Gerrymandering is a disgraceful national tradition that should have no place in our electoral system, irrespective of the political party in control. It doesn’t take a constitutional scholar to recognize that this isn’t how democracy is supposed to work but, with a case from my home state of Wisconsin pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, that’s exactly who is going to decide whether our representative democracy will work for everyone, regardless of political affiliation or racial distinctions. Both political parties have engaged in it over the years during the redistricting process but, most recently, gerrymandering has become an effective tool in the GOP’s nationwide campaign to suppress the votes of their opposition. Republicans, for instance, took control of approximately 17 seats in Congress in 2016 solely through gerrymandering according to analysis from the Brennan Center for Justice, NYU Law School’s nonpartisan law and policy institute.
As voters head to the polls on Tuesday, state and local officials are working with the federal government to monitor any potential cybersecurity issues on the first major Election Day since the 2016 election. While experts do not believe any interference with actual voting occurred last year, Russian efforts to meddle in the election — in part through hacking emails and some probing of election-related systems at the state level — have fueled a national conversation about the cybersecurity of elections. The Department of Homeland Security has taken the lead for the federal government in helping shore up election systems, which are managed at the state and local level. “We are working closely with officials in Virginia and New Jersey and other states and will have cybersecurity advisers embedded with state officials and with direct lines to DHS’ National Cybersecurity Communications Integration Center throughout the day today,” spokesman Scott McConnell told CNN in an email. “We continue to offer state and local governments our cybersecurity services, including cyber hygiene scans of Internet-facing systems and onsite risk and vulnerability assessments.”
National: Hacking the vote: Threats keep changing, but election IT sadly stays the same | Ars Technica
The outcome of the 2016 presidential election is history. But allegations of voter fraud, election interference by foreign governments, and intrusions into state electoral agencies’ systems have since cast a pall over the system that determines who makes the laws and enforces them in the United States. Such problems will not disappear no matter what comes out of a presidential commission or a Congressional hearing. “Amazon will not go out of business because one percent of its transactions are fraudulent,” said David Jefferson, a visiting computer scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and chairman of the Verified Voting Foundation, a non-governmental organization working toward accuracy, integrity, and verifiability of elections. “That’s not the case for elections.” Jefferson’s words came during his talk at the latest edition of DEFCON, the annual infosec event. Election hacks naturally became something of an overarching theme within the Caesar’s Palace convention center this summer. In fact, there was an entire room dedicated solely to testing the reliability of US electronic voting systems. Called “Voting Village,” the space was filled with more than 25 pieces of electoral hardware—voting machines and other electronic election-management equipment—in various stages of deconstruction. Any curious conference attendee, no matter where they fell within the conference’s wide technical skill spectrum, could contribute to the onslaught of software and hardware hacks targeting the machines in this de facto lab.
If you were spammed this weekend by a local political campaign, you weren’t alone. Polls are now open in local elections around the country, where state legislatures and mayoral races around the US will be decided after months of unrelenting campaigning. But as political candidates fight for every vote, some campaigns have taken to aggressive, last minute tactics — like blasting their constituency districts with spammy text messages. ZDNet has seen reports and tweets of screenshots of text messages from several New York-based candidates in the past few days, pushing local residents to vote for a particular candidate or calling for campaign donations. …For years, state and federal election candidates have used text messages as a way to solicit votes or contributions from their constituents. Use of text messaging first rocketed during the 2008 presidential campaign, and has only escalated in size and scale — no more so than during last year’s election. But the law is clear: it’s illegal for companies to send text messages to individuals who haven’t given prior consent.
The winners of Tuesday’s elections — Republican or Democrat, for governor, mayor or dogcatcher — all have one thing in common: They received more votes than their opponent. That seems like a pretty fair way to run an electoral race, which is why every election in America uses it — except the most important one of all. Was it just a year ago that more than 136 million Americans cast their ballots for president, choosing Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump by nearly three million votes, only to be thwarted by a 200-year-old constitutional anachronism designed in part to appease slaveholders and ratified when no one but white male landowners could vote? It feels more like, oh, 17 years — the last time, incidentally, that the American people chose one candidate for president and the Electoral College imposed the other.
