Calls for paper-based voting to replace computer-based systems at the DEF CON hacker conference have intensified in the wake of a wave of voting machine hacks earlier this month. … “It’s undeniably true that systems that depend on software running in a touchscreen voting machine can’t be relied on,” Voting Village organizer Matt Blaze said in a Facebook Live feed hosted by US congressmen Will Hurd (R-Texas) and James Langevin (D-R.I.), in the aftermath of the DEF CON hacks. “We need to switch to systems that don’t depend on software,” said Blaze, a renowned security expert who is a computer science professor at the University of Pennsylvania. Blaze recommends OCR-based systems using paper ballots that provide an audit trail for counting and confirming votes. … “We know that computers can be hacked. What surprised me is that they did it so quickly” with the voting machines at DEF CON, says computer scientist Barbara Simons, president of Verified Voting. “One of the things that 2016 made quite clear is that we have very vulnerable voting systems and we don’t do a good job” of protecting them, Simons says. “So we exposed ourselves, and we haven’t taken the necessary steps to protect ourselves.”
he designation of the nation’s election systems as critical infrastructure will not infringe upon state and local authority to run elections. In a recent memo to Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Members, Ranking Member Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., relayed communications from the Department of Homeland Security that reiterated that fact. “This designation does not allow for technical access by the Federal Government into the systems and assets of election infrastructure, without voluntary legal agreements made with the owners and operators of these systems,” DHS told McCaskill, also confirming that there is no intention to change that critical infrastructure designation. “This dynamic is consistent with engagements between the Federal Government and other previously established critical infrastructure sectors and subsectors.”
Defcon is the annual hacker conference in Vegas and the buzz this year centered around the Voting Machine Hacking Village. A dozen electronic voting machines, like you might see at your local polling place, were set up along the walls of a conference room. In the center were tables where hackers took some machines apart. … In fact, until 2015, hacking voting machines — even to do research — was against the law unless you got a special waiver, said Matt Blaze, a computer science professor at the University of Pennsylvania. “So far, only a few dozen people who are computer scientists thinking about this have been able to get access to these machines,” Blaze said. Blaze helped set up the voting village at Defcon. A decade ago he obtained a waiver to study electronic voting machines in California and Ohio. “And my team of graduate students and I were able to very quickly discover a number of really serious and exploitable problems with those systems,” he said.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has suggested that it might be the most important case of the upcoming term. On October 3, the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in Gill v. Whitford, a challenge to the redistricting plan passed by Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled legislature in 2011. A federal court struck down the plan last year, concluding that it violated the Constitution because it was the product of partisan gerrymandering – that is, the practice of purposely drawing district lines to favor one party and put another at a disadvantage. The challengers argue that the redistricting plan would allow Republicans to cement control of the state’s legislature for years to come, even if popular support for the party wanes; the lower court’s decision, they contend, merely corrected “a serious democratic malfunction that would otherwise have gone unremedied.” By contrast, the state of Wisconsin counters that if the lower court’s decision is allowed to stand, it will open the door to “unprecedented intervention in the American political process.”
Editorials: Voter Suppression in the Mirror and Looking Forward | Miles Rapoport/The American Prospect
question—one of the many—hanging over the 2016 election is the impact of state laws and administrative techniques designed to make it more difficult for people to vote. How were people affected, and to what degree did these practices alter the election’s outcome? And what is going to happen in 2018, as a national administration committed to depressing the right to vote works with state allies? Next year is an off-year election when factors influencing turnout, even marginally, could be crucial. Conversely, what forms of resistance are already occurring, and how effective will they be in protecting and expanding the franchise? In 2016, other factors affecting turnout included the Russian hacking, the Comey interventions, the enthusiasm gap among Obama voters, the lack of a clear economic message and other missteps of the Clinton campaign itself—the list goes on. So it isn’t surprising that attempts to quantify the impact of voter suppression have been complicated.
On Feb. 22, Laura Sue Cates registered to vote in Sullivan County, Tennessee. Previously, she had been registered to vote in Arizona’s Coconino County, so the Sullivan County Election Commission sent Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan a formal notice to ensure that Cates’ voter registration would be removed from Arizona’s rolls. Every day, the thousands of voting jurisdictions in the U.S. share information about current voter registrations to guard against people being registered in multiple places. The Arizona secretary of state receives hundreds each week and forwards them to the appropriate county recorder, as voter rolls in Arizona are maintained at the county level. A sample of a week’s worth of these notices, received between March 1 and March 7, obtained under the state’s public records law, shows 240 voters were identified by out-of-state voting jurisdictions.
