The Voting News Weekly: The Voting News Weekly for January 22 -28 2018

The ranking member of theHouse intelligence committee Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) has warned that the threat of foreign interference is being dangerously downplayed by President Trump, and fears that many states are not ready to combat potential hacking during the 2018 elections. He specifically called on states to abandon voting equipment that does not provide a software-independent record of the vote arguing that “[a]fter what we saw in the last election, it’s malpractice for any Secretary of State to not have a paper trail.”

With the Supreme Court set to on at least three redistricting cases, the Atlantic posted an extensive piece considering the future of partisan gerrymandering. While courts have sometimes invalidated gerrymandered districts on the basis of racial bias, they have been reluctant to weigh on gerrymandering for partisan advantage. This may change with challenges in Pennsylvania, Texas, North Carolina and Maryland.

Former felons could have their Florida voting rights restored under a proposed constitutional amendment headed to voters in November, a measure that could have a significant impact on a state known for historically close elections. Floridians for a Fair Democracy has more than 799,000 certified petition signatures, or about 33,000 more than the group needed to get the measure on the ballot.

Legislation was introduced in Georgia by Republican Rep.Scot Turner  to finally replace the Diebold touchscreen voting machines the state has used since 2002 with a paper ballot voting system. The Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, who is running against Secretary of State Brain Kemp for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, voiced his support of the paper ballot legislation leading to a perhaps predictable but nevertheless unfortunate response from his rival Kemp, who accused Cagle of “joining “liberal conspiracy theorists.”

The Dayton Daily News published an article examining the state of voting equipment in Ohio. State Sen. Frank LaRose, R-Hudson,has introduced Senate Bill 135, which has had one hearing in the Senate Finance Committee. LaRose has said he will amend his bill to include paying for new voting equipment for every county board of election, including training and maintenance contract costs. 

The Pennsylvania supreme court on Monday struck down the boundaries of the state’s 18 congressional districts, granting a major victory to plaintiffs who contended that they were unconstitutionally gerrymandered to benefit Republicans. After the state court decision, those Republican lawmakers asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stay the order, arguing that “the question of what does and does not constitute a ‘legislative function’ under the Elections Clause is a question of federal, not state, law, and this Court is the arbiter of that distinction.”

Audrey Malagon wrote an excellent oped for the Virginian-Pilot advocating post-election audits for the state. “What if we could check only a very small number of ballots to make sure our elections were running as smoothly as the syringe factory? Risk-limiting audits let us do just that, and Virginia has started this process.”

In a vote along party lines, Wisconsin Senate Republicans voted to oust Ethics Administrator Brian Bell and Elections Administrator Michael Haas from their respective roles by denying to confirm them on a permanent basis. Neither got a customary public hearing before the vote. “For a state that used to be held up as a paragon of good government, it’s a sad and significant step for legislators to remove staff in this way,” says Barry Burden, director of the elections research center at the University of Wisconsin. “It is micromanaging what should be independent agencies.”

The National Audit Office has revealed theAustralian Electoral Commission did not comply with the Federal Government’s basic cyber-security requirements due to time restraints, and accepted the extra security risk. The audit also revealed the Government’s cyber-spy agency, the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), warned the AEC it was unlikely to resolve its security weaknesses before the July 2 poll.

Dutch domestic intelligence service AIVD had access to the infamous Russian hacking group Cozy Bear for at least a year starting in mid-2014. According to the reports, the Dutch government alerted the United States to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections after Netherlands-based officials watched the hacking of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and other operations by the Russians, including a 2014 State Department hack.

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