South Carolina: Replacing South Carolina’s aging voting system | WMBF

Dr. Duncan Buell believes the voting system in South Carolina needs to be changed. Dr. Buell recently looked into data from the primaries and general election in 2018 for a League of Women Voters of South Carolina report. “We have an extremely complicated system,” he said. Dr. Buell said there were instances where votes were miscounted or counted twice. He said most of the problems come from the election system itself. “The system doesn’t have enough built into it,” he said.

Media Release: To Enhance Election Security, Rhode Island Tests A New Way to Verify Election Results

Rhode Island is making good on its promise to road-test risk-limiting election audits, following 2017 passage of legislation by the Rhode Island General Assembly, requiring them. Beginning with the presidential primary in April 2020, Rhode Island will become the second state to require these audits to verify election results. A “risk limiting” audit checks if…

National: ‘Abandoned’ .gov websites malfunction during US shutdown | E&T Magazine

Dozens of federal websites are malfunctioning due to their security certificates expiring during the weeks-long US government shutdown, Buzzfeed News has reported. In the US, a government shutdown occurs when Congress or the President does not approve appropriations or resolutions for funding federal operations and agencies. The current government shutdown has arisen out of the House of Representatives’ refusal to grant $5.7bn (£4.5bn) in federal funds to build a US-Mexico border wall and President Donald Trump’s refusal to accept any bill that does not provide the funds. Trump memorably claimed during his election campaign that “Mexico will pay” for the border wall; the Mexican government has declined to do so. The government shutdown is well into its third week, making it the longest-running government shutdown in the US history. During the shutdown, approximately 400,000 federal workers remain without pay until the government reopens, while many others are required to continue to perform essential work without pay.

Editorials: Nancy Pelosi’s H.R. 1 election reform bill could save American democracy. | Richard Hasen/Slate

The Democrats’ first order of business as they took control of the 116th Congress was introducing H.R. 1, the colossal “For the People Act.” This 571-page behemoth of a bill covering voting rights, campaign finance reform, ethics improvements, and more was a perfect reminder of just how much power the Constitution gives Congress to make elections better in this country and, sadly, of how partisan the question of election reform has become. By beginning with election reform as “H.R. 1,” Democrats signaled their priorities as they took over control of the House of Representatives. The bill now has 221 co-sponsors, all Democrats, including almost every Democrat in the House. It’s disheartening that bipartisan movement on election reform is no longer possible and that few of the significant improvements in the bill stand a chance of becoming law until Democrats have control of the Senate and the presidency. Even then some of its provisions could be blocked by a conservative-leaning Supreme Court. But if and when Democrats ever do return to full power in Washington, H.R. 1 should remain the top priority. Though there is room for some improvements, the “For the People Act” would go an enormous way toward repairing our badly broken democracy.

Editorials: Cybersecurity must be top priority for 2020 presidential candidates | Jeff Kosseff/USA Today

As presidential hopefuls lay the groundwork for their 2020 campaigns, there’s plenty of speculation about their messages, their strategies and who they will snag to be their campaign managers, pollsters and state directors. One campaign position has received little attention, but it is the most important hire that a candidate can make: chief information security officer. This official is responsible for securing the campaign’s email accounts, confidential files and computer systems from hacking.

Florida: Amendment 4 leads to massive daily registration numbers for a non-election year | Tampa Bay Times

Tampa Bay treated Tuesday like a voting rights holiday. Or, more accurately, Tampa Bay treated Tuesday like it was a business day in September or October just weeks before a presidential election. Hillsborough and Pinellas counties processed a combined 872 applications to register to vote on the day, the first day Amendment 4 expanded voting rights access to most felons who had completed their sentences. You can look at that number in two ways. In one way, it’s tiny: There are likely more than 130,000 people who just gained their right to vote in those counties, according to a Times analysis. In another way, it’s enormous. There is no general election in 2019, and off-years rarely see a day where more than a few hundred people register to vote in the region.