A new lawsuit charges that thousands of Arizonans are illegally being denied the right to vote in federal elections. Legal papers filed Tuesday in federal court here acknowledge that state law requires would-be voters to produce certain identification when registering. That requirement has been upheld in prior court rulings. But attorneys for the League of United Latin American Citizens and the Arizona Students Association point out that the U.S. Supreme Court has said that state law does not — and cannot — prevent people from registering to vote for federal elections using a federally approved registration form. And they contend that those whose state registrations are rejected for lack of citizenship proof are not informed of that option.
Maryland: Baltimore County orders extra voting scanners, but not as many as elections officials say are needed | Baltimore Sun
Baltimore County is ordering extra ballot scanning machines for four dozen of the county’s busiest polling locations — far fewer than the 200-plus scanners sought by county elections officials. Rob Stradling, the county’s information technology director, said Tuesday that paying for 47 scanners for polling sites and five backup locations represents a “fiscally responsible” solution to easing lengthy backups that frustrated voters during the 2016 election. Stradling said the additional machines and other changes — such as having existing machines serviced, having manufacturer representatives on hand on Election Day and tweaking training for election judges — should make the voting process more efficient. His office spent five months researching the problem and posted its findings online Tuesday. But the county’s top elections official had sought much more. Director of Elections Katie Brown has previously asked the county to purchase a second ballot scanner for each of its 236 polling precincts. Only one precinct had two scanners in 2016.
The city of Minneapolis rolled out new technology on Election Day, meant to make the process of voting easier and faster, but some voters encountered a few hiccups. For the first time, the city is using e-poll books which allow election judges to verify voters using iPads instead of bulky paper books. Several voters told WCCO-TV they tried to cast their ballots early Tuesday morning at the Walker Church polling location in Minneapolis, but the iPad used to check voters in was unable to connect to the internet. One voter claims he waited for 20 minutes and had to come back to vote.
A Nebraska lawmaker is concerned about the practice of ballot collection by third parties. Volunteers have been stationed outside Millard Public Schools in Omaha to collect completed mail-in ballots for the levy override election ending Nov. 14. The vote involves an extra 9-cent property tax levy authority for the school board, the Omaha World-Herald reported. Volunteer organizers said the effort is aimed at boosting turnout. They said they collect and turn in anyone’s ballot regardless of the person’s opinion on the override. Organizers said the effort is a matter of convenience in a time when people are less likely to possess stamps.
Nevada: Democrats ask federal court to block recall efforts against trio of state senators | The Nevada Independent
Nevada Democrats are asking a federal court to block recall efforts targeting three state senators before a special election can be scheduled. The request for a preliminary injunction was filed late Monday in a Las Vegas federal court by Marc Elias, a prominent national attorney who served as Hillary Clinton’s general counsel during the 2016 election, and Bradley Schrager, the former attorney for the Nevada State Democratic Party. The filing — which largely echoes language in the first lawsuit filed by Elias and Nevada Democrats in mid-October against state election officials — requests that the court sets an expedited schedule with time for hearing and ruling on granting the injunction before Nov. 30 — before a recall special election could be held. The request argues that holding the recall elections under the present set of circumstances, the use of Nevada’s recall law against the senators would “burden, abridge, and deny the fundamental right to vote” for voters in the three state Senate districts.
New Jersey: Bad voting machines replaced with bad voting machines, forcing use of paper ballots in Allentown | app
Voting machines here have been inoperable all morning, after faulty machines were replaced with new ones that also didn’t work, an election official said. “Voters are voting on emergency ballots,’’ said Allan Roth, chairman of the Monmouth County Board of Elections. “No voter has been turned away. They’re just voting on paper ballots.’’ Software problems were discovered in the borough’s four voting machines early this morning, around 6 a.m., Roth said.
Erie County owned approximately 1,000 obsolete lever voting machines when it was required to replace them with electronic machines in 2010. So what happened to the steel machines that weighed about 700 pounds each? All but 10 of the voting machines used for a nearly a century in Erie County were sold for scrap, said Ralph M. Mohr, Erie County’s Republican elections commissioner. Today, four of the 10 machines remain in storage on the sixth floor of Tri-Main Center at 2495 Main St. Another is located in the office of County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz, said Daniel E. Meyer, deputy press secretary. Mohr said he bought another for $600 when he took the job as elections commissioner more than two decades ago.
