West Virginia is about to take a leap of faith in voting technology — but it could put people’s ballots at risk. Next month, it will become the first state to deploy a smartphone app in a general election, allowing hundreds of overseas residents and members of the military stationed abroad to cast their ballots remotely. And the app will rely on blockchain, the same buzzy technology that underpins bitcoin, in yet another Election Day first. “Especially for people who are serving the country, I think we should find ways to make it easier for them to vote without compromising on the security,” said Nimit Sawhney, co-founder of Voatz, the company that created the app of the same name that West Virginia is using. “Right now, they send their ballots by email and fax, and — whatever you may think of our security — that’s totally not a secure way to send back a ballot.” But cybersecurity and election integrity advocates say West Virginia is setting an example of all the things states shouldn’t do when it comes to securing their elections, an already fraught topic given fears that Russian operatives are trying again to tamper with U.S. democracy.
National: GOP claims of voter fraud threat fuel worries about ballot access in November | The Washington Post
Nine months after President Trump was forced to dissolve a panel charged with investigating voter fraud, GOP officials across the country are cracking down on what they describe as threats to voting integrity — moves that critics see as attempts to keep some Americans from casting ballots in November’s elections. In Georgia, election officials have suspended more than 50,000 applications to register to vote, most of them for black voters, under a rigorous Republican-backed law that requires personal information to exactly match driver’s license or Social Security records. In Texas, the state attorney general has prosecuted nearly three dozen individuals on charges of voter fraud this year, more than the previous five years combined. And in North Carolina, a U.S. attorney and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued subpoenas last month demanding that virtually all voting records in 44 counties be turned over to immigration authorities within weeks — a move that was delayed after objections from state election officials.
For much of the past year, Sen. Ron Wyden’s (D-Ore.) Protecting American Votes and Elections Act has taken a backseat to the Republican-led, bipartisan-crafted Secure Elections Act in the election security debate on Capitol Hill. Boosters for the bipartisan effort continue to work to get their bill passed during the upcoming lame duck session. However, its stall out amid the perceived watering down of security provisions at the request of states in August combined with increasingly sunny forecasts for Democrats in the upcoming midterm elections may have provided an opening for consideration of alternative legislation. On Oct. 11, Wyden’s bill picked up four more Democratic co-sponsors in the Senate, with Tammy Duckworth (Ill.), Tammy Baldwin (Wis.), Maria Cantwell (Wash.) and Gary Peters (Mich.) all signing on.
Two years ago, when Chase Iron Eyes decided to run for Congress, he knew he had, as he puts it, “a snowball’s chance in hell” of winning. But Iron Eyes, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, still saw the narrowest of paths to victory in the race for North Dakota’s sole congressional seat. If he and the two other Native American candidates running for state offices as Democratic nominees were able to boost Native American voter turnout while simultaneously convincing independent-minded undecided voters to break their way, he explained, he thought he might win. Instead, incumbent Rep. Kevin Cramer, a Republican, coasted to another term by a huge margin.
Georgia: Held-up voter registrations reinforce black Americans’ fears about voting rights | The Washington Post
President Trump has discussed voting fraud during the 2016 election quite a bit. It is a popular concern among some Republicans fearful that undocumented immigrants are voting illegally — and for Democrats. But if you talk to many black Americans, their biggest concerns when it comes to voting are fears about the erosion of voting…
In the wake of Russia’s interference in U.S. elections, questions persist as to whether Russia changed vote totals and changed the outcome of the election. Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and the Senate intelligence committee each say there is no evidence that the Russians did so. But as technologist Matt Blaze told the New York Times, that’s “less comforting than it might sound at first glance, because we haven’t looked very hard.” And experts agree that our outdated voting technology certainly exposes voters to the risk of interference, as election security experts and election administrators have known for more than a decade. Last month, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia recognized that the risk of election hacking is of constitutional significance—and that courts can do something about it. In Curling v. Kemp, two groups of Georgia voters contend that Georgia’s old paperless voting machines are so unreliable that they compromise the plaintiffs’ constitutional right to vote. In ruling on the voters’ motion for preliminary injunction, Judge Amy Totenberg held that the plaintiffs had demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits—in other words, Georgia’s insecure voting system likely violated their constitutional rights. While the court declined to order relief in time for the 2018 elections, the ruling suggests that Georgia may eventually be ordered to move to a more secure voting system. (Protect Democracy, where I work, has filed an amicus brief in Curling. Protect Democracy also represents Lawfare contributors and editors Benjamin Wittes, Jack Goldsmith, Scott Anderson and Susan Hennessey on a number of separate matters.)
