A push to allow Internet voting in elections is growing stronger along with advances in the underlying technology, but systems are not yet secure enough to use with relative certainty that the vote counts will be accurate, according to a new report. Still, while “no existing system guarantees voter privacy or the correct election outcomes,” election officials could take several steps to significantly improve the security and transparency of Internet voting systems, said the report, commissioned by the U.S. Vote Foundation, an organization that helps U.S. residents vote. Election officials considering Internet voting must embrace an end-to-end verifiable Internet voting system, or E2E-VIV, said the report, released Friday. An E2E-VIV would be difficult to build, but it would allow voters to check that the system recorded their votes correctly, to check that it included their votes in the final tally and to double-check the announced outcome of the election, the report said. An Internet voting system must be transparent, useable and secure, said the report, echoing some recommendations security groups have made about other electronic voting systems. “An Internet voting system must guarantee the integrity of election data and keep voters’ personal information safe,” the report said. “The system must resist large-scale coordinated attacks, both on its own infrastructure and on individual voters’ computers. It must also guarantee vote privacy and allow only eligible voters to vote.”
A federal appeals court on Tuesday rejected a challenge to a long-standing ban on U.S. government contractors making campaign contributions in federal elections, emphasizing that the policy was put in place to prevent corruption. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled against three individual contractors who contended that the ban violated their constitutional rights to free speech and equal protection under the law. Writing on behalf of an 11-judge panel, Chief Judge Merrick Garland wrote that “the concerns that spurred the original bar remain as important today as when the statute was enacted” in 1940.
The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday rejected political gerrymandering by state legislators and ordered eight congressional districts redrawn within 100 days, a decision likely to complicate preparations for next year’s elections. In the 5-to-2 decision, the justices concurred with a trial court’s finding that a 2012 redistricting map drawn by the Republican-led Legislature had been tainted by “unconstitutional intent to favor the Republican Party and incumbent lawmakers,” and that Republican “operatives” and political consultants “did in fact conspire to manipulate and influence the redistricting process.” A proposed map of congressional and legislative districts was presented to the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission in 2011. The Republican-led State Legislature sued to challenge the voter-created commission.
A bill that would require a 30-day waiting period to vote was vetoed Friday by Gov. Maggie Hassan who said the bill places unreasonable restrictions on citizens’ voting rights. The bill also attempts to better define domicile for voting as the primary residence or abode. The change would more closely align domicile with a person’s residency. “The constitutional right of all citizens to vote is the most fundamental right of our democracy, and we must always be working to ensure that people who are legally domiciled in New Hampshire are not blocked from voting,” Hassan said in her veto statement. “Senate Bill 179 places unreasonable restrictions upon all New Hampshire citizens’ right to vote in this state with an arbitrary timeline that will prevent lawful residents from taking part in the robust citizen democracy that we are so proud of in the Granite State.”
Lawyers for House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell are making a surprising argument to defend against an accusation of racial gerrymandering: Raw, partisan politics targeting Democrats fueled the 2011 redistricting process as much as race. A trial began Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria on the constitutionality of Virginia’s most recent drawing of legislative boundaries in the House of Delegates. The lawsuit alleges the redistricting plan illegally packs African-American voters into 12 legislative districts. As a result, according to the suit, black voters’ influence in the remaining 88 districts is diminished. A panel of three federal judges is overseeing the trial and must decide whether race was the overriding factor in drawing the lines. Such a finding would increase the chances that the boundaries would be found unconstitutional. If, on the other hand, the judges decide that race was just one of many factors that went into the redistricting, it is more likely that the boundaries would pass muster.
