“Internet voting” means different things to different people. To many folks, it might mean “click a button, submit, done.” To some—and for our purposes—it means anytime a voted ballot is transmitted in any way, shape or form via the Internet. Whatever the definition, computer scientists tell us that secure online voting is still many years, or even decades, away. For now, they say, using the Internet to return voted ballots can’t be done with confidence. Like it or not, Internet voting is on the minds of legislators and other policymakers. We say that, based on the 13 states that have had legislation in 2015 that deals in some way with permitting Internet voting. Only one has been enacted, Maine SB 552. So voters’ needs and technical expectations may push policymakers toward Internet voting—and at the same time security concerns are holding it back.
On the morning of his wedding, in 1956, Henry Frye realized that he had a few hours to spare before the afternoon ceremony. He was staying at his parents’ house in Ellerbe, N.C.; the ceremony would take place 75 miles away, in Greensboro, the hometown of his fiancée; and the drive wouldn’t take long. Frye, who had always been practical, had a practical thought: Now might be a good time to finally register to vote. He was 24 and had just returned from Korea, where he served as an Air Force officer, but he was also a black man in the American South, so he wasn’t entirely surprised when his efforts at the registrar’s office were blocked. Adopting a tactic common in the Jim Crow South, the registrar subjected Frye to what election officials called a literacy test. In 1900, North Carolina voters amended the state’s Constitution to require that all new voters “be able to read and write any section of the Constitution in the English language,” but for decades some registrars had been applying that already broad mandate even more aggressively, targeting perfectly literate black registrants with arbitrary and obscure queries, like which president served when or who had the ultimate power to adjourn Congress. “I said, ‘Well, I don’t know why are you asking me all of these questions,’ ” Frye, now 83, recalled. “We went around and around, and he said, ‘Are you going to answer these questions?’ and I said, ‘No, I’m not going to try.’ And he said, ‘Well, then, you’re not going to register today.’ ”
It turns out that the old quip about voting early and often is not illegal in Arizona. In a unanimous ruling Tuesday, the state Court of Appeals threw out the conviction of a Bullhead City woman who prosecutors said voted in both Colorado and Arizona. The judges said the way the Arizona law is worded, people who are qualified to vote here can also cast ballots in other states — assuming the other states don’t have a problem with it. In fact, appellate Judge Kenton Jones said the only way to break the Arizona law with multi-state voting is when a presidential candidate is on the ballot. Carol Hannah was indicted in 2013 after prosecutors said she cast an early ballot in the 2010 election in Adams County, Colo. and then went to the polls that November in Bullhead City. She was convicted of illegal voting, a felony, and placed on probation for three years.
After spending nearly three years and millions of dollars defending its redistricting maps, the Florida Senate gave up the fight Tuesday as it conceded for the first time that the courts were going to find it violated the state Constitution. Lawyers for the League of Women Voters and Common Cause have argued the Republican-controlled Senate violated the so-called Fair Districts provision of the state Constitution that prohibits drawing lines to favor a political party or any incumbents. As a result of Tuesday’s settlement, the Legislature will now be called into its third special session of the year to redraw at least 28 of its 40 districts statewide. That special session is scheduled to run from Oct. 19 to Nov. 6, two months after the Legislature holds a special session in August to fix congressional districts that the Florida Supreme Court ruled earlier this month had violated the state Constitution.
North Carolina: Historic federal trial on voting rights ends; judge to issue decision later this year | Winston-Salem Journal
A federal trial regarding North Carolina’s election law — one that civil-rights activists call the most sweeping and restrictive in the country — ended late Friday afternoon, a week before the 50th anniversary of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965. But U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder’s decision won’t come down anytime soon. It could be at least a month before he renders a ruling on whether House Bill 589 violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and the 14th and 15th amendments of the U.S. Constitution. For three weeks in a Winston-Salem federal courtroom, North Carolina residents and national experts testified about the impact of House Bill 589, which became law in 2013. The law eliminated same-day voter registration and out-of-precinct provisional voting, reduced the days of early voting from 17 to 10 and got rid of preregistration for 16- and 17-year-olds. … North Carolina’s law also includes voter ID, which was not a part of the federal trial. But many also point out that North Carolina’s is the most sweeping and most comprehensive election law change in years.
Virginia: Backlash over checkboxes: Intent questioned on voter registration form edits | Daily Press
State Board of Elections members mulling a redesign of voter registration forms got an earful Tuesday from conservatives who feel the changes would make it easier for non-citizens to vote, and from registrars who voiced a longer list of concerns. The biggest controversy stems from a proposal for checkboxes on the current form, where registrants state whether they’re citizens, whether they have a felony record and whether they’ve been judged mentally incapacitated. Instead of requiring people to check those boxes, the new form would make them optional. It would also beef up the form’s “affirmation” – the statement just above where people sign – to include explicit mentions of all three requirements.
Canada’s prime minister, Stephen Harper, is poised to call a parliamentary election for October 19, kicking off a marathon 11-week campaign likely to focus on a stubbornly sluggish economy and his decade in power. Harper’s office said in a statement on Saturday night that he is due to visit governor general David Johnston – the representative of Queen Elizabeth, Canada’s head of state – at 9:55 am (1355 GMT) on Sunday. Harper, who has been in power since 2006, is expected to seek the dissolution of parliament, triggering the start of the campaign. Polls indicate that Harper’s right-of-center Conservative party, which has been in office since 2006, could lose its majority in the House of Commons.
Despite calls to blacklist it from election deals, Venezuelan firm Smartmatic moved closer to bagging all major election contracts for the Philippines’ presidential elections in 2016. The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Thursday, July 30, said it decided to award to Smartmatic a major contract for the lease of 23,000 vote-counting machines. The contract for these precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines is pegged at P1.7 billion ($37.18 million). Comelec Spokesman James Jimenez said the poll body will soon issue the notice of award to Smartmatic. The lease of 23,000 vote-counting machines is part of the Comelec’s last-ditch effort to ensure automated elections in 2016.
Democrats gathered on the steps of Congress in Washington D.C. to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, as they called on Republicans to restore a key mandate. “It was not this warm on March 7, 1965, when we attempted to walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge from Selma to Montgomery,” House Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., said Thursday, referring to the historic “Bloody Sunday” Civil Rights march.
Editorials: Is the Federal Election Commission’s voting procedure unlawful? | Jonathan H. Adler/The Washington Post
Does the Federal Election Commission utilize an unlawful voting procedure to initiate enforcement actions under the Federal Election Campaign Act? A decision yesterday by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in Combat Veterans for Congress Political Action Committee v. FEC raises (but does not resolve) this question. Here is how Judge Pillard’s opinion for the court summarizes the issue and the case: The basic facts are few and not in dispute. The Federal Election Commission in October of 2011 imposed an $8,690 fine on the Combat Veterans for Congress Political Action Committee and its treasurer, David Wiggs, in his official capacity. Combat Veterans incurred the fine for failing to meet three required reporting deadlines under the Federal Election Campaign Act. Combat Veterans sued the Commission, contesting the fine and charging that the Commission’s procedural errors deprived it of the power to act.