North Carolina: ‘A risk to democracy’: North Carolina law may be violating secrecy of the ballot | Jordan Wilkie/The Guardian

North Carolina may be violating state and federal constitutional protections for the secret ballot in the US by tracing some of its citizens’ votes. The situation has arisen because North Carolina has a state law that demands absentee voting – which includes early, in-person voting as well as postal voting – is required to use ballots that can be traced back to the voter. The laws are in place as a means of guaranteeing that if citizens cast multiple ballots during early voting or that if ineligible residents – like non-citizens or people who have not completed sentences for criminal offenses – cast ballots, those votes can be retrieved and removed. Likewise, if a voter casts an early ballot then dies before election day, that ballot can then be discounted. But voting rights advocates think the North Carolina law breaks one of the most sacred tenets of the democratic system: preserving the secrecy of the ballot. “Anytime you can link a ballot back to the individual voter, that’s a violation of the secret ballot,” said Caitriona Fitzgerald, the chief technology officer for the nonprofit Electronic Privacy Information Center.

National: Judges question privacy watchdog’s right to sue Trump election commission | The Washington Post

Federal judges questioned Tuesday whether privacy advocates have the right to sue President Trump’s election-integrity commission to try to block its planned collection of millions of voter records. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit seemed skeptical of the specific harm to a privacy watchdog group trying to protect voter data the commission is seeking from 50 states and the District, including individual birth dates, political affiliations and partial Social Security numbers. Judge Stephen F. Williams asserted that the commission’s powers appeared limited to requesting — not demanding — the information from states and said its “potency seems very low.” Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg suggested the commission would have access only to publicly available voter data. “Isn’t this information already public?” he asked the attorney for the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC).

National: Appeals court skeptical of privacy-focused suit against Trump fraud panel | Politico

An appeals court gave a skeptical reception Tuesday to a lawsuit claiming that President Donald Trump’s voter fraud commission violated federal law by failing to study the privacy impact of a demand for voter rolls and other personal data on millions of Americans. During oral arguments, a three-judge panel from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals didn’t say much about the possibility that the President’s Advisory Committee on Election Integrity violated a requirement Congress created in 2002 that federal agencies conduct a “privacy impact assessment” before embarking on collection of data on individuals. Instead, the judges repeatedly questioned whether the organization pressing the suit — the Electronic Privacy Information Center — had legal standing to pursue the case.

Canada: Government ‘fell short’ in protecting privacy during electoral reform consultation, privacy commissioner finds | National Post

The government “fell short” and “should have been more prudent” in preventing users’ personal information from being shared with third parties as they interacted with a much-maligned online electoral reform survey, Canada’s privacy commissioner has found. employed third-party scripts that could disclose users’ personal information to Facebook without their consent as soon as they loaded the website, according to the commissioner’s investigation. The responsible Privy Council Office also never conducted a privacy impact assessment related to the initiative. About 360,000 people had participated in the survey in December and January. An investigation from the privacy commissioner’s office says information retrieved about individuals could lead to “a fairly accurate picture of one’s personal activities, views, opinions, and lifestyle” and “be quite revealing about an individual’s Internet-based activities.”

Australia: Gay marriage vote revealed through envelope by torch | Daily Mail

A photo claiming to show how the supposedly secret same-sex marriage postal vote can be seen through the envelope created controversy online. The image appears to show a gay marriage vote form with the ‘no’ box ticked being illuminated through the envelope with a torch. The photo began circulating on social media after a concerned voter saw the image pop up on his Facebook news feed. ‘So we wasted $122 million on a survey where a torch can reveal the answer through the reply envelope it came with.’ The person who posted the photo said they would ‘be voting yes… if it will even be counted now after this stuff up’.

Texas: Election workers spied on black voters and backed white candidate in Cedar Hill, complaints say | Dallas Morning News

When Texans vote, their choices are supposed to be secret. But that wasn’t true during a racially charged City Council election in this Dallas suburb last June, according to allegations under investigation by the district attorney’s office. Workers at one polling place here openly supported a white incumbent over a black challenger, according to complaints filed with the county and state. One of the workers looked at ballots and discussed with the others how black residents had voted. The poll workers also improperly used their cellphones to urge supporters of the white candidate to come vote, according to a statement submitted to the county elections board by another poll worker, a Hispanic woman.