Several voting-related issues have cropped up in several central Pennsylvania counties today. York County has discovered a technical oversight with election machines, which allows a single voter to vote more than once for certain candidates, said Mark Walters, county spokesman. And in Dauphin County, a judge ordered deputies to seize raffle tickets that reportedly offered an iPhone X for votes in the Harrisburg mayor’s race. Voter turnout in Dauphin County has been light so far, according to Jerry Feaser, county elections director. No unusual voting machine issues were reported. In York County, the technical issue impacts candidates who appear twice in a single race where more than one candidate is elected.
Virginians go to the polls today to vote on a number of statewide and legislative races. But voters in one prominent swing county in Virginia have received robocalls falsely telling them their polling places have changed. Harry Wiggins, chair of the Prince Williams County Democratic Committee, told The Intercept that voters started alerting him about these calls last Friday. “Some of those people were actually called multiple times,” Wiggins said. “They’re saying, ‘Your regular polling places has changed, you need to vote at a different polling place.’” As of Tuesday, Wiggins said 32 voters have alerted him that they had received these robocalls. Robin Williams, chair of the Prince Williams County Elections Board, confirmed to The Intercept that they have forwarded these complaints to the state — which has the power to investigate and prosecute election shenanigans. He also said that the county was not responsible for these calls. “If we change a precinct, we can’t do it 60 days before an election,” he said. He pointed out that every voter is notified by mail if their polling station is changed. “We spend a fair amount of money in order to move one of these precincts, a lot of notice. … You will never get a phone call from us or anything like that. Our communication to you is by mail.”
A Twitter account misleading Democratic voters in Virginia by telling them they could cast their ballot by text message was active for almost three hours on Tuesday morning before Twitter suspended the account. The account, “MAGA Mike King,” was suspended after it tweeted more than a dozen times a graphic purportedly instructing Virginians on how to vote by text and including the logos of the Democratic Party and its gubernatorial candidate, Ralph Northam. The account doesn’t appear to have had much success spreading its message, with less than a handful of interactions on each of the offending tweets, but to some observers that’s almost beside the point. Their concern is that the account remained active for almost three hours out of the 13 hours that polls are open in Virginia, despite the fact that Twitter knows these sorts of efforts are a potential problem on its platform, and has claimed success in fighting back against them.
Estonia has frozen the digital ID cards for its popular e-residency programme, two months after discovering a major security flaw that could enable identity theft. The ID cards are used by Estonian citizens and foreign “e-residents” and underpin services like banking, online voting, tax, medical records, and travel. The e-residency programme is also popular with British entrepreneurs who want to set up their company within the EU, particularly after the Brexit vote. According to Wired, more than 1,000 UK entrepreneurs have applied for the programme so far.
Kenya’s key western trading partners and political allies urged talks to resolve a deadlock over the country’s presidential elections, as the nation’s top court began considering petitions challenging the outcome of last month’s vote rerun. The Oct. 26 rerun of an annulled vote two months earlier has polarized the East African nation and exposed “deep tribal and ethnic rifts” that have characterized Kenyan politics in the past, the Atlanta-based Carter Center said Wednesday in an emailed statement. Its appeal for negotiations echoed similar calls by the European Union and the U.S. last week. “Kenya is in dire need of dialogue and reconciliation,” the Carter Center said. “Though both President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga have made calls for peaceful co-existence, it is also important for the politicians to engage in dialogue to resolve this protracted political standoff.”
The Liberian party of the 1995 world soccer player of the year, George Weah, said it’s concerned that a political crisis could ensue if the Supreme Court decides to annul the outcome of the first round of the presidential election that left the country facing a runoff. Weah’s Congress for Democratic Change raised the matter after the Supreme Court ruled on Monday that a runoff may not go ahead until a charge over alleged irregularities in the Oct. 10 vote is heard. The second round was scheduled for Tuesday and would’ve been contested between Weah and Vice President Joseph Boakai, of the ruling Unity Party, because neither candidate secured the majority needed for an outright victory to succeed President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. “We are concerned about attempts by certain members of the Supreme Court’s bench to mis- or wrongfully interpret our constitution, with the view of now creating a constitutional crisis,” CDC Chairman Nathaniel McGill said by phone. “The election should proceed, that’s what we hope for.”
The Electoral Commission of Somaliland called for the internet to be turned off during the Presidential Election expected to be held on 8 November 2017, Garowe Online reports. “The commission has requested for the shutdown of the Internet access across Somaliland amid fears of violence during the election period,” said an election expert, who spoke to GO over the phone. “It’s the first time that three influence candidates are vying for the Presidency,” he told GO over the phone on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the Media.