This letter was sent to Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp on March 14, 2017. Download PDF On March 3rd it was reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigations is conducting a criminal investigation into an alleged cyber attack of the Kennesaw State University Center for Election Systems. According to the KSU Center for Election…
Lindsey Graham lacks the resources and access that the House and Senate Intelligence Committees have to investigate Russia’s meddling in the presidential election. But his Senate Judiciary subcommittee has something the intelligence panels don’t: a Republican chairman viewed not as a Donald Trump ally but as a fierce critic, who has no qualms with bucking party leaders to unravel the mystery of Russia’s interference in the election. Graham and his Democratic partner, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, will seize the spotlight Wednesday during a public hearing on Russia’s election interference, to be held by Graham’s Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, which has jurisdiction over the FBI.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said Tuesday that FBI Director James Comey promised to tell him Wednesday whether the FBI is investigating ties between Russia and the campaign of President Donald Trump. The Rhode Island Democrat said that Comey made the promise in a March 2 meeting with him and Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina. According to Whitehouse, Comey assured them he would confirm if an investigation exists “and the scope of their Russia/Trump investigation because he had not been able to at that point say that there was one.”
Prominent Republicans across the country are breathing a sigh of relief that President Donald Trump has so far not aggressively pursued his pledge for a “major investigation” into his allegations of widespread voter fraud that he claims robbed him the popular vote. Current and former GOP state party chairs and other officials said in interviews that the unverified allegation was at best a distraction and at worst a damaging statement that could erode confidence in elections. And even as Trump continues to make some outrageous claims — including that former President Barack Obama tapped his Trump Tower phones — he’s now directing much of his attention to replacing Obamacare and juicing up the job market.
Editorials: ‘Never Trump’ Republicans join call for select committee to investigate Russia and Trump | Josh Rogin/The Washington Post
Democrats in Congress have long argued that the ongoing intelligence committee investigations into Russia’s interference in the presidential election and the Trump campaign’s ties to the Kremlin are unlikely to get to the bottom of the issue. Now a group of “Never Trump” Republicans are planning to pressure GOP leaders to establish a bipartisan select committee to take over the inquiries and settle the matter once and for all. Stand Up Republic, a nonprofit organization led by former independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin and his running mate, Mindy Finn, is launching a public campaign aimed at building support among Republicans for consolidating the various congressional Russia-related investigations into one empowered and fully funded select committee. The organization’s ad, which goes live Tuesday with a six-figure television ad buy, makes the case that the Russia issue is too important not to investigate fully.
Voting Blogs: 15 States File Amicus Brief Seeking Clarification on NVRA, Non-Voting and List Maintenance | Election Academy
Fifteen states have filed an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief in the U.S. Supreme Court asking it to hear a case in order to clarify if and how states may use evidence of non-voting as a factor in removing voters from the rolls. The question stems from an Ohio case I wrote about last April. There, plaintiffs challenged the state’s “supplemental process” for list maintenance, which uses failure to vote over a two-year period as a trigger for mailings seeking confirmation that the voter still wishes to vote. The allegation is that the use of non-voting as a trigger violates the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), which expressly prohibits the removal of voters simply for failure to vote.
A Delaware lawmaker introduced a bill this week that would make it easier to vote by mail. Representative Earl Jaques (D -Glasgow) wants to remove language in the state constitution that requires voters show a valid excuse for obtaining an absentee ballot. And that’s going to be an uphill battle. Since its a constitution change, he needs approval from 2/3 of the General Assembly in two consecutive two-year sessions, which means he needs Republican votes. And that could be a tall order. Republicans blocked Jaques’ last attempt to do the same thing in 2015, saying it would increase voter fraud.
Seven former felons sued Florida Governor Rick Scott and other state officers on Monday seeking to have their voting rights restored, claiming their disenfranchisement in the state is unconstitutionally arbitrary. Florida is one of four states that strip all former felons of their voting rights. The class action lawsuit filed in the U.S. Northern District of Florida by the non-partisan Fair Elections Legal Network takes aim at the process by which they can seek to regain their voting rights. Measures adopted in 2011 by Scott and other Republican state leaders require ex-felons to wait for five to seven years after completing their sentences before they can apply to regain their vote. Fewer than 2,500 petitions for voting rights restoration have been approved since Scott took office in 2011, while the backlog of applications stands around 10,500, the lawsuit said.
Georgia: Experts push paper ballot trail after alleged breach of Georgia data | Atlanta Journal Constitution
A group of 20 computer scientists and security experts called on Georgia to overhaul its elections system and begin using a system with a paper audit trail, saying it would assure accuracy and public confidence following an alleged breach of confidential data that could affect millions of Georgia voter records. In a letter sent Tuesday to Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, the group acknowledged that the breach is now under federal investigation and that much is still unknown. But, it said, potential findings “could have dire security consequences for the integrity of the technology and all elections carried out in Georgia” depending on their severity. “While we understand that this investigation is ongoing and that it will take time for the full picture to emerge, we request that you be as forthcoming and transparent as possible regarding critical information about the breach and the investigation, as such leadership not only will be respected in Georgia but also emulated in other states where such a breach could occur,” the group said. Most members of the group are involved with the voting-accuracy organization Verified Voting.
