State of Elections

William & Mary Law School | Election Law Society

Tag: election technology

How reliable are Virginia’s voting machines?

By: Venu Katta

It may be tempting to think that the United States, the land of smartphones and supercomputers, would have commensurate levels of technology when it came to voting. Dispelling this, sadly, does not require us to look very far. Meet the WINVote touchscreen voting machine.

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Created and implemented in the early-2000s (and without any form of update since 2004), the WINVote machine is essentially a glorified laptop running Windows XP that also features a touch display. Its USB ports are physically unprotected, the wireless encryption key is set to “a-b-c-d-e,” the administrator password to access the machine (which is unchangeable) is “admin,” and there exists no auditable paper trail after an individual has voted. Oh, and it’s prone to crash. A lot. All of these, among other concerns, combined to lead security experts to term it “the worst voting machine in the U.S.”

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MD: Online Petitions and E-Signatures

The rapid rise and evolution of the internet has fundamentally altered many aspects of our modern life.  The way we interact with each other, the way business is conducted, and even the way we get our news and information has been changed by the internet and social media’s ability to instantly connect us to almost anyone in the world.  Ideas can be shared, opinions voiced, and issues discussed with both friends and strangers alike through the stroke of a key.  We now have the ability to connect with others and find common cause over issues and ideals that once would be barred by geographic limitations on communication.  Computers are being made smaller, faster, and even being integrated into wearable objects like watches and glasses so we never have to be too far from the internet.  The ability to reach millions of people instantly is being utilized in new and different ways by groups trying to disseminate their ideas and promote their agendas.  How far should the amazing new ability for every individual to voice his or her opinion on the internet stretch into the realm of election law?

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The Changing Face of Elections Technology in New Jersey: An Interview with Paula Sollami Covello, County Clerk, Mercer County, New Jersey

by Melanie Walter

On October 19, 2012, I had the opportunity to speak with Paula Sollami Covello, the County Clerk in Mercer County, New Jersey. She is responsible for ballots, positioning on the ballots, and Election Day counting of returns. She was first elected to this office in 2006.

Mrs. Covello described the three offices responsible for running elections. “The Clerk’s office draws the ballots and positions. We also print the ballots, and prep sample and print and issue vote-by-mail ballots…The Clerk’s office also counts votes on Election Night.” She also described the roles of the other two offices, “The Superintendant of elections deals with voter registration… The Board of Elections is a bipartisan board, two Democrats and two Republicans. The Board counts all the vote-by-mail ballots. They are also in charge of polling locations and training poll workers.” Mrs. Covello expressed faith in this process, saying that this three-office system “provides good checks and balances. There are multiple offices with responsibilities, and it functions in a bipartisan way. The County Clerk is elected, but the staff is all civil servants, and the Superintendant is from one party, but the deputy Superintendant is from the other major party.” Continue reading

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