Georgia voters may find out by month’s end whether they’ll be going back to paper ballots in a November election with one of the nation’s most closely watched gubernatorial races. A good-government group claims in a lawsuit that the state’s electronic-voting system is at such risk of Russian-style interference that the Republican-led state is violating residents’ constitutional rights by failing to fix the problem. U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, has scheduled a hearing for Sept. 12 in Atlanta and said she’ll issue an opinion within two weeks on the group’s request for a paper ballot. Georgia’s election databases and 27,000 touchscreen voting machines could be hacked to erase valid registrations, add fake voters and even switch votes to decide which candidate wins, the group said in the lawsuit. And the state is an inviting target, they say, because its machines are easy to hack and the state has a large number of registered voters — about 7 million.
National: New NASEM Report Suggests Blockchain And Online Voting Systems Are No-Go | BitCoinExchange
The United States National Academies of Sciences (NASEM) released a report which asserted that virtual voting systems ought to be shelved. The firm is supporting the use of paper ballots in the entire US electoral system by 2020. According to the report entailed in the 156 page document, NASEM insists that virtual systems of voting ought to be shelved until such a time that the system can be verified to be secure. Authors of the said report are of the view that making use of the blockchain as an irreversible ballot box may appear promising, however, the technology may not be in a position of addressing the essential issues of the electoral process. The report is in essence a conclusion of a study that lasted two years. The committee behind the research comprised of election scholars, cybersecurity experts, as well as social scientists. Over and above, the report campaigns for the use of human-readable paper ballots in the next US elections.
Nonpartisan redistricting proponents are turning to midterm election referendums in key states where legislative leaders have signaled no desire to give up their authority on drawing political boundaries. Voters in four states — Michigan, Missouri, Colorado and Utah — will weigh in on ballot measures this November that would radically reshape the way congressional or legislative district lines are drawn. In those states, legislative leaders have the power to draw state legislative and congressional district lines, authority critics say they have used to safeguard incumbents. The initiatives, placed on the ballot by good-government groups and, in some states, by Democratic activists, would vest the power to draw district boundaries in the hands of independent commissions.
Just in the past few months, elections in the U.S. have been decided by hundreds of votes. The 2016 presidential election tilted to Donald Trump with fewer than 80,000 votes across three states, with a dramatic impact on the country. Yet, only about 6 in 10 eligible voters cast ballots in 2016. Among the other 4 in 10 who did not vote was Megan Davis. The 31-year-old massage therapist in Rhode Island never votes, and she’s proud of her record. “I feel like my voice doesn’t matter,” she said on a recent evening at a park in East Providence, R.I. “People who suck still are in office, so it doesn’t make a difference.”
To quote the great political philosopher Cyndi Lauper, “Money changes everything.” 1 And nowhere is that proverb more taken to heart than in a federal election, where billions of dollars are raised and spent on the understanding that money is a crucial determinant of whether or not a candidate will win. This year, the money has been coming in and out of political campaigns at a particularly furious pace. Collectively, U.S. House candidates raised more money by Aug. 27 than House candidates raised during the entire 2014 midterm election cycle, and Senate candidates weren’t far behind. Ad volumes are up 86 percent compared to that previous midterm. Dark money — flowing to political action committees from undisclosed donors — is up 26 percent.
A task force charged with finding new voting machines for Delaware made its decision Tuesday. The task force voted unanimously to award the contract to Election Systems and Software. Its voting machines creates a paper ballot that it marks and tabulates for the voter. But some advocates like Stan Merriman criticized the task force, saying its work lacked transparency and it failed to consult outside experts. “Instead the task force bill treated this historic event as just another routine purchase of machines, failing to imagine a different future,” he said. “Again, machines over methods.” Jennifer Hill with Common Cause Delaware says other states using ESS’s machines have experienced some issues. Some advocates were also upset the new system doesn’t include paper ballots that voters fill out themselves or a vote by mail system.
For only the third time this year — but this time under a withering national media glare — Florida’s highest elected officials sat in judgment Tuesday of people whose mistakes cost them the right to vote. During a five-hour hearing, 90 felons made their case to Florida Gov. Rick Scott and three members of the Cabinet, asking to have their rights restored. It was a packed house in the Cabinet room of the state Capitol, as Tuesday’s hearing drew reporters and cameras from, among other outlets, NPR, The Huffington Post and The Guardian. The hearings typically attract one or two members of the Tallahassee press corps.
