On Election Day this November, about 1 in 4 Americans will vote using a device that never lets the voter see a copy of his or her vote on paper. The idea of relying on such machines has troubled some security experts for years. And this year the stakes may be even higher, because one candidate is charging that the election is rigged, and government officials have warned that state election systems have been targeted by foreign hackers with ties to Russia. Five states exclusively use voting machines that lack the kind of independent paper trail needed to do a convincing recount, according to a nonprofit, nonpartisan group called Verified Voting. Those states are New Jersey, Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana and South Carolina. “And then there are another nine states that have paperless voting machines in some jurisdictions,” says Pamela Smith, president of Verified Voting. In Pennsylvania, considered a battleground state, those machines are used in a majority of counties. “On a scale of all of the states, I would say that Pennsylvania would be my biggest concern,” says Smith.
National: Can you rig a U.S. presidential election? Experts say it’s basically impossible. | The Washington Post
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, behind in the polls, has started claiming that the election will be stolen from him because it is “rigged.” When Trump talks about the election being stolen from him, he seems to be referring to a range of issues, from voter fraud to the media being allied against him. He also said this week that he expects more than a million “deceased individuals” to vote against him. These claims have the potential to resonate with many Americans who already question the integrity of this country’s elections. A September Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 46 percent of registered voters believe that electoral fraud happens at least somewhat often. But stealing an election in this country isn’t easy. In fact, experts say it’s nearly impossible given how voting works. And documented instances of voter fraud are actually very rare. Wendy R. Weiser, director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, said the rate of fraud is smaller than the rate of Americans being struck by lightning.
National: Small-Donor Contributions Can’t Compete With Those Allowed by Citizens United | The Atlantic
Small-dollar donors have been celebrated in this election. Senator Bernie Sanders mounted a surprisingly competitive primary campaign fueled by their contributions and promoted his reliance on their dollars as a signature campaign issue. Donald Trump, too, has attracted legions of small-dollar contributors: Although major Republican donors appear divided over Trump, he has had more success with small donors than any prior Republican nominee, raising as much as $100 million from individuals giving less than $200 each. But with Sanders’ campaign having ended in defeat, and Trump’s nearing its conclusion, does 2016 really herald a new age of small-donor influence in politics? Pundits have argued that the possibility of using the internet to rely on millions of small donors means that campaign donation limits are irrelevant—that candidates’ ability to depend on readily available small-donor money means we don’t need to cap the biggest donations to restore balance to our political system. But a historical review of data describing all the money individuals have put into the campaign-finance system—whether to candidates, parties, or other political committees like super PACs—suggests this analysis is wrong. Despite growth in the number of small donors over time, the money they give has made up a smaller and smaller share of total individual contributions over the last two decades. The power of the internet is no match for the unlimited giving allowed by today’s lax campaign-finance rules.
The Democratic Party is directing millions of extra dollars to its House candidates this fall by way of a legal loophole that has helped them bypass the typical limits on coordinated spending between parties and candidates — all while linking some vulnerable Republicans to Donald Trump. Typically, Federal Election Commission regulations limit parties to just $48,100 of spending in direct coordination with most House candidates. But under a decade-old FEC precedent, candidates who word their TV ads a certain way — including references to generic “Democrats” and “Republicans” as well as specific candidates — can split the cost of those ads with their party, even if that means blowing past the normal coordinated spending caps. To date, more than a dozen Democratic challengers are benefiting from such “hybrid” advertising, getting extra hundreds of thousands of dollars apiece from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The technique has been a small but consistent part of Democratic strategy in recent years, but new legal guidance has also allowed Democrats to share costs on ads linking their opponents to Trump on policy.
National: Controversial Republican Mike Roman to run Donald Trump’s ‘election protection’ | The Guardian
Donald Trump’s “election protection” effort will be run by Mike Roman, a Republican operative best known for promoting a video of apparent voter intimidation by the New Black Panthers outside a polling place in 2008. Roman is to oversee poll-watching efforts as Trump undertakes an unprecedented effort by a major party nominee by calling into question the legitimacy of the popular vote weeks before election day. The Republican nominee has insisted, without evidence, that dead people and undocumented immigrants are voting in the United States. Trump has long claimed that the 2016 election is rigged but has amplified his claims of voter fraud in recent days. On Monday he tweeted: “Of course there is large scale voter fraud happening on and before election day. Why do Republican leaders deny what is going on? So naive!” In particular Trump claimed in an interview with Fox News that voter fraud was rampant in cities including Philadelphia, St Louis and Chicago after long warning vaguely about fraud in “certain communities”.
