Supporters of ranked-choice voting in Maine — joined by eight Democratic candidates — filed a lawsuit Friday to ensure that the voting method is in place in time for the June primaries. The lawsuit comes more than two weeks before the deadline for Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, a Democrat, to certify signatures designed to place on the June 12 ballot a referendum question that could decide the long-term fate of ranked-choice voting. The Committee for Ranked Choice Voting announced Friday afternoon that it has filed a suit in Kennebec County Superior Court. One candidate for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, six gubernatorial candidates and a Maine Senate candidate signed onto the lawsuit.
The Voting News
Pennsylvania is taking steps to increase security on all voting systems used in the commonwealth. From here moving forward, all voting systems bought for Pennsylvania must have a voter-verifiable paper record of votes cast. Marian Schneider of Verified Voting, an organization which promotes accuracy and transparency in voting, says this is an important step. “The reason that having a paper record of voter intent is because paper cannot be altered by software,” she said.
National: Election Officials Convene in D.C. Amid Continued Friction Over Voting Security, Russian Propaganda Concerns | Washington Free Beacon
Top election officials from around the country will be meeting in Washington, D.C., this weekend amid a flurry of news reports and political debates over the last two weeks about election security. Because administering elections is a function of the states and not the federal government, state and federal officials have appeared in tension as hearings on Capitol Hill continue to suggest the federal government wants a greater role in providing security and oversight. With the intense public scrutiny on Russia’s meddling in the 2016 elections, many of the secretaries of state say they have found themselves in a constant battle of dispelling myths about voting security and rebutting media reports, while walking a delicate balance accepting federal help on issues such as cybersecurity while also preserving the autonomy given to states by the Constitution.
National: States move to protect voting systems from Russia with little help from Congress | USA Today
With the first congressional primary less than three weeks away, state election officials are ramping up efforts to protect their voting systems from cyber attacks as the nation’s intelligence officials warn that Russia will once again try to meddle in U.S. elections. Some states are moving to protect election data by encrypting their systems to thwart hackers, while others are asking the Department of Homeland Security to check their systems for vulnerabilities. Their actions come in the wake of revelations by homeland security officials last year that Russian hackers tried to break into the election systems of 21 states in 2016. Although no actual votes were changed, hackers did breach Illinois’ voter registration database.
National: National security adviser sees proof of Russian hacking as ‘incontrovertible,’ prompting rebuke from Trump | The Washington Post
U.S. national security adviser H.R. McMaster acknowledged Saturday that evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election is “incontrovertible” but said Moscow’s campaign to divide the West through subterfuge was failing. “It’s just not working,” he said. The comments, a day after the Justice Department indicted 13 Russians on charges of interference in the election that catapulted Donald Trump to the White House, follow months of efforts by the president to cast doubt on assertions of Moscow’s interference .
Republican state lawmakers are pushing a November ballot proposition that would ask voters to overhaul the panel that draws Arizona’s political boundaries — a move that could affect which party holds power at the state Capitol. The proposition would also give state legislators the authority to potentially sketch their own district boundaries, as well as those of Arizona’s members of Congress. Supporters said the proposal is intended to make the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission — a bipartisan panel that was created to take that power away from the Legislature — larger and, thereby, more bipartisan. But Democrats and voter-advocacy groups say it’s a veiled attempt to dismantle the commission and let state lawmakers pick their voters through gerrymandering.
Top security and intelligence officials warned on Tuesday that Russia would try to interfere in the 2018 elections again, just as it did in 2016. “We need to inform the American public that this is real, that this is not going to be happening,” Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told the Senate Intelligence Committee. They didn’t specify how we were going to stop it, but we know there is one place we know we can start: upgrading the ramshackle, out-of-date voting equipment that is more vulnerable to hacking than newer machines.
Top ranking Michigan Republican Party officials lobbied lawmakers to ban straight-ticket voting in late 2015 despite concerns from a key GOP lawmaker that the change could increase Election Day wait times, according to new court filings from attorneys seeking to overturn the statute. Evidence and depositions the state is attempting to exclude from trial in a federal lawsuit over the ban offer a rare glimpse into the legislative process and show the extent to which party officials interact with the state’s GOP-led Legislature.
Editorials: The campaign finance loophole that could make the next Russian attack perfectly legal. | Richard Hasen/Slate
The Mueller indictment of 13 Russian nationals for interfering with the 2016 U.S.
presidential election offers a remarkably detailed account of a complex plot to sow discord and influence the presidential contest in favor of Donald Trump. The indictment critically points to something else, though: It provides a roadmap for the Russians to do it all again, without violating any current campaign finance laws the next time. Paragraph 50 of the complaint demonstrates the kinds of social media ads Russian government agents paid for during the last election season. Here are two relevant examples: “Hillary is a Satan, and her crimes and lies had proved how evil she is,” and “Vote Republican, Vote Trump, and Support the Second Amendment!”
There’s a Catch-22 when it comes to whether Congress will address the issue of voting security in time for this year’s elections. On the one hand, the threat posed by Russian hackers has brought significant attention to the issue, leading to the introduction of several pieces of bipartisan legislation to boost the nation’s cybersecurity. But some congressional Republicans worry that raising the Russian threat could call into question the legitimacy of President Trump’s election, so they don’t want to touch it. … Academic researchers and hackers at last year’s DefCon hacking conference showed that voting machines can be penetrated easily, often within minutes. The exercise drew considerable attention, but Lawson emphasizes that the experiment’s results wouldn’t be replicated in real-world conditions. Most of the machines at the conference weren’t certified for use in the U.S., she says, while poll workers would have to be napping for hackers to open them up.