voter database

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National: Millions of Americans have been purged from voter rolls – and may not even realize it | Natasha Bach/Fortune

Millions of Americans have been purged from the voter rolls in recent years, as state governments seek to remove the names of individuals who have died, relocated, or have otherwise become ineligible to vote. But such purges have been widely criticized due to instances in which states have relied on bad information, unregistering eligible voters who are often unaware until they attempt to cast their ballots on Election Day. “The most important thing people get wrong is they forget that purges are a necessary and important part of administering our elections,” Myrna Pérez, director of the Brennan Center’s Voting Rights and Elections Program, told Fortune. “We all benefit when our rolls are clean, and sometimes we forget that purges—when done properly—are a good thing.” But large-scale systematic purges that remove hundreds of thousands of names at a time are more likely to round up individuals who should not be removed from the rolls.

Full Article: Am I registered to vote? How to check and what to do if you were purged from voter rolls | Fortune.

Idaho: Voter registration system to be overhauled, according to election officials | Trevor Fay/KBOI

The Idaho State Voter Registration System (ISVRS) needs to be replaced, according to the Canyon County Clerk’s Office. CBS2 News spoke with election officials about what needs to happen to get the voting system up to speed. Chris Yamamoto, Canyon County Clerk, and Chief Elections Officer, worked with the Idaho Secretary of State to replace the ISVRS. Yamamoto wants the new system to be GIS-based, meaning it keeps track of voter addresses. He says the current system is known to crash when many people use it at once, like during elections.

Full Article: Idaho voting system to be overhauled, according to election officials | KBOI.

Michigan: Audit pings state bureau of elections on voter file, training, campaign finance oversight | Beth LeBlanc and Craig Mauger/The Detroit News

Michigan’s Bureau of Elections failed to properly safeguard the state’s file of 7.5 million qualified voters, a discrepancy that allowed an unauthorized user to access the file and increased the risk of an ineligible elector voting in Michigan, according to a recent report from the Office of Auditor General. Elections officials lack proper training in more than 14% of counties, cities and townships, the audit also found. And the bureau did not make timely reviews for campaign statements, lobby reports and campaign finance complaints. The audit conducted between Oct. 1, 2016, and April 30, 2019, found in the qualified voter file “230 registered electors who had an age that was greater than 122 years, the oldest officially documented person to ever live,” according to the Friday report. The report came 2 1/2 months before the state’s March 10 presidential primary and a little over 10 months before Michigan voters cast ballots in the November general election. The reviewed information fell largely under the tenure of Republican former Secretary of State Ruth Johnson. Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson took office Jan. 1.

Full Article: Audit pings bureau of elections over voter file, campaign finance.

California: Hundreds of California voters are being registered with the wrong party. Is DMV to blame? | Bryan Anderson/The Fresno Bee

At least 600 Californians, including lifelong Republicans and Democrats, have had their voter registration unexpectedly changed, and several county elections officials are pinning much of the blame on the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Among those affected: the daughter of the California Senate’s GOP leader. “I was like, ‘Kristin did you register as no party preference?’” asked Sen. Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield. “She said, ‘No, I’m a Republican.’” Grove’s daughter had recently visited the Department of Motor Vehicles to change her address. Shortly thereafter, Sacramento County sent her a postcard informing her she is now registered as a “No Party Preference” voter ahead of California’s March 3, 2020 presidential primary. Grove stumbled across the notice earlier this week at her daughter’s Sacramento home, and worries that hundreds more could soon experience a similar unwanted surprise. Elections officials across the state are linking many of the reported complaints to the state’s new Motor Voter program, which launched ahead of the 2018 midterms to automatically register eligible voters when they visit the DMV. The 2015 law was designed to help boost participation, but a rushed launch prompted 105,000 registration errors to occur following its roll-out.

Full Article: CA election officials blame DMV for voter registration issue | The Fresno Bee.

