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 Blog: 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 Blog: 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. To the extent feasible, states should adopt and publicize ballot tracking systems that allow voters to locate their ballot envelopes en route from and to election offices while maintaining anonymity of their ballot selections. E.g. the United States Postal Service (USPS) has a mail tracking system that improves mail ballot visibility. Some jurisdictions have already integrated these tools into their mail ballot processes. Voters also need to know what to do if their envelopes go astray in either direction.
  2. Signature Verification & Opportunity to Rectify: Mail-in-ballots pose distinctive authentication challenges to prevent unauthorized or additional ballots being cast. Despite its limitations, signature verification is the best currently-available means to detect ballots cast under a false identity though it is complicated and fraught with error. Automated software can be used to match signatures, but must not be relied upon to reject ballots; rejection decisions should be made by bipartisan or multipartisan teams. Software matches and rejection decisions should be reviewed and analyzed for accuracy and voters whose ballots are rejected due to invalid signatures must have an opportunity to “cure” their ballots.
  3. Voter Verification of Ballots: Some voters may be unfamiliar with hand-marked paper ballots or with mail ballots. The design of these ballots, and also of ballot envelopes, is critically important and should undergo usability review to minimize the chance of voter error. Voters who use ballot marking devices to mark their ballots should be reminded to check the paper ballots before casting them. Voting systems that do not yield a voter-verified paper ballot should not be used.
  4. Ballot Management & Chain-of-Custody Documentation: Effective ballot management procedures for all voted ballots generally include using appropriate secure ballot containers, keeping track of the number of ballots in each container, using suitable tamper-evident seals and maintaining a log of seal IDs, and restricting and monitoring access to ballot containers. Best practices require both physical and digital documentation especially of the dates of mailing and dates of receipt where the deadline is based on receipt rather than postmark. Effective ballot management is essential in showing that people’s votes are safely secured, especially if vote count reporting is delayed or voting occurs over multiple days.
  5. Post-Election Risk-Limiting Audits & other Tabulation Audits: No matter what procedural safeguards are adopted to protect the counts, risk-limiting audits (RLAs) of the voted ballots can more directly demonstrate that the ballots support the official outcomes and the reported winners in fact received a majority of the votes. Short of RLAs, manual audits can provide substantial (and often very strong) evidence. Central-count scanners that tabulate mail ballots can facilitate more efficient and less labor-intensive audits than precinct or voting system-based audits. For an RLA to meaningfully support confidence in the reported election outcome, trustworthy paper records and best practices must be used.
  6. Avoid Remote Voting via Internet & Mobile App: Some jurisdictions may be tempted to adopt internet voting “solutions.” They should not. Mobile voting remains inherently insecure; voters are likely to distrust it, and rightly so, given the consensus of the intelligence community of evidence of interference in the 2016 election. Again, voting systems that do not produce a voter verifiable paper ballot should not be used.
  7. Extend Deadlines for Canvassing All Ballots: With more voters expected to vote by mail this November, election officials will need more time to tabulate and report the initial election results and then conduct post-election audits to confirm the tabulated results. Voters need trustworthy information more than ever; setting realistic expectations and increasing transparency about how votes get counted and when the public will receive the complete, verified election results will help bolster voter confidence. Other measures that will assist in the reporting of results include allowing officials to start scanning mail in ballots up to 14 days before election day so that the volume of work for counting is spread over a longer period of time.

 

Keeping our democracy and its voters safe and healthy will require all of us to work together. There is much to be done in the months ahead, and states need resources to ensure the election proceeds safely and securely.

We thank you again for your work on this vital topic. Verified Voting is committed to supporting this task and looks forward to working with members of the Committee to support safe, secure and fair federal elections.

Respectfully submitted,

Marian K. Schneider, President
Verified Voting

 

About Verified Voting

Verified Voting’s mission is to strengthen democracy by promoting the responsible use of technology in elections. Since our founding in 2004 by Stanford computer science professor David Dill, we have acted on the belief that the integrity and strength of our democracy relies on citizens’ trust that each vote is counted as cast. We bring together policymakers and officials who are designing and implementing voting-related legislation and regulations with technology experts who comprehend the risks associated with election technology. We have provided direct assistance to election officials in implementing the most efficient post-election audits to verify election results.

