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Thread: States scramble for funding to upgrade aging voting machines

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  1. #1
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    States scramble for funding to upgrade aging voting machines

    States scramble for funding to upgrade aging voting machines


    DAVID SALEH RAUF
    Associated Press March 12, 2017
    77 Comments



    In this Thursday, March 9, 2017 photo, a zip disk drive and dot matrix printer sit at the Bexar County Elections office in San Antonio. Bexar County's voting equipment is among the oldest in America's second-largest state and will have to be replaced soon. But money to do so is scarce, and that scenario is playing out around the country. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)


    AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — At least once a year, staffers in one of Texas' largest election offices scour the web for a relic from a bygone technology era: Zip disks.

    The advanced version of the floppy disk that was cutting edge in the mid-1990s plays a vital role in tallying votes in Bexar County, where like other places around the U.S., money to replace antiquated voting equipment is scarce.


    "I'd be dead in the water without our technical support people looking online to buy the pieces and parts to keep us going," said Jacque Callanen, elections administrator in the county that includes San Antonio and had 1 million-plus registered voters in the 2016 election.


    Purchased in 2002, Bexar County's voting equipment is among the oldest in Texas. The Zip disks the county uses to help merge results and allow paper ballots to be tallied with final election totals are no longer manufactured, so staff members snap them up by the dozens off of eBay and Amazon.


    Elections officials in states large and small — from Texas to North Dakota, California to Ohio — are eager to replace aging machines but are grappling with how to fund next-generation voting equipment.


    It's a race against time, experts warn, as outdated technology grows increasingly susceptible to potentially critical malfunctions. All of this comes as President Donald Trump promises to launch an investigation into unfounded voter fraud allegations and tensions are rising over foreign meddling in U.S. elections.


    "The machines in many cases are 10, 12-years old.

    That's ancient history in terms of technology," said Denise Merrill, the top election official in Connecticut and president of the National Association of Secretaries of State. "I don't see any money coming from Washington, so the states are going to have to figure this out on their own."


    The U.S. government last ponied up big for electoral infrastructure upgrades in the wake of the 2000 presidential election — when paper-ballot problems wreaked havoc on Florida's recount. The 2002 Help America Vote Act provided $4 billion to states, but that money is largely gone. With many state legislatures unwilling to allocate funding, election officials are left scrambling to make do.


    Forty-three states used machines that were at least a decade old and nearing the end of their lifespans during November's presidential election, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, which advocates for protecting election rights. Election officials in a least 31 states want to purchase new voting machines in the coming years, according to a 2015 report from the center. Most, however, don't know where they'll get the money.


    California's secretary of state has projected it could cost up to $450 million to replace voting machines there.


    In Arkansas, lawmakers two years ago approved $30 million for new statewide voting systems. But the appropriation was never funded, so the secretary of state's office used leftover money in its budget to improve equipment for a small slice of the state. It's again asking the Legislature for money.


    Ohio's elections chief also is asking state lawmakers for help for counties, noting in his budget request that it cost more than $100 million to replace old machines with money from the U.S. government in 2005.


    Legislation in Texas would create a program for counties to apply for a state grant to cover up to half the cost to replace voting machines.


    In North Dakota, lawmakers recently rejected proposals for $12 million to replace voting equipment, even after being told machines could be unworkable by the next presidential cycle. The secretary of state has since rolled the funding request into his budget proposal in hopes lawmakers will reconsider.


    "You can't fix our machines anymore, but it's hard to get anything with a price tag pushed through," said Donnell Preskey Hushka, a government relations specialist for the North Dakota Association of Counties.


    Some machines are no longer manufactured, making it hard to find replacement parts. Others, like those in Texas' Bexar County, require election workers to track down obsolete materials.


    Voting machines nationally mostly survived the strain of the 2016 election. But there were some mishaps, including long lines attributed to faulty systems and computer crashes, along with reports from some people that they chose one candidate only to see electronic voting machines switch their selection as they finished their ballot.


    "The big fear is a repeat of the Florida 2000 election," said Lawrence Norden, who co-authored the Brennan Center's voting machine report.

    Dean Logan, Los Angeles County's elections chief, said it requires "herculean efforts to maintain systems and keep the process moving" for most counties using outdated equipment.


    "Voters should be aware that without funding ... this is only going to get worse," said Logan, who is also president of the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials. "We all recognize we are maintaining outdated systems. We're just waiting for both the funding and the products to lead us into the future."

    https://www.yahoo.com/news/states-sc...142516591.html

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  2. #2
    Senior Member lorrie's Avatar
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    You all have a very fast and easy fix for this unexcusable negligence.....

    Stop paying benefits, welfare, education, healthcare, housing and legal aid to illegal aliens.

    Your coffers will be over flowing in no time!
    Beezer likes this.


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    Senior Member artclam's Avatar
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    So there are more important things for a Democratic Republic to spend money on than secure and accurate elections?
    lorrie likes this.

  4. #4
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Voting machines are't the only thing states need money to upgrade.

