Voting Blogs

Articles about voting from the blogosphere.

Voting Blogs: Federal Lawsuits Challenge Indiana’s Wildly Disparate Precinct, Early Voting Site Laws | The Brad Blog

In two separate federal lawsuits, Common Cause v Marion County Board of Elections (May 2, 2017) and Indiana NAACP v. Lawson (Aug. 9, 2017), both challenging restrictions on voting rights in Indiana, civil rights organizations have sought to block what they describe as unconstitutional Republican schemes that, with “surgical precision”, seek to depress the vote in large minority, Democratic-leaning counties while contemporaneously enhancing voter turnout in white, Republican-leaning counties. The lawsuits entail two sets of laws. One of the lawsuits seeks to block a law that specifically targets Lake County — and only Lake County — for precinct consolidation and/or elimination. Lake County sports the state’s second largest African-American population and its largest Hispanic population. The other lawsuit challenges a voter suppression scheme that significantly reduces early absentee voting sites for a significant number of African-American (Democratic) voters in Marion County, even while mostly white (Republican) voters in neighboring counties benefit from a significant expansion in the number of available early absentee voting sites. Read More

Voting Blogs: FVAP submits 2016 post-election report to Congress | electionlineWeekly

The Federal Voting Assistance Program’s 2016 Post-Election Report to Congress shows that its voting assistance efforts work: FVAP continues to make progress in reducing obstacles to absentee voting for active duty military and has expanded outreach initiatives for voters covered under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA). “I am proud of the work accomplished by FVAP to support military members, their families, and Americans living abroad throughout the 2016 cycle,” FVAP Director David Beirne said. Read More

Voting Blogs: Redistricting Goes to Court | NCSL Blog

“Redistricting is a game of margins,” attorney Kate McKnight told lawmakers at the Legislative Summit in Boston. Legislatures always start with existing district maps and work from there, she said. No one starts completely from scratch. McKnight was joined by fellow attorney Abha Khanna for a discussion of the U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings in recent redistricting cases. Moderating the session, “Redistricting Goes to Court,” was Jessica Karls-Ruplinger, with the Wisconsin Legislative Council. As state legislators prepare to adjust the margins of districts in the next redistricting cycle based on the 2020 census, they’ll be looking to the court for guidance. It can be difficult to predict how a decision in one case might apply to others, but the attorneys told the group the court has asserted some general principles in recent decisions. Read More

Voting Blogs: Can Federalism Cope with Russian Election Meddling? | Ciara Torres-Spelliscy/Brennan Center for Justice

I’ve spent many hours this summer watching Senate hearings on the integrity of American elections. Lest we forget the Church Committee, which investigated the CIA, or the Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, the Watergate Committee, Congress can be one way Americans learn the truth. As a former Senate staffer, I have much respect for the professionalism and bipartisanship shown by the two leaders of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Chairman Richard Burr (R-S.C.) and Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.) Nearly 20 million people watched Former FBI Director James Comey testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee last month. One of his warnings was that the Russians had come after American democracy “[a]nd they will be back.” But two other hearings that garnered much less attention left me troubled that the American electoral system won’t be fortified in time for the 2018 election. One hearing was about the history of Russian hacking in Europe and the other was about the reaction of state election officials to federal assistance in light of Russian interference.  Read More

Voting Blogs: Why Do Georgia Election Officials Insist on 100% Unverifiable Elections? | BradBlog

“I worry that what we have here in Georgia is the Titanic Effect,” Georgia Tech Computer Scientist Richard DeMillo observed, regarding the myriad security issues revealed during the course of last month’s U.S. House Special Election in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District. “Georgia officials are convinced the state’s election system cannot be breached. Shades of the ‘unsinkable ship’. They have neglected to give us life boats…a fail-safe system designed so that in case of a catastrophe Georgia voters can easily verify that reported vote totals match voter intent. It is the sort of common-sense approach that first-year engineering students learn. Other states have that capability. Inexplicably, Georgia does not,” DeMillo said in a statement quoted in support of a legal challenge filed contesting the 100% unverifiable results of the June 20 contest. The computer scientist’s concerns are hardly the first expressed about Georgia’s absurd voting system. In fact, they cap well over a decade of chilling revelations, shocking vulnerabilities and dire warnings issued from the community of experts who have examined the Peach State’s voting system, including a number of those who installed it in the first place back in 2002. Read More

Voting Blogs: Free & Fair to build risk-limiting audit system for State of Colorado | Free & Fair

