Voting Blogs

Articles about voting from the blogosphere.

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.

Full Article: Are voting-machine modems truly divorced from the Internet?.

Voting Blogs: Texas Takes Steps to End Mail-In Voter Fraud | State of Elections

Amid the passage of controversial voter ID laws, this session Texas lawmakers also tackled a different form of voter fraud in a significantly less controversial manner. The Texas Legislature took steps to end voter fraud stemming from mail-in ballots. Senate Bill 5 passed the legislature and was signed into law on June 15. The law becomes effective on January 1, 2018. This law expands the definition of mail-in voter fraud and increases the penalties for the crime. Several voter fraud cases were prosecuted in recent years, and there have been concerns from individuals who received mail-in ballots they never requested.

Full Article: Texas Takes Steps to End Mail-In Voter Fraud - State of Elections.

Voting Blogs: Keeping Things Straight: Michigan’s Fight Over Straight-Ticket Voting | State of Elections

For over 125 years, Michigan residents had the option of killing many birds with one stone, at least at the ballot box. This option is called straight-ticket voting, and it allows voters to fill in one bubble on a ballot for Democrats or Republicans, instead of filling in individual bubbles for every race. Proponents of straight-ticket voting claim that it makes the voting process faster, which helps eliminate long lines at the polls. In January 2016, Governor Rick Snyder signed into law a bill that eliminated Michigan’s straight-ticket voting option.

Full Article: Keeping Things Straight: Michigan’s Fight Over Straight-Ticket Voting - State of Elections.

Voting Blogs: Nation’s Voting Infrastructure Outdated, Vulnerable to Cyberattacks | Brennan Center for Justice

Election officials across the country say they are heading into the 2018 midterms with outdated voting machines and computer systems, and many of them do not have the resources to replace them. In response to a nationwide survey distributed by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law, 229 officials in 33 states reported they need to replace their voting machines by 2020. Most of these officials do not currently have enough funds for those replacements. The Brennan Center says these old machines are more vulnerable to breakdown, malfunction, and hacking. “Too much of the nation’s election infrastructure is crumbling,” said Larry Norden, deputy director of the democracy program at the Brennan Center. “More than two-thirds of officials who told us they need to replace their machines before 2020 also said they have inadequate funds to do so. Continuing to use this equipment not only makes our elections more vulnerable to breakdown and malfunction, but to hacking as well. Election officials across the country are ringing the alarm. And so far, lawmakers have failed to listen.”

Full Article: Nation’s Voting Infrastructure Outdated, Vulnerable to Cyberattacks | Brennan Center for Justice.

Voting Blogs: Passing Your Vote Through Security: The Rise of Risk Limiting Audits in Rhode Island | State of Elections

In the 2016 election’s aftermath, United States intelligence agencies speculated that the Russian government hacked various government entities and the major political parties in order to influence the election’s results. It was recently confirmed that twenty-one  states were subject to that foreign attack. Experts cautioned states to take responsive measures since many states take little to no precaution at all.   Rhode Island, like sixteen other states, does not presently have a statutory requirement to conduct post-election audits. But on September 19, 2017, Rhode Island’s State Legislature responded to the 2016 election cycle by passing a new bill through both chambers (Senate Bill 413A and House Bill 5704A) which would begin post-election audits in 2018 and mandate them in every county by 2020. The bill received bipartisan and unanimous support, passing 36-0 in the State Senate, and 70-0 in the House of Representatives. Governor Gina Raimondo is expected to sign the legislation. The proposed legislation allows the Board of Elections to decide which elections (i.e., primary, state, multijurisdictional) are subject to a risk limiting audit or partial recount in order to verify voting results. This audit would be conducted by hand, in public view, and completed within seven days after an election.  

Full Article: Passing Your Vote Through Security:  The Rise of Risk Limiting Audits in Rhode Island  - State of Elections.

Voting Blogs: Automatic Voter Registration Placed on the Nevada Ballot Following the Governor’s Veto | State of Elections

On March 21, 2017, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval vetoed the state’s effort to establish an automatic voter registration system through the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles. If enacted, the the DMV’s voter registration would convert to a compulsory system rather than its current volunteer-based model. After a partisan split, the Governor sided with state Republicans and blocked the bill. The Governor’s veto is not final, as the initiative will now move to a statewide vote in the 2018 election.

