National: Inside Democrats’ efforts to fight election security threats | Eric Geller/Politico

Four years after playing an embarrassing starring role in the hack-plagued 2016 presidential election, the Democratic National Committee is staring down its highest-stakes test yet — cyberattacks or disinformation campaigns on Election Day. “I think we’re going to be ready,” said Bob Lord, the party’s chief security officer, in a recent interview. “We have the right plan and the right people.” Lord joined the DNC in January 2018 from Yahoo, where he helped executives recover from two of the world’s largest data breaches. He has spent the past two years rebuilding the DNC’s digital defenses, training its staff to spot cyber threats and offering security guidance to the DNC’s many partners. His efforts paid off during the 2018 midterms, which featured no repeat of the Russian government’s major intrusions two years earlier. Still, Lord and his team face significant challenges. “Given how impermanent campaigns and party committees are, creating an effective long-lasting institutional cyber regime was always going to be a very tough assignment,” said Simon Rosenberg, who was a senior strategist focused on disinformation and election security at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee from 2017-2018. “Most people working at the DNC won’t be there in a few months, and campaigns disappear after two years,” said Rosenberg, the founder and president of NDN, a center-left think tank. “So what Bob has been trying to do, while so incredibly important, is also incredibly hard as it goes against the grain of the fly-by-night culture of modern American politics.”

Full Article: Inside Democrats’ efforts to fight election security threats – POLITICO

Alabama: Attorney for Democrats: Hundreds of voters ‘disenfranchised’ in Tuscaloosa | Lee Roop/AL.com

An attorney for U.S. Sen. Doug Jones says Tuscaloosa County election officials have been “suppressing qualified Tuscaloosa voters” from voting absentee this year by forcing them to stand in stalled lines for absentee ballots and mailing ballots out too late to be returned by mail. Jones’ campaign attorney Adam Plant mailed a letter to Tuscaloosa County Circuit Clerk Magaria Bobo Oct. 28 saying she was suppressing voters. Two attempts to reach Bobo for comment Friday were not successful. “The volume of absentee voters in Tuscaloosa County was absolutely foreseeable and you did not take adequate steps to allow these voters to cast their ballots,” Plant’s letter said. “You are forcing qualified voters to miss school, work and other parts of their life standing in a line at the courthouse you are in charge of processing.” “Hundreds if not thousands of voters” in Tuscaloosa County have not received the absentee ballots they requested for Tuesday’s presidential election in time to mail them back before the deadline, an Alabama Democratic Party official said Sunday.But a spokeswoman for Alabama’s top election official, Secretary of State John Merrill, said Sunday that Tuscaloosa County voting officials have told him “they are caught up on everything.”

Full Article: Attorney for Democrats: Hundreds of voters ‘disenfranchised’ in Tuscaloosa – al.com

Georgia governor may miss voting Tuesday because of COVID-19 quarantine | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp might not be able to vote because he’s in quarantine after close contact with U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson, who tested positive for the coronavirus Friday. Kemp, who tested negative for the virus, has requested an absentee ballot, his spokesman said.But an absentee ballot requested Friday is unlikely to arrive in the mail before polls close Tuesday. Georgia law and a court ruling required all absentee ballots to be received by county election officials before 7 p.m. on Election Day. Kemp also couldn’t vote in person on Tuesday without violating coronavirus guidelines from the Atlanta-based U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC says people who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 should stay home for 14 days and stay away from others. Kemp, a Republican, previously served as Georgia’s top election official for eight years as secretary of state. He supports President Donald Trump and appointed U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who is now running in a field of 21 candidates to retain her seat.

Full Article: Georgia governor may miss voting Tuesday because of COVID-19 quarantine

Maryland: More than 2.2 million have voted in advance, with long lines anticipated for Election Day | Emily Opilo/Baltimore Sun

More than 2.2 million Marylanders voted ahead of Election Day for an unprecedented pre-Election Day turnout of 55%, and election officials, candidates and voters were bracing for a final day Tuesday of casting ballots. Additional voting centers will open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., although far fewer than on a typical Election Day in hopes of preventing the spread of the coronavirus. Drop boxes will be open until 8 p.m. Tuesday to accept ballots, and mail-in ballots postmarked Tuesday by 8 p.m. will be counted. City Elections Director Armstead Jones was preparing for lines, particularly at Morgan State University and the Liberty Heights campus of Baltimore City Community College. Those sites have proved to be the busiest during the eight days of early voting that began Oct. 26, he said. Jones said he has maximized the amount of equipment in each voting location for Tuesday to get people in and out as quickly as possible. And the city’s election judges have proven to be reliable thus far, with most showing up for work regularly during early voting and volunteering for extra shifts, he said. After the last voter in line at 8 p.m. anywhere in Maryland has cast a ballot, the focus will turn to returns in the races for president, U.S. House seats, statewide and local referendums and local races, including mayor of Baltimore, City Council president and council members.