Kansas: Cyberattacks vandalized Kansas county websites in August, exposing security weaknesses | Jonathan Shorman/The Wichita Eagle

Cyberattacks crippled the websites of about a dozen Kansas counties in early August — replacing their homepages with cryptic messages and an image of Mecca. One county, which was conducting an election during the assault, decided against posting results online. The attacks did not affect vote counting but meant citizens didn’t have access to normal government information, such as contacts for local agencies, for several hours. The hacks defaced websites, but did not affect other systems. It does not appear the hacker or hackers took data hostage, as has happened elsewhere in the country. State officials don’t think the hacking was connected to the August primary election. But the attacks — not widely known until now — showcased the cyber vulnerabilities of local governments in Kansas. And they took place as online threats are rising.

Full Article: Hacking hits Kansas county websites hosted by Thomson Reuters | The Wichita Eagle.

Illinois: Hackers got info for 76,000 Illinois voters in 2016. Here’s what’s being done in Macon County. | Tony Reid/Herald-Review

The person in charge of safeguarding Macon County’s electoral system from Russian hacker attacks or other nefarious onslaughts said he’s confident local ballots are secure. Macon County Clerk Josh Tanner, recently returned from a cybersecurity conference, said much has been done to beef up system firewalls and protections in the three years since Russian hackers infiltrated the Illinois voter registration database. Tanner said state grant money — he’s not allowed to reveal how much, but it’s into the thousands — paid for consultants who tested the county’s voting system earlier this year by trying to hack into it. They weren’t successful, but Tanner said the exercise produced a detailed report highlighting areas that needed beefing up. He said county clerks like himself have to be aware of defending against other threats. “There are other ways of causing mischief than just to penetrate the voting system,” said Tanner, a Republican elected in November. “There are denial of service attacks where they don’t actually penetrate your system but they can bombard it with traffic, slowing it down. The consultants help us focus on how to tie-down the system and protect it.”

Full Article: Hackers got info for 76,000 Illinois voters in '16. Here's what's being done in Macon County. | Government and Politics |

Montana: Stapleton nixes upgrade to voter registration system | The Fulcrum

The modernization of Montana’s voter registration system won’t happen in time for next year’s elections, because the state’s top election administrator has concluded the new software cannot be installed and its security assured in time. The decision was made by Secretary of State Corey Stapleton, who has something of a vested interest in his decision. He’s a leading GOP candidate for the state’s singular and reliably Republican seat in the House of Representatives in 2020. But Stapleton was pressed to make the decision by the association of the state’s county clerks, who said the system in place for 15 years was good enough for one more election. “It would seem more reasonable to begin this immense change-over outside of a presidential cycle, which could be one of the biggest in our lifetimes,” they told the secretary of state. “The current project development timeline is simply too aggressive and stands to put the election process in Montana at risk.”

Full Article: Montana's Stapleton nixes upgrade to voter registration system - The Fulcrum.

Washington: Primary election tests new voter system, but ‘everything went according to plan’ | Joseph O’Sullivan/The Seattle Times

Washington’s same-day voter-registration law and new elections system faced a major stress test Tuesday as voters around the state returned ballots for the primary election. The new statewide voter management system, VoteWA, had a rocky rollout this spring, but county auditors Tuesday said it was running smoothly as the 8 p.m. election deadline came and went. “Everything went according to plan and worked out really well,” said King County Elections Director Julie Wise after Tuesday night’s election results posted. She previously had expressed concerns about the system being ready for the primary. Turnout in King County was projected to hit 36%, and possibly be a few points higher than that in Seattle, where seven City Council seats are up for grabs. VoteWA, which is rooted in a centralized voter-registration database, is expected to cut the risk of fraud, strengthen the security of the state’s elections and give many counties new elections capabilities.

Full Article: Washington’s primary election tests new voter system, but ‘everything went according to plan’ | The Seattle Times.

