National: Senate Russia report may inspire last push for election security changes before November | Joseph Marks/The Washington Post

A bipartisan Senate report on Russia’s 2016 hacking operations may be the last major catalyst for lawmakers to make meaningful election security changes before the 2020 contest.  The heavily redacted Senate Intelligence Committee report unanimously endorses the intelligence community’s conclusion that Russian President Vladimir Putin was instrumental in directing a wide-ranging hacking and influence effort aimed in part at helping elect President Trump. It’s a bipartisan congressional rebuke of “President Trump’s oft-stated doubts about Russia’s role in the 2016 race,” as my colleague Ellen Nakashima reports.  But it came out the same day Congress passed a $484 billion stimulus bill aimed at aimed at shoring up small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic — which didn’t include any money to make elections more secure during the crisis. And it’s far from clear whether more money will come through in time to help.  It’s the latest disappointment for election security advocates who say far too little has been done since 2016.

National: As coronavirus upends elections, ballot access becomes next point of concern | Meg Cunningham and Kendall Karson/ABC News

As coronavirus continues to upend the election cycle and fights over voter access to the polls weave through the courts, candidate access to ballots has become just as difficult. On Wednesday, Arkansas Voters First and the Campaign Legal Center filed a lawsuit seeking to relieve some of the petitioning requirements needed to qualify for a ballot due to coronavirus. Ballot initiatives, which only make it to the ballot if enough voters sign a petition to qualify it to do so, are often the source of legal changes in a state which do not go through the legislature. Without the ability to collect signatures or canvass in-person, the plaintiffs argue that ballot initiatives won’t make it onto the ballot for voters to decide, putting democracy at risk. The issue at play is the enactment of a non-partisan redistricting commission which would redraw the state’s districts, instead of the state legislature.

National: Coronavirus will necessitate recruitment effort unseen since World War II to staff voting booths, election official warns | Jon Ward/Yahoo News

States will face severe shortages of election workers for November’s presidential election and will need to find new ones because of the coronavirus, the top elections official in Washington state said Wednesday. “As a nation we are going to need to do the biggest recruitment effort, probably since World War II — in terms of personnel — to staff polling places and voting centers and election processing warehouses,” said Kim Wyman, Washington’s secretary of state. Wyman testified via teleconference during a meeting of the Election Assistance Commission, a federal government agency created in 2002. She told the commissioners that she expects her state and most others to lose a majority of their traditional poll workers, who tend to be older and therefore at greater risk of infection.  “Most of our seasonal workers come from people who are 65 and older, and we know that out of the gate we are going to lose between half and two-thirds of our workforce and we’re going to have to rebuild that nationally,” Wyman said.

National: The vote by mail fault lines that could define November’s election | Kendall Karson/ABC

The ongoing legal wrangling over voting rights and access, an issue that has become an undercurrent of the 2020 election, foreshadows some of the expected clashes to come ahead of November’s uncertain general election. The quarrels center on expanding mail voting as states adjust to the unprecedented coronavirus crisis, particularly in key battlegrounds that could tip the scales of the upcoming presidential contest. In states such as Georgia, Texas, Nevada and Florida, among others, state and party leaders are seeking to change the way people vote to avoid a similar fate as Wisconsin, where a series of emergency orders and legal challenges earlier this month culminated in thousands of voters risking their health to stand in long lines for hours to vote. Since Wisconsin’s election, state health officials said Tuesday that 19 people who have either voted in-person or worked at a polling site on election day have so far tested positive for COVID-19 after April 9, two days after the spring election — underscoring the potential risks of forging ahead with an in-person voting during the height of the widespread and deadly public health crisis.

