post election audit

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Editorials: Connecticut’s upcoming primary election should be audited. Will it really be? | Luther Weeks/CT Mirror

After every general election and primary, Connecticut law requires a post-election audit. Such audits are intended to provide justified confidence in our elections, that errors were not made, and that machines have not been hacked. However, unless something is done, this year the audits will be by far the weakest, least credible since audits were initiated with the adoption of optical scanners in 2007. Reasonably, in the COVID emergency, Gov. Ned Lamont and Secretary of the State Merrill have provided the opportunity for everyone to vote by absentee ballot in the primary. It is likely the General Assembly will do the same for the general election. Unfortunately, this will exacerbate preexisting gaps in our post-election audits. Congress and voters are concerned with the potential for hacking by foreign governments and insiders, others do not trust the integrity of mail-in voting. The Federal Government has provided billions for protecting elections, with Connecticut spending millions of that Federal money on cyber security and absentee ballot mailings. In contrast, past audits have cost less than $100,000 in a presidential year and this year are on course to be halved in cost and effort for a second time. In 2007 the General Assembly passed post-election audits that mandated auditing the counts in 10% of our polling place voting machines. The audits have proven useful in providing overall confidence and in identifying some flaws in the operation of those machines, uncovering persistent errors by officials, rather than computer errors, and exposing gaps in ballot security. Read More

Georgia: Secretary of State: Audit confirms presidential primary results | Adrianne Murchison/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Following widespread criticism of the voting process in Fulton County, an audit has confirmed the outcomes of the presidential preference primaries.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said a secure paper-ballot system was used Monday to verify Fulton’s results in the June 9 primary. According to the statement, Fulton County Board of Registration and Elections officials conducted an audit of the primary contests by comparing results on a random group of paper ballots in a selected race with results on the election equipment.

A formula was used to select a random sample of 27 ballots with the assistance of VotingWorks, a nonpartisan, nonprofit that works to ensure secure software in voting machines, said Walter Jones, a spokesman for Raffensperger.

Long lines, technical problems with election equipment and late opening precincts were complaints from voters on Election Day that left many concerned with the accuracy of the state’s new voting machines.

Raffensperger has said his office plans to provide more support to local offices and he would put forth legislation giving him the power to intervene in county elections management, if necessary, for November’s presidential election.

He was confident that Monday’s audit validated “results produced by Georgia’s new secure paper-ballot system.”

“Auditing returns can now be a regular part of elections because we have paper ballots,” he added. “That gives Georgians confidence that their votes are counted fairly and accurately.”

Full Article: Raffensperger: Audit confirms presidential primary results.

National: RSA Cryptographer Ronald Rivest Seeks Secure Elections the Low-Tech Way | Susan D’Agostino/Quanta Magazine

onald Rivest sports a white beard, smiles with his eyes and bestows his tech gifts on the people of the world. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor is the “R” in RSA, which means that he, along with Adi Shamir (the “S”) and Leonard Adleman (the “A”), gave us one of the first public key cryptosystems. It’s still common today: Nearly all internet-based commercial transactions rely on this algorithm, for which the trio was awarded the 2002 A.M. Turing Award, essentially the Nobel Prize of computing. In recent decades, Rivest has continued to work on making it computationally hard for adversaries to break a system, though he now focuses on ensuring that votes in democratic elections are cast as intended, collected as cast and tallied as collected. Elections, he has discovered, have stricter requirements than nearly any other security application, including internet-based commerce. Unlike online bank accounts and the customer names with which they are affiliated, ballots in an election must be stripped of voters’ names because of voting’s secrecy requirement. But the ballot box’s anonymity sets conditions for real or perceived tampering, which makes proving the accuracy of tallies important to voters, election officials and candidates. Another requirement is that voters can’t receive receipts verifying their candidate selections, lest the practice encourage vote selling or coercion. But without a receipt, voters might wonder if their votes were faithfully and accurately counted. It’s a tough problem to crack, and Rivest thinks the solution lies not with fancier computers, but with pen, paper and mathematics. “I mainly argue for some process by which we have confidence in our election results,” he said. “No one should say, ‘It’s right because the computer said so.’” Read More

