Gov. Jerry Brown is proposing millions of dollars for an upgrade of old voting machines, long sought by counties. The money would come as counties transition to a much cheaper voting system, mostly based on mail-in ballots. In a large warehouse at the Sacramento County voting head office, staff are carting, unloading and scanning in 87 pallets of equipment, including new color printers and touch screens for voters with disabilities. In another aisle, county Registrar of Voters Jill LaVine lifts the leather cover off a hulking, gray hunk of metal, the current equipment.
Articles about voting issues in California.
California: Sacramento Bee Leaks 19.5 Million California Voter Records, Promptly Compromised by Hackers | Gizmodo
Last month, a local California newspaper left more than 19 million voter records exposed online. Gizmodo confirmed this week that the records were compromised during an apparent ransomware attack. The Sacramento Bee said in a statement that a firewall protecting its database was not restored during routine maintenance last month, leaving the 19,501,258 voter files publicly accessible. Additionally, the names, home addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers of 52,873 Sacramento Bee subscribers were compromised. “We take this incident seriously and have begun efforts to notify each of the individuals on the contact list and to provide them resources to help guard against potential misuse of their personal contact information,” the paper said in a statement. “We are also working with the Secretary of State’s office to share with them the details of this intrusion.”
Since the 2016 election, U.S. election officials have been focused on ensuring the integrity of the nation’s election system due to cyber security concerns. But California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said the biggest threat to the state’s election system is actually old voting equipment. “Not only is it based on outdated technology, the bottom line is the machines are old,” Padilla said. “When they have to find replacement parts that are no longer made and they have to hunt for them on Ebay, that’s not a good thing… We’re kind of living on borrowed time.”
Starting this April, the more than 1 million Californians who renew their driver’s licenses by mail each year will be able to register to vote using one form under the terms of a new settlement agreement. The settlement reached Jan. 10 ends eight months of litigation over California’s alleged violations of the National Voting Rights Act of 1993. The League of Women Voters and three other groups sued the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles and Secretary of State’s Office in May 2017, claiming the state burdens would-be voters by making them fill out the same information on two separate forms to register to vote.
A strong democracy depends on a voter’s belief that their vote counts. However, in California, according to the Secretary of State’s Office, more than 25,000 residents would be shocked to know that their ballots had been thrown away and not counted in the November 2016 General Election cycle. These 25,000 mail ballots were thrown out because of a mismatching signature — the voter’s signature on their ballot did not match what was in their file. While mismatching signatures can occur for a number of reasons, there is no law that mandates local election officials notify voters that their ballot will be tossed, or provide them with an opportunity to correct the mistake.
California: How an election could be decided with poker chips or a coin toss | Orange County Register
A coin flip could decide your next elected official. Some Democrats are wringing their hands over the logjam of their candidates — 25 so far — challenging Orange County’s four Republican Congress members. One worry is draining Democratic money in the primary that will be crucial in the general election against Republicans. Another is the possibility that too many Democratic candidates could lead to vote-splitting among Democrats, allowing two Republicans to advance out of the top-two primary to the general election. But a reader presented another intriguing — if unlikely — scenario last week: What if the GOP incumbent finishes first and two Democrats tie for second? The state’s open primary system calls for the top two vote-getters to advance to the general election, regardless of party … unless there’s a tie for second. Then the top three vote-getters appear on the November ballot.
California officials are investigating a report that an unprotected MongoDB database has been discovered possibly containing the names of every California voter. Kromtech Security’s Bob Diachenko that earlier this month Kromtech came across an database named cool_db containing 19.2 million voter records gathered in two collections that was fully unprotected and thus open for anyone to view. One batch contained voter registration data for a local district and the other the millions of records. “Kromtech researchers were unable to identify the owner of the database or conduct a detailed analysis due to the fact that the database has been deleted by cyber criminals and there is a ransom note demanding 0.2 bitcoin ($2,325.01 at the time of discovery),” he said.
Hackers have deleted a database of potential California voters with more than 19 million entries, demanding around $3,500 to restore it. Researchers at the security firm MacKeeper’s Kromtech research group first noticed the issue, but have not been able to identify the database’s owner to notify them. “We decided to go public to let everyone who was affected know,” said Bob Diachenko, head of communications for Kromtech. Kromtech primarily searches for misconfigured databases on cloud storage accounts that accidentally reveal private information to the public. In early December, they found a misconfigured database on an Amazon cloud account containing what appeared to be information on 19 million Californian citizens, including contact and mailing information as well as voting precinct information. But while the company was investigating the misconfigured files, they noticed the files were suddenly removed and replaced with a ransom note demanding 0.2 bitcoin, or about $3,500.
With their Democratic supermajority potentially in peril, California state legislators passed a law earlier this year that lengthened the timeline for the state to officially certify a recall election. Now their efforts may give Sen. Josh Newman, D-Fullerton, a better shot of surviving a GOP coup. Since Secretary of State Alex Padilla did not certify the voter signatures collected to recall Newman 180 days before the June 5, 2018 primary, Gov. Jerry Brown can opt to add the recall to the primary ballot instead of establishing a special election. The 180-day deadline expired last week. Voter turnout is typically higher for regularly scheduled elections than special elections, which may give Newman better odds at the ballot box.
A number of civil rights organizations and activists are asking to join the opposition to a federal lawsuit that challenges the constitutionality of the California Voting Rights Act. The groups, which include the oldest and strongest Hispanic rights organizations in the country, want to side with the California Attorney General’s office in opposition to the lawsuit. Filed on behalf of former Poway Mayor Don Higginson with representation and funding from the conservative Virginia-based The Project on Fair Representation, the lawsuit claims the voting rights act violates the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by denying all citizens the right to choose who they want to represent them.