It may be too late for the Republican Party to save itself from the rolling disaster of Donald Trump, but the party’s top leaders still have the duty to speak out and help save the country from his reckless rhetoric. The most frightening example is Mr. Trump’s frenzied claim that the presidential election is being “rigged” against him — a claim he has ramped up as his chances of winning the presidency have gone down. Instead of disavowing this absurdity outright, Republican leaders sit by in spineless silence. Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, and Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, are the two most powerful Republicans in the country and should be willing to put the national interest above their own. Both know full well that there is no “rigging,” and yet between them they have managed one tepid response to Mr. Trump’s outrageous accusations: “Our democracy relies on confidence in election results,” Mr. Ryan’s spokeswoman said, “and the speaker is fully confident the states will carry out this election with integrity.” This is like standing back while an arsonist pours gasoline all over your house, then expressing confidence that the fire department will get there in time.
Editorials: Trump didn’t invent the ‘rigged election’ myth. Republicans did. | Elizabeth Warren/The Washington Post
Cratering in the polls, besieged by sexual assault allegations and drowning in his own disgusting rhetoric, Donald Trump has been reduced to hollering that November’s election is “rigged” against him. His proof? It looks like he’s going to lose. Senior Republican leaders are scrambling to distance themselves from this dangerous claim. But Trump’s argument didn’t spring from nowhere. It’s just one more symptom of a long-running effort by Republicans to delegitimize Democratic voters, appointees and leaders. For years, this disease has infected our politics. It cannot be cured until Republican leaders rethink their approach to modern politics. Anyone with children knows that whining about imaginary cheating is the last refuge of the sore loser. But GOP leaders have served up such a steady diet of stories about imaginary cheating that an Economist-YouGov poll shows that 45 percent of Republican voters believe voter fraud is a “very serious problem,” and 46 percent have little or no confidence that ballots will be counted accurately. They hold these views even though there is literally no evidence — none, zero, zip — that widespread voter fraud is a factor in modern American elections. A recent study looked at around a billion ballots cast in the United States from 2000 through 2014 and found only 31 instances of impersonation fraud at the polls. Republican leaders — and even Trump’s running mate — have tried to tiptoe out of the room when Trump makes ever-wilder claims of a rigged election. But as much as these Republicans would like everyone to believe that this is a Trump-only problem, it’s not.
Editorials: Trumped-Up Fears of ‘Rigged’ Elections – and How Responses Could Disenfranchise Voters | Richard Hasen/Wall Street Journal
Thanks to comments and tweets by Donald Trump and the apparent work of Russia, the news is full of allegations that next month’s vote will be stolen, “rigged,” or hacked. Most of this talk isunsubstantiated or greatly exaggerated. Here are four ways that the 2016 election won’t be stolen and one way that responses to exaggerated fears of electoral fraud could disenfranchise voters.
Flawed findings on non-citizen voting: Mr. Trump has pointed to a study arguing that non-citizen voting is a big problem and could have cost John McCain the state of North Carolina in the 2008 presidential election. Politifact rated Mr. Trump’s allegation of massive voter fraud a “pants on fire” claim, noting that this study “has been criticized by election experts for using an unreliable database of Internet respondents.” Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who has been given prosecutorial powers to go after this fraud, has found virtually none. The United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit concluded last month than only a “tiny fraction” of voters are non-citizens and that there is no evidence it is a serious problem.