Wisconsin: Democrats sue state election officials over 2011 redistricting | Milwaukee Sentinel-Journal
A dozen Democrats sued election officials Wednesday over legislative maps Republicans drew in 2011 that helped give them a firm grip on state government. The lawsuit comes two years after a panel of three federal judges in separate litigation redrew two Assembly districts and blasted GOP lawmakers for drawing the maps in secret. That panel found the two districts on Milwaukee’s south side violated the voting rights of Latinos, but it upheld all the other legislative maps, allowing Republicans to keep their advantage in elections. The new lawsuit seeks to change that by arguing the maps are so partisan as to be unconstitutional. “This case we hope will be the election law equivalent of Brown v. Board of Education,” said Milwaukee attorney Peter Earle, referring to the landmark school desegregation case. “We will establish a national standard that can be used reliably into the future.”
We are pleased to provide testimony and remarks regarding proposed rule changes to Colorado’s Rules Concerning Elections 8 CCR 1501-5. We appreciate the effort of your office to solicit preliminary comments from the public to inform the draft of the proposed rule changes and were happy to participate in the process. We remain in opposition to Rule 16.2.1(c). However, before addressing Rule 16.2.1(c), we would first like to address proposed new Rule 16.2.8 prohibiting Internet voting because it is inextricably linked to proposed Rule 16.2.1(c).
Public comments voiced significant objection to Internet voting. The Secretary has proposed Rule 16.2.8 which states:
New Rule 16.2.8:
16.2.8 NOTHING IN THIS RULE 16.2 PERMITS INTERNET VOTING. INTERNET VOTING MEANS A SYSTEM THAT INCLUDES REMOTE ACCESS, A VOTE THAT IS CAST DIRECTLY INTO A CENTRAL VOTE SERVER THAT TALLIES THE VOTES, AND DOES NOT REQUIRE THE SUPERVISION OF ELECTION OFFICIALS
Proposed new Rule 16.2.8 unfortunately fails to recognize that email and fax return of voted ballots (permitted and expanded in Rule 16.2.1(c)) is Internet voting and includes all of the inherent security risk of Internet voting. In fact, email (and digital fax) are considered by voting system experts at both the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to be even less secure, [1. “E-mails are significantly easier to intercept and modify in transit than other forms of communication.” NIST IR 7551 A Threat Analysis of UOCAVA Voting Systems http://www.nist.gov/itl/vote/upload/uocava-threatanalysis-final.pdf], [2. “Email is about the least secure method of ballot delivery,” Brian Hancock The Canvass – “Internet voting, not ready for prime-time?” Feb 2013 http://www.ncsl.org/Portals/1/Documents/legismgt/elect/Canvass_Feb_2013_no_37.pdf] than the type of Internet voting system described in proposed Rule 16.2.8.
On June 29, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the will of the voters with its ruling in Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. The Court’s ruling was not a resounding victory in the battle against GOP gerrymandering; rather, it simply confirms the rights of voters in states like Arizona and California to create nonpartisan commissions to conduct congressional redistricting. In most other states, redistricting authority remains in the hands of state legislatures, where Republican lawmakers have employed aggressive gerrymandering to distort Congress and further their partisan agenda. The Arizona ruling is a positive development for those who value meaningful democratic representation in Congress. But Democrats and our allies must not allow this decision to divert us from the most effective strategy to fight GOP gerrymandering: electing more Democratic lawmakers to draw the maps. While the establishment of redistricting commissions by voters will remain an available remedy in a few of the most egregiously gerrymandered states, the work of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) and Advantage 2020 to elect more Democratic state legislators remains the most crucial weapon in the fight for fairer districts.
National: Bush Outstrips Rivals in Fund-Raising as ‘Super PACs’ Swell Candidates’ Coffers | The New York Times
Jeb Bush and his allies announced on Thursday that they had amassed more than $114 million in campaign cash over the last six months, dwarfing the combined fund-raising of his Republican rivals for the party’s presidential nomination. The announcements, made as many of his donors were gathering at his family’s compound here to celebrate their success, established Mr. Bush as his party’s financial powerhouse. They also underscored how the Supreme Court’s five-year-old Citizens United decision continues to remake the way presidential campaigns are waged. Almost all of the money was raised before Mr. Bush formally declared his candidacy last month, collected by a “super PAC” that Mr. Bush’s aides helped set up.