Full Article: More than 2.2 million Marylanders have voted in advance, with long lines anticipated for Election Day – Baltimore Sun

Michigan: Judge orders USPS to speed up Detroit ballot delivery | Nushrat Rahman/Detroit Free Press

A U.S. District Court judge has ordered the United States Postal Service to accelerate the delivery of ballots in two regions, including Detroit, state officials announced Saturday. Judge Stanley Bastian issued the order on Friday following a status conference with USPS and a coalition of 13 plaintiff states, including Michigan, according to a news release. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel in August joined a coalition of states filing a federal lawsuit against the USPS following slowdowns in mail service. Along with Detroit, the post office is also required to speed up delivery in the Lakeland region in Wisconsin under the order. “The slowdown of mail delivery in our state — especially in Detroit — has had a dramatic negative impact on the timely delivery of absentee ballots,” Nessel said in the release. “This has been a serious impediment to voters who have made the effort to request, receive, vote and return their absentee ballots. The Court’s order is an important step in righting this wrong but it is only a temporary fix to an ongoing problem.”

Full Article: Judge orders USPS to speed up Detroit ballot delivery

Nevada: Judge blocks Trump lawsuit challenging how Clark County counts mail-in ballots | Colton Lochhead/Las Vegas Review-Journal

A Carson City judge on Monday blocked a lawsuit brought by President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign that attempted to change how Clark County is processing mail-in ballots in the final days of the election. The Nevada Republican Party and Trump’s re-election campaign filed the lawsuit on Friday asking the the court to force Clark County to alter how it has been counting and verifying mail ballots, to allow “meaningful” observation of all stages of the process, including allowing a camera inside the room where ballots are stored at the county facility, and for a way to challenge mail ballots. They claimed that the county’s process was creating risk of voter fraud and was “diluting” the votes. Carson City Judge James Wilson disagreed. “There is no evidence of any debasement or dilution of any citizen’s vote,” wrote Wilson, who added that the Republicans’ attorneys failed to present evidence to back up any of their claims alleged in the lawsuit or in the hearing held last week. Nevada Republican Party Chairman Michael McDonald said in a statement Monday that they might file an expedited appeal to the state Supreme Court. Election Day is Tuesday.

Full Article: Judge blocks lawsuit challenging how Clark County counts mail-in ballots | Las Vegas Review-Journal

North Carolina could see deluge of postelection litigation, challenges and protests | Jordan Wilkie/Carolina Public Press

In an election year that has seen more lawsuits than any election ever before, in which President Donald Trump has broadcast plans to heavily litigate the results, and a month of legal fights in North Carolina over changing election rules, a spokesperson for Republican state Senate leader Phil Berger’s office said nobody wants protracted postelection litigation. “That’s never good,” Pat Ryan, Berger’s spokesperson, said. That is, however, what is expected. Tomas Lopez, who runs the voter rights group Democracy NC, expects to see voter challenges and election protests on Election Day and before Nov. 13, when counties are scheduled to make their vote counts official. “I think that if there’s a litigation option that’s out there on all sides of this, there’s a good chance that it will be invoked,” Lopez said.The first rush of election litigation has passed, but it in many ways simply set the field for postelection legal fights. While lawsuits can no longer much affect how voters cast their ballots, the coming fight will be over which ballots are counted. Lopez’s group wants every lawful vote to be counted, he said. But the litigation brought by political parties seeks more to influence the outcome of the election.

Full Article: Forecast: NC could see deluge of postelection litigation, challenges and protests – Carolina Public Press

Oklahoma power outages won’t stop Tuesday’s election | Carmen Forman/The Oklahoman

Tuesday’s election will go on as planned even if some polling places are still affected by power outages from the ice storm that rocked the Oklahoma City metro area last week. Power companies have put a priority on restoring electricity to polling locations, state officials said last week. “If any of our local election locations actually report an outage, we’re responding to it as a critical emergency,” said Mark Gower, Department of Emergency Management director. Gower said he asked OG&E and other power companies to prioritize restoring electricity to those locations. If power cannot quickly be restored to some polling places, the department is working on supplying generators in time for Election Day. OG&E’s director of Corporate Affairs, Brian Alford, said crews are planning on having power restored to all polling locations within its service area before Election Day. “We continue to coordinate with the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management to make sure polling stations have power for Tuesday’s elections,” he said. “According to our most recent data, power has been restored to the vast majority of polling places within our service area — more than 96% of the approximately 800 stations.”