New Hampshire: Secretary of State’s Office Examines Processes After Disclosure of Nonpublic Info on Voter Checklists | NHPR

Deputy Secretary of State Dave Scanlan says the office is reevaluating its guidance to cities and towns after “handwritten confidential, non-public information” was found in the public voter checklists of more than 40 New Hampshire communities. Scanlan said his office conducts regular training with local pollworkers covering all kinds of angles of the state’s election laws, but they could do a better job explaining what information should and should not appear on those documents when training local election workers. “We talk to them about the proper way to mark a checklist,” Scanlan said. “In the past, though, I don’t think we have been specific saying that you should not put extraneous stuff on the checklist, because it’s a public document.”

Editorials: Trump’s Attack on Voter Privacy | The American Conservative

“In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions who voted illegally,” tweeted Donald Trump on November 27, following his win. Perhaps in an effort to prove social media blather correct, Trump has issued an executive order creating the Presidential Advisory Committee on Election Integrity. The goals of the committee include “studying vulnerabilities in the voting systems that could lead to voter fraud,” which requires collecting a large amount of personal voter information from the states. After facing serious legal pushback, even his supporters are wondering about its legitimacy. While the purity of the democratic process should be every citizen’s concern, the committee’s latest crusade, in violating privacy, has gone too far.

Idaho: Voters Could Opt Out Of Releasing Data Under New Bill | KBSX

In the wake of the Trump Administration requesting partial social security numbers, dates of birth and other information about registered voters across the U.S., one Idaho state lawmaker is trying to keep that information private – at least partially. Right now, anyone can ask for a copy of Idaho’s voter roll, which gives out a person’s name, address, age and voter history and more. The measure from state Rep. John Gannon (D-Boise) would allow anyone to opt out of revealing most of that data – making only their name and voting precinct visible to the public.

New Hampshire: ACLU, state come to terms on release of voter data to Trump fraud commission | Union Leader

The Secretary of State will proceed with the release of information from voter checklists to a presidential commission on election fraud, now that a lawsuit filed by two New Hampshire lawmakers and the ACLU to stop the release has been resolved. The resolution was announced in a Nashua courtroom just as a hearing was about to get under way Monday on a request for an injunction to stop Secretary of State Bill Gardner from providing the information to the election commission. The case came down to interpretation of language within the same state statute (RSA 654), which in one part states “the information contained on the checklist of a town or city … is public information subject to (the Right to Know law),” but in another section regarding the statewide database maintained by the Secretary of State, says “The voter database shall be private and confidential and shall not be subject to (the Right to Know law).”

National: Federal judge set to hear new challenge to Trump fraud commission Tuesday | The Washington Post

A federal judge will hear arguments Tuesday over whether a Watergate-era law prohibiting the government from collecting data on how Americans exercise their First Amendment rights bars President Trump’s Election Integrity Commission from American’s voting records. U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth of the District set the hearing Monday after Common Cause, a nonprofit government watchdog group, alleged that the Trump administration was violating the Privacy Act of 1974 by seeking the “quintessentially First Amendment-protected political party affiliation and voter history data” of every American. The court could rule on the request for a temporary restraining order as early as Tuesday.

New Hampshire: ACLU suit says voter list restrictions have roots in 2006 bill | WMUR

A court petition by the American Civil Liberties Union and two state lawmakers seeking to block the secretary of state from sending voter data to President Donald Trump’s election integrity commission cites a 2006 state law that restricts how such voter information can be disseminated. But the sponsor of that bill 11 years ago, former House Speaker William O’Brien, said Monday the legislation was not intended to keep voter information that is already available publicly from the federal government. The ACLU’s reinstated petition to block Secretary of State William Gardner from sending publicly available voter data to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, on which Gardner serves, says that in 2006, Gardner’s office supported the O’Brien-sponsored bill that restricted the use of the data.