The security of Georgia’s touchscreen electronic voting machines will be under scrutiny in a federal courtroom Wednesday. A group of voters and election security advocates want a federal district court judge to order the state to not use the machines in this November’s election and replace them with paper ballots. “I will not cast my vote on those machines, as I have no confidence that those machines will accurately record, transmit, and county my vote,” said one of the plaintiffs, Donna Curling, in a court filing. Early voting in the state begins on Oct. 15 and election officials say a switch at this point would mean chaos, and potentially suppress turnout.
The Georgia State Election Board voted unanimously Tuesday to deny a request to require hand-marked paper ballots in November’s election. The board’s 4-0 vote came one day before a federal judge ill consider a lawsuit seeking to mandate paper ballots in the Nov. 6 general election. Election integrity advocates say Georgia’s electronic voting system is untrustworthy and could be vulnerable to hackers, but election officials say it is accurate and secure. “It’s entirely too close to the election to make a massive change,” said Ralph Simpson, a member of the State Election Board, to voters trying to switch to paper ballots. “We haven’t heard any evidence that any of the things you describe have actually occurred in Georgia. They’re either manufactured or imagined.”
Georgia: Secretary of State says switching back to all-paper voting is logistically impossible | Ars Technica
A group of activists in Georgia has gone to court with a simple request to election officials: in the name of election security, do away with electronic voting entirely and let the more-than 6.1 million voters in the upcoming November 2018 election cast ballots entirely by paper. Georgia is just one of five American states that use purely digital voting without any paper record. As part of this ongoing federal lawsuit, known as Curling v. Kemp, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s office says that such a change would be “reckless” with the election less than 60 days away. Plus, modifying the voting process would be too expensive, too unwieldy, and, in the end, not worth it. “Plaintiffs raise only spectral fears that [Direct Recording Electronic machines] will be hacked and votes Miscounted,” John Salter, an attorney representing the state, wrote in a recent court filing.
Massachusetts: After issues in Lowell and Lawrence, state says it will oversee elections there through November | The Boston Globe
Citing concerns about short-staffing and the mishandling of primary ballots, Secretary of State William F. Galvin said Monday he is taking over the elections departments in the Third Congressional District’s two largest cities, as he formally ordered a recount into its hotly contested Democratic primary. The decision to “exercise direct control” in Lawrence and Lowell through the November election injected a new level of intrigue into the unpredictable Third District race, where Dan Koh, a former chief of staff to Mayor Martin J. Walsh of Boston, petitioned for a recount after falling 122 votes short of Lori Trahan in the 10-Democrat field.
New Jersey: There’s Money for Upgrading Election Security but Little for Vital Paper Trail | NJ Spotlight
Despite expert opinion that, without paper ballots, New Jersey’s election system is far from secure, state allots negligible amount to remedy that weakness. New Jersey plans to spend $10.2 million to enhance election security over the next several years, but will use only part of it to conduct a small pilot project involving what some experts say is the most important change the state needs to make: moving to a system of paper ballots. The Center for American Progress has rated New Jersey’s election system among the least secure in the nation, in large part because there is no way to independently audit ballot results should a hacker meddle with the programming of one or more election machines. Pending legislation (A-3991) calls for the state to upgrade its voting machines to ones that have a paper trail and county clerks agree that change is needed. New Jersey is only taking the smallest step in that direction.
The North Carolina Board of Elections 9-0 vote last week to fight a wide-ranging subpoena from the U.S. Justice Department was a rare moment of bipartisanship in the state, with Republicans saying the federal government overreached in an apparent effort to fight voter fraud. The board’s four Republicans voted with the four Democratic members and one unaffiliated member. The U.S. Justice Department and Immigration and Customs Enforcement have asked for more than 20 million election documents and ballots, from 2010. The subpoena asked for about 2.3 million absentee ballots from the last five years. Absentee ballots – which were mostly cast during early voting – are traceable to the voter. That means the federal government could have determined how people voted.
For the first time, many Oklahoma voters will now be able to update some of their basic voter registration information online. The first phase of online voter registration, which was operational Monday, allows Oklahomans to update their address or party affiliation online, said Paul Ziriax, election board secretary, in a statement. Voters, however, must be…
Pennsylvania: Paper’s back as government officials, advocates check out new voting machines | The Morning Call
For three hours Tuesday morning, sales representatives with Election Systems and Software made their pitch in the Lehigh County Government Center, fielding questions about security, services and usability of their latest generation of voting machines. The Omaha, Neb., company is an industry leader in the tools of democracy, making about 55 percent of the machines used in U.S. elections, according to Willie Wesley, an ES&S representative. As part of a demonstration, he fed a stack of ballots into the DS850, a machine that can scan and tabulate 350 paper ballots a minute. The paper whizzed through the chute before being sorted into separate stacks.