Our board of directors and board of advisors include some of the top computer scientists, cyber security experts and statisticians working in the election administration arena as well as former and current elections officials. Verified Voting has no financial interest in the type of equipment used. Our goal is for every jurisdiction in the United States to have secure and verifiable elections.

 

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

Read Verified Voting & California Voter Foundation’s letter of concern expressing technological challenges that need to be addressed in planning for November’s election: Download Letter PDF

The Honorable Marc Berman
California State Capitol, Room 6011
Sacramento, CA  95814

Re:  Assembly Bill 860 – Letter of Concern

Dear Assembly Member Berman:

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. Read More

Verified Voting Blog: 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. Read More

Verified Voting Blog: 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. Read More

Verified Voting Blog: 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

 

Verified Voting Blog: 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

Verified Voting Blog: 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

Verified Voting Blog: 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.[4] 
    • This change would erode public trust in our elections. After assuring the public for nearly a decade that we rely on paper ballots, now we say never mind that – we’ll rely on these images and more computers, feeding public distrust of elections which destabilizes our democracy in exactly the ways we know the Russians and other foreign adversaries are working to do.[5]

 

  • Proper certification: This technology has not obtained proper certification to be part of a voting system. And rather than the bill requiring that, it creates an exception for it, directing the Department of State to promulgate rules, to break its own existing rules.[6]

 

  • Unnecessary Haste: Since this bill does not go into effect until 2021, it will not apply to statewide elections until 2022. The effective date already allows for time to move in a more thoughtful way with such a major change to Florida elections. So it makes sense to veto this bill now, and send stakeholders back to craft better solutions to address both speed and security.

 

Florida needs stronger audit and recount procedures to secure our elections. Other states are innovating with efficient and highly effective audit provisions that can also speed up recounts. Florida should first bring stakeholders together to look at new ideas, conduct pilots of innovative improvements and ensure solutions are right for Florida. This doesn’t have to take an unreasonably long time, but it is an essential step to election security and efficiency that should not be skipped.

Governor DeSantis, we urge you to veto this bill, to first do no harm to Florida’s election security, and second to provide an opportunity for stakeholders to come together and make smarter decisions about election innovation for Florida. Much good can come from that more measured approach.

Much harm can come from this hasty leap to try to speed up Florida recounts, while opening up Florida to hacking, insecurity and embarrassment.

Thank you for your consideration and don’t hesitate to reach out to any of us if we can answer questions or be part of that more thoughtful approach to Florida’s elections innovation.

 

Very truly yours,

Dan McCrea, Florida Director, Verified Voting

Marian K. Schneider, President, Verified Voting

 

The following signatories add their names urging the Governor to veto the bill.

 

Institutional affiliations are provided only for the purpose of identification and do not imply institutional endorsement or approval of this letter.

 

Andrew W. Appel

Professor of Computer Science

Princeton University

 

Jeff Bleich

United States Ambassador to Australia (ret.)

 

Patti Brigham

President, League of Women Voters of Florida

 

Duncan Buell

NCR Professor of Computer Science and Engineering Dept. of Computer Science and E

University of South Carolina

 

Michelle Kanter Cohen

Senior Counsel

Fair Elections Center

 

Larry Diamond

Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution Senior Fellow, Center on Democracy, Development &

the Rule of Law Stanford University

 

Aleksander Essex

Associate professor of Software Engineering

Western University, Canada

 

Lowell Finley

Former California Deputy Secretary of State for

Voting Systems Technology and Policy

 

Michael J. Fischer

Professor of Computer Science

Yale University

 

Trey Grayson

Former Kentucky Secretary of State

 

Anjenys Gonzalez-Eilert

Florida Executive Director

Common Cause

 

Susannah Goodman

Common Cause

 

Alex Halderman

Professor of Computer Science & Engineering University of Michigan

 

Mark Halvorson

Founder, Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota

 

Candice Hoke

Founding Co-Director, Center for Cybersecurity &

Privacy Protection

 

Harri Hursti

Co-Founding Partner

Nordic Innovation Labs

 

David Jefferson

Computer Scientist, Lawrence Livermore National

Laboratory

 

Douglas W. Jones

Associate Professor of Computer Science

Past Chair, Iowa Board of Examiners for Voting

Machines and Electronic Voting Systems

Coauthor of Internet Voting in the United States

University of Iowa

 

Lou Katz

Commissioner, City of Oakland CA Privacy AdvisoryCommission

 

Joseph Kiniry

Principled CEO and Chief Scientist, Free & Fair

Principal Scientist, Galois

 

John L. McCarthy

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Computer

Scientist (retired)

 

Liza McClanahan

Common Cause

 

David Mussington

Director of the Center for Public Policy and Private

Enterprise

University of Maryland

 

Beverlye Colson Neal

Florida Director, National Congress of Black Women,

Inc.

