National groups are translating state voter ID laws into Spanish to help make sure Hispanic voters bring proper identification to the polls on Election Day. “There are so many voter ID laws they can be confusing because in every state they are different,” said Joanna Cuevas Ingram, associate counsel with Latino Justice PRLDEF (Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Educational Fund). “There’s a need for clarity. We believe every vote counts and every voter should have access to information regardless of the language they speak.’’ Latino Justice PRLDEF is teaming with the Brennan Center for Justice and Rock the Vote to translate into Spanish voter ID requirements and registration deadlines for all 50 states for the Nov. 8 elections. The groups plan to unveil the project later this summer.
If, like a growing number of people, you’re willing to trust the Internet to safeguard your finances, shepherd your love life, and maybe even steer your car, being able to cast your vote online might seem like a logical, perhaps overdue, step. No more taking time out of your workday to travel to a polling place only to stand in a long line. Instead, as easily as hailing a ride, you could pull out your phone, cast your vote, and go along with your day. Sounds great, right? Absolutely not, says Stanford computer science professor David Dill. In fact, online voting is such a dangerous idea that computer scientists and security experts are nearly unanimous in opposition to it. Dill first got involved in the debate around electronic voting in 2003, when he organized a group of computer scientists to voice concerns over the risks associated with the touchscreen voting machines that many districts considered implementing after the 2000 election. Since then, paperless touchscreen voting machines have all but died out, partly as a result of public awareness campaigns by the Verified Voting Foundation, which Dill founded to help safeguard local, state, and federal elections. But a new front has opened around the prospect of Internet voting, as evidenced by recent ballot initiatives proposed in California and other efforts to push toward online voting. Here, Dill discusses the risks of Internet voting, the challenge of educating an increasingly tech-comfortable public, and why paper is still the best way to cast a vote.
Thirty years ago, the Supreme Court expanded the meaning of one of the most important civil rights laws in U.S. history — the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Among other things, the court prohibited a then-common practice among some states of spreading minorities across voting districts, leaving them too few in number in any given district to elect their preferred candidates. The practice became known as “racial gerrymandering.” The court’s solution required that states create majority-minority districts — districts in which the majority of the voting-age population belonged to a single minority. With voting that occurred largely along racial lines, these districts allowed minority voters to elect their candidates of choice. But a fascinating development occurred in the years since. These districts, rather than giving African Americans more political power, might have actually started to deprive them of it. Majority-minority districts, by concentrating the minority vote in certain districts, have the unintended consequence of diluting their influence elsewhere. Experts say some Republican legislatures have capitalized on this new reality, redistricting in their political favor under the guise of majority-minority districts.
National: Online voting would be a ‘complete disaster’ according to Stanford Computer Scientist | Examiner
Imagine the convenience of being able to cast a vote from the comfort of a couch, coffee shop, library or a toilet if you’re truly trying to capture the spirit of the 2016 election cycle. Online voting may seem like a no-brainer given myriad of ways one can connect to the internet. However, according to David Dill, a computer scientist from Stanford, it would be a ‘complete disaster.’ It’s not just him that isn’t fond of the idea of putting the future of our country into computer, but security experts as well. “Computers are very complicated things and there’s no way with any reasonable amount of resources that you can guarantee that the software and hardware are bug-free and that they haven’t been maliciously attacked,” Dill said in an interview. “The problems are growing in complexity faster than the methods to keep up with them. From that perspective, looking at a system that relies on the perfectibility of computers is a really bad idea.”
A parade of Republican-controlled states in recent years has made it more difficult to cast a ballot, imposing strict identification requirements at polling stations, paring back early-voting periods and requiring proof of citizenship to register. Then there is Oregon. It is leading what could become a march in the opposite direction. From January through April, Oregon added nearly 52,000 new voters to its rolls by standing the usual voter-registration process on its head. Under a new law, most citizens no longer need to fill out and turn in a form to become a voter. Instead, everyone who visits a motor-vehicle bureau and meets the requirements is automatically enrolled. Choosing a political party — or opting out entirely — is a matter of checking off preferences on a postcard mailed later to registrants’ homes. With the change, Oregon now boasts perhaps the nation’s most painless electoral process; mail-in ballots long ago did away with polling places’ snaking lines and balky voting machines
The November election will be the first presidential contest to take place since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to strip some of the major protections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which required states with a history of voter discrimination to get federal clearance before changing their voting laws. Seventeen states will have new voting restrictions in place for the first time. Among them, Wisconsin, Texas, and North Carolina have tightened their photo ID requirements; Kansas now requires proof of citizenship to cast a ballot; and Arizona has made it a felony for people to collect ballots from others and take them to the polls. Some people—mostly Democrats—say these laws disenfranchise poor and minority voters. But others—mostly Republicans—defend the stringent requirements as part of an effort to prevent voter fraud (an occurrence scholars largely consider to be a myth, and in some states, is more rare than a lightning strike). But just as some states are making it more difficult to vote, others are passing legislation to make it easier.
