The Voting News Weekly: The Voting News Weekly for November 6-12 2017

The Christian Science Monitor concluded a three part series on voting issues with a focus on security. The wide-ranging article covers the security breach in Georgia, risk-limiting audits in Colorado, and the aging fleet of voting equipment fielded in many states. The article acknowledges the consensus among computer security experts that the best defense against the potential of election hacking, as well as computer malfunction, is the use of voter marked paper ballots coupled with robust routine post election audits.

The hurdles faced by election officials in ensuring addressing election security in an age of cyberattacks is the subject of a Slate article by Josephine Wolff, She notes that while the decentralized nature of election administration in the US offers some security benefits it also means that individual states, counties, or districts are also often free to make bad decisions about what kind of voting technology to use.

Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap has filed a lawsuit against the Republican-led presidential voter fraud commission, claiming that he and other members of the panel are being shut out of the process. Dunlap’s lawsuit only the latest in a series of legal actions challenging the commission, though it is the first brought by a member of the commission.

The Atlantic posted a profile of Verified Voting Board of Director’s Chair Barbara Simons. The article highlights the tenacity and passion that have driven her nearly two decades of dedication to the cause of verifiable elections. It also offers a glimpse of the disarming frankness and intellectual clarity that have made Barbara such an effective advocate for paper ballots, post-election audits and best practices in ensuring election security in the digital age.

Since explosive accusations of sexual misconduct emerged about Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore emerged this week, Republican leaders have been exploring extraordinary measures to remove their own nominee from the race. One option was taken off the table when Governor Kay Ivey announced that she does not intend to change the date of the Dec. 12 election. Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill noted that absentee and overseas voters have been casting ballots since Oct. 18, complicating the question of whether the date could be changed. Alabama election law requires candidates to withdraw at least 76 days before an election in order to be replaced on the ballot.

Concerns about hacking and voting system security have led to calls for New Jersey to replace their paperless DREs. Lawmakers are considering legislation that would require that new voting machines use paper ballots, though the details of when the requirement would come into effect are still under discussion.

Under a law passed in 2013, North Carolina counties using DREs are required to replace them with paper ballot systems in 2018 but a legal battle over proposed changes to the makeup of election boards in the state has created difficulties for many counties. With the state election board vacant, there is no one to certify new voting machines for use in the state.

Overturning a lower court ruing, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered the Commonwealth Court to decide a gerrymandering lawsuit by the end of the year. The lawsuit, brought by the League of Women Voters, challenges the constitutionality of districts drawn after the last census and argues that new boundaries should be in place before the 2018 mid-term elections. Lawyers representing the state’s General Assembly and its Republican leadership had asked the court to delay any ruling until after the US Supreme Court decision on a similar gerrymandering case from Wisconsin.

Three separate petitions challenging Kenya’s recent Presidential election have been filed with the Supreme Court. The petitions target all sides in the presidential election controversy — the electoral commission, opposition leader Raila Odinga and President Uhuru Kenyatta. The recent election was itself a re-run of a previous election that had been annulled by the Supreme Court.

The Washington Post examined how the unusual structure of Catalonia’s electoral system could give an advantage to separatists in December elections called by the Spanish central government following Catalonia’s declaration of independence last month. Similar to the American electoral college, Catalonia’s system makes it possible for a party to gain a majority while losing the popular vote, due to an unequal apportionment of delegates to districts.