Media Release: Verified Voting Calls on Governor Tom Wolf and the Pennsylvania General Assembly to Appropriate Funding to Replace Vulnerable Electronic Voting Machines

Marian K. Schneider: “Verified Voting calls on the Pennsylvania legislature to appropriate additional funding to subsidize the cost of replacement.” The following is a statement from Marian K. Schneider, president of Verified Voting, formerly Deputy Secretary for Elections and Administration in the Pennsylvania Department of State, following Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget address to the joint legislative session on Tuesday morning.  “The…

National: State officials want election security cash. But some don’t like the strings attached. | The Washington Post

State election officials want the latest round of election security money included in a major bill proposed by House Democrats – but they’re divided on whether they want to accept a slew of voting mandates that come along with it. The divide is largely along partisan lines. On one side, there’s Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate (R), the incoming president of the National Association of Secretaries of State, who balked at provisions in H.R. 1 that make it more difficult for states to impose voter ID requirements. Pate said in an email the For the People Act amounts to the federal government seizing authority over elections from states. On the other side are Democrats who largely support those efforts to expand voter access and consider them a fair trade for more election security money. “There’s a tension over H.R. 1 and whether or not it’s a federalization of elections,” one Democratic secretary of state told me at the NASS conference in Washington this weekend. “It is not. And anyone who claims that it is, that’s an overreach.”

National: House Intelligence poised to send Mueller lingering Russia investigation transcripts | Washington Examiner

The House Intelligence Committee has scheduled a vote this week on sending more transcripts to the Justice Department. The panel’s website says members will vote on Wednesday regarding the “transmission of Certain Committee Transcripts to the Department of Justice.” Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said last week the first thing his panel would do in the new term would be to release all remaining transcripts from their Russia investigation to special counsel Robert Mueller. “Neither we nor the Special Counsel will tolerate efforts by any person to impede any investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, nor to pressure a witness to withhold testimony from or mislead Congress,” Schiff said in a statement released after longtime associate Roger Stone was indicted as part of Mueller’s investigation.

National: Black caucus members explore voting rights issues | Brownsville Herald: Local News

The first Voting Rights and Elections listening session of the U.S. Committee on House Administration took place Monday in Brownsville at the invitation of U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela as part of a day of events he hosted in recognition of Black History Month. Several members of the Congressional Black and Hispanic caucuses took part in the session, which was led by U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, CHA Elections Subcommittee chair-designee, and which and took place at the Cameron County Courthouse Oscar C. Dancy Building. … The members of Congress heard testimony from a panel made up of veteran voting and civil rights attorneys Chad Dunn, George Korbel and Rolando Rios; Mimi Marziani, attorney and president of the Texas Civil Rights Project, and Matthew McCarthy, representing the American Civil Liberties Union.

Arkansas: Aging volunteers an election worry for Arkansas; fewer serving in newer generations | Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Election officials are concerned with the aging of the poll workers they rely on to run elections and are looking for ways to recruit younger workers. Washington County’s Election Commission discussed the issue at last week’s meeting. Jennifer Price, election director, sent the commissioners information she included in a report to the state about last November’s election. Washington County had three poll workers from ages 18 to 24, according to Price. In the group from 25 to 40, the county had 17 workers. The county had 63 poll workers from 41 to 60 and 129 from 61 to 70. The largest number in any age group was 166 who were 71 or older. The commission was aware of the age of most poll workers generally, from observation over time, but hadn’t seen the numbers until Price sent the report to them. “When you see it in print, it really jumps out at you,” Price said.

Indiana: Counties could be required to have paper trail for voting by 2024 | Indianapolis Business Journal

A bill that would require counties using electronic voting systems to also maintain a paper trail is moving forward at the Indiana General Assembly. Senate Bill 570, authored by Columbus Republican Greg Walker, would require counties to have a voter-verifiable paper trail in addition to any electronic system the county uses. Indiana Election Division Co-Director Brad King said a voter-verifiable paper trail would work much the way an ATM generates a paper receipt to reflect a transaction. He said about half of Indiana counties already have such systems.  But those who don’t use the systems already could face costly upgrades.

Indiana: Lawmakers move redistricting bill that would leave them in control of maps | Indianapolis Business Journal

Standing shoulder-to-shoulder before the Senate Elections Committee, members of the Indiana Coalition for Independent Redistricting urged lawmakers on Monday to approve new standards for the way they draw maps for the state’s legislative and congressional seats. They held blue-and-gold “All IN for Democracy” picket signs and office clocks raised high, as the coalition members waited more than two hours to voice one central demand: that legislators put an end to what they call partisan gerrymandering. “Gerrymandering is no longer an art. It is a science,” said 17-year-old Christian Omoruyi, a senior at Columbus East High School. “Politicians have surgically manipulated district boundaries to ingratiate themselves with the kulaks of the party machine.”

