Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson, a Republican, is facing another lawsuit over the state’s process for removing voters from registration lists. Voting rights group Common Cause said the state’s policy violates federal voting law by immediately removing voters from rolls if they are suspected of having moved away. Federal election law requires election officials to wait two federal election cycles before removing voters who did not respond to confirmation notices.
What has happened to President Donald Trump’s Advisory Commission on Election Integrity? The president — convinced he actually won the popular vote in 2016 over Hillary Clinton — established the commission in May. Vice President Mike Pence is the chairman, but Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is widely considered the real leader of the group. The commission has all but disappeared publicly, and there are growing indications it will set a new standard for uselessness. The commission ran into immediate problems last summer when it asked for voter data from all 50 states. Several states denounced the request and refused to comply in whole or in part. Lawsuits followed. By mid-July, the Washington Post reported, at least seven plaintiffs had sued the commission, including the ACLU, the NAACP, and the Electronic Privacy Information Center. The cases are winding their way through the courts.
American politicians are often compared to children. They finger-point, they’re stubborn and, at times, they can be downright manipulative. According to Justin Levitt, a law professor and associate dean for research at Loyola Law School, this immature behavior comes out in full force when it comes to drawing boundaries for voting districts. Levitt has written extensively about crafting electoral lines on his website All About Redistricting. He says that even though unfair redistricting can make the difference between voices being heard and voices being drowned out, politicians will often create these boundaries to best suit their own needs. But sometimes, when drawing questionable lines, lawmakers can get their hands caught in the cookie jar.
Editorials: A draft US law to secure election computers that isn’t braindead | Iain Thomson/The Register
A law bill was introduced today to the US Senate designed to safeguard American elections from hacking by miscreants or manipulation by Russian or other foreign agents. The Securing America’s Voting Equipment (SAVE) Act [PDF] would designate elections systems as part of the US national critical infrastructure, task the Comptroller General of the United States with checking the integrity of voting machines, and sponsor a “Hack the election” competition to find flaws in voting machines. “Our democracy hinges on protecting Americans’ ability to fairly choose our own leaders. We must do everything we can to protect the security and integrity of our elections,” said cosponsor Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM). “The SAVE Act would ensure states are better equipped to develop solutions and respond to threats posed to election systems. Until we set up stronger protections of our election systems and take the necessary steps to prevent future foreign influence campaigns, our nation’s democratic institutions will remain vulnerable.”
Jefferson County Probate Judge Alan King said there were no crossover votes cast in the county during the Sept. 26 Republican runoff in the special election for the U.S. Senate. Last week, King had said he believed most of the 380 voters on a preliminary list of crossover voters did not vote that day. In an email today to Secretary of State John Merrill and other officials, King said an investigation by Board of Registrars Chairman Barry Stephenson determined all 380 were attributed to mistakes by poll workers and others. “As (of ) 5 PM last Friday (October 27, 2017) we had every error corrected and there are no ‘cross-over’ votes in Jefferson County,” King wrote (bold in original email).
Arizona: Maricopa County elections boss Adrian Fontes tells voter to ‘Go F- yourself’ | Arizona Republic
When a Goodyear voter complained on Facebook that his Nov. 7 ballot was confusing, Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes insulted him, attacked the voter’s mother and told him to “go F- yourself.” The social-media tirade comes as Fontes, the only Democrat to run Maricopa County elections in recorded history, is under a microscope. He beat a longtime GOP elections chief in 2016 with promises of better representation and communication with voters and has faced suspicion from Republican officials and voters. Tuesday’s local election is a litmus test for Fontes. Fontes responded angrily to the Goodyear voter, Nathan Schneider, who complained that the election date was hard for him and his mother to find on the mail-in ballot and ballot inserts, and was not printed on the envelope. “The public should not be forced to make assumptions when voting,” Schneider, a Democratic candidate for Arizona Legislature, posted on Facebook. “Adrian Fontes doesn’t listen to me, but if any of you have his ear, maybe you could ask him why they are not labeling the Election Day on the ballot and making it more legible, easier to find, and easier to identify.” Fontes responded by asking if Schneider’s mother ran his campaign and writing “go F- yourself.”
