The Voting News Weekly: The Voting News Weekly for December 11-17 2017

Oregon Senator Ron Wyden has sent a letter to National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster requesting additional measures to secure state and local election infrastructure from potential cyberattacks. “While some states have taken the threats seriously, others are seriously lagging behind and remain woefully vulnerable to foreign government cyberattacks,” Wyden wrote. “As such, the federal government must take action: leaving federal election cybersecurity to the states is irresponsible and a total abdication of the federal government’s primary role in matters of national security.”

A Republican bill approved by the House Education Committee scraps requirements for colleges and universities to alert students to register to vote. The rewrite of the Higher Education Act omits provisions ensuring that schools make a good-faith effort to distribute voter registration forms to students enrolled at their institutions. Democrats say is intended to lower voter turnout by young people.

A last minute court ruling in Alabama permitted election officials to destroy digital copies of paper ballots cast in this week’s special election for US Senator. Elections experts criticized the decision, which eliminated an important tool for ensuring electoral integrity. “I don’t understand why the state does not want to preserve them. That doesn’t make sense,” said Verified Voting President Marian Schneider. “Jurisdictions should have processes in place for ordinary citizens… to review election documents and verify that results came out the way they should have.”

Hackers have deleted a database of potential California voters with more than 19 million entries, demanding around $3,500 to restore it. Researchers at the security firm MacKeeper’s Kromtech research group first noticed the issue, but have not been able to identify the database’s owner to notify them. “We decided to go public to let everyone who was affected know,” said Bob Diachenko, head of communications for Kromtech.

Despite the pending records requests and ongoing litigation related to the 2016 Democratic Primary in Florida, Broward County Supervisor Brenda Snipes has ordered the ballots and other election documents related to the primary destroyed. Congressional candidate Tim Canova said that Snipes wrongly destroyed ballots while his court case seeking to review them was pending.

Accepting a lawsuit brought by Maryland Republicans, the Supreme Court will hear a second case this term to determine whether partisan gerrymandering is unconstitutional, The court has already heard a case from Wisconsin Democrats, who challenged a legislative redistricting drawn by the state’s Republican leaders.

Saying that Republican legislators were seeking to “impose their own expedited schedule on the court, the special master and other parties at virtually the last moment,” a U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles has turned down a request to hold a hearing in North Carolina’s racial gerrymandering case two weeks sooner than scheduled.

Advocating paper ballot voting systems and robust routine post election audits, Verified Voting submitted testimony to the Pennsylvania State Senate Senate State Government Committee. The committee is considering the next generation of voting equipment in the state. Verified Voting’s testimony can be read here.

Liberia’s ruling Unity Party has asked the Supreme Court to issue an immediate stay order on the December 28 presidential runoff based on a 25-count Bill of Information the party has filed with the highest court.

According to an expert in Russian cyber-operations, Pro-Russian propagandists used Twitter, fake videos on YouTube and Facebook accounts to make and then spread false allegations that votes the Scottish independence had been manipulated to discredit the pro-UK victory.

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