Verified Voting Blog: Pennsylvania Takes Critical Steps Toward Election Security by Purchasing Voter-Verifiable Paper Systems

Marian K. Schneider: “We applaud this decision today to increase the integrity of Pennsylvania’s elections and its move to safeguard elections.” 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, on Pennsylvania’s announcement that it will no longer…

Media Release: Verified Voting Says Paper Ballots and Post-Election Audits Can Safeguard our Elections as State and Local Election Officials Discuss Election Security

Marian K. Schneider: “Passing the bipartisan Security Elections Act will advance our nation’s efforts to protect and ensure trustworthy elections.” The following is a statement from Marian K. Schneider, president of Verified Voting, regarding the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) summit held today in Washington, D.C. For additional media inquires, please contact aurora@newheightscommunications.com   “As…

Media Release: Verified Voting Urges Congress to Pass the Secure Elections Act; Bipartisan Legislation Empowers States to Protect Themselves

Marian K. Schneider: “Passing the bipartisan Secure Elections Act will advance our nation’s efforts to protect and ensure trustworthy elections.” The following is a statement from Marian K. Schneider, president of Verified Voting, on the Secure Elections Act, which was introduced by Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) and co-sponsored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Sen. Lindsey…

Media Release: Election Security Experts Urge Congress to Pass the Security Elections Act; Bipartisan Legislation Empowers States to Protect Themselves

Marian K. Schneider: “Passing the bipartisan Security Elections Act will advance our nation’s efforts to protect and ensure trustworthy elections.” The following is a statement from Marian K. Schneider, president of Verified Voting, on the Secure Elections Act, which was introduced by Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) and co-sponsored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Sen. Lindsey…

Verified Voting Public Commentary: Verified Voting Testimony before the Pennsylvania State Senate Senate State Government Committee: Voting System Technology and Security

Download as PDF The security of election infrastructure has taken on increased significance in the aftermath of the 2016 election cycle. During the 2016 election cycle, a nation-state conducted systematic, coordinated attacks on America’s election infrastructure, with the apparent aim of disrupting the election and undermining faith in America’s democratic institutions. Intelligence reports that have…

Media Release: Election Security Experts Raise Concern about the Integrity of Alabama’s U.S. Senate Election if a Recount is Needed

Download as PDF Marian K. Schneider: “Alabama’s recount laws won’t do enough to protect voters’ votes.” The following is a statement from Marian K. Schneider, president of Verified Voting, on election integrity, and the need for manual recounts and audits. For additional media inquires, please contact aurora@newheightscommunications.com   “All eyes might be on the candidates…

Verified Voting Blog: Testimony of Verified Voting to the Georgia House of Representatives House Science and Technology Committee

Download as PDF Georgia’s voting machines need an update. The lifespan of voting machines has been estimated at 10-15 years.1 Purchased in 2002 Georgia’s voting machines are at the outside of that estimate. As voting systems age they are more susceptible to error, malfunction or security threats potentially losing or miscounting votes. Georgia is one…

Verified Voting Blog: Testimony of Verified Voting to the New York State Assembly Standing Committee on Election Law

Download as PDF In 2016 the threat of cyber attacks on our elections from foreign entities became an alarming reality. We learned that an adversarial nation was targeting our election systems with the intent to disrupt and undermine the legitimacy of our free, democratic government. In the declassified report “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in…

Verified Voting Blog: Verified Voting Testimony for the New Jersey State Assembly Judiciary Committee

Verified Voting is a national non-partisan, not for profit research and advocacy organization founded by computer scientists and committed to safeguarding democracy in the digital age. We promote technology and policies that ensure auditable, accessible and resilient voting for all eligible citizens. We urge you to adopt the proposed amendments and vote “YES” on A-4619.…

Verified Voting Blog: Verified Voting Letter to the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

This letter was sent to the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence following a hearing on June 21, 2017. (Download PDF) Verified Voting vigorously applauds the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence for its leadership and commitment to securing our elections. With clear evidence that foreign attackers sought to attack our 2016 elections through various means,…

Verified Voting Blog: Alex Halderman: Expert Testimony before the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

This testimony was delivered at a hearing on June 21, 2017. (Download PDF) Chairman Burr, Vice Chairman Warner, and members of the Committee, thank you for inviting me to speak today about the security of U.S. elections. I’m here to tell you not just what I think, but about concerns shared by hundreds of experts…

The Voting News Weekly: The Voting News Weekly for April 17-23 2017

According to reporting by Reuters, a Moscow-based think tank linked run by retired senior Russian foreign intelligence officials appointed by Vladimir Putin developed plans for a propaganda and misinformation campaign aimed at influencing the 2016 US Presidential election. Sources interviewed by Reuters described two documents produced by the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies that outlined strategies for influencing the election. The first was aimed at encouraging U.S. voters to elect a president who would take a softer line toward Russia, while the second, based on the assumption that Hillary Clinton would be elected recommended focusing on voter fraud to undercut the U.S. electoral system’s legitimacy and damage Clinton’s reputation.