Georgia: Group calls for state to abandon voting system in next week’s election | Atlanta Journal Constitution
The executive director of a national election transparency advocacy group has written an open letter to Georgia lawmakers urging them not to use the state’s current voting system in next week’s election. Marilyn Marks, executive director with the Coalition for Good Governance, said that she believes the state’s voting system is compromised and election workers should instead begin using paper ballots in the Nov. 7 elections. The Charlotte-based group is suing the state to force it to overhaul its election technology. Marks’ letter comes a few days after it became public that a databank maintained by the Center for Elections Systems at Kennesaw State University was erased in July. “The disclosures of the last several days expose the fact that the voting system is compromised and cannot be relied on to produce accurate results,” Marks wrote in her letter.
A computer database system that Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach frequently touts as a tool to prevent voter fraud is now the subject of a federal lawsuit and a new academic study that says it is wrong most of the time. The system, known as Crosscheck, was developed in Kansas in 2005, five years before Kobach was elected. But its use by other states has grown rapidly under Kobach’s administration, and by 2016, 30 states were reported to be using it. The participating states share their voter registration information with the Crosscheck system, which uses each person’s first name, last name, date of birth, and last four digits of their Social Security number to look for potential duplicates. The idea is to identify duplicate registrations and prevent people from “double voting” — that is, casting ballots in more than one location. But a new study by researchers from Stanford University, the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard University, Yale Law School and Microsoft Research said Crosscheck’s protocols could result in potentially thousands of legitimate voters being wrongly purged from the voting rolls.
Louisiana: 6 words could determine the right to vote for over 70,000 Louisiana residents | The Times Picayune
The decision on whether more than 70,000 Louisiana residents who are on probation or parole should have voting rights will depend greatly on the interpretation of six words, according to legal briefs filed by both sides in an appeal of the case. Since 1974, the Louisiana constitution has said no one can vote “while under an order of imprisonment for conviction of a felony,” and the right to vote would be restored “upon termination of state and federal supervision.” It is the phrase “while under an order of imprisonment” that both sides argue is key in their case. The Advancement Project, a national civil rights and racial justice organization based in Washington, D.C., is representing the advocacy group Voice of the Ex-Offender, as well as individual plaintiffs, in an ongoing effort to repeal Louisiana’s current voting law, which does not grant felons on parole or probation the right to vote.
Your bank might want you to give up those paper statements sent in the mail in favor of an app on your smartphone, and your doctor might keep your medical records on a computer instead of in a manila folder. But New Mexico wants to keep your vote on a paper ballot, and a growing number of states are following suit, ditching paperless elections because of concerns about cybersecurity. Russian hackers, according to election officials, targeted voting systems in 21 states last year, but New Mexico was not among them. Government officials credit New Mexico’s reliance on paper ballots at least in part with making it less vulnerable to hackers and vote thieves. The New Mexico Legislature approved a law in 2006 requiring paper ballots for any election held under state law. All 33 counties in the state now use paper ballots. They are counted with electronic scanners, which create a paper trail that must be stored for nearly two years after most elections.
A panel of three judges would have ruled against Gov. Roy Cooper in one of his power struggles with state lawmakers, this one over control of elections boards. In a ruling released Tuesday, the judges said that if they had jurisdiction of the case they would have decided that lawmakers had not violated the state Constitution when they created an eight-member board – evenly divided between the major political parties – to preside over state election issues and ethics complaints. The case could determine whether Republicans will have leadership on elections boards at the state and county level during presidential election years when North Carolina voters also elect their governor. The findings from the three judges — L. Todd Burke of Forsyth County, Jesse Caldwell of Gaston County and Jeffrey Foster of Pitt County — put the case back before the state Supreme Court.
Editorials: North Carolina Republicans are worried about the man who might redraw our voting map. They should be. | News & Observer
N.C. Republicans don’t like the idea of using an outside expert to draw new legislative districts for our state. Federal judges, who say the current map relies too heavily on race, intend to assign that job to Stanford University law school professor Nathan Persily. An attorney for the GOP objected Monday in a court filing, according to the Associated Press. Republicans don’t necessarily have a problem with Persily’s credentials, which are many, or his map-drawing chops, which are considerable. They worry about what GOP lawyer Phil Strach called “possible bias.” They’re right about that, but maybe not for the reason they think. We looked at more than a dozen op-eds, interviews and projects that Persily has participated in during the last decade. He’s commented on court decisions involving North Carolina cases – as Strach notes in his filing – but Persily’s analysis of those cases wasn’t particularly controversial or partisan. Still, Republicans should be worried about the maps that Persily might draw – not because he’s biased against the GOP, but because he’s biased against voters being disenfrachised.