National: Coronavirus displaced millions of college students, who worry how they’re going to vote | Rebecca Morin/USA Today

Ashee Groce doesn’t know if she’ll be able to vote in Georgia’s primary. Groce, 21, attends Spelman College in Atlanta but is from California and staying in South Carolina with a friend after her school closed for the the semester during the coronavirus pandemic. California voted when Groce was in Atlanta. Georgia was supposed to vote March 24 but pushed back its primary until June 9, and Groce doesn’t know if she will be able to get an absentee ballot sent to South Carolina. She didn’t return to California amid the pandemic, because she has family there who are immunocompromised. “Me and a lot of my peers are afraid,” Groce said. “I just feel like a lot of people who look like me and who are in similar situations that I’m in aren’t going to be counted, and that’s just a very big disappointment.” Many young voters’ lives have been upended after universities and colleges closed campuses and moved to online classes. As a result, millions of students have left their college housing and headed home to different cities and, in some cases, different states. More than 4,000 colleges and universities have closed or been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, affecting more than 25 million students, according to Entangled Solutions, an education consultant group.

National: How Multi-factor Authentication Enhances Election Security | Phil Goldstein/StateTech Magazine

Multifactor authentication is “a layered approach to securing data and applications where a system requires a user to present a combination of two or more credentials to verify a user’s identity for login,” the U.S. Department of Homeland Security notes in its election security resource library. Election security officials should use MFA because it adds another layer of defense to their systems. Even if one credential is compromised, an attacker cannot log in without the other authentication requirement “and will not be able to access the targeted physical space, computing device, network or database,” DHS notes. Multifactor authentication includes something you know, such as a password or personal identification number; something you have, including a token or cryptographic device; and something you are — a biometric identifier such as a fingerprint. Other authentication factors can include time of day (would the user normally be logging in at this hour?) and how users access information on their personal devices over time (does the user tap into her email first or check the weather?). A document on MFA published by DHS’ Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency notes that election officials should adopt MFA because it makes it more difficult for adversaries to gain access to secure databases and other election infrastructure.

National: The 2020 Elections: Is America Ready to Vote by Mail? | Carl Smith/Governing

The 2020 general election was never going to be calm, but the COVID-19 pandemic has brought worst-case scenarios out of the shadows and into the forefront of planning. That means secretaries of state, election officials, legislators, lawyers, voters rights groups and other stakeholders are gathering strategies and resources to safeguard both public health and democracy. “It’s a given that the election in November will be different than ones we’ve held in the past,” said Wendy Underhill, director of the Elections and Redistricting program for the National Conference of State Legislatures. “States can scale up their existing processes, or they can adopt new processes with the expectation of more mail-in ballots and fewer in-person voters.” “We’ve got to reduce the number of people who have to show up in person to vote, and the only way to do that is vote by mail,” said Chad Dunn, director of litigation for the UCLA Voting Rights Project and a co-author of its election policy recommendations. “We’ve got to flatten the curve,” “As election officials, we shouldn’t ignore the message that voters are sending,” said Neal Kelley, the registrar of voters for Orange County, Calif., the country’s fifth-largest voting jurisdiction. “This country has been using widespread absentee voting since the Civil War.”

National: NAACP, others: in-person voting still needed during coronavirus pandemic | Joey Garrison /USA Today

As calls mount to expand vote-by-mail options for state primaries and the November election, advocacy groups have a warning: Don’t reduce or eliminate in-person voting in the process. In a joint publication released Monday, the NAACP and the liberal Center for American Progress say curbing or entirely cutting in-person options because of the coronavirus pandemic would “inadvertently disenfranchise” African American, disabled, American Indian and other voters who rely on same-day voter registration. “To prevent the disenfranchisement of American citizens, any expansion of vote by mail must include preservation of in-person voting options for people who need them,” the groups said in the report. Their message comes as several states are working to expand vote-by-mail in case citizens are still advised to avoid public places in November because of the coronavirus. Democrats, including presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden and former first lady Michelle Obama, have made vote-by-mail a rallying cry while President Donald Trump opposes changes.

