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Alabama: Democrats want to ditch new crossover voting law | AL.com

Some Democratic lawmakers want to repeal Alabama’s new crossover voting law, saying it created rather than solved a problem and its threat of felony-level penalties will discourage voter participation. “The right to vote is just so precious,” Sen. Hank Sanders of Selma said. “And we ought not to be doing things to limit it. And we certainly ought not to be doing things to end up trying to put people in jail.” The law was in force for the first time for the Sept. 26 Republican runoff between Roy Moore and Sen. Luther Strange in the special election for the U.S. Senate. The law prohibits voters who participate in one party’s primary from crossing over and voting in the other party’s runoff. So, voters in the Aug. 15 Democratic primary could not vote in the Republican runoff.

Full Article: Democrats want to ditch Alabama's new crossover voting law | AL.com.

Florida: Voting-rights effort finds a new venue in constitution commission | The Florida Times Union

The committee traveling the state on a mission to improve Florida’s constitution is hearing one message over and over. “Every place we’ve gone around the state, every single time we’ve had public comment, a full third have mentioned restoration of rights,” said Chris Smith, one of 37 members of the state Constitutional Revision Commission. Voting rights are revoked in Florida when a person is a convicted of a felony. It’s one of just three states with such a rule, the others being Iowa and Virginia. Florida has disenfranchised 1.5 million people because of felony convictions, according to the nonprofit Sentencing Project, which says that figure includes 21 percent — more than one in five — of the state’s African-Americans. Florida’s disenfranchisement rate is the highest among the 50 states, according to the organization, which said Florida is connected to more than a quarter of the people nationwide who have lost their right to vote.

Full Article: Voting-rights effort finds a new venue in constitution commission | Jacksonville News, Sports and Entertainment | jacksonville.com.

Georgia: Days after activists sued, Georgia’s election server was wiped clean | Ars Technica

A server and its backups, believed to be key to a pending federal lawsuit filed against Georgia election officials, was thoroughly deleted according to e-mails recently released under a public records request. Georgia previously came under heavy scrutiny after a researcher discovered significant problems with his home state’s voting system. A lawsuit soon followed in state court, asking the court to annul the results of the June 20 special election for Congress and to prevent Georgia’s existing computer-based voting system from being used again. The case, Curling v. Kemp, was filed in Fulton County Superior Court on July 3. As the Associated Press reported Thursday, the data was initially destroyed on July 7 by the Center for Elections Systems at Kennesaw State University, the entity tasked with running the Peach State’s elections. The new e-mails, which were sent by the Coalition for Good Governance to Ars, show that Chris Dehner, one of the Information Security staffers, e-mailed his boss, Stephen Gay, to say that the two backup servers had been “degaussed three times.” No one from Kennesaw State University, including Dehner or Gay, immediately responded to Ars’ request for comment as to who ordered the servers to be wiped and why it was done.

Full Article: Days after activists sued, Georgia’s election server was wiped clean | Ars Technica.

Georgia: Election server wiped days after lawsuit | The Hill

Days after activists filed a lawsuit over the security of Georgia’s election systems, the university housing the servers at the center of the case wiped them of all data. The servers had been in the possession of the Center for Elections Systems (CES) at Kennesaw State University, which had been contracted to maintain Georgia’s election systems. The state ended its relationship with Kennesaw State in July. According to emails retrieved by one of the plaintiffs in that case through an open records request and provided to The Hill, information technology (IT) staff first confirmed deleting files from the system on July 7 — four days after the suit was filed.  In March, the CES was notified by researcher Logan Lamb that a vulnerability in web security allowed attackers to read internal files not meant for public consumption. Those files included voter records which contained the date of birth and Social Security number of 5.7 million Georgians. They also included memos containing credentials to the state’s ExpressPoll brand electronic poll book.

Full Article: Georgia election server wiped days after lawsuit | TheHill.

