A series of data breaches overseas are spurring concerns that hackers could manipulate elections in the United States.Since December, hundreds of millions of voters in the U.S., the Philippines, Turkey and Mexico have had their data discovered on the web in unprotected form. In some instances, legitimate security researchers found the information, but in others, malicious hackers are suspected of pilfering the data for criminal purposes.The data breaches are raising questions as the U.S. considers whether to move toward electronic balloting. More people than ever are using the internet to register to vote and to request mail-in ballots. Some states have even become vote-by-mail only in recent years. “If you can’t keep the voter registration records safe, what makes you think you can keep the votes safe?” asked Pamela Smith, president of election watchdog Verified Voting.For a politically inclined hacker, insecure voter data could “very easily” create a pathway to “massive” voter fraud, said Joseph Kiniry, CEO of Free & Fair, which advocates for secure digital election systems. “If you can go in there and delete rows based on someone’s name or political affiliation, we will have a massively screwed up election process on the day,” he said.
National: Election Assistance Commission Advisory Board Disagrees With Director Over Citizenship Rule | NPR
It looks like more bad news for the new executive director of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. Brian Newby is already being sued by the League of Women Voters for his decision earlier this year to allow Kansas and two other states to require residents to show proof of citizenship when they register to vote using a federal form. The move effectively reversed a long-standing EAC policy. Now, the EAC’s advisory board — composed of election officials from around the country — has approved a resolution saying that such changes should be made by the commissioners themselves. The resolution, passed by a 13-7 vote during a two-day board meeting in Chicago, is only advisory, but clearly shows dissatisfaction with Newby’s actions. Commission Chairman Thomas Hicks says it’s now up to the commission to take the recommendation “under advisement” and decide what to do.
Indiana: Software glitch leaves 2,012 votes incomplete in Hancock County primary | Indiana Economic Digest – Indiana
Catastrophic. Marcia Moore summed up Tuesday’s election in one word. Sitting in the basement of the Hancock County Courthouse Annex on election night, the county clerk shook her head in disgust. Software glitches. Equipment failures. More than 2,000 ballots with errors. Sixteen local contests were left in limbo Tuesday night after election workers learned late in the day that a software error caused entire races to be left off voters’ ballots at five of the county’s 12 polling sites, Moore said. And there’s no way to identify or alert the 2,012 voters who didn’t have a say in those races — a fact Hancock County attorney Ray Richardson said will likely trigger a special election to start the process over. … The software error was one of a number of problems that plagued the local election, Moore said.
A century-old Louisiana law discriminates against foreign-born, naturalized U.S. citizens by arbitrarily subjecting them to “heightened” voter registration requirements that don’t apply to native-born citizens, civil rights groups claim in a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday. Attorneys from the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Fair Elections Legal Network are seeking a court order blocking enforcement of the state law, which has been on the books since 1874. Their class-action suit claims the law is unconstitutional because it requires naturalized citizens to provide documents proving their citizenship when they register to vote, while other residents simply must swear that they are citizens on the voter registration application.
Missouri: Voter ID requirement gets final go-ahead in the Missouri Legislature | St. Louis Post-Dispatch
A measure laying out photo ID requirements at the ballot box won final passage in the Missouri Legislature on Wednesday. The bill still needs either Gov. Jay Nixon’s signature or, if he vetoes the bill, a successful veto override in the Legislature. It would take effect only if voters approve to a change to the state constitution. A separate resolution putting the proposed constitutional change on the ballot this year is awaiting approval in the Senate. Both pieces of legislation advanced out of the House early in the legislative session, but they had been stalled in the Senate until this week.
