Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of registered voters believe the 2016 presidential campaign will be compromised by a cyber breach in some way, according to a poll conducted by data security firm PKWARE and Wakefield Research. Their concerns are not unwarranted; at a time when breaches and data theft make headlines on a regular basis, much of the voting process remains unprotected. “There is a lot of vulnerability in paperless voting systems, whether they are direct reporting electronic machines, or email return ballots,” said Pamela Smith, president of Verified Voting, a nonprofit organization that advocates for accuracy, transparency and verifiability of elections. Most polling places use paper ballots that are tabulated by a scanner. Even if the scanner goes haywire, there is a paper record of voters’ intent and officials can take a manual count. In fully paperless systems, no such backup exists. “In a situation like that, there’s no way to demonstrate that the software is working properly. If something seems amiss or there is an unexpected outcome, you really wouldn’t have a way to go back and correct it because you don’t have an independent record of voter intent,” Smith said. Electronic systems, then, offer a prime target for hackers looking to influence elections.
I began my college studies in computer science in 1985, and I watched as the Internet transformed the world over the last 25 years. As a computer scientist, I have an acute appreciation for the benefits of our global, interconnected network. I love the Internet. By all accounts, I am an early adopter. I was the first of all my friends with a cellphone and a mobile email reading device. I was the first to buy an Apple Newton; I hacked my own TiVo when the product was first introduced, and I use a smart doorbell and thermostat at home. I embrace technology and progress. Let’s put it all online. Find a way to automate this. Give me a high-tech way to do that. I do online banking, store my medical records in the cloud, and use wireless payments at the mall. My car, a 2013 Tesla, has its own Internet connection, and I navigate my boat with my iPad. So why am I stuck in the Dark Ages when it comes to voting? Why do I believe in paper ballots instead of direct-recording electronic voting machines? And why do I believe that we will not be able to securely vote on the Internet in the foreseeable future?
A cyber-security issue affecting the state’s voter registration system has not been resolved, according to the Arizona Secretary of State’s blog page. The July 5 post is an update to a June 30 post saying the FBI alerted that “a credential related to the Voter Registration System had been compromised.” Further investigation revealed a county computer had been compromised by malicious software, according to the blog. Pima County Recorder, F. Ann Rodriguez confirmed that the county computer that was compromised is not a Pima County computer. Rodriguez said in two conference calls with county recorders across the state, the Secretary of State’s office explained security experts were working with the system vendor to make sure voter information was not accessed or otherwise tampered with. As a result, the Secretary of State, Michele Reagan, decided to take the voter registration site offline. This now affects two important processes.
A controversial measure that would require a government-issued photo ID to vote was vetoed by Gov. Jay Nixon on Thursday, with the Democratic governor arguing it would act as a barrier against citizens’ fundamental right to vote. It proved to be one of the most contentious items of debate during the 2016 legislative session, reflective of a broader ideological divide between Democrats and Republicans on voter access. GOP lawmakers argue the bill would prevent voter fraud, but their Democratic colleagues said it was a solution in search of a problem. Missouri Democrats fought the issue throughout session, eventually winning some compromises. Under the measure, voters without a photo ID can sign an affidavit at the polls, swearing they are who they say they are under penalty of perjury. Their vote then counts so long as their signature matches the one on file. Other provisions in the bill include exemptions for anyone born before 1946, anyone with a disability and those with religious objections to their photo being taken. Under the measure, the state also foots the bill for the IDs and any documents needed to get them.
Should voting sporadically in past elections be grounds to remove a voter from the election rolls? This is the issue being fought out in Ohio, the crucial swing state where a federal court recently upheld the controversial purging of scores of thousands of voters from the rolls for failing to participate in three consecutive federal elections. Updating voter rolls for accuracy, change of address and death is a routine task carried out by elections officials everywhere, but only a few states remove voters for reasons of inactivity. Ohio’s purge prompted a lawsuit by civil liberties groups accusing the Republican-controlled state government of engaging in suppression of minority and poor voters who tended to favor Democratic candidates. But last month, a federal district judge found that the policy of the Ohio secretary of state, Jon Husted, of purging a voter after six years of inactivity and failure to reply to a state warning did not violate “the integrity of the election process.” An appeal is being considered.
Virginia: Anti-Trump lawsuit may lead judge to strike down law on presidential convention voting | Richmond Times-Dispatch
A little-known Virginia law that dictates how the state’s delegates must vote at presidential nominating conventions could be struck down by a federal judge next week. After roughly six hours of oral argument Thursday, U.S. District Judge Robert E. Payne seemed poised to issue a narrow opinion in a case brought by a Virginia delegate to the Republican National Convention seeking legal immunity for his plan to vote against Donald Trump. Payne seemed to accept one element of the argument brought by Carroll “Beau” Correll, a Winchester attorney who supported Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas in the primary. In a lawsuit filed last month, Correll said the state cannot enforce an election law that could, in theory, lead to criminal prosecutions for delegates who don’t cast their vote for Trump on the first ballot despite their obligations under party rules.
