The Voting News Weekly

The Voting News Weekly: The Voting News Weekly for May 14-20 2018

The Associated Press posted a widely published article raising concern that “an estimated 1 in 5 Americans will be casting their ballots on machines that do not produce a paper record of their votes.” While many election official defend the accuracy of direct recording electronic voting machines, there is a growing consensus that such machines should be replaced with machines that use voter marked paper ballots. The obstacle to replacing them is cost and the recent authorization of the remaining $380 million in HAVA funds, while welcome, is insufficient to upgrade to paper ballot systems nationwide.

The Tampa Bay Times reports that Florida election supervisors have echoed complaints of election officials in many states that have not yet received any of the federal election security funding Congress sent states nearly two months ago. “We sure wish the money was available. It’s frustrating,” said supervisor Mark Earley in Tallahassee’s Leon County. “This is a big deal. There’s certainly room for improvement, especially in smaller counties.”

In a clear rebuke to Mr. Trump’s most ardent supporters in the Republican Party and in the right-wing news media, Republican Senator Richard M. Burr of North Carolina, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a statement that he saw “no reason to dispute” the intelligence assessment that the Russian government tried to help Donald Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton by meddling in the 2016 election.

Experts and political leaders expressed concerns over the administration’s decision to eliminate the White House’s top cyber policy role, a key position created during the Obama presidency to harmonize the government’s overall approach to cybersecurity policy and digital warfare. “It’s frankly mindboggling that the Trump Administration has eliminated the top White House official responsible for a whole-of-government cyber strategy, at a time when the cyber threat to our nation is greater than ever,” says senator Mark Warner (D – Virginia), the ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, in a statement.

The primary day cyberattack on the Knox County Tennessee election website has underscored the vulnerability of county level IT infrastructure. “Any web server by definition, is connected to the internet, so it’s directly vulnerable to attacks from the internet,” said Doug Jones, an elections cyber security expert at the University of Iowa. Elections websites can be especially vulnerable targets in voting districts that are more rural than Knox County, Jones says, because those counties often don’t have the resources to adequately monitor and secure their sites.

After a federal judge demanded that Texas officials detail how they will begin complying with the National Voter Registration Act, a decades-old federal law that aims to make it easier for people to register to vote, the state has made little efforts to comply. In a new filing the state’s legal adversaries have described the state’s actions as “bad faith foot-dragging.”

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) and Secretary of State Kim Wyman (R) announced that the state would pay the postage for all ballots in the 2018 general and primary elections. Officials said they hope that paying the postage will eliminate a barrier and make it easier for people to vote. Washington, Oregon and Colorado are the only three states that conduct all their elections by mail, but Washington will be the first state to pay for postage among them.

An international commission has formed to try to end meddling in elections in Western democratic nations by Russia and other autocratic countries. The Transatlantic Commission on Election Integrity (TCEI), will be co-chaired by former NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and former U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and will include former Vice President Joe Biden.

Burundians voted in a referendum that could keep the president in power until 2034 and threatens to prolong a political crisis that has seen more than 1,000 people killed and hundreds of thousands fleeing to neighboring countries.

In the face of international condemnation and allegations of vote buying and electoral fraud, Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro has claimed a second six-year term after an election in which credible opponents had forced off the ballot.Henri Falcón, Maduro’s nearest rival, claimed widespread vote buying and electoral irregularities meant the election was “illegitimate”. “We do not recogonize this electoral process as valid,” he told reporters. “As far as we are concerned there has been no election. There must be new elections in Venezuela.”

The Voting News Weekly: The Voting News Weekly for May 7-13 2018

A report from the Senate Intelligence Committee concluded that Russia was preparing to undermine confidence in the United States’ voting process when its hackers surveilled around 20 state election systems in the run-up to the 2016 elections. The report drew attention the lack of oversight of the cybersecurity practices of election technology vendors. As CyberScoop observes “[g]overnment agencies are not allowed to enter and defend private computer networks unless they’re given direct consent, which in turn limits the defensive support options immediately available to the election technology industry.”

NPR posted an extensive investigation into the continuing vulnerability of America’s elections infrastructure. At a meeting of election directors and secretaries of state at Harvard this Spring, cybersecurity expert Bruce Schneier laid out the problem, “[c]omputers are basically insecure. Voting systems are not magical in any way. They are computers. … This is the problem we always have in computer security — basically nobody has ever built a secure computer. … I want to build a robust system that is secure despite the fact that computers have vulnerabilities, rather than pretend that they don’t because no one has found them yet. And people will find them — whether it’s nation-states or teenagers on a weekend.”


The Department of Homeland Security has completed security reviews of election systems in only about half the states that have requested them so far. The government’s slow pace in conducting the reviews has raised concerns that the nation’s voting systems could be vulnerable to hacking.

In an oped in the Charleston Gazette-Mail, Audrey Malagon argues that West Virginia’s plans to allow internet voting for military voters puts their votes at risk. “Blockchain technology addresses only part of the security process currently used by those administering U.S. elections. It’s like installing a high-tech lock and alarm system in your home, and then leaving a front door key and the alarm pass code under the doormat. The alarm system may work perfectly, but until the keys and pass codes are also secure, your home won’t be secure, either.”

According to documents obtained by the Anchorage Daily News through a public records request, a hacker gained unauthorized access in 2016 to the server that hosts Alaska’s public elections website. The incident drew the attention of federal law enforcement but had not been publicly revealed by Alaska election officials.

The Washington Post lauded Colorado’s effort to secure their voting system through risk limiting audits. “In Colorado, even if something happens, I don’t have to worry about it because there’s a process in place,” said Marian Schneider, president of the nonprofit organization Verified Voting. “It’s almost like a disaster recovery plan for elections — that if a disaster were to befall the vote count, we could recover from it.”

Following a similar (successful) legal effort in New York, an expedited lawsuit argues that Ohio counties violate federal law when they destroy ballot images shortly after election.“You may have the original ballot, but that’s not what the machine counted: it counted the picture,” John Brakey, director of AUDIT-USA, a nonpartisan advocacy group involved in the Ohio case, told WhoWhatWhy. “How can you destroy the evidence that you used to count the votes?”

Cyber-security experts hired by Knox County Tennessee to analyze the denial of service cyberattack on election night, found evidence of a “malicious intrusion” into the county’s elections website from a computer in Ukraine during a concerted cyberattack, which likely caused the site to crash just as it was reporting vote totals in this month’s primary. They noted “a suspiciously large number of foreign countries” accessed the site as votes were being reported on May 1.

Amid fears of overseas organizations taking advantage of loopholes in campaign funding laws to target voters before polling day, Google has banned all as relating to the Irish abortion referendum from its platform. The decision will mean an end to advertisements relating to the referendum appearing alongside Google results and on YouTube in the last two weeks of the campaign.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court ruled that it is impossible to incorporate an electronic voting system for the upcoming general elections in the country. The justices stressed that an experimental phase to test the system was necessary, to which the counsel for PTI suggested that the top court seek a written report from the concerned authorities.

The Voting News Weekly: The Voting News Weekly for April 30 – May 6 2018

CSO posted an extensive investigation that asked the question “Online voting is impossible to secure. So why are some governments using it?” The article features University of Melbourne researcher and Verified Voting Advisory Board member Vanessa Teague.

AdAge reported that at CampaignTech East, a two-day conference in Washington, D.C., the consensus among technology professional was that “tech-enabled shenanigans—whether masterminded by Vladimir Putin and friends or other bad hombres—are only going to further infect the U.S. political system.”

In a Salon oped, Aaron Sankin asked why so many states continue to send sensitive voter data through Crosscheck, a system with serious cybersecurity vulnerabilities that has the potential of opening up millions of American citizens to identity theft.