 

Morris Pearl

Chairperson, Patriotic Millions

 

Alexa Raad

Member, Verified Voting Board of Advisors Alexa Raad, LLC.

 

Ronald L. Rivest

Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Co-inventor, RSA public key encryption algorithm

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT

 

Kira Romero-Craft

Managing Attorney

Latino Justice

 

Aviel D. Rubin

Professor, Computer Science

Technical Director, Information Security Institute

Johns Hopkins University

 

John E. Savage

An Wang Professor of Computer Science

Brown University

 

Bruce Schneier

Fellow, Berkman Center for Internet and Society

Fellow, Belfer Center, Kennedy School of Government

Harvard University

 

Kevin Shelley

Former California Secretary of State

 

Barbara Simons

Chair, Verified Voting Foundation

IBM Research (retired)

Member, Board of Advisors to the U.S. Election

Assistance Commission (EAC)

 

Kevin Skoglund

Chief Technologist, Citizens for Better Elections

 

Phillip Stark

Professor of Statistics and Associate Dean of

Mathematical and Physical Sciences

University of California, Berkeley

 

Rich Templin

Director of Politics and Public Policy, Florida AFL-CIO

 

Poorvi L. Vora

Professor of Computer Science

The George Washington University

 

Dan Wallach

Professor of Computer Science

Rice University

 

Luther Weeks

CTVotersCount and CT Citizen Election Audit

 

[1] See Bernhard, M., et al., “UnclearBallot: Automated Ballot Image Manipulation,” at 15 -16 (“image audits cannot be relied upon to verify that elections are free from computer-based interference. Indeed, the only currently known way to verify an election outcome is with direct examination of physical ballots.”) available at

https://mbernhard.com/papers/unclearballot.pdf ; See also Stark,P., et al., “Machine Retabulation is not Auditing ,“ (2013) (“Machine retabulation may happen to catch some errors, but it is not really an audit. Machine retabulation relies on the false assumption that two machines can’t both be wrong.”) available at  https://www.stat.berkeley.edu/~stark/Preprints/retabNotAudit13.pdf

[2] See Securing the Vote, Protecting American Democracy, National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine at 6-7, (“Elections should be conducted with human-readable paper ballots…. Recounts and audits should be conducted by human inspection of the human-readable portion of the paper ballots.”) available at (https://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=25120

 

[3] Id. at 9. “ States should mandate [a specific type of audit known as] a risk-limiting audits prior to the certification of election results.”

 

[4] Parks, Miles, “Florida Governor Says Russian Hackers Breached 2 Counties In 2016,” NPR, May 14, 2019, (“Russian hackers breached the systems of two county elections systems in Florida in 2016, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday”) available at https://www.npr.org/2019/05/14/723215498/florida-governor-says-russian-hackers-breached-two-florida-counties-in-2016 

 

[5] See “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections,” Intelligence Community Assessment, at ii, Jan. 6, 2017 (“Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process.”) available at https://www.dni.gov/files/documents/ICA_2017_01.pdf

 

[6] See Florida Voting System Standards, at 2-3 2005) (“A voting system consists of a configuration of specific hardware and software components, procedures and expendable supplies; configured into a system which allows votes to be cast and tabulated. No single component of a voting system, such as a precinct tabulation device, meets the definition of a voting system. Sufficient components must be assembled to create a configuration, which will allow the system as a whole to meet all the requirements described for a voting system in this publication.”) available at http://dos.myflorida.com/media/693718/dsde101.pdf

 

Verified Voting Blog: 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 and 101. 71 ( 1 ), Florida Statutes, which require there to be one polling place in each precinct. This will allow the Supervisor the option to relocate or consolidate polling places with Early Voting sites.”