Full Article: Oklahoma power outages won’t stop Tuesday’s election

Pennsylvania voters who plan to turn over mail ballots and vote in-person add to concerns about Election Day waits | Ellie Silverman/Philadelphia Inquirer

Voting by mail is supposed to help Pennsylvanians like Suzanne Matthiessen, a 64-year-old with asthma, stay safe during the coronavirus pandemic. But, since receiving her ballot in early October, she has left it on her desk, unopened.She plans to turn over that ballot to election officials at the polls Tuesday and vote in person. She said she is worried about making sure her vote counts in a critical swing state. “Just watching what was happening, what Trump was saying, I thought ‘I don’t want to mess around with this. I want my vote to count on Election Day,’ ” said Matthiessen, a registered Independent in Mercer County, one of the handful of counties in Pennsylvania that have said they won’t begin counting mail ballots until Wednesday. “Knowing it is going to be counted that day, that is the most important thing.” Other Pennsylvanians have made similar decisions, at first fearful their vote would not arrive on time if mailed, and now nervous President Donald Trump will declare victory before all the votes are counted. But Pennsylvania officials warn that people trading in their mail ballots to vote on a machine could lengthen the lines and the amount of time it takes to cast votes. “The injury is that you’re potentially slowing down voting,” Al Schmidt, a Republican and one of three city commissioners who run Philadelphia elections told The Inquirer two weeks ago. These voters are “adding to the line, and to the work the election boards need to do to get voters voting.”

Full Article: Pa. voters with mail ballots who vote in person add to Election Day 2020 poll lines

Pennsylvania: ‘It’s Just Crazy’: Mail Voting and the Anxiety That Followed | Trip Gabriel/The New York Times

“Hello, Elections.” “Hello, Elections.” “Hello, Elections.” The rapid-fire calls were pouring in to Marybeth Kuznik, the one-woman Elections Department of Armstrong County, a few days before Election Day. “This is crazy,” she told an anxious caller. “Crazy, crazy, crazy. It’s a good thing because everybody should vote,” she added, “but it’s just crazy.” Armstrong County, northeast of Pittsburgh, is one of Pennsylvania’s smaller counties with 44,829 registered voters. But it is a microcosm of the high tension, confusion and deep uncertainty that have accompanied the broad expansion of mail-in voting this year, during an election of passionate intensity. With all Pennsylvania voters eligible for the first time to vote by mail, more than three million ballots were requested statewide — nearly half the total turnout from 2016. One in five voters in Armstrong County requested a mail-in ballot. A complicated two-envelope ballot, uncertainty over the reliability of the Postal Service and a glitchy online system for tracking returned votes have caused Ms. Kuznik to be bombarded by callers. And, though to a lesser extent, she has also been visited by a stream of walk-ins at her small second-floor office in the county administration building, where an American flag was stuck into a dying plant above her desk. “All righty, let’s look you up, see what’s going on,” she told voters who called seeking assistance. “Gotcha,” she said whenever she found a voter’s name in her Dell computer. The state-run portal intended to track mail ballots was unreliable, Ms. Kuznik said. By using a database available only to election officials, she was able to reassure voters about the status of a ballot — in nearly all cases, it had been received.

Full Article: ‘It’s Just Crazy’ in Pennsylvania: Mail Voting and the Anxiety That Followed – The New York Times

Rhode Island to use modems, private Verizon network for transmission of unofficial resultsOSET Institute expert says State is taking misguided risk | Mark Reynolds/The Providence Journal

After the polls close on Tuesday, Rhode Island election officials will take a risk when they rely on modems and a private Verizon network to collect tabulated election results from voting precincts across the state, according to leading election technology experts. Election officials say the cybersecurity of the modem arrangement has been greatly enhanced and only unofficial results will travel across the network. An election technology expert with the Silicon Valley-based OSET Institute, Eddie Perez, asserts that the arrangement is “a bad idea,” citing “broad consensus” in the cybersecurity field. “Any attempts to try to shore up and justify the use of modems to transmit even unofficial results in this threat environment, I would say is a misplaced mandate,” Perez said. The use of networks, including private networks, for transmitting election results has come under fire from prominent election technology experts in Florida.

Full Article: OSET Institute expert says Rhode Island election system taking misguided risk.

