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National: Hackers have attempted more intrusions into voter databases, FBI director says | The Washington Post

Hackers have attempted more intrusions into voter registration databases since those reported this summer, the FBI director said Wednesday, and federal officials are urging state authorities to gird their systems against possible other attacks. Testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, FBI Director James B. Comey said that the bureau had detected scanning activities — essentially hackers scoping out a potential attack — as well as some actual attempted intrusions into voter registration databases. He said those attempts were beyond what had been made public in July and August, likely referring to hacking efforts in Illinois and Arizona, though he offered no other specifics. “We are urging the states just to make sure that their deadbolts are thrown and their locks are on, and to get the best information they can from” the Department of Homeland Security, he said. Read More

National: The Computer Voting Revolution Is Already Crappy, Buggy, and Obsolete | Bloomberg

Six days after Memphis voters went to the polls last October to elect a mayor and other city officials, a local computer programmer named Bennie Smith sat on his couch after work to catch up on e-mail. The vote had gone off about as well as elections usually do in Memphis, which means not well at all. The proceedings were full of the technical mishaps that have plagued Shelby County, where Memphis is the seat, since officials switched to electronic voting machines in 2006. Servers froze, and the results were hours late. But experts at the county election commission assured both candidates and voters that the problems were minor and the final tabulation wasn’t affected. …  Shelby County uses a GEMS tabulator—for Global Election Management System—which is a personal computer installed with Diebold software that sits in a windowless room in the county’s election headquarters. The tabulator is the brains of the system. It monitors the voting machines, sorts out which machines have delivered data and which haven’t, and tallies the results. As voting machines check in and their votes are included in the official count, each machine’s status turns green on the GEMS master panel. A red light means the upload has failed. At the end of Memphis’s election night in October 2015, there was no indication from the technician running Shelby County’s GEMS tabulator that any voting machine hadn’t checked in or that any votes had gone missing, according to election commission e-mails obtained by Bloomberg Businessweek. Yet as county technicians followed up on the evidence from Smith’s poll-tape photo, they discovered more votes that never made it into the election night count, all from precincts with large concentrations of black voters. Read More

National: U. S. appeals court leaves proof-of-citizenship voting requirement to federal panel | The Washington Post

A U.S. appeals court panel that barred Kansas, Alabama and Georgia from adding a proof-of-citizenship requirement to a federal voter registration form wrote Monday that federal law leaves it to a federal elections agency — not the states — to determine whether such a change is ­necessary. The 2-to-1 written opinion follows a Sept. 9 order from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. ­Circuit. The panel wrote that although the document requirement “unquestionably” hinders voter registration groups ahead of the November elections, there was “precious little” evidence of voter fraud by noncitizens, the problem the states said the measure is intended to fight. The Kansas secretary of state had told the court that “between 2003 and 2015 eighteen noncitizens had tried to or successfully registered to vote. Only one of them attempted to use the Federal Form,” the judges wrote. Read More

Alabama: Suit Accuses Alabama of Bias in Law That Bars Some Felons From Voting | The New York Times

Constance Todd, 70 years old and a diligent voter in elections local and national, did not know what to make of the letter she got from the local registrar this month. “You have been convicted of a felony involving moral turpitude,” it read, apparently referring to a conviction for a series of bad checks from 20 years ago, “which disqualifies you from voting under Amendment 579 of the Constitution of Alabama.” A puzzled Ms. Todd gathered the official documents she keeps on hand, including the photo ID she had been required to obtain for voting in Alabama, and called her son, Timothy Lanier. He knew exactly what this was about. He knew, from a similar letter he had received himself. He also knew from his long days at the prison library learning about state laws by poring over the State Constitution. And, as it just so happened, Mr. Lanier is one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed on Monday in federal court in Alabama, claiming that the state law stripping the vote from any person “convicted of a felony involving moral turpitude” — a law that has left more than 250,000 adults in the state ineligible to vote — is racially discriminatory, indefensibly vague and flagrantly unconstitutional. Read More

Georgia: Judge hears arguments in Georgia voter registration lawsuit | Atlanta Journal Constitution

Georgia has agreed to temporarily suspend a requirement that has prevented tens of thousands of residents from registering to vote as it works toward a possible settlement in a federal lawsuit that accused Secretary of State Brian Kemp of disenfranchising minorities ahead of the presidential election. As a result, thousands of voters whose applications have been rejected since Oct. 1, 2014, may be allowed to cast a ballot on Nov. 8. The state has also agreed to stop the automatic rejection of applications that don’t exactly match information in state and federal databases as part of the agreement, which was finalized late Monday. In a letter to U.S. District Judge William O’Kelley, the state Attorney General’s Office said Kemp was voluntarily taking the actions to avoid any unexpected emergency measures imposed by the court as the lawsuit moved forward. Read More

