Verified Voting Blog: Verified Voting Recommends Hand-Marked Paper Ballots for Georgia to SAFE Commission

Verified Voting sent a letter to the Secure, Accessible, Fair Elections (SAFE) Commission on Friday, January 4 with their recommendations for a new voting system in Georgia. Read the letter below or download it here Verified Voting submits the following statement endorsing hand-marked paper ballots that are scanned as the primary voting method for voters.…

National: House Democrats’ first bill aims big on election security | The Washington Post

House Democrats came out swinging on election security in their first bill of the new Congress on Friday, promising at least $120 million for new voting machines — so long as they use paper ballots rather than digital ones. The move suggests the new House majority plans to push for the strongest election security measures they can get rather than seek compromise with the GOP-controlled Senate or the Trump administration. The paper ballot mandate puts the new House majority at odds with the Department of Homeland Security, which has left the door open for machines that record votes digitally but print out a physical paper trail so votes can be audited if there’s any suspicion of hacking. It also tees up a fight with the Republican-controlled Senate, which has been wary of imposing strict requirements on states.

National: DNC loses appeal on Republican election tactics | Politico

A consent decree that limited Republican Party’s use of controversial poll-watching and ballot security efforts for more than three decades appears consigned to the scrap heap of history after a federal appeals court rebuffed a move by Democrats that could have led to restoration of the long-running court order. The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals turned down the Democratic National Committee’s attempt to reopen discovery aimed at proving that the Republican National Committee violated the order in 2016 as then-candidate Donald Trump pressed publicly for a crackdown on what he contended was likely election fraud. After the election, Trump famously claimed — without evidence — that millions of illegal immigrants cast ballots in the presidential contest. Despite Trump’s public calls for his supporters to keep a close eye on certain neighborhoods, the three-judge panel unanimously ruled Monday that Democrats had not made a sufficient showing that the depositions they wanted to take were likely to show that the RNC actually responded to Trump’s entreaties.

Editorials: The Supreme Court Could Make Gerrymandering Worse | Richard Hasen/The Atlantic

The Supreme Court’s decision on Friday to take up partisan-gerrymandering cases from North Carolina and Maryland brought to mind a saying attributed to Judy Garland: Behind every cloud is another cloud. The now firmly conservative Court likely took the cases not to announce that such activities violate the Constitution, but to reverse the lower courts that said they do. Down the road, the Court might do much more damage, including by preventing states from using independent commissions to draw congressional districts. For years, the Supreme Court has ducked the question of partisan redistricting, failing to provide clear guidance on its constitutionality. Until he left the Court this summer, Justice Anthony Kennedy was the key swing vote on this issue. In 2004, he disagreed with conservatives that such cases present “political questions,” which courts cannot hear given the lack of “judicially manageable standards.” And he disagreed with liberals that any as-yet-proposed standards adequately separated permissible from impermissible consideration of partisan information in drawing district lines. But he suggested that the First Amendment’s right of association could serve as the foundation of a ruling against gerrymandering.

Editorials: How to Fix America’s Broken Political System | Norman L. Eisen & Fred Wertheimer/Politico

Much attention has focused on H.R. 1, the comprehensive package of democracy reforms introduced on Thursday by Representative John Sarbanes (D-Md.) on behalf of the new Democratic House majority. The unprecedented legislation is perhaps the most important domestic initiative of the new Congress. But it also has the capacity to begin fixing what has been broken in our foreign relations, reassuring our allies that America is on the way back to restoring our democracy, and with it our global leadership. Since 2016, the United States’ friends around the world have been faced with a dual shock: Russia’s multipronged attack on our elections that year and the ascension of President Donald Trump, who has criticized our longtime partners while embracing authoritarians like Russian President Vladimir Putin—despite his assault on our democracy.

Florida: State Set to Restore Voting Rights to Felons Amid Threats of Lawsuits | Wall Street Journal

Some Florida officials are balking at the state’s new amendment restoring voting rights to about 1.4 million people with felony records that is set to take effect Tuesday. Amendment 4, which Florida voters passed in November with nearly 65% support, re-enfranchises felons who have completed all terms of their sentences, including probation or parole, but doesn’t apply to those convicted of murder or sexual offenses. Opponents, including Republican Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis, say before the amendment can be implemented, the legislature needs to pass a bill to clarify its terms and fulfill its intent. Supporters say it should be implemented immediately. The disagreement is generating confusion and the threat of lawsuits. The measure produced the largest expansion of voting rights in the U.S. since the 26th Amendment reduced the voting age to 18 in 1971. It could have significant implications in a state where elections often are decided by paper-thin margins.

Georgia: Lawmakers prepare for fight over switch to paper ballots | The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Battles over election integrity that helped define Georgia’s race for governor will play out at the Capitol this year, when state legislators plan to replace the state’s 27,000 electronic voting machines and review voting access laws. The multimillion-dollar purchase of a more secure statewide voting system is a priority for this year’s legislative session, which starts Monday. Legislators generally agree that the state should start using paper ballots to replace the all-digital touchscreen system in place since 2002, but they strongly differ over what kind of paper-based system to buy. Intense debates over voter disenfranchisement are also certain to arise. A bill has already been filed to curb mass voter registration cancellations, and other measures could address ballot cancellations, voting hours, early voting times, precinct closures and district boundaries.

New York: Coalition wants ‘fair elections’ legislation to be Albany’s first priority | The Buffalo News

A coalition of 175 grassroots and community groups is pushing Albany to pass a “fair elections” package that includes such elements as small-donor public financing, closing campaign funding loopholes and early voting. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and other Democratic leaders have supported various forms of such legislation in the past, but fair elections proposals had been consistently blocked by Republicans who long controlled the state Senate, organizers say. Now that Democrats control both the legislative and executive branches in New York, the Fair Elections for New York coalition wants elected officials to pass fair elections legislation right away. About 25 representatives from the coalition held a news conference Monday on the steps of Buffalo City Hall to press for the reforms.