Illinois: Calls for audits, paper trails emerge during listening session on Illinois automatic voter registration program | Greg Bishop/The Center Square

A problem with Illinois’ automatic voter registration program that led to hundreds of people who said they weren’t U.S. citizens being registered to vote took center stage at a listening session hosted by a central Illinois congressman in Springfield on Monday. The automatic voter registration law was enacted in Illinois with bipartisan support in 2018 and required certain state agencies such as the Illinois Secretary of State to automatically forward the information of a person anytime they interact with a state agency to the Illinois State Board of Elections and then to local elections authorities for voter registration. Illinois elections are handled on a county level, or in some instances by local election commissions, not by the state, meaning it is decentralized. Voter records are maintained by those local officials. The automatic voter registration system pushes voter information from the state to local officials. Read More

New Hampshire: How New Hampshire votes: Pencils and paper | Ben Popken/NBC News

New Hampshire’s election system is decidedly old school: paper ballots hand-marked by voters. That’s mostly a good thing, election technology experts told NBC News. After Iowa’s caucuses were thrown off in part due to a faulty smartphone app, election technology is now the focus of national scrutiny. But like any election system, New Hampshire’s isn’t bulletproof. Aging equipment and a few tweaks to its system for 2020 still present opportunities for confusion or disruption for Tuesday’s vote. When asked about his state’s election security during a meeting of the state’s Ballot Law Commission before the 2018 midterms, New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner held up a pencil. “Want me to give it to you and see if you can hack this pencil?” Gardner said. “We have this pencil. This is how people vote in this state. And you can’t hack this pencil.” The biggest immediate difference between the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary is in the format itself. Iowa uses a caucus system in which people physically and publicly line up and go through rounds of “realignment” depending on which candidates receive enough support. New Hampshire, like most other states, uses a primary, in which voters largely cast secret paper ballots, as in the general election. Read More

Editorials: Counting on technology: Machines can malfunction, and election results ought to be verified | Keene Sentinel

In 17 days, Granite State voters will head to the polls to exercise what is, arguably, their most well-known right and duty: voting in the first-in-the-nation New Hampshire presidential primary. When they do, many will cast votes counted by machine. We hope all will go well. But there’s no guarantee. Absent a campaign-requested recount, there won’t be any verification of the results those machines offer. And that’s because the state’s highest elections officials refuse to allow it. A handful of Monadnock Region residents has been sounding the alarm regarding the vulnerability of voting machines in New Hampshire for several years. And, as noted in a recent report by Sentinel staff writer Jake Lahut, the N.H. Secretary of State’s Office has been refusing to allow local polling officials to even conduct random cross checks by hand. Such hand counts, or audits, could go a long way toward putting voters’ minds at ease regarding the efficacy of the machines upon which so much of our election infrastructure relies. It’s not just a worry for the conspiracy-minded; beyond the idea of Russian or Chinese or, now, perhaps even Iranian hackers gaining access to local or statewide results, there’s the simple question of reliability. Read More

National: Swing states adopt audit tool to safeguard voter ballots ahead of 2020 election | One America News Network

A leg of the Department of Homeland Security recently announced its soon to be partnership with election officials and non-profit VotingWorks that would audit votes in 2020. Ballot box officers say the purpose is to prevent possible hacks and watch for faulty voting machines. Battleground states, such as Pennsylvania and Ohio, have already embraced a voter monitoring tool known as Arlo. Four other states have reportedly adopted the tool as well. The VotingWorks sponsored tool is free for state and local election leaders, and would double-check all votes cast. Arlo is a web-based app that uses a security method called “risk-limiting audit.” During this process, a small percentage of the paper ballots are taken at random to check if they match what the machines recorded. Although the method is simple, many places don’t use them reportedly because many states use direct electronic voting machines, which eradicates all paper trails. Read More