National: How the Spanish flu nearly derailed women’s right to vote | Ellen Carol Dubois/National Geographic

“These are sad times for the whole world, grown unexpectedly sadder by the sudden and sweeping epidemic of influenza,” wrote Carrie Chapman Catt, president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, in a letter to supporters in 1918. “This new affliction is bringing sorrow into many suffrage homes and is presenting a serious new obstacle in our Referendum campaigns and in the Congressional and Senatorial campaigns,” she continued. “We must therefore be prepared for failure.” Suffragists had been fighting for women’s right to vote for 70 years, and victory seemed almost in reach. Even with the United States fully mobilized for World War I. President Woodrow Wilson had come out in support of a constitutional amendment, and the House of Representatives had passed it. Then the Spanish flu struck, and the leaders of one of the longest-running political movements in the country’s history had to figure out how to continue their campaign in the midst of the deadliest pandemic in modern times. (See how some cities ‘flattened the curve’ of the flu pandemic.)

National: Coronavirus Likely To Supercharge Election-Year Lawsuits Over Voting Rights | Pam Fessler/NPR

Election year legal battles around voting procedures are nothing new. But their scope and intensity are growing this year amid deep partisan polarization and the logistical challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic. The legal fights are expected to heat up in the coming weeks. Exhibit A is a new lawsuit filed by Democrats in Nevada Thursday challenging the state’s plans to conduct a mostly all-mail primary June 2 and to drastically limit in-person polling sites. Democrats say the moves — including automatically sending ballots only to active voters who have taken part in recent elections, but not all registered ones — are an infringement of voter rights. Republicans counter that Democrats want to overturn rules intended to protect the integrity of the state’s elections and would unnecessarily put voters’ health at risk. Both Democrats and Republicans are turning to the courts to try to ensure that rules governing this year’s election don’t disadvantage their side. The litigation campaign has taken on a new urgency with the pandemic and its impact on people’s willingness and ability to go to the polls in person.

National: Mail-In Elections Can’t Be Built Overnight. Here’s What Will Happen If Every State Tries. | Tierney Sneed/Talking Points Memo

On Thursday, a niche trade organization called the National Association of Presort Mailers held the first of what is expected to be a regularly scheduled organization-wide teleconference. The call was to discuss a daunting task with which its members will be deeply involved: printing, packaging and mailing ballots for a general election in the midst of a pandemic. On the call, the companies with the most experience working in the election space issued a dire warning to their colleagues, according to the leader of the trade group: with longstanding orders from established mail-in voting states, these companies said, they were already at capacity for printing and mailing operations for November’s election. If more states and localities sought to expand their mail-in voting operations, those vendors — who typically work with the western states that already conduct massive absentee voting operations — would need to purchase more equipment. But obtaining that equipment takes several months, National Association of Presort Mailers president Richard Gebbie told TPM after the call, and vendors wouldn’t make that seven-figure investment without the contracts to justify it. The conundrum, Gebbie fretted to TPM, is that if election officials wait even more than a few weeks to put in those orders, it would be too late for those vendors to scale up their own capacity.

National: Election Modifications to Avoid During the COVID-19 Pandemic | Michael Morley/Lawfare

As we approach the presidential election this November, election officials are developing plans to deal with the unique risks posed by the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. I have written about how states have grappled with past election emergencies and am participating in a nonpartisan task force and interdisciplinary working groups to offer recommendations to ensure that election officials are adequately prepared to face the challenge before us. The recent crisis with the Wisconsin presidential primaries demonstrates the importance of states having election emergency statutes that adequately empower election officials to respond to unexpected crises, as well as contingency plans for implementing that discretion. Just as important as discussing the affirmative steps that officials should take to address the COVID-19 crisis, however, is identifying those they should avoid. Because so many groups and experts, along with my previous work, have focused on the first task, it’s time to tackle the second.