    US infrastructure report card: D+
    lorrie likes this.
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    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    It's Time for States to Invest in Infrastructure | Center on Budget and ...
    www.cbpp.org/research/state-budget.../its-time-for-states-to-invest-in-infrastructure

    Feb 23, 2016 - Every state needs infrastructure improvements . . .


    America's infrastructure $1.44 trillion short through 2025: report | Reuters

    www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-infrastructure-idUSKCN0Y12K6
    May 10, 2016 - America will fall $1.44 trillion short of what it needs to spend on infrastructure through the next decade . . .
    lorrie likes this.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member Beezer's Avatar
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    Stop paying for ILLEGAL aliens.

    End anchor baby scam.

    Stop ALL foreign aid.

    We will be up and running and rock and rolling in no time
    lorrie likes this.
    NO DACA - NO AMNESTY - NO PATH TO STAY - LET WORK PERMITS EXPIRE

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  7. #7
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    What about a novel idea of having smaller precincts, and using paper ballots.

    That way there would be a paper trail and ways to check the votes.

    Some years ago, our county got a government grant under the 'Help America Vote' - George Bush administration.

    This is a medium size county in Texas, but pretty sparsely populated.

    The voting was done in several places, Post Office, community center, churches, etc., and the court house in one, and city hall in the other of the two towns of the county - small towns.

    Our commissioners decided they didn't have enough money to provide voting machines for all voting places, so bought only enough for the two towns.

    All other places were closed down, making it quite a trip for some to vote.

    Now in the last presidential election, before this decision, we had a total of 2,000 people vote.

    How long does it take to count 2,000 paper ballots?

    Why did we need these machines?

    Why was our government wasting money on these machines?

  8. #8
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Maryland goes back to paper ballots for primary election

    By DAVID DISHNEAU
    Apr. 19, 2016 4:07 PM EDT
    1 photo


    The Maryland State Board of Elections provides instructions for hand-marking a paper ballot in a... Read mor
    HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) — Maryland is going back to basics — an ink pen and paper ballot — for this month's presidential primary. Like every new voting system, this one has some quirks that likely will become more apparent when the November general election brings more than 2 million Maryland voters to the polls.

    The system requires most voters to mark their ballots by filling in ovals, similar to those on standardized tests, with pens provided by election judges. Voters feed their marked ballots into scanning machines that tabulate the results.


    The new system largely replaces touch-screen terminals, which eliminated the "hanging chads" and other difficulties in discerning voter intent on paper punch-card ballots highlighted by the 2000 presidential election.


    Maryland implemented electronic voting in 2002 but glitches and security concerns prompted the General Assembly to vote in 2007 for a return to paper balloting.

    The April 26 primary is Maryland's first election using the new equipment, leased from Election System & Software LLC of Omaha, Nebraska, under a six-year, $28 million contract.


    Early voting in the primary began April 14 and continues through Thursday. About 600,000 people voted in the last Maryland presidential primary in 2012.


    Even in the digital age, nothing safeguards a secret ballot like marking a piece of paper, said State Board of Elections Administrator Linda Lamone.


    "The electronic voting, or e-voting, is a long way off, because there is no way to make it secure," she said in a telephone interview.


    Pamela Smith, president of Verified Voting, a California-based nonprofit that advocates for election accuracy and transparency, said in 2015 that Maryland followed a number of other states in returning to paper ballots.


    The group's website currently shows just five states — New Jersey, Delaware, South Carolina, Georgia and Louisiana — without some form of paper ballot system or hard-copy record.


    "Paper ballots provide a reliable mechanism for the polling place, insofar as when equipment breaks down, voters can still mark those ballots," she told the AP last year.


    But paper balloting isn't trouble-free, and touch screens haven't entirely disappeared from Maryland polling places.

    They're built into ballot-marking devices designed for voters whose disabilities prevent them from using the pen-and-oval system.


    Paper ballots are inferior to electronic voting machines in capturing the intent of voters,
    said John T. Willis, former Maryland secretary of state and executive in residence at the University of Baltimore's School of Public and International Affairs.


    Willis said the new system will likely result in more over-votes — ballots marked for more than one candidate in a race — and more under-votes, which are ballots in which some races are left blank.

    The old electronic machines wouldn't let you over-vote, and they prompted voters to work through an entire ballot, resulting in fewer under-votes, he said.


    Willis, who observed some of the early voting this month, said he saw people trying to insert over-voted ballots into scanners. In those cases, the scanner asks the voter to decide whether to cast the ballot, knowing the over-votes won't count, or start fresh, potentially delaying others from voting, Willis said.


    Nikki Charlson, deputy administrator of the state elections board, acknowledged that no voting system is perfect.

    "You'd be rich if you could come up with that," she said.

    http://bigstory.ap.org/article/28bd2...imary-election
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  9. #9
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    How Did They Count All Those Ballots Before Voting Machines?
    By hand, while drunk.

    By Rebecca Onion

    Test ballots wait to be scanned at a voting machine facility warehouse on Thursday in the Bronx.
    Drew Angerer/Getty Images

    The vote-counting process in the 19th century was complex, unstandardized, and vulnerable to corruption. Counting practices varied from precinct to precinct, and a lot of alcohol was involved.

