* The information provided below is compiled from various independent organizations working on election defense. US BASE cannot verify the accuracy of all data. Additionally we cannot vet every state or local organization working on election defense. 

 

California Technology in Use
Verified Voting Foundation

* Note that "Paper Ballot" in the map below typically designates paper ballots counted by an electronic scanning device. 

Click for Verified Voting's interactive map

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Center for American Progress State by State Voting System Report

See State Grade Below
 

Report Excerpt:

"In August 2017, the Center for American Progress released a report entitled “9 Solutions for Securing America’s Elections,” laying out nine vulnerabilities in election infrastructure and solutions to help improve election security in time for the 2018 and 2020 elections. This report builds on that analysis to provide an overview of election security and preparedness in each state, looking specifically at state requirements and practices related to:

1. Minimum cybersecurity standards for voter registration systems
2. Voter-verified paper ballots
3. Post-election audits that test election results
4. Ballot accounting and reconciliation
5. Return of voted paper absentee ballots
6. Voting machine certification requirements
7. Pre-election logic and accuracy testing

This report provides an overview of state compliance with baseline standards to protect their elections from hacking and machine malfunction. Some experts may contend that additional standards, beyond those mentioned here, should be required of states to improve election security. The chief purpose of this report is to provide information on how states are faring in meeting even the minimum standards necessary to help secure their elections.

It is important to note at the outset that this report is not meant to be comprehen- sive of all practices that touch on issues of election security. We recognize that local jurisdictions sometimes have different or supplemental requirements and proce- dures from those required by the state. However, this report only considers state requirements reflected in statutes and regulations and does not include the more granular—and voluminous—information on more localized practices. Furthermore, this report does not address specific information technology (IT) requirements for voting machine hardware, software, or the design of pre-election testing ballots and system programming. And while we consider some minimum cybersecurity best practices, we do not analyze specific cyberinfrastructure or system programming requirements. These technical standards and protocols deserve analysis by computer scientists and IT professionals who have the necessary expertise to adequately assess the sufficiency of state requirements in those specialized areas."

California: C

Although California adheres to a number of minimum cybersecurity best practices related to voter registration systems and uses paper ballots and machines that produce an auditable paper record, the state’s post-election audits are lacking important criteria. For example, the audits do not automatically escalate to include more ballots if necessary. Instead, escalation is within the discretion of election officials. Also, a law passed in 2017 will weaken the state’s post-election audits by excluding provisional ballots from the auditing process. Adding to this is the fact that California allows voters stationed or living overseas to return voted ballots electronically, a practice that election security experts say is notoriously insecure. Its ballot accounting and reconciliation procedures also need improvement. California did receive points for requiring that all voting machines be tested against the EAC Voluntary Voting System Guidelines before they may be purchased or used in the state, and for requiring election officials to conduct pre-election logic and accuracy testing on all machines that will be used in an election. Los Angeles County’s innovative “Voting System Assessment Project” is worth considerable recognition.

To improve its overall election security, California should strengthen its post-election audit requirements by including all ballot types in the audit and basing the audit’s scope on a statistically significant number tied to margins of victory. Given the threat posed by sophisticated nation-states and attempts to infiltrate U.S. elections, it is imperative that post-election audits be comprehensive enough to test the accuracy of election outcomes with a high degree of confidence and detect any possible manipulation. California should also require backup paper voter registration lists at polling places that use electronic poll books in case problems arise on Election Day. While this practice may already be carried out by some counties in the state, a statewide requirement would ensure uniformity and compliance. In addition, California should prohibit voters stationed or living overseas from returning voted ballots electronically. Going forward, all voted ballots should be returned by mail or delivered in person. The state can also strengthen its ballot California receives a C 44 Center for American Progress | Election Security in All 50 States accounting and reconciliation procedures by explicitly requiring counties to compare and reconcile precinct totals with composite results to ensure they add up to the correct amount.

Minimum cybersecurity standards for voter registration system: Fair

  • The state’s voter registration system has been updated within the past 10 years.

  • The state’s voter registration system provides access control to ensure that only authorized personnel have access to the database.

  • The state’s voter registration system has logging capabilities to track modifications to the database.

  • The state’s voter registration system includes an intrusion detection system that monitors incoming and outgoing traffic for irregularities.

  • The state performs regular vulnerability assessments on its voter registration system.

  • The state has enlisted DHS to help assess and identify potential threats to its voter registration system.

  • The state provides cybersecurity training to election officials.

  • Electronic poll books are used by some, but not all, jurisdictions in the state. The state does not require polling places using electronic poll books to have backup paper copies of voter registration lists available in case of emergency. The state requires jurisdictions using electronic poll books to perform pre-election testing on the equipment prior to an election.


Voter-verified paper audit trail: Fair

  • Depending on the jurisdiction, some voters in California cast paper ballots and others vote using DRE machines with VVPR, though most jurisdictions vote using paper ballots.


Post-election audits: Mixed

  • The state conducts mandatory post-election audits.

  • The state’s post-election audits are conducted through manual hand count.

  • Audits consist of testing 1 percent of precincts in addition to one precinct for each race not included in the randomly selected precincts.

  • The precincts included in the audit are randomly selected.

  • Provisional ballots are no longer included in post-election audits.

  • Additional precincts may be included in the audit upon discretion of election officials.

  • Audits are open to the public.

  • Audits are conducted prior to certification.

  • Audit results can reverse the preliminary outcome of an audited contest if an error is detected.


Ballot accounting and reconciliation: Unsatisfactory

  • All ballots are accounted for at the precinct level.

  • Precincts are required to compare and reconcile the number of ballots with the number of voters who signed in at the polling place.

  • Counties are not explicitly required to reconcile precinct totals with countywide results to ensure that they add up to the correct amount.

  • There is no statutorily mandated review process to ensure that all voting machine memory cards have been properly loaded onto the tally server at the county level.

  • While state law requires that election results be made public, it is unclear whether the same is true of information regarding ballot reconciliation processes and results.
     

Paper absentee ballots: Unsatisfactory

  • The state permits UOCAVA voters to submit completed ballots electronically via fax.

Voting machine certification requirements: Fair

  • Before being purchased and used for an election, all voting machines must be shown to meet or exceed federal voting system standards.

  • Some jurisdictions in the state likely still use voting machines that were purchased more than a decade ago.

Pre-election logic and accuracy testing: Fair

  • Election officials are required to perform logic and accuracy testing on all voting machines prior to an election.

  • Testing is open to the public.

  • Testing begins at least seven days before an election.






 

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