The Supreme Court says a blanket ban on prisoners voting was lawful. The court has today dismissed an appeal brought by jailhouse lawyer Arthur William Taylor asking them to declare a decision to ban all prisoners from voting was invalid. Taylor and the other appellants, represented by lawyer Richard Francois, have battled through the High Court, Court of Appeal and now the Supreme Court for a declaration that Parliament was wrong to impose a blanket ban on prisoners voting. But while the High Court agreed the ban was inconsistent with the Bill of Rights Act, it did not declare the ban invalid. That decision has now been backed by New Zealand’s highest court. Taylor argued the ban, brought about in the Amendment Act 2010, was invalid because a supermajority of 75 per cent of all the members of the House of Representatives was required to pass the amendment, which did not happen.
Media Release: Verified Voting Welcomes Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams to its Board of Advisors
Wayne Williams: “I’m excited to share my expertise so that we can continue to strengthen our nation’s election systems and voters’ confidence in those systems.” Verified Voting, a leading national organization focused solely on making our voting technology secure, welcomes Wayne Williams to its Advisory Board. Williams, while serving as Colorado Secretary of State from…
Democrats have been quick to argue that their losing candidate for Congress in North Carolina’s Ninth District may have been a victim of election fraud. But there might be a Republican victim as well. He is outgoing Representative Robert M. Pittenger, whose narrow loss to Mark Harris in the Republican primary in May is just about as studded with red flags suggesting absentee ballot fraud as the general election now under scrutiny. As with the November general election, most of the concerns about the primary center on Mr. Harris’s extraordinary success with absentee voters in Bladen County, a rural swath of southeastern North Carolina where L. McCrae Dowless Jr., a shadowy contractor with a history of suspect voter turnout efforts, worked for Mr. Harris’s campaign. In that primary against Mr. Pittenger, Mr. Harris won 437 of the 456 ballots cast through the mail in Bladen County; his overall margin of victory was only 828 votes. By contrast, in an earlier run against Mr. Pittinger in 2016, Mr. Harris won only four of 226 such ballots in the county. Mr. Dowless did not work for Mr. Harris in that campaign.
National: Despite Inactivity During Midterm Elections, Hackers Are Likely To Ramp Up Attacks In 2020 | Wall Street Journal
Hackers were less active than security experts had anticipated during last month’s midterm elections, but the federal government should still continue its assistance to state and local election security, according to Judd Choate, director of the division of elections at Colorado’s department of state. “Many states need money, they need assistance,” Mr. Choate told security experts Tuesday at the WSJ Pro Cybersecurity Executive Forum in New York. Russian hackers’ dialed back their activity this year after attempting to interfere in the 2016 election and leaking stolen emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign, he said. Despite the lack of high-profile cyber threats around this year’s midterm elections, there are signs that hackers will use more sophisticated tactics to interfere in 2020, officials said. Robby Mook, campaign manager for Mrs. Clinton’s 2016 campaign, predicted that attackers will deploy so-called deep fake videos to sow confusion around the next presidential election, using artificial intelligence to create doctored videos and images that appear realistic.
National: Tabloid Publisher’s Deal in Hush-Money Inquiry Adds to Trump’s Danger | The New York Times
With the revelation by prosecutors on Wednesday that a tabloid publisher admitted to paying off a Playboy model, key participants in two hush-money schemes say the transactions were intended to protect Donald J. Trump’s campaign for president. That leaves Mr. Trump in an increasingly isolated and legally precarious position, according to election law experts. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments made in 2016 to keep two women silent about alleged affairs are now firmly framed as illegal campaign contributions. The news about the publisher, the parent company of The National Enquirer, came on the same day that Mr. Trump’s former lawyer Michael D. Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison in part for his involvement in the payments. “I blame myself for the conduct which has brought me here today,” Mr. Cohen said, “and it was my own weakness and a blind loyalty to this man” — a reference to Mr. Trump — “that led me to choose a path of darkness over light.”
