process is a key priority of our Defending Democracy Program, so that people can trust that their vote is properly counted. Risk-limiting audits are an important way to provide confidence in the outcome of an election. We funded Verified Voting Foundation’s “Pilot Risk-Limiting Audit” reports to show that these audits really work,” said Tom Burt, Corporate Vice President, Customer Security & Trust, Microsoft.

To read the reports, click here for the City of Fairfax and here for Orange County.

Media Release: Verified Voting Outlines Steps Voters Can Take to Report Problems on Election Day

Voters who experience problems to call the Election Protection hotline at
866-OUR VOTE / 1-888-Ve-y-vota

To speak with Marian K. Schneider or for additional media inquires, please contact aurora@newheightscommunications.com  

November 6, 2018 – Recent reports of possible threats to voting systems and registration databases are alarming, but voters should not be deterred from voting this Election Day. Election officials at the state-level are more prepared for cybersecurity threats or problems with computers than they were two years ago.

“The only way to ensure your vote doesn’t count is if you don’t vote,” said Marian K. Schneider, president of Verified Voting.

Verified Voting urges voters who notice anything wrong with their voter registration or at their polling place to call the Election Protection Hotline: 866-OUR VOTE / 1-888-Ve-y-vota or check out 866OURVOTE.org. Voters should also report any problems to their local county board of elections or to the Secretary of State’s office or both. Doing so will allow officials to understand how widespread the issue is and assist in efforts to pinpoint the cause.

For statewide information about polling place equipment, please visit the Verifier.

Media Release: Verified Voting Calls on Texas to Investigate Straight-Ticket Voting Issues; Voters Should Carefully Check Choices

Marian K. Schneider: “Verified Voting urges Secretary of State Rolando Pablos to move Texas toward reliable, verifiable voting systems that include a voter-marked paper ballot statewide.”

The following is a statement from Marian K. Schneider, president of Verified Voting, in response to reports that voters in six counties in Texas (Harris, Montgomery, Fort Bend, Travis, Tarrant, and McLennan) experienced straight-ticket voting issues using the Hart eSlate voting machines. At a minimum, 5.1 million Texas voters in six of the largest counties in Texas that use Hart eSlate voting machines may be affected by this issue. For additional media inquires, please contact aurora@newheightscommunications.com

“Verified Voting calls on Secretary of State Rolando Pablos to launch a broader and more robust statewide public information effort to advise voters to carefully check their choices as displayed before submitting them on direct recording electronic (DRE) voting machines manufactured by Hart InterCivic.

“Verified Voting appreciates that the Secretary of State issued an advisory warning voters to check their choices carefully before submitting the ballot. More work needs to be done to ensure that all voters in the affected counties are equipped to cast their votes as they intend.

“The reported problems underscore the design flaw in voting systems that do not incorporate a voter-marked paper ballot. Paper ballots that are retained can be later sampled to check if the software is correctly reporting the voters’ selections. Without such a safeguard, public confidence in elections diminishes. Verified Voting urges Secretary Pablos to move Texas toward reliable, verifiable voting systems that include a voter-marked paper ballot statewide.

“Verified Voting also calls on Secretary Pablos to investigate the reports of voting problems, determine the root cause of the issue and publicize the results of such an investigation. Voters should be instructed to report any problems to their local county board of elections or to the Secretary of State’s office or both. Doing so will allow officials to understand how widespread the issue is and assist in efforts to pinpoint the cause.

“Verified Voting also urges voters who experience problems to call the Election Protection hotline at 866-OUR VOTE / 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA.

Media Release: What Would an Attack on the U.S. Elections Look Like?

Election Experts to Discuss How Hackers Might Target Voter Rolls, Registration in the 2018 Elections, What Signs to Look For and How to Respond. For more information, please contact Aurora Matthews, aurora@newheightscommunications.com, (301)-221-7984.

What
Press call to discuss election day security preparedness and “What Would a 2018 Election Hack Look Like?”

When
Monday, October 15, 2018, 1pm EDT

Where
Dial-in number: 408-638-0968;
Meeting ID: 363 129 912
Webinar link: https://zoom.us/j/363129912

Verified Voting, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School and Public Citizen will hold a telepresser and webinar on Monday, October 15 to discuss what a hacking of the 2018 election system might look like. Hackers have different avenues they could take either by altering voter registration rolls, disrupting websites or changing vote counts. Detecting an attack might be obvious, such as disappearing votes, or subtle, like voting tallies not matching exit polls.