Editorials: Don’t believe the hype. Foreign hackers will not choose the next president. | Thomas Hicks, Matthew Masterson and Christy McCormick/The Washington Post
Recent reports regarding the ability of foreign hackers to change the outcome of the U.S. presidential election are overstated. Foreign hackers will not pick our next president — Americans will. To be sure, malicious actors may be looking at the U.S. election system as a possible target. While headlines on this conversation may be new, election officials have been working to secure our voting systems for years. As threats emerge and evolve, those of us who work in elections are responding, adapting and constantly improving. Recently, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson commended this work and expressed confidence in the election process, saying: “It is diverse, subject to local control, and has many checks and balances built in.” At the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), we use research, voting system testing information, and reports from state and local officials about the performance of their systems to improve our certification of voting systems. We work with state and local officials across the country to identify and share best practices regarding cybersecurity, including information on testing systems, auditing the results and creating contingency plans. Election officials use this information to better prepare and secure their systems.
Voters at selected polling places in 25 Alabama counties will check in via an iPad-based system this November. The system is part of a pilot program backed by Alabama Secretary of state John Merrill, in which an electronic system replaces the paper printouts of voter rolls that poll workers use to check off qualified voters as they prepare to cast their ballots. It applies only to that part of the process, not the creation of the voter rolls or the actual voting. Voters still will cast their votes on the same machines they’ve been using. … John Bennett, deputy chief of staff for Merrill, said that each participating county will have enough of KNOWiNK’s Poll Pad setups to deploy them at a few polling places, meaning that even in those counties most voters may not see them. But for those who do use the affected polling places, things will work a little differently. Instead of going to a specific line based on the first letter of his or her last name, a voter will simply go to whichever line is shortest. If the voter presents a driver license, the system will be able to scan it; if they’re using a different form of approved ID, the poll worker will look up the voter by name.
Georgia: ACLU sues Georgia to re-open voter registration in coastal counties | Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Yet another group has filed suit against the state of Georgia demanding that voter registration be re-opened in counties where Hurricane Matthew forced evacuations and government closures. The American Civil Liberties Union filed the suit in federal court Monday. “The state’s failure to extend the voter registration deadline, despite the massive disruptions caused by Hurricane Matthew, means that thousands of Georgians will be prevented from participating in the November election. This is unethical and illegal,” Kathleen Burch, interim counsel for the ACLU of Georgia, said in a statement.
Indiana State Police are investigating irregularities in voter registration Tuesday after the secretary of state’s office reported suspicious changes in thousands of voter registration records and suggested the possibility of voter fraud. The investigation was prompted after Indiana voters contacted the Indiana secretary of state’s office to report that their date of birth or first name was incorrect on their voter registration forms. Officials do not believe the database was hacked. “These records were changed on paper forms, at the (Bureau of Motor Vehicles) and online. At this time, my office is not sure why these records were changed, but we have evaluated the Statewide Voter Registration System and have found no indication it has been compromised. We believe this may be a case of voter fraud and have turned our findings over to the state police, who are currently conducting an investigation into alleged voter fraud,” Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson said in a statement. Lawson’s office turned their findings over to the Indiana State Police late Monday.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has asked a federal court to set aside a default judgment against him for failing to file a timely response to a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a state law requiring prospective voters to prove they are U.S. citizens. A federal court clerk earlier this week entered Kobach as being in default in a case concerning the state’s proof-of-citizenship requirement because Kobach had failed to file documents with the court on time. In a motion filed Friday in U.S. District Court, Kobach asked the court to set aside the default judgment, saying he believed the court had suspended certain deadlines in the case. He also criticized his opponents for “trying to play a game of ‘gotcha’ litigation,” The Wichita Eagle reported. “They keep changing their complaint and forcing us to write a new answer,” he said.
Election officials across the country are pushing back against Donald Trump’s assertions that the presidential election may be rigged. Maine’s top election official says elections in Maine have too many safeguards to make that possible. Over the past few weeks, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has repeatedly said he’s concerned about the possibility of voter fraud in the presidential election. He repeated the assertion over the weekend in Bangor. “The election is being rigged,” said Trump on Saturday. But Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap, a Democrat, agrees with his Republican counterparts in other states like Iowa and Georgia who say that it would be incredibly difficult to rig an election. That’s because most states, including Maine, use paper ballots that are cast by individuals who have to identify themselves at their polling place and have their names checked off on the registration list.
