A federal appeals court on Monday resurrected a lawsuit against Secretary of State Jon Husted that was filed by blind voters claiming Ohio’s paper absentee ballots illegally force them to rely on others to vote. The Cincinnati-based U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a ruling by the lower U.S. District Court in Columbus that found in favor of Mr. Husted. The lower court found the remedies proposed by blind plaintiffs would have fundamentally changed Ohio’s voting system. On appeal, a three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit, all appointed by Republican presidents, found the lower court should not have simply accepted the secretary of state’s arguments on the matter. It sent the case back for further proceedings.
Donald Trump said on Saturday he believes Vladimir Putin’s denials of Russian involvement in the manipulation of the 2016 presidential election. However, he appeared to contradict himself on Sunday when he said he was “with our agencies” on the question of Russian interference. Speaking at a news conference in Hanoi on Sunday, he was asked about his comments that he believed Putin’s reassurances given by the Russian president on the sidelines of Saturday’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit in Vietnam. “As to whether I believe it or not, I’m with our agencies, especially as currently constituted,” Trump told a news conference in Vietnam. “As currently led, by fine people, I believe very much in our intelligence agencies.” The president’s comments were criticised by senator John McCain who said in a tweet that there was “nothing America First about taking the word of KGB colonel [Putin]” over the US intelligence community.
The recent death of one member, the child pornography arrest of a key staffer and a blizzard of lawsuits have paralyzed the work of the federal Election Integrity Commission, according to Secretary of State Bill Gardner, who serves on the controversial panel. “There is so much inertia because the powers that be worry about whether there will be a lawsuit in response to whatever we do,” Gardner said during a telephone interview. “They have really tied this commission up pretty well with all the different lawsuits in all kinds of different directions.” But Gardner, a Democrat, said he’s got no evidence to confirm fellow member and Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap’s claims that some on the commission have been communicating only among themselves.
Just before the stroke of midnight on September 20, 2016, at the height of last year’s presidential election, the WikiLeaks Twitter account sent a private direct message to Donald Trump Jr., the Republican nominee’s oldest son and campaign surrogate. “A PAC run anti-Trump site putintrump.org is about to launch,” WikiLeaks wrote. “The PAC is a recycled pro-Iraq war PAC. We have guessed the password. It is ‘putintrump.’ See ‘About’ for who is behind it. Any comments?” (The site, which has since become a joint project with Mother Jones, was founded by Rob Glaser, a tech entrepreneur, and was funded by Progress for USA Political Action Committee.) The next morning, about 12 hours later, Trump Jr. responded to WikiLeaks. “Off the record I don’t know who that is, but I’ll ask around,” he wrote on September 21, 2016. “Thanks.”
For years, Barbara Simons was the loneliest of Cassandras—a technologist who feared what technology had wrought. Her cause was voting: Specifically, she believed that the electronic systems that had gained favor in the United States after the 2000 presidential election were shoddy, and eminently hackable. She spent years publishing opinion pieces in obscure journals with titles like Municipal World and sending hectoring letters to state officials, always written with the same clipped intensity. Simons, who is now 76, had been a pioneer in computer science at IBM Research at a time when few women not in the secretarial pool walked its halls. In her retirement, however, she was coming off as a crank. Fellow computer scientists might have heard her out, but to the public officials she needed to win over, the idea that software could be manipulated to rig elections remained a fringe preoccupation. Simons was not dissuaded. “They didn’t know what they were talking about and I did,” she told me. She wrote more articles, wrote a book, badgered policy makers, made “a pain of myself.” Though a liberal who had first examined voting systems under the Clinton administration, she did battle with the League of Women Voters (of which she is a member), the ACLU, and other progressive organizations that had endorsed paperless voting, largely on the grounds that electronic systems offered greater access to voters with disabilities.
Editorials: Dunlap can sue, but election commission was always a sham | Cynthia Dill/Portland Press Herald
The federal lawsuit brought by Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap demanding prompt communication from and meaningful participation on the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity – which is studying nothing, in order to give advice to President Trump, who will ignore it – expends a lot of taxpayer money and judicial resources, but at least it’s deductible. “Voter fraud” is not a real thing, but like a Pet Rock it has become a commercial success. The political issue harkens back to Jim Crow-era literacy tests and poll taxes, but the latest voter-suppression push is relatively recent. Republicans work to disenfranchise an important chunk of the Democratic voting base – minorities and young and low-income people – by making it harder for them to vote. They do this by passing laws that restrict voting registration times and polling places and require government-sponsored identification, among other means.