By a 6-1 vote, the Arkansas’ Supreme Court put on hold a lower court decision that had blocked implementation of the state’s voter identification law and declared the measure unconstitutional.

The Coalition for Good Governance is asking a district court for a preliminary injunction to stop Secretary of State Brian Kemp from using Georgia’s current Diebold AccuVote TSX voting system in the November elections. The complaint asserted that there is an “incompatibility between the functioning of the current electronic voting system and the voters’ right to cast a secret ballot and have that vote accurately counted.”

A New York appeals court has ruled that scanned images of election ballots are subject to the state’s Freedom of Information Law. In making the ruling, the court analyzed the impact of the state’s optical scan voting system and determined that the images generated by the scanners contain no information that would reveal the voter’s identity.

In an oped in the Philadelphia Inquirer, David Hickton & Paul McNulty call on members of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Pennsylvania’s Election Security “to make an honest assessment of Pennsylvania’s election security architecture, to diagnose and discuss its strengths and weaknesses, and to plan for a better, more secure future.”

Officials in Knox County Tennessee is dealing with the aftermath of a cyberattack, with the county’s mayor is calling for an investigation. As polls were closing for the colunty’s primary races for the mayoral election, the county’s website displaying the results crashed. The page was down for about an hour starting around 8 p.m. before officials were able to restore it.

Iraq plans to use a new electronic system in next month’s national elections that the election commission maintains will limit fraud and allow for the announcement of results within hours of polls closing. But officials in Kurdistan were quick to point out the new vulnerabilities posed by software based vote counting. “This technology can be used in the interest of one party or more. There is a possibility that some people would devote the votes from one party to another when they electronically send it to the main server in Baghdad because those who are on the server are not neutral or independent people. Thus, the result of the elections can be changed easily,” said the head of the Kurdistan Election Commission.

A trial of voter ID has seen people in England turned away from polling booths for the first time for not carrying the necessary documents, with other issues reported including abuse of voting staff and some confusion over what evidence needed to be shown.

The Voting News Weekly: The Voting News Weekly for April 23-29

Department of Homeland Security official Jeanette Manfra defended the agency’s work to help secure voting systems before midterm elections. DHS has “adopted an aggressive posture” to help state officials secure their voting infrastructure and will do all it can ahead of Election Day, Questioning the DHS assessment that 21 states had been targeted by Russian hackers prior to the 2016 election, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) pointed out that number reflects only the number of states that had sensors or tools in place to capture the scanning activity. Manfra largely agreed with that interpretation. DHS will use the $26 million in additional election-security funding provided by the March omnibus to increase vulnerability assessments and other services it offers states.

Despite these efforts and newly appropriated funds provided by Congress to states for election security, the US remains vulnerable to attack and election interference according to an editorial in The Washington Post. “[M]ost states are using electronic voting machines that are at least a decade old, many running antiquated software that may not be regularly updated for new security threats. Though most states recognize that they must replace obsolete machines, not much has changed since 2016.”

Signatories of an open letter to election officials in all 50 states include subject matter experts from think tanks and universities, former state election officials and former federal government officials. State and local election officials have been deliberating over how to make the best use of a $380 million election improvement fund that Congress included in an omnibus spending bill last month.

An Arkansas judge blocked a voter ID law that’s nearly identical to a measure the state’s highest court found unconstitutional about four years ago. State lawyers immediately appealed the decision citing the fact that early for primary election begins in less than two weeks. Meanwhile, a Texas voter ID law considered one of the strictest in the country will stay in effect for the 2018 elections after an appeals court upheld the law.

An 188 member panel was appointed by Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp to review options for the state’s voting system, including hand-marked paper ballots and electronic machines with a voter-verified paper trail.

Following a mandate from Governor Tom Wolf that all Pennsylvania counties upgrade their election equipment by the end of next year, a voting equipment demonstration at the state Farm Show complex this week offered election officials and the public to view new equipment from ClearBallot, Dominion Voting Systems, Election Systems & Software, Hart Intercivic, and Unisyn Voting Solutions. How counties will pay for the new equipment has not been resolved.

A federal lawsuit challenging the inability of residents of Guam and other U.S. territories to vote for president has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2016 when a federal judge ruled that former Illinois residents who live in the territories do not have the right to cast absentee ballots in Illinois. There is no fundamental right to vote in the territories, the judge stated, citing U.S. Supreme Court decisions called the “Insular Cases.” The Insular Cases state constitutional rights do not necessarily apply to places under U.S. control.

Dog sleds carried some ballots to polling stations for Greenland’s election on Tuesday, in which economic issues and independence from Denmark were among the most pressing issues for Greenland’s 54,000 residents in the election.

Campaigning for Malaysia’s May 9 general election began on Saturday, pitting Prime Minister Najib Razak against his former mentor Mahathir Mohamad in a contest marred by claims of sabotage and a skewed electoral system.

The Voting News Weekly: The Voting News Weekly for April 16-22

Sue Halpern contributed a wide ranging essay to The New Yorker examining the vulnerability of America’s voting systems. Happern noted that “the Election Assistance Commission, the bipartisan federal agency that certifies the integrity of voting machines, and that will now be tasked with administering Congress’s three hundred and eighty million dollars, was itself hacked.” While acknowledging the recent appropriation of $380 million by Congress to assist states in stregthening voting system security she concludes that “[w]ithout a commitment from the federal government, the states, and counties to do whatever is necessary to establish and maintain secure elections, our greatest strength as a nation, the regular accounting of the vox populi, will remain susceptible to abuse, subversion, and other dark arts.”

Harvard Fellow and Verified Voting Advisory Board member Bruce Schneier raised similar concerns in an oped posted in The Guardian. Schneier observed that “[i]t shouldn’t be any surprise that voting equipment, including voting machines, voter registration databases, and vote tabulation systems, are that hackable. They’re computers – often ancient computers running operating systems no longer supported by the manufacturers – and they don’t have any magical security technology that the rest of the industry isn’t privy to. If anything, they’re less secure than the computers we generally use, because their manufacturers hide any flaws behind the proprietary nature of their equipment.”

State election officials c\gathered at an EAC public forum echoed the assessment that the Congressional funding, while welcome, was not sufficient to allow states to adequately address security vulnerabilities. Cook County Illinois election director Noah Praetz commented “[e]lections officials deploy a variety of network-connected digital services such as informational websites, poll books, voter registration systems and unofficial elections results displays that are all ripe targets for adversaries, if we fail to get experts into local offices to shore up our defenses, then we will regret it.”

The Democratic National Committee has filed a lawsuit against the Russian government, the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks, alleging a widespread conspiracy to help swing the 2016 US presidential election. Saying the DNC was “protecting our democracy” DNC Chairman Tom Perez defended the decision to sue. “During the 2016 presidential campaign, Russia launched an all-out assault on our democracy, and it found a willing and active partner in Donald Trump’s campaign,” DNC chairman Tom Perez said in a statement.

At a Georgia Tech demonstration this week, University of Michigan computer scientist and Verified Voting Advisory Board member Alex Halderman demonstrated how to rig an election by infecting voting machines with malware that guaranteed a chosen candidate would always win. “Voting is not as safe as it needs to be,” said Halderman. “The safest technology is to have voters vote on a piece of paper … [a]ny technology can be hacked, but hand-marked paper ballots provide a way to recount and audit elections to ensure they delivered fair results.”

A federal judge ruled that Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach violated a court order that required his office to inform certain people that they were eligible to cast a ballot while a lawsuit challenging a state law requiring proof of U.S. citizenship worked its way through the courts. Kobach announced plans to appeal the ruling and the American Civil Liberties Union responded by submitting an ethics complaint against Kansas’ chief election officer.

Maine’s highest court ruled that a law that moves Maine’s primary elections to a ranked-choice voting system should stand for the pending primary elections in June. the court had taken up the case based on a complaint from the Maine Senate, which argued that the state’s top election official, Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, did not have the constitutional authority to spend money on a ranked-choice election without specific direction to do so from the Legislature.