National: Voter Registration Data from 9 States Available for Sale on Dark Web | Dark Reading

Threat intelligence company LookingGlass Cyber Solutions says it has discovered over 40 million voter records from nine different states being traded in an underground forum for stolen credit card data and login credentials. The voter records being offered for sale include the voter’s full first, last and middle name, voter ID, birthdate, voter status, party affiliation, residential address and other details. The data belongs to voters in Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma and Washington State. Over the last two days, voter databases from at least two of the states—Arkansas and Ohio—were sold for a mere $2 each, or a total of $4 for almost 10 million voter records. That suggests financial gain is not the primary reason for the activity, according to LookingGlass. ‘Logan,’ the individual who has advertised the data and is selling it on a site called RaidForums, has hinted at possessing voter records for an additional 20 to 25 states, says Jonathan Tomek, director of threat research at LookingGlass Cyber Solutions.

National: Kris Kobach says Trump’s fraud panel will keep voter data secure. Some states aren’t buying it | Los Angeles Times

After weeks of legal battles and bipartisan pushback from top election officials nationwide, President Trump’s voter fraud commission has renewed a message for the states: It’s safe to pass along your data about voters. “Individuals’ voter registration records will be kept confidential and secure throughout the duration of the commission’s existence,” Kris Kobach, vice chairman of the commission, wrote in a letter sent late Wednesday to all 50 secretaries of state. Even so, by Thursday, much of the criticism that greeted an earlier request from the commission was repeated by election officials and activists, who have expressed concerns about privacy and have called the panel both a sham created by an insecure president and a tool to suppress votes. … The letter from Kobach is the second in less than a month requesting that secretaries of state submit voter data to the so-called Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.

Oregon: Richardson alters policy on selling voter registration lists | Portland Tribune

Secretary of State Dennis Richardson said Thursday that he plans to change the type of voter registration information that is publicly available after receiving a second request from President Trump’s election integrity commission. Richardson said the commission’s June 28 request for specific — and not all publicly available — information about Oregon voters raised privacy questions and prompted “a full legal and policy review.” He announced a new policy that covers the kind of voter registration information a political party or organization can purchase from the state. “Balancing the need for both privacy and transparency is a critical challenge in the internet age,” Richardson said.

Ohio: Groups Back Decision to Keep Voter Data Private | Public News Service

Voting-rights advocates are backing Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s decision to not give private voter information to President Trump’s Election Integrity Commission. The White House panel requested voter data from states as it investigates the president’s claims about fraud in the 2016 election. Husted responded by offering an online link to public-record voter information and stating that private information, such as voters’ Ohio drivers license numbers, will not be provided. Catherine Turcer, executive director of Common Cause Ohio, said it was the right move. “The commission seems bent on looking for something that doesn’t actually exist,”she said, “and asking for voter information and all sorts of information that is just truly not necessary and that they don’t have the right to have.”

National: District court refuses to block federal government voter information collection | Los Angeles Times

A federal court in Washington on Monday cleared the way for President Trump’s election commission to ask states to turn over personal voter information as part of its investigation into Trump’s claims about voter fraud in the 2016 presidential election. The U.S. District Court ruled against the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a public-interest research group that had sought a temporary restraining order to block the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. The court rejected arguments that the commission’s request for certain voter data violated Americans’ privacy and that the commission did not follow constitutional proceedings. … The commission has been hit with a flurry of lawsuits since its vice chairman, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, sent a letter to state officials nationwide June 28 requesting voter information, including dates of birth, partial Social Security numbers and information about which elections voters participated in since 2006.

National: Trump Election Commission: A White House Team Will Handle Voter Data | BuzzFeed

Since President Trump’s Election Integrity Commission was last in court, the commission has announced plans to dramatically alter how it plans to collect state voter information in an attempt to avoid a potential legal ruling that could require it to conduct a privacy assessment before collecting the data. The plan, more or less, is to have a few people on the White House staff conduct all of the work of the commission in order to help maintain a legal argument that the “sole function” of the commission is to advise the president. The commission is chaired by Vice President Mike Pence. On Monday, Charles Christopher Herndon, the director of White House Information Technology, laid out how limited that would be in a declaration submitted in the case brought by the Electronic Privacy Information Center. “The Executive Committee for Information Technology will have no role in this data collection process. The U.S. Digital Service (which is within the Office of Management and Budget) will also have no role, nor will any federal agency,” Herndon wrote. “The only people who will assist are a limited number of my technical staff from the White House Office of Administration.”