Voting Blogs: The D.C. Circuit in Wagner: Aspects of Appearances in the Defense of The Embattled Law | Moe Soft Money Hard Law
It is understandable that the D.C. Circuit’s Wagner decision upholding the federal contractor ban would attract a good bit of attention. The federal courts are suspected of harboring animus toward the campaign finance laws and here is a major decision going the other way and on fairly broad grounds. So it has been described as having the potential to be highly significant. The decision was notable for the clarity and thoroughness of its presentation. The Court also deftly reinforces the available authority by use of case law stressing the particular dangers presented by political pressure on, or from, government employees. A strength, perhaps also a surprise, was the unanimity of the opinion.
The Adams’ house in Northern California is a house divided. Marcia prefers to cast her ballot by mail and is on a permanent vote-by-mail list. Ted prefers to make his way to his local polling place on Election Day. “I enjoy seeing how many people in my local precinct have voted, getting an “I Voted” sticker, Ted Adams said. “When my children were of an appropriate age, I took them along a number of times, which I felt was beneficial. It is a positive experience.” However, if Senate Bill 450 is approved, Ted may soon be joining Marcia at the kitchen table to fill out his ballot before dropping it in the mail.
Florida: Supreme Court orders new congressional map with eight districts to be redrawn; Manatee County could be affected | Bradenton Herald
In a precedent-setting ruling Thursday, the Florida Supreme Court overturned the state’s congressional districts drawn by the GOP-led Legislature and ordered a new map with eight districts drawn in time for the 2016 election. In a 5-2 ruling, with Justices Charles Canady and Ricky Polston dissenting, the court provided unprecedented and specific direction to the Legislature, such as redrawing the snake-shaped district of Congressional District 5, now held by Congresswoman Corrine Brown, in an east-west direction. “This is a complete victory for the people of Florida who passed the Fair District amendment and sought fair representation where the Legislature didn’t pick their voters,” said David King, lead attorney for the plaintiffs. “The Supreme Court accepted every challenge we made and ordered the legis to do it over,”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) appears likely to veto a package of election reforms aimed at improving the state’s sparse voter turnout that was passed out of the Democrat-controlled legislature. The Democracy Act was passed out of the state Senate on June 29 and sent to Christie’s desk. The bill would introduce online voter registration, establish in-person early voting, require that election materials be available in more languages, allow pre-registration for 17-year-olds and enact automatic voter registration when voters apply for driver’s licenses. It would also require the governor to appoint temporary U.S. senators from the same party as outgoing senators and prevent the governor from scheduling special elections on a different date from the November election, as Christie did for U.S. Sen. Cory Booker’s (D) special election. Christie has already expressed his opposition to the automatic registration provision. The measure would echo the first-in-the-nation automatic registration bill Oregon passed earlier this year. While Oregon recorded one of the nation’s highest voter turnout rates in November, New Jersey had one of the lowest. (New Jersey also ranks 39th among states in the percentage of its eligible voters who are registered.)
As he roams far from New Jersey hugging voters in his quest for the White House, Gov. Chris Christie has a golden opportunity to demonstrate his faith in the people — yes, the people — by signing a groundbreaking voter registration bill passed last month by the state Legislature. It would make New Jersey a national leader by establishing automatic voter enrollment at the state Motor Vehicle Commission, encouraging early voting opportunities and expanding multilanguage election materials. The measure has everything to recommend it as a boon for democracy.
It won’t be until after the 2016 general election that a revamped, more modern election management and voter registration system is fully implemented in New Mexico, according to the state’s top election officials. The Secretary of State’s Office briefed lawmakers on its progress during a meeting this week in Albuquerque. The agency already has updated the candidate filing system and streamlined the reporting of election results, but work has yet to start on revamping voter registration. Kari Fresquez, head of the state Elections Bureau and the agency’s chief technology officer, said creating a one-stop shop for voters and integrating the numerous separate systems used by county clerks across the state marks the biggest step in the modernization process.