In a quiet corner of the Pulaski County Courthouse, a desktop computer and a camera meant to provide voter IDs sat unused last week. A special election for a tax increase in North Little Rock has been one of the first tests of the state’s new voter identification law. The law requires voters to either show photo IDs or sign documents to confirm their identities. Election day is Tuesday. Early voting ends today. At the close of business Friday, 1,086 people had cast early votes in the election at one of two locations, including the Pulaski County Regional Building in Little Rock across the street from the courthouse. During early voting from last Tuesday through midafternoon Friday, eight were unable to show a photo identification, but their provisional ballots will be counted because they signed forms affirming their identities, said Bryan Poe, director of elections for the Pulaski County Election Commission.
Denver, Colorado, has spent the last eight years modernizing its elections, offering a model for how a city and county successfully maintains voter rolls. The city began taking steps in 2009 to make it easier for voters to cast ballots, officials to count them, and administrators to maintain accurate, clean voter rolls. In the process, they’ve increased voter turnout and saved taxpayers money. In the 2016 general election, turnout was at 72 percent — up six points from the city’s 2008’s turnout, and ten points higher than the national average in 2016, according to the city’s data. The effort has driven election costs down, from $6.51 per voter to $4.15 per voter.
A federal judge could soon make a national example out of Broward County’s elections office. Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes has been on trial, defending her office against claims it isn’t doing enough to remove ineligible voters from the county’s voter rolls, a practice that could lead to voter fraud. Snipes asserts that she’s making a reasonable effort to keep the lists up to date and is doing everything the law requires. The county’s elections office is one of more than 140 nationwide that have been accused of having more registered voters than eligible voting-age residents. Several organizations have threatened lawsuits if the counties don’t get more aggressive at removing ineligible voters from their lists. The Broward case is the first to go to trial, and it’s seen as a possible precedent for others.
The Seventh Circuit on Friday found no evidence that allowing same-day voter registration in large Illinois counties discriminates against voters in small counties, and vacated a preliminary injunction won by a Republican congressional candidate. Republican Illinois congressional candidate and Tea Party leader Patrick Harlan sued the Illinois State Board of Elections in 2016, claiming a state law guaranteeing same-day registration for high-population counties only benefits urban Democrats. Illinois requires counties with a population of over 100,000 allow citizens to register when voting, but smaller counties don’t have to – and none do because of the cost and logistics involved. Only 20 Illinois counties out of 102 allow same-day registration, but these counties account for 84 percent of the state’s population.
Maryland: Amid immigration battles, College Park considers giving noncitizens voting rights | Baltimore Sun
Officials in College Park are weighing a plan that would make their city the largest in Maryland to give undocumented immigrants a right to vote in local elections, a long-standing practice elsewhere in the state that has drawn new scrutiny amid the simmering national debate over immigration. The Prince George’s County city, home of the flagship University of Maryland campus and some 30,000 residents, is considering a measure to let noncitizens cast ballots for mayor and City Council — making it the latest target in a movement that has had more success in Maryland than anywhere else in the United States. College Park officials are debating the charter amendment after a divisive national election in which immigration played a prominent part. Many left-leaning cities, including Baltimore, are now at odds with President Donald J. Trump’s initial efforts to fulfill a campaign promise to crack down on immigration violations.
Secretary of State Corey Stapleton’s allegations of voter fraud in Montana has widened a rift with elections officers across the state, some of whom want the elections chief to dial back his rhetoric. As they prepare to meet for their annual convention Tuesday, elections officials are hoping to rebuild relations with Stapleton, whose combative style has left some put off. “We are hoping for better communications with the secretary of state, and I’m hopeful that will happen in the near future,” said Regina Plettenberg, the election administrator from Ravalli County and president of the Montana Association of Clerk & Recorders and Election Administrators. Tensions have been building for months amid turmoil within Stapleton’s administration. Stapleton has been without a communications director since May. Two weeks ago, Stapleton’s director of elections and voter services, Derek Oestreicher, abruptly departed after a falling out that neither side wants to discuss publicly. And on Monday, a former deputy chief of staff, Stephanie Hess, began working for the state Auditor’s office.
New Hampshire: ACLU, state come to terms on release of voter data to Trump fraud commission | Union Leader
The Secretary of State will proceed with the release of information from voter checklists to a presidential commission on election fraud, now that a lawsuit filed by two New Hampshire lawmakers and the ACLU to stop the release has been resolved. The resolution was announced in a Nashua courtroom just as a hearing was about to get under way Monday on a request for an injunction to stop Secretary of State Bill Gardner from providing the information to the election commission. The case came down to interpretation of language within the same state statute (RSA 654), which in one part states “the information contained on the checklist of a town or city … is public information subject to (the Right to Know law),” but in another section regarding the statewide database maintained by the Secretary of State, says “The voter database shall be private and confidential and shall not be subject to (the Right to Know law).”