The Australian prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has declared victory in the federal election after a concession call from the opposition leader, Bill Shorten,eight days after polls closed in the tight race. At a press conference in Sydney, Turnbull thanked Shorten for the congratulatory call and expressed hope the 45th Australian parliament would be “exciting and constructive”. “I want to thank all of the candidates that ran for the Coalition, many have been returned; a number have not, of course, as you know. We have had a successful election.” Turnbull cited the fact that the Coalition had received 800,000 more first preference votes than Labor, led in two-party preferred terms and had won more seats, despite the results not having been finalised. The concession and victory speeches come eight days after the polls finished, because of extremely close results in a few key marginal seats, and six seats still remain undecided.
Voting Blogs: TGDC Releases Draft Project Charter for New Voting System Standards | Election Academy
The Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC) may not be well-known, but it plays a crucial role in the process of standards-setting in the field of voting technology testing and certification. About a year ago, the TGDC announced that it was going to convene a series of public working groups as part of a new approach to updating the federal Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG). Late last month, the TGDC issued a draft project charter for VVSG version 2.0 that attempts to define both the scope of the project and lay out a way forward.
A Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit already suing over Arizona’s troubled presidential primary says the state’s top election officials should be required to have court-approved plans in place for how they’re going to manage the upcoming primary and general elections. The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed a motion Thursday for a preliminary injunction calling for election administration plans to be submitted by the secretary of state and Maricopa County officials. In its lawsuit over the March primary, the group argues that countless Arizona voters were disenfranchised by the cutting of polling places to just 60 from about 200 in the 2012 presidential primary. The cut in polling places was one of the causes of lines that exceeded five hours in some locations.
California: One month later, California finishes its vote count, and Clinton wins | The Washington Post
It lasted longer than the 1979 conflict between China and Vietnam, but California’s slow-moving count of provisional and mail-in ballots is finally over — and as expected, Hillary Clinton won. Wednesday night, after ballots were finally processed in San Mateo County, Clinton had won 2,745,293 votes to 2,381,714 for Bernie Sanders. The eventual margin was 363,579 votes, or 7.1 percentage points, closer than the 2008 primary between Clinton and Barack Obama. It was closer, too, than Sanders seemed to get on election night, when a rout bigger than any poll had suggested effectively ended the Democratic primary. Since then, Sanders added 879,671 votes to his California total; Clinton added 804,713 votes. As expected, most of the outstanding ballots left on June 7 were cast for Democratic candidates, and as expected, they broke for Sanders. (For a sense of California’s scale, Sanders won more votes in the long provisional/mail-in count than he won, total, in the New York primary — 820,256 votes.)
Strong coffee — and lots of it —might be the only way to stay up late enough to see who ends up a winner in some races in November’s general election. Ballots in San Diego County will likely be an unprecedented two cards rather than one, and it will consequently take extra time to count votes. The change is driven by an unusually high number of state and local ballot measures atop the regular federal, state and local races. The implications of the seemingly simple change in ballot layout and design could have implications locally as well across the country. The outcome of races and ballot measures of national interest will be delayed by the extra time it takes to count votes from San Diego and other large California counties. Among the high-profile state measures that have captured national attention are those involving recreational marijuana, the death penalty (two separate initiatives), gun control, single-use plastic grocery bags and whether porn actors should use condoms.
Georgia is being sued for the second time this year over its handling of voter records, this time by a group seeking more information from Secretary of State Brian Kemp about how the state decides to reject applicants trying to register to vote. Project Vote, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit active on voting and election administration policy, said in federal court filings this week that it has sought public records since May 2014 detailing Georgia’s process for reviewing voter registration applications and the subsequent reasons why applications may be rejected.
A state commission is continuing its work toward a November decision on whether to recommend changes in Indiana’s process for drawing congressional and legislative district boundaries. On Thursday, the 12-member Special Study Committee on Redistricting heard testimony from Michael Li, a New York University expert who analyzes redistricting across the country, and Ed Cook, a nonpartisan Iowa official who oversees that state’s redistricting system. They both emphasized the need for Hoosiers to decide what they want to prioritize in redistricting since it’s not possible to have a “perfect map” with fully competitive districts that never break up communities of interest, are equal in population, contiguous and compact.