Guam: Primary election bill sent back to committee | The Guam Daily

Bill 45-34, an act to remove the primary election from the Guam Code Annotated was sent back to committee during session yesterday. Speaker Benjamin Cruz ordered that the bill, also known as the “Election Reform Act of 2017,” be sent back after several issues were raised about the provisions of the bill. “With these issues, we may need to completely restudy the whole bill,” he said. Prior to the decision, lawmakers deliberated on a bill provision concerning the election of the public auditor following Sen. Joe San Agustin’s motion to amend the bill to remove the provision that refers to a runoff election.

Full Article: Primary election bill sent back to committee | Guam News | postguam.com.

Kansas: Residents get 2nd chance to dissolve small town | Associated Press

A tiny town in central Kansas is getting a second chance to vote itself out of existence after people in another community mistakenly cast ballots on the issue last year. Residents in Frederick will get another chance Nov. 7 to decide the town’s future. Robert Root, acting mayor by law, told the Hutchinson News that the eight people left in town have committed to voting for disincorporation. During the November 2016 election, 20 people cast ballots, but Frederick had only nine registered voters and only six of those voters went to the polls. The problem was that at the Eureka township voting precinct, election workers accidentally gave ineligible township residents ballots with Frederick’s incorporation question.

Full Article: Kansas residents get 2nd chance to dissolve small town | The Herald.

Michigan: State resisting challenge to ban on straight-party voting | Associated Press

The results of the 2016 election are being replayed in federal court as the state of Michigan defends a Republican-backed law that would abolish straight-party voting, an easy ballot option that’s especially popular in urban areas that go Democratic. The law was suspended last year by a judge who said an end to straight-party ballots could cause long lines and place a disproportionate burden on black voters. Now, after months of analysis by experts, that same judge must decide whether the lawsuit should go to trial or be dismissed in favor of the state. Straight-party voting is the act of making a single mark on a ballot to pick candidates of one party, from president to county commissioner. It’s been in practice for more than 100 years in Michigan and is widely held in urban areas; Detroit’s rate was 80 percent in 2016.

Full Article: Michigan resisting challenge to ban on straight-party voting | Myrtle Beach Sun News.

Texas: Some Texans will have a different way to vote — but only in the Nov. 7 election | Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Texans living in nursing homes will have a new way to vote in this November’s election. But then that method will go away. Texas lawmakers earlier this year passed a bill that requires, when five or more absentee ballots are requested by residents at facilities such as nursing homes, election judges for both parties to deliver the ballots — and oversee the voting on them — during the early voting period. “We post a notice of the day we are going to come,” said Stephen Vickers, Tarrant County’s elections administrator. “Then we have to send out a team of judges and ballots. They do the process there so they don’t have to mail it.” The goal of this law, House Bill 658, was to make sure no one influences these Texans’ votes. But election officials complained that this is a massive unfunded mandate.

Full Article: Some Texans will have a different way to vote — but only in the Nov. 7 election | Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Utah: Utah County makes changes to avoid vote-by-mail glitches faced in primary | Daily Herald

It’s no secret that Utah County faced some issues during its first foray into an all vote-by-mail election during the August primary, but the county is taking steps to make sure the general election goes more smoothly. The issues started when 60,000 ballots were sent to unaffiliated voters in the county, mistakenly containing the option to vote in the Republican primary for the 3rd Congressional District Race. Then final results were drawn out, with the fourth and final batch of election results being released more than a week after the primary election on Aug. 15.

Full Article: Utah County makes changes to avoid vote-by-mail glitches faced in primary | Local Elections | heraldextra.com.

Iceland: Centre-right parties lose majority | The Guardian

Iceland’s ruling centre-right parties have lost their majority after a tight election that could usher in only the second left-of-centre government in the country’s history as an independent nation. With all votes counted after the Nordic island’s second snap poll in a year, the conservative Independence party of the scandal-plagued outgoing prime minister, Bjarni Benediktsson, was on course to remain parliament’s largest. But it lost five of of its 21 seats in the 63-member Althing, potentially paving the way for its main opponent, the Left-Green Movement headed by Katrín Jakobsdóttir, to form a left-leaning coalition with three or more other parties. The make-up of the new government, however, remains uncertain since both left- and rightwing blocs have said they deserve a chance to try to form a coalition and Iceland’s president has yet to designate a party to begin talks.

