Alabama: Election security experts question Alabama’s decision to destroy ballot copies |

A recent court decision permitting Alabama officials to destroy digital copies of paper ballots eliminates an important tool for ensuring electoral integrity, said two experts interviewed on the day of Alabama’s special U.S. Senate election. Both experts also said paper ballots – which are maintained for 22 months after the election – provide the most security in the event of a recount. Yesterday, a circuit court judge in Alabama ordered election officials to preserve digital copies created when machines scan paper ballots. That decision was stayed by the Alabama Supreme Court later that day, which will allow state officials to destroy the copies. John Sebes, chief technology officer for the OSET Institute, a California-based non-profit dedicated to improving election integrity, said officials can use digital copies and paper ballots to check for glitches and fraud. A comparison of copies and originals can show whether machines are scanning and counting correctly.

National: Senate Russia Probe May Not Have More Open Hearings, Burr Says | Bloomberg

Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr said he doesn’t currently see a need for more public hearings in his panel’s investigation of Russian interference in the U.S. election, but added that he still won’t be able to meet an original goal of wrapping up this year. “I’m running out of days, aren’t I,” the North Carolina Republican told reporters Tuesday. Burr said they still have dozens of witnesses to interview behind closed doors. He said he hopes to finish the probe “pretty quickly” next year unless additional information surfaces, but the committee may first issue recommendations on election security while it wraps up the broader investigation.

Alabama: In final-hour order, court rules that Alabama can destroy digital voting records after all |

Alabama is allowed to destroy digital voting records created at the polls during today’s U.S. Senate election after all. At 1:36 p.m. Monday, a Montgomery County Circuit Court judge issued an order directing Alabama election officials to preserve all digital ballot images created at polling places across the state today. But at 4:32 p.m. Monday, attorneys for Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill and Ed Packard, the state administrator of elections, filed an “emergency motion to stay” that order, which the state Supreme Court granted minutes after Merrill and Packard’s motion was filed. By granting the stay, the court effectively told the state that it does not in fact have to preserve the digital ballot images – essentially digitized versions of the paper ballots voters fill out at the voting booth – created today.

Alabama: Why a Roy Moore Alabama recount is a long shot | The Washington Post

Just when you thought that the seemingly endless Senate race in Alabama was over, the candidate who was long expected to win it has announced that it isn’t. After Republican Roy Moore’s campaign chairman took to the lectern to assure the candidate’s supporters that declarations of victory for Democrat Doug Jones were premature, Moore himself stepped up to do the same. “When the vote is this close . . . it’s not over,” Moore said. Why? Well, if a race is within half a percentage point after all the votes are tallied, an automatic recount is triggered which could conceivably flip the result. And with a narrow Jones lead and military ballots still needing to be counted, Moore assured the crowd that some miracle still might happen.

Alabama: Machine glitch, ballot confusion cause snags on election day | Montgomery Advertiser

Voters waited in a long line with filled U.S. Senate ballots in hand Tuesday morning after a new voting machine broke down. That left the Frazer United Methodist Church polling place in Montgomery with one working tabulation machine for part of the morning. A poll worker at the site said the crowd was also bigger than expected, which made the problem worse. Workers had fixed the problem before 10 a.m., according to Christopher Turner, the assistant director of elections for Montgomery County. “It’s all brand new equipment (being used) in Montgomery County for the first time,” Turner said. “It’s kind of a shakedown cruise.” But it was far from the only problem on election day in Alabama.

California: Will Jerry Brown move Senate recall election to June? | The Sacramento Bee

With their Democratic supermajority potentially in peril, California state legislators passed a law earlier this year that lengthened the timeline for the state to officially certify a recall election. Now their efforts may give Sen. Josh Newman, D-Fullerton, a better shot of surviving a GOP coup. Since Secretary of State Alex Padilla did not certify the voter signatures collected to recall Newman 180 days before the June 5, 2018 primary, Gov. Jerry Brown can opt to add the recall to the primary ballot instead of establishing a special election. The 180-day deadline expired last week. Voter turnout is typically higher for regularly scheduled elections than special elections, which may give Newman better odds at the ballot box.

Illinois: DuPage voters to decide if election commission should be dissolved | Daily Herald

DuPage County voters soon will weigh in on a proposal to disband the county election commission and return its responsibilities to the clerk’s office. County board members on Tuesday agreed to put an advisory referendum question about the issue on the March primary ballot. The decision comes after state lawmakers failed to act on legislation to merge the commission with the county clerk’s office and create a new panel to provide bipartisan oversight of elections. “Let’s just go to a full-fledged consolidation,” county board Chairman Dan Cronin said after the vote. “Fold it into the clerk’s office.” Election oversight power was stripped from the clerk’s office in the early 1970s to create the election commission. Cronin said he’s hoping DuPage voters overwhelmingly support the nonbinding ballot question to dissolve the commission.

New York: Why Melania, Ivanka & Jared’s mayoral election votes didn’t count | New Yor Daily News

Good thing last month’s mayoral election wasn’t close because if New Yorkers needed the Trump family to decide the outcome, they would have been out of luck. President Trump and his family of New Yorkers were not in the Big Apple Nov. 7 when voters went the polls, so they voted by absentee ballot. Or at least they tried to. Officials at the city’s Board of Elections said the President signed and dated an absentee ballot along with an application on Oct. 19, checking a box that said he would be absent from the city on Election Day.