Three Democratic U.S. congressmen on Wednesday asked a federal agency to provide information regarding whether a top federal elections official had the right to unilaterally change voter registration forms in three states to require proof of citizenship. Reps. Elijah Cummings, Robert Brady and James E. Clyburn asked the chairman of the Election Assistance Commission for records connected to EAC executive director Brian Newby’s amendment in February of forms in Kansas, Alabama and Georgia. The group is seeking documents relating to requests from the three states to modify voter registration forms; all analysis of the impact of modifying federal voter registration forms; and all documents giving Newby the authority to unilaterally make the changes. Voting rights activists criticized the changes Newby made in February as a “secretive move” that created additional barriers for potential voters.
A DW analysis of campaign finance data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics finds that US subsidiaries of international companies have so far spent almost ten million dollars (9.8 million euros) supporting candidates in this election cycle with most of the contributions coming from European-based firms ($8.6 million). The only other foreign, but non-European-based, companies that have spent money on the US election so far hail from five countries: Japan ($597,000), Israel ($159,000), Canada ($108,000), Mexico ($61,000) and Australia ($32,000). While foreign nationals without permanent US residence status and foreign entities are prohibited from contributing to US elections, American subsidiaries of foreign companies are not. Just like their US counterparts, they can legally establish so-called Political Action Committees (PACs) to collect contributions for political candidates from their US employees and families. All PACs are registered with the Federal Election Commission. “It doesn’t surprise me,” said James Davis, dean of the School of Economics and Political Science at St. Gallen University in Switzerland, when asked about the fact that PACs set up by European-based companies have so far contributed more than eight million dollars to the US election campaign.
National: The Price of Public Money: The Presidential Election Campaign Fund Has $300 Million and No One Wants It | The Atlantic
Matthew King of suburban Tacoma, Washington, is a Democrat who believes the average American should donate to presidential candidates to thwart big money’s influence. Though he is looking for work, he feels so strongly about the issues that he makes small monthly contributions to Democratic candidates and causes. “It’s democracy in action,” King says, describing his hopes for a president who will combine leftist ideals with strong Christian values. “Right now, money is our voice in politics.” Last fall, King, who is in his late 30s, was working at a local Taco Bell; he charged $20 to his credit card to support a presidential candidate, former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley. King did not know it at the time, but his donation would help O’Malley’s campaign qualify for more than $1 million in matching funds thanks to a cumbersome bureaucratic process: a relic known as the Presidential Election Campaign Fund. O’Malley was the only one of 23 initial primary contenders in 2016 to seek public funds for his campaign. Only three candidates are still in the race, but more than $300 million remains in the fund—and no one wants to touch it.
Elvis Norquay, a member of the Chippewa Indian tribe, has lived most of his 58 years on North Dakota’s remote Turtle Mountain reservation and says he’s never had a problem voting. That was before 2014, when he hitched a ride with a friend to cast a ballot in local and congressional elections and was turned away. Embarrassed, he asked why he couldn’t vote. He was told he lacked proper ID under new state requirements. He has no phone, no current driver’s license and his tribal ID lacks a street address. “When we left, my friend said, ‘that’s not right’,” said Norquay, who has lived on disability since 2002 in a rural county near the Canadian border.
One of the records inside a massive and rapidly growing Republican National Committee database contains three predictive numbers about President Barack Obama’s political leanings. There’s a 95 percent likelihood Obama will vote in the 2016 general election, the database predicts, based on computer modeling. It also shows an 83 percent chance Obama will side with his party’s nominee, while suggesting a 10 percent shot he’ll back the Republican candidate. It’s an extreme example—Obama, a two-term Democratic president, has repeatedly said he plans to support his party’s nominee and has been highly critical of Donald Trump—but it illustrates how the RNC has attached a score to each of the 192 million registered voters in America as part of a massive push to regain parity with Democrats in using data to win elections. Democrats have used similar scoring for several election cycles, but this will be the first in which the RNC has used such a system in a presidential election.