Argentina: Police raid programmer who reported flaw in Argentinian e-voting system | Ars Technica UK
Local police have raided the home of an Argentinian programmer who reported a flaw in an e-voting system that was used this weekend for local elections in Buenos Aires. The police took away all of his devices that could store data. According to a report in the newspaper La Nación, Joaquín Sorianello had told the company MSA, which makes the Vot.ar e-voting system, about the problem after he discovered information on the protected Twitter account @FraudeVotar. This revealed that the SSL certificates used to encrypt transmissions between the voting stations and the central election office could be easily downloaded, potentially allowing fraudulent figures to be sent. Sorianello told La Nación that he was only a programmer, not a hacker: “If I’d wanted to hack [the system], or do some damage, I wouldn’t have warned the company.” He also pointed out that it was the @FraudeVotar account that had published the information, not him. As a result of the police action, he said he was “really scared.”
Wisconsin: Voters file federal suit over ‘one of the worst partisan gerrymanders in modern history’ | Wisconsin Gazette
Wisconsin voters want a federal court to throw out the state Assembly district map, alleging the line‐drawing process “secretive” and “partisan” and the maps unconstitutional for overly advantaging one party. “My rights as a voter are being violated,” retired university professor Bill Whitford, one of the plaintiffs, stated. “If my vote counted as much as each one of my fellow citizens, I would be able to affect the shape of the Legislature. But I can’t, because they’ve decided through these maps that I simply don’t count.” The lawsuit, Whitford v Nichols, argues the current map is one of the “worst partisan gerrymanders in modern American history.”
A senior U.N. official is warning progress in Burundi is in danger of slipping away as President Pierre Nkurunziza presses ahead with controversial plans to seek a third term. U.N. Deputy Political Chief Taye-Brook Zerihoun told the Security Council the security situation in Burundi has been tense and volatile since legislative and communal elections were held on June 29. Opposition parties boycotted that vote and are calling for Nkurunziza not to run for a third term, which they say is unconstitutional. “Burundi is on the brink again.The grave danger the country faces should not be underestimated, given the increasing polarization and the apparent choice of Burundian leaders to put personal interests before those of the country,” he said.
Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has endorsed an amended law defining voting districts in this country of more than 50 million voters, his spokesman said Thursday, removing the last hurdle for setting the date for the long-delayed parliamentary elections. Egypt has not had an elected legislature since 2012, when the country’s Supreme Court ruled that the parliament’s lower chamber was not constitutionally elected. An earlier version of the law was declared unconstitutional by the same court in March, causing an indefinite delay in parliamentary elections. The court at the time said the law failed to guarantee equal representation for voters, and asked that it be amended.
Myanmar has started a campaign to recruit 40,000 temporary workers to help police provide security for elections scheduled for November. Police Force Colonel Maung Maung Soe said locals would be given preference to provide security for each polling station in the country. “We will train them for enough knowledge and guidelines of what a policeman should know or follow,” he said. “They must follow or act under the supervision of the Myanmar police force. We are now preparing for the two-week course in which what they should or shouldn’t do and job description for them will be included.”
Russian authorities on July 7 searched the Moscow office of the Golos Association, the country’s leading election-monitoring organization, and the homes of four Golos members, Human Rights Watch reports. The searches appeared to be part of a broader government crackdown on the independent monitoring group. Criminal investigators searched the apartments of Grigory Melkonyants and Roman Udot, co-chairs of Golos; Tatyana Troinova, the executive director; and Valentina Denisenko, a former staff member. Later that day, investigators searched the Moscow office.
The ruling party of Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza has swept to an expected overwhelming victory in controversial parliament elections that were boycotted by the opposition, according to official results released Tuesday. The opposition had argued that weeks of protests and a violent crackdown by security forces meant free and fair elections were impossible, and the United Nations said voting took place amid “a climate of widespread fear and intimidation”. The country has also been left without most of its independent media outlets, after several radio stations were attacked and destroyed in fighting during an attempted coup against Nkurunziza in May.