Republican lawmakers in Virginia will file a lawsuit challenging Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s decision to allow more than 200,000 convicted felons to vote in November, GOP leaders said Monday. Republicans argue the governor has overstepped his constitutional authority with a clear political ploy designed to help the campaign of his friend and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in the important swing state this fall. “Gov. McAuliffe’s flagrant disregard for the Constitution of Virginia and the rule of law must not go unchecked,” Senate Republican Leader Thomas Norment said in a statement. He added that McAuliffe’s predecessors and previous attorneys general examined this issue and concluded Virginia’s governor can’t issue blanket restorations.
The four opposition coalitions said they will drop their demand for all the alleged irregularities to be fully investigated by the Republic Electoral Commission, RIK, even though all of them made it into parliament at the April 24 polls. The coalitions around the Democratic Party, the Social Democratic Party, the Enough is Enough movement and the Democratic Party of Serbia-Dveri alliance also said they will also demand reforms of Serbia’s election legislation, which they claim is full of systematic errors. Bosko Obradovic, the president of the far-right Dveri, told BIRN that the opposition will produce a final report on the parliamentary election which will sum up all the reports issued by the RIK.
King Felipe VI of Spain signed a decree on Tuesday to dissolve Parliament and hold a rerun of national elections for the first time since the country’s return to democracy in the late 1970s. The step followed months of political paralysis and discord over who should form a government after inconclusive elections in December. That election resulted in a fracturing of Spain’s political landscape with the emergence of insurgent parties that challenged the establishment, marking a sea change in the nation’s politics. The repeat election is now scheduled for June 26, but opinion polls suggest that the outcome of a new vote could look much like the first, which split ballots among four main parties, with no single one close to a majority. Turnout, however, could fall amid growing frustration about the intense but fruitless party squabbling.
The usual “voter identification law” proponents merely cherry-pick others’ empirical data that specifically lend credibility to their arguments, and often they reject even the proper context. For years, Hans von Spakovsky (a former federal election commissioner and U.S. Justice Department official, currently a Heritage Foundation senior legal fellow) has juxtaposed the Pew Center’s numbers with a 2000 Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation of Georgia voting records. That newspaper reported initially having exposed 5,400 instances of the deceased being recorded as having voted. Von Spakovsky has used this source repeatedly to support his argument and has proffered that this article’s findings are “substantial to me.” Consistent with von Spakovsky’s routine, Jane Mayer, a New Yorker investigative journalist, noted he did not mention in their interview that the article’s findings were revised. Mayer’s investigation found that the Journal-Constitution ran a follow-up article after Georgia’s secretary of state’s office indicated the vast majority of those cases appeared to reflect clerical errors. The newspaper admitted that even its lone specific example of a deceased voter casting a ballot did not prevail. A living voter’s ballot was credited to a dead man whose name was almost identical.
It has been 14 years since the implementation of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). It has been almost that long since election officials across the country have worked to implement (and in many cases, replaced and re-implemented), new voting machines, polling place procedures and improved access to polling sites. Yet, at a public hearing in Boston last week, it became clear that while HAVA has succeeded in many ways – including the mandatory addition of polling place machines that allow voters with a variety of disabilities to vote independently and with confidence that their vote counted – the experience of voting has lagged behind the vision laid out by HAVA.
A weeklong trial in a lawsuit challenging the state’s campaign contribution limits came to a close Tuesday, with U.S. District Judge Timothy Burgess asking probing questions of attorneys defending the state’s limits on nonresident contributions and expressing some concern limits set at least a decade ago haven’t risen with inflation. Kevin Clarkson, attorney for the plaintiffs who say their free-speech rights are hurt by the donation caps, said in his closing arguments the state never overcame a fundamental hurdle, proving the $500 maximum a person can give to a candidate per year is the proper amount to prevent corruption or the appearance of corruption, as the law intends. Proving why that number is correct is the state’s “first step,” but the state never met that obligation, he asserted. The constitutional challenge — brought in November by Alaska Republican Party District 18, Alaskans Aaron Downing and Jim Crawford and Wisconsin resident David Thompson — challenges the $500 limit and three other contribution caps. The Alaska Public Offices Commission is named as the defendant.