Speakers will give examples of what systems hackers might target, and how election officials will be able to determine if a hack occurred, as well as how to respond to hacks. There are several actions voters and election officials can still take ahead of the election to ensure minimal disruption to voting, even if a hack or computer error occurs. The call will also address what states have done since 2016 to improve election security. Speakers will include:

  • Marian K. Schneider, President at the Verified Voting Foundation and former Deputy Secretary for Elections and Administration, Pennsylvania Department of State
  • Lawrence Norden, deputy director of the Brennan Center for Justice’s Democracy Program
  • Aquene Freechild, co-director of Public Citizen’s Democracy Is For People Campaign

This briefing comes as states have had wide ranging responses to calls to implement additional election security following the 2016 elections.

###

 

Media Release: Wisconsin Proves It’s Not Too Late for States to Take Key Election Security Steps Before November

Nearly 20 U.S. States Do Not Audit Election Results by Checking Paper Ballots Against Machine Counts or Lack a Paper Ballot to Conduct Effective Audits

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Wisconsin’s action last week requiring a post-election audit will help secure the November vote and should be followed by states that lack such protections, according to Public Citizen and Verified Voting.

On Tuesday, the Wisconsin Election Commission (WEC) took a key step to secure the vote by requiring an audit of November’s election results before they are made official. The commission voted to randomly select five percent of voting machines in the state to be audited the day after the 2018 general election. For the audit, municipal clerks will hand count ballots from randomly selected machines, comparing what’s on the paper ballot to what the machine recorded. They will do this across four races before the vote count is finalized. (See WEC meeting minutes pages 34 and 49.)

Wisconsin’s action shows that it’s not too late to commit to auditing the 2018 vote counts before finalizing results, Public Citizen and Verified Voting said. Votes can – and should – be checked against voter-marked paper ballots for accuracy. Read More

Media Release: Audit Language of the Secure Elections Act Falls Short of Standard for Effective Election Cyberdefense

Marian K. Schneider: “Verified Voting cannot in good conscience support the Secure Elections Act unless the previous audit language of the bill is restored

The following is a statement from Marian K. Schneider, president of Verified Voting, formerly Deputy Secretary for Elections and Administration in the Pennsylvania Department of State, regarding the Chairman’s mark of the Secure Elections Act. For additional media inquiries, please contact christy@newheightscommunications.com.

“Voter-verified paper ballots and manual post-election audits provide robust assurance that election outcomes are not manipulated in a cyberattack, and the most important thing elected officials can do to effectively secure the voting process is to require this combination of safeguards, together.

Unfortunately, the Chairman’s mark of the Secure Elections Act falls short of this standard. Unlike previous versions of the language, including the House companion bill introduced last month, the Chairman’s mark removes language that would have required audits to be conducted ‘by hand and not by device.’ This omission would permit software-based audits of digital records that do not provide a meaningful verification of the software that counted the votes. Cybersecurity experts agree that a manual inspection of the actual ballots marked by voters is essential to detecting interference or programming errors.

Verified Voting cannot in good conscience support the Secure Elections Act unless the previous audit language of the bill is restored and the SEA ensures that elections are defended by effective audit processes.”

Media Release: Security Experts Call on ES&S to Provide States with Steps to Disable Problematic Software Installed on Voting Machines

Marian K. Schneider: “Verified Voting calls on all the voting system vendors to be full partners in the effort to secure our elections.”

The following is a statement from Marian K. Schneider, president of Verified Voting, following news that ES&S, the country’s top voting-machine maker, admitted installing problematic remote-access software on election-management systems that it sold over a period of six years. For additional media inquires, please contact aurora@newheightscommunications.com

“Computer security experts agree the computers that program precinct voting devices should never contain any type of remote access software because the presence of this software could lead to hacking that can change election results. To safeguard election systems and instill confidence in the voting process, ES&S should be transparent about which states’ computers have this remote access software installed and provide information about the steps needed to disable or remove it.

“Verified Voting calls on all the voting system vendors to be full partners in the effort to secure our elections. We must all stand shoulder to shoulder to defend our democracy against both internal and external threats that seek to undermine our elections.”