The Voting News

North Carolina: Grand jury indicts former Durham County elections worker Richard Robert Rawling of Cary | News & Observer

A Durham County grand jury has indicted Richard Robert Rawling of Cary, a former Durham County elections worker, on charges related to the mishandling of provisional-ballot results during the March 2016 primary election. The indictment was handed down on Monday on counts of obstruction of justice, which is is felony, and failure to discharge a duty of his office, which is a misdemeanor, the N.C. State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement said in a release. Rawling worked for the Durham County Board of Elections during the March 15 primary, before resigning later that month. The N.C. State Board of Elections opened an investigation into the election in April 2016. Read More

India: First-past-post: House panel asks parties if election system should change | The Indian Express

Initiating what could be the first structured discussion on the issue, an all-party Parliamentary panel is exploring “different systems of elections”, other than the first-past-the-post (FPTP) system that is currently followed in the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls. Citing “apprehensions” that the FPTP may not be the “best suited system”, as “evident” from the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election results, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice, headed by Congress leader Anand Sharma, has sent a six-page “Questionnaire on Electoral Reforms” to all parties and the Election Commission. “There are different systems of elections — like first-past-the-post (FPTP), list system (open list and closed system), proportional representation, ranked or preferential voting, and mixed systems. In our country we follow FPTP for Parliament and Legislative Assemblies’ elections and proportional representation for the election of President…What is your view in the matter and please also suggest the alternative system, if any,” says the questionnaire. Read More

Editorials: Non-citizens are gaining the right to vote. Good. | Joshua A. Douglas/The Washington Post

As President Trump continues to peddle his debunked theory that millions of illegal ballots in the 2016 presidential election cost him the popular vote, his commission on voter fraud is wasting federal resources to figure out just how many noncitizens voted in our federal and state elections. But amid all the falsehoods, there has actually been some positive news for some legal noncitizens: They are gaining the right to vote in some places. In November, San Francisco voters approved Proposition N, which grants the right to vote in school board elections to noncitizen parents and guardians living in the city. The noncitizen voters must be at least 18 years old and cannot be in prison or on parole for a felony conviction. The law goes into effect for the November 2018 school board election. Read More

National: States Need to Modernize the Polling Place, but Funding Is Scarce | Wall Street Journal

Federal money set aside to help states upgrade their voting equipment is running out, at a time when many states are seeking to replace aging machines and further fortify against cyberattacks. While federal funding has gradually diminished, the 2016 fiscal year marked a new low. As of September 2016, states had collectively spent more than the approximately $3.2 billion, distributed over several years, that Congress provided under the 2002 Help America Vote Act, according to a report from the independent Election Assistance Commission released Wednesday. Several states now rely mostly on any interest accrued from federal grants or on other sources for election-related efforts, such as replacing equipment that is in some cases a decade old. Read More

National: US Commission on Civil Rights: Trump’s reversal on voter case could lead to ‘disenfranchisement’ | Washington Examiner

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights argued Friday that the Trump administration’s decision to support the way Ohio removes people from its voter rolls could lead to the disenfranchisement of more voters. Last year, the Obama administration filed an amicus brief in favor of civil rights groups who were challenging the way Ohio purges its voter rolls. But under the Trump administration, the Justice Department switched sides, and in August it filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the state of Ohio. Read More

National: Trump Election Commissioners Are Resisting Efforts to Protect Elections From Hacking | Mother Jones

The intelligence community fears that Russia’s meddling in US elections did not end in November 2016, and that when the Kremlin tries to intervene again, state and local voting systems will be a prime target. “They will be back,” former FBI Director James Comey warned in June. Many election systems would prove an easy target. Last month, hackers at the annual DEF Con conference demonstrated this vulnerability when they easily breached multiple voting machines. A 16-year-old hacked a machine in 45 minutes. In response to this threat, the Department of Homeland Security has taken a major step to protect elections by prioritizing the cybersecurity of state and local voting systems. Yet several members of President Donald Trump’s controversial election commission oppose DHS’s move, and two of them have dismissed the threat entirely as a ploy for the federal government to intrude on states’ rights. Their opposition is a signal that the commission, tasked with finding vulnerabilities in the country’s election system, is not likely to take cybersecurity seriously. On January 6, the same day that the intelligence community released a declassified report alleging Russian meddling in the election, DHS announced that it would make additional cybersecurity assistance available to states that request it. This was done by classifying election infrastructure as “critical infrastructure,” a designation that already brings heightened security measures to critical infrastructure such as dams and the electrical grid. The move means that DHS will provide risk assessments, system scanning, and other cybersecurity services to states that request them. But several election officials and experts who sit on the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity quickly condemned the designation. Read More

Alabama: Groups Asks Alabama to Restore Voters to ‘Active’ Status | Associated Press

A civil rights organization is asking Alabama’s secretary of state to restore hundreds of thousands of people to active voter status after what the group described as widespread confusion in election day. In a Friday letter to Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, the Southern Poverty Law Center said it believes large numbers of people were incorrectly moved to inactive voting status during an update of rolls. Merrill responded that his office followed the law. The secretary of state’s office said 340,162 people were put on inactive voter status in the required update of voting rolls. Read More

Florida: Absentee ballot fraud: Can anyone pick up ballots? | Palm Beach Post

Buried in the state attorney’s recent memo about voter fraud in a 2016 primary election were a few lines that left political observers scratching their heads: Collecting absentee ballots, it said, is illegal. For years, local campaigns and organizations have gone door to door collecting people’s vote-by-mail ballots to deliver to election headquarters, with the assumption that as long as they weren’t being paid to do it, it was legal. That apparently is no longer the case, adding confusion to one of the more bizarre elements of Florida’s already vague absentee ballot laws and potentially exposing well-meaning volunteers to first-degree misdemeanor charges. A spokesman for Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg said the office is offering no opinion beyond what was in its memo, which states, several times: “It is a crime for non-official election personnel to be in possession of any absentee ballots.” Read More

Georgia: Secretary of State backs off address confirmation notices for some voters | Atlanta Journal Constitution

After facing a legal backlash over sending address confirmation notices to tens of thousands of voters who had moved within the county they had already registered in, Georgia has quietly decided to reverse course. State officials confirmed Friday to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Georgia will no longer give those voters a 30-day deadline to respond or be declared “inactive,” and it will immediately recognize as active nearly half of the 383,487 voters who received the notices last month as part of the state’s biennial effort to clean up its voting rolls. “We reviewed the process and determined that these revisions would be in the best interest of all Georgia voters,” said Candice Broce, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office. Read More

Illinois: Election Systems & Software Exposes Backup of Chicago Voter Roll via AWS Bucket | Threatpost

Voter registration data belonging to the entirety of Chicago’s electoral roll—1.8 million records—was found a week ago in an Amazon Web Services bucket configured for public access. The data was a backup stored in AWS by Election Systems & Software (ES&S), a voting machine and election management systems vendor based in Omaha, Nebraska. Researchers from UpGuard made the discovery last Saturday and privately reported the leak to a government regulator who connected them to the Chicago FBI field office. The FBI then notified ES&S, which immediately pulled down the data from Amazon. Amazon buckets are configured to be private by default and require some kind of authentication to access what’s stored in them. For some reason, ES&S misconfigured its bucket to public months ago, opening the possibility that others had accessed the data before UpGuard. Read More