Kansas: With Kris Kobach Out Of Office, His Voting Policies Could Wither In Kansas | KMUW

Former Republican Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach rewrote the rules for voting in Kansas. Laws he pushed for required voters to show citizenship papers to register and ID at the polls. He secured prosecutorial powers for his office. Kobach’s term only ended a couple weeks ago, but some cornerstones of his legacy are already starting to crumble. A federal court knocked down the state’s voter registration rule last summer. Interstate Crosscheck, a voter records system that Kobach said could help states maintain their voter rolls and spot double voting, is currently on hold and could be abandoned. The new secretary of state wants to take the spotlight off the office. Republican Scott Schwab was sworn in on Jan. 14 and quickly backed one significant change.

Maryland: Company with Russian investment no longer owns firm that hosts Maryland election data | Baltimore Sun

new firm has taken ownership of hosting Maryland’s elections data after a federal investigation into the Russian ties of the previous vendor. Maryland elections administrator Linda Lamone said Monday the state will use Intelishift, a Virginia-based data center, and its subsidiary, The Sidus Group, through Dec. 31. The Sidus Group was previously a unit of ByteGrid LLC. The FBI revealed in July that ByteGrid was connected to Vladimir Potanin, a wealthy ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Potanin is an investor in a private equity firm, Altpoint Capital of Greenwich, Connecticut, that bought an ownership stake in ByteGrid in 2011. ByteGrid — through The Sidus Group — hosted Maryland’s online voter services, election-night website and voter registration, candidacy and election management systems.

Michigan: New emails show GOP used maps to consolidate Republican power | Bridge Magazine

New evidence submitted on the eve of a landmark trial challenging Michigan’s GOP-drawn legislative districts appears to strengthen the claim the maps were drawn in 2011 for partisan, Republican gain. Emails and other documents filed over the weekend in federal court show that Republicans saw the redistricting process as a way to consolidate its power and ensure a GOP majority in the state house, senate and the U.S. Congressional delegation. “Now that we had a spectacular election outcome, it’s time to make sure Democrats cannot take it away from us in 2011 and 2012,” according to a “redistricting essentials” memo issued in November, 2010, by the national Republican Party and shared with the Michigan GOP just after it swept to historic majorities in Michigan.

Minnesota: Push to restore felon voting rights gains momentum | Star Tribune

Renee Brown-Goodell is not shy about introducing herself as a felon, a label she has carried without shame after spending more than four years in federal prison for a 2012 fraud conviction. But it still stings that she was forced to sit out the past two elections: Her right to vote remains out of reach until she completes her post-prison supervised release. “I’m out here and I’m expected to work, I’m expected to pay taxes and take care of my family and behave like a regular American citizen should behave,” Brown-Goodell said. “And yet I’m not a regular American citizen because you have stripped away my rights to be a regular American citizen.”

New York: Electronic Poll Books Next Step in New York Election Overhaul | Gotham Gazette

As Democrats in the state Legislature continue a rapid pace of passing legislation to start the new session, the state Senate seems poised to advance another round of election and voting reforms, including approving the use of electronic poll books to administer elections. Electronic poll books, used in at least 34 states and the District of Columbia, are a fairly simple but significant instrument in making elections more efficient, experts and advocates argue. They make voting faster, preventing long lines at polling sites, save costs in the long run, and are easier to update and maintain compared to the paper lists currently used in New York. Some advocates also say e-poll books, as they’re often called, are essential in implementing improvements to voter registration processes, which the state Legislature put into motion last month, and helpful in the implementation of the significant shift of early voting, also part of the recently-passed package.

North Carolina: Decision on new election expected this month in 9th district fraud investigatio | Raleigh News & Observer

The newly appointed state board of elections plans to vote on whether to certify the election — or call for a new one — in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District after a hearing on Feb. 18 and 19 in Raleigh, the board’s chairman said Monday. The five-member board, appointed by Gov. Roy Cooper on Jan. 31, will begin its evidentiary hearing at 10 a.m. at the North Carolina State Bar in Raleigh. The hearing is expected to last for two days, but the site has been reserved for three. Republican Mark Harris leads Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes in the unofficial results from the 9th district. But the previous nine-member state board twice declined to certify the results, citing irregularities among mail-in absentee ballots in Bladen and Robeson counties.

North Carolina: Voter-fraud investigation in North Carolina focuses on immigrants | The Washington Post

At about 4 a.m. on Aug. 23, federal agents rousted Jose Solano-Rodriguez from his bed in the suburbs of Raleigh. A couple of hours later, three agents knocked on Hyo Suk George’s door as she fed her rabbits and chickens in rural Columbus County. Jose Ramiro-Torres was at his job at a fencing company near the Outer Banks when his girlfriend called to tell him to come home, where federal agents were waiting. In all, 20 immigrants – two still in pajamas – were rounded up over several days, many of them handcuffed and shackled, and charged with voting illegally in the 2016 presidential election. The sweep across eastern North Carolina was one of the most aggressive voting-fraud crackdowns by a Trump-appointed prosecutor – and also a deliberate choice that demonstrates where the administration’s priorities stand. At the time of the arrests, an organized ballot-tampering effort that state officials had repeatedly warned about was allegedly gearing up in the same part of North Carolina. The operation burst into public view after Election Day in November, when the state elections board, citing irregularities in the mail-in vote, refused to certify the results of the 9th Congressional District race. That seat remains unfilled while state officials investigate.