We respectfully request that in any order addressing the FSE’s concerns, you include explicit language effectively the same as that used in EO-19-262, namely: “so as to provide all voters … an equal opportunity to cast a ballot, insofar as is practicable” and make that applicable to both state and county authority over elections, to preserve equal protection under the law.  We submit that it is valuable to make clear and unequivocal, the preservation of the fundamental principle of equal protection even while providing temporary accommodations to address this extraordinary condition.

Thank you for your consideration and don’t hesitate to contact us if we can answer questions further to this letter of support for FSE’s requests.

Very truly yours,

Dan McRea, Florida Director, Verified Voting

Marian K. Schneider, President, Verified Voting

Verified Voting Blog: 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.” 5

Federal researchers have also agreed that secure internet voting is not yet feasible.12 The Department of Defense suspended an Internet voting trial after concluding it could not ensure the legitimacy of votes cast over the Internet 13 and the Pentagon has stated it does not endorse the electronic return of voted ballots.14  Although the Department of Homeland Security has not published formal guidance on Internet voting, the Homeland Security cyber-division does not recommend the adoption of online voting for any level of government 1415 Unlike most voting systems currently used in the United States, there are no standards for internet voting and no internet voting systems have been certified by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

Blockchain systems do not address the fundamental issues with internet voting.

Blockchain-based voting systems introduce additional security vulnerabilities and do not address the fundamental security concerns scientists, election security experts, and government officials have expressed since the advent of internet voting.16  Rather than enhancing security, the 2018 NASEM report described the addition of blockchains to voting systems as “added points of attack for malicious actors.” 5 Experts and researchers have expressed significant concern over the perceived security of blockchain technology,17 more generally, but particularly regarding voting security.1819

MIT researchers reported a variety of potential vulnerabilities after examining a portion of Voatz code.20 Researchers easily circumvented Voatz’s malware detection software, demonstrating a potential avenue to exposing the voter’s private information or manipulating their ballot. Voatz’s servers are vulnerable to manipulation “surreptitiously violating user privacy, altering the user’s vote, and controlling the outcome of the election.” Additionally, attackers could intercept a voter’s transmitted ballot prior to receipt by Voatz’s servers and determine how the voter voted because the information transmitted “clearly leaks which candidate was selected.”

Beyond potential ballot manipulation, Voatz potentially exposes a voter’s email, physical address, exact birth date, IP address, driver’s license or passport number, mobile phone number, a current photo of themselves, a short video of themselves, a copy of their written signature, their device’s model and OS version, and preferred language to third parties. As a result, information captured from voters exposes them to serious risk of identity theft, and information from overseas military voters risks potentially providing adversaries with intelligence regarding military deployments, endangering the lives of service members and national security.

An in-depth technical study from a private security group contracted by Voatz confirmed vulnerabilities previously reported by MIT researchers, despite the app developer arguing these vulnerabilities did not exist following the MIT report. 21 In total, the security group’s review highlighted seventy-nine findings with a third of the findings labeled as “high severity.” 22 Importantly, the review “did not even constitute the entire Voatz system, as the code for certain components such as the audit portal were never furnished,” indicating still undiscovered vulnerabilities and a lack of transparency essential for faith in the electoral system. 23

Access to the ballot for all is an essential tenet of American democracy.

At this difficult time, election officials seek to protect citizens’ health and access to the ballot. COVID-19 presents significant barriers to voting. However, internet voting is not a viable solution given the longstanding and critical security issues it presents. Thoughtful implementation of alternative voting methods such as voting by mail and early voting can help support the diverse needs of the electorate, addressing both new concerns relating to COVID-19 and existing disparities in ballot access. 2425262728 Incoming federal funding should help election officials implement alternative systems and offer increased flexibility to confront our ongoing challenges. 29

Two decades of scientific and technical analysis demonstrate that secure internet voting systems are not possible now or in the immediate future. In response to this evidence, we respectfully request that in your roles leading election security in your state, you refrain from allowing the use of any internet or voting app system.

If we can provide additional scientific evidence regarding internet voting or do anything else to be a resource, please let us know. Our organizations and the scientists, engineers, and statisticians we represent stand ready to assist you.

