The Voting News Weekly: The Voting News Weekly for January 29 – February 4 2018

In an NPR report on America’s aging voting machines, University of Michigan computer science professor and Verified Voting Board of Advisors member J. Alex Halderman was quoted “[i]f we do nothing, if we let the mechanics of voting continue to deteriorate, then I am 100 percent sure that we are going to be attacked again in the fullness of time, and it’s going to make 2016 look quaint by comparison.” e continued “I have in my office, sitting on my desk, a touchscreen computer voting machine of a type that’s still used in several states that my research group hacked ten years ago in order to make a silent vote-stealing attack.”

In an FCW article on the response from DHS to the cyberthreat to elections, another Verified Voting Advisory Board member Candice Hoke, who co-directs the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law’s Center for Cybersecurity and Privacy Protection, said that election systems themselves are at risk of digital interference. “We have large segments of the population voting on equipment that’s not secure,” Hoke said. “It’s poorly designed equipment for the modern age… Yet election systems are some of the most poorly funded governmental operations.”

Verified Voting President Marian K. Schneider wrote an oped for the York Dispatch highlighting problems that occurred in York County Pennsylvania last November that could have been avoided with the use of paper ballot voting systems.

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said the biggest threat to the state’s election system is old voting equipment. “Not only is it based on outdated technology, the bottom line is the machines are old,” Padilla said. “When they have to find replacement parts that are no longer made and they have to hunt for them on Ebay, that’s not a good thing… We’re kind of living on borrowed time.”

A federal judge has declared Florida’s procedure for restoring voting rights to felons who have served their time unconstitutional. In a rebuke of Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who is the lead defendant in the case, U.S. District Judge Mark Walker said the disenfranchisement of felons who have served their time is “nonsensical” and a violation of the First and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

The North Carolina Supreme Court as struck down a law that created a new ethics and elections board with an even split between political parties, and a lower court is expected to issue a more detailed order later this month. In the wake of the ruling, the North Carolina Republican Party withdrew nominations it made last April to the combined State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement.

William & Mary Law School’s State of Elections blog posted an article on Rhode Island’s new post election audit law. Rhode Island, like sixteen other states, does not presently have a statutory requirement to conduct post-election audits. But in September, the state legislature unanimously passed a bill through both chambers that would begin post-election audits in 2018 and mandate them in every county by 2020.

Wisconsin State Elections commissioners Wednesday edged closer to a showdown with Republican state senators over whether Elections Administrator Michael Haas should continue to lead the agency. Elections commissioners voted 4-2 not to take immediate action on the issue and revisit it at a March 2 meeting. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has said the commission’s move to retain Haas was unlawful and a Senate vote to reject his confirmation meant Haas is out of a job — creating a vacancy in the administrator position. 

A US congressional group has nominated Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow who led the 2014 Occupy protests for the Nobel Peace Prize. China’s foreign ministry criticized the nomination, which e characterized as “meddling in is county’s internal affairs”.
Marc Goodman, founder of the Future Crimes Institute and chairman of policy, law and ethics at Silicon Valley’s Singularity University, said the Philippine electoral system is vulnerable to cyberattack and the government may not be prepared for it. He warned that governments around the world, particularly the Philippines, were woefully unprepared for threats brought by the automation.