The League of Women Voters led a group of voting advocacy organizations in filing a federal lawsuit against the state of Missouri for not following federal voter laws. The lawsuit accuses the state of not automatically updating voter registration after address changes and not providing required registration information to some voters. \

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced plans to restore voting rights to about 35,000 New York felons on parole who previously were barred from casting a ballot until they completed their parole. Cuomo will issue an executive order to restore voting rights to those felons already on parole as well as those who enter the parole system each month, a spokesman said.

After IT experts objected to e-voting software prepared by National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) to enable overseas Pakistanis to cast their votes in the forthcoming elections, a committee was formed to conduct a technical audit of the proposed system. Taha Ali from the National University of Sciences and Technology expressing his concerns over the voting software, observed that “[i]t’s not difficult to hack an e-voting system. Even if it is not hacked, stealing data is not a big deal. Different countries, including the United States, Australia and Norway, tried such software only to withdrew them later.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called snap elections, bringing forward parliamentary and presidential elections to June 24, almost 17 months earlier than scheduled. Scrambling to prepare foir the surprise decision, the nationalist Iyi (Good) Party founded by a popular former interior minister will be allowed to run in snap June elections, authorities ruled on Sunday, after 15 parliamentarians from the main opposition switched parties to bolster its ranks.

The Voting News Weekly: The Voting News Weekly for April 9-15 2018

Colorado and Texas carried out tests this week to see how election officials respond when cyberattacks hit. The program, running for the sixth time, involves three days of simulations. Seven states are taking part, according to Jeanette Manfra, assistant secretary of Homeland Security.

The US Copyright Office held a hearing on expanding the exemptions to Section 1201 of the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to allow “white hat” hacking of voting systems. Such exemptions allow hackers the ability to research the security of consumer devices, such as cell phones, tablets, smart appliances, connected cars and medical devices. At the hearing, security experts and voting system vendors voiced their disagreements about the value of expanding those exemptions to a broader array of technology, including voting machines, to allow researchers the ability to test for vulnerabilities and report them without fear of legal retribution.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg faced two days of grilling on Capitol Hill, facing sharp questions about the tech giant’s ability to track its users’ movements, shopping habits and browsing histories. Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, reading questions from her constituents at a hearing of the House energy and commerce committee, asked Zuckerberg whether his data was “included in the data sold to the malicious third parties”. After a brief hesitation, the Facebook CEO replied: “Yes.”

At Medium, Kai Stinchcombe questioned the ultimate value of blockchain technology, including it’s purported potential use in internet voting systems. “Keep your voting records in a tamper-proof repository not owned by anyone” sounds right” , Stincombe observes, “yet is your Afghan villager going to download the blockchain from a broadcast node and decrypt the Merkle root from his Linux command line to independently verify that his vote has been counted?”

After legislative efforts to replace Georgia’s aging touchscreen voting machines stalled, Secretary of State Brian Kemp announced the formation of a bipartisan commission of lawmakers, political party leaders, election officials and voters to recommend a new voting system for the state. The group will review options for the state’s voting system, including voter marked paper ballot systems and DREs with a voter-verified paper trail. A primarily paper-based system would cost $35 million or more, while a touchscreen-and-paper system could cost well over $100 million.

A series of legal challenges and disputes in the state legislature over the implementation of ranked choice voting have clouded preparations for Maine’s June 12 primaries. The primary will be the first statewide elections in the nation to use the system, which was approved by voters in a 2016 referendum. In a last minute legal effort by state senators to delay implementation, the state’s supreme court justices seemed skeptical about arguments against implementation.

The Ohio Senate voted 32-1 to provide $114.5 million for the replacement of voting machines across the state. Counties will choose from a list of certified voting equipment. They initially would get a payment of between $205,000 and $406,000 to help with start-up costs. The rest of the money would be given to counties on a per-voter basis. And $10 million would be set aside to pay counties that have bought new voting machines since 2014.

Pennsylvania’s Department of State has announced that all counties will be required to have a voting system that creates a paper trail for each individual ballot that is cast before the 2020 elections. The state will receive $14.2 million from the federal government in newly appropriated HAVA funds, and the Secretary of State is relying on the state legislature to provide further financial help to the counties.

It is the first election since joining NATO, Montenegrins voted in a presidential election Sunday that is expected to be won by former Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic. The election is a test for Djukanovic, who favors European integration over closer ties to its traditional ally, Moscow.

IT experts in Pakistan raised objections over an e-voting software prepared by National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) to enable overseas Pakistanis to cast their votes in the forthcoming elections.

The Voting News Weekly: The Voting News Weekly for April 2-8 2018

Verified Voting Technology Fellow Alex Halderman teamed up with the New York Times to demonstrate the vulnerability of direct recording electronic voting machines in a powerful video. McClatchy reflected on the decade-long process that left the nation with over a dozen states continuing to use these voting machines that have been repeatedly demonstrated to be vulnerable to hacking and software error.

17 States, 7 Cities and the U.S. Conference of Mayors have filed a a lawsuit against the Census Bureau and Commerce Department to seeking to remove a new citizenship question from the 2020 census questionnaire. The lawsuit argues that adding the citizenship demand to the 2020 census questionnaire was arbitrary and will “fatally undermine the accuracy of the population count.”

Gov. Rick Scott and the state’s three Cabinet members are appealing a federal judge’s ruling that they must overhaul Florida’s system for restoring felons’ voting rights and come up with a remedy by April 26. According to the Tampa Bay Times “the state’s appeal all but ensures that a new restoration system won’t be in place by the November election, when Scott, Putnam and Patronis are all expected to be on the ballot. An estimated 1.5 million Floridians have been permanently disenfranchised because of felony convictions.”

The Portland Press-Herald reports that “[a] last-minute attempt by Maine lawmakers to resolve some of the issues surrounding ranked-choice voting failed Thursday, leaving it up to the courts to decide the fate of the first-in-the-nation system. A 17-17 vote on a joint order in the Maine Senate scuttled attempts by Democrats to resolve concerns that Republicans had raised about the ballot-box law adopted in a statewide referendum with 52 percent of the vote in 2016.”

For the eighth year running Nebraska’s unicameral legislature defeated a proposal to require phot identification at the polls. Stripped of the id requirement, the bill that passed included provisions for the use of electronic pollbooks.

A Federal judge has granted summary judgment to a group of voters who argued that the voter registration measures of Texas’ online driver’s license registration system are unconstitutional under “motor voter” provisions of the 1993 National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). The Texas Civil Rights Project filed suit in 2016 on behalf of four Texans who said they were denied the opportunity to cast a ballot because their voter registration had not been updated.

Statescoop posted a revealing article profiling the venture capitalist who is paying for West Virginia to offer a small group of voters the ability to cast their ballots over the internet, using software that runs on blockchain. University of South Carolina computer scientist warns that this project is yet another “instance of faith-based voting,” which transfers authority from government elections officials to software firms with proprietary code. Buell continued “[a] vote without a paper trail also makes it difficult to challenge potentially corrupted ballots, or for voters accused of corruption to defend themselves. And a successful hack could potentially influence thousands of ballots in an instant.”

South Korea’s government has officially distanced itself from a firm providing electronic voting machines to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where tensions are running high ahead of a presidential poll in December. A South Korea firm called Miru Systems Co Ltd is providing the machines for the December 23 poll, which also combines legislative and local elections.

Mexican news site Nacion321 has reported last month that between September 2017 and the beginning of March, 58 political figures, including mayors, deputies, and candidates, were killed. Now Bishop Salvador Rangel, who has a record of reaching out to drug kingpins in hopes of curbing violence, has negotiated a deal with gangs of Mexican drug traffickers, who have agreed to end their murder spree targeting political candidates ahead of the July 1 elections.