Full Article: Iceland election: centre-right parties lose majority | World news | The Guardian.

Liberia: Ruling party backs challenge to presidential result | Reuters

Liberia’s ruling party, whose candidate finished runner-up in the first round of this month’s presidential election, said on Sunday it would back a legal challenge to the result, accusing President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of interfering in the vote. The extraordinary charge by Unity Party against Johnson Sirleaf, one of its own members, throws into question a second round run-off scheduled for Nov. 7 between its candidate Vice President Joseph Boakai and front-runner George Weah. Unity Party said in a statement that the Oct. 10 poll, meant to usher in Liberia’s first democratic transition of power since 1944, was “characterised by massive systematic irregularities and fraud”. The statement, read to reporters by Unity Party Chairman Wilmont Paye, said Johnson Sirleaf had acted inappropriately by meeting privately with elections magistrates before the vote.

Full Article: Liberia's ruling party backs challenge to presidential result.

Kenya: Violence Flares and Tensions Rise After Presidential Vote | The New York Times

Tensions were on the rise in western Kenya and parts of Nairobi amid confusion and discrepancies surrounding the country’s repeated presidential election this past week, with deadly violence breaking out in some areas. Shops were burned Friday night in Kawangware, a neighborhood in central Nairobi, and a civil society group reported that six people had been injured, including three with machete wounds. The neighborhood is a stronghold of the opposition leader Raila Odinga, who withdrew from the presidential race two weeks before the second vote. In western Kenya, where Mr. Odinga enjoys strong support, demonstrators clashed with the police. Six people were killed, 13 injured and 86 arrested in election-related unrest nationally, the police said late Friday.

Full Article: Violence Flares and Tensions Rise After Kenya Presidential Vote - The New York Times.

Macedonia: Opposition rejects results of municipal vote | Reuters

Macedonia’s main opposition leader cried foul over local election results after gains for the ruling party in a second round of polls on Sunday, and demanded a snap parliamentary vote. The ruling Social Democrats (SDSM) won in 40 municipalities out of a total 85 in the first round two weeks ago, including in the capital Skopje. Nineteen areas which were undecided on Oct. 16 voted again on Sunday, and the SDSM declared victory in 10. Final results were expected after midnight. Following the second round, the opposition VMRO-DPMNE’s leader Nikola Gruevski dismissed the results. “Because of the election violence, raping of democracy … threats, pressure, massive bribes, the VMRO-DPMNE does not recognize these elections and will never consider them fair and democratic,” Gruevski told reporters.

Full Article: Macedonia's opposition rejects results of municipal vote.

United Kingdom: Government reportedly planning to allow some prisoners to vote | The Guardian

The UK government is reportedly to scrap its blanket ban on prisoners being allowed to vote, 12 years after the European court of human rights ruled that it was unlawful. Britain has ignored a series of judgments by European courts since 2005, maintaining that it is a matter for parliament to decide. But the government is planning to end its long-running defiance by allowing prisoners serving a sentence of less than a year who are let out on day release to be allowed to go home to vote, according to the Sunday Times. The newspaper said the decision had been made by David Lidington, the justice secretary, who circulated plans to ministers last week. The paper said it would affect hundreds of prisoners and quoted a senior government source as saying: “This will only apply to a small number of people who remain on the electoral roll and are let out on day release. These are not murderers and rapists but prisoners who are serving less than a year who remain on the electoral roll. No one will be allowed to register to vote if they are still behind bars.”

Full Article: Government reportedly planning to allow some UK prisoners to vote | Society | The Guardian.