Signed,

Michael D. Fernandez, Founding Director, Center for Scientific Evidence in Public Issues, AAAS

Steve M. Newell, Policy Director, Center for Scientific Evidence in Public Issues, AAAS

James Hendler, Chair, U.S. Technology Policy Committee, Association for Computing Machinery*; Director of the Institute for Data Exploration and Applications, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

John Bonifaz, President & Co-Founder, Free Speech for People*

Karen Hobart Flynn, President, Common Cause*

Lawrence Norden, Director, Election Reform Program, Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law

Paul Rosenzweig, Senior Fellow, R St. Institute

Marian K. Schneider, President, Verified Voting

Ellen Zegura, Chair, Computing Research Association*

Steven M. Bellovin, Percy K. and Vida L. W. Hudson Professor of Computer Science, Columbia University

Matthew Blaze, McDevitt Chair of Computer Science and Law, Georgetown University

Vinton Cerf, Internet Pioneer

Deborah Frincke, Fellow, Association for Computing Machinery

Bruce W. McConnell, Executive Vice President, EastWest Institute; Former Deputy Under Secretary for Cybersecurity, U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Ronald L. Rivest, Institute Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Barbara B. Simons, Board of Advisors, U.S. Election Assistance Commission

Eugene H. Spafford, Professor and Executive Director, Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security, Purdue University

Daniel J. Weitzner, Founding Director, Internet Policy Research Initiative, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Andrew W. Appel, Professor of Computer Science, Princeton University

Nicole L. Beebe, Director, The Cyber Center for Security & Analytics; Chair, Information Systems & Cyber Security Department, The University of Texas at San Antonio

Matt Bishop, Professor of Computer Science, University of California at Davis

Duncan Buell, NCR Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, University of South Carolina

L. Jean Camp, Professor of Informatics, Indiana University

Wm. Arthur Conklin, Professor, Department of Information & Logistics Technology; Director, Center for Information Security Research and Education, University of Houston, College of Technology

Earl Crane, Former White House National Security Council, Director for Federal Cybersecurity Policy; Adjunct Faculty, Carnegie Mellon University

Thomas E. Daniels, Associate Professor of Teaching, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Iowa State University

Brian Dean, Privacy Subcommittee Chair, U.S. Technology Policy Committee, Association for Computing Machinery

Richard DeMillo, Professor of Computer Science and Executive Director, Center for 21st Century Universities, Georgia Tech

Larry Diamond, Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution and Freeman Spogli Institute, Stanford University

David L. Dill, Donald E. Knuth Professor, Emeritus, School of Engineering, Stanford University

Jeremy Epstein, Vice Chair, U.S. Technology Policy Committee, Association for Computing Machinery

Edward W. Felten, Director, Center for Information Technology Policy, Princeton University

Richard Forno, Senior Lecturer and Director, UMBC Graduate Cybersecurity Program, UMBC

Andrew Grosso, J.D., M.S. Comp. Sci., M.S. Physics, Andrew Grosso Associates

J. Alex Halderman, Director, Center for Computer Security and Society, University of Michigan

Harry Hochheiser, Associate Professor, Department of Biomedical Informatics, University of Pittsburgh

Candice Hoke, Founding Co-Director, Center for Cybersecurity & Privacy Protection, Cleveland State University

David Jefferson, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (retired); Board of Directors, Verified Voting

Douglas W. Jones, Associate Professor of Computer Science, University of Iowa

Joseph Kiniry, Principal Scientist, Galois; CEO & Chief Scientist, Free & Fair

James Koppel, Ph.D. Candidate in Programming Languages, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Susan Landau, Bridge Professor in Cyber Security and Policy, Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy and School of Engineering, Department of Computer Science, Tufts University

Jeanna Neefe Matthews, Associate Professor, Department of Computer Science, Clarkson University

John L. McCarthy, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (retired); Board of Advisors, Verified Voting

Kelley Misata, CEO and Founder, Sightline Security

David Mussington, Professor of the Practice and Director, Center for Public Policy and Private Enterprise, School of Public Policy, University of Maryland

Ben Ptashnik, President, National Election Defense Coalition*

William Ramirez, Executive Director, ACLU PR/ACLU of Puerto Rico National Chapter*