An article in Wired examining the fight against partisan gerrymandering and suggests that current efforts may the most auspicious in decades due to new quantitative approaches—measures of how biased a map is, and algorithms that can create millions of alternative maps—that could help set a concrete standard for how much gerrymandering is too much. Last November, some of these new approaches helped convince a United States district court to invalidate the Wisconsin state assembly district map—the first time in more than 30 years that any federal court has struck down a map for being unconstitutionally partisan. That case is now bound for the Supreme Court.

Within days of Alabama Governor Robert Bentley’s resignation, new Governor Kay Ivey has changed the date for the special election to fill the U.S. Senate seat previously held by Jeff Sessions to this calendar year. Bentley had been criticized for putting the special election off until next year and Ivey moved quickly to set the primary for August 15, with a runoff, if necessary, for September 26. The general election will be held on December 12.

With the closely-watched special election in Georgia’s 6th Congressional district going to a run-off in June, civil rights and voting organizations have filed a suit challenging a Georgia law that prohibits voters from voting in the runoff election who weren’t registered in time for the first round. The plaintiff’s allege that the restriction violates Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act, which requires states to allow voters to participate in any election for federal office as long as they register at least 30 days prior.

Last week, Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske claimed that the state’s DMV of encouraged the registration of non-citizen voters, by allowing ID-seekers to also fill out voter registration forms at driver’s licenses offices even if they had presented a green card. Voting right advocates and DMV officials were quick to point out that federal law requires the DMV to submit voter registration applications to the state’s election officials regardless of the applicant’s apparent citizenship status. Cegavske on Wednesday released a statement saying that research by her department had found three non-citizens that are alleged to have voted in the November 2016 election in November, though she declined to say if her office would attempt to prosecute the three voters.

A voting rights group in North Carolina called for state and local officials to investigate whether allies of North Carolina’s former governor and the state Republican Party broke laws when hundreds of people were accused of voter fraud or absentee ballot irregularities last November. Democracy North Carolina said most of the accusations were irresponsible because the claims weren’t backed by evidence or could be eliminated based on cursory reviews of voter roll information. The protests were designed to intimidate voters for political gain or put in doubt the election result, the group’s report describing its own review alleges.

For the third time this Spring, courts have found Texas voting districts unconstitutional. This week it was the state legislative districts that were determined by a three-judge federal panel were also intentionally drawn to dilute votes based on race, and also violated the “one person one vote” principle of equal-sized voting districts that is the core consideration of the Voting Rights Act.

A New York Times article examined the role of Russian-sponsored misinformation in today’s presidential election in France. Turkey’s high election board has rejected formal calls by the country’s main opposition parties to annul the result of a referendum that will grant RecepTayyip Erdoğan sweeping new powers as president and the British parliament overwhelmingly agreed to a early general election on June 8, less than 12 months after deciding to quit the European Union.

The Voting News Weekly: The Voting News Weekly for April 3-9 2017

At an Election Assistance Commission hearing, a DHS official made the case for his agency’s designation of voting systems as critical infrastructure, emphasizing the designation did not undermine the autonomy of state election administration. Robert Hanson, DHS’ director of the prioritization and modeling at Office of Cyber and Infrastructure Analysis, noted that many state and local governments have turned to DHS for such support and warned that new security flaws could be introduced if the replacement systems aren’t properly vetted. State and local officials, however, reiterated their concerns on the critical infrastructure designation and the National Association of Secretaries of State will continue to ask the administration to rescind the critical infrastructure designation for election systems.

Under investigation by the House Ethics Committee, Devin Nunes has stepped down “temporarily” from his role in leading the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation of ties between Russia and the Trump campaign. The investigation relates to statements Nunes made last month regarding U.S. surveillance operations aimed at foreign targets had incidentally collected communications involving members of President-elect Trump’s transition team, of which he was a member. His recusal leaves the inquiry in the hands of other rightwing Republicans and it is unclear how much effect, if any, his absence would have on an investigation stalled by deep partisan infighting.

An FBI investigation has determined a “security researcher” was behind data breaches at Kennesaw State University’s Center for Election Systems and that researcher’s activities was not in violation of federal law. In what seems to be a “white hat” hack, a researcher at least twice breached the KSU system apparently in an attempt to demonstrate its vulnerability. A closely watched special election this month in Georgia will be conducted using unverifiable direct recording electronic equipment maintained and programmed at the KSU Election Center.

A federal magistrate judge has ordered Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to hand over for review the documents that he took to a meeting with President Trump outlining a strategic plan for the Department of Homeland Security. The U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan., will determine whether the documents are relevant to two federal lawsuits seeking to overturn a Kansas law that requires voters to provide proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate or passport, when they register to vote.

Montana Governor Steve Bullock reignited a debate over all mail ballot elections when he inserted language specifying that “the 2017 special election to fill the vacancy in the office of the United States representative for Montana may be conducted by mail,” into an unrelated election bill that had reached his desk. Republican legislators, fearing that an all mail ballot election would result in higher turnout therefore diminish their party’s chances, had defeated similar legislation in the state Senate last week. Montana State law allows the governor to issue such “amendatory vetoes” to bills he generally supports but will only sign with his suggested changes. The amendments must be approved by both legislative chambers for the bill, including the originally passed language, to become law.

