Voting Blogs

Articles about voting from the blogosphere.

Voting Blogs: States are applying for 2018 HAVA funds, how are they spending them? | electionlineWeekly

Earlier this year, the president signed Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 into law, the law includes $380 million in grants for states to improve their cybersecurity. To-date 32 states, America Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands have applied for their HAVA funds. Although states are allowed to draw down on their available funds in phases, most states seem to be applying for—and receiving—all their funds at one time. Once states have applied for their funds they have 90-days to provide a narrative on what they will be spending the money on. Part of the requirement for receiving the federal funds is a 5 percent match from states. How elections officials are getting those matches varies. Some states are relying on their Legislatures to allocate the funding and others are using existing funds allocated in state budgets. Read More

Voting Blogs: Are Absentee Ballots as Helpful to Voters as They Appear to Be? | State of Elections

My experience in voting with an absentee ballot in New Jersey in the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections, as well as the 2017 gubernatorial election, alerted my attention to flaws in the system. As an active voter, these experiences have left me to wonder if absentee voting is worth it. I am thankful that my home state of New Jersey has an absentee ballot system that allows me to vote as a New Jerseyite even though I go to school in Virginia. Although New Jersey’s absentee ballot rules are arguably less stringent than other states, I learned the hard way that absentee voting can be difficult. Read More

Voting Blogs: Are Rhode Island’s Mail-In Ballots a “Gigantic, Illegal Loophole?” | State of Elections

Ken Block, a two-time former gubernatorial candidate, made headlines in early October 2017 over a provocative tweet regarding voter identification (“voter-ID”) and mail-in ballots. Mr. Block claimed that mail-in ballots violated Rhode Island’s voter-ID law and are effectively a “gigantic, illegal loophole” to performing widespread voter fraud. Block implored the Rhode Island legislature to attend to this matter immediately. In response, Mr. Stephen Erickson, a Rhode Island State Board of Elections member, considered such a measure as “another effort to limit people’s ability to vote.” Mr. Erickson asserted that the Board “regularly rejects mail[-in] ballots where there is a substantial difference between the two signatures or if the witnesses does not provide enough information so that they can be identified and questioned.” Read More

Voting Blogs: Two new cybersecurity tools for elections officials | electionlineWeekly

While states and localities are awaiting their share of the $380 million allotted by Congress to upgrade elections cybersecurity, there are two, totally free ways that they can start beefing up their security now. The Center for Internet Security (CIS), a nonprofit that harnesses the power of the global IT community to safeguard private and public organizations against cyber threats recently released A Handbook for Elections Infrastructure Security and also launched the Elections Infrastructure Sharing and Analysis Center (EI-ISAC). Read More

Voting Blogs: Latest Threat to Democracy: Barcodes, Ballot Marking Devices (a.k.a. ‘Electronic Pencils’) | Brad Blog

A Ballot Marking Device (“BMD”) is a touchscreen computer that generates a computer-marked paper ballot or printout, which is then tallied on a computerized optical scanner. (Those computer-marked ballots can also, in theory, be counted by hand, but generally are not, as most election officials rely on optical scanners instead.) BMDs were initially designed for people who are unable to hand-mark paper ballots due to disability, old age, etc. But the state of Georgia and Los Angeles County, California are now at the forefront of an unfortunate new trend, which is to consider buying these expensive hackable “electronic pencils” for use by all voters at the polls, regardless of need. Read More

Voting Blogs: Clear and Present Danger to U.S. Vote | Brennan Center for Justice

The head of the National Security Agency and U.S. cyber command has told Congress that the White House hasn’t instructed him to block a Russian attack against U.S. election systems this fall. “If we don’t change the dynamic here, this is going to continue,” Adm. Michael Rogers said, adding to warnings from the secretary of state and chiefs of U.S. intelligence agencies that voting systems are vulnerable to attacks by foreign actors. Russian meddling in the 2016 election is now almost universally acknowledged. And while there’s no evidence that Moscow’s cyberactivity changed vote totals, we know Russian agents targeted voting systems in at least 21 states — and that whatever methods the Russians honed this past cycle they will likely use against us in the 2018 and 2020 elections. Read More

Voting Blogs: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back: Ohio’s State Redistricting Commission | State of Elections

In 2015, Ohio voters approved a state constitutional amendment that reformed the process for drawing district lines for the state legislature. Previously, state legislative redistricting had been managed by a five-member Apportionment Board, consisting of the governor, the secretary of state, the state auditor, and one member of the state legislature from both parties. New district lines only required a simple majority vote to enter into effect. The amendment, Issue 1 on the 2015 ballot, enlarged (and renamed the board to the Ohio Redistricting Commission) the Apportionment Board by two members by adding a member of each party from the state legislature. Issue 1 also reformed the procedures of the board, particularly how it approves district maps. The Commission must now have votes in favor of a map by at least two members of the minority party for the district maps to be in force for a full ten years. However, if this requirement is not met, then the district maps will be in force for only four years and new maps will be drawn at the end of that time period. Read More

Voting Blogs: Voter Purges: The Risks in 2018 | Brennan Center for Justice

Voter purges — the often controversial practice of removing voters from registration lists in order to keep them up to date — are poised to be one of the biggest threats to the ballot in 2018. Activist groups and some state officials have mounted alarming campaigns to purge voters without adequate safeguards. If successful, these efforts could lead to a massive number of eligible, registered voters losing their right to cast a ballot this fall. Properly done, efforts to clean up voter rolls are important for election integrity and efficiency. Done carelessly or hastily, such efforts are prone to error, the effects of which are borne by voters who may show up to vote only to find their names missing from the list. Read More

Voting Blogs: A Loophole in South Carolina Law and the Fraud Commission | State of Elections

Earlier in the year, President Donald J. Trump announced his decision through an executive order to establish the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, a working group designed in his view to eliminate voter fraud. Concerned with potential for state voter rolls to be inaccurate and misused, the election fraud commission sought voter rolls from all 50 states to vet and review. While the specific tasks of the election fraud commission remain unknown, the ultimate goal, at least publicly, appears to be to ensure the most accurate electoral outcomes possible. Read More

Voting Blogs: Are voting-machine modems truly divorced from the Internet? | Andrew Appel/Freedom to Tinker

The ES&S model DS200 optical-scan voting machine has a cell-phone modem that it uses to upload election-night results from the voting machine to the “county central” canvassing computer.  We know it’s a bad idea to connect voting machines (and canvassing computers) to the Internet, because this allows their vulnerabilities to be exploited by hackers anywhere in the world.  (In fact, a judge in New Jersey ruled in 2009 that the state must not connect its voting machines and canvassing computers to the internet, for that very reason.)  So the question is, does DS200’s cell-phone modem, in effect, connect the voting machine to the Internet? The vendor (ES&S) and the counties that bought the machine say, “no, it’s an analog modem.”  That’s not true; it appears to be a Multitech MTSMC-C2-N3-R.1 (Verizon C2 series modem), a fairly complex digital device.  But maybe what they mean is “it’s just a phone call, not really the Internet.”  So let’s review how phone calls work. Read More