The Voting News Weekly: The Voting News Weekly for January 8-14 2018

United States Senators have been targeted by Russian hackers, according to a report by the cybersecurity firm Trend Micro. The report claims that Fancy Bear—the same hacking group believed to be behind the hack of the Democratic National Committee in 2016—is now targeting Senators’ email accounts. Beginning last summer, the hackers have set up websites meant to look like an email system available only to people using the Senate’s internal computer network. The sites were designed to trick people into divulging their personal credentials, such as usernames and passwords.

At an Election Assistance Commission summit, computer security experts from DHS and the private sector detailed many of the cyberthreats facing America’s voting systems“Elections offices have become IT offices that happen to run elections,” Jeremy Epstein, deputy division director of the National Science Foundation’s Division of Computer and Network Systems noted. “We need to be focused on detection and recovery.” DHS official Bob Kolasky said the federal government is substantially more prepared to deal with a nation-state attack on election systems today than it was in the lead-up to the 2016 election. “The Department of Homeland Security is in a much better position to work with our interagency partners and the election community to respond to any lingering threats that emerge going forward,” he said.

The Supreme Court heard arguments in aa case challenging the constitutionality of Ohio’s practice of using voting inactivity to trigger purges of registered voters who are still eligible to vote. Federal laws prohibit states from removing people from voter rolls “by reason of the person’s failure to vote.” But they allow election officials who suspect that a voter has moved to send a confirmation notice. A central question in the case was whether a failure to vote could be the reason to send out the notice.

In The New York Review of Books, Zachary Roth considered the many current court challenges to partisan gerrymandering. In North Carolina, a panel of federal judges threw out congressional maps that they determined had been drawn by Republicans to seek a political advantage. However in Pennsylvania a judicial panel rejected a similar argument from a group of Democratic voters who contended te state’s maps ad been gerrymandered it to help Republicans. On Friday, the Supreme Court announced that it will review lower-court rulings that ordered Texas to redraw 11 political districts found to be discriminatory adding to a docket that already includes a gerrymandering case from Wisconsin,

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging Alabama’s state law requiring people to show government issued photo ID at the polls. The judge determined that the state’s voter ID provision does not discriminate against minorities and is not an undue infringement on the right to vote since the state makes free IDs available for voting purposes. Alabama has required voters to show photo IDs at the polls since 2014.

Results of Saturday’s election in the Czech Republic mean that Russian-backed president Miloš Zeman will face pro-western runner-up, Jiří Drahoš, in a run-off election in two weeks. In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced a deal with her Social Democrat (SPD) rivals open government coalition talks. The deal to revive a “grand coalition” that has governed since 2013 must be approved by an SPD congress planned for January 21.

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