Pennsylvania: Expert sees partisanship in Pennsylvania congressional maps | Associated Press

A political scientist serving as an expert for voters challenging Pennsylvania’s congressional districts testified Monday that “extreme partisan intent” by Republicans appears to have been the predominant factor in producing a map that has disproportionately favored GOP candidates. University of Michigan professor Jowei Chen said during the first day of a Commonwealth Court hearing over the 2011 maps that none of the hundreds of computer simulations he has run has produced a map so favorable to Republicans. In recent elections, Republicans have had a durable 13-5 advantage among the congressional delegation, and the lawsuit claims the maps are so partisan they violate the state constitution. “Whichever way you slice and dice the data, the enacted plan is a 13-5 Republican plan,” Chen said.

Tennessee: Shelby County Election Commission Goes to Court in Ranked Choice Controversy | Memphis Daily News

Shelby County Election Commissioners are going to court to settle a conflict over ranked-choice voting. The five-member commission voted unanimously Tuesday, Dec. 12, to file suit against the state election coordinator and the city of Memphis in Davidson County Chancery Court. The purpose is to get a ruling on whether the use of RCV via a 2008 city charter amendment is valid or if a September opinion from state election coordinator Mark Goins saying there can be no use of RCV is valid. The charter referendum is binding on the election commission and so is the legal opinion from Goins.

Virginia: Elections commissioner supports “appropriate” federal remedy for disputed 28th District House election | Free-Lance Star

The head of the Virginia Department of Elections wrote recently that he supports an “appropriate remedy” by a federal court for the disputed 28th District House of Delegates election in Fredericksburg and Stafford County. Elections Commissioner Edgardo Cortés could get his wish. U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis this week set a date of Jan. 5—just five days before the General Assembly convenes—for a hearing on the House Democratic Caucus’ lawsuit requesting a new election for the seat, which could determine control of Richmond’s lower chamber. Democrats had requested the hearing on or before Dec. 22, but the judge set it later to “accommodate the court’s schedule.”

Wisconsin: Professor says voters confused over ID law | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Wisconsin voters don’t have a good handle on what types of identification they can use to cast a ballot, a University of Wisconsin-Madison political science professor on Tuesday told the state Elections Commission. That’s one takeaway professor Ken Mayer reached after releasing a survey in September about how the state’s voter ID law affected turnout in last year’s presidential election in Milwaukee and Dane counties.  “We found substantial evidence that most voters don’t have good information, accurate information, about the voter ID requirement,” Mayer told the Elections Commission. His study estimated 16,800 voters in those two counties did not vote because of the voter ID law. The $55,000 study — paid for by property-tax payers in Dane County — covered the state’s Democratic strongholds, but not other parts of the state. 

Congo: EU warns DR Congo of election funding risk over ‘harassment’ | AFP

The European Union yesterday (11 December) warned Democratic Republic of Congo it would cut off help to hold elections next year if the authorities failed to end “harassment” of the opposition and civil society. In a statement, the 28-nation bloc said it was “critical” for the Kinshasa government to uphold the timetable of the much-delayed elections. Elections were scheduled to be held by the end of 2017, under a political deal with the opposition aimed at avoiding bloodshed.

Honduras: Election crisis: violent clashes and no winner in sight | The Week

Honduras has been shaken by a surge of political violence after its contested presidential election two weeks ago. “The extreme electoral irregularities and the charged context in which they arose are threatening to inflame instability for years to come,” Al Jazeera English writes. Incumbent Juan Orlando Hernandez, a pro-business lawyer representing the right-wing National party, officially won, but the Honduran constitution prohibits the re-election of sitting or former leaders. To get around this, The Guardian says, Hernandez used a “contentious” 2016 court ruling to justify his bid.

India: Voting machines without safeguards | National Herald

Computer Scientist who prefers paper. That is how the American magazine The Atlantic described her earlier this year. Having worked at IBM for long, Barbara Simons (76) is among the pioneers in computer science. When, therefore, she began saying that electronic voting was not safe, people took her to be a ‘crank’. But undeterred, Simons became one of the founders of American organization Verified Voters, which has been in the forefront of the movement to replace machines with paper ballots in American elections. … Simons is skeptical about steps taken by tech companies to enhance cyber security. Pointing out that all 50 states in the USA use computerised scanners for vote counting, she claimed that few states had a system of post-editing auditing to detect manipulation. “Mandatory audits, in the form of hand counts of randomized samplings of ballots, are essential to protect against invisible vote theft,” Simons said, adding, “in an unaudited system, malicious code could easily go unnoticed. “It’s not rocket science,” she said. “Any halfway-decent programmer could do it.”

Taiwan: Voting age for referenda lowered to 18 | Taiwan News

As part of newly passed amendments to the Referendum Act (公民投票法), Taiwan’s voting age for referendums has officially been lowered to 18 years of age.  The new law includes a provision that states, unless otherwise indicated in the constitution, Taiwanese citizens that have reached the age of 18 and are not under the care of a legal guardian, have the right to vote in referendums. One of the justifications listed for lowering the voting age in the amendment was the fact that over 90 percent of countries provide their citizens over the age 18 the right to vote in general elections. It also mentioned that neighboring Japan had lowered its voting age for general elections to 18 in 2014. 

Alabama: State Supreme Court Okays Destruction of Digital Voting Records | Gizmodo

Alabama’s special election for Jeff Sessions’ vacated Senate seat is underway today, but state courts are still battling over whether or not digital records from the vote should be preserved in case of a recount or a hack. On Monday, a judge ordered local election officials to save digital images of ballots, reports. However, his decision was quickly reversed by the Alabama Supreme Court, which stayed his order Monday evening. Alabama uses paper ballots in its elections, which is considered more secure than many digital voting machines. Once voters mark their choices on paper, the ballots are scanned by computers to tally the votes. This system isn’t set up properly for audits, according to Verified Voting, an election integrity organization.