On a party-line vote the North Carolina House has approved a bill that would merge the state’s ethics and election boards and significantly diminish the power of the political party of the governor. Roy Cooper, the Democratic Governor has threatened to veto the bill, which has been fast-tracked in Senate. Republicans hold veto-proof majorities in the House and Senate, so the Governor may pursue legal action to stop the bill as he did successfully with a similar proposal passed before his inauguration in January.

U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos will wait until after the Texas legislative session is over to order remedies to its voter identification law, but does not believe current legislative action will affect a pending lawsuit against the state. Gonzales Ramos had ordered temporary fixes to the law ahead last November’s presidential election and Republicans had introduced legislation this year that resembled the judge’s measures. They argue that the changes in the bill, which has passed in the Senate and is pending in the House, would have an impact on the judge’s ruling in the lawsuit but Gonzales Ramos disagreed. In the same ruling, the judge also allowed the Justice Department to withdraw from the case, a request made after President Donald Trump took office in January.

The ruling Liberal government in Canada has rejected calls for internet voting. A special parliamentary committee report issued last month expressed concern about the security of online voting and recommended against pursuing it until those concerns could be addressed. In a formal response to the committee’s report, Minister of Democratic Institutions Karina Gould said the government agrees with the committee. “While Canadians feel that online voting in federal elections would have a positive effect on voter turnout, their support is contingent on assurances that online voting would not result in increased security risks,” Gould wrote. “We agree.”

In a rare development, both the winning and losing parties in Ecuador’s presidential election are supporting a recount to verify the accuracy of he announced results. Country Alliance, the incumbent party, accepted the challenge of conservative challenger Guillermo Lasso, who has alleged fraud and vote rigging. Observers from the Organization of American States reported that they had “found no discrepancies between the observed records and the official data”. The recount is already underway.

As Indian politicians debate the accuracy and reliability of electronic voting machines, Russia has expressed interested in observing India’s technology with goal of using it in their presidential election in 2018. In return, Russia would assist India in developing a “state-of-the-art tabulation system” for counting of votes. Since by-elections earlier this year, allegations of voting machine tampering have been a significant issue in the Indian Parliament, with various opposition leaders disrupting proceedings to protest the issue.

The Voting News Weekly: The Voting News Weekly for March 20-26 2017

The week began with the confirmation by FBI Director James Comey that that an investigation of ties between Russia and the Trump campaign have been underway since last July. Then Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes mysteriously disappeared into the night leaving a committee staffer in an Uber taxi the night before hastily arranging a press conference to reveal that he has seen evidence of incidental surveillance of the Trump transition team. Then Nunes cancelled the committee’s next open hearing, a move Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the committee, called a “dodge” to avoid another bad press day for the President. Schiff has questioned the chairman’s ability to lead an unbiased investigation.

The New York Times notes that “nationwide, Republican state legislators are again sponsoring a sheaf of bills tightening requirements to register and to vote. And while they have traditionally argued that such laws are needed to police rampant voter fraud — a claim most experts call unfounded — some are now saying the perception of fraud, real or otherwise, is an equally serious problem, if not worse.”

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed a bill requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls. The legislation is strikingly familiar to a measure that the state Supreme Court struck down in 2014. The bill contained some new provisions, most notably one that allows people without photo identification to sign a sworn statement saying they are registered in Arkansas, but it is certain to face another court challenge. In Iowa a similarly contentious voter ID bill cleared the Senate by a straight party-line vote and will return to the House where it was initiated by Secretary of State Paul Pate.

It now seems that Kennesaw State University officials received a warning before the presidential election that a server system used by its election center may be vulnerable to a data breach but waited until another breach earlier this month, just before a closely-watched special election to notify state officials. A spokeswoman for Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who is said to have been furious at university officials for not telling his office about the contacts before this month, said he has confidence in how the presidential election was run and that additional data checks by the office confirm the election’s results.

After defeating a proposal from the Governor earlier in the week, the Maryland Senate approved a bill that would require the state to create a nonpartisan commission for redistricting. However the new plan is contingent on five other states agreeing to do the same. Senators were divided between those who see the bill as a hollow gesture and others who say it’s a first step toward fixing Maryland’s confusing, gerrymandered political districts.

The fight over Montana’s only congressional seat was thrust into the legislative arena , as lawmakers continued debate over whether to conduct the May 25 special election by mail. Passions flared in the House Judiciary Committee as dozens of people — some driving more than 400 miles to attend a hearing — urged lawmakers to save counties from financial hardship and logistical nightmares by allowing the election to be held with only mail-in ballots.

A motion filed in U.S. District Court claims that Texas should be blocked from using a map of congressional districts that was found to have been drawn in violation of the U.S. Voting Rights Act, a federal court was told Thursday. A ruling earlier this month invalidated three districts that the court said were drawn by Republicans to intentionally discriminate against Latino and black voters.

Bulgarians voted in a closely-fought election, with the centre-right GERB party challenged for power by Socialists who say they will improve ties with Russia and the overwhelming majority of the Hong Kong’s 7.3 million people have no say in deciding their next leader, with the winner chosen Sunday by a 1,200-person “election committee” stacked with pro-Beijing and pro-establishment loyalists.

