Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced Thursday that he had broken the record for restoring voting rights to convicted felons, calling it his “proudest achievement” as governor. McAuliffe (D) said he had individually restored rights to 156,221 Virginians, surpassing the previous record-holder by a nose. As governor of Florida from 2007 to 2011, Charlie Crist restored voting rights to 155,315 felons, according to figures that McAuliffe’s office obtained from Florida. Today Crist, who has evolved from Republican to Independent to Democrat, is a freshman member of Congress.
California elections officials want state lawmakers to place a $450 million voting-equipment borrowing measure on the June 2018 ballot, saying that many counties’ voting machines rely on outdated equipment that make them vulnerable to breakdowns and hacking. The bond measure in Assembly Bill 668 by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzales Fletcher, D-San Diego, would be more than double the size of the last voting machine borrowing proposal to go on the ballot.
More than five months after Americans went to the polls, election security continues to be an issue across the nation. Some perspective from Ramsey County on efforts to safeguard the integrity of our balloting should ease voters’ minds.
Security was a key factor as his department prepared to implement voting technology upgrades launched in 2016, explains Elections Manager Joe Mansky.
One of the first decisions made: “We wanted our new system to be unplugged, to be non-networked,” he told us. “The reason for it was simple. We saw the networking as a security risk.”
As the State Department works to gain international support for its cybersecurity framework, experts said that global norms and deterrence won’t be enough to convince state actors not to influence elections through cyber means in the future. Robert Axelrod, Walgreen Professor for the study of human understanding at the University of Michigan, compared the Democratic National Committee (DNC) hacks to Watergate. Both incidents involved the theft of information. The difference is that in Watergate, the incident was handled by domestic law enforcement and the president resigned.
Among the many contentious arguments of the 2016 presidential election was the question of the security of the vote itself. Accusations flew, with claims that the election would be rigged or hacked in some way. In part, those accusations were lent credence by the state of voting equipment in the United States. In many localities, equipment is approaching the end of its useful life; many states and counties last upgraded with the help of federal funding provided through the Help America Vote Act of 2002.
Democratic societies depend on trust in elections and their results. Throughout the 2016 presidential election, and since President Trump’s inauguration, allegations of Russian involvement in the U.S. presidential campaign have raised concerns about how vulnerable American elections are to hacking or other types of interference. Various investigations – involving congressional committees, the FBI and the intelligence community – are underway, seeking to understand what happened and how.
At an April 4 Election Assistance Commission public hearing, a senior Department of Homeland Security official sought to stress one thing: The designation of election systems as critical infrastructure doesn’t cut into states’ autonomy. Concerns over DHS control have simmered since then-Secretary Jeh Johnson first suggested the critical infrastructure designation last summer.
Could we create an app for people to use for voting in national elections? I did some work on electronic voting systems problems with Ed Gerck in the early 2000s. It was hard then, it’s arguably harder now. This gets back to what some people have lobbied for since the early days of the Internet: the “Internet driver’s license.” In the U.S., to get a voter’s registration card, you have to prove you are who you say you are, that you live where you say you live, and that you’re a U.S. citizen.
Elections are decided by who votes — and increasingly, in America, by who cannot. Barriers to voting participation skew policy outcomes and elections to the right in the United States. One of the most racially discriminatory of these barriers is felon disenfranchisement. Nearly 6 million Americans are disenfranchised due to felonies. This may seem like a small share of the population, but the concentration of disenfranchisement in some states makes it enough to shift elections.
Wichita State University statistician Beth Clarkson says Sedgwick County’s new voting machines leave less room for vote tampering than the old ones did, but still aren’t perfect. “It’s a step in the right direction,” said Clarkson, who has a doctorate in statistics and works as chief statistician at WSU’s National Institute for Aviation Research. “If we would audit (the machines), that would be another step in the right direction.” On the plus side, she said, the new machines do print paper ballots with the voters’ choices printed on them.