National: White House releases sensitive personal information of voters worried about their sensitive personal information | The Washington Post

The White House on Thursday made public a trove of emails it received from voters offering comment on its Election Integrity Commission. The commission drew widespread criticism when it emerged into public view by asking for personal information, including addresses, partial social security numbers and party affiliation, on every voter in the country. It further outraged voters by planning to post that information publicly. Voters directed that outrage toward the Trump White House and the voter commission, often using profanity-laced language in the 112 pages of emails released this week. “You will open up the entire voting population to a massive amount of fraud if this data is in any way released,” one voter wrote. “Many people will get their identity stolen, which will harm the economy,” wrote another.

Florida: Voters unregistering from fear of Trump voter-data panel? | Palm Beach Post

Local elections officials are trying to talk voters out of unregistering, as privacy concerns continue to mount in response to a special commission created by President Donald Trump. Fears about data breaches and identity theft — or flat-out aversion to what many perceive as a Big Brother-ish information gathering activity — continued even as a representative of the commission on Monday told state officials not to provide the voter data previously requested. Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner was among the state officials who received the missive from Andrew Kossack, the designated federal officer for the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.

Connecticut: Trump Panel Push For Voting Data Could Lead To More Connecticut Voter Privacy Protections | Hartford Courant

The push by President Donald Trump’s anti-voter-fraud commission to get huge amounts of voter data from across the nation could have unintended consequences in Connecticut: more state protections for registered voters’ personal information. Connecticut lawmakers and election officials say they will renew efforts to restrict public release of at least some of the personal information on voters that is now on file with the state. Many Connecticut voters are unaware that their dates of birth, home addresses, party affiliation, recent history of going to the polls and sometimes even telephone numbers are public information and easily available on the Internet. “It’s basically a ready-made, identification-theft kit,” said Dan Barrett, legal director of the Connecticut branch of the American Civil Liberties Union. Many states do have broad restrictions on how voter data can be released or used, but Connecticut only protects the addresses of law enforcement personnel and some types of crime victims.

National: Trump’s Election Commission Plans to Abandon Insecure Voter Data Collection Methods | Gizmodo

Since the president’s Advisory Commission on Election Integrity requested voter rolls from state election officials—allegedly for the purpose of investigating Trump’s unproven claims about widespread voter fraud—45 states and the District of Columbia have either partially or wholly declined to share their data, and security experts have raised concerns about whether the commission has the technical capabilities to keep the data secure. A federal judge raised questions last week about the security of voter data transferred to the commission. Sources tell Gizmodo that the White House is backing down from its initial requests for state election officials to send the data through a file transfer website created by the Army and not intended for civilian use. The commission plans to propose another option for states to submit data, the sources said. …  Kris Kobach, the vice chairman of the commission, initially provided two ways for officials to send in their voter data: The first is an email address that, as Gizmodo reported, does not support basic encryption protocols. Voter data sent to the address would be transmitted over an unencrypted connection, leaving it vulnerable to interception or manipulation.

Delaware: Election officials to restrict access to voter records | Delaware First Media

By the end of the week, most Delawareans will no longer be able to ask for a copy of the state’s voter registration database. That news comes in the wake of an effort by the Trump Administration to root out what they view as widespread voter fraud across the country. “I don’t feel like we should give that information,” said state Election Commissioner Elaine Manlove, referring to a panel led by Vice President Mike Pence (R). Last week, her office said it wouldn’t comply with a request from the group, which would’ve involved handing over voters’ dates of birth, the last four digits of their social security numbers and more.

National: What the federal government can get from voter files | CNN

President Donald Trump’s election integrity commission won’t have access to all of the information it would like because of state laws that map out what is and what is not publicly available — triggering a national conversation on the privacy of voters’ information. At the heart of the issue is a letter sent last week by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach in his capacity as vice chairman of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity to all 50 states and the District of Columbia. In that letter, Kobach asked for all “publicly available” data, but the long list of pieces of information sought, including the last the four digits of Social Security numbers, included several elements that very few states, if any, say they can legally comply with.