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office failed to produce records this summer showing it had certified the voting equipment used by hundreds of thousands of Kansans. Kansas statute requires the Secretary of State to certify equipment before counties purchase it and to keep such certification on file. But the office, responding to a Kansas Open Records Act request in June, could provide only two letters of equipment certification that Kobach issued in the past five years. Yet some counties – including Reno and Finney, as well as Sedgwick, Wyandotte, and Shawnee – have purchased systems since October 2013 that were not the systems mentioned in the two certification letters in Topeka. Why were they omitted?
Indiana: Glitches with voter registration system raise worries about absentee applications | South Bend Tribune
Problems with a state computer server have left two Michiana county clerks frustrated and concerned about their ability to process mail-in absentee ballot application requests in time for the Nov. 6 elections. Ann Tito, a 71-year-old South Bend woman who is typically homebound because of her cancer, said a St. Joseph County clerk’s office employee told her over the phone that she would soon receive an application in the mail to absentee vote from home. When she still hadn’t received the application two weeks later, Tito, beginning to worry that she wouldn’t be able to vote in time, said she had her caregiver drive her downtown Wednesday to vote in person at the County-City Building. “I took my walker and my cane and got there at 8 o’clock when they opened so I would have the best chance of finding a parking place,” Tito said. “It was difficult physically for me to do it, but it was a lot better than waiting in line on Nov. 6 for unknown amount of time. This election is critical. We need to stand up for what we believe in and vote.”
Missouri: Voter ID ruling has election authorities worried about confusion at polls | Columbia Missourian
As the Nov. 6 general election approaches, a new shake-up regarding voter identification laws has election authorities across Missouri — including in Boone County — on their toes. Cole County Judge Richard Callahan on Tuesday blocked provisions of the voter ID law that require people with a non-photo ID to sign an affidavit before casting a ballot. Callahan issued the ruling in a lawsuit filed against the state by Priorities USA. Although an affidavit requirement could be reasonable, the one used for voters who present an ID without a photo is “contradictory and misleading,” Callahan ruled. “The affidavit plainly requires the voter to swear that they do not possess a form of personal identification approved for voting while simultaneously presenting to the election authority a form of personal identification that is approved,” Callahan wrote.
New Hampshire: Voting advocates say absentee ballot errors demonstrate flaws in system | Concord Monitor
There are ballot errors – the misspellings, typos and misalignments that can prompt last-minute changes ahead of Election Day. Then there are errors, and Stephen D’Angelo found himself on the receiving end of a major one. On Oct. 6, a Saturday, the Democratic nominee for Rockingham County District 4 received a flood of emails with alerts from supporters. The absentee ballots had been sent out to voters, the emails said, and D’Angelo’s name wasn’t on them. In the box for the Democrat in his House race, instead, was D’Angelo’s primary opponent Russell Norman, whom he had defeated in September by five votes. One Republican representative from the same five-seat district, Jess Edwards, had posted a screenshot of the ballot on a Facebook page. “I thought he was kidding,” D’Angelo, of Chester, said in an interview. “I thought it was a joke at first. I looked on the secretary of state’s website and lo and behold, it was accurate.”
One of the most controversial proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot this fall is also the shortest: “Constitutional amendment to require voters to provide photo identification before voting in person.” Depending on who’s talking, those 13 words are a common-sense step to protect the integrity of the vote — or an attack on hard-won voting rights. The General Assembly voted in June to put the amendment before voters after a federal appeals court found parts of the state’s 2013 voting law unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up the issue on appeal. The people who see a voter ID requirement as an attack include many African-Americans who say the amendment is yet another obstacle intended to discourage minority voting.
Men in state government and on the U.S. Supreme Court crippled Native suffrage recently, but women are leading the fight to bring Native votes in record numbers to the polls. Some women are offering rides on Election Day to Natives lacking transportation. Others are filming videos on social media trying to explain what Native people need to prepare for ahead of time. Secretary of State promises to handle address switches from a post office box to a physical address are failing as multiple sources have reported waiting for three weeks to hear back from a county 911 coordinator. On October 9 the U.S. Supreme court voted 6 – 2 to disallow post office boxes as valid addresses to use while voting in North Dakota. All identification papers must have a physical address, which means many Native IDs are useless.