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted said he’s hoping the federal government comes forward with money to update Ohio’s voting machines but admits, “I don’t hold my breath in thinking that they are going to.” Husted said the Ohio legislature is looking at ways to share costs to update voting machines that date to the mid-2000s. A split of 80 percent cost for the state and 20 percent for the local governments is being considered for replacement of machines that the Ohio Association of Elections Officials has said could cost an estimated $200 million. Ohio and other states replaced their old punch card voting systems with electronic touch screen and optical scan machines in the wake of the “hanging chad” debacle in Florida during the deadlocked 2000 presidential election and additional problems in 2004, including long lines in Ohio. The federal Help America Vote Act in 2002 for the first time provided funding to help states buy voting equipment.
Texas: What Happened When One Texas County Tried To Build A Cheap, Open-Source Election System | Texas Public Radio
Travis County, home to Austin, has been working to build a better voting system – one that satisfies the need to maintain security and accessibility for voters. Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir, the chief election official, has been a part of developing the system, called STAR Vote, which would have replaced the current Hart InterCivic eSlate system that has been in use since 2001. That system cost roughly $7 million, and has seen several security augmentations over the years. DeBeauvoir was making considerable progress on STAR Vote until a few weeks ago, when it looked like the plan was starting to lose steam. The Austin Monitor headline read “STAR Vote collapses.” DeBeauvoir had worked with academics to develop the new system, but when it came time to seek bids to build it, DeBeauvoir says she didn’t receive any Requests for Proposal that filled the bill.
Kenya’s main opposition alliance said it won’t challenge the results that gave President Uhuru Kenyatta a landslide victory in last week’s disputed election rerun in court and instead vowed to mobilize its supporters to press for a another vote. “This election must not stand,” opposition leader Raila Odinga told reporters in Nairobi, the capital. “If allowed to stand, it will make a complete mockery of elections and might well be the end of the ballot as a means of instituting government in Kenya.” Musalia Mudavadi, a senior leader of Odinga’s four-party National Super Alliance, said that while private citizens may challenge the election in court, the coalition won’t take legal action against the vote. Kenyatta, 56, secured 98.3 percent of the vote in an Oct. 26 election that the Independent Electoral & Boundaries Commission said was free and fair, but was boycotted by Odinga, who described it as a sham. The electoral agency said the turnout dropped to 38.8 percent from 79 percent in the Aug. 8 contest, which the Supreme Court nullified after the electoral agency failed to disprove opposition claims of rigging.
Liberia’s Supreme Court has stayed next week’s presidential run-off election until it considers a challenge to first round results by a losing candidate who has alleged fraud. Third-place finisher Charles Brumskine’s Liberty Party challenged the results of last month’s vote, which set up a Nov. 7 run-off between former soccer star George Weah and Vice President Joseph Boakai. The election is meant to usher in Liberia’s first democratic transition since 1944 after long periods of military rule and a civil war that ended in 2003. In a writ issued late on Tuesday, the court instructed Liberty Party and the National Elections Commission to file briefs by Thursday at the latest. It was unclear if the court would rule before Nov. 7.
The Election Commission’s decision not to allow civil servants and security forces deployed in the elections to vote have raised serious concerns from various organisations of the civil servants have raised serious over their constitutional rights. In his writ, civil servant Bharat Kumar Mainali has demanded a mandamus order with certiorari from the apex court to ensure the voting rights of the civil servants regardless of their deployment for the proportional representation election system. Mainali has demanded that the SC annul any provision that bars the civil servants from voting and issue a mandamus order to ensure the voting rights by including their names in the temporary voting list of the Election Commission.
The dream of Nigerians in the diaspora to participate in the country’s electoral process may soon be realised, going by the words of the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu. He said the commission had written the National Assembly on the need to thinker with the enabling law, to allow Nigerians living outside the country to vote. Yakubu spoke yesterday with the Sudanese ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Ibrahim Mohammed, who was at INEC’s headquarters to deliver a letter of invitation to him. There are about 10 million Nigerians in Sudan under two categories- Sudanese of Nigeria origin and Nigeria migrants in Sudan.
A lawyer for prisoners seeking the vote has called leaked government plans to enfranchise some inmates a “cynical” attempt to do the minimum required. Sean Humber, a partner at Leigh Day, said the reported proposals were likely to affect just a few hundred people.
According to the Sunday Times, prisoners sentenced to less than a year and with the right to day release could be allowed to return home to vote. The Ministry of Justice declined to comment on “speculation”. Currently, prisoners are not eligible to be included in the register of electors, except for unconvicted prisoners on remand – those in custody pending trial – and those who were sent to prison for contempt of court or for not paying a fine.