Editorials: Kentucky voters could become victims of cyber crime | Lisa Berry-Tayman and Eric Hodge/Courier-Journal

The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity has asked that the Commonwealth turn over its voter records to the federal government. The legality of such a request is questionable, however, and the Commission’s actions could put Kentucky’s voters at significant risk of identity theft and election fraud. It’s a dangerous cyber world where hacking tools and consumer information are sold openly on the Internet. In 2016, data breaches exposed more than 4.2 billion pieces of information about individuals. The Russian hacking of the presidential election was followed by global ransomware attacks that hijacked thousands of networked systems and foreshadowed new, more destructive attacks. Most recently, a consultancy engaged by the Republican National Committee accidentally exposed the personal voter information of nearly 200 million Americans.

Nebraska: Senators urge Gale to decline Trump’s voter information request | Lincoln Journal Star

Six state senators on Wednesday urged Secretary of State John Gale to decline to turn over personal data about registered Nebraska voters to the Trump administration. Nebraska needs to “protect the integrity of our elections and the security of our lawfully registered citizens,” they wrote Gale. “Public access to identifying information and partial Social Security numbers can lead to identity theft,” they said. “Protecting the personal and financial security of Nebraskans is important.”

National: Trump voter-fraud panel’s data request a gold mine for hackers, experts warn | Politico

Cybersecurity specialists are warning that President Donald Trump’s voter-fraud commission may unintentionally expose voter data to even more hacking and digital manipulation. Their concerns stem from a letter the commission sent to every state this week, asking for full voter rolls and vowing to make the information “available to the public.” The requested information includes full names, addresses, birth dates, political party and, most notably, the last four digits of Social Security numbers. The commission is also seeking data such as voter history, felony convictions and military service records. Digital security experts say the commission’s request would centralize and lay bare a valuable cache of information that cyber criminals could use for identity theft scams — or that foreign spies could leverage for disinformation schemes. “It is beyond stupid,” said Nicholas Weaver, a computer science professor at the University of California at Berkeley.

National: Trump’s voter-fraud commission wants to know voting history, party ID and address of every voter in the U.S. | The Washington Post

The chair of President Trump’s Election Integrity Commission has penned a letter to all 50 states requesting their full voter-roll data, including the name, address, date of birth, party affiliation, last four Social Security number digits and voting history back to 2006 of potentially every voter in the state. In the letter, a copy of which was made public by the Connecticut secretary of state, the commission head Kris Kobach said that “any documents that are submitted to the full Commission will also be made available to the public.” On Wednesday, the office of Vice President Pence released a statement saying “a letter will be sent today to the 50 states and District of Columbia on behalf of the Commission requesting publicly available data from state voter rolls and feedback on how to improve election integrity.”

Colorado: Unaffiliated? You can vote in Colorado’s 2018 party primaries. But should the party you choose be public information? | The Colorado Independent

Next year, unaffiliated voters —the state’s largest voting bloc—for the first time will be able to help choose the Democratic or Republican nominee in a Colorado governor’s race while still remaining unaffiliated. That’s because voters last year passed a ballot measure allowing those who choose not to join a political party to participate in the party primaries. Unaffiliated voters, however, can only pick one primary to vote in— they can’t vote in both.
And here’s something those non-party people should know: The primary they choose could become public information. Colorado’s Republican secretary of state, Wayne Williams, is pushing for such disclosure as he develops rules to implement the new law before the 2018 statewide gubernatorial primaries. He says such transparency is about voter integrity.

Utah: Bill protecting voter registration information held by committee | Deseret News

A bill seeking to limit access to voter registration records was held Wednesday by a House committee after concerns were raised about what information political parties and candidates would be able to see. The sponsor of HB348, Rep. Becky Edwards, R-North Salt Lake, agreed to continue working on the bill with members of the House Government Operations Committee. “This is a pretty significant policy change, a pretty dramatic one,” said Rep. Jeremy Peterson, R-Ogden, the committee chairman, adding that he wanted to “see what we can do to fine tune it.”