The Voting News Weekly: The Voting News Weekly for March 26 – April 1 2018

Election officials and voting advocates alike welcome the appropriation of the remaining $380 million authorization from Help America Vote Act (HAVA) to help fund states’ efforts to enhance voting systems security. But, as WIRED wrote “[o]bservers note, though, that the HAVA money has crucial drawbacks and limitations. Both the spending bill and HAVA allow states to use the money for a broad range of election system-related projects, so there’s no guarantee it will go toward critical defense upgrades. And the way HAVA allocates money means not every state will wind up with enough to meet their need. “This is a great first step, but it’s not going to solve the problem,” said Verified Voting President Marian Schneider, “[j]ust the heightened awareness of what is the threat model and what are best practices for dealing with that threat model makes me hopeful and optimistic that those steps will be taken. But I would like to see the vulnerable systems replaced, and the clock is ticking. The farther we get into the year, the less likely it is. That’s just a reality.”

Verified Voting and Brennan Center released a report that consider the extent to which the new appropriations could help states to begin deploying paper ballots, post-election audits, and other essential cybersecurity improvements. The report concluded by urging Congress to  complete its work on the Secure Elections Act (SEA), a bipartisan bill that has been gaining momentum in the Senate. The SEA would establish cybersecurity guidelines, facilitate crucial information sharing, provide grants for states to fully replace DREs with paper ballots, and encourage states to implement robust statistical auditing.

In an editorial critical of administration efforts to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 Census questionaire, the New York Times explained that “[a]sking about citizenship would reduce responses from immigrant families, which are already less likely than others to answer government surveys and are terrified by President Trump’s anti-immigrant policies and statements.

U.S. District Judge Mark Walker in Tallahassee ordered Florida Gov. Rick Scott to dismantle Florida’s “fatally flawed” system of arbitrarily restoring voting rights to felons and to replace it by April 26. The court order was part of an injunction issued by Walker in favor of the Fair Elections Legal Network, which successfully sued Florida over the state’s system for restoring voting rights to convicted felons.

Acknowledging resistance from many voting advocates and organizations, including Verified Voting, the Georgia Senate declined to approve a bill that would have begun the process for replacing the state’s Diebold touchscreen voting machines. Language added to the House version of the bill would have allowed the tabulation of software generated barcodes rather than voters’ marks on paper ballots. Meanwhile, a bill was introduced in the Missouri Senate that would phase out the use of direct recording electronic machines in the state.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has abandoned an appeal of a special elections lawsuit challenging his decision to delay calling special elections in Wisconsin’s 1st Senate District and 42nd Assembly District. The seats — one in the state Senate and one in the Assembly — have been vacant since December, when Walker appointed the Republican incumbents to his administration. State law requires the Governor to call special elections to fill legislative vacancies that occur before May in regular election years, but Walker planned to leave the seats vacant until the November general election.

With his main rivals in jail or forced from the contest, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi headed for a landslide victory with 92 percent of the vote. The margin was hardly a surprisie in a race where he eliminated all serious opposition months ago. The New Yorker notes that President Trump has embraced Sisi and making no mention of the human rights abuses under his regime. “Under Sisi, the government has arrested at least sixty thousand people, handed down hundreds of preliminary death sentences, and tried thousands of civilians in military courts, according to human-rights groups. Torture, including beatings, electric shocks, stress positions, and sometimes rape, has been systematically employed.”

After the lifting of an interim injunction that had stalled preparations for Sierra Leone’s presidential run-off-election, the country’s Supreme Court has approved the election commission’s request to delay until today. The vote had been set for Tuesday but was delayed after a ruling party member filed a court challenge alleging irregularities in the first round and a temporary injunction was issued, stalling preparations. It was lifted early this week and the election commission asked for a few more days to prepare.

The Voting News Weekly: The Voting News Weekly for March 19-25 2018

Congress has included $380 million to address elections and cybersecurity in a massive omnibus funding bill passed this week. The funds had been originally authorized in the Help America Vote Act of 2002 but had not been appropriated until now. The bill priorities the replacement of aging voting machines, with equipment that provides a paper trail and the conducting of post-election audits.

Earlier in the week the Senate Intelligence Committee released preliminary recommendations on election security, the first of several documents the committee will release on Russia’s meddling in the country’s elections. As pointed out in a Washington Post oped “[t]he committee concluded, therefore, that “states should rapidly replace outdated and vulnerable voting systems,” recommending machines with “a voter-verified paper trail and no WiFi capability.” States replaced many voting machines after the 2000 election controversy, a generation of systems that is showing its age. States should also begin conducting routine post-election audits designed to detect fraud.”

Verified Voting joined other voting advocates in criticizing amendments made to Georgia Senate Bill 403, which would replace the state’s direct recording electronic voting machines. As re-written, the bill would allows the state to by new DREs, albeit with paper trail printers. “It’s really important that Georgia gets this right,” said Marian Schneider, the president of the Verified Voting Foundation, a Philadelphia-based organization whose mission is to safeguard elections. ”The voting system that Georgia chooses has to have a voter-marked paper ballot that’s retained by the system and is available for recount and audit.”

The New York Times commented on the significance of the Kris Kobach’s trial in Kansas. The ACLU has challenged a 2013 state law that requires prospective voters to prove their citizenship before they can register. For two weeks Kobach and others have struggled to support their assertions that thousands of fradulant votes have been cast in Kansas elections. As the Times notes Kobach “has won plenty of converts, even though he has failed to identify more than a tiny handful of possible cases of fraud. In his eight years as secretary of state, he has secured a total of nine convictions, only one of which was for illegal voting by a noncitizen; most were for double-voting by older Republican men.”

Following a directive from the Michigan Secretary of State, the state will hand-count ballots for all precincts selected in the post-election audit, during this year’s May election and November general election. But the reforms don’t fully reassure Alex Halderman, a professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Michigan. He noted that under Michigan procedure, post-election audits occur after the results are already certified, rendering the practice moot when it comes to disputing a race outcome. “It severely limits the utility of an audit if you do it months after an election and creates more opportunity for pieces of paper to be lost or tampered with,” he said.

According to a release issued by the organization Equally American, the fact that U.S. citizens living U.S. territory being denied the right to vote for president of the United States is not just morally wrong, it is a violation of international law.  A case brought by former Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Rosselló before the Organization of American States Inter-American Commission on Human Rights argues that by denying U.S. citizens in the territories voting representation in the federal government, the United States is violating its international law obligations under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, and other international agreements.

A judge ruled that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker must call special elections to fill two vacant seats in the Legislature. Walker had declined to call those elections after two GOP lawmakers stepped down to join his administration in December, choosing instead to leave the seats vacant until the next general election.

According to reports this week Cambridge Analytica and its parent company, Strategic Communications Laboratories (SCL), have worked in more than 200 elections across the world, including Nigeria, Kenya, the Czech Republic, India and Argentina. The right-leaning digital marketing firm targets voters with propaganda to influence their voting decisions.

The Washington Post reported on their investigation into election administration the Russiuan Presidential election. According to the Post, “[o]n the basis of data about poll workers that we collected and analyzed, a number of reasons exist to be doubtful that Russia’s election commissions were balanced and unbiased. We spent several months monitoring the composition of precinct commissions before the 2018 election. We used official data disclosed by the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation.


The Voting News Weekly: The Voting News Weekly for March 12-18 2018

Cyberscoop reported on the move many states and counties are making to paper ballot voting systems. Verified Voting president Marian Schneider is quoted emphasizing “the ability to recover,” from hacking malfunction. “When you talk about voting systems, the way you have the ability to recover is that you have a voter-marked paper ballot, and you have a human process that checks that paper ballot against the software-driven process.”  of the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage takes a valuable international perspective in dvocating the importance of pre-election planning nd non-partisanship in countering election interference.

