For those interested in expanding voting access by allowing voters to cast their ballots over the Internet, one government expert/activist has bad news – the security and privacy risks associated with Internet voting won’t be resolved anytime soon. David Jefferson, computer scientist in the Lawrence Livermore’s Center for Applied Scientific Computing, has studied electronic voting and security for more than 15 years. He believes “security, privacy, reliability, availability and authentication requirements for Internet voting are very different from, and far more demanding than, those required for e-commerce.” In short, voting is more susceptible to attacks, manipulation and vulnerabilities. Some champions of Internet balloting believe the safeguards that protect online shoppers from hackers can also protect the sensitive information and meet the legal regulations associated with voting online. Advocates further believe that Internet voting will increase turnout, cut costs and improve accuracy. Jefferson refuted these claims by asserting that there currently is no strong authentication or verification solution for online shopping. Also, while proxy shopping is a common occurrence and is not against the law, proxy voting is not allowed.
The Voting News
The Supreme Court on Wednesday sided with black and Democratic lawmakers in Alabama who said the State Legislature had relied too heavily on race in its 2012 state redistricting by maintaining high concentrations of black voters in some districts. The vote was 5 to 4, with Justice Anthony M. Kennedy joining the court’s four more liberal members to form a majority. Justice Stephen G. Breyer, writing for the majority, said a lower court had erred in considering the case on a statewide basis rather than district by district. He added that the lower court had placed too much emphasis on making sure that districts had equal populations and had been “too mechanical” in maintaining existing percentages of black voters.
The Supreme Court sided with black challengers Wednesday and told a lower court to reconsider whether a redistricting plan drawn by Alabama’s Republican-led legislature packed minority voters into districts in order to dilute their influence. The court voted 5 to 4 to send the plan back for further judicial review. Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote the opinion, and Justice Anthony M. Kennedy sided with the court’s liberals to make up the majority. The challenge was brought by black officeholders and Democrats who argued that the state’s Republican leadership packed minority voters into districts that allowed the election of African American officials but reduced their influence elsewhere.
In 2010, Republicans gained control of the Alabama legislature for the first time in 136 years. The redistricting maps drawn by Republicans following the 2010 election preserved the thirty-five majority-minority districts in the Alabama legislature—represented overwhelmingly by black Democrats—and in some cases actually increased the number of minority voters in those districts. For example, State Senator Quinton Ross, a black Democrat elected in 2002, represented a district in Montgomery that was 72 percent African-American before the redistricting process. His district was under-populated by 16,000 people, so the Alabama legislature moved 14,806 African-Americans and thirty-six whites into his seat. The new district was now over 75 percent black and excluded white neighborhoods that were previously in Ross’s district.
California: Secretary of State Alex Padilla wants to adopt Oregon’s ‘motor voter’ law | Statesman Journal
Gov. Kate Brown’s “Motor Voter” law received significant national attention when it passed this month, and it has already found its first adopter in California, whose secretary of state said this week he plans to push for the same law. California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said he believes the law could register millions of people to vote in his state, where about 7 million eligible voters have not signed up. “While many states are making it more difficult for citizens to vote, our neighbor to the north offers a better path,” Padilla said in a Tuesday press release. “I believe the Oregon model makes sense for California,”
Kansas has not held a presidential primary since 1992, and lawmakers are advancing a bill to stop the state from scheduling such a contest every four years. The state Senate gave first-round approval Tuesday to a bill that repeals the law setting the primary on the first Tuesday in April in each presidential election year. A final vote is expected Wednesday. The special election in 2016 would cost an estimated $1.8 million.
Candidates wouldn’t have to die — but they would have to suffer medical hardship or live outside Kansas — in order to be removed from the ballot after winning a primary race under a bill approved Wednesday by the Kansas Senate. House Bill 2104 was drafted by Secretary of State Kris Kobach in response to Democrat Chad Taylor’s withdrawal from the race for U.S. Senate last fall. It originally would have allowed candidates off the ballot only if they died. Democrats pointed out this would mean a candidate who fell into a coma would be forced to remain on the ballot.
Minnesota: Backers of measure to restore voting rights to felons push for House hearings | Star Tribune
A widely-supported bipartisan measure to restore voting rights to Minnesota felons once they have been freed from prison has failed to gain traction in the House, leading to protest from supporters and lawmakers who want to know why. The bill, which has cleared committees and made it to the Senate floor, has yet to receive its first hearing in the House Public Safety and Crime Prevention Committee, despite the fact that committee chair Rep. Tony Cornish is chief author of the bill. The bill has until a Friday deadline to receive a hearing. Cornish, R-Vernon Center, said last week only that he hoped the bill would receive a hearing.
Ohio: Voter suppression likely result of auto registration provision in transportation budget, legislator says | Cleveland Plain Dealer
A Democratic state representative and advocate for voting rights says a last-minute addition to the state transportation budget would effectively suppress voting by students at Ohio’s colleges and universities. But a spokesman for Senate Republicans, who inserted the provision into the budget bill, defended it as merely regulating vehicle registration laws. The provision would require people who come into Ohio and register to vote to re-register their vehicles with Ohio after 30 days. If they fail to register the car with Ohio, then their driving privileges under their out-of-state license for any vehicle would be suspended and they would have to obtain an Ohio license to drive.
Dismissing Democrats’ cries of voter suppression, majority legislative Republicans are poised to require those who register to vote in Ohio to also obtain state driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations. The measure is part of the state transportation budget approved Tuesday by a House-Senate conference committee and headed to possible floor votes in each chamber Wednesday. Democrats tried to remove the provision, saying it constitutes a “poll tax” on out-of-state college students, who would have to spend $75 or more on license and registration fees within 30 days of registering to vote. Rep. Alicia Reece, D-Cincinnati, voted against the transportation budget on Tuesday, she said, because her caucus had a host of concerns about the provision.