Idaho: State plans to hire a cybersecurity specialist for elections | StateScoop

Idaho Secretary of State Lawerence Denney said last week he would like to hire a cybersecurity specialist for his office to lead the state’s efforts to repel attempts to hack its election infrastructure. The new position would give Denney’s agency a full-time worker who can monitor and respond to threats against the state’s voter registration database and coordinate with clerks and other officials across Idaho’s 44 counties. Denney made the formal request to members of the Idaho state legislature last Friday, though plans for the new position have their origin in the $3.2 million grant the state received last year from the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission. According to a document Denney’s agency submitted to the EAC last July, Idaho would spend up to $220,000 in salary and benefits for a cybersecurity professional specializing in election issues.

Iowa: Push is on to ease restoration of felon voting rights | Des Moines Register

There is a proven fix for Iowa’s felon voting ban that has mistakenly rejected the ballots of law-abiding Iowans: Let felons vote once they’ve served their time, dozens of civil and legal groups say. It’s an idea Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds’ staff is reviewing with some key lawmakers in her party, a state senator said recently. Reynolds could make the change by executive order, but both the Republican senator and a Democratic House member said they want to look at legislative action to change the system in some way this year. “We need to talk about this in a way that gets rid of those pejorative attitudes about criminal reform that are just getting us stuck,” said Myrna Loehrlein, the chairwoman of a justice committee with the League of Women Voters of Iowa.

Kansas: Kobach grand jury process to begin next week in Douglas County | Lawrence Journal-World

Grand jury proceedings to investigate former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office will begin next week in Douglas County District Court, according to the judge presiding over them. Judge Kay Huff said that the proceedings would begin in her courtroom on Jan. 22, a Tuesday, following Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Grand jury proceedings are closed to the public. Huff mentioned the grand jury during a hearing for a murder trial she had been scheduled to preside over this week, noting that the grand jury matter was a priority that could not be moved despite other proceedings in her courtroom.

New York: With New Voting Laws, Democrats Flex Newfound Power in New York | The New York Times

After years of lagging behind other states, New York radically overhauled its system of voting and elections on Monday, passing several bills that would allow early voting, preregistration of minors, voting by mail and sharp limits on the influence of money. The bills, which were passed by the State Legislature on Monday evening, bring New York in line with policies in other liberal bastions like California and Washington, and they would quiet, at least for a day, complaints about the state’s antiquated approach to suffrage. Their swift passage marked a new era in the State Capitol. Democrats, who assumed full control this month after decades in which the Legislature was split, say they will soon push through more of their priorities, from strengthening abortion rights to approving the Child Victims Act, which would make it easier for victims of childhood sexual abuse to sue their assailants.

North Carolina: Legislative leaders want to be part of voter ID lawsuit | WRAL

Lawyers for Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore filed a motion in federal court Monday to intervene in a lawsuit challenging rules to implement North Carolina’s new requirement that voters present photo identification at the polls. Voters approved adding the ID requirement to the state constitution in November, and lawmakers adopted rules last month outlining what IDs would be accepted. The NAACP quickly sued to block the legislation, naming Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and the State Board of Elections as defendants. Cooper vetoed the voter ID rules, and the elections board has since been dissolved by a court order in a separate case, Berger and Moore noted. Also, both parties would be represented in court by Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein’s office, they said.

Ohio: 275,000 residents get ‘last chance’ to stay registered | Dayton Daily News

The Ohio Secretary of State’s office is sending “last chance” notifications to some 275,000 inactive voters across the state, giving them a final shot at keeping voting registrations active on county rolls.
In Montgomery County, some 17,918 residents should receive the notices, according to the secretary’s office. They will also go to 6,912 Butler County residents and 5,273 residents in Warren County. The secretary’s office says voters get six years to respond to county boards of elections to confirm registrations. If residents don’t respond or don’t vote in at least 12 elections, don’t request absentee ballot applications in even-numbered year general elections or don’t have their information automatically updated in transactions with Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles offices — if voters “ignore” those attempts to keep them on the rolls, they are sent a “last chance” notice, said a spokesman for the secretary of state’s office, Matthew McClellan.