Duncan Buell, Richard DeMillo and Candice Hoke posted an extensive op-ed in USA Today recommending  rapid conversion from “paperless touch-screen voting machines to paper ballots, and upgrade states’ and counties’ verification practices to conduct public post-election ballot audits before local election boards certify the 2018 elections.”

An Arkansas judge is weighing whether to block enforcement of a voter ID law that’s nearly identical to a measure struck down by the state’s highest court about four years ago. Judge Alice Gray didn’t say when she would rule on a request to block the law’s enforcement in Arkansas’ May 22 primary.

The Georgia House Governmental Affairs Committee approved a bill that would replace the state’s 16-year-old electronic voting machines with a system that provides a paper backup. While many of the bill’s supporters suggest that the legislation would require paper ballots, voting advocates are concern that language in the bill could allow equipment that counted barcodes rather than marks made by voters. Verified Voting president Marian Schneider said the legislation needs to be clarified to ensure that “human readable ballots” — not bar codes — are the official ballot. The current version of the bill could be interpreted as saying that the bar codes are official because they’re part of the paper ballot. “A bar code is insecure because it’s generated by software,” Schneider said. “A software-created process can be altered by software. Those software-generated items should not control in the case of a discrepancy.”

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced he will appoint members to a long-delayed new State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement, allowing the board, which has staff but no appointed board, to clear a backlog of work ahead of this year’s elections. Cooper will continue to fight the Republican-mandated changes to the board in court.

Conor Lamb’s razor-thin margin of victory in this week special election has provoked calls for a recount. But, as Buzzfeed points out there is no way to do a meaningful recount of the voting equipment used in the 18t Congressional District. In a Reuters article election experts agreed that the election highlighted the importance of replacing Pennsylvania’s aging voting machines with paper ballots voting systems ahead November’s midterm elections.

With opposition calls to for a boycott of Egypt’s presidential election, The Washington Post considered the impact and effectiveness of election boycotts. And in another election in which the is not in doubt, Russians go to the polls today to elect Vladimir Putin to another six year term.

The Voting News Weekly: The Voting News Weekly for February 26 – March 4 2018

An NBC report asserting that the U.S. intelligence community developed substantial evidence that state websites or voter registration systems in seven states were compromised by Russian-backed covert operatives prior to the 2016 election was disputed by the Department of Homeland Security, saying NBC’s story was “factually inaccurate and misleading” and stood by its previous assessment, that just one state, Illinois, had its system breached. NBC stood by their reporting. Among the question that reman unanswered is whether in fact anyone can actually know with certainty if the systems were compromised.

Adm Mike Rogers, director of the National Security Agency and chief of US Cyber Command told lawmakers that he had not been directed by Donald Trump to disrupt Russian efforts to meddle in US elections, and that Vladimir Putin had come to the conclusion there was “little price to pay” for such actions. “I haven’t been granted any additional authorities, capacity, capability” Rogers said, “I need a policy decision that indicates there is specific direction to do that,” Rogers said.

In a lawsuit scheduled to begin on Tuesday, ACLU and the League of Women Voters will argue that between 2013 to 2016, more than 35,000 Kansans were blocked from registering because of Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s documentary proof-of-citizenship law. Courts have temporarily blocked Kobach from fully enforcing the Kansas law, with the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver calling it “a mass denial of a fundamental constitutional right.”

Ohio counties would get nearly $115 million in state money to replace aging voting machines in time for the 2019 election under a bill expected to pass the legislature this spring. Counties will be given a fixed amount of funding based on the number of registered voters to help with the startup costs associated with buying new machines.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. has given participants until Monday to file responses to a request by Pennsylvania Republican lawmakers to stay a state court ruling overturning the current congressional map and imposing a new one. Aside from the merits of the legal arguments, a key factor the U.S. Supreme Court and a panel of three district judges will have to take into account is if the attempt to block the new map comes too close to the May 15 primary election, or if the Pennsylvania Supreme Court produced the map too late to be used this year.

TheVirginia Supreme Court heard arguments in a case alleging that state lawmakers placed partisan politics over constitutional requirements in drawing 11 of the 100 districts for the House of Delegates. According to lawyers for the voters, the state legislature failed to keep compactness in mind when they drew the maps seven years ago as required by the state’s constitution.

The National Redistricting Foundation, which is led by former attorney general Eric Holder, sued Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to require to hold special elections in two vacant legislative districts. Last December, two Republican lawmakers stepped down from the legislature to join Walker’s administration and in a remarkable break from precedent, Walker announced at the time that he would not hold special elections in those districts, leaving 229,904 Wisconsinites without representation for almost a year.

Security concerns have once again forced the Finnish government to suspend plans to launch an internet voting system. A Ministry of Justice report identified certain problem areas, including difficulties in the reconciliation of verifiability and election secrecy. As regards verifiability, the eVWG said full confidence in a future system must be based on voters being able to ensure that ballots are counted as cast. Also, the voter should receive “proof” of the ballot cast.

New anti-electoral fraud procedures caused delays at some polling stations, as Italians headed to the polls today to vote in one of the most uncertain elections in years. At least one polling station in Rome voting had to be suspended due to the discovery of voting cards with the wrong candidates’ names printed on them and some polling stations remained closed in Palermo two hours into election day because the wrong ballots were delivered and 200,000 new ones had to be reprinted overnight.

The Voting News Weekly: The Voting News Weekly for February 19-25 2018

ProPublica reported on the high costs and cash-strapped budgets facing state and local election officials struggling to replace flawed and aging voting equipment. “Today’s voting systems are not going to last 70 years, they’re going to last 10,” says U.S. Elections Assistance Commission Commissioner Matt Masterson. “Election officials are low on the totem pole, budget-wise,” says Masterson. “A lot of times it’s you or a new gazebo or improvements to the local golf course.”

Masterson was in the news this when it was announced that at the behest of Republican House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan and the White House, he would be replaced at the end of his current term. The move was faced disappointment and criticism by many election officials and advocates. This is insanity,” said Joseph Lorenzo Hall, an election security expert who is the chief technologist at the Center for Democracy & Technology. “Matt is extremely capable and has been a champion of more secure and better elections the entire time he’s been on the EAC.”

Kim Zetter wrote an extensive article for the New York Times, which explores the routine claims that any voting software or equipment is invulnerable to hacking. As her article details, many critical election systems in the United States are poorly secured and protected against malicious attacks. The specific issue of voting machine modems is discussed in a post on the Freedom to Tinker blog by Andrew Appel.

With concern about election cybersecurity growing with every new turn in the investigation of Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election, there were several stories this week that highlighted the security vulnerabilities of internet voting. In an effort to improve the security of the state’s elections, the Alaska Division of Elections announced it will no longer a absentee voting through a web portal. Maryland faced criticism for their use of an online ballot marking system. In a Baltimore Sun article,George Washington University computer science professor Poorvi Vora warned that hackers could use the system to request multiple absentee ballots using multiple identities. And Switzerland’s plans to introduce e-voting nationwide were questioned by leading data protection experts who warned that current technology could not guarantee that ballots remain secret in votes and elections.

Voting system security has become a campaign issue in the Georgia gubernatorial race involving the current chief state election administrator. Ina disappointing development, a Tennessee Senate committee voted down a bill that would’ve required a paper receipt for all ballots cast in the state.

The Washington Post suggests that Sweden’s preemptive efforts to counter expected Russian election interference and cyber attacks could serve as a model for the US. “Russian espionage is still the biggest threat to Sweden,” the country’s head of counter-intelligence told an annual press briefing. “We see that Russia has an intention to influence individual issues that are of strategic importance. If these issues become central in the election campaign, we can expect attempts at Russian influence.”

