The Voting News Weekly: The Voting News Weekly for May 14-20 2018

The Associated Press posted a widely published article raising concern that “an estimated 1 in 5 Americans will be casting their ballots on machines that do not produce a paper record of their votes.” While many election official defend the accuracy of direct recording electronic voting machines, there is a growing consensus that such machines should be replaced with machines that use voter marked paper ballots. The obstacle to replacing them is cost and the recent authorization of the remaining $380 million in HAVA funds, while welcome, is insufficient to upgrade to paper ballot systems nationwide.

The Tampa Bay Times reports that Florida election supervisors have echoed complaints of election officials in many states that have not yet received any of the federal election security funding Congress sent states nearly two months ago. “We sure wish the money was available. It’s frustrating,” said supervisor Mark Earley in Tallahassee’s Leon County. “This is a big deal. There’s certainly room for improvement, especially in smaller counties.”

In a clear rebuke to Mr. Trump’s most ardent supporters in the Republican Party and in the right-wing news media, Republican Senator Richard M. Burr of North Carolina, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a statement that he saw “no reason to dispute” the intelligence assessment that the Russian government tried to help Donald Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton by meddling in the 2016 election.

Experts and political leaders expressed concerns over the administration’s decision to eliminate the White House’s top cyber policy role, a key position created during the Obama presidency to harmonize the government’s overall approach to cybersecurity policy and digital warfare. “It’s frankly mindboggling that the Trump Administration has eliminated the top White House official responsible for a whole-of-government cyber strategy, at a time when the cyber threat to our nation is greater than ever,” says senator Mark Warner (D – Virginia), the ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, in a statement.

The primary day cyberattack on the Knox County Tennessee election website has underscored the vulnerability of county level IT infrastructure. “Any web server by definition, is connected to the internet, so it’s directly vulnerable to attacks from the internet,” said Doug Jones, an elections cyber security expert at the University of Iowa. Elections websites can be especially vulnerable targets in voting districts that are more rural than Knox County, Jones says, because those counties often don’t have the resources to adequately monitor and secure their sites.

After a federal judge demanded that Texas officials detail how they will begin complying with the National Voter Registration Act, a decades-old federal law that aims to make it easier for people to register to vote, the state has made little efforts to comply. In a new filing the state’s legal adversaries have described the state’s actions as “bad faith foot-dragging.”

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) and Secretary of State Kim Wyman (R) announced that the state would pay the postage for all ballots in the 2018 general and primary elections. Officials said they hope that paying the postage will eliminate a barrier and make it easier for people to vote. Washington, Oregon and Colorado are the only three states that conduct all their elections by mail, but Washington will be the first state to pay for postage among them.

An international commission has formed to try to end meddling in elections in Western democratic nations by Russia and other autocratic countries. The Transatlantic Commission on Election Integrity (TCEI), will be co-chaired by former NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and former U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and will include former Vice President Joe Biden.

Burundians voted in a referendum that could keep the president in power until 2034 and threatens to prolong a political crisis that has seen more than 1,000 people killed and hundreds of thousands fleeing to neighboring countries.

In the face of international condemnation and allegations of vote buying and electoral fraud, Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro has claimed a second six-year term after an election in which credible opponents had forced off the ballot.Henri Falcón, Maduro’s nearest rival, claimed widespread vote buying and electoral irregularities meant the election was “illegitimate”. “We do not recogonize this electoral process as valid,” he told reporters. “As far as we are concerned there has been no election. There must be new elections in Venezuela.”