Texas: Election Systems & Software Comments On Hart InterCivic Suing Texas Secretary Of State | ES&S
Election Systems & Software (ES&S) comments on Hart InterCivic’s suit against the Texas Secretary of State over allegations that the Secretary is exceeding his power by allowing the use of voting systems that produce a voter-verifiable paper record. The recently filed Hart lawsuit is a simple publicity stunt meant to give credibility to a frivolous position unsupported by law in order to eliminate state-of-the-art election technology from the marketplace. Hart claims that paper-based voter verifiable voting systems are unacceptable under section 121.003(12) of the Texas Election Code. They further argue that by authorizing the use of these paper based voting systems, the Secretary of State, who is the Chief Elections Officer in the State of Texas, would be engaging in unauthorized, illegal, and unconstitutional conduct. The Hart lawsuit was initiated in response to a request made by a Texas State Representative to the Texas Attorney General that touch screen devices which produce a voter verifiable paper record be allowed to qualify under section 121.003(12) and be eligible for use in the Texas countywide polling place program.
The Angolan electoral commission has received the August 23 election materials from the Spanish company contracted to produce them. The Spanish company INDRA airlifted about 690 tonnes of election materials to the capital Luanda on Saturday and presented them to the head of the National Electoral Commission (CNE) André da Silva Neto, the Angola news agency reported. The materials include electoral rolls, ballot papers, computer equipment, tablets, bead printers, solar panels, fingerprint readers, ballot cabins and ballot boxes, vests, tents, and indelible ink among others.
Candidates and political analysts are criticizing the Electoral Affairs Commission for the Legislative Assembly Election (CAEAL), for creating confusion between the definitions of “propaganda activities” and the rights of candidates to inform the public of their agenda – another controversy in addition to the short amount of time given to candidates to promote themselves. A total of 25 teams, with an aggregate of 192 candidates, will contest the direct election for the Legislative Assembly (AL) on September 17. Six teams, with a total of 15 candidates will contest the indirect election. On August 1, the commission issued its second election guideline in a bid to regulate campaign promotional activities. However several candidates and political analysts expressed their belief that it is absurd for the commission to issue such guidelines.
The large non-resident Indian community in the US has welcomed the recent decision of the Union Cabinet to extend proxy voting to overseas Indians. “We welcome this move,” Thomas Abraham, chairman of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) said. Still an Indian citizen, despite having obtained a green card for more than four decades now, Mr Abraham said the decision of the Indian government in this regard is a dream come true for people like him and many others. The Election Commission of India (EC) estimates that there are about 16 million Indian citizens living outside of which about 70 per cent are eligible to vote. While the significant portion of them are in the Middle east, in the US the estimate range from 800,000 to 1.5 million. An overwhelming majority of them are young, either university students or those on H-1B visas.
Last week at the Def Con Hacking Conference in Las Vegas chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov discussed artificial intelligence and cybersecurity, electronic voting machines were hacked into, and the US army taught hacking skills to children. Plus a group called the Online Privacy Foundation unveiled research on whether ‘dark ads’ on social media can sway political opinion. Targeting voters through social media, and customising the messaging based on publicly available data is a recipe for underhand political advertising. It allows for messaging that’s not fit for a party political broadcast to be targeted to an audience in swing areas. For example, in the recent UK election, Conservative attack ads warning voters against ‘Corbyn’s death tax’ were served to voters in the marginal constituency of Delyn in Wales.
Kenyans on Tuesday voted in large numbers an election that pits President Uhuru Kenyatta against challenger Raila Odinga in this East African economic hub known for its relative, long-term stability as well as the ethnic allegiances that shadow its democracy. Voters formed long lines at many polling stations before dawn, waiting for the chance to cast ballots in the tightly contested race for the presidency as well as for more than 1,800 elected positions, including governors, legislative representatives and county officials. A key concern was whether Kenya would echo its 2013 election, a mostly peaceful affair despite opposition allegations of vote-tampering, or the 2007 election, which led to violence fueled by ethnic divisions that killed more than 1,000 people.
An estimated 180,000 police officers and members of the security forces have been deployed across Kenya as the country prepares to vote on Tuesday in a fiercely contested presidential election. Voters will either return the incumbent, Uhuru Kenyatta, in power since 2013, or elect the veteran opposition politician Raila Odinga. Recent opinion polls have not…