The Voting News Weekly: The Voting News Weekly for February 12-18 2018

Thirteen Russians have been criminally charged for interfering in the 2016 US election to help Donald Trump, the office of Robert Mueller, the special counsel, announced on Friday. … The charges state that from as far back as 2014, the defendants conspired together to defraud the US by “impairing, obstructing, and defeating the lawful functions of government” through interference with the American political and electoral processes.”

“Even as it is consumed by political fallout from Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, Washington is still struggling to respond to what many officials see as an imminent national security threat: a network of voting systems alarmingly vulnerable to foreign attack. … Congress has so far balked at providing resources to upgrade voting systems, despite the urging of some of the nation’s most influential national security voices. Many states are too broke to take up the slack.”

In a Washington Post oped, Michael Chertoff and Grover Norquist warn that “[t]ime is running out. Lawmakers need to act immediately if we are to protect the 2018 and 2020 elections.” They call attention to legislation introduced by Mark Meadow (R-) that would authorize cost-sharing with states for the replacement of insecure electronic systems and lay the groundwork for states to regularly implement risk-limiting audits.

Without Federal assistance, many cash-strapped state and local budgets are being stretched to upgrade equipment. California Gov. Jerry Brown is proposing millions of dollars for an upgrade of old voting machines, long sought by counties. Capita Pubic Radio notes that the state’s “last major replacement of voting machines in the state occurred after the 2000 election, so many counties run servers on outdated operating systems no longer supported by Microsoft and use zip drives to transfer files.”

Ohio lawmakers are debating how much money to give counties to replace aging voting machines, but those funds aren’t expected to be part of the state capital budget. The Columbus Dispatch reports “that Secretary of State Husted’s $118 million figure is based on every county purchasing a paper-based system.” County elections boards estimated the cost of $210 million, that would allow counties the option of purchasing more expensive direct recording electronic (DRE) voting systems.

William & Mary Law School’s State of Elections, wrote about the ongoing uncertainty about straight-ticket voting in Michigan. In January 2016, Governor Rick Snyder signed into law a bill that eliminated Michigan’s straight-ticket voting option.The Eastern District of Michigan granted and the Sixth Circuit upheld a preliminary injunction blocking the law, on the basis of evidence that the elimination of straight-ticket voting disproportionately affected minority voters. Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson petitioned for but was not granted a stay, which would have allowed the law to be in effect for the 2016 election.

A month after North Carolina’s Governor Roy Cooper’s victory in a Supreme Court lawsuit seeking to nullify a GOP-backed restructuring of the State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement, legislative and legal battles continue and candidate filing began last week still without any seated elections and ethics board members.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf rejected a new district map drawn by GOP lawmakers, bringing the state closer to handing its redistricting process over to a court. The map was drawn after the state Supreme Court struck down the state’s current congressional map and gave Republican legislators until February 9th to send Mr Wolf a fairer map. However, the Economist observed that “the initial order said nothing about fixing the map’s skew toward Republican candidates, which has afforded their party a reliable 13-to-5 advantage in a state with more registered Democrats than Republicans.” The state Supreme Court will likely handle redrawing new congressional lines and it would have until Feb. 19 to draw the new map.

An AFP article reported that US Ambassador and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley told a Security Council informal meeting that the Democratic Republic of Congo Election Commission’s plan to use electronic voting for the first time this year posed “an enormous risk. These elections must be held by paper ballot so there is no question by the Congolese people about the result,” said Haley. “The US has no appetite to support an electronic voting system.

“Fourteen international and Egyptian rights groups, including Human Rights Watch and the International Commission of Jurists, condemned Egypt’s upcoming presidential elections, accusing the Sisi government of having “trampled over even the minimum requirements for free and fair elections” in his bid for a second term.”

The Voting News Weekly: The Voting News Weekly for February 5-11 2018

Jeanette Manfra, the head of cybersecurity at the DHS, told NBC News that Russia “successfully penetrated” the voter rolls in a small number of states in 2016. It’s unclear what Russians might have done with the access to Americans’ voter information, but election officials nevertheless continue to maintain that no evidence suggests that any of the registration rolls were changed. Access to registration databases could allow hackers to change or delete names or use voter information to target ads to individuals in contentious states.

Pam Fessler at NPR reported on a meeting of election officials organized by the Election Assistance Commission to develop strategies to protect the nation’s voting systems against cyber threats. “The reality is all of us are going to be impacted at some point in time by a cyber incident. All of us,” Matt Masterson, chairman of the EAC, told the group. Masterson displayed a news article about hackers targeting nuclear facilities to drive home the significance of the threat. “I share this because you’re now in good company,” he said. “As part of the nation’s critical infrastructure, you’re now in a group with nuclear facilities.”

In a Washington Post oped, Brian Klaas explored the vulnerabilities of American elections and concludes that “Congress and state legislatures must not make the same mistake. Twenty-first-century elections require a return to a 1st century B.C. technology: paper.”

Gizmodo reported the Sacramento Bee newspaper left more than 19 million voter records exposed online, which were compromised during an apparent ransomware attack. The Bee said in a statement that a firewall protecting its database was not restored during routine maintenance last month, leaving the 19,501,258 voter files publicly accessible.

Florida voting activists and lawmakers have objected to language inserted in an election bill that could allow the wider use of direct recording electronic voting equipment. French Brown, who represents Verified Voting, a nonprofit elections watchdog. “The language in section one of the bill broadly redefines the term ballot to include any voter interface used indirectly to designate the elector’s ballot selection onto a sheet of paper,” Brown said. “Verified Voting has concerns that allowing the full electorate to use these machines could negatively impact voter confidence and voting accuracy.”

The Supreme Court temporarily blocked a Stanford University law professor’s election districts for state General Assembly seats in Wake and Mecklenburg counties while leaving his maps in place in six other counties while lawmakers appeal a three-judge panel’s ruling. Coming a week before the filing period opens forGeneral Assembly candidates, the court’s ruling clarifies to some extent the district lines that will be used for state Senate and House seats this year.

Republicans, Democrats and a coalition of redistricting-reform advocates reached a deal to put a proposal on the May ballot aimed at curtailing partisan gerrymandering of Ohio’s congressional map. After weekend negotiations that capped off about two weeks of heavy talks, the Senate on Monday night voted 31-0 for the compromise plan. The House is likely to approve it Tuesday, one day ahead of the Feb. 7 deadline to qualify the issue for the May statewide ballot.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf as ordered counties buying new equipment to replace their electronic voting systems that leave a paper trail that can be used in a post-election audit. Verified Voting’s President Marian K. Schneider applauded the Governor’s decision, “the administration’s move to safeguard Pennsylvania elections by requiring counties to purchase these new voting systems will allow jurisdictions to detect any problems with the election outcome and recover from them. This is exactly why security experts recommend that voting machines are resilient. Pennsylvania’s actions reflect the understanding that our election infrastructure must be secure.”

Joshua Wong and two other leading Hong Kong democracy activists won an appeal against their jail terms at the city’s highest court Tuesday in a case seen as a test for the independence of the city’s judiciary, which some fear is under pressure from Beijing.

Egypt’s prosecutor-general has ordered an official investigation into a number of opposition politicians who are boycotting next month’s presidential election, as President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi looks set to extend his term. Several potential candidates have either been arrested or faced threats, intimidation and physical violence, forcing them to drop out.

The Voting News Weekly: The Voting News Weekly for January 29 – February 4 2018

In an NPR report on America’s aging voting machines, University of Michigan computer science professor and Verified Voting Board of Advisors member J. Alex Halderman was quoted “[i]f we do nothing, if we let the mechanics of voting continue to deteriorate, then I am 100 percent sure that we are going to be attacked again in the fullness of time, and it’s going to make 2016 look quaint by comparison.” e continued “I have in my office, sitting on my desk, a touchscreen computer voting machine of a type that’s still used in several states that my research group hacked ten years ago in order to make a silent vote-stealing attack.”