Most people do just about everything online today. They pay their bills. They make hotel reservations and file their income tax returns. Now, residents can use their computers to register to vote or change their party affiliation as Florida recently joined 35 other states and the District of Columbia to offer online voter registration. Central Florida elections officials are lauding the online service as a “great tool” that will encourage more people to sign up to vote and improve the accuracy of voter rolls. “The online voter registration process has opened the door to a lot of folks who have not previously registered to vote,” said Michael Ertel, Seminole County Supervisor of Elections. “When I first registered to vote back in the late ’80s, I had to take a forward step. I had to go to the supervisor of elections office. Since that time, elections offices have come to the voters.”
Gov. Ivey says there are no plans to change the date of the special election for the Senate. With calls increasing for Roy Moore to step aside and Moore refusing to, Alabama’s Secretary of State gives new details on what’s next. If Moore does step down his name will still remain on the ballot, Merrill says. The reason? “We are too close to the election and there cannot be any changes made to the ballot,” Merrill said. Merrill said the Republican Party cannot substitute a candidate, in part because people in Alabama have already begun voting.
Judging strictly by how the Center for Election Systems at Kennesaw State University is described on its official website, everything is peachy when it comes to the fact that the center is charged by the Secretary of State with ensuring the integrity voting systems throughout Georgia. “The Center maintains an arms-length working relationship with the Secretary of State and the vendor, ensuring both independence and objectivity in its work,” the center states on its website. But if you ask Marilyn R. Marks, executive director of the Coalition for Good Governance, a university has no business playing such a critical role in the oversight of a state’s election infrastructure. It’s an argument that Marks says is underscored by the fact that voter data in Georgia was exposed on the Internet for a significant period of time leading up to key elections in Georgia — a fact uncovered by a cybersecurity expert named Logan Lamb, who reported it to the center. KSU only took action when a second cybersecurity expert — Chris Grayson — found the same security gaps and reported them to Andrew Green, a colleague and KSU faculty member who lectures on information security and assurance, according to lawsuit filed by Marks’ coalition.
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich says county election officials can maintain separate voter databases but are legally required to send voter information to the secretary of state’s office. Brnovich also said in an opinion released Monday that Secretary of State Michele Reagan can’t refer public records requests or legal subpoenas to counties since she also maintains the voter rolls. The opinion also clarified what voter registration information county recorders are required to provide to Reagan’s office. Solicitor General Dominic Draye wrote that includes everything, and immediately.
Colorado voters who failed to sign the outside of the return envelope they were supplied with their 2017 ballots have until the close of business on Wednesday to “cure” that problem in order to have their votes counted in the final official election tallies. County clerks have mailed notifications of the issue to voters that turned in ballots without the required signature — as well as notifying voters in cases where election judges could not verify that the signatures on the envelopes matched signatures on the voters’ registration records. Mircalla Wozniak, a spokeswoman for the Boulder County Clerk and Recorder’s Office, said that as of Monday afternoon, there still were 562 county voters’ ballots that needed to be “cured.”
Ada County elections employees have been leery of the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program since 2014 — the year they got burned by it. It was Idaho’s first year as a member. Ada County received a list of possible duplicate voter registrations and began to revoke several thousand of them, including then-West Ada School District Superintendent Linda Clark, radio personality Ken Bass and former U.S. Attorney and prominent Democrat Betty Richardson. Those voters began to call. What appeared to be duplicate records, weren’t at all. When the county realized it was in error, it quickly halted the revocations. Because of the Crosscheck program’s decentralized approach and a lack of feedback, it’s hard to tell its value to Idaho. But a look at what is known suggests it causes more problems than it catches — and it’s not clear that it’s helped catch any Idaho voter fraud that led to a conviction. … This year, 28 states — including Idaho — sent 98.5 million voter registration records to Kobach and Crosscheck. Those included such personal data as birth dates and partial Social Security numbers.
Elections employees are raising concerns about an interstate program meant to detect voter fraud in Idaho that they said has led to errors. Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck program was launched in the state in 2014, the Idaho Statesman reported Sunday. The program compares voter registration records — which contain personal information such as birth dates and partial Social Security numbers — from its state members to find people who vote in more than one state. In its first year the program identified several thousands of possible duplicate voter registrations which Ada County elections employees later found were errors after voters called to complain about the pending revocations.
Kane County Clerk John Cunningham said Monday he is looking at ways to handle Aurora elections if a referendum concerning the elimination of the Aurora Election Commission passes. Still, Cunningham was adamant in saying that even though he is an Aurora resident, he does not have a public opinion either way. “It’s not up to the county clerk to be involved in this,” he said. “It’s up to the people.” Cunningham said with a movement afoot to put a referendum question on the March 2018 ballot asking voters to eliminate the election commission, he needs to look at what might happen if voters approve it. An informal group of residents has been passing petitions seeking about 1,000 signatures they would need to put the question on the ballot. If they succeed, state statute mandates that Aurora voters be asked the question: “Shall the city election law be rejected?”