Kansas: Appeals court rules against Kobach in voting rights case | Associated Press

Thousands of prospective voters in Kansas who did not provide citizenship documents will be able to vote in the November election under a federal appeals court ruling late Friday that upheld a judge’s order. The decision from the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals affirms lower court’s May order forcing Kansas to register more than 20,000 voters, a number that is expected to swell to 50,000 by the time of the November elections. It noted that the preliminary injunction serves the public interest. The 10th Circuit ruled “no constitutional doubt arises” that federal law prohibits Kansas from requiring citizenship documents from people who register to vote at motor vehicle office. It added that its reasoning would be more fully explained in a forthcoming order. Read More

Maryland: Despite warnings from cyber-experts, Maryland moves forward with online voting | The Washington Post

Cybersecurity experts are warning that Maryland’s online absentee-ballot system is dangerously vulnerable to tampering and privacy invasions, both growing concerns in a year when hackers have breached the Democratic National Committee and attempted to access boards of elections in at least two states. The system allows voters who request an absentee ballot to receive the form by email and send back a printed hard copy, with their votes marked by hand or with a new online tool that allows users to mark the document with the click of a mouse or the touch of a keyboard, then print it for mail delivery. Until this year, in large part because of security concerns, the latter option was available only to people with disabilities. Critics say it is easy for impostors to use stolen credentials to request absentee ballots or for cyberthieves to hack in and retrieve data about who is requesting ballots or details of votes that were cast online. … A group of computer scientists and cybersecurity experts wrote to the board two days before its vote and urged it not to certify the system, saying the setup would “make Maryland one of the most vulnerable states in the U.S. for major election tampering.” Read More

North Carolina: Plaintiffs in voting rights case target early voting restrictions | Politico

A group of plaintiffs in a voting rights case that rocked North Carolina politics earlier this year filed a further court motion on Saturday to peel back remaining restrictions on early voting times and locations in five counties, a person with knowledge of the move told POLITICO. Filed in the battleground state’s Middle District, the motion seeks to build on wide-reaching victories won by voting rights activists — and cheered by Democrats — earlier this summer when the Fourth Circuit court ruled that the 2013 rules adopted by North Carolina’s Republican-heavy legislature purposely sought to limit the influence of African-American voters there. The suit is led by Marc Elias, the Washington attorney who — in addition to working on high-profile voting rights cases across the country — is Hillary Clinton’s campaign lawyer. Read More

Ohio: Judges’ decision upholding Ohio absentee-ballot rules is appealed | The Columbus Dispatch

The battle over voting rights in Ohio rages on with a new federal appeal challenging state laws enacted by the GOP-dominated legislature in 2014 and signed by Republican Gov. John Kasich. A group that includes the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless and Ohio Democratic Party wants the full 15-judge 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to consider a decision earlier this by month by a three-judge panel of the appellate court. The case “involves a question of exceptional importance that will impact the upcoming presidential election,” the group told the appeals court. The panel’s ruling also conflicts with other court rulings, including the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Bush v. Gore that settled the 2000 presidential election. The three-judge panel that largely left the GOP laws intact divided along party and racial lines, with two whites appointed by Republican presidents in the majority and a black picked by a Democrat issuing a withering dissent. Read More

Wisconsin: Judge orders DMV to investigate voter ID incident | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

A federal judge on Friday ordered the state to investigate an incident in which a voter received incorrect information on getting an ID from three Division of Motor Vehicle workers, saying the state may have violated an order he issued in July. U.S. District Judge James Peterson issued Friday’s ruling a day after the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and The Nation published articles about what happened to Zack Moore, who was told he couldn’t get an ID or temporary voting credentials because he did not have a birth certificate. “These reports, if true, demonstrate that the state is not in compliance with this court’s injunction order, which requires the state to ‘promptly issue a credential valid as a voting ID to any person who enters the IDPP or who has a petition pending,’ ” he wrote, referring to the ID petition process the state uses for those who have the most trouble getting IDs. Moore tried to get an ID on Sept. 22, the same day Attorney General Brad Schimel filed court documents claiming DMV staff were trained to ensure people would get IDs or temporary voting credentials within six days, even if they didn’t have a birth certificate. Read More