Kansas’ “strictest in the nation” election law may have been written with the intent to discriminate against certain groups of voters and should be reviewed by the U.S. Department of Justice to ensure that it doesn’t violate federal law, a civil rights panel says in a report issued Tuesday. The report, written by the Kansas Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, says that the proof of citizenship and voter ID requirements imposed by a 2011 Kansas law “may impose a substantially higher burden than that which has been previously challenged in the U.S. Supreme Court.” Download the report from the Kansas Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
Gov. Brian Sandoval issued a statement Tuesday saying he may veto Initiative Petition 1, mandating DMV register voters when they get or renew a drivers’ license. The measure has now cleared both houses of the Nevada Legislature pretty much on party line votes and is on its way to his desk where staff says he will review the measure. “Nevada has a respected election system with a high percentage of registered voters and participant rate,” the statement says. “The state also recently reached an agreement that provides that it is in compliance with the Voting Rights Act.”
Texas lawmakers intentionally discriminated on the basis of race when they drew redistricting maps in 2011, according to a long-delayed federal ruling delivered last Friday night. That could eventually force the state to redraw the districts for the 36 members of its congressional delegation. Three districts of those districts are invalid, the judges found, and reworking them could have ripple effects for the districts around them. But that business about “intentional discrimination” could turn out to be much more significant: The courts could order the state to get federal government permission for any future changes to its voting and election laws.
Don’t believe Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton when he says it’s no big deal that a federal court ruled state legislators used racial gerrymandering to draw congressional districts back in 2011. He’s pulling your leg. Paxton is right that the Legislature replaced the 2011 voting map in 2013. He’s not quite right when he says there are “no lines to redraw,” because some of the problem districts have the same lines in both maps.
Wisconsin: Election officials setting stage to remove hundreds of thousands of names from the voting rolls | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Wisconsin election officials are setting the stage to remove hundreds of thousands of people from the voting rolls because they have died, moved or not voted in the past four years. The voters will be notified and will have a chance to keep themselves registered to vote. Wisconsin Elections Commission approved the plan Tuesday to send postcards to up to nearly 800,000 voters by June to tell them they will be removed from the voter rolls if they don’t update their information. Also Tuesday, the commission certified to the Legislature that it has put in place a new system allowing people to use an online portal to register to vote, provided they have a valid Wisconsin driver’s license or state ID card. The system is for registering only and voters still have to cast ballots at the polls, in clerks’ offices or by mail.
The French government has advised citizens living abroad that they won’t be able to vote electronically in the upcoming parliamentary elections due to fears of hacking. Over the course of the past week, French voters living abroad have been receiving emails from the French Foreign Ministry stating: “Due to the very high risk of cyber-attacks, the French authorities have decided, on the advice of the National Agency for Information Security, not to allow electronic voting for the parliamentary elections of June 2017.” No further information has been provided as to whether a specific risk has been identified and, IT Pro understands that even though the alert first went out on 6 March, not all those affected have been contacted so far. There are 1,611,054 French nationals living abroad, according to France’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development. … The upcoming French presidential elections, which begin on 23 April, aren’t affected, however, as electronic voting isn’t an option.
The Government will consider online voting as an option in the referendum granting voting rights for the Irish abroad, Minister for the Diaspora Joe McHugh has said. Mr McHugh told RTÉ that an options paper containing a range of suggestions will be published. “It will contain all the various permutations. Ultimately we hope to have a rational and informed debate to determine the best options.” The decision to hold a referendum, which was taken by the Cabinet last week and announced by Taoiseach Enda Kenny in the US on Sunday, builds on the findings of the convention on the constitution in 2013 which recommended that the constitution be amended to provide for citizens resident outside the State, including Northern Ireland, to have the right to vote at presidential elections.
An electronic voting machine (EVM) that lets a person vote from the nearest polling booth anywhere in the country for a candidate in his constituency is what the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing is working on at present.
The outgoing director general Rajat Moona said, “We have submitted a proposal to the ministry. No work has been done as yet, and no talks have been held with Election Commission either.” Moona, on how the machine may work, said, “We are still researching. Probably, if a voter goes to the nearest polling station, he can tell the presiding officer his state, district and constituency he wants to cast his vote in. The presiding officer will key in the information into the EVMs which may show the list of candidates and party symbols in the constituency registered in the voter’s name and he can cast his vote.” On allegations of EVM tampering, Moona said, “The machine has no antenna to receive or transmit messages. Every machine goes through three mock tests and is kept in high security vaults.”
Dutch voters cast ballots Wednesday at polling booths across the nation in parliamentary elections that are being closely watched as a possible indicator of the strength of far-right populism ahead of national votes in France and Germany later this year. Two-term Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s right-wing VVD party was leading in polls ahead of the Dutch vote, with the anti-Islam Party for Freedom of firebrand lawmaker Geert Wilders a close second. Wilders voted amid tight security and unprecedented media attention at a school in a modern neighborhood on the edge of The Hague early in the day.
Opposition political parties have added their voice to growing calls for the abandonment of biometric voter registration (BVR) amid concerns the system could be prone to manipulation by hostile nations and untenable due to the country’s low Internet penetration. Lawyers and academics were the first to raise the red flag over the implementation of BVR last week, saying electronic voting could create challenges that may be used to discredit the electoral process. Opposition parties share similar sentiments. Renewal Democrats of Zimbabwe (RDZ) leader Mr Elton Mangoma called for the abandonment of the process.