Riverside County may have been a proving ground for Russian hackers intent on disrupting the 2016 presidential election, according to a cover story in Time magazine. But the county’s registrar of voters is disputing Time’s account, saying the article “contained some incorrect information and may have, in some people’s minds, mischaracterized questions about voters who said their registrations had been improperly changed for elections in 2016.” The July 19 article, “Inside the Secret Plan to Stop Vladimir Putin’s U.S. Election Plot,” describes Russian attempts to hack into more election systems nationwide and an Obama administration plan to respond to an Election Day cyber attack.
Articles about voting issues in California.
Hackers successfully penetrated state-run online voter registration systems in 2016, triggering confusion and heated exchanges between voters, poll workers and poll watchers during California’s June 7 primary, Riverside County District Attorney Michael Hestrin said Friday. “I think that pretty quickly, as is sort of the case around our politics, partisanship got into it,” Hestrin told The California Report. “And frankly the victims of these changes were both Republicans and Democrats.” Hestrin’s investigation would ultimately show that hackers accessed voter registration information, indiscriminate of party, through the California Secretary of State’s election website, and changed some voters’ party affiliations. But because the state did not collect the IP addresses of the visits, there’s no way to know where the hacker — or hackers — were based.
As Los Angeles County prepares for the procurement and manufacturing stage of its nationally-recognized Voting Systems Assessment Project (VSAP), Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan is focusing resources on election security. “Amid continuous investigation of attempted nation-state hacking of voter data and ongoing concerns about the age and technical vulnerability of the voting equipment used in the United States,” said Logan, “it is imperative that next generation voting systems like the one we are developing in Los Angeles County are equipped to deliver voters a secure, usable and transparent voting experience.”
California: A new suit says lawmakers broke the law when they changed California’s recall election rules | Los Angeles Times
Republican activists and an anti-tax organization filed a lawsuit Thursday to scrap a new law that revised the rules for California’s recall elections, accusing Democrats of a blatant attempt to help an embattled state senator keep his job. The court challenge to the law, enacted as part of last month’s new state budget, comes after critics of state Sen. Josh Newman (D-Fullerton) submitted some 85,000 voter signatures to force a special election on whether he should be removed from office. “For them to come in and try to pass a law undercutting a legitimate exercise of direct democracy, we feel that the court’s not going to like that very much,” said Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn., one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
A dramatic change planned for California elections next year is morphing into a partisan battle over how the state’s ballots should be cast. When Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB450 in September, it was billed as a new way to boost California’s falling election turnout. Mailing a ballot to every voter in participating counties and replacing the traditional neighborhood polling places with a relative handful of community voting centers would cut costs and make it easier to cast a ballot. “This landmark law will provide voters more options for when, where and how they cast a ballot,” Secretary of State Alex Padilla, who sponsored what has been dubbed the California Voter’s Choice Act, said in a statement at the time. The bill, he said, “will increase civic participation and make our democracy stronger.” But Padilla was far less jolly last month after Orange County supervisors, worried about what they said was the potential for abuse, unanimously refused to sign on to his plan, dismissing it without discussion.
When a commission created by President Donald Trump to investigate voter fraud asked all 50 states last week to share the name, party affiliation, last four digits of social security number, voting history and other personal information for each of the country’s 200 million registered voters, the outcry was swift, widespread and bipartisan. More than 40 states so far have turned down the request completely or in part, citing privacy laws and concerns about how the data would be used by the Presidential Advisory Commission on Voter Integrity. The commission was established in May, following Trump’s complaints that he only lost the popular vote in the November election because there were millions of illegal voters.
President Trump’s voter fraud commission will not be getting the names and addresses of California’s registered voters. The panel’s request was denied on Thursday by Secretary of State Alex Padilla, who said it would only “legitimize” false claims of massive election cheating last fall. Padilla refused to hand over data, including the names, addresses, political party and voting history of California’s 19.4 million voters. Kris Kobach, the secretary of state of Kansas who serves as vice chairman of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, sent letters to all 50 states on Wednesday for information he said would help the group examine rules that either “enhance or undermine the American people’s confidence in the integrity of federal elections processes.” Padilla, though, suggested the effort is little more than a ruse.
Perhaps no part of California has thought more about the future of voting than Orange County. And yet when it comes to a sweeping change to state elections, the county has decided to take a pass. In fact, recent events serve as a cautionary tale that changing elections is hard, even when the plan is praised by “good government” advocates as the kind of reform that will make voting fit in better with the way we live and work. Less than two weeks ago, the Orange County Board of Supervisors quietly scrapped years of work by its elections officials on a plan to swap neighborhood polling places for universal absentee ballots and a limited number of all-purpose vote centers. There, voters could access a variety of election services — including last-minute registration, a few voting booths and a place to drop off absentee ballots. There would also be ballot drop boxes in heavily trafficked areas of the county.
California: Secretary of state expresses ‘serious concern’ with NSA after hacking document leaked | Times Standard
After a leaked National Security Agency document alleged Russian operatives attempted to hack into a Florida voter polling software company used by Humboldt County in the 2016 presidential election, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla sent a letter to the federal agency Thursday questioning why the state was not notified earlier. “As the chief elections officer in the most populous state in the nation, I am seriously concerned about the NSA’s failure to provide timely and critical information to America’s elections officials,” Padilla wrote to NSA Director Admiral Michael Rogers. “… We must be prepared and remain vigilant. Proper preparation requires clear and consistent collaboration among federal, state, and local officials. The NSA cannot afford to sit on critical information that could be used to defend against cyber-attacks.”
The last time voting technology was updated in California was 2002. That’s four presidential elections with the same voting machines each time. In Sacramento County, vote-counting machines have paths worn into the trays that hold ballots to be scanned, often causing ballots to fray as they pass through machines. Counties normally administer most election activities and cover the costs associated with them. States have specific requirements about elections, costing about $30 million a year. However, the state and federal governments do not regularly pay for elections, leaving counties with large modernization bills. Assembly Bill 668, the Voting Modernization Bond Act of 2018, would change all that. The bill would allow the state to sell $450 million in bonds that would be spent upgrading voting technology after a two-thirds vote in both houses and passage as a proposition by direct vote of the people.