The Voting News

Arkansas: Voter ID law an impediment to voting, lawsuit argues | Arkansas Times

Additional pleadings have been filed in the citizen’s lawsuit challenging the new Arkansas voter ID law that includes evidence the new law resulted in votes in a recent special election in Russellville not being counted. The 2017 law was passed after an earlier Arkansas Supreme Court ruling said the addition of a required photo ID to vote was an unconstitutional new barrier to voting. Thanks to that case, evidence has been compiled by the ACLU showing that more than 1,000 registered voters did not have votes counted because of the law. The new law tries to skirt that decision by calling the voter ID provision part of a new registration process allowed by the state Constitution. Its defenders argue that the law provides a way to cast a vote without an ID. Read More

Georgia: Voting groups oppose bill to change Georgia’s voting machines | Atlanta Journal Constitution

Several election integrity organizations are unifying against a bill to change Georgia’s voting system, saying the legislation fails to ensure verifiable election results. The legislation, Senate Bill 403, would replace Georgia’s electronic voting machines with a system that uses paper to some extent. But opponents of the measure say it doesn’t truly commit to paper ballots for audits and recounts.  They’re concerned that the bill allows the state to continue its heavy reliance on voting methods that could be vulnerable to hacking, and it gives county election supervisors the power to refuse to do paper recounts, even in close races. “It’s really important that Georgia gets this right,” said Marian Schneider, the president of the Verified Voting Foundation, a Philadelphia-based organization whose mission is to safeguard elections. ”The voting system that Georgia chooses has to have a voter-marked paper ballot that’s retained by the system and is available for recount and audit.” Read More

Pennsylvania: Supreme Court turns down gerrymander appeal from Pennsylvania’s GOP | Los Angeles Times

The Supreme Court refused Monday to block a new election map for Pennsylvania that gives Democrats a chance to win four or more congressional seats in November. The justices turned down a second and final appeal from Pennsylvania’s Republican leaders, who defended the gerrymandered districts that had given them a steady 13-5 advantage over the Democrats for years. The new map gives Democrats a good chance to win half of the 18 House seats. Last week, they celebrated picking up a Republican seat when Conor Lamb claimed victory in a special election for a seat in southwestern Pennsylvania. Republicans have not conceded that race as final provisional ballots are counted. Lamb and all other candidates will run this fall in districts that have been redrawn. Read More

Kansas: Voting trial over. One more court day, a contempt hearing, ahead for Kobach | The Kansas City Star

A federal judge will decide whether thousands can vote in Kansas this fall after the conclusion of a two-week trial that saw a leading candidate for governor scolded and scrutinized. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a Republican candidate for governor, led the legal team defending the state’s proof of citizenship requirement, a policy he crafted, against a pair of federal lawsuits. The case will have national implications because Kobach has previously advised President Donald Trump on voter fraud and remains in contact with his administration. The trial wrapped up Monday evening, but Kobach still faces a contempt hearing Tuesday. Kobach’s office has pointed to 129 non-citizens that it says either registered or attempted to register over nearly two decades, but he has repeatedly said this number could be “the tip of the iceberg” and has offered estimates that as many as 18,000 are on the state’s voter rolls. Read More

Georgia: Lawmakers mull paper ballot voting system | Associated Press

As Georgia lawmakers consider scrapping electronic voting machines for a system that uses paper ballots, a razor-thin margin in a U.S. House race over 500 miles away in Western Pennsylvania has highlighted a crucial distinction between the two systems: the presence of an auditable paper trail. The proposal would move Georgia from its 16-year-old electronic touchscreen voting system with no paper backup, to either a touchscreen system that prints a paper ballot or paper ballots marked by pencil. Republican Rep. Ed Setzler of Acworth, one of the bill’s primary backers, said it was needed to ensure that election results could be audited if there were claims or evidence of irregularities and to bolster voter confidence. The measure recently passed the House Governmental Affairs Committee and is expected to quickly see a vote before the full House. … A tight U.S. House race in Western Pennsylvania last week was questioned by GOP officials there who said they were looking into alleged voting irregularities after Democrat Conor Lamb declared victory over Republican Rick Saccone in a longtime GOP stronghold that includes four counties in the Pittsburgh area. Read More