Georgia: Secretary of State seeks election audit rules | Doug Richards/WXIA

Georgia’s Secretary of State wants new rules to govern the timing and location of post-election audits. This comes after critics said an audit of the recent November election was done in virtual secrecy. The November elections, a handful of locations, were the first-ever in Georgia done with new voting machines purchased from Dominion Systems by the state of Georgia. The new machines are expected to roll out statewide in time for the March presidential primary. Aside from the audit controversy, critics said a pattern has emerged in recent weeks that shows the secretary of state’s office initiating political battles with its critics. Thursday, a roomful of volunteers at Ebenezer Baptist Church had created a phone bank to contact voters they say were at risk of getting purged from voter rolls. Read More

Indiana: State Putting $10 Million Toward Election Security | Kevin Green/Greensburg Daily News

By the next election, one in 10 direct recording electronic (DREs) voting machines in Indiana will have a small black box attached to them that will let voters see a printout of their ballot, providing a paper trail that can be used in post-election audits. Secretary of State Connie Lawson held one-on-one interviews with reporters to discuss the new voting equipment as well as the other steps her office is taking to assure Hoosiers that every ballot cast in an election will be accurately counted. “I still believe that the most important concern for us is voter confidence,” Lawson said Wednesday. “We want voters to know that the vote they cast is counted the way it was cast and that elections are safe and secure.” Lawson will go to the State Budget Committee Friday to ask for the release of $10 million that had been budgeted during the legislative session for election security. The committee is meeting at Purdue University. Read More

Rhode Island: Report examines ways to adopt election audit system in Rhode Island | Jennifer McDermott/Associated Press

A new report recommends how to adopt a system for auditing election results required in Rhode Island. Common Cause, Verified Voting and The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law released the report Tuesday. They helped the state design and test the risk-limiting audit system this year. Rhode Island will first use risk-limiting audits for the 2020 presidential primaries. There are three ways to do the postelection audit. The report recommends a ballot-level comparison because of its efficiency, transparency and relatively predictable cost. That type of audit would compare the vote on an individual ballot to the machine’s recording of the vote on that ballot, which requires the fewest number of ballots to be examined. The other methods, ballot polling and batch comparison, compare more ballots to totals produced by the machines and require the examination of far more ballots, John Marion, executive director of Common Cause Rhode Island, said Tuesday. Read More

National: States Upgrade Election Equipment — Wary Of ‘A Race Without A Finish Line’ | Pam Fessler/NPR

With five months before primary season begins, election officials around the country are busy buying new voting equipment. Their main focus is security, after Russians tried to hack into U.S. election systems in 2016. Intelligence officials have warned that similar attacks are likely in 2020, from either Russia or others intent on disrupting U.S. elections. Federal, state and local authorities are trying to improve the security of the nation’s voting systems before that happens. One way they’re doing that is by purchasing more machines that produce paper ballots, which can be used to verify results in the event of a cyberattack on electronic systems. Read More

Virginia: Georgia officials visit Virginia to review paper ballot audits | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia election officials observed audits of paper ballots in Virginia this week to learn how to conduct similar checks for accuracy when the state installs its new voting system next year. The trip comes as the Secretary of State’s Office is crafting standards for election audits that must be in place by the November 2020 election.“Georgia has an opportunity to increase voter confidence and strengthen election security by designing effective risk-limiting audits,” said Marian Schneider, president of Verified Voting, a national election integrity organization. “After observing the audit pilots in Virginia this week, Georgia election officials are better equipped to adopt best practices and design robust post-election audits that ensure the outcome reported by tabulation machines is correct.”Elections Director Chris Harvey and Deputy General Counsel Kevin Rayburn witnessed pilot audits in the city of Manassas, Prince William County and Loudoun County on Monday and Tuesday.They learned about how Virginia elections officials store and handle ballots, take random samples for audits and examine voters’ selections. Virginia switched to paper ballots statewide in 2017.Georgia will replace its 17-year-old electronic voting machines next year with a system that produces a printed-out paper ballot.“As Georgia moves toward our new auditable paper-based system, it is important that we learn from other successful states,” said Secretary of State Brad Raffenspeger. “We’re looking forward to instituting industry best practices in order to give Georgians the most accurate voting experience to ensure voter confidence.”With Georgia’s new $107 million system, voters will pick their candidates on touchscreens that are connected to printers that create paper ballots. Voters will then be able to review their ballots before inserting them into scanners for tabulation. Read More