Full Article: NV: Automatic Voter Registration Place on the Ballot Following the Governor’s Veto - State of Elections.

Voting Blogs: West Virginia’s Relentless March to Expand Voter Registration | State of Elections

West Virginia is undergoing what appears to be a voter registration revolution as the state legislature continues to make strides to simplify access to the ballot box.  The following post aims to discuss these advancements in an effort to summarize the current state of voter registration in the Mountain State. In 2013, former-Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, signed into law SB 477, which amended the state constitution to allow for online voter registration (OVR).  The state was not quick to implement the OVR system, as the Secretary of State’s Office did not unveil an official program until the latter half of 2015.  In essence, the now-implemented OVR application requires a registrant to supply the same information required on the paper registration cards: full name, birthdate, location, citizenship status, last four digits of the registrant’s social security number, and the registrant’s driver’s license/state-issued ID number.  If a registrant does not have a state-issued ID or driver’s license, they must instead complete and submit a standard paper form.  As a result,  while OVR streamlines the process for certain registrants, it does so only for those who would likely have already taken advantage of the “motor voter” provisions of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 or the state’s newer electronic voter registration system at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Full Article: West Virginia’s Relentless March to Expand Voter Registration - State of Elections.

Voting Blogs: Squashing the Praying Mantis: Why Maryland 3rd Should be Redrawn | State of Elections

The Washington Post called it the “second-most gerrymandered” district. Its shape is comical and unwieldly. It has been compared to a praying mantis. This is Maryland’s 3rd Congressional District. Yet, when the topic of gerrymandering in Maryland arises, Maryland’s 6th Congressional District receives an outsized amount of attention and focus. The focus on the 6th makes some sense; it is the focus of a federal court case. Certainly, from a lawsuit perspective, focusing on a district where the incumbent lost his seat because of gerrymandering makes more sense than a district where the incumbent kept his seat. However, the 3rd is still more gerrymandered, because it is a weirder shape and the margin of victory for Democrats in the 3rd is higher than it is in the 6th. It is good that both the current governor, Larry Hogan, and the former governor, Martin O’Malley, agree that the gerrymandering in Maryland is bad. However, they should speak out about the 3rd specifically, because, as stated before, the 3rd is more gerrymandered, and because it makes more political sense to focus on the 3rd. The two should draw attention specifically to the 3rd.

Full Article: Squashing the Praying Mantis: Why Maryland 3rd Should be Redrawn - State of Elections.

Voting Blogs: Snow Days: Postponing Elections for Weather Emergencies | State of Elections

On March 14, 2017, municipalities in the state of New Hampshire were set to have their annual town elections. However, a powerful nor’easter was approaching New England, bringing with it near blizzard conditions, and many were concerned that the inclement weather would hinder the democratic process. Almost eighty towns decided to postpone their elections despite Governor Chris Sununu (R)’s warning that they would be exposed to potential lawsuits. The issue that arose and, as of November 1, 2017, remains in question is a conflict between state laws governing town elections. Section 669:1 of the state code requires that towns hold their elections on the second Tuesday in March, but Section 40:4 allows town moderators to reschedule the “voting day of a meeting” during weather emergencies.

Full Article: Snow Days: Postponing Elections for Weather Emergencies - State of Elections.

Voting Blogs: Much ado about nothing in Alabama “fraud” charges | Election Updates

At the risk of being lost down a rabbit hole and subject to endless trolling, I just have to weigh in on the so-called evidence of vote fraud that was contained in Roy Moore’s court filing, in which he tried to get a delay in having the vote certified.  (The reason I decided to plow ahead is that Moore’s filing points out an interesting pattern in the precinct returns — it’s just that it’s not evidence of vote fraud.) There are a lot of claims made in Moore’s filing, and I don’t pretend to have time to take them all on.  The one that has the look of seriousness is based on some number crunching by Philip Evans, an electrical engineer from South Carolina who has taken a look at the precinct-level election returns from Jefferson County (Birmingham) and declared them to be impossibly skewed — or, as Mr. Evans  puts it, based on analyzing more than one hundred elections, “never has there been the level of statistical proof on the scale of Jefferson County” that the results were fabricated.

Full Article: Much ado about nothing in Alabama “fraud” charges | Election Updates.