Patricia Youngblood Reyhan, Distinguished Professor of Law, Albany Law School

Jill D. Rhodes

Mark Ritchie, Former Minnesota Secretary of State

John E. Savage, An Wang Professor Emeritus of Computer Science, Brown University

O. Sami Saydjari, CEO, Cyber Defense Agency, Inc.

Bruce Schneier, Lecturer and Fellow, Harvard Kennedy School

John Sebes, Co-Director and Chief Technology Officer, OSET Institute

Kevin Skoglund, President and Chief Technologist, Citizens for Better Elections*

Michael A. Specter, Ph.D. Candidate in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Dan S. Wallach, Professor of Computer Science, Rice University

Mark Weatherford, Managing Partner, Aspen Chartered; Former Deputy Under Secretary for Cybersecurity, Department of Homeland Security; Former Chief Information Security Officer, The State of California

Daniel M. Zimmerman, Principal Researcher, Galois

*Signing on behalf of organization

 

SIGN THE LETTER

If you are interested in adding your signature to the above letter, please contact the AAAS EPI Center at epicenter@aaas.org

REFERENCES

1. Greenhalgh, S.; Goodman, S.; Rosenzweig, P.; Epstein, J. with support from ACM Technology Policy Committee, National Election Defense Coalition, Common Cause and R Street Institute, Joint Report on Email and Internet Voting: the Overlooked Threat to Election Security (October 10, 2018). Available at https://www.acm.org/binaries/content/assets/public-policy/jtreportemailinternetvoting.pdf

2. Brandt, L. & Cheney, D., Internet Voting is no “Magic Ballot,” Distinguished Committee Reports, Available at https://www.nsf.gov/od/lpa/news/press/01/pr0118.htm (2001).

3. U. S. Vote Foundation, The Future of Voting: End-to-End Verifiable Internet Voting, Available at https://www.usvotefoundation.org/e2e-viv/(2015).

4. Verified Voting, Computer Technologists’ Statement on Internet Voting, Available at https://www.verifiedvoting.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/InternetVotingStatement.pdf (2008).

5. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Securing the Vote: Protecting American Democracy, September 2018, The National Academies Press, https://doi.org/10.17226/25120.

6. California Secretary of State Bill Jones, Internet Voting Task Force, A Report on the Feasibility of Internet Voting, 2000.

7. Internet Policy Institute , Report of the National Workshop on Internet Voting Security, 2001.

8. Jefferson, D.; Rubin, A.; Simons, B.; Wagner, D., Analyzing Internet Voting Security. Communications of the ACM 47 (10) (2004).

9. Commission on Federal Election Reform, Building Confidence in U. S. Elections, 2005.

10. Simons, B.; Jones, D. W. , Internet Voting in the U.S. Communications of the ACM 55 (10) (2012).

11. Jefferson, D.; Buell, D.; Skoglund, K.; Kiniry, J.; Greenbaum, J., What We Don’t Know About the Voatz “Blockchain” Internet Voting System, Available at https://cse.sc.edu/~buell/blockchain-papers/documents/WhatWeDontKnowAbouttheVoatz_Blockchain_.pdf (2019).

12. NIST Activities on UOCAVA Voting, Available at https://www.nist.gov/itl/voting/nist-activities-uocava-voting.

13. Garamone, J., Pentagon Decides Against Internet Voting this Year, Available at https://archive.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=27362 (2004).

14. Gordon, G., As States Warm to Online Voting, Experts Warn of Trouble Ahead, Available at http://www.mc-clatchydc.com/news/politics-government/election/article24783181.html. (2015).

15. Horwitz, S., More than 30 states offer online voting, but experts warn it isn’t secure, Available at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/05/17/more-than-30-states-offer-online-voting-but-experts-warn-it-isnt-secure/ (2016).

16. Park, S.; Specter, M.; Narula, N.; Rivest, R. L., Going from Bad to Worse: From Internet Voting to Blockchain Voting, Available at https://people.csail.mit.edu/rivest/pubs/PSNR20.pdf (2020).

17. Alexandre, A., MIT Professor Asserts Blockchain Technology is Not as Secure as Claimed, Available at https://cointelegraph.com/news/mit-professor-claims-blockchain-technology-is-not-as-secure-as-claimed (2019).

18. Alexandre, A., MIT Professor: Blockchain is Good on Its Own, but Not Good for Voting, Available at https://cointelegraph.com/news/mit-professor-blockchain-is-good-on-its-own-but-not-good-for-voting (2020).