National: Coronavirus could cripple voting in November. But it depends where you live. | David Wasserman/NBC

America’s decentralized system of voting means states enjoy broad leeway on setting election rules. Many voters may not realize that state procedures vary widely on everything from registration deadlines, ID requirements and types of voting machinery to who is permitted to vote absentee and when mail-in ballots must be postmarked in order to be counted. But in the coronavirus pandemic, a lack of federal election funding, partisan disunity and legal disputes could produce last-minute logistical confusion and drastic disparities across state lines in voters’ ability to safely access a ballot. Last week’s election in Wisconsin ignited outrage from voting rights advocates, who claimed courts’ refusal to grant Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ last-minute request to suspend in-person voting and extend the absentee ballot return deadline forced voters to choose between democracy and their health. The April 7 balloting turned into an administrative fiasco of mass polling-place closures, backlogs that caused 11,000 absentee ballot requests to go unfulfilled, and at least 35,000 voters receiving absentee ballots with incorrect return instructions.

National: Coronavirus threatens to hobble voter registration efforts | Sara Swann/The Fulcrum

The coronavirus has already drastically compromised campaigns and voting this year. The next looming casualty looks to be registration drives.  With about 95 percent of the population under states’ orders to stay at home this spring, face-to-face “Get Out the Vote!” crusades so typical in election years have ceased to exist. Civic engagement groups, now forced to operate entirely online, are expressing alarm that a significant share of people who want a say in electing the president this fall won’t be able to get on the voter rolls in time. The country’s digital divide already makes accessing online registration forms and information difficult for many Americans, particularly in low-income and rural areas. And for some 28 million across nine states, it’s not an option at all because they have to complete actual paperwork. Groups focused on creating new voters, and then making them the core of efforts to boost turnout, say they’re determined to rise to the challenge. The Covid-19 crisis has underscored the importance of their mission, they say, and their staff and volunteers are using the unprecedented situation to get more creative in their approaches.

National: Coronavirus may stop hundreds of thousands from becoming citizens in time to vote in November | Suzanne Gamboa/NBC

Cancellation of citizenship oath ceremonies and in-person interviews because of coronavirus means hundreds of thousands of people may not naturalize in time for November’s elections. If ceremonies and interviews remain shut down until October without remote alternatives created by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, about 441,000 people who would have been citizens would be deprived of the chance to vote, according to Boundless Immigration, a technology company that helps immigrants apply for green cards and citizenship. “USCIS did the right thing by pausing live oath ceremonies and live interviews, there’s no dispute about that,” said Doug Rand, cofounder of Boundless Immigration. “The problem is USCIS hasn’t come up with a next step and come up with remote pathways for people to take the oath and do interviews,” said Rand, a former adviser to President Barack Obama on immigration.

National: Coronavirus Intensifies Legal Tussle Over Voting Rights | Brent Kendall and Alexa Corse/Wall Street Journal

Intense court battles over voting rights and election security always promised to be part of the 2020 election cycle, but the coronavirus has added new urgency to the cases, which are multiplying nationwide. This month’s fight over when and how Wisconsin voters would cast their ballots marked the unofficial start of the litigation campaign. In the two weeks since, courts in several other states have issued notable decisions about conducting elections during a pandemic, and a host of new lawsuits has been filed. “Before I’d ever heard of the coronavirus, I was convinced that this was going to be a record year for litigation,” said University of California, Irvine law professor Richard Hasen. “Now I’m even surer of that fact.” Voting-rights fights have been growing for years, a function of tighter voting regulations in several Republican-led states, intense partisanship and a realization that electoral rules can affect outcomes in close races. The cases have nearly tripled since 2000, the year of the Bush v. Gore showdown, Mr. Hasen said. According to his new book “Election Meltdown,” the 2018 election year saw a record 394 cases, surprisingly high for a nonpresidential cycle.

