With the Democratic National Committee cyberattack far more widespread than originally thought, fears of foreign power using cyber-espionage to influence this November’s election are growing, and real. It’s also prompted concern that hackers may shift focus to an even more vulnerable target: your vote. Voters in 43 states will cast their ballot for the next president using aging electronic voting machines, many now ten years old with dated software lacking proper security. Despite machine manufacturers’ repeated claims of their integrity, high-profile studies have shown hackers can alter vote tallies on these notoriously-penetrable machines within minutes. Tactics available to hackers are numerous and growing: A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack would disable voting machines or the back-end servers, preventing voters from participating in the election. Deleted voting records ahead of Election Day would expunge names from the registered voter rolls. And malware could be used to “steal” an election by tampering with voting machine hardware or software.
The Voting News
The days of hanging chads might be over, but new Election Day challenges have arisen to fill the void. Electronic voting machines, online voter registration portals and optical scanning devices place significant strain on data center operations. States, counties and cities must now ensure they have the infrastructure necessary to support these increasingly popular technologies — especially with the 2016 presidential election just over the horizon. But even though all states face the same Nov. 8 deadline for Election Day improvements, the varied adoption of voting innovations means no two states have the same infrastructure-upgrade needs.
Donald Trump has taken to saying it over and over again: that the November election is “going to be rigged,” that “crooked Hillary” and her scheming accomplices will somehow manage to steal a victory that should rightfully be his. He has said this in many ways, about the election nationwide and about the election in specific places. As he told his supporters at a recent rally in Altoona, “The only way we can lose . . . is if cheating goes on.” Only Trump himself can know whether he is saying this to pre-explain an anticipated defeat, to cast doubt on his opponent’s integrity, or simply to kick up a cloud that will further arouse the fears of the alienated Americans who have fueled his campaign all year. And he isn’t saying. But more than any of Trump’s other outlandish claims—more than any of his other inaccuracies and falsehoods—this one is dangerous. It’s dangerous because it undermines faith in the integrity of democracy itself.
The mainstream media have treated Donald Trump’s claim that the election will be rigged against him as a dangerous threat to the very legitimacy of the American election system. And they’ve warned that his call for poll “observers” to prevent people in “certain parts” of Pennsylvania from voting “five times” reeks of intimidation. They’re right on both counts. But at the same time, the corporate media, especially on television, have largely ignored the actual attempts to rig state and local elections across the country through laws that make it much harder for certain people to vote. Voter suppression—that Republican-generated roster of voting restrictions that disproportionately impact minorities, students, and other traditionally Democratic voters–comes in many guises. There are strict voter ID laws requiring hard-to-come-by documents; illegitimate purges of the voting rolls; hurdles to voter registration; cut backs on early voting days; reductions in polling places, often resulting in three- and four-hour lines. Courts have recently blocked or weakened restrictions in six states, but voter suppression in one form or another will likely affect hundreds of thousands of people in this, the first presidential election without the full protection of the Voting Rights Act, which was gutted by the Supreme Court in 2013.
California: Voting will never be quite the same in California if lawmakers pass reforms | Los Angeles Times
Sweeping legislation at the state Capitol would make the future of California elections dependent on a major expansion of absentee ballots, one that would give local officials the power to close thousands of neighborhood polling places. In their place, counties would open temporary elections offices known as “vote centers” sprinkled throughout communities, locations offering a wide variety of elections services including early voting and same-day voter registration as well as a limited number of in-person voting booths. “We’re trying to make it easier for people to participate, given the complexities of modern life,” said state Sen. Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica), the author of Senate Bill 450. The proposal was passed by the Assembly on Tuesday on a party-line vote. It now heads to the state Senate and faces an Aug. 31 deadline to make it to Gov. Jerry Brown for his ultimate signature or veto.
A former producer at NPR who lost his ability to walk and speak asked a judge Tuesday to restore his right to vote under a new California law that makes it easier for people with disabilities to keep that right and regain it if lost. David Rector, 66, handed a letter to a court clerk shortly after an advocacy group filed a complaint with the U.S. Justice Department asking that California be required to notify people who have been disqualified from voting about the law in time for the Nov. 8 election. “How are these folks supposed to know about the right to get their voting rights back unless somebody tells them?” Thomas Coleman, legal director of the Spectrum Group, said outside the federal building in downtown San Diego. “The state judiciary has been dragging its feet.” For years, California judges had stripped away the voting rights of people with some disabilities, including autism, Down syndrome and cerebral palsy, “almost as a matter of routine,” Coleman said.
A federal appeals court will decide whether Kansas has the right to ask people who register to vote when they get their driver’s licenses for proof that they’re citizens. The decision could affect whether thousands of Kansas residents have their ballots counted in November’s election. Three judges from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in the case Tuesday from Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and the American Civil Liberties Union but didn’t indicate how soon they could rule. Kansas wants the court to overturn a ruling by a federal judge in May that temporarily blocked the state from disenfranchising people who registered at motor vehicle offices but didn’t provide documents such as birth certificates or naturalization papers. That was about 18,000 people at the time. If the order is allowed to stand, the state says up to an estimated 50,000 people who haven’t proven they’re citizens could have their votes counted in the fall.
Missouri: St. Louis judge waits to make ruling on vote fraud case until state certifies election results | St. Louis Post-Dispatch
A judge will wait to rule on a vote fraud case involving absentee ballots for the state representative race in the 78th District until results are officially certified from the Secretary of State’s office. Circuit Judge Julian L. Bush on Monday could have dismissed the case filed by Bruce Franks, who lost in the Aug. 2 Democratic primary to incumbent Penny Hubbard. Instead, Bush issued a stay, keeping the case alive. It’s basically a procedural move preventing Dave Roland, the attorney for Franks, from having to refile his official challenge to the election results. He is claiming that a high number of improper absentee ballots tilted the election in Hubbard’s favor.
Golden Week is gone again in Ohio. For the time being, at least. The controversial period in which Ohioans can both register to vote and cast an early ballot was struck down Tuesday by a federal appellate pane, overturning a lower-court ruling re-establishing Golden Week. “Proper deference to state legislative authority requires that Ohio’s election process be allowed to proceed unhindered by the federal courts,” said a three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that split 2-1. Thus continues the ritual witnessed every presidential election year in bellwether Ohio: Bitter court battles over voting. Now Ohio Democrats who brought the lawsuit must decide whether to ask the full appeals court to consider Tuesday’s decision.
Individual orders have gone out re-restoring voting rights for some 13,000 former felons in Virginia, Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced Monday. Included with each mailing: A voter registration form. This first round of new restorations covered most of the people who, following McAuliffe’s mass restoration order in April, registered to vote in Virginia. A few of those cases remained under review as of Monday, the administration said. The state Supreme Court nullified McAuliffe’s April order a month ago, agreeing with GOP legislative leaders who had sued the governor over an unconstitutional exercise of his restoration powers. Only individual orders are valid, the court said.