Montana: After elections administrators voice concern, new voter system won’t roll out until 2021 | Holly K. Michels/The Missoulian

The secretary of state is backing away from plans to implement a new election system for Montana before 2020 after elections administrators around the state raised concerns about the aggressive timeline. In a July 24 letter to the head of the Montana Association of Clerks and Recorders, Secretary of State Corey Stapleton wrote that “it does not appear to me that we will be able to implement a new voter registration system this year.” County elections administrators had previously told Stapleton they had “grave concerns” over a plan to replace the existing MontanaVotes system with a new ElectMT system before 2020, as reported by the Montana Free Press. The 2020 elections are expected to see the highest voter turnout in Montana history — it’s a presidential election year, with two federal offices and all the statewide elected officials up for election, plus other state-level, legislative and local races, and ballot initiatives. “The whole association is extremely excited with the decision to wait and not roll it out in the 2020 election,” said Montana Association of Clerks and Recorders President Stephanie Verhasselt, who is the Richland County clerk and recorder. “We do believe when the new system comes out, once we get it working and everyone trained, I think it will have a lot of features we like.”

Full Article: After elections administrators voice concern, new voter system won't roll out until 2021 | 406 Politics |

Rhode Island: State Rebuilding Central Voter Registration System Ahead of 2020 | GoLocalProv

Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea joined GoLocalProv News Editor Kate Nagle on LIVE where she spoke to the office overseeing the rebuilding of the central voter registration system this year — and why she fears early voting not passing the General Assembly this year will have consequences in 2020. “We are in the process of making sure that our hardware an internet structures are secure — so Stonewall Solutions, I’m proud to say a Rhode Island company from Pawtucket — just won the RFP for rebuilding our central voter registration system, so we are secure to modern-day standards,” said Gorbea. “It was a great program back in 2003 when we first built it but now you know it needs to be upgraded.”

Full Article: GoLocalProv | RI Rebuilding Central Voter Registration System Ahead of 2020: Gorbea on LIVE.

Illinois: 3 years after Russian hackers tapped Illinois voter database, officials spending millions to safeguard 2020 election | Rick Pearson/Chicago Tribune

Three years after Illinois’ voter registration database was infiltrated by Russian hackers, Illinois and local officials are spending millions to upgrade the cyber defenses protecting voters and their ballots leading up to the 2020 election. “It’s gone from being among the concerns to the paramount concern,” said Jim Allen, spokesman for the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners. “Now, every election official across the country is engaged in some level of a security program.” Efforts to prevent foreign hacking range from hiring internet security specialists to, in the case of Chicago and Cook County, making plans to buy new polling machines. The June 2016 breach of the state’s voter database remains the warning sign for election system vulnerability, with national security experts now saying all 50 states had been targeted for Russian intrusion. At least 21 states reported being contacted by addresses associated with Russia, largely by scanning public websites, but Illinois’ data breach was the most significant.

Full Article: 3 years after Russian hackers tapped Illinois voter database, officials spending millions to safeguard 2020 election - Chicago Tribune.

Washington: Key test for Washington state as Tuesday’s primary features new elections system, same-day registration | Joseph O’Sullivan/The Seattle Times

Substantial new changes to Washington’s elections system face a key test this week, as voters around the state cast ballots in Tuesday’s primary. Washington has adopted same-day voter registration, which allows eligible citizens to register and receive a ballot up until 8 p.m. Tuesday, the end of the election period. And elections officials are deploying a new, statewide voter-management system that has had a rocky rollout in some counties. Known as VoteWA, it is expected to make elections more secure, reduce the risk of fraud and give many counties an upgrade in their elections capabilities. At the root of the new system is a statewide voter database that is updated in real time. So if someone wants to register to vote in King County, for instance, elections workers should be able to immediately determine whether that person has already cast a ballot elsewhere in the state. The system’s data is also exported to create ballots, voter-registration cards and other materials provided to voters. The state’s actual vote-tabulation machines are separate from VoteWA and not connected to the internet, and thus not affected by any potential VoteWA issues.

Full Article: Key test for Washington state as Tuesday’s primary features new elections system, same-day registration | The Seattle Times.