The Voting News Weekly: The Voting News Weekly for March 13-19 2017

An Associated Press article reported on the plight of many election officials across the country that must scout eBay to find the obsolete zip drives and other computer accessories required to run their aging voting equipment. Quite apart from the serious security vulnerabilities inherent in using computers with deprecated software and equipment that is no longer maintained by the manufacturer, simply keeping sufficient units in working order has become a challenge in many counties. Many jurisdictions are still using equipment that was produced by vendors that are no longer in business (see Delaware and several jurisdictions in Pennsylvania and Virginia.)

Former Senators Carl Levin and John Warner provided some insight into the appropriate approach to congressional investigations of allegations of election meddling and collusion between the Russia and the Trump campaign. “Whether it is done by the Intelligence Committees, a joint or select committee, or some other congressionally created framework, a vital goal of any such investigation must be bipartisanship.”

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Roger Brodman dismissed a challenge to Arizona’s congressional and legislative district maps drawn by an independent commission in 2012. The U.S. Supreme Court has previously upheld the legality of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission itself and the legislative district maps

A group of technology experts, most of whom are members of Verified Voting’s Board of Advisors signed a letter urging Georgia’s Secretary of State Brian Kemp to abandon the use of electronic voting machines in upcoming special elections while the FBI reviews a suspected data breach. Last week we learned that the FBI was investigating an alleged data breach in Georgia at the Center for Election Systems at Kennesaw State University, which is responsible for ensuring the integrity of the voting systems and developing and implementing security procedures for the election management software installed in all county election offices and voting systems. Not surprisingly election officials, who have an election to run, rejected the technology experts’ calls to use paper ballots but the Secretary of State’s office has stated that they will be running the special elections “in house”, albeit still with the involvement of personnel from KSU.

Nevada Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson and Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford, both Las Vegas Democrats, have each introduced legislation that would ease the path for the restoration of voting rights to convicted felons who have completed their sentences. The Assembly bill would immediately restore the rights of ex-felons convicted of non-violent crimes after they serve their sentence or are discharged from parole or probation, regardless of whether that was honorably or dishonorably, while the Senate bill would restore rights either after completion of probation or parole or one year after their term, whichever comes first. It also decreases the wait time before they can ask the court to seal their records.

After a decade of delays in enforcing legislation requiring voter verified paper records of all votes in New Jersey, lawmakers have introduced a bill that would require new voting machines purchased or leased after its passage to produce a paper record. One of the Assembly bill’s co-sponsors is Assemblymen Reed Gusciora, who has been a vocal critic of the state’s Sequoia AVC Advantage direct recording electronic voting machines. In 2004 he filed a lawsuit in an attempt to force the state to upgrade to more secure systems. With Advantages now entering their third decade of operation, the time may have finally arrived for accurate and reliable voting equipment in New Jersey.

A three-judge panel ruled that the North Carolina General Assembly’s attempt to revamp the state elections board and ethics commission weeks before Democrat Roy Cooper was sworn in as the new governor violated the state Constitution. Adopted in a special session shortly after Cooper defeated Republican McCrory in the elections, the law altered a longstanding process that gave the governor the power to appoint three members from his party to preside over elections as well as two members from the other party. Instead, the two boards would be merged into one evenly divided between the political parties and between gubernatorial and legislative appointments.

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe vetoed a bill that would have required the state Department of Elections to provide local registrars with a list of voters who, according to data-matching systems, have been found to be registered in another state. McAuliffe said he believed the bill would have endangered the voting rights of some Virginians and increased the administrative burden on local governments.

French authorities are on high alert to head off a cyber-attack that could affect the result of the upcoming presidential election.
Prime targets could be candidates’ websites and government networks. Earlier this month the government decided to abandon plans to allow internet voting for French citizens overseas in June’s legislative elections. Guillaume Poupard, Anssi’s chief, publicly said that the current voting platform is “more reliable” than the previous 2012 election, but “the level of threat is much higher today”.

The surprising victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party in four out of five state polls earlier this month has renewed challenges to the accuracy of India’s electronic voting machines. And the Netherlands witnessed record turnout as voters dealt a blow to the populist party of Geert Wilders in elections in which all counting, tabulation and transmission of voters was done without the use of software.

The Voting News Weekly: The Voting News Weekly for March 6-12 2017

While the the House Intelligence Committee negotiated an agreement with the nation’s intelligence agencies for full access to sensitive information gathered on interference in last year’s election, Democratic Senators used a confirmation hearing for Deputy Attorney General to urge the selection of a special prosecutor to examine the Trump administration’s potential ties to Russia. In the face of repeated requests, the nominee Rod Rosenstein refused to make any commitment.

In an NPR piece, Pam Fessler notes that although there has been little progress on the Administration’s investigation of voter fraud and states have found scant evidence of illegal voting in the 2016 election this has not deterred Republican legislators in many states from promoting voter id and other restrictive voting requirements.

