With the Democratic National Committee cyberattack far more widespread than originally thought, fears of foreign power using cyber-espionage to influence this November’s election are growing, and real. It’s also prompted concern that hackers may shift focus to an even more vulnerable target: your vote. Voters in 43 states will cast their ballot for the next president using aging electronic voting machines, many now ten years old with dated software lacking proper security. Despite machine manufacturers’ repeated claims of their integrity, high-profile studies have shown hackers can alter vote tallies on these notoriously-penetrable machines within minutes. Tactics available to hackers are numerous and growing: A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack would disable voting machines or the back-end servers, preventing voters from participating in the election. Deleted voting records ahead of Election Day would expunge names from the registered voter rolls. And malware could be used to “steal” an election by tampering with voting machine hardware or software.
The days of hanging chads might be over, but new Election Day challenges have arisen to fill the void. Electronic voting machines, online voter registration portals and optical scanning devices place significant strain on data center operations. States, counties and cities must now ensure they have the infrastructure necessary to support these increasingly popular technologies — especially with the 2016 presidential election just over the horizon. But even though all states face the same Nov. 8 deadline for Election Day improvements, the varied adoption of voting innovations means no two states have the same infrastructure-upgrade needs.
Donald Trump has taken to saying it over and over again: that the November election is “going to be rigged,” that “crooked Hillary” and her scheming accomplices will somehow manage to steal a victory that should rightfully be his. He has said this in many ways, about the election nationwide and about the election in specific places. As he told his supporters at a recent rally in Altoona, “The only way we can lose . . . is if cheating goes on.” Only Trump himself can know whether he is saying this to pre-explain an anticipated defeat, to cast doubt on his opponent’s integrity, or simply to kick up a cloud that will further arouse the fears of the alienated Americans who have fueled his campaign all year. And he isn’t saying. But more than any of Trump’s other outlandish claims—more than any of his other inaccuracies and falsehoods—this one is dangerous. It’s dangerous because it undermines faith in the integrity of democracy itself.
The mainstream media have treated Donald Trump’s claim that the election will be rigged against him as a dangerous threat to the very legitimacy of the American election system. And they’ve warned that his call for poll “observers” to prevent people in “certain parts” of Pennsylvania from voting “five times” reeks of intimidation. They’re right on both counts. But at the same time, the corporate media, especially on television, have largely ignored the actual attempts to rig state and local elections across the country through laws that make it much harder for certain people to vote. Voter suppression—that Republican-generated roster of voting restrictions that disproportionately impact minorities, students, and other traditionally Democratic voters–comes in many guises. There are strict voter ID laws requiring hard-to-come-by documents; illegitimate purges of the voting rolls; hurdles to voter registration; cut backs on early voting days; reductions in polling places, often resulting in three- and four-hour lines. Courts have recently blocked or weakened restrictions in six states, but voter suppression in one form or another will likely affect hundreds of thousands of people in this, the first presidential election without the full protection of the Voting Rights Act, which was gutted by the Supreme Court in 2013.
California: Voting will never be quite the same in California if lawmakers pass reforms | Los Angeles Times
Sweeping legislation at the state Capitol would make the future of California elections dependent on a major expansion of absentee ballots, one that would give local officials the power to close thousands of neighborhood polling places. In their place, counties would open temporary elections offices known as “vote centers” sprinkled throughout communities, locations offering a wide variety of elections services including early voting and same-day voter registration as well as a limited number of in-person voting booths. “We’re trying to make it easier for people to participate, given the complexities of modern life,” said state Sen. Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica), the author of Senate Bill 450. The proposal was passed by the Assembly on Tuesday on a party-line vote. It now heads to the state Senate and faces an Aug. 31 deadline to make it to Gov. Jerry Brown for his ultimate signature or veto.
A former producer at NPR who lost his ability to walk and speak asked a judge Tuesday to restore his right to vote under a new California law that makes it easier for people with disabilities to keep that right and regain it if lost. David Rector, 66, handed a letter to a court clerk shortly after an advocacy group filed a complaint with the U.S. Justice Department asking that California be required to notify people who have been disqualified from voting about the law in time for the Nov. 8 election. “How are these folks supposed to know about the right to get their voting rights back unless somebody tells them?” Thomas Coleman, legal director of the Spectrum Group, said outside the federal building in downtown San Diego. “The state judiciary has been dragging its feet.” For years, California judges had stripped away the voting rights of people with some disabilities, including autism, Down syndrome and cerebral palsy, “almost as a matter of routine,” Coleman said.
