The Voting News

Illinois: In the aftermath of Russian interference, local election officials say security efforts are crucial | Chicago Tribune

Protecting the integrity of American elections against foreign hackers is a more difficult job than preventing voter fraud, but election officials in Lake and Cook counties say they are working to to do both. U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Deerfield) met with local election officials Wednesday at the Northbrook Public Library to discuss the steps that have been taken to prevent or minimize interference since the 2016 election and to look for ways to prevent it in the upcoming primary and general elections. Joining Schneider was Cook County Clerk David Orr, Lake County Clerk Carla Wyckoff, Noah Praetz, the director of elections for Cook County, and Debra Nieto, chief deputy Lake County clerk. Read More

Editorials: Who Needs Congressional Districts? | Michael Tomasky/The New York Times

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court handed down its new set of congressional district lines on Monday, replacing those drawn by Republicans after they captured the state legislature in 2010. The state’s highest court had earlier ruled those lines unconstitutional. The new map, The Times’s Nate Cohn said, “comes very close to achieving partisan balance.” Republicans, who held a big advantage under the old lines, plan to challenge the new ones in federal court. It’s a huge fight, with enormous ramifications. But as they argue over what lines should go where, I ask you to consider a more fundamental question: Why have lines at all? Read More

National: The Myth of the Hacker-Proof Voting Machine | The New York Times

In 2011, the election board in Pennsylvania’s Venango County — a largely rural county in the northwest part of the state — asked David A. Eckhardt, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University, to examine its voting systems. In municipal and state primaries that year, a few voters had reported problems with machines ‘‘flipping’’ votes; that is, when these voters touched the screen to choose a candidate, the screen showed a different candidate selected. Errors like this are especially troubling in counties like Venango, which uses touch-screen voting machines that have no backup paper trail; once a voter casts a digital ballot, if the machine misrecords the vote because of error or maliciousness, there’s little chance the mistake will be detected. Eckhardt and his colleagues concluded that the problem with the machines, made by Election Systems & Software (ES&S), was likely a simple calibration error. But the experts were alarmed by something else they discovered. Examining the election-management computer at the county’s office — the machine used to tally official election results and, in many counties, to program voting machines — they found that remote-access software had been installed on it. Read More

National: Election officials face voting machine challenges ahead of 2018 midterms | CBS

Eight months out from the 2018 midterms, and over a year since the Russians allegedly tried to interfere in the 2016 elections, many state and and local election officials are still concerned about guarding their voting systems against breaches. One of the most basic safeguards is a paper record of each vote — a paper trail. But not every state incorporates paper in its polling place practices. In fact, five states only use electronic voting machines, known as direct-recording electronic (DRE) machines, that don’t have a paper trail, according to the Verified Voting Foundation. …  The lack of a paper trail makes auditing an election basically impossible. Read More

National: Democrats want to boost FBI budget to fight Russia’s election interference | The Hill

Congressional Democratic leadership wants to boost the FBI’s budget in next month’s government funding bill to help fight Russian interference in the 2018 midterm elections. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), as well as top Democrats on the House and Senate Appropriations committees, sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) urging them to support the increase. “These attacks and Putin’s ongoing efforts to again interfere in our upcoming elections demand a robust and urgent response, and Congress must respond immediately to attacks on our democracy by a foreign adversary,” the Democratic lawmakers wrote in the letter. Read More

National: States Rush to Defend 2018 Election From Russia After Late Start | Bloomberg

Weeks before the first U.S. primaries, 40 state election officials filed into a guarded Maryland office for a classified briefing about the threats they’re sure to face between now and the November vote. But they didn’t need much of a reminder about the menace from abroad. As they arrived, Special Counsel Robert Mueller charged 13 Russians with meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign in a conspiracy of bogus social-media postings. These state officials are the front-line defense against another assault on the elections this year — but many say they’re not getting much help from Washington, particularly with President Donald Trump downplaying or dismissing the threat of Russian meddling. With control of both chambers of Congress at stake, state officials admit they’re rushing to bolster security and overcome confusion about how to work with the federal government. Read More

Editorials: So far, the effort to protect our elections simply has not been adequate | Donna Brazile/The Hill

In less than one month, voter will return to the ballot box in state primaries. As they enter polls in gymnasiums and firehouses, in community centers and churches all over this great land, voters may have a sinking feeling that it doesn’t matter how they vote because the Russians are the ones who are choosing our candidates. Unless we force our government quickly to protect us, I fear that feeling will be correct. One year ago 17 different United States intelligence agencies — people who usually don’t agree on much of anything — agreed that Russia had meddled with our 2016 presidential election. Their joint report spelled out how Putin personally ordered cyber break-ins and manipulations, and even hacked into our voting machines. Read More

Alaska: To boost election security, Alaska suspends electronic absentee program | Juneau Empire

The Alaska Division of Elections has announced it will suspend a little-used absentee voting program in an effort to improve the security of the state’s elections. In a note released last week, the division said it had received a “B” grade for election security in a recent study conducted by the Center for American Progress, a progressive public policy group. “B” was the highest grade awarded to any state in the country; 11 states received the ranking, the report indicated. Alaska’s report drew attention to the way the state handles absentee ballots submitted from overseas. Read More

North Carolina: Another redistricting lawsuit filed in North Carolina — this one over Wake election districts | News & Observer

Organizations that have challenged North Carolina redistricting plans are going back to state court over the General Assembly’s redrawing last year of election districts — this time with a new lawsuit challenging four state House districts in Wake County. The challengers are arguing that lawmakers violated the state constitution when they redrew Wake County election districts mid-decade when federal judges had not ordered them to do so to correct other districts ruled to be racial gerrymanders. Read More

Pennsylvania: New congressional district map could be challenged by Common Cause, NAACP on civil rights grounds | Philadelphia Inquirer

Common Cause helped bring down Pennsylvania’s old congressional district map. Now, in a twist, the good-government group might undo the new map that replaced it. Micah Sims, executive director of Common Cause Pennsylvania, said his organization and the state NAACP are considering filing suit in federal court to challenge the new map imposed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court this week. He said it may violate the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which banned obstacles to voting by minorities. Under Pennsylvania’s former 2011 map, drawn by Republicans, nonwhites make up a majority of residents in two Philadelphia-based congressional districts. In the new map, people of color appear to be the majority in only one district, he said. “In general, I think the new map is a really big win for democracy in Pennsylvania,” Sims said. “However, we want to make sure that it is not disenfranchising voters, particularly in Philadelphia.” Read More