The latest news on this front comes from Montana Free Press and was written by Alex Sakariassen:
County elections officials are expressing “grave concerns” over Secretary of State Corey Stapleton’s plan to implement a new statewide election system in time for the 2020 elections.
Stapleton’s plan calls for Montana counties to begin transitioning from the state’s decade-old Montana Votes election system to a new suite of election software as early as January.
Stapleton’s office inked an exclusive $2 million contract with South Dakota-based information technology company BPro on April 30. Missoula County Chief Administrative Officer Vickie Zeier said the secretary’s staff in early June assured county officials that a final determination on the state’s readiness for the transition will not be made until December.
However, emails acquired through a public-records request show Stapleton’s office set its sights on implementing the new software in time for the 2020 elections months ago.
See full story here. Even though the technology may be impressive, regular Democracy Chronicles readers might be sceptical. Democracy Chronicles is against the continued use of voting machines without a paper trial. Such machines can have a negative impact in voter confidence in election outcomes and are widely recognized as a potential vulnerability from a security standpoint. This point was expertly outlined in a great explanatory page on the website of the nonprofit fair election advocacy group, the Verified Voting Foundation:
The most important aspect of a voting system, with respect to accuracy, integrity and security, is whether or not it is independently auditable. That is, the very prerequisite to accuracy, integrity and security in today’s voting technology is that there be a voter-marked paper ballot, or at least a voter-verifiable paper audit trail, for every vote cast. This ensures that election officials will have something they can use to confirm whether or not the electronic tallies produced by the voting system accurately reflected the intention of the voters.
US Federal, State, and Local elections employ a number voting materials and equipment during elections. Jamila Benkato, who serves as Council for nonprofit Protect Democracy, is one person warning that the major vendors ES&S, Hart, and Dominion produce approximately 92% of the equipment used during every US election. The role of these companies in US democracy cannot be underlooked yet the same role is under-examined, Benkato notes. According to the article:
“Perhaps most concerning are vendor efforts to keep secret the technology upon which American elections rely while at the same time feteing state and local election officials with expensive trips and meals. Vendors have actively and increasingly pushed back on efforts to study and analyze the equipment that forms the basic foundation of our democratic processes.”
Read Benkato’s very interesting arguments for reform in the article here. Benkato has previously worked as a law clerk to the Honorable David O. Carter of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, at the ACLU of Southern California’s Immigrants’ Rights and National Security Projects, and the Washington Lawyers’ Committee.