We are proud to announce that Colorado has chosen Free & Fair to build a risk-limiting audit (RLA) system to be used statewide beginning with the November 2017 general election. First developed in 2008, RLAs promote evidence-based confidence in election outcomes by comparing a random sampling of paper ballots to their corresponding digital versions. This will be the first time anywhere in the United States that risk-limiting audits are conducted on a regular, statewide basis. Free & Fair has already prototyped an open source risk-limiting audit tool called OpenRLA, for RLAs of election contests in single jurisdictions. The production RLA system being developed for Colorado will facilitate statewide, multi-county and individual county audits. Like OpenRLA, the RLA system developed for Colorado will be released under an open source license (GPL Version 3). Risk-limiting audits provide strong statistical evidence that a jurisdiction’s voting system accurately interpreted and tabulated voter markings on paper ballots, with relatively little hand counting. The “risk limit” is the largest chance that an outcome-changing error in the initial tabulation will not be discovered and corrected in the audit. If the risk limit is 5% and the outcome wouldn’t match the result of a full, accurate count of the paper ballots, there is at least a 95% chance that the audit will correct the outcome. Read More

Voting Blogs: Exit Interview: Verified Voting’s Pam Smith | electionlineWeekly

This interview with Pam Smith was posted electionlineWeekly. on July 6, 2017.

In recent weeks we’ve said good-bye to some leaders in the elections field and this week completes our unfortunate trifecta of departing “election geeks”. Pam Smith has stepped down as the president of Verified Voting. Smith joined Verified Voting in 2004, and served as its president for 10 years. She was an outspoken advocate for the nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that focuses on accuracy, transparency and verifiability of elections. If you had a question about election technology or audits, Smith was the go-to source. Good luck Pam. We will miss your willingness to go on the record and talk about voting technology.

You are leaving the field at an interesting time, to say the least, why now?

Why, is something going on? Just kidding. Actually, I hope I’m not leaving altogether. I started out as an advocate before I came to Verified Voting, and I’ll likely stay one. And as anyone knows who works in elections, once it’s in you, you can’t ever really let it go!

But your point is a good one. Enormous progress has been made in moving toward getting the tools in place that enable officials around the country to demonstrate the correctness of election outcomes.

The work isn’t done yet. But what’s different today from when I started is that on major networks, in op-ed columns, in legislatures and around the coffee table, there’s awareness that we need to take steps to ensure our election systems are reliable. People are saying it out loud. It feels like the effort has a full head of steam now, and that was always one of my goals. Read More

Voting Blogs: The Kobach fallout on election security | Derek Muller/Election Law Blog

The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity offered its first public request this week, as Vice Chair and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach requested voter information from every state. That single request has likely done long-lasting damage to the political ability of the federal government to regulate elections. In particular, any chance that meaningful election security issues would be addressed at the federal level before 2020 worsened dramatically this week. The request is sloppy, as Charles Stewart carefully noted, and, at least in some cases, forbidden under state law. The letter was sent to the wrong administrators in some states, it requests data like “publicly-available . . . last four digits of social security number if available” (which should never be permissible), and it fails to follow the proper protocol in each state to request such data. Response from state officials has been swift and generally opposed. It has been bipartisan, ranging from politically-charged outrage, to drier statements about what state disclosure law permits and (more often) forbids. But the opposition reflects a major undercurrent from the states to the federal government: we run elections, not you. Read More

Voting Blogs: What Will It Take for Americans to Understand the Basics of Election Integrity? | BradBlog

There are several basic election integrity truths that have escaped the attention of most Americans, even as they confront the scope of alleged Russian cyber intrusions into America’s disparately run, local elections systems. [Despite repeated assurances from U.S. officials that hackers didn’t go so far as to alter vote counts, Department of Homeland Security officials concede that they failed to run an audit in order to determine whether the 2016 vote count had been manipulated by anyone, be they hackers, foreign or domestic, from Russia or anywhere else, or by election insiders whose direct access could facilitate a malicious, or even accidental, manipulation of vote totals. The mainstream U.S. media has also raised concerns that the United States, under the Donald Trump administration, is not doing enough to prevent hacking or manipulation of the 2018 and 2020 elections.] The first basic election integrity truth is that, as The BRAD BLOG reported in 2009, following a stark presentation by a U.S. intelligence officer to the nation’s only federal agency devoted to overseeing the use of electronic voting and tabulation systems, all electronically stored and/or processed data — registration records, poll books, ballot definition scripts and, most importantly, computerized vote tabulators — are vulnerable to malicious cyber intrusions. Read More