    REBECCA ONIONRebecca Onion is a Slate staff writer and the author of Innocent Experiments.


    In the early part of the century, some Americans voted in public, using a method called viva voce(or “by voice”). This was a holdover from a Colonial practice, in which property owners (the only voters of the time) attended meetings and voted by a show of hands. In the 19th-century viva voce system, people went to local polling places and swore an oath that they were voting in good faith. Then, out loud and in front of anyone who cared to cluster around observing, the voter told the election judges his choices. The counting took place by hand; judges entered voter choices in poll books, keeping running totals of numbers of votes for each candidate. There were no paper ballots to tally.

    In other locations, 19th-century voters used paper ballots issued by parties—a practice that became increasingly common as the century went on. Voters brought their own ballots to the polls, and although they could write their choices on pieces of paper, parties found that providing printed ballots with the names of their candidates was a convenience that nudged voters toward voting “straight ticket.” Parties printed their tickets on colored paper, and the ballots went into glass boxes, so that anyone observing a vote could clearly see which party a voter had chosen. The atmosphere at the polls was raucous, and party members lobbied for voters’ favor right up to the moment when they arrived at the ballot box.

    As voters arrived at polling stations, election judges noted their names in poll books. At the end of the day, the tally of names was supposed to match up with the number of ballots collected. But in many locations, outnumbered judges, facing crowds of rowdy would-be voters, some of whom were illiterate and couldn’t spell their names, let the record-keeping slip. In some precincts in bigger cities, officials emptied ballot boxes at hourly intervals and checked numbers of ballots against the number of names on the books, which allowed for some small degree of quality control.

    After the polls closed, the officials retired to a back room wherever the voting had taken place (often a saloon or tavern) to count ballots and cross-check them with the poll books. These judges, who were supposed to be impartial, were in many places appointed by police, who in turn were appointed by city officials—so local partisan politics inevitably crept into the counting process. In Southern towns during Reconstruction or Northern cities under the sway of political machines such as Tammany Hall, officials could “lose” ballots or write down incorrect numbers, and there were few checks against these practices.

    The accuracy of the count may also have been affected by the officials’ tendency to extend Election Day partying into the night. Charles Albert Murdock, who lived in San Francisco in the 1860s and served as a poll judge, recalled in his memoir: “One served as an election officer at the risk of sanity if not of life.

    In the ‘fighting Seventh’ ward I once counted ballots for thirty-six consecutive hours, and as I remember conditions I was the only officer who finished sober.”


    Until the end of the 19th century, the corruption inherent in both voting and ballot-counting was generally accepted as part of the game. But during the election of 1876, when Republican Rutherford B. Hayes faced Democrat Samuel J. Tilden, disputes over ballot counts in three Southern states—Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina—delayed the results of the presidential race. Because Republican officials were in the majority on the panels that certified votes, they called for recounts and quickly declared that the states had actually gone for Hayes.

    Democrats contested the decision, going so far as to install alternate governors and state administrations rather than accept the legitimacy of the panels’ decisions. These recounts triggered a crisis on the federal level as Congress debated who held final authority to certify returns, and a president-elect wasn’t chosen for months. (Hayes won, but the vote-counting controversy was not without cost: The Republicans agreed to withdraw federal troops from Southern states, effectively ending Reconstruction.)


    In response to the 1876 fiasco and to the influence of urban political machines, reformers called for the overhaul of the chaotic ballot system and succeeded in getting the so-called Australian ballot adopted in some forward-thinking states. In this system, the government printed a standardized ballot, which retains the secrecy of the voter’s choices while streamlining the counting process. There was still potential for corruption, however, since officials counting votes could willfully misinterpret voters’ checkmarks or stack tally teams with partisan allies willing to disqualify votes for the opposing candidate.

    Mechanical lever voting machines, invented and adopted in the late 19thcentury, were supposed to circumvent the problems inherent in the hand-counted ballot, giving voters more secrecy while simplifying the counting process. The era of electronic vote-counting, which began in the middle of the 20th century, sped up election returns and regularized records, while bringing with it a new set of uncertainties—as anyone who followed the news in the fall of 2000 will recall.

    http://www.slate.com/articles/news_a..._machines.html
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  10. #10
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    I'll tell you how they counted them where we lived for 30 years.

    There was a registration roll. People arrived, showed ID, got a ballot and pencil and walked to a small table with curtains on each side and marked their ballots.

    They folded the ballots in half and dropped them into the ballot box.

    When the polls closed, the officials, and poll watchers - appointed by the political parties - or an individual running could name one, retired to a room and counted - and recounted the votes - then announced the outcome.

    It's pretty simple -

    Was there any skullduggery, probably from time to time. It was a lot harder than simply hacking some electronic voting machine.

    All a poll watcher had to do was step outside to a phone and call the Attorney General.

    Will an election ever be completely free of fraud - of course not. That doesn't mean we have to agree to make it easier for them.
    artclam likes this.

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