National: Most states still aren’t set to audit paper ballots in 2020 – Despite expert recommendations | Colin Lecher/The Verge

Despite some progress on voting security since 2016, most states in the US aren’t set to require an audit of paper ballots in the November 2020 election, according to a new report out this week from the Brennan Center for Justice. The report notes that experts and government officials have spent years recommending states adopt verifiable paper ballots for elections, but a handful still use electronic methods potentially vulnerable to cyberattacks. In 2016, 14 states used paperless machines, although the number today is 11, and the report estimates that no more than eight will use them in the 2020 election. But the report also found that most states won’t require an audit of those paper records, in which officials review randomly selected ballots — another step experts recommend. Today, only 22 states and the District of Columbia have voter-verifiable paper records and require an audit of those ballots before an election is certified. The number will increase to at least 24 states by the 2020 elections, according to the report. “However,” the report notes, “there is nothing stopping most of these remaining states from conducting such audits if they have the resources and will to do so.” Read More

Oregon: On Election Day, Oregon Senate passes bill requiring future election audits | Associated Press

County clerks in Oregon would be required to audit results after each election under a bill that overwhelmingly passed the Senate on Election Day. The bill approved Tuesday requires county clerks to conduct hand-count or risk-limiting audits after every primary, general and special election. Risk-limiting audits are based on counts of statistical samples of paper ballots. Sen. Lew Frederick, a Portland Democrat, said the bill ensures more audits happen to make sure election results are correct. The bill requires audits after every election, instead of just general elections. It goes next to the House. Heading into the 2020 cycle, a new report out Tuesday provides a stark warning about the cyber-insecurity of the highest-profile U.S. political organizations even after years of concerted efforts to improve digital safeguards and an intense focus in Washington on the need to secure campaigns and elections. Read More

National: Election machine vendors back legislation requiring post-election audits, vulnerability disclosure | InsideCyberSecurity

Two major election machine vendors stated their support for requiring post-election audits to ensure the validity of election results in the case of a cyber attack or other tampering, in response to questions recently posed by senior Senate Democrats. Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), and Mark Warner (D-VA) sent letters last month to the three largest election machine vendors asking whether the companies would support legislation around post-election audits and what cyber controls are in place to secure the vote. In its response submitted on Tuesday, Hart InterCivic wrote that “robust post-election audits are the most compelling response” to threats posed by outdated technology. “Auditing is the most transparent and effective means to demonstrate that election outcomes accurately reflect the intention of voters,” Hart wrote. “Hart unequivocally supports state efforts to strengthen auditing procedures.” Tom Burt, the president and CEO of Election Systems and Software, also supported the idea of legislation around post-election audits, writing that the company “strongly supports legislation that would expand the use of routine post-election audits. ES&S believes that successful post-election audits, including risk-limiting audits such as those which have recently occurred in several jurisdictions, will increase confidence in our country’s election process.” Read More

Missouri: Lawmakers discuss return to paper ballots | Columbia Missourian

Voters could get the chance to check their electronic ballot for accuracy before turning it in under a proposed bill. HB 543, sponsored by Rep. Tony Lovasco, R-O’Fallon, would require electronic voting machines to print out a paper ballot that could be reviewed by the voter. That paper ballot would also be available to those checking ballots during recounts. The bill also works to phase out electronic voting machines that directly record results without producing some sort of physical copy. As the machines die out due to age or malfunction, the bill states that they would not be replaced. The bill would make paper ballots the “official ballot” except for those submitted by electronic machines that have not yet been replaced. Read More

