Delaware Gets a D for Voting

That’s the verdict in a Center for American Progress report taking a hard look at the security of America’s election systems.  We’ve been treated to a great many stories documenting the weakness of our systems — whether it is an inability to verify votes, or aggressive efforts to suppress voting or even the Russians looking for a way into our systems, and this report is pretty timely for all of us who think that we are entitled to a fair and operational election system.

The report looks at these factors –state requirements and practices related to:

  • Minimum cybersecurity standards for voter registration systems
  • Voter-verified paper ballots
  • Post-election audits that test election results
  • Ballot accounting and reconciliation
  • Return of voted paper absentee ballots
  • Voting machine certification requirements
  • Pre-election logic and accuracy testing

Delaware scores an overall D for the state of our election systems.  Delaware is one of the five states that does not provide a paper record of votes and does not mandate post-election audits.  We have a good deal of detail in this plus on the status of Delaware’s voting machines from Stan Merriman here.  This report recognizes that the state has an ongoing process to replace these machines and strongly recommends an upgrade to both security and accountability by going to a system that provides a voter-verified paper trail.

We also fail (according to this report) in providing robust mandatory post-election audits that confirm the accuracy of election outcomes; lack a robust ballot accounting and reconciliation process; and absentee ballots from UOCAVA voters and those with disabilities are allowed to be returned electronically, via email and fax.

In light of all of the reporting on the attempts to break into our systems, Delaware First Media talks to the DoE Commissioner, Mrs. Manlove and finds that she is confident of the security of the systems.  Which is likely right — these machines are not connected to the internet in any way.  But the current effort to procure new voting machines is a great opportunity to increase the physical security of the voting process, but to also increase the overall accountability of the process.  It is hard to know where the DoE is leaning based upon the RFP I saw.

Still, ensuring that the voting process is secure, accountable and trustworthy is vital.  We need the Elections folks to talk to us more about what we can expect.

You don't make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas. -- Shirley Chisolm

8 comments on “Delaware Gets a D for Voting

  1. Jack Polidori

    Wouldn’t it make sense for the Task Force to speak with someone expert in the decade-plus experience in Oregon pertaining to the Vote by Mail (now known as Vote from Home) system they employ: security, cost, participation rates? Does the Task Force have to remain machine-centric in its work???

    • While they’re out there, check in with Washington State’s voting setup. Also vote by mail.

    • cassandram

      The Task Force did meet with multiple technology vendors, but not sure about Vote from Home. Which would have some technology for reading ballots and to manage the poll books at least.

      • There is only one way to assure our elections….paper ballots to back up the machines. Machines are easily hacked as we know from 2004 in Ohio. Howard Dean stated on national TV, a vote could be changed in two seconds. The paper ballot count would prove whether of no our machines are controlled.

  2. Stan Merriman

    A resolution for our Party to step up and take leadership absent from the Task Force and Election Commission is making its way through the approval process by the City Committee and the County and State Committees in the next couple of weeks. The resolution advocates the Party holding/sponsoring forums to communicate with voters these options mentioned here….vote by mail, expanded absentee balloting, paper ballots, use of scanners to provide a supplemental record on the paper ballot and the the DRE (Direct Recording Equipment) with a digital printer (not a paper ballot) and their advantages and disadvantages for voters and Delaware. The proposed forums would give voters a chance to voice their opinions on these and other voting options. This voter education would be supplemented with online/social media videos to reach people unable to attend the forums. This is a great way for our Party to show citizens/voters we are engaged in empowering them in very significant decisions it seems the Election Commission and Task Force chose not to openly dialogue on with voters. Please support the passage of this resolution.

  3. Stan Merriman

    This company, ES&S is one of the 7 bidders for Delaware’s election systems, and is apparently, seemingly being lobbied for by a former DelDem Vice Chair. This is a long, technical but worthwhile read as it also seems our Election Commissioner is favoring buying machines like these that the rest of the voting jurisdictions in the US are dumping in favor of some form of real ballots.

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