National: Voting by mail in the spotlight as U.S. Congress debates how to secure November elections | Richard Cowan/Reuters

Congress is scrambling for ways to safeguard the Nov. 3 U.S. elections amid the coronavirus pandemic, with a partisan fight shaping up over a Democratic proposal to require states to offer the option of voting by mail. President Donald Trump, seeking re-election this year, and some of his fellow Republicans have voiced opposition to expanded voting by mail, citing concern over ballot fraud – a worry that Democrats dispute. Democrats have said election procedures will need to change this year because many voters will be reluctant to stand in long lines or enter crowded polling sites for fear of infection. In recent years, Democrats also have accused Republicans of pursuing policies in some states to make voting more difficult in a bid to disenfranchise Democratic-leaning voters. Congressional Democrats are pushing for additional funding for election aid to states in the next round of coronavirus-response legislation expected to be crafted by lawmakers in the coming weeks.

National: Voting in the pandemic: Why mobile applications are not the answer | Brent Hansen/GCN

As we all sit together in isolation, it seems only natural to begin to ask the question of how voting for public office will take place across the U.S.  The prevailing sentiment indicates that some type of new online system in place of in-person or current absentee methods may offer a solution. Popular media is giving voice to opinions from election officials and political leaders that some extraordinary measures must be taken to ensure elections can continue despite shelter-in-place directives. These opinions are tempered with the acknowledgement that such extraordinary measures must have equally extraordinary security safeguards to protect both the integrity of the votes and the personal information of the voters. That’s sensible, but at the same time we must acknowledge that mobile application safeguards are not yet ready.

National: Democrats accuse Trump administration of voter suppression in mail ballot fight | Joseph Marks/The Washington Post

Democrats are accusing President Trump and his allies of using the novel coronavirus to suppress minority votes as they rally for federal funding to increase voting by mail during the pandemic. They point to last week’s primary election in Wisconsin where Democratic efforts to delay the vote were stymied by Republicans and mail-in ballots never arrived for some voters. As a result, many voters in heavily African American Milwaukee County and elsewhere were forced to stand in blocks-long lines and risk contracting the virus to cast their ballots. “What we saw in Wisconsin … is its own most cynical form of voter suppression,” Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D), whose state votes almost entirely by mail, said during a call organized by the advocacy group Stand Up America. “That they would require Wisconsin voters to risk their health and risk their lives in order to vote is suppression of the highest order.” Brown and other Democrats are urging up to $4 billion in federal funding to ensure mail-ballot access for all voters across the country. The calls underscore how the pandemic and the chaos in Wisconsin have broadened the coalition pushing for major changes to the voting system. They’re also uniting groups that sought changes to protect elections against hacking by Russia and other adversaries, and those who want to ensure ballot access laws don’t disenfranchise minorities and lower-income voters.

National: Trump Denigrates Vote By Mail, But Troops Have Been Doing It For Decades | Courtney Bublé/Government Executive

President Trump and other Republicans have alleged that voting by mail is not secure, but some election experts and former military officials say otherwise, noting that U.S. troops and civilians posted overseas  have been doing it successfully for decades. As the presidential election coincides with the novel coronavirus pandemic, many states have adopted vote-by-mail for their primaries and caucuses and support is growing among election officials to expand such efforts for the general election in November to heed social distancing guidance. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and White House coronavirus task force member, said on CNN on Sunday, that he “can’t guarantee” in-person voting will be possible or advisable in November due to the ongoing pandemic.

National: Mail-in voting benefits neither party, is nearly fraud-free | The Fulcrum

Voting by mail does not help Democrats more than Republicans and does not incubate fraud — but does generate a bit more turnout, a pair of academic studies out Thursday conclude. The twin reports, one from Stanford and the other from the Union of Concerned Scientists, come as the debate about making elections more flexible in the face of the coronavirus has become increasingly partisan. Although voting in person, the method used by three-quarters of Americans before this year, currently poses serious health risks to both voters and poll workers, President Trump is opposing efforts to broadly expand absentee balloting by November. He says the GOP will suffer and that a wave of widespread cheating will be the major reason. There’s no evidence of such partisan advantage in the detailed results from the past dozen elections in California, Utah and Washington. They were analyzed by the Democracy and Polarization Lab at Stanford, which chose the states because each steadily expanded voting by mail, county by county, in the last two decades so that it is now nearly universally used.