National: Getting a photo ID so you can vote is easy. Unless you’re poor, black, Latino or elderly. | The Washington Post
In his wallet, Anthony Settles carries an expired Texas identification card, his Social Security card and an old student ID from the University of Houston, where he studied math and physics decades ago. What he does not have is the one thing that he needs to vote this presidential election: a current Texas photo ID. For Settles to get one of those, his name has to match his birth certificate — and it doesn’t. In 1964, when he was 14, his mother married and changed his last name. After Texas passed a new voter-ID law, officials told Settles he had to show them his name-change certificate from 1964 to qualify for a new identification card to vote. So with the help of several lawyers, Settles tried to find it, searching records in courthouses in the D.C. area, where he grew up. But they could not find it. To obtain a new document changing his name to the one he has used for 51 years, Settles has to go to court, a process that would cost him more than $250 — more than he is willing to pay. “It has been a bureaucratic nightmare,” said Settles, 65, a retired engineer. “The intent of this law is to suppress the vote. I feel like I am not wanted in this state.”
Calling it “the civil rights cause of the 21st Century,” U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, has sponsored a bill that would restore voting rights to more than a million Floridians. The bill, dubbed the No One Can Take Away Your Right to Vote Act, would guarantee that ex-convicts have the right to vote after they leave prison, though it excludes anyone convicted of murder, manslaughter or a sex crime. Florida, which is one of only three states in which all felons lose the right to vote forever unless it’s restored by the state, has more than 1.5 million citizens unable to vote. That’s about ten percent of the state’s voting age population.
National: Bill Is Proposed Requiring Presidential Candidates to Show Tax Returns | The New York Times
Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, introduced legislation on Wednesday that would require major presidential candidates to publicly disclose their three most recent personal income tax returns, a challenge to the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald J. Trump, who has resisted releasing his filings. Mr. Wyden, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, is trying to goad Republicans, including the committee chairman, Senator Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, and the majority leader, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, into defending Mr. Trump, giving Democrats a legislative rallying point. But Mr. McConnell and Mr. Hatch, as leaders of the majority, are likely to ignore the bill.
Ahead of what’s likely to be the first presidential election since 1965 without the Voting Rights Act in full effect, 50 members of Congress have joined to form the Voting Rights Caucus. The caucus will work to educate the public about voting restrictions enacted since the Supreme Court struck down a key section of the Voting Rights Act in 2013. “The caucus is long overdue,” said Congressional Black Caucus Chairman G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina, speaking at a press conference outside the House of Representatives Tuesday to launch the caucus. Seventeen states will have voting rights restrictions in effect for the first time in a presidential election since the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.
Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have something in common (as strange as that sounds)—they both seem to be turning out first-time voters. But before those newly-minted participants in democracy can cast their ballots, there are a few boxes to be checked. Registration is often the first step for those voters towards casting their first-ever vote—it’s required in 49 states (North Dakota does not have voter registration). And when it comes to registering to vote, it’s all about residency. Residency requirements matter in elections. They are one of the basic requirements for voting, along with age, U.S. citizenship and other factors. While those requirements have clear yes or no answers (you either are or aren’t old enough to vote; you’re either a U.S. citizen or not) residency requirements are more complex.
Leaders of the Republican Party have begun internal deliberations over what would be fundamental changes to the way its presidential nominees are chosen, a recognition that the chaotic process that played out this year is seriously flawed and helped exacerbate tensions within the party. In a significant shift, Republican officials said it now seemed unlikely that the four states to vote first would all retain their cherished place on the electoral calendar, with Nevada as the most probable casualty. Party leaders are even going so far as to consider diluting the traditional status of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina as gatekeepers to the presidency. Under one proposal, those states would be paired with others that voted on the same day as a way to give more voters a meaningful role much sooner. But in a move that would sharply limit who could participate in presidential primaries, many party activists are also pushing to close Republican contests to independent voters, arguing that open primaries in some states allowed Donald J. Trump, whose conservative convictions they deeply mistrust, to become the presumptive nominee.