In an FCW article on the response from DHS to the cyberthreat to elections, another Verified Voting Advisory Board member Candice Hoke, who co-directs the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law’s Center for Cybersecurity and Privacy Protection, said that election systems themselves are at risk of digital interference. “We have large segments of the population voting on equipment that’s not secure,” Hoke said. “It’s poorly designed equipment for the modern age… Yet election systems are some of the most poorly funded governmental operations.”

Verified Voting President Marian K. Schneider wrote an oped for the York Dispatch highlighting problems that occurred in York County Pennsylvania last November that could have been avoided with the use of paper ballot voting systems.

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said the biggest threat to the state’s election system is old voting equipment. “Not only is it based on outdated technology, the bottom line is the machines are old,” Padilla said. “When they have to find replacement parts that are no longer made and they have to hunt for them on Ebay, that’s not a good thing… We’re kind of living on borrowed time.”

A federal judge has declared Florida’s procedure for restoring voting rights to felons who have served their time unconstitutional. In a rebuke of Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who is the lead defendant in the case, U.S. District Judge Mark Walker said the disenfranchisement of felons who have served their time is “nonsensical” and a violation of the First and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

The North Carolina Supreme Court as struck down a law that created a new ethics and elections board with an even split between political parties, and a lower court is expected to issue a more detailed order later this month. In the wake of the ruling, the North Carolina Republican Party withdrew nominations it made last April to the combined State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement.

William & Mary Law School’s State of Elections blog posted an article on Rhode Island’s new post election audit law. Rhode Island, like sixteen other states, does not presently have a statutory requirement to conduct post-election audits. But in September, the state legislature unanimously passed a bill through both chambers that would begin post-election audits in 2018 and mandate them in every county by 2020.

Wisconsin State Elections commissioners Wednesday edged closer to a showdown with Republican state senators over whether Elections Administrator Michael Haas should continue to lead the agency. Elections commissioners voted 4-2 not to take immediate action on the issue and revisit it at a March 2 meeting. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has said the commission’s move to retain Haas was unlawful and a Senate vote to reject his confirmation meant Haas is out of a job — creating a vacancy in the administrator position. 

A US congressional group has nominated Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow who led the 2014 Occupy protests for the Nobel Peace Prize. China’s foreign ministry criticized the nomination, which e characterized as “meddling in is county’s internal affairs”.
Marc Goodman, founder of the Future Crimes Institute and chairman of policy, law and ethics at Silicon Valley’s Singularity University, said the Philippine electoral system is vulnerable to cyberattack and the government may not be prepared for it. He warned that governments around the world, particularly the Philippines, were woefully unprepared for threats brought by the automation.

The Voting News Weekly: The Voting News Weekly for January 22 -28 2018

The ranking member of theHouse intelligence committee Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) has warned that the threat of foreign interference is being dangerously downplayed by President Trump, and fears that many states are not ready to combat potential hacking during the 2018 elections. He specifically called on states to abandon voting equipment that does not provide a software-independent record of the vote arguing that “[a]fter what we saw in the last election, it’s malpractice for any Secretary of State to not have a paper trail.”

With the Supreme Court set to on at least three redistricting cases, the Atlantic posted an extensive piece considering the future of partisan gerrymandering. While courts have sometimes invalidated gerrymandered districts on the basis of racial bias, they have been reluctant to weigh on gerrymandering for partisan advantage. This may change with challenges in Pennsylvania, Texas, North Carolina and Maryland.

Former felons could have their Florida voting rights restored under a proposed constitutional amendment headed to voters in November, a measure that could have a significant impact on a state known for historically close elections. Floridians for a Fair Democracy has more than 799,000 certified petition signatures, or about 33,000 more than the group needed to get the measure on the ballot.

Legislation was introduced in Georgia by Republican Rep.Scot Turner  to finally replace the Diebold touchscreen voting machines the state has used since 2002 with a paper ballot voting system. The Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, who is running against Secretary of State Brain Kemp for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, voiced his support of the paper ballot legislation leading to a perhaps predictable but nevertheless unfortunate response from his rival Kemp, who accused Cagle of “joining “liberal conspiracy theorists.”

The Dayton Daily News published an article examining the state of voting equipment in Ohio. State Sen. Frank LaRose, R-Hudson,has introduced Senate Bill 135, which has had one hearing in the Senate Finance Committee. LaRose has said he will amend his bill to include paying for new voting equipment for every county board of election, including training and maintenance contract costs. 

The Pennsylvania supreme court on Monday struck down the boundaries of the state’s 18 congressional districts, granting a major victory to plaintiffs who contended that they were unconstitutionally gerrymandered to benefit Republicans. After the state court decision, those Republican lawmakers asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stay the order, arguing that “the question of what does and does not constitute a ‘legislative function’ under the Elections Clause is a question of federal, not state, law, and this Court is the arbiter of that distinction.”

Audrey Malagon wrote an excellent oped for the Virginian-Pilot advocating post-election audits for the state. “What if we could check only a very small number of ballots to make sure our elections were running as smoothly as the syringe factory? Risk-limiting audits let us do just that, and Virginia has started this process.”

In a vote along party lines, Wisconsin Senate Republicans voted to oust Ethics Administrator Brian Bell and Elections Administrator Michael Haas from their respective roles by denying to confirm them on a permanent basis. Neither got a customary public hearing before the vote. “For a state that used to be held up as a paragon of good government, it’s a sad and significant step for legislators to remove staff in this way,” says Barry Burden, director of the elections research center at the University of Wisconsin. “It is micromanaging what should be independent agencies.”

The National Audit Office has revealed theAustralian Electoral Commission did not comply with the Federal Government’s basic cyber-security requirements due to time restraints, and accepted the extra security risk. The audit also revealed the Government’s cyber-spy agency, the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), warned the AEC it was unlikely to resolve its security weaknesses before the July 2 poll.

Dutch domestic intelligence service AIVD had access to the infamous Russian hacking group Cozy Bear for at least a year starting in mid-2014. According to the reports, the Dutch government alerted the United States to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections after Netherlands-based officials watched the hacking of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and other operations by the Russians, including a 2014 State Department hack.

The Voting News Weekly: The Voting News Weekly for January 15-21 2018

Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) introduced the “Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines (DETER) Act,” which lays out specific foreign actions against U.S. elections that would warrant penalties from the federal government. The bilsets explicit punishments for the Russian government — and other countries — if they meddle in future federal elections and directs the Director of National Intelligence to issue a report on potential election interference within one month of any federal election. As Rubio and Van Hollen argued in a Washington Post oped “[t]here is no reason to think this meddling will be an isolated incident. In fact, we expect the threat will grow in future years.”

A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said Monday that Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach would not be advising the agency as it investigates voter fraud despite his claims that he would be involved. Kobach said last week that he would “be working closely with DHS and the White House as the investigation moves forward.”

Te Buffalo News posted an editorial on Martin Luther King Day, hailing the civil rights leader’s efforts to secure voting rights for minorities while warning that that voter suppression remains under threat to American democracy. “[W]ere he alive, he might be at a loss as to why some key initiatives for which he and his contemporaries had marched and even died are still being debated.”

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp blamed  bad management at Kennesaw State University caused the erasure of an elections server last summer. One of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the secretary of state, Coalition for Good Governance Executive Director Marilyn Marks, said after the wipe was discovered that she was skeptical. “I don’t think you could find a voting systems expert who would think the deletion of the server data was anything less than insidious and highly suspicious,” she said.

Less than a month before the filing period opens for candidates seeking office in the state Senate and House of Representatives, a panel of federal judges has ordered North Carolina lawmakers to use maps created by a Stanford University law professor in those elections. It was the second ruling this week on a state redistricting case. On Thursday the US Supreme Court temporarily blocked a trial court’s order requiring North Carolina lawmakers to produce a revised congressional voting map.

