The Voting News Weekly: The Voting News Weekly for February 26 – March 4 2018

An NBC report asserting that the U.S. intelligence community developed substantial evidence that state websites or voter registration systems in seven states were compromised by Russian-backed covert operatives prior to the 2016 election was disputed by the Department of Homeland Security, saying NBC’s story was “factually inaccurate and misleading” and stood by its previous assessment, that just one state, Illinois, had its system breached. NBC stood by their reporting. Among the question that reman unanswered is whether in fact anyone can actually know with certainty if the systems were compromised.

Adm Mike Rogers, director of the National Security Agency and chief of US Cyber Command told lawmakers that he had not been directed by Donald Trump to disrupt Russian efforts to meddle in US elections, and that Vladimir Putin had come to the conclusion there was “little price to pay” for such actions. “I haven’t been granted any additional authorities, capacity, capability” Rogers said, “I need a policy decision that indicates there is specific direction to do that,” Rogers said.

In a lawsuit scheduled to begin on Tuesday, ACLU and the League of Women Voters will argue that between 2013 to 2016, more than 35,000 Kansans were blocked from registering because of Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s documentary proof-of-citizenship law. Courts have temporarily blocked Kobach from fully enforcing the Kansas law, with the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver calling it “a mass denial of a fundamental constitutional right.”

Ohio counties would get nearly $115 million in state money to replace aging voting machines in time for the 2019 election under a bill expected to pass the legislature this spring. Counties will be given a fixed amount of funding based on the number of registered voters to help with the startup costs associated with buying new machines.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. has given participants until Monday to file responses to a request by Pennsylvania Republican lawmakers to stay a state court ruling overturning the current congressional map and imposing a new one. Aside from the merits of the legal arguments, a key factor the U.S. Supreme Court and a panel of three district judges will have to take into account is if the attempt to block the new map comes too close to the May 15 primary election, or if the Pennsylvania Supreme Court produced the map too late to be used this year.

TheVirginia Supreme Court heard arguments in a case alleging that state lawmakers placed partisan politics over constitutional requirements in drawing 11 of the 100 districts for the House of Delegates. According to lawyers for the voters, the state legislature failed to keep compactness in mind when they drew the maps seven years ago as required by the state’s constitution.

The National Redistricting Foundation, which is led by former attorney general Eric Holder, sued Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to require to hold special elections in two vacant legislative districts. Last December, two Republican lawmakers stepped down from the legislature to join Walker’s administration and in a remarkable break from precedent, Walker announced at the time that he would not hold special elections in those districts, leaving 229,904 Wisconsinites without representation for almost a year.

Security concerns have once again forced the Finnish government to suspend plans to launch an internet voting system. A Ministry of Justice report identified certain problem areas, including difficulties in the reconciliation of verifiability and election secrecy. As regards verifiability, the eVWG said full confidence in a future system must be based on voters being able to ensure that ballots are counted as cast. Also, the voter should receive “proof” of the ballot cast.

New anti-electoral fraud procedures caused delays at some polling stations, as Italians headed to the polls today to vote in one of the most uncertain elections in years. At least one polling station in Rome voting had to be suspended due to the discovery of voting cards with the wrong candidates’ names printed on them and some polling stations remained closed in Palermo two hours into election day because the wrong ballots were delivered and 200,000 new ones had to be reprinted overnight.

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