National: The race-infused history of why felons aren’t allowed to vote in a dozen states | The Washington Post
These things happen often enough these days that they can be easy to ignore. Lawmakers from one party vehemently disagree with the actions or policies of another and file suit. Sometimes the suits amount to a last-ditch effort to stop something they consider potentially disastrous. Sometimes they amount to little more than political grandstanding in court venues. And sometimes, they are really a combination of both, wrapped in highly principled talk about the separation of powers and abating tyranny. On Monday, the leaders of Virginia’s Republican-controlled state House and Senate filed suit against Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, in a bid to stop an executive order that would restore the voting rights of an estimated 20,000 Virginia residents who have been convicted of a felony. McAuliffe wants to restore voting rights to those who have completed their sentences and any ordered time on probation or parole. These, in short, are the people who have officially paid for their crimes but, under Virginia law, remain barred from the ballot box. And state Republicans insist that their favored list of vaunted Virginians — including Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, former Democratic Virginia governor Timother M. Kaine (now a senator) and former Republican governor Robert F. McDonnell — would agree.
If the average citizen is looking forward to the day when ballots can be cast on the Internet in the same manner in which people buy groceries and pay bills, they’ll have to be patient — it’ll be a while. While online voting has been deployed in small and specific cases (largely for absentee or military voters), serious security concerns exist about the integrity of online voting. “We believe that online voting, especially online voting in large scale, introduces great risk into the election system by threatening voters’ expectations of confidentiality, accountability and security of their votes and provides an avenue for malicious actors to manipulate the voting results,” said Neil Jenkins, an official in the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications at the Department of Homeland Security, according to an article in The Washington Post.
National: More than 30 states offer online voting, but experts warn it isn’t secure | The Washington Post
The popularity of voting online is growing and will be in place for the presidential election in more than 30 states, primarily for voters living overseas or serving in the military. But security experts and some senior Obama administration officials fear there is not enough protection for any ballots transmitted over the Internet. They are warning…
The United States sees evidence that hackers, possibly working for foreign governments, are snooping on the presidential candidates, the nation’s intelligence chief said on Wednesday. Government officials are working with the campaigns to tighten security as the race for the White House intensifies. The activity follows a pattern set in the last two presidential elections. Hacking was rampant in 2008, according to US intelligence officials, and both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney were targets of Chinese cyber-attacks four years later. Despite that history, cyber experts say neither Donald Trump’s nor Hillary Clinton’s campaign networks are secure enough to eliminate the risk. “We’ve already had some indications” of hacking, James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, said Wednesday at a cybersecurity event at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington. He said the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security were helping educate the campaigns. Of the attacks, Clapper predicted, “we’ll probably have more”.
National: Restrictive voting laws threaten to block millions of Latino voters, including many newly-naturalized | Government Security News
Naturalization and voter registration rates have surged in recent months, but strict new voter laws in many states are threatening to reduce the number of Latinos voters (including many newly naturalized) who will be allowed to cast ballots. More than 185,000 citizenship applications were submitted in the final three months of 2015, which is a 14 percent increase from 2014 and up 8 percent compared with the same period ahead of the 2012 elections. According to the Houston Chronicle, in Texas, naturalization ceremonies in Houston have swelled to about 2,200 per month, compared with 1,200 before, and more than 80 percent of those naturalized then register to vote, compared with 60 percent previously.
Considering the importance of elections in the U.S., the country sure does make voting a challenge. National elections are held on a Tuesday in November, a workday for most people. In 11 states and Washington, D.C., you can register to vote on Election Day. (Maryland allows same-day voter registration only for early voting.) Other states have registration deadlines of eight to 30 days before an election. Some states have expanded voting by mail, online registration, absentee voting, and similar practices. But others have become more restrictive: 33 states request or require voters to show identification at the polls, and 17 of those states request or require a photo ID. And voters in places like Maricopa County in Arizona, where budget cutbacks have significantly reduced the number of polling spots, can find crowded conditions more reminiscent of a Depression-era breadline than a polling site in the Internet Age. Why, then, when everything from buying airline tickets to filing federal income taxes is routinely done online, is voting for most Americans still such a manual, show-up-in-person, paper-ballot-based process? … Whatever the political system, efforts to introduce Internet voting face the same overriding issue: how to make sure ballots aren’t subject to manipulation or fraud by hackers or compromised by a system failure.
