Election Administration

Official Focused on Election Security Being Shoved Aside

“The head of a federal agency who has helped U.S. states protect election systems from possible cyber attacks by Russia or others is being removed from his post by Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and the White House,” Reuters reports.

“Matthew Masterson, currently chairman of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, has been passed over for a second four-year term as one of the agency’s four commissioners… It is up the House speaker to recommend a nominee for the commissioner post that Masterson currently holds, with the president then making a formal nomination.”

Rick Hasen: “Masterson, a Republican appointee has been completely nonpartisan and professional, and willing to work across the aisle on issues… And it suggests he’s being canned because he’s not a party hack.”

Wisconsin Voters Find They Were Removed from Rolls

“Dozens of active Green Bay area voters went to cast their ballot in Tuesday’s primary election only to find they had been removed from voter rolls,” the Green Bay Press Gazette reports.

“Wisconsin Elections Commission spokesman Reid Magney attributed many problems voters experienced on Tuesday to a multistate electronic tracking system the state started using in 2016 to update its statewide voter rolls.  He said the system sent postcards in November to close to 400,000 voters the Electronic Registration Information Center, or ERIC, identified as people who moved and would need to either confirm their details or register with updated information.”

State Officials Aren’t Being Told of Election Threats

“More than 15 months after a general election that was stained by covert Russian interference, the chief election officials of some states say they are still not getting the information they need to safeguard the vote,” the New York Times reports.

“They say the federal government is not sharing specifics about threats to registered voter databases, voting machines, communication networks and other systems that could be vulnerable to hacking and manipulation.”

State Officials Are Returning to Paper Ballots

“Hoping to counter waves of Russian Twitter bots, fake social media accounts, and hacking attacks aimed at undermining American democracy, state election officials around the country are seizing on an old-school strategy: paper ballots,” the Boston Globe reports.

“In Virginia, election officials have gone back to a paper ballot system, as a way to prevent any foreign interference. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolfe this month ordered county officials to ensure new election equipment produces a paper record. Georgia lawmakers are considering legislation to replace a touch-screen voting system with paper.”

Florida Rules for Felons’ Voting Rights Struck Down

A federal judge ruled that the state of Florida “routinely violates the constitutional rights of its citizens by permanently revoking the ‘fundamental right’ to vote for anyone convicted of a felony,” the Tampa Bay Times reports.

U.S. District Judge Mark Walker said the Florida “scheme” unfairly relies on the personal support of the governor for citizens to regain the right to vote.

Ex-Colorado GOP Chair Sentenced for Voter Fraud

Former Colorado GOP chairman Steve Curtis “was sentenced to four years of probation and 300 hours of community service for voter fraud,” CBS News reports.

He blamed a “major diabetic episode” for causing him to vote his ex-wife’s absentee ballot in October 2016.

Earlier quote from Curtis: “Virtually every case of voter fraud, that I can remember in my lifetime was committed by Democrats.”

Democratic Group Seeks to Elect Secretaries of State

“The left-leaning ballot access group iVote will spend at least $5 million across swing states to elect Democratic secretaries of state — the latest front in the ‘voting wars’ that Democrats worried they have been losing,” the Washington Post reports.

The states targeted: Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico and Ohio. Only one of those states, New Mexico, has a Democratic secretary of state.

Florida Ballot Measure Could Add 1.5 Million Voters

“Floridians will get to decide in November whether they want to amend the state constitution to automatically restore voting rights to felons once they complete their sentences, a move that could significantly expand the franchise to over 1.5 million people,” the HuffPost reports.

“Florida election officials verified Tuesday that organizers had gathered enough petitions to put the referendum on the ballot this year. Just gathering those signatures was a herculean task for the grassroots effort ― Florida law required the organizers to gather 766,200 signatures, equal to 8 percent of the votes cast in the last presidential election.”

Trump Commission Sought Data Flagging Hispanic Voters

“President Trump’s voting commission asked every state and the District for detailed voter registration data, but in Texas’s case it took an additional step: It asked to see Texas records that identify all voters with Hispanic surnames,” the Washington Post reports.

“In buying nearly 50 million records from the state with the nation’s second-largest Hispanic population, a researcher for the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity checked a box on two Texas public voter data request forms explicitly asking for the ‘Hispanic surname flag notation,’ to be included in information sent to the voting commission, according to copies of the signed and notarized state forms.”

Court Ends Consent Decree Against RNC

A federal district court has ended a consent decree in place since 1981 against the Republican National Committee against so-called “ballot security” measures which seemed aimed at suppressing minority voter turnout.

Rick Hasen: “With the consent decree gone, the RNC will for the first time in 35 years be free to begin anew efforts to spur purges of voter rolls and take potentially suppressive ballot security measures in the name of preventing voter fraud.”

Trump Disbands Voter Fraud Commission

President Trump “is dissolving a controversial commission that was charged with investigating his unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud during the 2016 election,” Politico reports.

Washington Post: “The commission met only twice amid a series of lawsuits seeking to curb its authority and claims by Democrats that it was stacked to recommend voting restrictions favorable to the president’s party.”

Rick Hasen: “The Commission was poorly organized and conceived. It tried to operate to a large extent in secrecy, without recognition that doing so would violate the federal laws that govern presidential commissions and that protect privacy. It made rookie, boneheaded mistakes about handling documents used by the Commission, again in violation of federal law. It did not seem to have an end-game.”

States Wait for Help to Defend Election Systems

“States rushing to guard their 2018 elections against hackers may be on a waiting list for up to nine months for the Department of Homeland Security’s most exhaustive security screening,” Politico reports.

“That means some states might not get the service until weeks before the November midterms and may remain unaware of flaws that could allow homegrown cyber vandals or foreign intelligence agencies to target voter registration databases and election offices’ computer networks, the officials said. Russian hackers targeted election systems in at least 21 states in 2016, according to DHS.”

Turnout in Alabama Complicates Debate on Voting Laws

“Even before a defiant Roy Moore stood at a lectern this month and refused to concede the Alabama Senate race, one political reality was clear: An extraordinary turnout among black voters had helped push Doug Jones to a rare Democratic victory in this state,” the New York Times reports.

“That turnout, in which registered black voters appeared to cast ballots at a higher rate than white ones, has become the most recent reference point in the complicated picture about race and elections laws.”

“At issue, at a time when minorities are becoming an increasingly powerful slice of the electorate, is how much rules like Alabama’s voter ID law serve as a brake on that happening. The turnout by black voters in Alabama raises a question: Did it come about because voting restrictions were not as powerful as critics claim or because voters showed up in spite of them?”

Alabama Can Destroy Digital Voting Records

“Alabama is allowed to destroy digital voting records created at the polls during today’s U.S. Senate election after all,” the Birmingham News reports.

“By granting the stay, the court effectively told the state that it does not in fact have to preserve the digital ballot images – essentially digitized versions of the paper ballots voters fill out at the voting booth – created today.”

Rick Hasen: “It is very disturbing because the AL Supreme Court’s order effectively decides the case. The ballot images will be destroyed, even if plaintiffs ultimately win on the merits weeks later. Goes against principles of preserving the status quo.”