National: Historic shifts seen in support for mail-in voting | Maggie Miller/The Hill

The coronavirus pandemic is leading to major shifts in how Americans vote across the country and is forcing some of the most restrictive voting states to embrace change in their election procedures. The change is most apparent on the East Coast, where governors from New England to the South are signaling a new willingness to expand voting measures such as early voting and mail-in ballots, and on Capitol Hill, where leaders including Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) are strongly in support. Support for these efforts is spurred on by the public, with Democracy Corps finding in a poll conducted over the past month that more than 70 percent of Americans living in key battleground states are in favor of no-excuse absentee voting, which allows for voters to request an absentee ballot without having to state a reason. Some Republicans, including President Trump, are still staunchly against voting by mail, arguing it could lead to voter fraud and lessen election chances for the party.

National: Vote-by-mail states don’t see the rampant fraud that alarms Trump | Bridget Bowman(Roll Call

States are expecting an increase in voters wanting to mail in their ballots as the coronavirus pandemic has made in-person voting potentially dangerous. And some — most notably the president — have questioned whether mail-in ballots are secure. President Donald Trump has repeatedly said voting by mail has a high potential for voter fraud, despite recently casting an absentee ballot in Florida himself. But officials in states that conduct elections entirely by mail say fraud is extremely rare, and they also have measures in place to protect against ballot tampering. The question for other states is whether, and how quickly, they can ramp up similar protections ahead of November. Trump and others questioning the security of mail-in ballots do have a recent, high-profile example in North Carolina’s 9th District, where the 2018 election results were thrown out after a Republican political consultant was accused of tampering with absentee ballots. Proponents of voting by mail pushed back, arguing that there is little evidence of fraudulent ballots and that no system is perfect. “If someone really wants to perpetrate fraud, I think they probably could in any system, including voting at a polling place,” said Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman, a Republican. “So no system is completely free of the potential of fraud.”

National: Emergency election money is available. But some states struggle to claim it | Carrie Levine/Center for Public Integrity

Some states aren’t sure if they can claim their share of emergency funds Congress approved to help states meet pandemic-related expenses for administering 2020 elections, citing conditions on the money.  The U.S. Election Assistance Commission, which is coordinating the flow of $400 million to the states, had received request letters from 37 states as of Tuesday.  For some of the remaining states, a major obstacle is a requirement that they match 20 percent of the federal money with their own dollars — at a time when the coronavirus outbreak is straining state budgets and draining surpluses. The National Association of Secretaries of State has told lawmakers that the matching requirement will be “extremely difficult” for states to meet. Election officials from both parties have also raised concerns and said Congress should lift or reduce the match requirement. 

National: Why vote by mail triggered a partisan battle ahead of November’s election | John Whitesides and Julia Harte/Reuters

The drive to expand vote-by-mail options during the coronavirus pandemic has emerged as the centerpiece of a growing political fight ahead of November’s election. President Donald Trump and his Republican allies have attacked the idea of expanding mail balloting, arguing it is vulnerable to fraud and openly worrying that easier voting would hurt their party’s chances in November. Democrats and voting rights groups say it is a way to protect voters from the deadly virus, and that a failure to guarantee that option amid a pandemic will disenfranchise millions of Americans, especially the poor and African Americans who are deemed more vulnerable to the virus and who tend to vote Democratic. Last week’s turbulent Wisconsin elections, which went ahead after Republicans blocked Democratic efforts to delay in-person voting and expand absentee balloting, illustrated the partisan divide – and the mounting urgency to find a solution before the Nov. 3 U.S. election.