Texas: Here’s how votes are counted in Texas | Hanna Kozlowska/The Texas Tribune

There are more votes than ever to count in Texas this year: A record-breaking 9.7 million people cast ballots during Texas’ early voting period — 8.7 million of those were cast in person, and nearly 1 million sent through the mail. By the time Election Day comes and goes, experts predict that the total Texas vote count could reach 12 million. The state’s 254 counties are responsible for tabulating the ballots, but they must follow a certain set of rules. Here’s how the process works in Texas. County officials have already started reviewing mail-in ballots. In counties with over 100,000 residents, early voting ballot boards were allowed to start convening and processing mail-in ballots 12 days before the election. In smaller ones, they could start after the polls closed on the last day of early voting — which this year was Oct. 30. Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 3, and they must arrive by Nov. 4. Once the early voting ballot board gets the ballot, officials check whether the voter is registered to vote and may entrust a signature verification committee to match the signature on the envelope to the voter’s absentee ballot application. (They may use other signatures the county has on file.) The signature verification committee must have at least one reviewer from each party, and the majority of its members has to agree that the signature matches. Because of a ruling from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Oct. 19, Texas officials can reject a mail-in ballot without telling the voter, unlike in states such as California, where voters must be notified of a problem with their ballot and given the opportunity to fix it.

Full Article: Here’s how votes are counted in Texas | The Texas Tribune

Wisconsin officials have been preparing to respond to problems on Election Day — but don’t expect there to be any | Laura Schulte Alison Dirr and Sarah Volpenhein/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

On the eve of Tuesday’s election, state and local officials sought to assure residents that the voting process is safe and secure — and drive home the message that quick results should not be expected. During a call hosted by the Voter Protection Program on Monday, Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul said so far with early in-person voting and absentee ballots arriving, there have been few issues. He said there has been a lot of communication with law enforcement departments on how to handle situations of intimidation or attempts to make polling places unsafe. “In Wisconsin, if you use force or threaten to use force to prevent someone from voting, or put somebody in a state of duress to prevent them from voting, that’s a felony and anybody who commits that crime should be prepared to be investigated and spend time behind bars,” Kaul said. There is no information leading officials to believe that there are specific physical threats against polling sites, Wisconsin Elections Commission administrator Meagan Wolfe said during a virtual news conference Monday. And officials do not have evidence of disinformation or misinformation campaigns specifically targeting Wisconsin, she said.

Full Article: Wisconsin’s election process is safe and secure, officials tell voters

Wisconsin Faces a Challenge: Getting Out the Vote When Most People Have Already Voted | Reid J. Epstein/The New York Times

As Wisconsin weathers the worst coronavirus outbreak of any presidential battleground, the state Democratic Party is calling and texting voters instead of going door to door. The Biden campaign’s get-out-the-vote effort in the state is all virtual. Stepping into the void to make face-to-face contact with voters are people like Rita Saavedra, who is taking Election Day off from her job as a community relations officer for a local health insurance company so she can drive friends and family members to their polling sites. “I’m reaching out to everybody I know, all the people who haven’t voted yet,” she said. “I’ll even go to the house and get them out of bed.” With early voting over and no time left for a mailed ballot to arrive by the Election Day deadline in Wisconsin, the typically herculean task of reminding voters in person to get to the polls and, in many cases, transporting them there, is being left to an informal group of volunteers like Ms. Saavedra, 43. This is happening as the entire infrastructure of the state Democratic Party and Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s campaign is focused on calling and texting the small universe of would-be supporters who still haven’t voted.

Full Article: Wisconsin Faces a Challenge: Getting Out the Vote When Most People Have Already Voted – The New York Times

Early and Mail-In Voting for 2020 Election Expands Dramatically Despite Legal Fights | Richard H. Pildes/Wall Street Journal

Many Americans are worried that their votes won’t be counted in this election. We’ve seen court battles over how late states will accept absentee ballots, how many drop boxes they’ll provide, what signatures they’ll require and other issues. Nearly every day another 11th-hour decision comes down, including from the Supreme Court. Voting-rights plaintiffs have had mixed results in the courts, and their losses have raised concerns about voter suppression. What’s missing in this focus on court rulings is the bigger picture of how dramatically the voting system has changed for 2020. These changes, mostly made by state governments rather than the courts, have enabled widespread access to political participation, even amid the exceptional stresses of the pandemic. Despite all the election-related anxieties of spring and summer, we are likely to see the highest turnout in more than a century—65% of eligible voters, meaning 150 million votes—according to the latest forecast from the U.S. Elections Project at the University of Florida. A week before Election Day, early voting had already surpassed its 2016 level. The reason is that highly mobilized voters have been able to take advantage of several major policy changes. Once the pandemic hit, the most important issue was whether voters would have the option of easily voting by mail. In particular, would states that normally permit absentee voting only for a narrow set of reasons, such as being away, relax those restrictions? Several months ago, it appeared this might be a vigorously contested question, but it hasn’t turned out that way in most state legislatures.

