Amid growing national concerns about election security, Tennessee’s three largest counties plan to begin using voting machines that produce a verifiable paper trail in time for the presidential primaries in March 2020, whether the Republican-led state requires it or not. Tennessee is one of only 14 states without a statutory requirement of a paper record of all ballots — regarded by most election security experts as crucial to ensuring accurate vote-counting. But election officials in the three Tennessee counties switching to paper-trail machines say they aren’t worried about the paperless technology. bRather, they just want to be sure voters trust the process. “Now, you’ve got an issue of voter confidence and public perception, factors which cannot be ignored, at least by election commissions,” said Elections Administrator Clifford Rodgers in Knox County, one of the Tennessee local governments looking to switch. He said he’s doing so “reluctantly” and predicted problems with printers and scanners. The others are Shelby County, anchored by Memphis, and Davidson County, encompassed by Nashville. Knox, Shelby and Davidson account for 1.3 million of Tennessee’s 4.16 million registered voters.Full Article: Tennessee counties eye vote paper trail; state stays neutral - StarTribune.com.
Articles about voting issues in Tennessee.
Tennessee: Republicans, ACLU join forces to help more felons regain right to vote | Nashville Tennessean
Two Republican lawmakers, with the backing of the American Civil Liberties Union, are setting out to make it simpler for people with felony convictions to regain their right to vote, a process more arduous in Tennessee than in most states. Tennessee’s rights restoration laws are among the strictest in the country. It is one of 12 states that requires individuals with felony convictions to complete multiple steps beyond serving their sentence in order to have their voting rights restored, and is the only state requiring the payment of outstanding child support obligations in order to do so.Full Article: Tennessee Republican bill promotes voting rights for felons.
Tennessee lawmakers are considering a move to make it easier for some felons to get their voting rights restored. The legislation would lift the Republican-led state’s unique requirement for formerly incarcerated individuals to be up-to-date on child support before restoration of voting rights, in addition to other court fines and restitution. It would also aim to simplify the bureaucratic process for those people to get their rights back once they’re out of prison and off parole and probation. The legislation has made partners of the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee and Americans for Prosperity, who headlined a news event Wednesday touting the bill. Tori Venable, state director of Americans for Prosperity, said the legislation offers common ground for her group, at times perceived as right-leaning, and the ACLU, sometimes thought of as left-leaning.Full Article: Tennessee Considers Easing Felon Voting Rights Restoration | Tennessee News | US News.
Two Tennessee state lawmakers on Wednesday introduced bills to restore the voting rights of people with felony convictions after they serve their sentences. State Sen. Steven Dickerson (R) and State Rep. Michael Curcio (R) introduced bills in the state Senate and state House of Representatives, respectively. The bills restore “the voting rights of persons convicted of certain infamous crimes upon receipt of a pardon or completion of any sentence of incarceration,” according to a statement. Dickerson said the bill would exclude people who have been convicted of murder, aggravated rape, treason or voter fraud, but that all other felons would see their rights restored.Full Article: Tennessee lawmakers introduce bills to restore voting rights for convicted felons | TheHill.
Some lawmakers in Tennessee are pushing legislation that would grant convicted felons a second chance at the right to vote. Currently, there are more than 400,000 convicted felons across the state of Tennessee who don’t have that right. But a bill put forth by Democratic State Senator Brenda Gilmore from Nashville could change that. “My view is if you want people to act civilized and be civilized, you have to treat them in a civilized manner,” said Democratic District 28 State Rep. Yusuf Hakeem.Full Article: Tennessee lawmakers introduce bill to restore voting rights to f - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports.
Tennessee: Path to new voting machines in Shelby County gets longer with special elections | The Daily Memphian
Don’t look for new voting machines for the October 2019 Memphis elections. Shelby County Elections Administrator Linda Phillips says the special election in state Senate District 32 has pushed back plans for the move to new machines with a paper audit trail. “I do not believe it would be possible to have them in place and do the training and all of the work necessary to have them used in the October elections,” Phillips said Thursday on The Daily Memphian Politics podcast. Early voting was to open Friday in the special primary election for the state Senate seat Republican Mark Norris gave up to become a federal judge. The winners of the primaries advance to a March 12 special general election. The Shelby County Election Commission still plans to issue a request for proposal, or RFP, soon that sets standards for what a new voting system must have for potential vendors to submit bids. The RFP must be cleared by county attorneys and purchasing officials.Full Article: Path to new voting machines gets longer with special elections - The Daily Memphian.
A state government group is renewing its call for Tennessee to keep a paper trail of voters’ ballots roughly 10 years after coming out with a similar recommendation that resulted in little change.