Voting Blogs: Alaska Joins Growing Number of States with Automatic Voter Registration | State of Elections

Alaska’s automatic voter registration law went into effect March 1, 2017, making Alaska one of ten states, the fourth state to do so in this year, to enact such legislation. The new bill was introduced through Ballot Measure 1 (15PFVR), which passed in the November 8, 2016 referendum with more than 63% of support from Alaskan voters. The bill also received bipartisan support from Republican leaders Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Sen. Dan Sullivan and Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux as well as Democratic Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins and former Sen. Mark Begich. Unlike most automatic voter registration states, Alaska does not use DMV records but registers eligible individuals to vote when they sign up for the Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD). The Permanent Fund was created in 1976 to protect the proceeds of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline by putting at least 25% of the oil money into a dedicated fund. Money from the fund is distributed to eligible Alaskan residents in the form of dividends.

Full Article: Alaska Joins Growing Number of States with Automatic Voter Registration    - State of Elections.

Voting Blogs: Colorado leads the way with risk limiting audits | electionlineWeekly

With the role of the dice, Colorado recently became the first state in the nation to conduct a post-election risk-limiting audit (RLA). It’s taken a while to get this point — the legislation requiring RLAs was first approved in 2009, but Secretary of State Wayne Williams said the result was worth the wait. “We’ve been preparing for this for a number of years,” Williams said noting the need to promulgate the rules for the audit, for new voting systems and training at the state and county level. “It required a lot of work and effort from my office and the county clerks and they all came through fabulously. I was thrilled with the success. The fact that every single county passed, I think gives everyone a very high level of assurance of elections in Colorado.” Williams said it’s important to note that Colorado didn’t begin the RLA process in response to recent concerns about the accuracy of elections, but it is very timely because of concerns being raised.

Full Article: electionlineWeekly.

Voting Blogs: Texas Voter ID Laws and Hurricane Harvey Join in Election Maelstrom | State of Elections

Hurricane Harvey made landfall as a category four hurricane on the South Texas coast on August 25, 2017. Harvey was the first major hurricane to make landfall in the continental United States since Hurricane Wilma made landfall in 2005. The storm stalled over Texas through the next several days, dropping 51.88 inches and 27 trillion gallons of rain over parts of Houston, the state’s most populated city, and causing nearly $200 billion in damages spread from Rockport in South Texas to Beaumont near the Louisiana border. As those affected by the storm struggle to piece their homes, their livelihoods, and their families back together, one could not fault them for not thinking about how Harvey might affect their ability to vote in the upcoming November 2017 statewide elections (which mainly concern proposed amendments to the state constitution) or the 2018 statewide elections.

Full Article: Texas Voter ID Laws and Hurricane Harvey Join in Election Maelstrom - State of Elections.

Voting Blogs: Ballot Ordering: A Recurrent Controversy in Virginia? | State of Elections

In at least the two most recent “big” elections in Virginia, the 2016 Presidential race, and the 2017 race for Governor, there has been some controversy over the method used to decide which order candidates appear on the ballot. In March 2017, the Corey Stewart campaign issued a press release accusing Ed Gillespie’s campaign of “manipulating the Virginia Board of Elections in a last-ditch, rule-breaking effort to have Ed’s name placed at the top of the [primary] ballot.” Virginia law provides that ballot order for primaries is determined by the time that a candidate files for the office, on a first come first served basis. If candidates file simultaneously, ballot order is determined by lottery. The Stewart campaign went so far as to camp out in front of the Board of Elections offices the night before in order to be first, but alleged that Gillespie’s campaign was pressuring the Board to consider their filings simultaneous.

Full Article: Ballot Ordering: A Recurrent Controversy in Virginia? - State of Elections.

Voting Blogs: 20th Century Law Can’t Regulate 21st Century Technology | Ciara Torres-Spelliscy/Brennan Center for Justice

Unless you’ve been residing in a cave for the past 12 months or so, it is overwhelmingly evident Russia tried to covertly manipulate the 2016 election. The latest to announce that they were unwitting participants in this campaign is Google, which revealed Monday that the Russians had surreptitiously spent tens of thousands of dollars in ads on YouTube, Gmail, and ads associated with Google search. This effort has not only drawn the attention of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, but both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, who reportedly will hold hearings November 1. Of all the online providers involved in this affair, none have come in for as much criticism as Facebook. Two days after Trump’s election, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told a crowd at a tech conference at the Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay, Ca.,  “the idea that fake news on Facebook…influenced the election in any way is a pretty crazy idea.”