Full Article: Early and Mail-In Voting for 2020 Election Expands Dramatically Despite Legal Fights – WSJ

Ahead of Election, Police Prepare for Violence and Disruption | Neil MacFarquhar and Shaila Dewan/The New York Times

The Las Vegas Police had a quandary. They were on high alert for election-related threats, but when long lines of voters began snaking down streets and around parking lots two weeks ago, they feared that stationing patrol cars outside polling stations might drive people away. “How do you make people feel safe in that environment without creating an overt police presence — that is a challenge for all police departments,” said Andrew Walsh, deputy chief in the Homeland Security division of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. They decided that frequent but random patrols to look for potential trouble was the better choice. Striking that balance is at the root of many of the challenges facing law enforcement agencies nationwide as they prepare for an election rife with uncertainties. The largest departments have run practice drills on scenarios including violent clashes between Biden and Trump supporters, the sudden appearance of an armed paramilitary group, a cyberattack or a bomb. “This is such a polarized environment and a lot of people are angry,” said John D. Cohen, a former Homeland Security counterterrorism coordinator with 34 years experience in law enforcement. “I have never seen a threat environment as dynamic, complex and dangerous as the one we are in right now.” Police in Las Vegas — like their counterparts in New York, Detroit, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles and in other cities all across the country — are grappling with deploying significantly more officers to counteract any disturbances without scaring voters away.

Full Article: Ahead of Election, Police Prepare for Violence and Disruption – The New York Times

National: The year of the vote: How Americans surmounted a pandemic and dizzying rule changes so their voices would be heard | Amy Gardner/The Washington Post

Ben Lucas thought about displaying a Biden-Harris campaign sign in his front yard in Eugene, Ore., but he preferred to encourage all Americans, not just Democrats, to participate in this year’s election.So last weekend, the 24-year-old graduate student found an old piece of plywood in the garage, painted the letters “V-O-T-E” on it and propped it against a tree. He explained: “I wanted to be seen, and I wanted to be heard.” Millions of Americans have also wanted to be heard. In a year when the act of voting felt more precarious than ever, more than 94 million had voted in the 2020 election by Monday, casting their ballots early or by mail in record numbers in virtually every state in the nation. Tens of millions more will don masks, and in many places warm clothes, to vote the old-fashioned way — in person, on Election Day. They’ll do it despite — and in many cases, because of — the isolation and obstacles of this unusual year. Those who have voted have lost jobs or loved ones to the pandemic or have battled the coronavirus themselves. They have withstood rain and heat and lines that lasted from morning until dark to register their electoral choices, risked exposure to the virus and navigated dizzying rule changes about signature requirements and drop boxes and ballot envelopes. They have been inundated with unsubstantiated attacks by President Trump on the integrity of the election.

Full Article: The year of the vote: How Americans surmounted a pandemic and dizzying rule changes so their voices would be heard – The Washington Post

National: Why Are Lines at Polling Places So Long? Math – It’s a resource allocation problem, a tough challenge in “queueing theory.” It’s also racism. | Adam Rogers/WIRED

Mark Pelczarski was ready to retire. This was 2011; he was teaching computer science in Chicago by then, but that was really just the capstone on a legendary career in software. In 1979, Pelczarski wrote Magic Paintbrush, an artmaking program for the Apple II, the first personal computer capable of color. He started Penguin Software two years later to publish classics like Graphics Magician, and in the late 1980s he went on to develop music software, create a CD-ROM precursor to Google Maps, and play steel drums with Jimmy Buffett. It’s safe to say that computers look and sound the way they do, at least a little bit, because of Mark Pelczarski’s code. But just when he was about to call it quits, the head of tech for Barack Obama’s reelection campaign called him, asking if any of Pelczarski’s students might have internship potential for their tech team. Pelczarski asked what kind of skills the Obamaites were looking for. “It was a little bit beyond what my students could do, but I was in my last semester at that point,” Pelczarski says. “I said, ‘I might be able to help you a little bit.’”