Maine: Campaign to restore Maine ranked-choice voting collects over half the signatures needed for a people’s veto | Portland Press Herald
Supporters of ranked-choice voting have collected more than half the signatures needed for a 2018 referendum to overturn a law that delays switching to the voting process for four years. Campaign volunteers got approximately 32,000 signatures outside the polls Tuesday, a day after receiving state approval for the petition, said Kyle Bailey, campaign manager for the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting. The campaign needs 61,123 signatures from registered voters to get a people’s veto on the June 2018 ballot. The campaign has heard back from approximately 70 percent of Election Day petitioners and hundreds of other people have since requested petition packets so they can collect signatures, Bailey said Saturday.
The lackluster turnout in some municipal elections this week has energized advocates hoping to make it easier for people to register to vote. The activists want state lawmakers to adopt something known as automatic voter registration — a system that automatically updates voters’ information whenever they alert one of several state agencies of a change of address or other pertinent change in their status. The agencies include the Registry of Motor Vehicles, the Department of Housing and Community Development, the Department of Revenue, MassHealth, the Department of Higher Education, and all public institutions of higher education. The bill would also let voters waive those updates if they want. Among the groups backing the change is the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts.
The ballots of 23 Sedgwick County voters were tossed out Monday under a state law that requires disabled voters to sign their own mail-in ballot envelopes. County commissioners, acting as the canvassing board for last week’s election, reluctantly signed off on the decision to toss out the ballots. They said they think the law is wrong, but they had no choice. “We’re checking that for the next election, because it’s a stupid rule,” said commission Chairman Dave Unruh. Rocky Nichols, executive director of the Kansas Disability Rights Center, said it defies common sense to require a person who is physically incapable of filling out a ballot to try to sign it. “Some people with disabilities can’t use their arms,” he said. “It sounds like nobody’s disputing that these ballots were filled out (properly). It’s just technicality. … It doesn’t seem right and it’s not right.”
While they weren’t catastrophic, a few problems in last week’s election revealed Luzerne County’s voting machines are starting to show their age, county Election Director Marisa Crispell said. The county started using touch-screen electronic voting machines in the 2006 primary, or 11 years ago. “Technology is constantly moving forward,” Crispell said. “Many people change phones every two years and regularly update their laptops. These machines are no different.” One example she cited: The touch-screen capabilities froze on a few machines in the election last Tuesday. After officials verified no votes were cast on the machines, they were taken out of service, Crispell said. In Larksville, a back-up retrieval device had to be used to collect election data from voting machines because the device normally used to load ballots and extract results — called a personal election ballot, or PEB — failed, Crispell said. Result tallies for several machines also had to be printed at the county election bureau, as opposed to polling places, because a few hand-held printers were not working properly, she said.
Hundreds, perhaps thousands of Kansans who went to the polls Tuesday ran into an unexpected problem when they provided required photo identification. The foul-up — involving a new driver’s license called Real ID — did not appear to affect anyone’s right to vote. But it was an inconvenience for voters and poll workers, and it suggests Kansas needs to pay closer attention to the basic tools for casting ballots. The snafu may also feed doubts about the state’s voter ID requirements, Real ID, safety and the right to vote. Kansas began issuing Real ID driver’s licenses in August. They’re part of a national program designed to strengthen identification documents in the states. By the year 2020, you’ll need a Real ID-compliant license to fly on an airline. Real ID driver’s licenses include a white star in the corner and two pictures of the license holder. On the back, there are bar codes that provide information about the holder.
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed on Monday to hear a conservative group’s free speech challenge to a Minnesota law prohibiting voters from wearing T-shirts or other apparel adorned with overtly political messages inside polling stations. A group called the Minnesota Voters Alliance is appealing a lower court’s decision to uphold the law, which forbids political badges, buttons or other insignia inside polling places during primary or general elections. State election officials have interpreted the law as also barring campaign literature and material from groups with political views such as the conservative Tea Party movement or the liberal MoveOn.org. Violators are asked to cover up or remove offending items, but officials are instructed not to bar anyone from voting.
In most states, the legislature is in charge of designing Congressional and state voting districts.
Pennsylvania isn’t unique in that respect. But some say the commonwealth is home to some of the nation’s starkest examples of gerrymandering — where the shape of a voting district is manipulated to produce the outcome desired by the party in charge. The term is over 200 years old. It was coined by a Boston newspaper’s coverage of maps produced in Massachusetts in 1812 during the term of Gov. Elbridge Gerry, which featured a salamander-shaped district loosely coiled around Boston.
