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Who Will Protect Elections From U.S. Oligarchs?

April 18, 2018 - TruthDig

Citizens-United-850x607.jpgI recently heard on cable news that special counsel Robert Mueller wanted to interview some “Russian oligarchs” about their supposed influence on the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Liberal talking heads at such organizations as MSNBC and CNN keep warning that nothing has been done yet to protect the integrity of our voting process against “Russian interference” as the 2018 midterm elections loom ever closer on the nation’s horizon.

What about the American oligarchs, I wondered, people like businessman Richard Uihlein, who regularly distort U.S. elections at every level—local, state and federal? Who will protect our “democracy” from the plutocratic “wealth primary” power of the American oligarchy?

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Ranked-choice voting will be used for June primaries, Maine supreme court rules

April 17, 2018 - Press Herald

AUGUSTA — The state’s highest court ruled Tuesday that a ballot-box law that moves Maine’s primary elections to a ranked-choice voting system should stand for the pending primary elections in June.

The June 12 vote will be the first in the nation for a statewide use of ranked-choice voting system.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court took 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.

Attorneys for the Senate, in essence, had argued that Dunlap would be violating the Maine Constitution’s separation of powers clause by moving to conduct a ranked-choice primary in June, as ordered in March by a Superior Court judge in Kennebec County.

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I Hacked an Election. So Can the Russians.

April 5, 2018 - New York Times

This video is part of a series on voting in America, which will run until Election Day in November. For more, see:

Part 1: On the importance of voting. 
Part 2: On a court case over a Kansas voter registration law.
Part 3: On discriminatory voting laws.

J. Alex Halderman (@jhalderm) is a professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Michigan.

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Despite Cash From Congress, Key Election Security Issue May Not Get Fixed

March 27, 2018 - NPR

The massive spending bill President Trump signed into law on Friday includes enough money to replace voting machines that leave no paper trail, a top priority for many election officials and cybersecurity experts. But according to a new analysis, it seems unlikely that's how the money will be spent.

The analysis, published by New York University's Brennan Center for Justice, says it would cost somewhere between $200-$400 million to replace every electronic voting machine in the U.S. that doesn't create a paper ballot or receipt. More than a dozen states still use these types of machines, despite concerns that they are vulnerable to hacking or manipulation without a trace.

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March 23, 2018 - WIRED

ElectionSecurity-620878208.jpgAFTER MONTHS OF stalled progress in Congress, efforts to promote and fund nationwide election security improvements have finally gained some momentum this week. The Senate Intelligence Committee released its long-awaited election infrastructure defense recommendations. Senate leaders got behind a revised version of the Secure Elections Act. And late Thursday night, the Senate passed the omnibus spending bill, which includes $380 million for securing digital election systems. All the pieces are in place. The solutions are clear. All that's left is the doing.

But, of course, that turns out to be the hardest part. Experts say that while Congress did take meaningful action this week, it likely comes too late to play an extensive role in securing this year's midterm elections.

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Want to Address the Greatest Foreign Threat to US Democracy? Fix Voting Machines

February 28, 2018 - Truthout

Democracy, the very essence of the United States, is under attack, we’re told at least once a week. Not because Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker refuses to hold special elections — literally denying all citizens the right to vote — because he’s afraid Republicans will lose. Not because the Pennsylvania GOP is threatening to impeach judges for issuing a fair redistricting map. And not because racist Republican voter ID laws are an extension of the decades-long attack on the Voting Rights Act, including the mass disenfranchisement of formerly incarcerated people.

All of those things are happening, of course, and have a direct and harmful impact on the right to vote and have one’s vote counted in the United States, especially if you’re likely to vote Democrat.

But to hear it from most media outlets, a Russian disinformation campaign waged through Facebook and Twitter is currently the primary threat to the essence of US democracy.

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Best Way to Verify Votes?

February 24, 2018 - NPR

What's the best way to safeguard elections from hackers? Good old-fashioned paper ballots, says Marian Schneider, President of Verified Voting. She talks with NPR's Scott Simon.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST: Remember hanging chads - harried poll workers staring at punched paper ballots trying to determine what a dangling chad or stray mark may have indicated how somebody wanted to cast their ballot in the presidential election of 2000? Punch-card ballots and paper got a bad rap in favor of smooth, sleek, instantaneous electronic voting systems that were supposed to remove doubt. With those advancements came bigger problems. The major fear is now hacking, and more voices now urge a return to paper ballots.

Marian Schneider is president of Verified Voting, a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization that's dedicated to verifiability in elections. She joins us from the studios of WHYY in Philadelphia. Thanks so much for being with us.

MARIAN SCHNEIDER: Thank you for having me.

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The Myth of the Hacker-Proof Voting Machine

February 21, 2018

20mag-voting1-jumbo.jpgIn 2011, the election board in Pennsylvania’s Venango County — a largely rural county in the northwest part of the state — asked David A. Eckhardt, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University, to examine its voting systems. In municipal and state primaries that year, a few voters had reported problems with machines ‘‘flipping’’ votes; that is, when these voters touched the screen to choose a candidate, the screen showed a different candidate selected. Errors like this are especially troubling in counties like Venango, which uses touch-screen voting machines that have no backup paper trail; once a voter casts a digital ballot, if the machine misrecords the vote because of error or maliciousness, there’s little chance the mistake will be detected.

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Third-party ballot access now easier in Pa. after local man’s court fight

image_(1).jpgWILKES-BARRE — After being kicked off the ballot and threatened with staggering legal fees — and even jail — for trying to enter one of the nation’s most-watched U.S. Senate races in 2006, Green Party candidate Carl Romanelli of Wilkes-Barre felt he was wronged.

He decided to take his case to court. And, after six years, he feels vindicated.

A judge recently approved a settlement in a federal lawsuit filed by the Green and other minor parties that challenged Pennsylvania’s process to get on the general election ballot. There’s now a 5,000 cap on the number of signatures third-party candidates need and candidates no longer must pay hefty legal fees if they lose a challenge to their nominating petitions.

“It’s much better. It’s very fair. It’s achievable,” Romanelli, 58, said Monday.

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December 17, 2017 - WIRED

peb_emulation_on_ess_machine.jpgA new study (PDF) on the security of voting machines was released in Ohio on Friday. The report, one of the most comprehensive and informative that I've seen yet, contains some pretty astounding information about the security of voting machines that hasn't been revealed before. Unfortunately, the report isn't receiving the kind of attention it deserves.

It's the first independent study to examine machines made by Election Systems & Software, the largest voting machine company in the country – the company's machines are used in 43 states. (A similar study of voting systems done in California earlier this year did not examine ES&S machines.)

What the researchers discovered is pretty significant.

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