One Democratic Senator joined the entire Republican caucus in the Arkansas Senate to reach by a one vote margin the two-thirds majority vote needed for passage of photo identification requirement. The day before the Senate had approved a proposed that cleared the way for a constitutional amendment to be placed on the November 2018 ballot. After hours of often contentious debate, the Iowa House passed a similar voter ID requirement on a typical party line vote and changes are being proposed to a voter id bill passed last year in the West Virginia legislature.

The FBI is investigating an alleged data breach in Georgia at the Center for Election Systems at Kennesaw State University, The KSU Election Center is responsible for ensuring the integrity of the voting systems and developing and implementing security procedures for the election management software installed in all county election offices and voting systems. With closely-watched special elections scheduled in the coming months, it is than a bit troubling that closely-watched special elections scheduled for the coming months in Georgia will be held using DREs and e-pollbooks maintained and programmed by the KSU Center at the same time the center is subject to a criminal investigation.

A panel of federal judges ruled that a several of Texas congressional districts drawn by the Republican-dominated state Legislature in 2011 discriminated against black and Hispanic voters and violated the Voting Rights Act and the Constitution. Richard Hasen has suggested that the ruling may provide a path for Texas to once again face ongoing federal supervision under the Voting Rights Act.

A group of academic experts has raised concerns about the security of an internet voting system proposed for use in Western Australia that uses a proxy service to provides protection against Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, by placing itself between voters and the actual server.

The French government announced that it was cancelling plans to allow citizens abroad to vote over the Internet in legislative elections this June and the Netherlands is abandoning electronic vote counting ahead of their March 15 general election. Officials in both countries cited concerns over cybersecurity and foreign interference as reasons for abandoning electronic voting.

In a unanimous ruling, South Korea’s Constitutional Court formally removed impeached President Park Geun-hye from office over a corruption scandal. Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn has led the government as acting leader since Park’s impeachment and he will continue to do so until South Korea elects new president by May.

The Voting News Weekly: The Voting News Weekly for February 27 – March 5 2017

Following reports in The Washington Post that he had twice met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the campaign, contradicting testimony at his conformation hearing, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that he will recuse himself from investigations related to the 2016 presidential campaign. The Post article came a day after The New York Times reported that In the Obama administration’s last days, some White House officials scrambled to spread information about Russian efforts to undermine the presidential election — and about possible contacts between associates of President-elect Donald J. Trump and Russians — across the government.

Proposals to require photo identification for voting advanced in Arkansas, Iowa and Nebraska., facing opposition in each state. The Michigan Secretary of State’s office finalized a contract to replace the state’s ailing voting machines with new equipment in time for the August 2018 primaries that could grant vendors up to $82.1 million over the next 10 years.

North Carolina Senate leader Phil Berger said that a recent Court of Appeals order means that the state doesn’t have a board that oversees elections and ethics laws, Asked how any elections or ethics matter would be decided now, Berger responded “those are questions that will need to be answered. There could be some questions as to the legal effect of any decisions they make during that period of time that they are nonexistent.”

Following the Justice Department’s withdrewal from the case, lawyers for the state of Texas argued that the Legislature did not act with discriminatory intent when it passed a voter ID law that has since been struck down, but they also told a judge that lawmakers will make fixes to it in the current Legislative session. The U.S. Supreme Court instructed a lower court to re-examine whether the Virginia General Assembly unconstitutionally stuffed African-American voters into certain districts, opening the door to a new political map that could reshape the Republican-controlled state legislature.

There are indications that a software error may have caused thousands of names to disappear from voter rolls in legislative elections in India and Sinn Féin has emerged as the biggest winner in Northern Ireland’s Assembly election after the party came to within one seat of matching the Democratic Unionist return of 28 seats.

 

 

The Voting News Weekly: The Voting News Weekly for February 13-19 2017

The New York Times reported that NSA investigations of phone records and intercepted calls show that members of the Trump campaign had repeated contact with Russian intelligence operatives prior to the election contradicting the campaign’s claims. The calls between Mr. Trump’s associates and the Russians were initially captured as part of routine foreign surveillance, but subsequently the NSA was asked by the FBI to collect as much information as possible about the Russian operatives on the phone calls, and to search through troves of previous intercepted communications that had not been analyzed.

The Atlantic posted an extensive piece on efforts by House Administration Committee chairman Gregg Harper (R-MS) to eliminate the Election Assistance Commission. On a party-line vote, his bill to terminate the agency was the first piece of legislation approved by the Committee in the new Congress. Voting rights advocates worry that this version of the bill may actually get a floor vote. Supporters of the EAC argue that it would be especially foolhardy to get rid of it at a time of heightened concerns about the integrity of U.S. elections. “This is the time when we should be focusing on strengthening the only federal agency charged with making elections work for all Americans, not trying to eliminate it,” said Representative Robert Brady of Pennsylvania, the ranking Democrat on the committee.

Stanford computer scientist and Verified Voting founder David Dill wrote about the potential of foreign powers hacking American computerized voting systems and the importance of post-election audits in protecting the integrity of our elections. “We need to audit computers by manually examining randomly selected paper ballots and comparing the results with machine results. Audits require a voter-verified paper ballot, which the voter inspects to confirm that his or her selections have been correctly and indelibly recorded.”