Editorials: Texas Bill promises better election security. Let’s be sure to get it right. | Dan Wallach/Austin American-Statesman

Election security experts in Texas and nationwide have been pushing for the use of paper ballots in elections to defend against cyber attacks and bolster public confidence in election results. The Texas Legislature has finally taken notice. This week, the Senate heard testimony on Sen. Bryan Hughes’s election security bill, which would require a paper record of every vote and implement post-election audits of every election. This change is long overdue—but the details matter. As a cybersecurity and elections security expert, I know those details well. In fact, my colleagues from across Texas are joining me in pushing for an even stronger bill. Legislators must recognize that paper ballots are the means to a much more important end: ensuring the final results are correct, even when sophisticated adversaries try to interfere. This requires implementing “risk limiting” post-election audits, where auditors randomly sample paper ballots to make sure they match up with the digital records. Discussion about “paper trails” and “voter-verified paper audit trails” can seem complicated. Unfortunately, not all paper trails are created equal. When it comes to elections, “paper” can mean three things: paper ballots filled out (“marked”) by hand, paper ballots marked by a machine (a “ballot-marking device”), or a paper receipt of some kind printed by an electronic voting machine. What makes a good paper ballot? It must be human-readable (not a bar code or other non-English symbols) and auditable (by human auditors, not just machine scanners). Voters must be able detect errors on machine-marked paper ballots and have opportunity to correct them (e.g., “spoil” the ballot and start over), as they can with hand-marked ballots. Read More

Georgia: Bill seeks switch to ballot-marking devices for Georgia elections | Atlanta Journal Constitution

A broad elections bill introduced Thursday would replace Georgia’s electronic voting system with touchscreens that print ballots before they’re counted. The printed ballots would create a paper trail to check the accuracy of election results. Georgia’s current direct-recording electronic voting machines lack a paper backup. The legislation, House Bill 316, follows the recommendations of a voting commission created by Gov. Brian Kemp last year when he was secretary of state. The commission favored the touchscreens, called ballot-marking devices, over paper ballots filled out with a pen or pencil. Election integrity advocates say paper ballots filled out by hand are more secure, but supporters of ballot-marking devices say they’re easier to use and more likely to accurately record votes. Ballot-marking devices print ballots that are then counted by optical scanning machines. Read More

National: Lawmakers quiz officials on 2020 election security measures | The Hill

Lawmakers questioned federal officials Wednesday about the importance of passing election security measures ahead of the 2020 contests, pressing witnesses on the threat posed by foreign actors to influence U.S. elections. Christopher Krebs, director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), testified during the House Homeland Security Committee hearing Wednesday that the federal government is “lightyears ahead” of where it was in 2016 when it came to communicating with state and local officials. But he said improving outreach and communication with those officials is a top priority for his department ahead of 2020. Krebs also said that being able to audit elections is a pressing issue for his agency, and that records of votes, like paper trails, will help officials confirm election results. The DHS official added that basic cybersecurity remains a crucial issue, saying he fears any gaps could expose vulnerabilities in systems that could be abused by hackers. Read More

National: Cyber chief pushes audits as key to election security | FCW

The nation’s top cybersecurity official told Congress that the ability to audit voting machines after elections is critical for ballot security. “The area that I think we need to invest the most in the nation is ensuring auditability across infrastructure,” Christopher Krebs, head of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said at a Feb. 13 hearing of the House Homeland Security Committee. “If you don’t know what’s happening and you can’t check back at what’s happening in the system — you don’t have security.” While 34 states and the District of Columbia have some laws mandating post-election audits, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Congress has been unable to agree on how hard or soft to make such language in legislation. Krebs and Election Assistance Commission (EAC) Chair Thomas Hicks endorsed the need for greater auditability, though both deferred to states on the question of whether it should be done digitally or by hand. Read More