Editorials: Pennsylvania needs paper ballots to secure our elections | Charlie Dent/Philadelphia Inquirer

Pennsylvania’s elections — like many other states’ — are vulnerable to cyber attack, leaving our democracy in a precarious state. As a former Pennsylvania legislator and member of Congress representing the Keystone State, I know how important free, fair, and secure elections are to governing. A lack of public trust in the vote imperils our great American experiment in popular sovereignty. Despite these serious threats to our election architecture, there are known solutions that we can, and must, implement. The report of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Pennsylvania’s Election Security provides this blueprint to secure our elections.

Editorials: Texas Republicans are lying about fraud to justify a racist voter purge | Mark Joseph Stern/Slate

On Jan. 25, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton tweeted a “VOTER FRAUD ALERT” that quickly rocketed around the internet. Texas Secretary of State David Whitley, Paxton asserted, had discovered that approximately “95,000 individuals identified” as non-citizens are registered to vote in the state, “58,000 of whom have voted” in Texas elections. Whitley promptly urged counties to begin purging these 95,000 people from their voter rolls, demanding proof of citizenship within 30 days or canceling their registrations. Donald Trump joined the action, tweeting on Jan. 27 that Whitley’s numbers “are just the tip of iceberg.” Voter fraud, Trump wrote, “is rampant. Must be stopped. Strong voter ID!”

Canada: Chief electoral officer worries parties are weak link in cybersecurity chain | Calgary Herald

Canada’s chief electoral officer is “pretty confident” that Elections Canada has good safeguards to prevent cyberattacks from robbing Canadians of their right to vote in this year’s federal election. But Stephane Perrault is worried that political parties aren’t so well equipped. “They don’t have access to the resources we have access to,” Perrault said in an interview Monday, noting that “securing (computer) systems is quite expensive… Even the larger parties have nowhere near our resources and you’ve got much smaller parties with very little resources.” Moreover, with thousands of volunteers involved in campaigns, he said it’s difficult to ensure no one falls prey to “fairly basic cyber tricks,” like phishing, that could inadvertently give hackers access to a party’s databases. “You can spend a lot of money on those (security) systems and if the human (fails), that’s the weak link.”

El Salvador: Nayib Bukele, an Outsider Candidate, Claims Victory in El Salvador Election | The New York Times

Salvadorans elected Nayib Bukele, the media-savvy former mayor of the capital, as their next president on Sunday, delivering a sharp rebuke to the two parties that emerged from the country’s brutal civil war in the 1980s and have held power ever since. The dramatic win for Mr. Bukele, 37, who was running as an outsider, underscores the deep discredit into which the country’s traditional parties have fallen. Voters appeared to be willing to gamble on a relative newcomer to confront the country’s poverty and violence, shutting out the right- and left-wing parties that have dominated Salvadoran politics for three decades. Mr. Bukele won almost 54 percent of the vote in preliminary results, the electoral board said, beating out Carlos Calleja, a supermarket executive who was the conservative Arena Party candidate. Hugo Martínez, a former foreign minister who ran for the governing Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front, or F.M.L.N., saw many of his party’s voters defect to Mr. Bukele and came in a distant third.

Thailand: 15 election candidates change their names to those of former Prime Ministers | The Guardian

More than a dozen candidates in the forthcoming Thai elections have changed their names to those of former prime ministers. Less than two months before the long-awaited elections, excitement is running high. Almost 6,000 candidates turned up on the first day of registration on Monday, no one wants to miss a chance to win a seat. Party spokeswoman Ketpreeya Kaewsanmuang said 10 men had legally changed their names to Thaksin, after the former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, and five women had changed their name to Yingluck, after his sister who also led the nation.

United Kingdom: Sajid Javid dismisses speculation of snap general election in June | The Guardian

Sajid Javid has said “the last thing we want is a general election”, emphasising that the government is still hoping to secure a time limit or unilateral exit mechanism for the Irish border backstop. The home secretary dismissed newspaper reports that Downing Street strategists were considering holding a snap general election on 6 June, if Theresa May cannot get her Brexit deal through parliament before the 29 March deadline. “The last thing we want is a general election, the people will never forgive us for it,” Javid told the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show. “They want politicians to get on with the job. They have been given a very clear mandate, now it’s our job to get on with it.”