Pennsylvania: Election reform subject of many bills in Harrisburg | Reading Eagle

There are plenty of ideas for election reform floating around the state, including making it easier to vote, registering more voters and redefining who draws district lines. Pennsylvania lawmakers plan to introduce more than 20 bills this session to reshape the state’s election rules. Sen. Lawrence M. Farnese Jr., a Philadelphia Democrat, plans to offer a bill that would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to preregister to vote. When preregistered, an individual would be automatically registered to vote in the first election after he or she turns 18. Farnese’s memo on the bill says 22 states already allow for preregistration before age 18. … Republican Sen. Pat Stefano of Fayette County aims to develop a secure online system for military and overseas voters to return their absentee ballots electronically with a bill he plans to reintroduce.

South Carolina: ES&S iVotronic voting machines miscounted hundreds of ballots, report finds | StateScoop

An analysis of South Carolina’s voting equipment found that state election officials miscounted hundreds of ballots during the primary and general elections in 2018 because of “continued software deficiencies.” Conducted on behalf of the League of Women Voters by Duane Buell, a computer science professor at the University of South Carolina, the study published last week found that in one primary race, voting machines in one precinct double counted 148 votes. During the general election in another precinct, more than 400 votes were awarded in the wrong county board race. In both instances, Buell found, the improperly counted voters were logged by the South Carolina State Election Commission as official results. Neither case involved enough votes to swing the outcome of an election, but Buell told StateScoop the incidents demonstrate the state continues to use poorly designed software that poll workers, many of whom are volunteers working long shifts, struggle to operate correctly.

Virginia: Northam proposes repeal of Virginia’s voter ID requirement, reform campaign finance laws | WTVR

In an effort to remove barriers to voting, Governor Ralph Northam is proposing a repeal of the law that requires Virginians to show a photo ID when they vote. “Participation makes our democracy strong—we should encourage every eligible voter to exercise this fundamental right, rather than creating unnecessary barriers that make getting to the ballot box difficult,” said Governor Northam. The legislation will be patroned by Senator Mamie Locke and Delegate Kaye Kory. Kory said lawmakers should protect the constitutional right of every American citizen, not inventing ways to keep voters away from the polls. “The photo ID requirement prevents the most vulnerable Virginians from voting and silences the voices of those who most need to be heard,” said Kory.

Australia: Electoral systems get 24×7 monitoring for 2019 election | iTnews

Australia’s electoral systems will be actively monitored around the clock by a new security operations centre during the upcoming federal election. The Australian Electoral Commission has put out the call for vendors capable of providing “short-term, event based security monitoring” of its internal systems in a bid to protect against unauthorised interference. The centre would be used to detect “common or generic system or network compromises or compromise attempts against the AEC’ systems” in the lead up to, during and following the election. It will also spot “defined specific compromise attempts against electoral systems”, according to a brief posted on the digital marketplace late last month.

Bangladesh: The World Should Be Watching Bangladesh’s Election Debacle | Foreign Policy

On Dec. 30, 2018, Bangladesh held its 11th national election since becoming independent in 1971. The questionable results ended in a sweeping victory for the ruling Awami League party of Sheikh Hasina. The party’s coalition secured 288 out of a possible 300 seats in Parliament, ostensibly winning more than 90 percent of the popular vote. The coalition of the principal opposition party, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, won a mere seven seats. The results ensured a third term in office for the Awami League. However, almost immediately after the results were announced, a host of foreign and domestic analysts pointed out that the election was far from free or fair. Their misgivings were warranted. At least 17 people were killed in election-related violence, many others were injured, and there were widespread allegations of voter intimidation.

Canada: Former national security adviser questions feds’ plan to prevent election meddling | CTV

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s former national security adviser is questioning whether federal departments are prepared for the risk of election meddling in 2019 and whether the federal Liberals’ legislation meant to tackle foreign interference goes far enough. “I don’t think that the reports that were issued by the government—by [the Communications Security Establishment (CSE)]—is comprehensive enough. I’m not sure the legislation that we have in place deals with all of this,” Richard Fadden said on CTV’s Question Period. “It goes to the issue again, of fake news. This is a different version of fake news, and we haven’t come to grips with it yet,” said Fadden, who also advised former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper, and previously headed up CSIS, Canada’s spy agency.

Editorials: Congo’s fragile steps toward a democratic transition must not be lost | The Washington Post

HAVING NEVER experienced a peaceful transfer of power since independence in 1960, Congo is in a precarious position. The Dec. 30 election, while not conducted in perfect conditions after two years of postponement and uncertainty, nevertheless took place to choose a successor to President Joseph Kabila, a testament to the determination of millions of voters.…

Israel: The main cyber threats against Israel’s upcoming election | Haaretz

It’s Election Day April 9 and you’re told when you come to cast your ballot, “Sorry, you don’t appear on the voter rolls – you can’t vote.” Before that you’ve been deluged by text messages from a candidate, but they’ve been sent by his rivals in the hope you’ll protest the annoyance by voting against. The next day, the Central Elections Committee says it’s having trouble collecting the results. These things may not happen when Israelis go to the polls, but the odds are growing that at least some of them will. More than at any time in the past, Israel’s election system is exposed to a cybersecurity risk during the campaigning, including the process of vote counting. The Israeli cybersecurity company Check Point Software Technologies has crafted a study noting the likely threats based on the experience of other countries’ elections in recent years and suggests steps Israel can take to prevent them.