On Election Day 2014, Connecticut was among the last states in the nation to learn who its next governor was because of its antiquated voting system. In 2010, the gubernatorial vote tally took three days. So congratulations are in order to the 104 municipalities that successfully participated in a trial run last week of the online vote reporting system hosted by the secretary of the state’s office. Shortly after 8 p.m., election officials in many towns started entering Democratic and Republican primary results in the system, even though participation was voluntary this time around. It offered a good look at how solidly Donald J. Trump was winning the state and at the town-by-town battle between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.
The young cybersleuth says he exposed security lapses on Florida elections websites, but the state says he committed a crime. David Levin, 31, of Estero, a political consultant and owner of a computer security firm, was booked Wednesday on three felony charges of unauthorized access to computer systems. Each count carries a maximum five-year prison sentence. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said Levin illegally gained internal access to websites of the state Division of Elections and the Lee County elections office, which together hold data on more than 12 million Florida voters. The FDLE said that after Levin gained access to the Lee County site in December, he used the login credentials of supervisor of elections Sharon Harrington to access the state elections website.
Georgia: Justice Department wants suit alleging Georgia illegally purges voters | Atlanta Journal Constitution
The U.S. Justice Department has asked a federal judge to deny a request to dismiss a lawsuit accusing Georgia of illegally bumping voters off the state’s rolls ahead of the 2016 presidential election. In a court filing, U.S. Attorney John Horn and members of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division indicated concerns with the state’s policy toward kicking voters off the rolls due to inactivity. The filing came in response to a request by Georgia officials to dismiss the suit after it was filed in February.
Two years after a lawsuit backed by House Speaker Michael Madigan kept a citizen-led redistricting reform effort off the ballot, Madigan himself voted to get an anti-gerrymandering amendment before voters on Nov. 8. By a 105-7 vote, the House approved a constitutional amendment sponsored by Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, that proposes removing politicians from the drawing of state legislative district maps and creating an independent commission overseen by the Illinois Supreme Court. The amendment, HJRCA 58, now moves to the Senate. If the amendment receives 36 votes in the Senate, it would be placed on the ballot for consideration by voters. Tuesday’s vote was a landmark in Illinois politics as reform groups for decades have decried the highly political process of re-drawing legislative maps every 10 years following the U.S. Census. The opportunity to control boundary-making has long been the most coveted prize of both political parties, who have skillfully used the once-a-decade redistricting to more securely embed incumbents of their own party and punish lawmakers of the opposite party.
Secretary of State Kris Kobach on Wednesday secured his fourth voter fraud conviction in a case against a Wichita man accused of double voting in Kansas and Colorado at least twice – and Kobach said he plans to file more cases soon. “Stay tuned. We expect that we will be filing some additional cases in the very near future,” Kobach said in an interview after Ron Weems pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor counts in Sedgwick County District Court and agreed to pay $5,500 in fines. Weems, 77, is the latest Kansan to be convicted of election crimes since the Legislature granted Kobach’s office prosecutorial authority over such allegations last July.
Fig leaves are often draped over controversial laws coming out of the Republican-dominated legislature in Texas. But when a judge takes a closer look, the reality of the legislation tends to be laid bare fairly quickly. In March, Texas’s solicitor general struggled, during a hearing at the Supreme Court, to explain how onerous regulations that have closed three-quarters of the state’s abortion clinics are actually a boon to women’s reproductive health. And despite repeated losses in federal courts, the Lone Star state’s attorney general, Ken Paxton, stands resolutely by a 2011 voter-identification law that could keep 600,000 minority and young Texans away from the polls in November. The law, Mr Paxton says, is necessary to protect the integrity of elections. On May 2nd, the Supreme Court signalled it may step in to evaluate that counterintuitive proposition if a lower court does not resolve the matter by July 20th.