National: FEC probes whether NRA got illegal Russian donations | Politico

The Federal Election Commission has launched a preliminary investigation into whether Russian entities gave illegal contributions to the National Rifle Association that were intended to benefit the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election, according to people who were notified of the probe. The inquiry stems in part from a complaint from a liberal advocacy group, the American Democracy Legal Fund, which asked the FEC to look into media reports about links between the rifle association and Russian entities, including a banker with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. A spokesman for the NRA and its lobbying arm, the Institute for Legislative Action, which together contributed $30 million to Trump’s presidential campaign, declined to comment on the FEC’s probe. Read More

National: How Trump Consultants Exploited the Facebook Data of Millions | The New York Times

As the upstart voter-profiling company Cambridge Analytica prepared to wade into the 2014 American midterm elections, it had a problem. The firm had secured a $15 million investment from Robert Mercer, the wealthy Republican donor, and wooed his political adviser, Stephen K. Bannon, with the promise of tools that could identify the personalities of American voters and influence their behavior. But it did not have the data to make its new products work. So the firm harvested private information from the Facebook profiles of more than 50 million users without their permission, according to former Cambridge employees, associates and documents, making it one of the largest data leaks in the social network’s history. The breach allowed the company to exploit the private social media activity of a huge swath of the American electorate, developing techniques that underpinned its work on President Trump’s campaign in 2016. Read More

Editorials: Kris Kobach’s Voting Sham Gets Exposed in Court | The New York Times

The modern American crusade against voter fraud has always been propelled by faith. That is, an insistent belief in things unseen — things like voters who show up at the polls pretending to be someone else, or noncitizens who try to register and vote illegally. Fraud like this is so rare as to be almost unmeasurable, and yet its specter has led to dozens of strict new laws around the country. Passed in the name of electoral integrity, the laws, which usually require voters to present photo IDs at the polls or provide proof of citizenship to register, make voting harder, if not impossible, for tens of thousands of people — disproportionately minorities and others who tend to vote Democratic. The high priest of this faith-based movement is Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state and gubernatorial candidate who has been preaching his gospel of deception to Republican lawmakers for years. He has won plenty of converts, even though he has failed to identify more than a tiny handful of possible cases of fraud. In his eight years as secretary of state, he has secured a total of nine convictions, only one of which was for illegal voting by a noncitizen; most were for double-voting by older Republican men. Read More

Georgia: Bill cuts down on voting hours despite Democrats’ opposition | Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A bill advancing in the Georgia Legislature would reduce voting hours in the city of Atlanta and limit early voting on Sundays.
The legislation would force Atlanta’s polls to close at 7 p.m. instead of 8 p.m. and allow voting in advance of Election Day on only one Saturday or Sunday. The House Governmental Affairs Committee approved the legislation, Senate Bill 363, on Wednesday. The committee’s five Democrats opposed the bill, while the committee’s majority Republicans all supported it, though a hand count of “yes” votes wasn’t taken. The bill was filed by Republican Sen. Matt Brass after Democratic Sen. Jen Jordan won a special election in December to represent a district that covers parts of Atlanta and Cobb County.  Voting in Cobb County ended at 7 p.m., an hour earlier than in Atlanta. Read More

Illinois: Security of state voter rolls a concern as primaries begin | Associated Press

With the Illinois primary just days away, state election officials are beefing up cyber defenses and scanning for possible intrusions into voting systems and voter registration rolls. They have good reason to be on guard: Two years ago, Illinois was the lone state known to have its state election system breached in a hacking effort that ultimately targeted 21 states. Hackers believe to be connected to Russia penetrated the state’s voter rolls, viewing data on some 76,000 Illinois voters, although there is no indication any information was changed. Since then, Illinois election officials have added firewalls, installed software designed to prevent intrusions and shifted staffing to focus on the threats. The state has been receiving regular cyber scans from the federal government to identify potential weak spots and has asked the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to conduct a comprehensive risk assessment. That assessment is scheduled but will not happen before Tuesday’s second-in the-nation primary. Read More