Elections

The Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) has linked up with Syracuse University to examine absentee voting challenges faced by active duty servicemembers every election cycle. They have developed a survey hoping to improve the absentee-voting process.

Cybersecurity has become a serious concern for state officials in preparation for this year’s upcoming midterm elections. As the nation’s election system continues to age, many say there are not enough funds available to make all of the needed...

CSG Midwest
In September 2017, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) notified 21 states (including Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio and Wisconsin in the Midwest) that Russian hackers had targeted their voting systems before the 2016 elections. 
While most of the attempts were not successful, voter registration systems were breached in at least two states: Arizona and Illinois. (According to DHS, there was no evidence that any information had been altered in these two states.)
Fast-forward to today, with just months before the 2018 general elections that will determine partisan control of the U.S. Congress and several state legislatures, and elections security experts are recommending that immediate steps be taken to secure the country’s election infrastructure — for example, identifying the potential avenues for attacking election systems, replacing outdated voting machines, ensuring the security of registration systems, and conducting post-election audits.

Whether and when this occurs will depend in part on a mix of help from the federal government and new state-level policies and investments.

In Abbott v. Perez a number of persons and advocacy groups challenged the Texas Legislature’s 2011 state legislative and congressional redistricting plan claiming it discriminated against black and Hispanic voters in violation of the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause and the Voting Rights Act.

In 2011 a three-judge district court issued a remedial redistricting plan which the U.S. Supreme Court vacated in 2012. The district court then drew another remedial redistricting plan which the state legislature adopted in 2013.               

In this case the challengers claim that the plan as adopted by the state legislature still has the “taint of discriminatory intent” of the 2011 legislative plan. The district court agreed despite the fact that it is the author of 2013 plan. The Supreme Court heard oral argument in this case.

The U.S. Department of Defense’s Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) released this week their federally mandated 2017 Annual Report to the President and Congress. FVAP is a voter assistance and education agency established by the United States Department of Defense in accordance with federal law to ensure that members of the U.S. armed forces, their eligible family members, and U.S. citizens overseas are aware of their right to vote and have the tools to do so from anywhere in the world.

West Virginia is on the verge of leading the nation as they begin testing a mobile application for military voting. Secretary of State Mac Warner announced last week that they have begun a trial for a secure military mobile voting option that will be used for their May 8th primary election. Two counties, Harrison and Monongalia, will be the testing ground for registered, qualified military voters to cast their ballots via a mobile app that uses blockchain technology.

The same day Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced his plan to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 census California filed a complaint seeking an injunction preventing the question from being added. The next day New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced he would lead a multi-state lawsuit challenging the question.

In December 2017 the Department of Justice (DOJ) requested that a question about citizenship be added to help DOJ more effectively enforce Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race in voting. Citizenship has not been asked about in the biennium census since 1950.

The challengers to the redistricting of Maryland’s Sixth Congressional District just might win—if the Supreme Court actually decides their case.

In Benisek v. Lamone in 2011 the Maryland legislature needed to move about 10,000 voters out of the Sixth Congressional District to comply with “one-person one-vote.” It moved about 360,000 Marylanders out of the district and about 350,000 Marylanders in the district. As a result only 34 percent of voters were registered Republican versus 47 percent before redistricting.

A massive federal government spending bill was unveiled March 21st, that includes $380 million to help counter cyber-attacks on U.S. voting systems in all 50 U.S. states and territories. The bill's passing is Congress’ first real step to bolster election security since the allegations of Russian hacking in the 2016 elections. This bill would provide a $307 million increase in the Trump administration’s request for the FBI’s budget. The bureau’s increased funding would be used for counter-intelligence to protect against Russian cyber-attacks.

On Tuesday, March 20th, voters in the state of Illinois went to the polls to cast their ballots in the nation’s second primary election of the year. Illinois was the lone state in the 2016 election known to have its election systems breached in a hacking effort that penetrated the state’s voter registration data. While no actual voting machines or vote tallying were altered, hacking of voter rolls can cause just as much damage. “I think it’s only a matter of time before we suffer a devastating attack on our election systems unless our federal and state governments act quickly,” says J. Alex Halderman of the University of Michigan.

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