19. Juels, A.; Eyal, I.; Naor, O., Blockchain Won’t Fix Internet Voting Security – And Could Make It Worse, Available at https://www.govtech.com/security/Blockchain-Wont-Fix-Internet-Voting-Security–And-Could-Make-It-Worse.html (2018).

20. Specter, M. A.; Koppel, J.; Weitnzer, D. , The Ballot is Busted Before the Blockchain: A Security Analysis of Voatz, the First Internet Voting Application Used in U.S. Federal Elections, Available at https://internetpolicy.mit.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/SecurityAnalysisOfVoatz_Public.pdf (2020).

21. Trail of Bits, Available at https://www.trailofbits.com/about/ (2020).

22. Edwards, S.; Smith, J.P.; Guido, D.; Sultanik, E., Voatz, Security Assessment I of II: Technical Findings, Available at https://github.com/trailofbits/publications/blob/master/reviews/voatz-securityreview.pdf (2020).

23. Trail of Bits, Our Full Report on the Voatz Mobile Voting Platform, Available at https://blog.trailofbits.com/2020/03/13/our-full-report-on-the-voatz-mobile-voting-platform/(2020).

24. Misra, J., Voter Turnout Rates Among All Voting Age and Major Racial and Ethnic Groups Were Higher Than in 2014, Available at https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2019/04/behind-2018-united-states-midterm-election-turnout.html (2019).

25. Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations, Report: Voter Turnout Surges Among People with Disabilities, Available at https://smlr.rutgers.edu/news/voter-turnout-surges-among-people-disabilities (2019).

26. Weiser, W. R.; Feldman, M., How to Protect the 2020 Vote from the Coronavirus, Available at https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/policy-solutions/how-protect-2020-vote-coronavirus (2020).

27. National Task Force on Election Crises, COVID-19 Election Guide, Available at https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5e70e52c7c72720ed714313f/t/5e7ba6fc6ec60c0341aa7d2d/1585161982796/COVID-19+Election+Guide+-+FINAL+Draft+3_25_20+%281%29.pdf (2020).

28. Stewart, C., Will Expanded Early Voting Help with Social Distancing? Maybe Not, Available at https://electionupdates.caltech.edu/2020/03/25/will-expanded-early-voting-help-with-social-distancing-maybe-not/ (2020).

29. Miller, M., Senate includes $400M for mail-in voting in coronavirus spending deal, Available at https://thehill.com/policy/cybersecurity/489435-senate-includes-400-million-for-mail-in-voting-in-coronavirus-spending (2020).

Verified Voting Blog: 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. Read More

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

View the statement here

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

Read More

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

View the release here

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.” Read More

Verified Voting Blog: 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

Verified Voting Blog: What We Don’t Know About the Voatz “Blockchain” Internet Voting System

The breakdown of the Iowa caucus’s mobile reporting app on February 3 highlights the risks of implementing new voting technologies that rely on the internet. Verified Voting advocates for the responsible use of technology in elections, and as President Marian K. Schneider noted, “The good news is that {Iowa) didn’t use (a mobile app) for voting, which means the results are available and have been preserved on paper.”

Internet voting is not secure, yet despite known vulnerabilities, internet and mobile phone voting are still being considered by some lawmakers as viable voting options. In 2019, Verified Voting Board Member David Jefferson and other authors published a paper about the risks of the Voatz mobile voting platform and the many questions that still remain unanswered. Read their 2019 paper below or download the PDF here  Read More

Verified Voting Blog: Verified Voting Says Situation with Iowa Caucuses Reveals Risks Associated with Technology

View the statement here: Verified Voting Statement on Iowa Caucuses

The following is a statement from Marian K. Schneider, president of Verified Voting following the delay of the results from the Iowa caucuses. For additional media inquiries, please contact aurora@newheightscommunications.com.

“The situation with Iowa’s caucus reveals the risks associated with technology, in this case with a mobile app, but more importantly that there needs to be a low tech solution in order to recover from technological failures — no matter the cause. There needs to be a way to monitor, detect, respond and recover. It’s clear that mobile apps are not ready for prime time, but thankfully Iowa has paper records of their vote totals and will be able to release results from those records.”

 

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