Although the Virginia governorship was Tuesday’s marquee race, the Virginia House of Delegates produced the day’s most surprising result. Democrats picked up at least 15 seats and reduced a 66 to 34 Republican advantage to, at most, 51 to 49. A gerrymandered chamber thought to be safely Republican suddenly became a toss-up — and may yet flip to Democratic control after all the recounts are completed. This unexpected outcome raises the question: Can gerrymandering really be such a problem if a party’s legislative edge can virtually disappear overnight? This question is especially important at present, as the Supreme Court mulls over Gill vs. Whitford, a potentially historic case about redistricting in Wisconsin. The question also has a clear answer: Of course gerrymandering is deeply troublesome even if it can be overcome, at least temporarily, by a wave election.The question also has a clear answer: Of course gerrymandering is deeply troublesome even if it can be overcome, at least temporarily, by a wave election.
Three Virginia House of Delegates races are too close to call. Just 12 votes separate Republican incumbent David Yancey from democrat Shelly Simonds in the 94th District. It could mean a handful of recounts across the state will decide who controls the General Assembly for the next two years. Elections officials say the final vote count has not been finalized because elections offices in cities and counties still have a few days to count ballots. Elections offices must have a count by Wednesday to the State Board of Elections. The Board has until Nov. 20 to present a certified final tally.
Despite the denunciations hurled Ken Block’s way when he filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice alleging Rhode Island was violating federal election law, the state Board of Elections took a first step Monday toward fixing what is now acknowledged to be a problem. The board gave its lawyer, Raymond Marcaccio, the go-ahead to draft potential replacements for a regulation adopted in 2008 that excludes people registering in person from a federal requirement that voters registering for the first time provide their driver’s license number or the last four digits of their Social Security number. Marcaccio recommended the board remove any “ambiguity″ by removing the exclusion for these would-be voters.
Australia won’t know the results of the same-sex marriage survey until 10am on Wednesday morning. But there has been a growing assumption over the course of the campaign that the “yes” camp will win. Senior ministers such as Peter Dutton and Julie Bishop have said they think the “yes” vote will win. “Yes” campaigner Sarah Hanson-Young has said she’s “very, very confident”. And as voting closed last week, “no” spokesman Lyle Shelton conceded, “we’re chasing down a big lead”. Poll after poll has also found support for same-sex marriage is at about two to one. Just before the survey closed last week, a Guardian Essential Poll found 64 per cent of people who voted say they ticked “yes”.
Voting in Equatorial Guinea ended Sunday, with the opposition alleging fraud and irregularities in elections that the ruling party was expected to sweep and maintain its firm grip over the tiny oil-rich country. Internet access was completely cut in a country where opposition websites have been blocked since 2013. Since the start of the election campaign on October 27, Facebook has been inaccessible as well. In the capital Malabo, queues of people waiting to vote formed early as most polling stations opened on schedule and were very busy most of the morning, an AFP correspondent said. Security forces were deployed and private vehicles banned for the day. Residents complained that this had left them unable to go to polling stations — often located very far from their homes — which were mostly closed by 1700 GMT, one hour before the official end of polling.
Nearly a week after Election Day, Democrats and Republicans were closely monitoring three races that could determine control of Virginia’s House of Delegates. The parties were especially focused on the House seat being vacated by retiring Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford). Republican Robert Thomas is ahead of Joshua Cole by 86 votes. Democrats claim 55 absentee ballots mailed in that race by active-duty military voters went uncounted because they were left in the Stafford County registrar’s mailbox on Election Day — an account the registrar disputes. “It’s disgraceful that the registrar and two members of the Stafford County Electoral Board refuse to count military votes,” Susan Swecker, chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Virginia, said in a statement.
Estonia, where citizens use their digital identity to get access to government services online, has identified a security flaw in 760,000 digital ID cards. Estonia shut down access to online services last weekend due to an encryption vulnerability in the chips of affected smartcards. The security issue was first identified in September, and plagues other cards, chips and systems made by the card manufacturer. While the manufacturer has resolved the problem last month, Estonian owners of affected cards still needed to apply for updated certificates. Police stations and other government offices were packed with citizens trying to update their IDs, mostly due to the fact that the online service for updates kept crashing last week.
For the past two and a half months, Estonia has been facing the biggest security crisis since a wave of cyberattacks hit its banks and critical national infrastructure in 2007. At the heart of the current debacle is the latest version of its national ID card, which has been a mandatory identification document for citizens of Estonia since 2002 and serves as a cornerstone of Estonia’s e-state. The hardware behind the ID cards was found to be vulnerable to attacks, which could theoretically have led to identity thefts of Estonian citizens and also e-residents, something which its government has denied occurring.
Kenya’s Supreme Court prepared on Tuesday to review petitions challenging President Uhuru Kenyatta’s victory in last month’s presidential election, in what may be the last chance for legal scrutiny of the vote. Security was tight outside the courtroom, which has been center stage for Kenyan politics since it nullified the results of August’s presidential election. That decision led to the re-run election on Oct. 26. The court has not convened since the day before last month’s election, when it had been due to deliberate on a last-minute request to delay the vote. But that hearing was canceled because not enough judges showed up to make a quorum.