The Voting News Weekly: The Voting News Weekly for October 23-29 2017

The Associated Press reported that a computer server crucial to a lawsuit against Georgia election officials was quietly wiped clean by technicians at the Center for Elections Systems at Kennesaw State University, which runs the state’s election system. The erasure took place on July 7, just three days after the filing of a lawsuit questioning the security and accuracy of Georgia’s election infrastructure. Secretary of State Brian Kemp, the chief state election official in the state has denied ordering the erasure and blamed “the undeniable ineptitude” at the Kennesaw State elections center. For their part, a spokesman for Kennesaw attributed the server wiping to “standard operating procedure.” SavannahNow called the erasure an “outrageous security lapse” and Slate questioned whether the move was evidence of “incompetence or a cover-up.”

The impact on the ongoing lawsuit is unclear nor is it clear why Georgia officials decided to wipe the server, but, as Gizmodo noted, choosing to do so in the midst of a lawsuit doesn’t look great. Marilyn Marks, the executive director of the Coalition for Good Governance, which is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, told the AP, “I don’t think you could find a voting systems expert who would think the deletion of the server data was anything less than insidious and highly suspicious.”

State election officials from Rhode Island and Virginia urged members of Congress to send more resources to states to bolster the security of their election IT infrastructure. Both states have recently scrapped old, outdated voting technology in favor of more secure systems to ensure voter confidence in election results. Virginia recently decertified all direct recording electronic voting machines and Rhode Island, aready using a statewide paper ballot voting system, will conduct post election risk-limiting audits.

According to a deposition unsealed tis week, Kris Kobach, the vice chairman of the President’s fraud commission says he wants to change U.S. election law so states have an incentive to require proof of U.S. citizenship to register to vote. ACLU lawyer Orion Danjuma was quoted by AP saying “[t]o me, they really confirmed what we always suspected: that there is this ready-made plan to gut the core voting rights protections of federal law and Kobach has been lobbying Trump and his top team from day one to execute that scheme.”

The Maine Senate voted 19-10 to delay a citizen-backed law that called on the first state to adopt a ranked-choice voting system until December 2021. If a constitutional amendment hasn’t been passed by then to address legal concerns raised by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court about the law by then, it would be repealed.

In a direct response to the Green Party recount effort last year, the Michigan House Elections and Ethics Committee approved a bill that would require “aggrieved candidates” to show that they could have won the election if not for fraud or error.

In an optimistic headline, WHYY announced that New Jersey would be replacing their aging voting machines and indeed this may eventually be one of the results of hearings held this week on voting system security. New Jersey is one of just five states that exclusively uses paperless machines that record votes directly into computer memory without an independently verifiable paper trail.

After tackling partisan gerrymandering in October, the U.S. Supreme Court will take on the controversial issue of voter purges in a November case that could have major implications for the 2018 mid-term elections. Scheduled for oral argument on Nov. 8, Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute will determine whether failure to cast a ballot in recent elections, or “voter inactivity,” can lawfully trigger efforts to remove a person from the voter registration rolls.

The Czech Statistics Office says the web sites it used to publish results from a parliamentary election were hacked. The office made the announcement after two sites the office maintains with an outside provider were unavailable for some period of time. Needless to say spokesmen for the agency assured the public that “the attack did not in any way affect either the infrastructure used for the transmission of election results or the independent data processing.”

Kenyan opposition supporters clashed with police and threw up burning barricades on Thursday to challenge the legitimacy of an election rerun likely to return Uhuru Kenyatta as president of East Africa’s chief economic and political powerhouse. A boycott by supporters of opposition candidates led to low turnout that many are concerned will undermine the credibility of the election.

National: State officials press Congress for more election cyber resources | The Hill

State election officials on Tuesday urged members of Congress to send more resources to states to bolster the security of their election IT infrastructure. Officials from Rhode Island and Virginia made the plea to Democratic members of a task force focused on election cybersecurity that was formed in the wake of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. “States need additional funding and resources dedicated to the security of election systems,” Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea (D) told lawmakers at the public forum on Capitol Hill. “These funds are critically needed for the assessments, testing procedures and the strengthening of IT capacity. In many states, they also need funding for the hardware of voting systems themselves.” Gorbea urged Congress to play a “critical role” by both appropriating additional resources to states for election cybersecurity and exercising oversight of the federal government’s efforts to safeguard future elections. 