After federal judges rejected their contention that Pennsylvania’s congressional map was the product of unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering, plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit have filed a direct appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The U.S. Supreme Court dismissed the efforts of Texas Democrats and other plaintiffs to revive a related legal claim in the ongoing litigation over the state’s political boundaries. Last week the justices agreed to hear two other cases challenging congressional and state legislative districts in Texas, adding them to ones already pending from Wisconsin and Maryland.

American astronauts in space have a special procedure allowing them to vote, and American citizens living abroad can vote absentee, but 5 million residents of U.S. territories currently cannot vote for president and have no voting representation in Congress. The Seventh Circuit this week ruled that “[a]bsent a constitutional amendment, only residents of the 50 states have the right to vote in federal elections.

Clashes have broken out in Honduras as demonstrators protesting President Juan Orlando Hernandez’s re-election blocked roads in several locations and police moved into to break up the barricades. Police say four officers were injured Saturday, one seriously. At least seven demonstrators were detained. Former President Manuel Zelaya has supported protests on behalf of presidential candidate Salvador Nasralla, who claims there was fraud in counts of the November vote.

Having been designated a “foreign agent” in 2016, Levada, the only independent polling agency in Russia, announced this week that it won’t publish political polls in the run-up to the presidential election on March 18 for fear that authorities might shut it down for falling foul of the law. That means that as the country enters an election cycle where president Vladimir Putin’s victory is certain, we won’t have any trustworthy data to give us a sense of how voters feel about the situation.

The Voting News Weekly: The Voting News Weekly for January 8-14 2018

United States Senators have been targeted by Russian hackers, according to a report by the cybersecurity firm Trend Micro. The report claims that Fancy Bear—the same hacking group believed to be behind the hack of the Democratic National Committee in 2016—is now targeting Senators’ email accounts. Beginning last summer, the hackers have set up websites meant to look like an email system available only to people using the Senate’s internal computer network. The sites were designed to trick people into divulging their personal credentials, such as usernames and passwords.

At an Election Assistance Commission summit, computer security experts from DHS and the private sector detailed many of the cyberthreats facing America’s voting systems“Elections offices have become IT offices that happen to run elections,” Jeremy Epstein, deputy division director of the National Science Foundation’s Division of Computer and Network Systems noted. “We need to be focused on detection and recovery.” DHS official Bob Kolasky said the federal government is substantially more prepared to deal with a nation-state attack on election systems today than it was in the lead-up to the 2016 election. “The Department of Homeland Security is in a much better position to work with our interagency partners and the election community to respond to any lingering threats that emerge going forward,” he said.

The Supreme Court heard arguments in aa case challenging the constitutionality of Ohio’s practice of using voting inactivity to trigger purges of registered voters who are still eligible to vote. Federal laws prohibit states from removing people from voter rolls “by reason of the person’s failure to vote.” But they allow election officials who suspect that a voter has moved to send a confirmation notice. A central question in the case was whether a failure to vote could be the reason to send out the notice.

In The New York Review of Books, Zachary Roth considered the many current court challenges to partisan gerrymandering. In North Carolina, a panel of federal judges threw out congressional maps that they determined had been drawn by Republicans to seek a political advantage. However in Pennsylvania a judicial panel rejected a similar argument from a group of Democratic voters who contended te state’s maps ad been gerrymandered it to help Republicans. On Friday, the Supreme Court announced that it will review lower-court rulings that ordered Texas to redraw 11 political districts found to be discriminatory adding to a docket that already includes a gerrymandering case from Wisconsin,

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging Alabama’s state law requiring people to show government issued photo ID at the polls. The judge determined that the state’s voter ID provision does not discriminate against minorities and is not an undue infringement on the right to vote since the state makes free IDs available for voting purposes. Alabama has required voters to show photo IDs at the polls since 2014.

Results of Saturday’s election in the Czech Republic mean that Russian-backed president Miloš Zeman will face pro-western runner-up, Jiří Drahoš, in a run-off election in two weeks. In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced a deal with her Social Democrat (SPD) rivals open government coalition talks. The deal to revive a “grand coalition” that has governed since 2013 must be approved by an SPD congress planned for January 21.

The Voting News Weekly: The Voting News Weekly for January 1-7 2018

Six U.S. senators have filed a bipartisan bill that would provide grants to states to help them move from paperless voting machines to paper ballots in an effort to make voting systems less vulnerable to hackers. The Secure Elections Act would authorize block grants for states to upgrade their voting machines, direct the Department of Homeland Security to “promptly” share election cybersecurity threat information with state and local governments and empower state and local election officials with the necessary security clearances to review classified threat information. The bill would also encourage states to perform routine post-election audits based on modern statistical techniques. Joining with many voting rights advocates Verified Voting urges swift passage of The Secure Elections Act.

Donald Trump has  disbanded his advisory commission on “election integrity”, ending an initiative that was widely denounced by civil rights groups as a thinly veiled attempt to suppress the votes of poor people and minorities. A White House statement released on Wednesday evening said that Trump had signed an executive order dissolving the commission. Voting rights advocates responded with delight to news of the demise of the commission. Vanita Gupta, former head of the civil rights division of the justice department under Barack Obama, heralded the announcement as a “big victory”.

The San Francisco Chronicle ran an editorial questioning whether the states will be able to guard their voting infrastructure from computer hackers, foreign espionage and other security breaches. In addition to the need for funding to replace aging and insecure voting equipment, many states ave reported estimated wait times of up to nine months for the Department of Homeland Security’s most thorough security screening.

A county circuit judge dismissed a lawsuit challenging Missouri’s new voter ID law that claimed the law was intended to make it harder for poor and minority residents to vote. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed the lawsuit on behalf of the NAACP and the League of Women Voters asserting that the state hasn’t adequately provided education, poll worker training or funding. The ACLU has announced their intention to appeal the ruling.

The ACLU is also involved in a Supreme Court case challenging Ohio’s practice of purging inactive voters from voter rolls. At stake is a regulation in Ohio’s law: If a person skips voting in a federal election over a two-year period, that sets in motion a legal process that could eventually lead them to being removed from the voter rolls.

In North Carolina, a panel of three federal judges heard closing arguments over which version of those maps to use during this year’s statehouse elections. Last summer the panel appointed Stanford University law professor Nathaniel Persily to redraw legislative boundaries because of concern over new state House and Senate maps approved by the GOP-controlled legislature that failed to remove unlawful racial bias from four districts.

The New York Times ran an extensive article about the struggle for Native American voting rights in San Juan County Utah. After a federal judge ruled that San Juan’s longtime practice of packing Navajo voters into one voting district violated the United States Constitution, the county was ordered to draw new district lines for local elections.

On Thursday, a Virginia elections official reached into a ceramic bowl and pulled out the name of one of the candidates in a tied state house election and triumphant Republicans declared that they would be in charge when the legislature reconvenes Wednesday. But the Democratic candidate did not concede, and she could request a second recount. On Friday Democrats lost another decision, when a federal judge rejected a request for a new election in a race in which 147 voters received the wrong ballot before Republican Bob Thomas beat Democrat Joshua Cole by only 73 votes.

The Czech cyber and information security office will operate in an emergency mode during the upcoming presidential election, with up to 25 experts ready to ward off any cyber attack. A hacker attack in the wake of the October general election caused drop-outs of the election websites of the Czech Statistical Office.

Russia’s Supreme Court rejected an appeal on Saturday from opposition leader Alexei Navalny to run for president. One week after a lower court upheld a ruling by the Central Election Commission, which rejected his application to stand, the country’s high court backed the decision, citing a criminal conviction against the opposition leader.

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.