Days before Election Day, warnings of a rigged vote have led to anxiety across the country about the integrity of the electoral process, leaving election officials and local authorities scrambling to verify claims of mischief and, often, to offer reality checks. The New York Times reports of stories of Trump supporters in Ohio sending wild dogs to scare off black voters, possessed voting machines flipping votes Donald J. Trump to Hillary Clinton, and an amateur genealogist said to be committing voter fraud by jotting down names found on gravestones.
The U.S. government believes hackers from Russia or elsewhere may try to undermine next week’s presidential election and is mounting an unprecedented effort to counter their cyber meddling. “The Russians are in an offensive mode and [the U.S. is] working on strategies to respond to that, and at the highest levels,” said Michael McFaul, the U.S. ambassador to Russia from 2012 to 2014.
Politico wrote about concens raised by incresing reliance on the internet for election administration and even voted ballot delivery. Tens of thousands of military and overseas Americans casting ballots online this fall face a high risk of being hacked, threatening to cause chaos around Election Day if their votes get manipulated or they transmit viruses to state and local election offices. As the article notes, internet voting also can leave the state and local government networks susceptible to hard-to-detect cyberattacks once election officials in the U.S. open up the ballot via email or click on what looks like a seemingly legitimate document.
Larry Greenemeier at Scientific American also wrote about the security concerns surrounding internet voting. At least 31 states and the District of Columbia do let military and expatriate voters use the internet to submit marked ballots via e-mailed attachments, fax software or a Web portal.
Philip Stark and Poorvi Vora point out the inadequacy of Maryland’s automated post election audit. While acknowledging that some sort of audit is btter than none and applauds the decision to review all votes in all races and counties, they warn that relying on the scans — which are as vulnerable as any other computer data — limits the kinds of problems the reviews can detect. As they note, “the scans aren’t like photographs; they can differ due to machine error, tampering or human error (for instance leaving out a batch of ballots or scanning the same batch twice).”
A federal appeals court panel rejected a challenge to an Arizona election law that throws out ballots cast by voters who go to the wrong precinct. Lawyers representing the state and national Democratic parties said Arizona throws out more out-of-precinct ballots than any other state and that minorities are more likely to be affected. A federal judge in Phoenix rejected the challenge last month, ruling that the state has a valid reason not to count such votes because different races are on ballots in different precincts.
In response to a lawsuit filed by the North Carolina NAACP seeking an emergency halt to voter roll purges, a U.S. District Court judge ruled that four counties must restore names to voter rolls that were part of a recent mass purge. The US Supreme Court denied an emergency request from the Ohio Democratic Party to put on hold provisions of two election laws concerning absentee and provisional ballots in the state.
Voters in Ivory Coast’s referendum were asked to approve a draft constitution containing provisions that the opposition contended will significantly strengthen the power of the presidency and in Nicaragua Daniel Ortega is seeking his second consecutive re-election, with his wife, Rosario Murillo, as the vice-presidential candidate.