National: The Massive Obstacles in Front of National Mail-In Voting | Lisa Hagen/US News

Wisconsin’s primary last week was the first real-time example of the challenges of conducting in-person voting in the middle of a full-blown pandemic: long lines that complicated social distancing procedures and severe staffing shortages that led to a low number of operating polling sites. And now the aftermath has amplified calls for greatly expanding vote-by-mail across the country. But the implementation of more mail and absentee ballots is facing an array of hurdles – political, logistical and legal – as nearly two dozen states and territories prepare for the remaining primaries over the next three months and gear up for a general election that some believe will yield massive turnout. “What I think Wisconsin has now demonstrated is the canary in the coal mine if we don’t have emergency procedures to have in place” says Michael McDonald, a professor at the University of Florida who specializes in elections. “The good news is we still have some opportunities to do preparations for next elections, and the next hurdles are these primary elections coming up.”

National: How a Supreme Court Decision Curtailed the Right to Vote in Wisconsin | Jim Rutenberg and Nick Corasaniti/The New York Times

The Wisconsin spring elections were less than a week away, and with the state’s coronavirus death toll mounting, Democrats were challenging Republican plans to hold the vote as scheduled. In an emergency hearing, held via videoconference, John Devaney, a lawyer for the Democrats, proposed a simple compromise: Extend the deadline for mail ballots by six days past Election Day, to April 13, to ensure that more people could vote, and vote safely. “That’s going to be much more enfranchising,” said Mr. Devaney, arguing one of the most politically freighted voting-rights cases since Bush v. Gore from his bedroom in South Carolina as his black lab, Gus, repeatedly interrupted at the door. The presiding federal judge, William M. Conley, agreed, pointing out that clerks were facing severe backlogs and delays as they struggled to meet surging demand for mail-in ballots. Yet with hours to go before Election Day, the Supreme Court reversed that decision along strict ideological lines, a decision based in large part on the majority’s assertion that the Democrats had never asked for the very extension Mr. Devaney requested in court. It was the first major voting-rights decision led by the court’s conservative newest member, Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, and it was in keeping with a broader Republican approach that puts more weight on protecting against potential fraud — vanishingly rare in American elections — than the right to vote, with limited regard for the added burdens of the pandemic.

National: Internet Voting Is ‘Not Secure’ and Blockchain Won’t Help, Warns Scientific Body | Yael Grauer/CoinDesk

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to roil elections and voting officials look for solutions, scientific experts are warning against the dangers of voting online. The American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Center for Scientific Evidence in Public Issues has written an open letter to U.S. governors, secretaries of state and state election directors to express concern about the security of voting via the internet or mobile apps. The AAAS letter has been signed by renowned cybersecurity and computing experts and organizations. It reflects research from the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and other organizations. “At this time, internet voting is not a secure solution for voting in the United States, nor will it be in the foreseeable future,” the letter reads, pointing to undetected manipulation of votes, privacy violations, malware intrusions, and the potential for denial-of-service attacks and other vulnerabilities. Internet voting, which includes voting via email, fax, web and mobile app, has no meaningful voter-verified paper record, the letter states, which makes it impossible to conduct a valid audit of the results.

National: State election officials scramble to ‘not become Wisconsin’ amid coronavirus fears | Abby Phillip/CNN

President Donald Trump has drawn a line in the sand, opposing efforts to expand mail-in voting across the country in response to the threat of the novel coronavirus. But state election officials — including many Republicans — are already preparing to make stark changes to voting procedures anyway, in some cases dramatically expanding the availability of voting by mail amid the threat of Covid-19. Their objective is simple: avoid the chaos and confusion that unfolded in Wisconsin last week by radically changing the way many Americans vote. “I want to try to avoid circumstance of long waits and poll workers in hazmat suits. I want to relieve some of the pressure on the poll workers,” said Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams, a Republican. “The solution is to expand absentee voting.” Trump’s false claims that mail ballots are “very dangerous” and “fraudulent in many cases” have not stopped efforts, even in red states, to expand access to mail-in voting.