Full Article: Why Are Lines at Polling Places So Long? Math | WIRED

National: We Have Never Had Final Results on Election Day | Maggie Astor/The New York Times

For weeks, President Trump and his allies have been laying groundwork to challenge the results of the election if he loses. Now, in the final days of the campaign, he has settled on a blatantly ahistorical closing argument: that the votes in a fair election should not be counted past election night. “The Election should end on November 3rd., not weeks later!” he tweeted on Friday, two days after telling reporters in Nevada, “Hopefully, the few states remaining that want to take a lot of time after Nov. 3 to count ballots, that won’t be allowed by the various courts.” “You would think you want to have the votes counted, tabulated, finished by the evening of Nov. 3,” he said at a campaign event a week earlier. In reality, the scenario Mr. Trump is outlining — every vote in a modern election being “counted, tabulated, finished” by midnight — is not possible and never has been. No state ever reports final results on election night, and no state is legally expected to.Americans are accustomed to knowing who won on election night because news organizations project winners based on partial counts, not because the counting is actually completed that quickly. These race calls mean Candidate A is far enough ahead that, given the number of outstanding ballots and the regions those ballots are coming from, Candidate B would realistically be unable to close the gap.

Full Article: We Have Never Had Final Results on Election Day – The New York Times

National: Preventing a Military Decision About Who Won a Disputed Election | Dakota S. Rudesill/Just Security

President Donald Trump recently speculated at a campaign rally that he might issue an executive order to prevent his opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, from becoming president. As he often does, Trump entertained his crowd that night by weaving together sincere and ridiculous statements, truth and falsehoods. It is hard to know whether the president would actually try to use an administrative directive as part of an effort to stay in office. Unfortunately, the norm-shattering step of a self-serving “I won” executive order from President Trump is conceivable, as is a legal opinion to that same effect from a Justice Department run by an Attorney General who has prioritized protection of the president over the non-partisan, fair, and impartial administration of justice. Trump and his team have demonstrated their willingness to abuse the presidency for personal and political benefit. Trump has repeatedly indicated intent to contest the election if he is not declared the winner. And, serious gaps and ambiguities in election law could leave a disputed election unresolved through inauguration day. In this context, it is prudent to anticipate that Trump and his political appointees might take norm-shredding, legally dubious administrative steps to hold onto power. Incalculable damage could be done to our nation by a raging election dispute coupled with the incumbent administration ordering the executive branch and particularly the military to recognize Trump as the winner. The harm would be especially severe to fundamental norms of civil-military relations, with terrible implications for our country’s global standing. Despite more than two centuries of American tradition and multiple statements by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), Gen. Mark Milley, about the U.S. military staying out of elections, the armed forces could face an impossible decision about whom to recognize as president and give the nuclear codes (and someone has to have them).

Full Article: Preventing a Military Decision About Who Won a Disputed Election

National: The voting technology problems that could trigger panic at the polls | Eric Geller/Politico

While mail-in voting has raised fears and sparked court battles during this election, problems with technology ranging from voting machines to results websites could just as easily disrupt voting or sow doubts about the outcome. Newly competitive battleground state Georgia is using controversial touch screen voting machines for the first time in a presidential election. In the critical swing state of Pennsylvania, where new voting machines malfunctioned last year, several counties have now also configured those machines to speed up ballot-counting in a way that doesn’t give voters a chance to hold the ballots in their hands. And voting machines could turn out to be the least of the technological problems. Across the country, the servers that store voter data and post unofficial results are vulnerable to temporary outages — snafus that could worsen long lines on Election Day, block or discourage voters from casting ballots or fuel claims of election fraud. “Any kind of disinformation about election-related technology, even if there is no hack, is cause for concern, because to be effective, all that is required is for the public to perceive a problem — whether real or not,” said Eddie Perez, director of technology development and open standards at the Open Source Election Technology Institute, an election technology advocacy organization.

Full Article: The voting technology problems that could trigger panic at the polls – POLITICO

National: Computer experts sound warnings on safety of America’s voting machines | Pat Beall USA Today

Millions of voters going to the polls Tuesday will cast their ballots on machines blasted as unreliable and inaccurate for two decades by computer scientists from Princeton University to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Toyed with by white hat hackers and targeted for scathing reviews from secretaries of state in California and Ohio, Direct Recording Electronic voting systems, or DREs, have startled Illinois voters by flashing the word Republican at the top of a ballot and forgotten what day it was in South Carolina. They were questioned in the disappearance of 12,000 votes in Bernalillo County, New Mexico, in 2002 and 18,000 votes in Sarasota County, Florida, in 2006.“Antiquated, seriously flawed and vulnerable to failure, breach, contamination and attack,” U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg wrote of Georgia’s aging DRE system before ordering the state to replace it in 2019. “No one is using a computer they purchased in the 1990s,” said Warren Stewart, senior editor and data specialist for Verified Voting, a nonprofit advocacy group tracking election systems. But voters in more than 300 counties and 12,000 precincts will be casting ballots using DRE technology already aging in the 1990s, when flash drives were bleeding edge tech and Netscape Navigator was the next new thing.