National: Senator Feinstein introduces bill limiting use of voter data by political campaigns | Emily Birnbaum/The Hill

Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) introduced a bill on Wednesday that would limit the use of voter data by political campaigns. The legislation is being touted as the first bill “directly responding to Cambridge Analytica,” the 2018 scandal that saw a right-wing political consulting firm use data on millions of American to target pro-Trump messaging at swing voters. Feinstein’s Voter Privacy Act seeks to give voters more control over the data collected on them by political campaigns and organizations. Under the legislation, voters would be allowed to access that data, ask political campaigns to delete it and instruct social media platforms like Google and Facebook to stop sharing personal data with those political entities. The legislation would intervene in the large and growing business around voter data, which campaigns increasingly use to direct their messaging.

Full Article: Democratic senator introduces bill limiting use of voter data by political campaigns | TheHill.

Chile: Voter records for 80% of Chile’s population left exposed online | Catalin Cimpanu/ZDNet

The voter information of more than 14.3 million Chileans, which accounts to nearly 80% of the country’s entire population, was left exposed and leaking on the internet inside an Elasticsearch database. ZDNet learned of the leaky server from a member of the Wizcase research team, who passed the server’s IP to this reporter last week, in order to identify the nature and source of the leak. We found that the database contained names, home addresses, gender, age, and tax ID numbers (RUT, or Rol Único Tributario) for 14,308,151 individuals. ZDNet has confirmed the validity and accuracy of this information with several of the individuals whose data was contained in the leaky database. A spokesperson for Chile’s Electoral Service — Servicio Electoral de Chile (Servel) — also confirmed the data’s authenticity; however, they denied owning the leaky server.

Full Article: Voter records for 80% of Chile's population left exposed online | ZDNet.

National: State election offices made for an easy target for Russian hackers | Andrew Eversden/Fifth Domain

In the months before the 2016 presidential election, one U.S. state received a notification from a federally-backed cybersecurity group, warning about suspicious cyber activity directed at its networks. The state IT officials did not share the alert with other state government leaders and as late at January 2018, the same officials reported nothing “irregular, inconsistent, or suspicious” took place before the vote. In fact, GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency, had scanned one of the state’s “election-related” domains, according to a new Senate report. In another state, leaders did not turn over to the Senate which of its systems had been targeted by Russians. Officials told Senate investigators they hadn’t seen evidence of scanning or attacks on its election infrastructure. Instead, they told the committee that they had seen a “probing” of its state systems. Again, DHS told the committee that GRU had scanned the state’s Secretary of State website. And in a third state, officials told Senate investigators they had not noticed a connection between their systems and the IP addresses listed in a warning from the federal government. And again, DHS told the committee that GRU scanned the state’s government domain.

Full Article: State election offices made for an easy target for Russian hackers.

National: Russia Targeted Elections Systems in All 50 States, Report Finds | David E. Sanger and Catie Edmondson/The New York Times

The Senate Intelligence Committee concluded Thursday that election systems in all 50 states were targeted by Russia in 2016, an effort more far-reaching than previously acknowledged and one largely undetected by the states and federal officials at the time. But while the bipartisan report’s warning that the United States remains vulnerable in the next election is clear, its findings were so heavily redacted at the insistence of American intelligence agencies that even some key recommendations for 2020 were blacked out. The report — the first volume of several to be released from the committee’s investigation into Russia’s 2016 election interference — came 24 hours after the former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III warned that Russia was moving again to interfere “as we sit here.” While details of many of the hackings directed by Russian intelligence, particularly in Illinois and Arizona, are well known, the committee described “an unprecedented level of activity against state election infrastructure” intended largely to search for vulnerabilities in the security of the election systems.

Full Article: Russia Targeted Elections Systems in All 50 States, Report Finds - The New York Times.

Iowa: Iowa will keep voter registration system for 2020 elections | Ryan J. Foley/Associated Press

Iowa’s 14-year-old voter registration system will live to see another presidential election. The Iowa Secretary of State’s office confirmed Thursday that a long-discussed plan to replace the I-Voters database will not be completed before the 2020 elections.  Spokesman Kevin Hall said the office remains in the information-gathering phase of the project, which was formally launched more than a year ago. He said the state plans to solicit information from potential vendors soon and to later move forward with a bidding process. “This is a big project and we owe it to the voters of Iowa to build it responsibly with the future of elections and security in mind,” he said. The project is expected to cost $7 million and the office doesn’t yet have all that funding, he added. Russian hackers tried to infiltrate Iowa’s elections system in 2016 but were not successful. Current and former state officials say they have confidence in the security of the I-Voters system and that they’ve taken steps to prevent intrusions, including two-factor authentication and cybersecurity training for users in all of Iowa’s 99 counties. Built in 2005 and launched the next year, the system has been upgraded numerous times and contains data on Iowa’s roughly 2 million registered voters.

