Come New Year’s Day, three major voting bills will become law in California, changing the way voters use vote by mail ballots. Assembly Bill 216 and Assembly Bill 306, both introduced to the legislature by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher, will expand voting rights in the state and clarify certain aspects of vote by mail ballots to make voting easier for Californians. Assembly Bill 2218, which increases transparency of vote by mail ballots was also passed after being introduced by Assemblymember Marc Berman. AB 216 simplifies the use of vote by mail ballots—the elections official is required to deliver all supplies necessary for the use and return of the ballot, including an identification envelope with prepaid postage. Prepaid postage!
Articles about voting issues in California.
California: Millions of California voters saw same-party races on November’s ballot and left the space blank | Los Angeles Times
As November’s election results become clear, so does a new California conundrum: Voters may like the top-two primary — which doesn’t guarantee any political party a spot on the fall ballot — but a lot of them skipped last month’s contests in which the only choices were candidates with the same party affiliation. It was not a lack of enthusiasm for the election. The percentage of registered voters who turned out was the highest for a regular gubernatorial election since 1982. Final results, expected later this week, will show about 12.7 million ballots cast statewide. But some races were left blank, in what elections officials call an “under-vote.” The reasons vary — some voters get confused or forget, and others simply don’t like either of the two contenders.
California: California doesn’t need better voting machines — it needs better audits, experts say | The Peninsula Press
When voters in Alameda and Santa Clara County head to the polls on Nov. 6, about one percent will cast their ballots on electronic voting machines that have known security vulnerabilities. California has safeguards in place. In addition to requiring paper records for votes cast on electronic machines, California also manually audits one percent of all ballots cast, to make sure there’s no discrepancy in the numbers. Now, experts like David Dill, a computer science professor at Stanford and founder of Verified Voting, are saying that isn’t enough, and are pushing states like California to implement more rigorous auditing methods. “The problem of protecting machines is pretty unmanageable, even with the best and most modern hardware … so what you need to do is select a bunch of ballots at random and hand count them in order to make sure the electronic counts are accurate,” says Dill.
The FBI has opened up an investigation into cyberattacks that targeted a California Democrat who eventually lost a tight House primary race earlier this year, according to Rolling Stone, citing a source close to the campaign. The inquiry centers on distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks against the campaign website for Bryan Caforio, who finished third in the June primary. He was running in California’s 25th Congressional District, which is represented by Republican Rep. Steve Knight and is considered a seat that Democrats could flip in November. The attacks involved creating artificially heavy traffic on his website that forced the hosting company to block access to bryancaforio.com four times before the primary, including during a crucial debate and in the week before the primary. No website data was accessed from the site during the attacks.
Calling it unacceptable, Secretary of State Alex Padilla angrily criticized Department of Motor Vehicles officials Tuesday after they improperly registered about 1,500 people to vote in November’s election. Padilla did not mince words when it came to the error. “These mistakes from the DMV are totally unacceptable,” he told reporters. “It risks jeopardizing confidence in the electoral process which is why yesterday I called for an independent audit of the DMV’s technology and their practices…The DMV needs to get it together here real quick.” The focus is on the national Motor Voter Law that allows voters to register at DMV offices. Padilla said reports that all 1,500 people registered in error were non-citizens was not correct.
The spotlight on cyber vulnerabilities of political campaigns has grown brighter after three Democratic campaigns in California were hacked during the state’s primary elections. The campaigns of Bryan Caforio, Hans Keirstead and David Min all fell victim to cyber intrusions this year, underscoring a shortcoming that applies to political operations of various sizes: insufficient protections to guard against cyberattacks. The problem is particularly acute for smaller-scale campaigns, which often have fewer resources to ensure their technology and communications are secure, while incumbents can draw from bigger campaign accounts. But having more cash on hand doesn’t always mean it’ll be used to beef up protections. A recent McClatchy analysis of Federal Election Commission filings found that only six candidates running for seats in the House and Senate this election cycle have spent more than $1,000 on cybersecurity measures.
California has declared open season on the use of bots to try to secretly influence elections. Legislation signed by California Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday makes it illegal to use automated online programs, or bots, to try to influence voters’ opinions during an election without revealing the source’s artificial nature. The law also applies to bots trying to sell merchandise or services. Bots are everywhere in technology, ranging from search engine spiders that crawl the internet looking for new web pages, to malicious bots that come with a virus. They’ve also been traced to Russian attempts to sow the seeds of discontent among Americans by spreading false or deceptive information during the 2016 election.
California: Los Angeles County Supervisors Approve Investigation For Voter Registration ‘Errors’ | KHTS
The board unanimously approved a motion by Supervisor Kathryn Barger calling for an investigation into voter registration errors as a result of the new “motor voter” program managed by the California Department of Motor Vehicles. Created by the Motor Voter Act of 2015 and implemented in April 2018, the program automatically registers any eligible voters who apply for a driver’s license or identification card and transmits this data to the county where that person lives unless the individual specifically declines to participate. The state reported that 23,000 instances of voter registration errors occurred between mid-April and early August. The “motor voter” program has experienced other implementation issues as well, with 77,000 voter records allegedly being misreported in May by the DMV, according to officials.
A bill recently signed by Gov. Brown designates the California Secretary of State to come up with the tracking system that will be optional for counties, including San Diego, to use. San Diego County Registrar of Voters Michael Vu said infrastructure would need to be built to use the vote by mail tracking system locally. Vu said the county will consider it. Vu added that already voters can check online when their ballot was issued and received. This new tracking system would allow voters to get a text or email about their ballot. Notifications would come when ballots are sent in the mail and once they have been picked up and officially counted. The system must be in place by 2020, and the bill designates the secretary of state to create it.
California election officials are launching a new effort to fight the kind of disinformation campaigns that plagued the 2016 elections — an effort that comes with thorny legal and political questions. The state’s new Office of Elections Cybersecurity will focus on combating social media campaigns that try to confuse voters or discourage them from casting ballots. During the 2016 election, in addition to hacking email accounts and attacking voting systems, Russian agents used social media to plant disinformation intended to drive down voter turnout.