When the Supreme Court shot down a key provision of the landmark Voting Rights Act — which required that certain places with a history of discriminating against voters get federal approval before making new changes to their voting laws — lawmakers in North Carolina wasted little time in passing sweeping new rules around voting. The state issued requirements for specific kinds of photo identification, cut back on early voting and preregistration. Supporters of the new laws, who were overwhelmingly Republican, insisted that the measures were necessary to prevent voting fraud. But voting rights experts and advocates said that voter fraud was extremely rare and that the rules would make it much harder for younger voters, poorer voters, and black people — groups that were more likely to vote for Democrats and less likely to have official identification — to cast their ballots.
After one of the most contentious midterms in state history, House Democrats are preparing a package of election reforms to extend voting deadlines, standardize election processes across counties and improve the signature matching process ahead of the 2020 elections. But Republican leaders have suggested such reforms are not high on their priority list going into next year’s session. In a wide-ranging Wednesday morning workshop, Democrats batted around several proposals including adjusting voting and registration deadlines, eliminating prohibitions on counting early votes and requiring signature-matching training for supervisors and canvassing boards. Democrats also raised the possibility of alternative means of verifying voters’ identities — like using the last four digits of Social Security numbers — and pushing supervisors to update old voting equipment to minimize counting delays.
Georgia: Hand-Marked Ballots ‘Best Approach’ For New Voting Machines, Expert On Georgia Panel Says | WABE
It would be a “much less desirable approach” for Georgia’s next voting system to feature computers that mark paper ballots for voters based on their selections, according to the lone cybersecurity expert on a panel tasked with making recommendations for replacements to the state’s electronic-only machines. The co-executive director of Georgia Tech’s Institute for Information Security and Privacy, Wenke Lee, made his recommendation in a memo sent to the Secure, Accessible and Fair Elections (SAFE) Commission in October, and it was obtained by WABE this week. “The best approach,” Lee wrote, “is to require the voters to hand mark paper ballots that are scanned and tallied by cyber system but also dropped into a safe box. This is because marking each vote captures and verifies the voter’s intention in a single act.”
Georgia: A panel reviewing a new Georgia election system remains divided | The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A group responsible for vetting a more secure and trustworthy Georgia voting system struggled Wednesday to reach agreement over whether to pursue hand-marked paper ballots or touchscreen machines that print ballots. The group of election officials, state lawmakers, political party representatives and voters debated the state’s options to replace its 16-year-old electronic voting machines but didn’t make any decisions Wednesday. The Secure, Accessible & Fair Commission, created by Gov.-elect Brian Kemp last spring when he was secretary of state, plans to hold its final meeting in early January to make recommendations to the Georgia General Assembly. Though the commission failed to reach a consensus, its members heard overwhelming support from the public for hand-marked paper ballots, which voters would bubble in with a pen and then insert into scanning machines. Of 27 people who spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting, only one — a county elections director — said he wanted a system other than manually filled-in paper ballots.
Indianapolis attorney Robbin Stewart was raised to value the right to vote. In his home state of Delaware, Stewart watched his mother work as a citizen lobbyist to protect the environment, and he got his first taste of political activism when as a 10-year-old he joined the campaign of a man running for state representative. He earned his J.D. degree in 1993 at the University of Missouri School of Law and then completed an LLM on state constitutions and voting rights at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. However, since 2005, when Indiana started requiring voters to show their picture before casting a ballot, Stewart has had trouble. He wants to vote, but he does not want to show his photo ID.
The company whose multimillion-dollar contract award to replace Louisiana’s voting machines was scrapped said Wednesday it won’t sue over the cancellation. But the avoidance of litigation won’t immediately restart the state’s stalled work to update its decade-old voting system. Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration voided the contract deal with Dominion Voting Systems in October, with the state’s chief procurement officer saying the secretary of state’s office mishandled the bid process, not following legal requirements. Dominion disagreed. But company spokeswoman Kay Stimson said the Colorado-based vendor won’t dispute the matter in court.
A proposal that would require another primary in the 9th Congressional District if suspected absentee ballot fraud results in a new election won legislative approval Wednesday. The requirement for a complete do-over in the 9th District is part of wide-ranging legislation that restructures the State Board of Elections and keeps information about campaign finance investigations secret. The State Board of Elections is investigating potential absentee ballot fraud in Bladen and Robeson counties. Leslie McCrae Dowless, who worked as a contractor for Republican Mark Harris’ congressional campaign, is at the center of an investigation over mishandling of absentee ballots. Harris defeated Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes in November, but the state board has twice declined to certify the results.