As he blatantly lied on a series of talk shows last Sunday about the extent to which illegal voting occurs in American elections, White House aide Stephen Miller told George Stephanopoulos to “invite Kris Kobach onto your show, and he can walk you through some of the evidence of voter fraud in greater detail.” On Monday, three separate networks gave Kobach the chance to do just that. It did not go well for him. Leaders from both parties are defending New Hampshire’s electoral system in the wake of another unsubstantiated Trump claim that there’s massive voter fraud happening in the state. Republican strategist and former New Hampshire Attorney General Tom Rath wrote “Let me be as unequivocal as possible: allegations of voter fraud in NH are baseless, without any merit-it’s shameful to spread these fantasies.”

A pair of bills aimed at tightening Maine’s voter identification requirements were broadly panned as unconstitutional and unneeded Wednesday during daylong public hearings before the Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee. Massachusetts Auditor Susan Bump has determined that early voting in last year’s presidential election constituted a state mandate on cities and towns, and the state should pay for it and the North Carolina Supreme Court has restored a block on the legislature’s overhaul of the state elections board and ethics commission while Gov. Roy Cooper’s lawsuit awaits resolution.

The Dutch government will allow municipalities to use computers to tabulate the votes cast in upcoming elections, provided that they are not connected to the Internet. The voting itself is done on paper in pencil and the contents of the ballot boxes are counted by hand. The head of front-running French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron’s independent Onwards Party has said that they have been the target of hundreds if not thousands of Russian hacks and a fake news smear campaign.

Verified Voting Blog: New Report: Internet Voting Threatens Ballot Secrecy

Casting a secret ballot in the upcoming election might not be so secret or secure depending on where – and how – you vote, according to a new report The Secret Ballot at Risk: Recommendations for Protecting Democracy. The report was coauthored by three leading organizations focused on voting technology, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), Verified Voting and Common Cause.

Caitriona Fitzgerald, State Policy Coordinator for EPIC and a co-author of the report, said, “The secret ballot is a core value in all 50 states. Yet states are asking some voters to waive this right. That threatens voting freedom and election integrity. This report will help safeguard voter privacy.”

This year 32 states will allow voting by email, fax and internet portals – mostly for overseas and military voters. In most states, voters using Internet voting must waive their right to a secret ballot.

Giving up the right to a secret ballot threatens the freedom to vote as one chooses, argue the report authors. The report cites several examples of employers making political participation a condition of employment — such as an Ohio coal mining company requiring its workers to attend a Presidential candidate’s rally – and not paying them for their time.

“On Election Day, we all are equal. The Secret Ballot ensures voters that employers’ political opinions stop at the ballot box,” said Susannah Goodman, director of Common Cause’s national Voting Integrity Campaign. “The Secret Ballot was established for a reason. The Secret Ballot ensures that we can all vote our conscience without undue intimidation and coercion.”

Marc Rotenberg, EPIC President, agreed, “The secret ballot is the cornerstone of modern democracy. The states must do more to protect the privacy of voters.”

The Voting News Weekly: The Voting News Weekly for February 6-12 2017

As they have in the last three Congresses Republicans on the House Administration Committee voted in favor of legislation that would shut down the Election Assistance Commission, the federal agency set up in 2002 to help states improve their election systems. This legislation is considerably stronger than previous versions in that rather than transferring responsibilities for voting system testing and certification to other Federal agencies, this bill would simply eliminate federal involvement in voting systems entirely. Previous versions of this legislation have not been brought to the floor, in part because they faced a certain veto, but this time, who knows? Speaker Paul Ryan has given no indication of whether or when the bill may come to the House floor.

In response to the House Committee action, Matthew Weil of the Bipartisan Policy Center noted that “If this seems like a strange response to an election marked by allegations of voter fraud, voter suppression, and election rigging—from both sides of the political aisle—you’re not wrong.” Weil joined the many voices raised in support of the EAC, noting, among other significant factors, the role of the EAC in gathering election data through it’s Election Administration and Voting Survey, an important resource for researchers and advocates and, not incidentally Verified Voting in maintaining the Verifier.

In spite of hyperventilating in some quarters about a “federal takeover of elections”, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly has confirmed that he supports the Obama administration’s decision to designate elections systems as critical infrastructure. While not accepting the merits of the plaintiff’s arguments, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp has settled a federal lawsuit that accused him of disenfranchising minority voters through a requirement on registration forms “to avoid the expense of further litigation.” The advocacy groups that filed the suit in September, maintained that the “exact match” language followed by the Secretary of State disproportionately affected black, Latino and Asian-American voters across the state and violated the Voting Rights Act.

The Iowa ACLU legal director argued that House Study Bill 93, labeled the “Election Integrity Act,” would not only make voting more difficult and more confusing for voters, but it would also be more expensive for taxpayers. The contentious legislation, sponsored by Republican Secretary of State Pete Pate, was promoted as an effort to “enhance integrity and boosting Iowans’ confidence in the process” though the state already enjoys some of the highest rates of voter participation and no indication of any voter impersonation fraud.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach continued his push for a two ballot system for state and federal voting in the face of impassioned opposition from civic groups and advocates. The prospect for new state legislative districts this spring and elections this fall in North Carolina are looking slim despite a court order. A Texas mother of four has sentenced to eight years in prison – and almost certainly deportation later — after she voted illegally in elections in 2012 and 2014.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has accused the Kremlin of trying to block him from running in next year’s presidential election after a court found him guilty of embezzlement and celebrations erupted on the streets of Somalia after the election of Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, a 55-year-old former prime minister and dual US-Somali national with a reputation for independence and competence.