Registered voters say their names vanished from a state-run database. “We had gone online, to my surprise, to find out that I was not registered,” said 21-year-old voter Michael Peterson. Peterson says his mom asked the family to check their registration status online before the upcoming elections, and that’s when they found Michael’s name gone. It came as a shock because Peterson voted two years ago. His initial reaction was to feel like “it really feels unfair and it just doesn’t feel right, everyone should always be included,” Peterson said. In July, Peterson moved across town. He said he went to the DMV to get a new license and chose to keep his voter registration the same. “The information that we had in our database did not match the current address,” said Justin Lee, the Utah director of elections.
At the founding of the United States, the right to vote belonged to a privileged few. White, male, property owners were the only people directly steering the fate of this nation. It took significant struggles to change that. The Civil War, women’s suffrage and the Civil Rights movement were just pieces of the complex web of events that gave most adult U.S. citizens the right to vote. But progress isn’t always linear. There have been significant efforts to suppress the voting population over the last two decades. Gerrymandering, restrictive voter ID laws, and purged voter rolls have all led to the disenfranchisement of many citizens. Carol Anderson is the author of, One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression is Destroying Our Democracy chronicles the history of voter suppression in the U.S. and the ways that modern politicians are trying to suppress the vote in states throughout the country. Wisconsin plays a starring role in the book. “There are a couple of ground zeros for this and Wisconsin, unfortunately, is one of them,” says Anderson.
Afghan officials say at least 22 people have been killed — including civilians and members of the Afghan security forces — by a bomb that exploded at an election campaign rally for a woman who is running for parliament in the northeast of the country. Ahmad Jawad Hijri, a spokesman for the governor of Takhar Province, said 36 people were wounded in the attack in Rustaq district. He earlier told RFE/RL that the death toll could rise because many of the wounded were in critical condition. Khalil Aser, a spokesman for the provincial police chief, said at least 32 people were wounded by the blast.
Angela Merkel’s conservative partners in Bavaria have had their worst election performance for more than six decades, in a humiliating state poll result that is likely to further weaken Germany’s embattled coalition government. The Christian Social Union secured 37.2% of the vote, preliminary results showed, losing the absolute majority in the prosperous southern state it had had almost consistently since the second world war. The party’s support fell below 40% for the first time since 1954. Markus Söder, the prime minister of Bavaria, called it a “difficult day” for the CSU, but said his party had a clear mandate to form a government. Among the main victors was the environmental, pro-immigration Green party, which as predicted almost doubled its voter share to 17.5% at the expense of the Social Democratic party (SPD), which lost its position as the second-biggest party, with support halving to 9.7%.
India: US scientists ‘hack’ electronic voting machines ahead of polls in 5 states: Report | Business Today
The Election Commission of India announced the dates for Assembly polls in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Rajasthan and Telangana last week. Along with the dates, the poll regulating authority in India announced that VVPAT-enabled electronic voting machines will be used during these polls. Additionally, the country is looking at an eventful General Elections in 2019. Now, with barely a month left before states go to elections, scientists at the University of Michigan claim to have found a way to ‘hack’ Indian EVMs. A video posted online showed the scientists at the US university supposedly manipulating voting results on an electronic voting machine (EVM) via mobile text messages after attaching a home-made device to the machine, a BBC News report said.
Luxembourg voters delivered an uncertain outcome in an election on Sunday, leaving the liberal-led coalition with just enough seats to stay in government and the traditionally dominant center-right also capable of returning to power. Opinion polls had indicated that the Christian Social People’s Party (CSV) – which was led for 19 years by EU chief executive Jean-Claude Juncker – would end Xavier Bettel’s five years as prime minister of a three-party coalition. The CSV was on course to be the largest party, but actually lost seats, according to a projection by broadcaster RTL after more than 90 percent of the votes were counted.
Hundreds of Maldivians protested on Sunday demanding the arrest of defeated President Abdulla Yameen as its top court began to hear a petition challenging the outcome of last’s month election in the island nation. The tourist archipelago has been in political turmoil since February, when a state of emergency was imposed by Yameen, whose critics have accused him of running Maldives with an iron fist, jailing political opponents and Supreme Court judges. “This is our right. They can’t change it. They can’t play around with the votes,” Abidha Afeef, a 55-year old protester told Reuters. “Yameen has to go.”
The National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) on Sunday has foiled 12,000 hacking attacks on the internet voting website that was made to facilitate the overseas Pakistanis to exercise their voting right. According to details, hackers attempted almost 1200 times to harm the website however, NADRA successfully counter the attack and kept the website operational. More than 5,000 overseas Pakistani voters have cast their vote through Internet voting system. Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has granted permission to all registered overseas Pakistanis voters to have the right of casting vote in bye-election through I-voting system.