The deadline for a federal appeals court to rule on the state’s controversial voter ID law is fast approaching. The U.S. Supreme Court gave the court until July 20 to make a decision about whether the law violates federal civil rights law. But, no matter what happens, this likely isn’t the end of this legal battle. First of all, the fact that the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals even has a deadline on this is the first indicator that this case is pretty unique. “Rarely does a circuit court get told by the Supreme Court to decide something by a particular date,” says Joseph Fishkin, a professor at UT Austin’s School of Law. He says there’s a lot that’s novel about this case.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Thursday unveiled a new voter-registration initiative that managed not to rankle Republicans — quite a feat for a swing-state governor with a buddy on the ballot in a presidential election year. McAuliffe (D) said that Virginia’s motor vehicle offices, which have handled voter registrations since 1996, are making that paper-based process into an electronic one. The change will eliminate processing delays that can require the use of provisional ballots on Election Day, McAuliffe said at a news conference at a Richmond Department of Motor Vehicles office. It also will cut down on the use of staff time and paper at the DMV.
In April, Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) ordered voting rights restored to 206,000 ex-convicts in Virginia, a move in line with similar recent reforms in more than 20 states that have lifted the stigma of disenfranchisement from citizens who have served their sentences and paid their debts to society. The fact that Virginia’s list of newly eligible voters was prepared in haste and that it contained errors — including murderers still behind bars — is evidence of incompetence and slapdash execution. It is not an argument that the order is illegal or unconstitutional, as critics would have Virginians believe. Those critics, including top Republicans in Richmond as well as some prosecutors, insist that the state constitution allows the governor to restore voting and other civil rights to ex-convicts only on an individualized basis. As evidence, they point to the actions of recent governors who, while seeking to expand and accelerate the restoration of voting rights to former inmates, refrained from establishing a fully automatic system for doing so.
Australia government appeared increasing likely to retain power after a knife-edge election, with a third independent lawmaker on Friday offering support to the ruling coalition if it falls short of a majority. But the opposition warned that while the conservative Liberal Party-led coalition was likely to cling to power, the government would not survive a year. Although vote counting was continuing after the weekend election in a handful of seats and official results could still be days away, Christopher Pyne, the government leader in the House of Representatives, claimed victory Friday, saying his coalition was certain of 74 seats in the House and was likely to win another three. The government needs at least 76 seats to form a majority in the 150-seat chamber.
The Liberal government has offered to give two opposition parties control over a legislative committee that will study overhauling the province’s electoral system. The Liberals say they’re willing to give up their majority on the committee to persuade the opposition Progressive Conservatives to join the consultations on new voting systems, a lower voting age, online voting, and other possible changes. Premier Brian Gallant said in question period “We’re not even seeking a majority of the composition” of the eight-member committee, the first time the Liberals have made that concession.
A 19-year-old Japanese college student joined others casting a historic first ballot at a polling station earlier this week. Then he wondered if he had spent enough time looking into the candidates. Kouki Nozomuto, who used an early voting system in Yokohama for those who are busy on election day, is among 2.4 million newly eligible voters for Sunday’s race for the upper house of parliament, the first national election since Japan lowered the voting age last year from 20 to 18. “I thought I’ll just go in between classes, so I think maybe I should have spent more time (to prepare),” he said afterward, saying he came because he thinks it’s a citizen’s duty to vote and he wants his voice to be heard. “On reflection, that’s what I think I should have done better.”
Evidently dealing with a sacred cow, Chief Electoral Commissioner Joseph Church believes that every step in the digital transformation of elections in Malta “is a journey that includes difficult, yet not impossible, tasks”. A firm believer in the opportunities offered by the new technology to “improve the electoral process”, Mr Church, however, rules out a big bang approach. “I am conscious that any development has to take place within a mature debate with political parties. The dialogue among all stakeholders, addressing concerns and ideas in an open and transparent process, will help avoid contentions on the digital transformation of elections in Malta.” One might question the need to change Malta’s accepted voting system, which has served the county well for many years. The main reason motivating other countries to embark on an IT transformation of their electoral systems is improving turnout. However, it is very difficult to improve the turnout at a Maltese general election, as the lowest since Independence was 93 per cent.
United Kingdom: British expats considering lawsuit over missing postal votes after hundreds denied say in EU referendum | The Independent
The Electoral Commission has said it “appreciates the frustration” of hundreds or possibly thousands of expats who were unable to have their say on the UK’s membership of the European Union because of missing postal votes. Infuriated voters have reported more than 500 cases to The Independent where they registered but did not receive their papers in time for the historic referendum. Those affected live in dozens of countries across the globe, including Thailand, Australia, the US and across the channel in France. Some voters, many of whom said they backed Remain, have called for a re-run of the referendum over the “farce”. One man is investigating the possibility of a class action lawsuit with a London solicitors’ firm over the “denial of a fundamental right”.