The story of voter ID laws and how quickly they’ve spread across the United States can be told through one state’s journey. A decade ago, Missouri was one of the first states to require voters to present an ID to vote. But things quickly backfired for voter ID proponents: The state Supreme Court ruled that the law was unconstitutional, and it was wiped from the books. A decade later, Missouri Republicans now have a chance to reinstate a voter ID law. The Republican-controlled legislature voted to put the question in the form of a constitutional amendment to voters this November, where proponents expect it to pass and a new law to go on the books as a result. If it plays out as expected, Missouri will join a totally different voter ID landscape than when it first waded into the issue a decade ago. Voter ID laws have progressed so much over the last decade that if Missouri was once a leader in the voter ID debate, today its reentry will be barely a footnote.
National: Stevens says Supreme Court decision on voter ID was correct, but maybe not right | The Washington Post
In the rapid expansion of states with voter-identification laws and the backlash of litigation that always follows, there is one constant from proponents: that the Supreme Court already has declared them constitutional. The court ruled in 2008 that Indiana’s requirement for a photo ID was legal, with none other than liberal justice John Paul Stevens writing what was described as the “lead opinion” in a fractured 6-to-3 ruling. But in the years since, Stevens — who retired from the court in 2010 — has never seemed comfortable with his role in the case. And he recently expressed doubts again about whether he had all the information he needed in reaching what he called a “fairly unfortunate decision.”
The Supreme Court decided a presidential election 16 years ago based on how votes were counted. This year, a shorthanded court seeking to avoid the limelight may help decide who can vote in the first place. Petitions challenging restrictions on voting in key states could reach the high court before Election Day, putting the justices exactly where they don’t want to be — at the fulcrum of American politics in what promises to be a wild race for the White House. Chief Justice John Roberts’ court has itself to thank for some of the laws enacted after the justices struck down a key part of the Voting Rights Act in 2013. Those laws impose new rules for registering and voting that could limit access to the polls for minorities and young people in particular — the coalition that propelled Barack Obama to the White House in 2008 and 2012.
Morris Reid did not expect any problems when he went to his local polling station outside Raleigh, N.C., to vote in the 2014 midterm. Yet the long-time voter, a 57-year-old Democrat, found he could not cast his ballot. A poll worker told the African American jail superintendent he was registered in another county. Reid was certain there had been a mistake – he’d instructed the Department of Motor Vehicles to update his voter registration when he moved three months before – but he drove five miles to another polling center, only to find he was not registered there either. After a third trip, he cast a provisional ballot, which ultimately did not count thanks to a new North Carolina law that eliminates out-of-precinct voting. “I couldn’t exercise my right to vote,” he said. “And that’s the way it was.”
Think you are seeing an election like never before? Well, the 2016 election will be a big change from the presidential election in 2012 in another way beside Donald Trump: Many more restrictive voting laws. This year will be the first presidential election held since the Supreme Court struck down anti-discrimination protections in the Voting Rights Act. Since then, a number of laws have gone into effect that are raising concerns about their effect on turnout of minority voters. The National Association of Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) said in a report released Wednesday that laws implemented since Election Day 2012 could make voting more difficult for at least 875,000 eligible Latino voters.
National: Trump’s candidacy sparking ‘a surge’ in citizenship, voter applications | The Washington Post
Donald Trump’s presidential campaign is spurring a record number of citizenship applications and increases in voter registration among Latinos upset by the candidate’s rhetoric and fearful of his plans to crack down on immigration. Activists, lawmakers and political consultants around the country say Hispanics are flooding into citizenship workshops and congressional offices and jamming hotlines on how to become U.S. citizens or register to vote. Many say they are primarily motivated by the rise of Trump, who has proposed deporting 11 million undocumented immigrants and building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. In California, the number of Hispanics registering to vote doubled in the first three months of this year compared with the same period in 2012, according to state data. In Texas, naturalization ceremonies in Houston have swelled to about 2,200 per month, compared with 1,200 before, according to an analysis by the Houston Chronicle. More than 80 percent of those naturalized then register to vote, compared with 60 percent previously.
A burst of giving by liberal donors and a last-ditch effort to fend off GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump helped super PACs pick up nearly $100 million in new donations by the end of March, pushing the total raised by such groups this cycle to more than $700 million, according to a Washington Post analysis of Federal Election Commission reports. At this pace, super PACs will raise $1 billion by the end of June. In the entire 2012 cycle, such groups brought in $853 million, according to FEC filings. The Post is keeping a running tally of the largest contributors of the 2016 cycle, whose six- and seven-figure checks have allowed super PACs to spend $278 million so far on ads and voter outreach.