Legislature could make universal mailed ballot permanent
Brute force hacking: “we now have prohibited it for sure”
By Guy Page
October 28, 2020 – There’s no “do-over” allowed for Vermont voters, Secretary of State Jim Condos said today.
Nationwide, large numbers of voters are asking if they can change their absentee ballot at the polls. Changing votes can’t happen in Vermont, Condos told reporters on a Zoom press conference today.
Answering a question by Mike Donoghue of the Islander, Condos said, “Vermont law does not allow you to recast a vote.” Elections Director Will Senning confirmed: “the law is really clear.” New York, Connecticut, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota – the latter three “battleground” states – all allow voters to change their absentee votes at the ballot box.
President Trump tweeted about the “Change My Vote?” trend. It’s a question many voters want answered. An October 27 Cox media report states: “According to Google Trends, the search phrases “can I change my vote in Texas” and “can I change my vote in Florida” were up 250 percent and 200 percent on Tuesday morning. “Change my vote” had the most interest in Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Minnesota and Pennsylvania, according to Google.”
Other election information:
Universal mailed ballot permanent in Vermont? – Responding to Calvin Cutler of WCAX, Condos said he has not yet discussed with the Legislature making universal mailed balloting permanent. “We will work with the Legislature in January,” he said.” A permanent system will only happen “if that’s a change they want to make.” Issues to consider include cost, and “back end” changes in the election process.
“At this time, I am not recommending one way or the other,” Condos said.
No sharpies, please – The Secretary of State prefers that voters use black pens to fill out their ballots. Pencil marks may not be picked up by scanners. And sharpies are verboten because they may bleed through the ballot.
Spoilage rate should be normal, SOS predicts – Most elections have a ballot spoilage rate of about one percent, and that’s what Condos expects for next Tuesday’s general election. The primary had about three percent defective ballots, but the general election total should be near the norm, he said.
Poll watchers need to notify Town Clerk by Friday – campaigns interested in having poll watchers need to inform town/city clerks by Friday, Condos said. An October 26 Secretary of State directive covers this and other issues. To date no parties or campaigns have indicated an interest in sending poll watchers, Condos told press.
Low security to My Voter Page a tradeoff – The Secretary of State’s office has taken measures to prohibit “brute force hacking” that could have exposed to cyberthieves every registered Vermont voter’s name, address, date of birth, drivers’ license number, and at least part of their social security number, Condos said today. As reported in Vermont Daily, earlier this month software engineer Jon Lynch of Colchester informed the SOS that “bots” could access and steal personal information of all Vermont registered voters through the My Voter Page portal. With Lynch’s assistance, new security measures were added.
“We thought we had prohibited it. We now have prohibited it for sure,” Condos claimed today.
SOS wanted to provide ease of access to voter information, Condos explained. To accomplish that, aggressive security measures were not installed. No password is needed, only the last four of the social security number or drivers’ license. “I hate to call it a vulnerabilty because it was a known feature,” Condos said.
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