The Voting News Weekly: The Voting News Weekly for January 30 – February 5 2017

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Sunday said he doesn’t want to spend federal funds to investigate what President Trump claimed was massive voter fraud in the 2016 presidential election. President Trump may want to “move on” from Russia’s attempted interference in last fall’s presidential election, but two senators announced Thursday that they are launching a bipartisan investigation of Russia’s efforts to influence the U.S. election and democratic elections in other nations. Doug Chapin blogged about the importance of the work of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration, now that the commission’s report and the rest of its work is no longer available online after the new Administration decided to remove it from its home at supportthevoter.gov. Arkansas counties say they need a major upgrade to voting equipment to prevent system failures in the next election. New voter identification requirements that would do away with an affidavit option that was available during November’s election passed the North Dakota House. South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed a bill that effectively repealed a voter-approved campaign finance and ethics law. A federal appeals court ruled that the Pasadena Texas election system that a judge ruled violated the Voting Rights Act by discriminating against Hispanics cannot be used in the upcoming May council elections. The Public Council to Bulgaria’s electoral body, the Central Electoral Commission said the future of electronic voting in Bulgaria must be determined after thorough analyses and public debate. Claiming no consensus has been found on an alternative system, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau abandoned his promise to reform Canada’s electoral system and Dutch authorities will count by hand all the votes cast in next month’s general elections, ditching “vulnerable” computer software to thwart any cyber hacking bid.

The Voting News Weekly: The Voting News Weekly for January 23-29 2017

President Donald Trump said he would seek an investigation into what he believes was voter fraud in last November’s election, drawing rebukes from both Republicans and Democrats who said the unsubstantiated claims of large-scale fraud could undermine voting rights efforts as well as confidence in the new U.S. chief executive. Less than a week into Donald Trump’s presidency, both chambers of Congress have launched probes into alleged hacking by Russia that spy chiefs believe was designed to help him win. The New York Times considered the motives behind Trump’s baseless claims of voter fraud. An Arkansas House panel has backed a proposal to reinstate the state’s voter ID law that was struck down more than two years ago, The Michigan Administrative Board unanimously approved up to $82.1 million in spending over the next 10 years under contracts with three vendors who will supply new tabulator machines, election-management software and maintenance agreements. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal by Texas seeking to revive the state’s strict Republican-backed voter-identification requirements that a lower court found had a discriminatory effect on black and Hispanic people. Bulgaria’s new president called an early national election for 26 March and appointed a former parliamentary speaker as caretaker prime minister and a report on the Canadian government’s online survey about electoral reform suggest that about two-thirds of Canadians are generally satisfied with the country’s democracy, but just as many think parties should make decisions collaboratively.

The Voting News Weekly: The Voting News Weekly for January 16-22 2017

The FBI and five other law enforcement and intelligence agencies have collaborated for months in an investigation into Russian attempts to influence the November election, including whether money from the Kremlin covertly aided President-elect Donald Trump. As the nation marked the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., USA Today considered the future of civil rights in this country will soon rest in the hands of a new president and in large part his attorney general, who must champion the rights of all Americans. A three-judge federal court panel has blocked Alabama from using in next year’s elections 12 legislative districts challenged as unconstitutional by black political groups. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach asked for a bill to be introduced Tuesday that would give him authority to hold “bifurcated” elections so that potentially tens of thousands of registered voters could not vote in state or local elections. The U.S. Supreme Court justices offered no clue Thursday as to whether special elections ordered for North Carolina in 2017 will move ahead. Within hours of Donald Trump being sworn in as president Friday, a federal court in Corpus Christi postponed a scheduled hearing in the Texas voter ID case until next month at the request of the Justice Department. Yahya Jammeh, the former Gambian president, has left the country after he finally agreed to step down following 22 years of rule and with eight months until Germans go to the polls, the country’s intelligence agencies believe foreign actors – namely Russia – may use similar tactics to those allegedly deployed during the US presidential election to divide public opinion and boost the fortunes of non-mainstream parties.

Verified Voting Blog: Give Us The Ballot | Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The following passage is excerpted from a speech that Dr. King delivered before the Lincoln Memorial at the March on Washington, on May 17, 1957, three years after Brown v. Board of Education and eight years before the enactment of the Voting Rights Act.

Three years ago the Supreme Court of this nation rendered in simple, eloquent and unequivocal language a decision which will long be stenciled on the mental sheets of succeeding generations. For all men of good will, this May 17 decision came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of segregation. It came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of distinguished people throughout the world who had dared only to dream of freedom. It came as a legal and sociological deathblow to the old Plessy doctrine of “separate-but-equal.” It came as a reaffirmation of the good old American doctrine of freedom and equality for all people.