Full Article: 20th Century Law Can’t Regulate 21st Century Technology | Brennan Center for Justice.

Voting Blogs: Challenges to Better Security in U.S. Elections: The Last Mile | Brian Hancock/EAC Blog

Every election has a set of outcomes. Usually it’s winners and losers, but occasionally – and perhaps not coincidentally in presidential elections – there are also outcomes that shape our perceptions about the fairness and efficacy of our elections. In 2000, it was the hanging chad and the role of the Electoral College. In 2012, it was long lines. And in 2016, it was cybersecurity. Once an issue is introduced into the election ecosphere, it often remains a permanent and recurring part of the landscape. For example, a recent Google search of the words “cybersecurity elections” produced over 12 million hits. And at nearly every election-related forum I’ve attended during the past year, cybersecurity was a key topic of discussion. The 2016 election elevated the profile of election security issues and demonstrated a need for state and local election officials not only to reassess their readiness, but to educate the public about this important work and the role it plays in securing elections.

Full Article: Challenges to Better Security in U.S. Elections: The Last Mile | US Election Assistance Commission.

Voting Blogs: Stars not aligned for new Travis County, Texas voting system | electionlineWeekly

The best laid plans of mice, men and elections officials often go awry and that’s exactly what happened to 12 years of studying and planning for Travis County, Texas Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir. Long before anyone ever thought to mention Russians and elections in the same breath, Travis County began looking for a way to improve the security of the county’s voting system and provide a verifiable paper trail. DeBeauvoir was upset that activists were attacking elections administrators for the design of voting systems and the purchase of DRE voting systems that did not have a paper trail.

Full Article: electionlineWeekly.

Voting Blogs: Helping to build a voting time estimator | Kurt Sampsel/electionlineWeekly

Everyone in the election field knows how important it is to minimize waits at the polls, and in recent years, we’ve seen big advances in using data to help predict and avoid polling place stress. But while there’s a lot of research on overall wait times, there’s little data out there that addresses one critical piece of the puzzle: the amount of time it takes to vote a ballot. For that reason, the Center for Technology and Civic Life is working with software developer Mark Pelczarski to build a tool that will estimate how long it will take voters to mark a ballot based on its contents. Once it’s ready, the tool will be available for free in the Election Toolkit.

Full Article: electionlineWeekly.

Voting Blogs: Pence-Kobach, the First Day of Hearings, and the Von Spakovsky Affair | More Soft Money Hard Law

The Pence-Kobach Commission just conducted its first public hearing, and its leadership may have hoped to use the occasion to recover a degree of credibility or measure of respectability for its operations. If that was the plan, it did not work out well. The Vice Chair Kobach started the day in retreat from claims, published the Friday before, about illegal voting in the last New Hampshire Senate election. This is the latest example of his utter disregard of the facts and appetite for sweeping, false claims that have been enough to disqualify him as a serious participant in the national discussion of voting rights.It certainly makes a mockery of his leadership of a presidential Commission supposedly conducting an impartial inquiry into the risks of illegal voting. Then the Campaign Legal Center released an informative email that it obtained by FOIA request to the Department of Justice for materials relating allegations of voting fraud in the 2016 election.

Full Article: Pence-Kobach, the First Day of Hearings, and the Von Spakovsky Affair -.

Voting Blogs: Modernizing voting system guidelines and testing | Center for Civic Design

If you have ever looked at the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG), you might be overcome by the sheer size of the document and the level of detail included. If your state requires federal certification for the voting systems you use, the VVSG 1.0 (2005) or 1.1 (2015) are the specifications used to test the voting systems against. We all learned a lot from the process of creating and refreshing the VVSG over the years. In the meantime, so much has changed. The technology has changed, the market of voting technology has changed, laws have changed — elections have changed. We all learned a lot from the process of creating and refreshing the VVSG over the years. In the meantime, so much has changed. The technology has changed, the market of voting technology has changed, laws have changed — elections have changed. On September 12, 2017, the Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC), a committee formed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), adopted a new version of the VVSG, which they’re affectionately calling VVSG 2.0.

Full Article: Modernizing voting system guidelines and testing | Center for civic design.