Full Articlee: Computer experts sound warnings on safety of America’s voting machines

National: Despite Risks, Some States Still Use Paperless Voting Machines | Lucas Ropek/Government Technology

For years, paperless voting machines have been characterized as an election security hazard. Without an auditable paper trail, security experts say vote tabulation runs the risk of producing results inconsistent with the voters’ choices, either because of hacking or technical errors. While most states have seen adoption of hybrid digital-paper solutions that include a voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT), not all of them have.Today, counties in Texas, Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, and New Jersey are still exclusively using paperless machines, also called direct recording electronic systems (DREs).Derek Tisler, election security analyst with the Brennan Center, said the number of states using DREs has nearly halved since the last election, but there are a smattering of states that, for reasons mostly financial, still have not switched.”In 2016, there were 14 states that used paperless machines as the primary polling place equipment in at least some of their counties and towns. They represented about 1 in 5 votes that were cast in the 2016 election,” said Tisler. “Since then, six of those states have fully transitioned to some sort of paper-based voting equipment.”

Full Article: Despite Risks, Some States Still Use Paperless Voting Machines

Editorial: Conservative Supreme Court justices are threatening a post-election coup | Laurence H. Tribe and Steven V. Mazie/The Boston Globe

After handing down orders in a spate of challenges to states’ efforts to make voting easier during the coronavirus pandemic, the Supreme Court is catching its breath. But the pause may be short-lived. In several opinions that conservative justices have issued over the past week, a radical idea is rising from the ashes, resurrecting language from one of the most fraught decisions in the court’s history. Four justices — Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Clarence Thomas — have resuscitated a half-baked theory three justices espoused in Bush v. Gore to let Republicans trash ballots after Election Day. Chief Justice John Roberts has not joined his four colleagues in this misadventure. But if the recently seated Justice Amy Coney Barrett sides with the quartet, America could be in for a battle that makes Bush v. Gore look tame. By shutting down a recount in Florida that could have put Al Gore over the top in the 2000 election, the Supreme Court effectively handed George W. Bush the keys to the White House. The majority reasoned that disparate methods for interpreting the infamous “hanging chads” on Florida’s punch-ballots denied the state’s voters the equal protection of the laws, violating the 14th Amendment.

Full Article: Conservative Supreme Court justices are threatening a post-election coup – The Boston Globe

Editorial: Why Are Republicans So Afraid of Voters? | The New York Times

Why are so many Americans consistently missing in action on Election Day? For many, it’s a choice. They are disillusioned with government, or they feel their vote doesn’t matter because politicians don’t listen to them anyway. For many more, the main obstacle is bureaucratic inertia. In New York City, a decrepit, incompetent, self-dealing board of elections has been making a mockery of democracy for decades. Just in the past four years, tens of thousands of absentee ballots have been sent to the wrong addresses, and hundreds of thousands of voters have been wrongly purged from the rolls. For the past few days, some New Yorkers have been forced to stand in line for four or five hours to cast their ballots. But across the country, the group most responsible for making voting harder, if not impossible, for millions of Americans is the Republican Party. Republicans have been saying it themselves for ages. “I don’t want everybody to vote,” Paul Weyrich, a leader of the modern conservative movement, told a gathering of religious leaders in 1980. “As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”

Full Article: Opinion | Why Are Republicans So Afraid of Voters? – The New York Times

California: Riverside County voters waited hours; glitch fixed, officials say | Alex Wigglesworth/Los Angeles Times

Some voters reported waiting for hours to cast a ballot in Riverside County on Saturday because of a technological glitch, which officials say has since been fixed. The slowdown was caused by an issue with the voter registration “look-up system,” officials said. When people arrive at a voting center to cast a ballot in person, staffers look them up in the system to check them in and then void the vote-by-mail ballot that was sent to their home, said Brooke Federico, a spokeswoman for Riverside County. At some of the county’s 130 voting centers, the volume of people seeking to check in at once caused the registration look-up system, effectively, to freeze, she said. “It wasn’t for the entire day, and it wasn’t at all locations, but there were intermittent delays where it was simply timing out and our teams at the voter assistance centers weren’t able to confirm an individual voter,” she said.Voters were urged to be patient and, in some locations, given provisional ballots, she said. Some took to social media to report waiting for more than three hours to vote. “We do understand that there were significant delays for our voters at certain locations,” Federico said. The issue did not affect the ballot marking machines, which are not connected to the internet, she said.