Unfortunately, this noble and sublime decision has not gone without opposition. This opposition has often risen to ominous proportions. Many states have risen up in open defiance. The legislative halls of the South ring loud with such words as “interposition” and “nullification.” Methods of defiance range from crippling economic reprisals to the tragic reign of violence and terror. All of these forces have conjoined to make for massive resistance.

But, even more, all types of conniving methods are still being used to prevent Negroes from becoming registered voters. The denial of this sacred right is a tragic betrayal of the highest mandates of our democratic traditions and its is democracy turned upside down.

So long as I do not firmly and irrevocably possess the right to vote I do not possess myself. I cannot make up my mind — it is made up for me. I cannot live as a democratic citizen, observing the laws I have helped to enact — I can only submit to the edict of others.
Three years ago the Supreme Court of this nation rendered in simple, eloquent and unequivocal language a decision which will long be stenciled on the mental sheets of succeeding generations. For all men of good will, this May 17 decision came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of segregation. It came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of distinguished people throughout the world who had dared only to dream of freedom. It came as a legal and sociological deathblow to the old Plessy doctrine of “separate-but-equal.” It came as a reaffirmation of the good old American doctrine of freedom and equality for all people.

Unfortunately, this noble and sublime decision has not gone without opposition. This opposition has often risen to ominous proportions. Many states have risen up in open defiance. The legislative halls of the South ring loud with such words as “interposition” and “nullification.” Methods of defiance range from crippling economic reprisals to the tragic reign of violence and terror. All of these forces have conjoined to make for massive resistance.

But, even more, all types of conniving methods are still being used to prevent Negroes from becoming registered voters. The denial of this sacred right is a tragic betrayal of the highest mandates of our democratic traditions and its is democracy turned upside down.

So long as I do not firmly and irrevocably possess the right to vote I do not possess myself. I cannot make up my mind — it is made up for me. I cannot live as a democratic citizen, observing the laws I have helped to enact — I can only submit to the edict of others.

The Voting News Weekly: The Voting News Weekly for January 9-15 2017

Responding to the DHS decision to add voting systems to the list of critical infrastructure Pamela Smith of Verified Voting commented “Voting systems should receive at least as much attention and care as other critical infrastructure systems do. The fact that all or nearly all of the 50 states as well as more than 30 local jurisdictions availed themselves of support from Department of Homeland Security this year in the run-up to the election makes it clear that cyber-security considerations in elections are serious.” Voting rights featured prominently in the confirmation hearings for Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions. Green Party candidate Jill Stein wrote about election reform in The Guardian. San Francisco extended a voting machine contract with Dominion Voting Systems for two years, in spite of plans to switch over to an open source system. The Justice Department is suing the city of Eastpointe, Michigan, alleging that it violates the Voting Rights Act by denying black residents an equal opportunity to elect city council members of their choice. The Justice Department also joined a lawsuit against the New York City Board of Elections, alleging that the board’s Brooklyn office violated federal voter registration law by purging more than 117,000 inactive Brooklyn voters. The U.S. Supreme Court blocked a court-ordered legislative redistricting and 2017 special election in North Carolina while it reviews Republican legislators’ appeal in an ongoing lawsuit. Wisconsin election officials are hoping to improve election administration based on lessons learned from the Presidential recount. The political party of Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh, who lost an election last month but has refused to accept his defeat, filed a request for an injunction with the Supreme Court on Thursday aimed at blocking the swearing in of his rival and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta approved a law requiring back up plans for an August election if electronic voting systems fail, despite fierce opposition from rivals who say any manual arrangements will open the ballot to rigging.

The Voting News Weekly: The Voting News Weekly for January 2-8 2017

In a remarkably blunt assessment released Friday, the CIA, FBI and Office of the Director of National Intelligence concluded with “high confidence” that Russia carried out a comprehensive cyber campaign to sabotage the U.S. presidential election, an operation that was ordered by Russian President Vladi­mir Putin and ultimately sought to help elect Donald Trump. Also on Friday, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced Friday that he’s designating U.S. election systems critical infrastructure, a move that provides more federal help for state and local governments to keep their election systems safe from tampering. At the New York Review of Books, Eric Maskin and Amartya Sen considered alternatives to the electoral college. A stedfast champion for voters, election integrity advocate, and inspirational defender of democracy Ion Sancho has retired from his position as Leon County Florida Supervisor of Elections after 28 years. Iowa Secretary of State Pete Pate has announced proposed legislation that would require a photo id for voting. A three-judge panel upheld North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s request to block a revamp of the state elections board while his lawsuit makes its way through the courts. In a ruling that could provide a key test of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in 2013 that gutted portions of the Voting Rights Act, a federal judge ruled that officials in the City of Pasadena Texas deliberately diluted the clout of Hispanic voters by revising the system for electing City Council members. The final cost of Wisconsin’s presidential recount will likely be about half of the estimated $3.8 million that the state had required Green Party candidate Jill Stein pay before the recount began. In a reversal of his previous pledge, The Gambia’s army chief pledged his loyalty to President Yahya Jammeh, who has refused to accept defeat in last month’s election and a former head of MI6 has warned against switching elections to electronic voting because of the risk of hacking and cyber attacks.