Elections

Recently in Las Vegas, the 25th Annual DEF CON took place July 27-30. DEF CON, short for “Defense Condition,” is one of the oldest and largest hacking conferences. To many in the election field, one of DEF CON’s Hacking Villages this year drew their attention – the Voting Machine Hacking Village.

Earlier this month, the state of Colorado announced that it will become the first state to implement risk-limiting audits to ensure votes are counted efficiently and accurately in elections. The unexpected election results in a few of the “swing” states in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election prompted the demand of recounts to be sure the results accurately portrayed how the voters casted their ballots. In the wake of the Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania recounts, digital security specialists and computer scientists argued that recounts could be all together eliminated by implementing risk-limiting audits. Currently only New Mexico and Colorado have the capability of doing so, and Colorado has been launched into the spotlight as an example for other states to follow.

This week kicks off National Disability Voter Registration Week with events and roundtable discussions throughout the country to call attention and collate efforts on local, state, and national levels to make the disability vote more influential.

Community involvement is not a new concept for professional sports teams, as many of our favorite athletes volunteer in their teams’ communities by playing with kids, helping rebuild in neighborhoods, etc. The Miami Dolphins, however, have stepped into a new realm of community involvement – civic engagement. The Dolphins have set a team goal to have their entire team roster registered to vote by National Voter Registration Day on September 26. If the Dolphins are successful in registering every player on the team, then they will be the first professional team in American history to do so.

Kansas City, Missouri like many other jurisdictions across the nation, have found themselves in need of new voting equipment to enhance customer service for voters during the election process.

While election processes are administered in the counties of most states, Wisconsin municipalities handle elections. Instead of 50-150 voter jurisdictions, Wisconsin voters must figure out which of the 1,852 municipalities to register and cast their votes. Wisconsin has recently launched initiatives to assist all voters, but particularly those voting absentee as military and overseas voters.

Georgia’s 6th District Special Election to replace now Health and Human Services Secretary, Tom Price’s, House seat will be one for the history books. The money spent and the voter turnout for this election quickly turned unprecedented as this seat became a crucial battle between the Republican and Democrat parties. This closely watched election is taking place against the backdrop of a potential data breach of 6.5 million voter records maintained by the Kennesaw State University’s Center for Election Systems.  The center assists the Georgia Secretary of State and all 159 Georgia counties in administering election operations and voting machines deployed statewide.

In Gill v. Whitford the Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether and when it is possible to bring a claim that partisan gerrymandering is unconstitutional.  

While the Court has repeatedly struck down district maps that rely on racial gerrymandering, it has never ruled that maps drawn to secure partisan advantage are unconstitutional. In 2004, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy – who may be the deciding vote in Whitford – wrote a concurring opinion indicating that partisan gerrymandering could be unconstitutional.

Technology grows at a rapid pace in today’s increasingly connected society. The computers we used in 2002 seem nearly fossil-like in comparison to 2017’s array of computing tablets, laptops, desktops, and smartphones. The same holds true for the election equipment we used in 2002, and Minnesota recognizes the need to upgrade.

In North Carolina v. Covington the Supreme Court issued a three-page unauthored opinion ordering a North Carolina district court to reconsider its decision to remedy unconstitutional racial gerrymandering by truncating existing legislators’ terms and holding a special election.

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