Full Article: Iowa will keep voter registration system for 2020 elections.

Washington: State’s new voting system concerns county elections officials | Aaron Kunkler/Kent Reporter

County election officials are raising concerns about the new Washington state voting system ahead of the Aug. 6 primary election while state officials say they have confidence in it. The new voting system, VoteWA, is a $9.5 million program that came online last May and is meant to unify all 39 county voting systems in the state into a single entity. This will allow greater security and more easily facilitate same-day voter registration, said Washington’s Secretary of State Kim Wyman, who has advocated for the program. “I want people to know that our system is secure and that our counties are going to be ready for the August primary and the November general elections,” Wyman said. Several issues have made King County Elections officials less confident. The state shut down the old voting system on May 24 and spent several days transferring voter data to VoteWA. Following this, counties double-checked the new data with their previous voter records to ensure accuracy, which meant they were not able to register new voters in the system until June 9. In King County, this led to a backlog of 16,000 voters, said King County Elections director Julie Wise during a July 10 meeting of the county’s Regional Policy Committee. “There was a rush to get this system implemented, and it’s not ready to go,” Wise said. “I know that that’s concerning, and that it causes alarm for people, but I do want to say we are working diligently.”

Full Article: WA’s new voting system concerns county elections officials | Kent Reporter.

National: Who Will Clean Up America’s Voter Rolls? | Mark Hemingway/RealClearPolitics

Los Angeles County has too many voters. An estimated 1.6 million, according to the latest calculations – which is roughly the population of Philadelphia. That’s the difference between the number of people on the county’s voter rolls and the actual number of voting age residents. This means that L.A. is in violation of federal law, which seeks to limit fraud by requiring basic voter list maintenance to make sure that people who have died, moved, or are otherwise ineligible to vote aren’t still on the rolls. Los Angeles County has made only minimal efforts to clean up its voter rolls for decades. It began sending notices to those 1.6 million people last month to settle a lawsuit brought by the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch. Los Angeles County may be California’s worst offender, but 10 of the state’s 58 counties also have registration rates exceeding 100% of the voting age population. In fact, the voter registration rate for the entire state of California is 101%. And the Golden State isn’t alone. Eight states, as well as the District of Columbia, have total voter registration tallies exceeding 100%, and in total, 38 states have counties where voter registration rates exceed 100%. Another state that stands out is Kentucky, where the voter registration rate in 48 of its 120 counties exceeded 100% last year. About 15% of America’s counties where there is reliable voter data – that is, over 400 counties out of 2,800 – have voter registration rates over 100%.

Full Article: Who Will Clean Up America's Voter Rolls? | RealClearPolitics.

Washington: ‘Not ready for prime time.’ Washington State election officials sound alarm over new voter registration system | Austin Jenkins/NW News Network

County election officials in Washington are warning that a new statewide voter registration database system is not ready for the state’s August 6 primary and could result in some voters getting incorrect ballots or no ballot at all. The concerns reached a crescendo on Tuesday at a work session of the Washington Senate’s State Government, Tribal Relations and Elections Committee. A panel of county auditors and election chiefs told members of the committee that the new VoteWA system is “not ready for prime time” and that they are proceeding with the primary election “on a hope and a prayer.” Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman, a Republican, acknowledged that she decided to “go live” with phase one of the system over the objections of some county auditors, but defended that decision as necessary because of the age and security vulnerabilities of the old system.  “If you want to know why I made the decision that I made, it was I was so worried and freaked out by my security team that said we cannot keep operating this system,” Wyman told the committee members.

Full Article: ‘Not ready for prime time.’ WA election officials sound alarm over new voter registration system | NW News Network.