New Hampshire: In a connected world, New Hampshire voting machines are isolated – by choice | Concord Monitor
With concerns being raised across the country about the possibility that hackers could interfere with electronic voting machines, it’s timely to note that in a world of smart devices, New Hampshire’s ballot-counting machines are deliberately dumb. Say what you will about rigged elections and the chance of election officials missing cases of voter fraud: When it comes to the mechanical end of the state’s voting system, it’s a tight process. Security cameras, thermostats and even some automobiles might interact online these days, but not the hundreds of ballot-counting machines stored in town halls across New Hampshire. “They cut the pins off, so you can’t put the modems back in, even if you wanted to,” said Ben Bynum, town clerk in Canterbury, as he showed the town’s single AccuVote machine, locked away in a vault until pre-election testing begins. The only way to change these machines is to insert a memory card programmed by LHS Associates in Salem, and you can’t do that unless you first cut off a metal tamper-proof seal. And if you don’t record the proper identification numbers in the proper place in the proper book with a the signature of a witness, that will raise suspicions from people like Bynum and Deputy Town Clerk Lisa Carlson.
State election officials said Tuesday they have seen no evidence of voter fraud and are not concerned the system is compromised despite unsubstantiated claims by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump that balloting in the U.S. is rigged. “I am a Republican, and I have 1,000 percent faith in the New Jersey election system,” Hunterdon County Clerk Mary Melfi said. Phyllis Pearl, the Camden County superintendent of elections for nearly 15 years, said she has “never had problems with voter fraud. As an election official, I take it personally. I’m here to maintain integrity of elections for voters and for all candidates regardless of party,” said Pearl, who was appointed by former Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine. The Associated Press reached out to officials in all 21 New Jersey counties. Ten officials responded and said they had seen no evidence of fraud.
Pennsylvania: ‘Rigged?’ Republican elected official circulates fake meme about online voting in Pennsylvania | BillyPenn
After weeks of Republican candidate Donald Trump warning that Pennsylvania’s — and the nation’s — election would be rigged, one Western Pennsylvania Republican official circulated an image claiming Pennsylvanians can vote online for Hillary Clinton. The official, according to a screenshot of a Facebook post, is Murrysville City Councilman Joshua Lorenz. Lorenz, a Republican, was most recently elected in 2015 and his term runs through 2019. He also works for the Meyer Unkovic Scott law firm in Pittsburgh and is the vice president of the Murrysville City Council. The image features an American flag with the phrase “You can vote at home comfortably online!” in big lettering. It then instructs voters to type “Hillary” with the hashtag #PresidentialElection to vote online on November 8. The bottom left corner features a similar but inaccurate logo resembling the Democrats’ election motto of “Change That Matters.” Big problem here: Pennsylvanians can’t vote online. For that matter, neither can voters in any state.
Texas: Worries of ‘rigged election’ shouldn’t change voting security in Texas polling places, officials say | Dallas Morning News
The Texas elections office isn’t calling for increases in voter security throughout the state, despite widespread concern over Donald Trump’s claims of a “rigged election.” Secretary of State spokeswoman Alicia Pearce said the office isn’t advising precincts to ramp up security past the usual protocol because Texas’ voting system doesn’t lend itself easily to organized voter fraud.
The Texas elections office isn’t calling for increases in voter security throughout the state, despite widespread concern over Donald Trump’s claims of a “rigged election.” Secretary of State spokeswoman Alicia Pearce said the office isn’t advising precincts to ramp up security past the usual protocol because Texas’ voting system doesn’t lend itself easily to organized voter fraud. “It is incredibly decentralized. That’s 254 entities across the state using a variety of voting equipment,” Pearce said. “That sort of decentralization coupled with our cross-checks would make predetermining election night results nearly impossible.” The Republican presidential nominee set off a flurry of anxiety among voters this week with his comments. His running mate, Mike Pence, explained that they were in reference to biased coverage, but Trump tweeted Sunday that he was also speaking about fraud in polling locations.