Missouri: St. Louis judge waits to make ruling on vote fraud case until state certifies election results | St. Louis Post-Dispatch
A judge will wait to rule on a vote fraud case involving absentee ballots for the state representative race in the 78th District until results are officially certified from the Secretary of State’s office. Circuit Judge Julian L. Bush on Monday could have dismissed the case filed by Bruce Franks, who lost in the Aug. 2 Democratic primary to incumbent Penny Hubbard. Instead, Bush issued a stay, keeping the case alive. It’s basically a procedural move preventing Dave Roland, the attorney for Franks, from having to refile his official challenge to the election results. He is claiming that a high number of improper absentee ballots tilted the election in Hubbard’s favor.
Individual orders have gone out re-restoring voting rights for some 13,000 former felons in Virginia, Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced Monday. Included with each mailing: A voter registration form. This first round of new restorations covered most of the people who, following McAuliffe’s mass restoration order in April, registered to vote in Virginia. A few of those cases remained under review as of Monday, the administration said. The state Supreme Court nullified McAuliffe’s April order a month ago, agreeing with GOP legislative leaders who had sued the governor over an unconstitutional exercise of his restoration powers. Only individual orders are valid, the court said.
Wisconsin: Ethics Commission members can make political donations to those they regulate | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Wisconsin’s newly created commission charged with overseeing the state’s ethics, lobbying and campaign finance laws voted Tuesday to allow its six partisan appointees to continue making donations to the very candidates they are regulating, rejecting a proposal to ban such giving. State law allows members of the Ethics Commission to give to partisan candidates, and the three Democrats and three Republicans on the panel have donated in the past. Two commissioners who wanted a ban on such donations said continuing to give money would look bad. They were outvoted, 4-2, by commissioners who said their votes would not be swayed based on political donations they’ve made. “I don’t want to be limited in giving contributions,” said Milwaukee attorney David Halbrooks, a Democrat. “I don’t think it will ever affect my analysis.”
The Electoral Commission (EC) has said Ghana is not ready for an electronic voting system despite technological advancement in the 21st Century. The Chairperson of the commission, Charlotte Osei, said they arrived at the conclusion based on recommendations from the Special Reform Committee tasked to investigate the possibility of the system. Ghana has since 1992 improved on its electoral processes. In 2012, the EC for the first time adopted biometric registration and verification in capturing voters’ information to enhance the processes.
The last time Vladimir Putin’s political party won national elections, ballot-stuffing allegations sparked the biggest protests of his rule. Five years on, Putin appears to be so confident in his hold on power that even his most dogged adversary is welcome to challenge United Russia in next month’s parliamentary polls — Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the London-based former oil billionaire who was charged with murder in absentia in December. Khodorkovsky, who spent a decade in prison, is back doing what he says got him jailed in the first place: supporting Putin’s opponents. All but one of the 19 candidates he’s grooming have been accepted by authorities overseeing the vote. Since being freed in 2013, Khodorkovsky has vowed to use what’s left of his fortune to hasten the end of the Putin era, though he admits the Kremlin’s grip on the electoral process is so strong it has nothing to fear, for now.
Seychelles: Electoral Commission strikes registration of two political parties following court order | Seychelles News Agency
The Seychelles Electoral Commission has announced its decision to strike the names of two political parties from the official registrar in accordance with a Supreme Court ruling delivered earlier on Tuesday. Supreme Court Judge Durai Karunakaran had given the Electoral Commission 24 hours to comply with a court order upholding a previous ruling prohibiting the registration of Linyon Sanzman and Lafors Sosyal Demokratik (LSD) as political parties. The decision comes barely two weeks before parliamentary elections set for September 8 to 10 on the island nation. Tuesday’s ruling mean only three parties – Parti Lepep, the Seychelles Patriotic Movement and Linyon Demokratik Seselwa, along with three independent candidates — will stand in the upcoming polls.