Wisconsin: Jill Stein scores legal win against ‘gag rule’ for inspection of Wisconsin voting machines | Washington Examiner

The Green Party’s 2016 presidential nominee Jill Stein declared victory Thursday in a legal fight over her effort to personally examine whether voting machines in Wisconsin were vulnerable to attacks. In a statement, Stein celebrated a Wisconsin court ruling against a “gag rule” sought by a top voting machine vendor hoping to ensure that she can not speak her mind about the result of an impending voting machines inspection. “If the voting machine corporations had their way, we’d be prohibited from disclosing our findings under penalty of law, even if we discovered evidence of problems that could have changed the outcome of the election,” Stein said. “The only reason for voting machine corporations to push for a gag rule was to prevent us from revealing any problems with their machines, which would threaten their ability to keep profiting off our elections,” she added. “It’s outrageous that we’ve had to go to court to argue that the integrity of our elections is more important than protecting corporations.”

Canada: Voting restrictions on expatriate citizens are unconstitutional, Supreme Court rules | The Globe and Mail

Barring expatriate Canadians from voting in federal elections is rooted in bygone days of horses and buggies and violates Canada’s modern constitution, says the Supreme Court, which on Friday ensured a lasting franchise for long-term non-residents. Two Canadians working in the United States, Gillian Frank and Jamie Duong, challenged federal voting restrictions after they were unable to vote in the federal election of 2011. At the time, the law said non-resident citizens could not vote if they had lived more than five years abroad.

Congo: Neighbors call for vote recount in troubled election | Associated Press

Congo’s neighbors are calling for a vote recount in the disputed presidential election and suggesting the formation of a government of national unity to avoid possible instability. The statements by the southern African and Great Lakes regional blocs put new pressure on the government of outgoing President Joseph Kabila to find a peaceful and transparent solution to a growing electoral crisis in one of Africa’s largest and most mineral-rich nations. The declared presidential runner-up, Martin Fayulu, filed a court challenge over the weekend demanding a recount, citing figures compiled by the influential Catholic Church’s 40,000 election observers that found he won 61 percent of the vote.

Kenya: Cyberattacks Threaten Elections and Security, Kenyans Say | allAfrica

A majority of Kenyans are worried that cyberattacks will increase elections tampering and national security threats in future, according to a new survey. A study carried out by American-based Pew Research Centre showed 73 percent of Kenyans believe that sensitive national security information will be leaked from cyberattacks, while 72 percent said such attacks are a recipe for election interference. The research which was carried out in 26 countries globally, whose report was released over the weekend, also surveyed possibilities of cyberattacks on crucial public infrastructure such as power grids and telecommunication services.

Libya: Elections should be held even if draft constitution rejected-parliament chief | Reuters

Libya should press ahead with national elections even if voters reject a draft constitution in a planned referendum, the head of the country’s internationally recognised parliament said. The comments by Aguila Saleh could help assuage U.N. and Western concerns that the House of Representatives (HoR) might try to undermine efforts to organise elections to help end the years-long conflict in Libya. The United Nations and Western powers hope Libya will hold its national elections by June after holding a referendum on a constitutional framework to chart a way out of the conflict, which stems from the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Nigeria: Opposition Slams Trial of Nigerian Chief Justice Before Vote | Bloomberg

The trial of Nigeria’s top judge got underway in a case that’s prompted lawyers and opposition parties to accuse the government of trying to oust him and spark a constitutional crisis before next month’s presidential election. Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen didn’t attend the opening Monday in Abuja, the capital, where the Code of Conduct Tribunal is charging him for not properly declaring his assets. The trial was adjourned until Jan. 22, and the Federal High Court in Abuja later said it will hold a hearing on Jan. 17 into whether it can continue, Lagos-based Punch newspaper reported.