Virginia: System crashes on final day of Virginia voter registration prompt civil rights group to call for extension | Richmond Times-Dispatch
Virginia’s online voter registration was “completely unresponsive” at times on Monday, prompting a civil rights group to call for an extension of the state’s voter registration period to accommodate would-be voters who were locked out. Kristen Clarke, president of the executive director of the D.C.-based nonprofit Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said her group received “many calls” Monday through its voter protection program from people “desperately trying to register in advance of the deadline. We’re very concerned about the breakdown yesterday,” Clarke said in an interview this morning. She said her group intends to send a formal letter to state officials today requesting an extension. The letter asks the state for a three-day extension given the “extraordinary circumstances” and asks state officials to act today. Because the registration deadline is set in state law, Gov. Terry McAuliffe has limited power to order such an extension.
Washington: Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman calls Trump rigged-election claim ‘irresponsible’ | The Seattle Times
Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman is rejecting Donald Trump’s insistence the U.S. election has been “rigged,” calling the GOP nominee’s claims ludicrous and distressing. Wyman — the lone statewide elected Republican on the West Coast — said in an interview Monday “it’s irresponsible for a candidate to be casting doubt on the election process and just making these sweeping statements that the election is rigged already and that the outcome is predetermined.” Wyman said one of the strengths of the American elections system is its decentralization, with votes counted by some 9,000 county auditors and other elections administrators. “You would have to have a conspiracy of such grand scale that I think we would have much bigger problems than whether this election is rigged,” she said.Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman is rejecting Donald Trump’s insistence the U.S. election has been “rigged,” calling the GOP nominee’s claims ludicrous and distressing. Wyman — the lone statewide elected Republican on the West Coast — said in an interview Monday “it’s irresponsible for a candidate to be casting doubt on the election process and just making these sweeping statements that the election is rigged already and that the outcome is predetermined.” Wyman said one of the strengths of the American elections system is its decentralization, with votes counted by some 9,000 county auditors and other elections administrators. “You would have to have a conspiracy of such grand scale that I think we would have much bigger problems than whether this election is rigged,” she said.
Ecuador has confirmed that it has temporarily cut off internet access in its embassy in London to Julian Assange, the founder of the whistleblowing site WikiLeaks, over fears that he was using it to interfere in the US presidential election. The move followed the publication of leaked emails by WikiLeaks, including some from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) released just before the party’s convention in July, and more recently a cache of emails from the account of Hillary Clinton campaign adviser John Podesta. On Tuesday, officials released a statement saying that the government of Ecuador“respects the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of other states” and had cut off the internet access available to Assange because “in recent weeks, WikiLeaks has published a wealth of documents, impacting on the US election campaign”. The statement also reaffirmed the asylum granted to Assange and reiterated its intention “to safeguard his life and physical integrity until he reaches a safe place”.
Palau’s Congressional Reapportionment Commission is seeking a court ruling to delay this year’s general election scheduled for Nov. 1, stating that a postponement to Nov. 8 will guarantee absentee voters the opportunity to vote in the upcoming general election. Represented by their counsel Assistant Attorney General Allison Trout, the commission called for the postponement of the election through a motion filed Friday afternoon. The postponement, the motion stated, will give time for the election commission to send out absentee ballots and off-islands voters will be able to mail it back to Palau by election day. Disenfranchisement of overseas voters looms pending the appellate division’s ruling on the make-up of the 11- or 13- member Senate.
After more than 15 years of development, if the new law permits, Thailand’s Election Commission (EC) will introduce an e-voting system for the 2017 general election. They claim the system will make voting more convenient for citizens, speed up the tallying allowing results to be known immediately after the polls close, and reduce the cost of public elections in the long term. Unfortunately, due to a budget insufficient to purchase all the machines simultaneously, they will be available in only 100 polling stations where voters can choose to vote either manually or electronically. However, the e-voting benefits will likely be undermined by a pervasive lack of public trust. The EC has primarily promoted e-voting on their website, which sports a voting machine simulator which people can try online. To cast a vote electronically, after a manual identification process, a voter can indicate their choice by pushing a button. A paper receipt is then automatically printed out, which the voter may examine and verify before depositing it in a ballot box. This type of machine is most recommended for building people’s faith in the e-voting. This is because the voter can confirm that his vote was recorded as they intended. Receipts from a random sample of polling station can also be manually counted to verify the results of an election and even serve as backups if there are problems with the machine.