E-Vote: Ohio Counties Move To Secure Voting Machine Delivery

Security best practices cannot be adequately documented or enforced when machines are transported and stored in poll worker's homes, work places or automobiles.

by / August 21, 2008

Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner on Tuesday unveiled secure voting machine delivery instructions for all Ohio counties. The directive transitions counties away from storing voting machines in poll worker's homes, work places or automobiles before an election.

Counties will receive financial assistance for the cost of implementing the directive. Funds will be distributed before the Nov. 4, 2008 election. The requirements draw on security best practices developed with a bipartisan group of state and local elections officials, extending those requirements to the days before an election.

"We have adopted security best practices for every step of the voting process, including the critical days leading up to an election. As we prepare for success on November 4, 2008, we are working to assist every Ohio county in their transition to secure voting machine delivery," Brunner said.

After listening to concerns of Ohio local election officials, Brunner developed and issued these statewide best practices for secure voting machine delivery to ensure that voting machines work as intended and provide an accurate vote count.

Counties realizing added costs as a result of the Secretary's directive are to be reimbursed for voting machine transport, use of tamper seals with unique identifiers and leasing of regional, secure locations. Boards may develop regional locations within their counties for voting machines to be stored and dispensed on election morning to poll workers. The directive also calls for bipartisan oversight of machine distribution documentation.

"We want Ohio's voters and the rest of the nation to see that we have prepared a transparent process of transporting voting equipment, ballots and supplies. That begins with security practices at boards of elections and polling places, documented chain of custody, and now procedures to make secure voting machine delivery," said Brunner.

Because security best practices cannot be adequately documented or enforced when machines are transported and stored in poll worker's homes, work places or automobiles, and because this places undue responsibility on poll workers, changes were needed.

Complex and sensitive voting equipment could be adversely affected by extreme temperatures and humidity, water damage, dust, and unauthorized use. According to voting machine manufacturers, equipment could fail to work correctly if exposed to those conditions. The security best practices also make it more probable that potential risks to equipment can be detected and minimized.

This year, Brunner has worked in partnership with the state's elections officials to prepare for success by developing and issuing security "best practices" for every board of elections. Previous security directives have included the following:

  • 1. Polling Place Security and Voting Equipment, Supplies and/or Ballots Chain of Custody Form
  • 2. Direct Electronic Voting (DRE) Voting Machine Key Card Management
  • 3. Security of Boards of Elections Offices as well as the Minimum Storage, Security, Access and Inventory Control Requirements for Voting Systems Equipment at the Board of Elections Office
  • 4. Minimum Security, Access, Inventory Control, Storage and Preservation Requirements for Ballots and Election Data Media.