Just 14 of the state’s 95 counties produce some sort of a paper record for independent recounts and audits, according to the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations. The group first urged changes to the state’s election system in 2007, when it found only two counties had such requirements. All the other counties use direct recording electronic voting machines with touch screens that do not produce a paper record that can be recounted and audited independent of the voting machine’s software. “Although ensuring that elections are safe and secure is not a new challenge, as technology and election systems have evolved, so has the risk to security,” the report reads. “The 2016 election cycle brought the potential vulnerabilities of electronic election infrastructure to the attention of national, state, and local officials, the media, and the general public.” Tennessee is one of 14 states with no statutory requirement of a paper record of all votes.
Concerns about voter registrations and the security of electronic voting machines are looming over the upcoming election in Tennessee’s largest county. Two lawsuits have been filed in connection with Tuesday’s pivotal election in Shelby County, the largest by population in Tennessee and the one that includes Memphis. Election officials there have pushed back against allegations of voter suppression and that they are not doing enough to protect the election process. Tennessee features a race for governor and a tight U.S. Senate race between Republican Marsha Blackburn, who served 16 years in the U.S. House, and Democrat Phil Bredesen, a former Tennessee governor. The Senate race is being closely watched nationally as Democrats try to flip the seat in a state with relatively low voter turnout.Full Article: Concerns Over Voter Registrations Loom in Tennessee County - The New York Times.
An effort to have the federal Department of Homeland Security conduct a cyber-security threat assessment of Shelby County’s touchscreen voting machines and a have a special master review the county’s voting system has been denied in Memphis Federal Court. The temporary restraining order seeking those measures was sought by the group Shelby Advocates for Valid Elections – or SAVE – before the Oct. 17 start of early voting in advance of the Nov. 6 election day. The request was part of a larger lawsuit still pending before U.S. District Judge Thomas L. Parker that seeks to bar the use of the touchscreen voting machines after the November election. “Although the law recognizes the voters’ rights can be impaired any number of ways, to be actionable under due process, the system must be fundamentally unfair,” Parker wrote in the Oct. 24 ruling, adding SAVE has not shown that.Full Article: Federal court dismisses challenge aimed at voting machines - The Daily Memphian.
A legal battle between voting rights activists and the Shelby County Election Commission rages on. A key hearing in Chancery Court was postponed Wednesday afternoon. The subject of the hearing was a lawsuit accusing the Shelby County Election Commission of suppressing voters. “When you start talking about voter suppression, one suppressed vote is one too many,” Earle Fisher, with Up The Vote 901, said. The suit was filed against the commission by the NAACP Memphis chapter and the Tennessee Black Voter Project. It concerns 4,000 to 6,000 incomplete or rejected registration forms.Full Article: Voter suppression lawsuit between activists and election commission continues | WREG.com.
When the first day of early voting in advance of the Nov. 6 election day had ended Wednesday, Shelby County election commissioner Norma Lester offered her verdict on how it went with a brief Facebook post. “Don’t know any other way to say it except the first day of Early Voting was absolute HELL!” she wrote. “Hoping for a better Second day.” A total of 11,445 Shelby County voters cast their ballots on the first day of the voting period that runs through Nov. 1 and takes in 27 polling places countywide. The total, which includes absentee ballots, is more than three times the 3,215 early voters at 20 sites on the opening day of early voting for the same election cycle in 2014 and more than double the 4,713 at 21 sites in 2010. The total early voting turnout was 84,711 four years ago and 109,232 in 2010.Full Article: Glitches, suspicion overshadow heavy start of early voting - The Daily Memphian.
On Friday, a 30-year-old culinary student and Nigerian immigrant in Nashville, Tennessee, attempted to update her voter registration information so that she could vote in the state’s upcoming primaries. The woman, Funmilayo Ekundayo, had voted in two previous elections, so updating her registration should have been routine. But after getting through the second step of Tennessee’s multistep online voter registration system, which rolled out in 2017, Ekundayo was told by the website that records showed she was “not a citizen of the United States.” It was just days before Tennessee’s July 3 deadline to vote in the August primaries.Full Article: Tennessee's Citizens Told They're Undocumented By Voter Registration Site.
Democrats in Tennessee’s largest county are accusing election officials of trying to suppress black votes in early voting preceding the August elections. Shelby County Democratic Party Chairman Corey Strong on Wednesday criticized the decision by the county Election Commission to make Agricenter International the only open polling location on the first five days of the early voting process, which starts July 13. Strong said the location in suburban east Memphis is too far away for people who live in urban black neighborhoods who rely on public transportation to get to voting locations. He argued the location, plus three new suburban sites being opened later as early voting spots, will make it easier for Republicans to vote compared with Democrats.Full Article: Democrats in Tennessee county allege voter suppression | The Herald.
Nothing will get an elected official angrier than when you talk about voting and voting machines. Exhibit A the Shelby County Diebold Voting Machines or as Shelby County Commissioner Terry Roland calls them the dee-bold machines. He wishes they machines would just go away. just head for that big election in the sky just up and dee. “I don’t have any confidence in that dee-bold machine,” Roland told other commissioners, “And I think the public don’t have any confidence. And I think because of the machines that might be why we have a lack of participation in Shelby County in elections. I think that’s one thing we can change.” This whole thing just popped up in a meeting where Elections Administrator Linda Phillips wanted commissioners to give the elections commission $175-thousand dollars to buy something else. “We need the devices that create the voter access card to be used with our current voting machines,”she says.Full Article: Shelby County Commissioner Wants New Voting Machines ASAP - LOCALMEMPHIS.
