The Voting News Weekly: The Voting News Weekly for October 30 – November 5 2017

Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) introduced a multifaceted election cybersecurity bill that includes a bug bounty program for systems manufacturers and a grant program for states to upgrade technology. The Securing America’s Voting Equipment (SAVE) Act 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.

Executives from Facebook, Google and Twitter appeared on Capitol Hill to publicly acknowledge their role in Russia’s influence on the presidential campaign, but offered little more than promises to do better. Senators from both parties took tech company officials to task in a hearing Wednesday for failing to better identify, defuse and investigate Russia’s campaign to manipulate American voters over social media during the 2016 presidential campaign. Guardian columnist Natalie Nougayrède considered the impact of cyber interference on elections around the world.

Georgia’s attorney general announced that his office will not defend Secretary of State Brian Kemp against claims it knowingly used antiquated voting technology in recent elections despite knowing it was vulnerable to being hacked. In a move criticized by some Democrats, the law firm of former Gov. Roy Barnes’ as been engaged represent the state in a lawsuit that a national election transparency advocacy group filed to force the state to overhaul its election system. The Charlotte-based Coalition for Good Governance, led by Executive Director Marilyn Marks, has said that reported security lapses show the state’s system is “vulnerable and unreliable” and should not have been used for the 6th Congressional District runoff race in June — nor should it be used in next week’s election.

Common Cause is suing Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson, accusing her office of allowing voters to be illegally purged from the state’s voting roles. The lawsuit sees to end to what it calls “discriminatory and illegal” practices the Republican secretary of state’s office adopted in the wake of a new state law that went into effect last summer.

Crosscheck, 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 database compares voter lists between participating states in order to find people who are registered in multiple states and could try to vote twice. But the program has been found to generate thousands of false positives—flagging legitimately registered voters and threatening to remove them from the rolls. The false positives have also been used as proof of voter fraud. 

Maine’s Gov. LePage, an opponent of ranked-choice voting, announced that he will neither sign nor veto a bill delaying the state’s switch to a the new system until 2021. LePage’s decision to hold onto the bill for the full 10 days allowed under Maine’s Constitution could hamper supporters of ranked-choice voting from gathering signatures on Election Day for a “people’s veto” to implement the process without delay.

North Carolina Republican legislative leaders objected to a plan by federal judges to use Stanford professor Nathaniel Persilly to help them examine and possibly redraw General Assembly district lines, arguing that it’s premature to hire one and questioning the expert’s impartiality. The judges rejected a request by state lawmakers to give them another chance to draw the lines. “The State is not entitled to multiple opportunities to remedy its unconstitutional districts,” the judges said in their order.

Liberia’s Supreme Court will rule Monday on a petition asking to delay the runoff presidential election after a complaint said the National Election Commission failed to investigate claims of irregularities in the first round of the vote. All activity to prepare for Tuesday’s runoff has been halted until the court’s decision.

Catalonia’s ousted leader Carles Puigdemont agreed on Tuesday to a snap election called by Spain’s central government when it took control of the region to stop it breaking away, but he said the fight for independence would go on. After he refused to return to Spain from Belgium to appear before the national court on Friday, a Spanish judge issued an international arrest warrant. The Spanish attorney general is seeking to prosecute Mr. Puigdemont and 19 other politicians for rebellion and on other charges for declaring Catalonia’s independence from Spain last month.