As evidence mounts of potential election fraud in Bladen County, WECT has learned this may not be an isolated problem. WECT has just uncovered that things in Columbus County may be even worse. About a third of the absentee ballots that were requested in Columbus County during the 2018 general election never got returned to the Board of Elections. That’s an even higher percentage of missing ballots than the unreturned ballot numbers that raised the red flags in Bladen County. There were 557 absentee ballots requested in Columbus County during the November election, more than double the number requested in Columbus County during the last mid-term election in 2014. Of those 557 ballots, 181 of them (32%) disappeared, and most of the missing absentee ballots were mailed to registered Democrats.
Bladen County election workers tallied the results of early voting before Election Day in violation of state rules and are accused of allowing outsiders to view them, a precinct worker wrote in an affidavit released by state Democrats. The allegations raise new questions about missteps in an election fraud case in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District race that has garnered national attention and held up certification of the U.S. House contest. The report showing totals from Bladen County’s only early voting location was run on Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018 from 1:44 p.m. to 1:46 p.m., according to a copy released by the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement, which is investigating voting irregularities among mail-in absentee ballots in Bladen and Robeson counties. Due to the investigation, the board has refused to certify the results of the election between Republican Mark Harris and Democrat Dan McCready. The board plans to hold an evidentiary hearing before Dec. 21, but no date or location has been announced.
The next time Pennsylvanians vote in a presidential election, it will most likely be on updated machines. New voting systems must be in place in every county by the end of 2019, per updated guidelines set by Governor Tom Wolf’s administration. “All of the systems you see here have a voter-verifiable, paper ballot,” said Jonathan Marks, at a vendor event Wednesday at Dickinson College where several different brands of machines were set up for the public to try firsthand. “They’ve also been certified to newer security standards; the current equipment in use in Pennsylvania is certified to standards that were actually written in the 1990’s.”
An early-morning fire in Congo’s capital destroyed thousands of voting machines just 10 days before the presidential election, officials said Thursday, saying the blaze appeared to be criminal in nature but vowing that it would not disrupt the vote. Congo’s first use of voting machines on Dec. 23, a rarity in Africa, has caused concerns among the opposition, diplomats and experts about possible manipulation in favor of President Joseph Kabila’s preferred successor. Kabila is stepping aside after taking power in 2001. The electoral commission said the fire broke out at a warehouse in Kinshasa, adding that it was too early to declare the cause or the extent of the damage.
Cyberattacks have threatened elections in several countries, and one of the major hacking cases was alleged foreign interference using cyber networks during the US presidential elections in 2016. Any form of interference in the election results, be it through money politics or cyberattacks, could endanger democratic well-being of the targeted country. Hence, cybersecurity must be taken seriously to take precautionary measures and prevent threat of cyberattacks. On April 17, 2019, Indonesia will hold simultaneous presidential and legislative elections believed to be among the most complex and largest elections in the world. Indonesia is the world`s fourth most populous nation, with some 260 million people, and the world`s largest archipelagic country, with over 17 thousand islands. Four months prior to the elections, cyberattacks have already increased in Indonesia, according to the National Cyber and Encryption Agency (BSSN).
New Zealand: Online voting trial for 2019 local body elections halted because of rising costs | TVNZ
A trial of online voting in next year’s local body will not take place after a working party of nine councils decided to halt the trial because of rising costs. A provider who satisfied the security and delivery requirements had recently been selected but ballooning costs forced the decision to not proceed with the trial in 2019. The working party will continue to work collaboratively with central government and the wider local government sector to deliver online voting for the 2022 local body elections.
Over the last few years, the world has witnessed Russia’s interference in the internal affairs of foreign countries: from meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections and Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom, to the military occupation of Ukrainian territories. In its subversive operations the Kremlin hacked into servers, subjected infrastructure and organizations to cyberattacks, and deployed legions of internet trolls on social media to spread lies and disinformation. In response to Kremlin threat, an international rapid-response team will monitor and expose any attempts by Russia to interfere in the upcoming Ukrainian presidential elections in 2019. The team is comprised of experts from the Atlantic Council, a U.S. think tank, the Transatlantic Commission on Election Integrity, the Razumkov Center, a Ukrainian think tank, and Stop Fake, a multilingual volunteer project for debunking Russian propaganda.