Full Article: State officials press Congress for more election cyber resources | TheHill.

National: Kobach transcript: Changes to US election law discussed | Associated Press

The vice chairman of President Donald Trump’s election fraud commission says he wants to change U.S. election law so states have an incentive to require proof of U.S. citizenship to register to vote, according to a deposition unsealed Thursday. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a leading advocate of tighter voting laws, gave the testimony in a deposition made public as part of a federal lawsuit filed by American Civil Liberties Union challenging a Kansas voter registration law that requires documents such as a birth certificate, U.S. passport or naturalization papers. The deposition in August is the result of an ACLU court filing after Kobach was photographed holding a document with the words on one page facing out as he entered a meeting with then President-elect Donald Trump to talk about immigration. The ACLU asked a court to force Kobach to release the document. A federal judge said there was a pattern of Kobach misleading the court in that suit, fined him $1,000 and ordered him to submit to questioning under oath by the ACLU about that document and a proposed draft amendment to the National Voter Registration Act.

Full Article: Kobach transcript: Changes to US election law discussed - The Washington Post.

Georgia: Incompetence or a Cover-Up? Georgia destroyed election data right after a lawsuit alleged the system was vulnerable. | Slate

On July 3, state voters and a good-government group filed a lawsuit alleging that Georgia officials ignored warnings that the state’s electoral system was extremely susceptible to hacking. On July 4, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s office was alerted about the lawsuit by the press and declined to comment. It received a copy of the suit on July 6. And on July 7, Georgia officials deleted the state’s election data, which would have likely been critical evidence in that lawsuit, the Associated Press reported Thursday. Two things could have happened here. Either it was an incredible act of incompetence on the part of Georgia’s election officials, or it was an attempted cover-up to try to hide from the public a major election security lapse. Lawmakers from both parties are calling for heads to roll.

Full Article: Georgia destroyed election data right after a lawsuit alleged the system was vulnerable..

Editorials: Georgia’s voting system – Outrageous security lapse | SavannahNow

The fact that the state university housing the servers that are at the center of a case over the security of Georgia’s election system wiped them clean of all data is both an outrage and extremely suspicious. If a pending state investigation into this breach at the Center for Elections System at Kennesaw State University shows that laws were broken, then Georgia Attorney General Christopher Carr shouldn’t hesitate to file charges. The sanctity of Georgia’s ballot box and its elections records must be protected. Our democracy is based on free and fair elections. The public must have confidence that the process is safe and secure. According to The Hill newspaper in Washington, the servers in question had been in the possession of the Center for Elections System, which runs Georgia’s election system on a contract basis. On July 3, a diverse group of election reform advocates filed suit, alleging that Georgia’s election system was flawed and could potentially be rigged. The plaintiffs want to scrap the state’s 15-year-old vote-management system, particularly its 27,000 AccuVote touchscreen voting screens, which are used in Chatham County and elsewhere, that don’t employ paper ballots or keep hardcopy proof of how voters voted. They allege these machines are hackable.

Full Article: Editorial: Georgia’s voting system - Outrageous security lapse | SavannahNow.

Maine: Legislature delays and potentially repeals ranked-choice voting | Portland Press Herald

A citizen-backed law that made Maine the first state to adopt a ranked-choice voting system will be delayed and possibly repealed following a series of contentious votes Monday in a special session of the Legislature. The Senate voted 19-10 to delay the law until December 2021 – and then repeal it if a constitutional amendment hasn’t been passed by then to address legal concerns raised by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. The House held six procedural votes, then finally agreed with the Senate on a 68-63 tally. The bill now will go to Republican Gov. Paul LePage. LePage will have 10 days to sign it, veto it or allow it to become law without his signature. The Republican long has argued that ranked-choice is unconstitutional and he is unlikely to veto the delay.

Full Article: Legislature delays and potentially repeals ranked-choice voting - Portland Press Herald.