Republicans in the Virginia General Assembly are planning to sue Gov. Terry McAuliffe over his executive action to restore voting rights to more than 200,000 felons who have served their sentences, but the Democratic governor says he’s not worried. “I have the legal authority and the moral authority” to take the action, McAuliffe told WTOP on Wednesday morning. “Virginia was [until 2013] one of four states that permanently did not allow a felon to get their voting rights back unless they went through this arduous process,” he said. “What I did was to join what 40 other states have done. … Why should Virginia be at the bottom of the heap [regarding] restoring felons’ rights?” Virginia House Speaker Bill Howell and Senate Majority Leader Thomas Norment announced on Monday that they’ve retained a lawyer to challenge McAuliffe’s order, with Norment saying in a statement that “we are prepared to uphold the Constitution of Virginia and the rule of law by challenging Governor McAuliffe’s order in court.”
Taxpayers have spent $3.7 million and counting on private attorneys in three redistricting lawsuits, as well as a fourth case targeting the state’s voter ID law. That includes nearly $180,000 billed so far by a state senator’s law firm, which represents her colleagues from both sides of the aisle in their ongoing effort to keep secret emails about the 2011 drawing of election maps. Those four state senators, as well as two former ones, each face $100 daily fines for not complying with a court order to turn those documents over. Unless a pending appeal before the state Supreme Court succeeds, taxpayers will be liable for the fines.
Representatives of organisations of Bulgarians abroad emerged from May 5 talks with Prime Minister Boiko Borissov saying that they had his support for their objections to amendments recently approved by Parliament that would trim back polling stations outside the country. Bulgarians abroad, through organisations and on social networks, have petitioned President Rossen Plevneliev to veto the changes, approved by the National Assembly in more than one round of rewrites attended by considerable controversy. Changes to tighten the rules on opening polling stations abroad were pushed by the nationalist Patriotic Front, a minority partner in Borissov’s governing coalition.
Chad’s Constitutional Council has upheld President Idriss Deby’s re-election to a fifth term, confirming the results of last month’s vote that the opposition had challenged. In final results, the council said Chad’s leader of 26 years won 59.92 percent of the vote, compared with 12.77 percent for opposition leader Saleh Kebzabo and 10.61 percent for Laoukein Kourayo Medard, mayor of Moundou city. In announcing the results, the council rejected an appeal by eight opposition candidates to invalidate the April 10 election over voting irregularities.
This year will see the Philippines’ third automated polls – the first one was the elections in 2010. But though automation means more security in vote-counting and faster results, it cannot prevent irregularities such as vote-buying – an acknowledged fact in a country where 60 per cent of the people live below the poverty line. Marcelino Farjardo, a 58-year-old tricycle driver, earns around 300 to 500 pesos (US$6-10) a day. He supplements this income with earnings from his family-run internet shop which earns him an additional US$15-21 a week. However, with five children to feed life is still a struggle, so when politicians make the rounds in the run-up to elections offering gifts, holidays and money in exchange for a vote, it can be hard to resist. “If it will help my people, why not? … Tricycle drivers are poor too,” he said.
Britain is holding local elections this week on what some have dubbed “Super Thursday,” but only one contest is worthy of the moniker: the race to succeed Boris Johnson as London’s mayor. Mayoral elections rarely draw international attention. But the British capital is no ordinary city and its mayoralty is no ordinary office. London holds tremendous sway within Britain itself, both as an economic powerhouse and a population center. Roughly one in 10 members of Parliament come from the city’s constituencies—more than hail from Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland. The office itself is also something of an anomaly. British governance tends to favor councils of local officials and collective government by cabinets of ministers. London’s mayor, by comparison, is elected by millions of voters from the city and its surrounding suburbs. Because most of Britain does not directly vote for the ministers in Parliament, let alone the House of Lords or the queen, the mayor can claim a stronger democratic mandate than perhaps any British politician other than the prime minister (who herself is not directly elected to that post, but assumes it as leader of the largest party in Parliament).