When a WWE wrestler, especially one known for his demonic antics and a move called the “tombstone piledriver,” runs for mayor of your county, you know your election is going to get more attention than usual. But in Knox County, Tenn., it wasn’t the fact that Glenn Jacobs, also known to wrestling fans as Kane, was running for mayor that gained national attention on the county primary day, May 1. It was that the county’s election website, at the time the site was supposed to begin posting election results, came under attack. Malicious cyber actors shut down the county website and broke into the web server, according to county officials and a report done by the cyber security firm Sword and Shield. …”Any web server by definition, is connected to the internet, so it’s directly vulnerable to attacks from the internet,” said Doug Jones, an elections cyber security expert at the University of Iowa.Full Article: Tennessee Hack Shows Election Websites Are Vulnerable : NPR.
Knox County IT director Dick Moran and county IT staff were ready for Election Day and the higher amounts of traffic that would undoubtedly come to the county election commission website with former WWE wrestler, Glenn Jacobs, on the Republican ballot. At 7:50 p.m. Moran instructed the website be checked to make sure the early voting results could be posted when the polls closed 10 minutes later. Everything checked out. Everything was working. Sign Up: Get breaking news headlines in your inbox. Seven minutes after his request, Knox County’s election commission website was attacked and the results, although not impacted by the attack, wouldn’t be displayed until nearly 9 p.m., sowing more chaos into an already energetic and unpredictable night. All of the disruption, it has been determined since, was an effort to distract the county while another, simultaneous attack was happening behind the scenes accessing county information, according to Moran and Deputy IT Director David Ball.Full Article: Knox County election cyberattack was smokescreen for another attack.
An intentional cyberattack and suspicious activity by foreign computers preceded the crash of a website that was reporting results in a Tennessee county’s primary elections, a cyber-security firm said Friday. The Knox County elections website suffered the attack, and “a suspiciously large number of foreign countries” accessed the site on May 1, according to the report by Sword & Shield Enterprise Security. The firm hired by the county said those actions were among the likely causes of the crash, which also included a large increase in errors and in overall traffic. Officials have said no voting data was affected, but the site was down for an hour after the polls closed – causing confusion among voters – before technicians fixed the problem.Full Article: Cyberattack on Knox County Election Website Preceded Outage - Memphis Daily News.
A surge of traffic from 65 foreign countries – including Albania, Taiwan, Ukraine and New Zealand – helped crash the Knox County Election Commission website in a “direct attack,” according to a security firm’s report made public Friday. Such an attack – which struck the night of the May 1 primary as voters, candidates and reporters watched for results – could only have been deliberate, aimed at a specific weak point on the web server, investigators for Sword & Shield Enterprise Security found. Sword & Shield recommended further testing to determine whether such an assault could crash the server again. Knox County Information and Technology Department staffers performed the tests this week and believe they’ve plugged the hole, Deputy IT Director David Ball said. “We essentially re-enacted the attack and believe we have fixed it,” he said.Global cyberassault caused Knox County election night server crash.
Investigators found evidence of a “malicious intrusion” into a Tennessee county’s elections website from a computer in Ukraine during a concerted cyberattack, which likely caused the site to crash just as it was reporting vote totals in this month’s primary. Cyber-security experts hired by Knox County to analyze the so-called “denial of service” cyberattack, said Friday that “a suspiciously large number of foreign countries” accessed the site as votes were being reported on May 1. That intense activity was among the likely causes of the crash, according to the report by Sword & Shield Enterprise Security. “Given the circumstantial evidence_especially the simultaneous proven malicious intrusion from a Ukraine IP address_I think it is reasonable to at least hypothesize that it was an intended event,” David Ball, the county’s deputy director of information technology, added in an email to The Associated Press.Full Article: Ukraine computer involved in Tennessee elections attack.
Tennessee: A cyberattack knocked a Tennessee county’s election website offline during voting | TechCrunch
After a distributed denial-of-service attack knocked some servers offline during a local election in Tennessee this week, Knox County is working with an outside security contractor to investigate the cause. The attack took the Knox County Election Commission site displaying results of the county mayoral primary offline during Tuesday night voting. The county resorted to distributing printed results during the outage. “Tonight, Our web servers suffered a successful denial of service attack,” Knox County wrote on Twitter on Tuesday night. “Election results were not affected, as our election machines are never connected to the Internet.” The day after the incident, Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett reassured voters that the attack did not compromise the vote. Election systems that can go online are far less secure than systems that are not able to connect to the internet.Full Article: A cyberattack knocked a Tennessee county’s election website offline during voting | TechCrunch.