A big change is in store for many Rhode Island voters Wednesday as they check in at polling locations. The board of elections gave ABC6 News a demo of the new electronic poll books which will be rolled out. Basically, instead of those old binders with your name and address you’ll just have to present your photo identification. The information is then scanned into an iPad where they verify you’re the right person and in the right place. If you’re not in the right place, the device can text you the address of where you’re supposed to be. Officials say this new technology has been shown to cut down on wait times and increase data accuracy. “You’re information is going to be brought up extremely quickly so that poll workers don’t have to flip through hundreds of pages to try and find your name. It’s going to show up within seconds,” said Rob Rock, Director of Elections with the Secretary of State’s Office.
Bahrain said on Monday it would hold a parliamentary election on Nov. 24, the state news agency BNA reported, the second ballot since 2011 when mostly Shi’ite protesters took to the streets demanding more democracy. The 2018 elections come at a sensitive time for the Gulf state as the public finances have been hit hard by a slump in oil prices, with Bahrain’s dinar plunging to its lowest in more than decade.
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the jailed former Brazilian president, stepped aside on Tuesday to allow his running mate to stand for the presidency in next month’s election, as Leftist candidates’ strong showing in a poll pulled markets lower. The politician, nicknamed “Lula”, had been the frontrunner despite serving a prison term for corruption and had already been banned by the courts from contesting elections in South America’s biggest economy. The switch was approved at a meeting of the Workers Party in the southern city of Curitiba – where Mr da Silva has been held since April – as a court-ordered deadline loomed for him to name a stand-in. “The decision has been made,” a party official told AFP.
Campaigning kicked off just after midnight on Tuesday in the Kurdistan Region parliament election campaign slated for September 30. Over 700 candidates are vying for spots in the 111-seat chamber where 11 seats are reserved for Turkmen and Christian minorities and 30 percent must be filled by women. The campaign had a hesitant start, delayed by a week amid reports that some parties wanted to postpone the vote that is already taking place 11 months late. Some candidates delayed creating campaign materials, fearing the process may be put off again. European allies told Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani they are “happy” the election is going ahead as scheduled.
Conditions in Libya are too unstable to hold elections, Prime Minister Fayez Seraj was cited as saying on Wednesday, casting doubts on a French-led push for a vote in December which aims to end years of turmoil and unify the North African country. French President Emmanuel Macron hosted a conference in May where rival Libyan factions agreed to work with the United Nations for a national election by Dec. 10. Libya splintered following the 2011 NATO-backed revolt that toppled Muammar Gaddafi, and since 2014 has been divided between competing political and military groups based in Tripoli and the east. “You can not vote with instability in the streets … it is necessary that everyone accepts the result of the ballot. We need shared rules,” Seraj, who leads the U.N.-brokered transitional government based in Tripoli, said in an interview with Italian daily Corriere della Sera.
Social Democrat prime minister Stefan Lofven pledged on Sunday evening to remain prime minister of Sweden, with the general elections giving his centre-left bloc 144 seats in the Swedish parliament, the Riksdag – one more mandate than the centre-right opposition alliance’s 143 seats. The result is however so tight, with just some 30,000 votes separating the two blocs, that it may take until Wednesday (12 September) when the last votes cast by Swedes abroad have been counted and the result finally checked before the final result is known. The Social Democrats remained the biggest party with 28.4 percent of the votes, according to figures released on Monday morning. It gives the party 101 seats in the parliament, a record low result. The party had 113 seats after the 2014 elections.
Nelson Chamisa claimed he was born to be a leader of the country of Zimbabwe and the people gave him the mandate to lead them. Leader of the MDC-alliance Nelson Chamisa may have been unable to win either the election or a case at the country’s constitutional court that sought to show his rival’s victory to be illegitimate, but that isn’t stopping his followers from holding an “inauguration”. Zimbabwe’s main opposition party plans to hold the mock inauguration to name its Chamisa as the country’s president this weekend, highlighting its claims the July 30 election was rigged.