The Voting News Weekly: The Voting News Weekly for March 13-19 2017

An Associated Press article reported on the plight of many election officials across the country that must scout eBay to find the obsolete zip drives and other computer accessories required to run their aging voting equipment. Quite apart from the serious security vulnerabilities inherent in using computers with deprecated software and equipment that is no longer maintained by the manufacturer, simply keeping sufficient units in working order has become a challenge in many counties. Many jurisdictions are still using equipment that was produced by vendors that are no longer in business (see Delaware and several jurisdictions in Pennsylvania and Virginia.)

Former Senators Carl Levin and John Warner provided some insight into the appropriate approach to congressional investigations of allegations of election meddling and collusion between the Russia and the Trump campaign. “Whether it is done by the Intelligence Committees, a joint or select committee, or some other congressionally created framework, a vital goal of any such investigation must be bipartisanship.”

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Roger Brodman dismissed a challenge to Arizona’s congressional and legislative district maps drawn by an independent commission in 2012. The U.S. Supreme Court has previously upheld the legality of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission itself and the legislative district maps

A group of technology experts, most of whom are members of Verified Voting’s Board of Advisors signed a letter urging Georgia’s Secretary of State Brian Kemp to abandon the use of electronic voting machines in upcoming special elections while the FBI reviews a suspected data breach. Last week we learned that the FBI was investigating an alleged data breach in Georgia at the Center for Election Systems at Kennesaw State University, which is responsible for ensuring the integrity of the voting systems and developing and implementing security procedures for the election management software installed in all county election offices and voting systems. Not surprisingly election officials, who have an election to run, rejected the technology experts’ calls to use paper ballots but the Secretary of State’s office has stated that they will be running the special elections “in house”, albeit still with the involvement of personnel from KSU.

Nevada Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson and Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford, both Las Vegas Democrats, have each introduced legislation that would ease the path for the restoration of voting rights to convicted felons who have completed their sentences. The Assembly bill would immediately restore the rights of ex-felons convicted of non-violent crimes after they serve their sentence or are discharged from parole or probation, regardless of whether that was honorably or dishonorably, while the Senate bill would restore rights either after completion of probation or parole or one year after their term, whichever comes first. It also decreases the wait time before they can ask the court to seal their records.

After a decade of delays in enforcing legislation requiring voter verified paper records of all votes in New Jersey, lawmakers have introduced a bill that would require new voting machines purchased or leased after its passage to produce a paper record. One of the Assembly bill’s co-sponsors is Assemblymen Reed Gusciora, who has been a vocal critic of the state’s Sequoia AVC Advantage direct recording electronic voting machines. In 2004 he filed a lawsuit in an attempt to force the state to upgrade to more secure systems. With Advantages now entering their third decade of operation, the time may have finally arrived for accurate and reliable voting equipment in New Jersey.

A three-judge panel ruled that the North Carolina General Assembly’s attempt to revamp the state elections board and ethics commission weeks before Democrat Roy Cooper was sworn in as the new governor violated the state Constitution. Adopted in a special session shortly after Cooper defeated Republican McCrory in the elections, the law altered a longstanding process that gave the governor the power to appoint three members from his party to preside over elections as well as two members from the other party. Instead, the two boards would be merged into one evenly divided between the political parties and between gubernatorial and legislative appointments.

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe vetoed a bill that would have required the state Department of Elections to provide local registrars with a list of voters who, according to data-matching systems, have been found to be registered in another state. McAuliffe said he believed the bill would have endangered the voting rights of some Virginians and increased the administrative burden on local governments.

French authorities are on high alert to head off a cyber-attack that could affect the result of the upcoming presidential election.
Prime targets could be candidates’ websites and government networks. Earlier this month the government decided to abandon plans to allow internet voting for French citizens overseas in June’s legislative elections. Guillaume Poupard, Anssi’s chief, publicly said that the current voting platform is “more reliable” than the previous 2012 election, but “the level of threat is much higher today”.

The surprising victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party in four out of five state polls earlier this month has renewed challenges to the accuracy of India’s electronic voting machines. And the Netherlands witnessed record turnout as voters dealt a blow to the populist party of Geert Wilders in elections in which all counting, tabulation and transmission of voters was done without the use of software.