The Intercept posted an article examining reactions from state election officials to the Department of Homeland Security notification that Russian actors had targeted elections systems in 21 states in the months leading up to the 2016 presidential election. Balancing the necessity to prepare for potential attacks in the future through a thorough examination of last years experience with a desire to reinforce confidence in the election process has proven difficult. Warning that most states lack the mechanisms to deal with large-scale changes to voter registration, Bruce Schneier, a cybersecurity specialist at Harvard’s Berkman Center advised that “[t]he time to create a plan is before the battle lines are drawn, before we know who the hack favored, before we know who won and who lost.”
Oregon Senator Ron Wyden called on six of the main voting machine manufacturers in the U.S. to provide details about their cybersecurity efforts. The request comes as details have emerged of Russia’s successful attempts to hack election systems in many states. In his letter, Wyden asked a series of questions about cybersecurity efforts, requesting answers from Dominion Voting, Systems Election Systems & Software, Five Cedars Group, Hart InterCivic, MicroVote and Unisyn Voting Solutions, as well as voting system test labs V&V and SLI Compliance.
According to documents unsealed Thursday by a federal judge, Kris Kobach, the vice chairman of a voter fraud panel set up by President Trump, began soon after the election to draft legislative changes that would allow states to require voters to prove their citizenship when registering. In one memo Kobach recommended eliminating a provision of the NVRA that doesn’t allow officials at motor vehicles agencies to ask for any information on a voter registration application beyond what is required on a driver’s license application and suggested adding a provision in the law clarifying that it didn’t prevent states from asking about a proof of citizenship requirement.
The Supreme Court heard arguments in a case challenging Wisconsin redistricting that could determine the constitutionality of partisan gerrymandering – the process of redrawing electoral districts in order to favor one party over another. In a Guardian editorial that examines the recent history and impact of political gerrymandering, former Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold called on the court “to invalidate the practice of hyper-partisan gerrymandering, and force state legislatures to redraw the districts and maps that make voters irrelevant and our elections a rubber stamp.”
Members of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission have taken initial steps toward loosening restrictions on felon voting rights. The Atlantic examined the history of the provision in Florida’s constitution that prohibits voting by convicted felons. While the effect of the provision has been to disproportionately affect blacks and other minority citizens, the provision punishes people of all races who have served their debt to society, been released from prison, and asked to fully assume all the duties of citizenship, from paying taxes to participation in a draft.
A group led by the former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. has filed suit in Federal District Court in Georgia that accuses the state of flouting the Voting Rights Act, claiming that Georgia Republicans reshaped two state legislative districts to minimize the electoral influence of African-American voters. The complaint charges that race was the “predominant factor” in adjusting two districts — the 105th and 111th — in the Atlanta area where white lawmakers had faced spirited challenges from black Democrats.
Electionline Weekly featured an article on the disappointing demise of Travis County Texas’ plans to develop a voting system that would improve the security of the county’s voting system and provide a verifiable paper trail.
Hacking attacks on the web platform used by Italy’s 5-Star Movement to select representatives and shape policy threaten to dent confidence in its methods before a parliamentary election it is well placed to win. Internet-based direct democracy, in which members vote online, is a hallmark of the anti-establishment group that first entered parliament in 2013.
After a vote on independence marred by scenes of police brutality, Catalonia has announced it’s intention to declare independence from Spain after on Monday. Catalan President Carles Puigdemont said he favored mediation to find a way out of the crisis but that Spain’s central government had rejected this. The New Yorker featured an article describing tense political situation following the disputed poll last Sunday.