The Voting News

Rhode Island: To enhance election security, Rhode Island tests a new way to verify election results | Uprise RI

Rhode Island is making good on its promise to road-test risk-limiting election audits, following 2017 passage of legislation by the Rhode Island General Assembly, requiring them. Beginning with the presidential primary in April 2020, Rhode Island will become the second state to require these audits to verify election results. A “risk limiting” audit checks if the election result is correct. Specifically it checks the counting of the votes. A “risk-limiting” audit limits the risk that the wrong election result will be certified. It can catch errors which change the result and correct a wrong result. To prepare for next year’s full implementation, the Rhode Island Board of Elections will conduct three pilot audits on January 16 and 17 at 50 Branch Avenue in Providence, Rhode Island beginning at 9:30 a.m. These pilot audits will be conducted with local election officials from Bristol, Cranston and Portsmouth, Rhode Island. Read More

National: Democrats seek FEC assurance on campaign finance oversight during shutdown | Politico

The partial government shutdown, the longest in U.S. history, is affecting the Federal Election Commission’s ability to enforce campaign finance laws and investigate possible infractions, Democrats on the Senate Rules Committee wrote to the FEC on Wednesday. Ninety percent of the agency’s 300 employees have been furloughed, forcing it to skip its first scheduled meeting of the year, according to the letter, which was first reported by The Washington Post. Read More

Connecticut: Advocates revive push for early voting by Constitutional amendment | Hartford Courant

Saying it’s time for Connecticut to join 39 other states, advocates started pushing Tuesday for a rare constitutional amendment to allow early voting. Unlike most states, Connecticut permits voting in person only on Election Day from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. While the final details are not set, an early voting system could potentially allow voting on the three weekends before Election Day. Voting would likely only be permitted at town halls in order to curtail the costs from opening every polling place around the state, lawmakers said. While Democrats in the state House of Representatives and Senate are pushing strongly for the measure, Republicans who have voted against the idea in the past are urging caution and saying state officials instead should be more concerned about voter fraud. Read More

Delaware: Early voting, other election reforms proposed in Delaware | Delaware News Journal

More than half of all registered voters in Delaware cast a ballot in November — the highest turnout for a midterm election in the state in at least two decades. Even more voters are expected to cast ballots in 2020 when President Donald Trump and Gov. John Carney will be running for a second term. But some say the state’s voting laws are actually keeping eligible voters from participating in state and federal elections. After multiple failed attempts in recent years, House Democrats now believe they are just weeks away from enacting a trio of reforms designed to remove some of those hurdles, as they see it. Read More

Indiana: Johnson County to decide what to do about ES&S in coming week | Daily Journal

With the primary election less than seven weeks away, county officials will decide in the coming week whether to stick with its long-time election vendor, which broke state election laws and disenfranchised voters in November. The three-member county election board, including newly elected County Clerk Trena McLaughlin, met privately with the three-member Board of Commissioners on Monday to discuss what to do moving forward, after the Secretary of State’s Office released a report that placed all of the blame in last year’s election on Election Systems & Software, a vendor multiple Indiana counties depend on for voting equipment. The company has provided equipment, software and technology for Johnson County elections for nearly two decades. The elected county clerk and an appointed election board manage how elections are conducted in the county, but the commissioners must approve any big ticket expenses. Read More

New Jersey: Murphy Calls for Returning Right to Vote to Felons on Probation or Parole | NJ Spotlight

Gov. Phil Murphy wasn’t shy about patting himself and lawmakers on the back in his State of the State speech for making it easier both to register to vote and to cast a ballot. But he also wants to increase the number of registered voters by re-enfranchising felons on probation or parole, a controversial initiative. This marked Murphy’s first public support for the concerted effort, launched last year by a number of progressive advocacy groups and legislators, to undo a 175-year-old law that strips the right to vote from those convicted of serious crimes until they have completed their entire sentence. But the governor stopped short of fully embracing legislation — embodied in S-2100 and A-3456 — that would return the right to vote to those who are incarcerated. “Let’s open the doors to our democracy even wider,” Murphy said toward the end of his speech to a joint session of the Legislature on Tuesday. “Let’s restore voting rights for individuals on probation or parole, so we can further their reentry into society. And we further their reentry into society by allowing them to exercise the most sacred right offered by our society — the right to vote.” Read More

North Carolina: Officials haven’t handed over massive trove of voter data to feds | WRAL

A demand from the U.S. Department of Justice for data on North Carolina voters has so far gone unanswered by state officials, despite a deadline to produce the records that passed this week. State Board of Elections General Counsel Josh Lawson said neither his office nor any of the county elections boards have provided any documents in response to subpoenas from the office of U.S. Attorney Robert Higdon. The subpoenas were originally issued in September and demanded eight years’ worth of data on voters statewide, including five years of data and executed ballots from voters in 44 counties, as part of a grand jury investigation involving U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Complying would have required state and local boards, as well as the state Division of Motor Vehicles, to hand over millions of records on the state’s registered voters just six weeks before the November election. Mounting concern over the demand prompted Justice Department attorneys days later to delay the production deadline until Jan. 14, clarify they wanted only redacted documents and offer to scale back the request. Read More

North Carolina: Why does the GOP believe Mark Harris should take office? | Charlotte Observer

North Carolina Republicans ratcheted up their drive to put Mark Harris in Congress on Tuesday, questioning “the entire legitimacy” of a state investigation into allegations of election fraud in the 9th Congressional District. North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes accused elections officials of “one stalling pattern after another” in a meeting with reporters in Charlotte. “When there (isn’t) evidence that irregularities would change the outcome of the election, Mark Harris should be certified,” Hayes said. “If they had discovered a shred of evidence, they would have made it public.” State law, however, allows for the board to call for a new election if “Irregularities or improprieties occurred to such an extent that they taint the results of the entire election and cast doubt on its fairness.” The McCready campaign, in a legal brief filed Monday in Wake County Superior Court, called that finding “an inevitable conclusion” to the case. Read More

South Carolina: Federal judge could intervene in decision to buy voting machines | The State

A federal judge will decide whether to toss out a lawsuit asking for federal oversight of South Carolina’s purchase of new voting machines, at a cost of up to $60 million. After a nearly two-hour hearing in Columbia, U.S. District Judge Michelle Childs said she would make a decision within 10 days. Childs could dismiss the lawsuit, which asks for a court order requiring the S.C. Election Commission to buy new, high-security voting machines. Or she could let the suit proceed. During Tuesday’s hearing, S.C. Assistant Attorney General Wesley Vorberger, representing the S.C. Election Commission, told Childs the lawsuit is unnecessary. The Election Commission, he said, already is seeking bids for new hacker-resistant voting machines for use in the 2020 election. Read More

South Carolina: Activists want ‘unhackable’ paper-ballot voting system | The State

Activists are pushing for South Carolina to adopt a paper-ballot election system. Several called for the change at the S.C. State House Wednesday, a day after the state Election Commission requested $60 million from the Legislature to buy new voting machines. “Our central mission is to make government work,” said Holley Ulbrich, president of the League of Women Voters of South Carolina, “so we have to make sure we have a voting system with optically scanned paper ballots that is faster, easier and unhackable.” A paper system would replace the current touchscreen-only voting machines that South Carolina has used since 2004. Those machines have been criticized as error prone and vulnerable to hacking. “These machines are older than the iPhone,” said ACLU of S.C. director Shaundra Young Scott. “We want to show citizens can trust the system, and that South Carolina is a progressive state.” Read More