Election officials and voting advocates alike welcome the appropriation of the remaining $380 million authorization from Help America Vote Act (HAVA) to help fund states’ efforts to enhance voting systems security. But, as WIRED wrote “[o]bservers note, though, that the HAVA money has crucial drawbacks and limitations. Both the spending bill and HAVA allow states to use the money for a broad range of election system-related projects, so there’s no guarantee it will go toward critical defense upgrades. And the way HAVA allocates money means not every state will wind up with enough to meet their need. “This is a great first step, but it’s not going to solve the problem,” said Verified Voting President Marian Schneider, “[j]ust the heightened awareness of what is the threat model and what are best practices for dealing with that threat model makes me hopeful and optimistic that those steps will be taken. But I would like to see the vulnerable systems replaced, and the clock is ticking. The farther we get into the year, the less likely it is. That’s just a reality.”
Verified Voting and Brennan Center released a report that consider the extent to which the new appropriations could help states to begin deploying paper ballots, post-election audits, and other essential cybersecurity improvements. The report concluded by urging Congress to complete its work on the Secure Elections Act (SEA), a bipartisan bill that has been gaining momentum in the Senate. The SEA would establish cybersecurity guidelines, facilitate crucial information sharing, provide grants for states to fully replace DREs with paper ballots, and encourage states to implement robust statistical auditing.
In an editorial critical of administration efforts to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 Census questionaire, the New York Times explained that “[a]sking about citizenship would reduce responses from immigrant families, which are already less likely than others to answer government surveys and are terrified by President Trump’s anti-immigrant policies and statements.
U.S. District Judge Mark Walker in Tallahassee ordered Florida Gov. Rick Scott to dismantle Florida’s “fatally flawed” system of arbitrarily restoring voting rights to felons and to replace it by April 26. The court order was part of an injunction issued by Walker in favor of the Fair Elections Legal Network, which successfully sued Florida over the state’s system for restoring voting rights to convicted felons.
Acknowledging resistance from many voting advocates and organizations, including Verified Voting, the Georgia Senate declined to approve a bill that would have begun the process for replacing the state’s Diebold touchscreen voting machines. Language added to the House version of the bill would have allowed the tabulation of software generated barcodes rather than voters’ marks on paper ballots. Meanwhile, a bill was introduced in the Missouri Senate that would phase out the use of direct recording electronic machines in the state.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has abandoned an appeal of a special elections lawsuit challenging his decision to delay calling special elections in Wisconsin’s 1st Senate District and 42nd Assembly District. The seats — one in the state Senate and one in the Assembly — have been vacant since December, when Walker appointed the Republican incumbents to his administration. State law requires the Governor to call special elections to fill legislative vacancies that occur before May in regular election years, but Walker planned to leave the seats vacant until the November general election.
With his main rivals in jail or forced from the contest, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi headed for a landslide victory with 92 percent of the vote. The margin was hardly a surprisie in a race where he eliminated all serious opposition months ago. The New Yorker notes that President Trump has embraced Sisi and making no mention of the human rights abuses under his regime. “Under Sisi, the government has arrested at least sixty thousand people, handed down hundreds of preliminary death sentences, and tried thousands of civilians in military courts, according to human-rights groups. Torture, including beatings, electric shocks, stress positions, and sometimes rape, has been systematically employed.”
After the lifting of an interim injunction that had stalled preparations for Sierra Leone’s presidential run-off-election, the country’s Supreme Court has approved the election commission’s request to delay until today. The vote had been set for Tuesday but was delayed after a ruling party member filed a court challenge alleging irregularities in the first round and a temporary injunction was issued, stalling preparations. It was lifted early this week and the election commission asked for a few more days to prepare.