Full Article: Riverside County voters waited hours; glitch fixed, officials say – Los Angeles Times

Connecticut Election Officials Get Help From Governor To Pre-Process Absentee Ballots | Christine Stuart/CT News Junkie

Gov. Ned Lamont inked an executive order Thursday that will give a do-over to election officials in 19 Connecticut cities and towns who missed the deadline last week to declare their desire to begin opening absentee ballots early. Eighteen towns told Secretary of the State Denise Merrill before the Oct. 24 deadline that they planned to open the outer envelope of the absentee ballots early. A total of 19 cities and towns gave notice too late and would not have been able to start processing absentee ballots early if not for Lamont’s executive order. The General Assembly passed legislation that allows election officials to open the outer envelope of the absentee ballot starting at 5 p.m. today. Town clerks have received more than 567,000 absentee ballots. “Five days before the election the governor had to issue an executive order to allow for ballots to be opened so that people who voted by absentee can have their votes properly counted,’’ House Minority Leader Themis Klarides said. “Uncertainty remained, after months of lobbying by Secretary Merrill, which makes it harder to deliver clean elections in the minds’ of voters.’’

Full Article: Election Officials Get Help From Gov. To Pre-Process Absentee Ballots | CT News Junkie

Florida election officials say 2020 won’t be a repeat of 2000 – Here’s what has changed since the 2000 and 2018 recounts | Skyler Wisher/South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Two years ago, a federal judge called Florida the “laughing stock of the world” because of its repeated voting mishaps and failure to conduct smooth elections. The midterm election featured three statewide recounts. Machines in Palm Beach County overheated and broke down. Politicians leveled unfounded allegations of voter fraud. A ballot design error likely cost an incumbent senator thousands of votes. It was deja vu. Back in 2000, the world’s eyes turned to Florida during the Bush v. Gore recount. That election had its own host of problems: butterfly ballots, hanging chad and a Brooks Brothers riot carried out by well-dressed, paid Republican protesters. So has Florida learned its lesson? Will 2020 be the year Florida emerges as a shining beacon of democracy, where votes are counted efficiently and accurately? Will other states look on with envy at the Sunshine State’s competency and civic prowess? Election officials and longtime Florida politicos say they are optimistic that Florida is in a better position than ever to run a drama-free election.

Full Article: Florida election officials say 2020 won’t be a repeat of 2000 – South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Louisiana polling places likely to change for some due to Hurricane Zeta | Greg Hilburn/Monroe News-Star

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said it’s likely some voters won’t be able to cast ballots Tuesday at their normal polling places after Hurricane Zeta left widespread power outages and some structural damage in her wake. “It’s too early to say which polling places will not be in service Tuesday, but we’re working to identify them quickly so we have the opportunity to establish alternative locations and communicate that to voters,” Edwards said Friday. “But I’m fairly confident we will have some voters who won’t be able to vote at their normal polling places.” Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, Louisiana’s chief elections officer, is assessing what polling places might be affected through parish clerks of court.” The secretary of state’s office is working in close coordination with local officials to assess the damage sustained by our election partners and infrastructure, including registrar of voters offices, clerk of court offices, warehouses and polling locations,” Ardoin said Thursday. Edwards and Ardoin’s spokesman said it will likely be Saturday before a full assessment can be made.

Full Article: Louisiana polling places likely to change for some due to Hurricane Zeta

New Jersey processes mail ballots early as Pennsylvania fights about it | lison Steele/Philadelphia Inquirer

Just days before Election Day, New Jersey’s voter turnout has hit 80% of the state’s total number of ballots cast in 2016, state officials said Friday. And unlike next door in Pennsylvania, many of those 3.1 million votes are already being counted.After Gov. Phil Murphy issued an executive order in August to make New Jersey’s election a mostly mail-in event by mailing ballots to most voters, he signed a bill allowing counties to open and process ballots up to 10 days early. The law, specific to this year’s election, prohibits elections officials from collecting tallies of the results or releasing information before the polls close. New Jersey officials believe the measure will minimize delays in getting conclusive election results — an ongoing concern across the river in Pennsylvania, where Republicans have turned away pleas by local elections administrators from across the state to allow what’s known as “pre-canvassing” of mail. Pennsylvania’s law prohibiting counties from processing ballots before 7 a.m. on Election Day means that election night results will only reflect a fraction of the mail vote — potentially leaving the results unclear for days. Several counties won’t start counting mail ballots until the next day.

Full Article: New Jersey processes mail ballots early as Pennsylvania fights about it