While many Americans are still digesting the ramifications of our most recent election, Charles Stewart III, professor of Political Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is already looking towards 2020. Stewart is the founding Director of MIT’s Election Data and Science Lab: an initiative that strives to bring together data from American elections into one place so that researchers, academics, the press and policymakers can use the information as a resource to inform improvements of elections.
Millions of Georgia voters may have had their personal information compromised for the second time in as many years, as the Federal Bureau of Investigation opened an investigation Friday at Kennesaw State University’s Center for Election Systems involving an alleged data breach. As many as 7.5 million voter records may be involved, according to a top state official briefed on the information but not authorized to speak on the record. Neither federal officials nor university officials would confirm the scope of the investigation or how many records had potentially been accessed.
A bipartisan pair of senators has introduced a bill that would require the federal government to do more to help state and local officials combat cyber threats. Sens. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) on Thursday announced that they have reintroduced the State and Local Cyber Protection Act, which would bolster cybersecurity cooperation between the Department of Homeland Security and state and local governments.
The FBI, NSA and CIA all agree that the Russian government tried to influence the 2016 presidential election by hacking candidates and political parties and leaking the documents they gathered. That’s disturbing. But they could have done even worse. It is entirely possible for an adversary to hack American computerized voting systems directly and select the next commander in chief.
State election officials are making plans to tighten security all along the voting chain – from voter registration to machine integrity, audit trails and help from the Department of Homeland Security under the new critical infrastructure designation. At a Feb. 13-14 meeting of the Election Assistance Commission, New Jersey State Department’s division of elections Bob Giles said that although his state’s voting machines are not connected to the internet, the attention garnered by Russia’s reported electoral influence has led to a rethinking of his agency’s cybersecurity protocols.
Gov. Scott Walker signaled support Wednesday for a bill that would only allow candidates to request a recount in state and local races if they trail the winner by a certain margin. The bill is a direct response to last year’s presidential recount that was triggered and paid for by Green Party candidate Jill Stein, who received 1 percent of the vote.
There has been plenty of talk in recent weeks, much of it emanating from the White House, about voter fraud. Now, a new study released by the Brennan Center For Justice, entitled “Election Integrity: A Pro-Voter Agenda,” confirms in-person voter fraud is a rarity. The paper argues that the integrity of elections can be strengthened without discouraging eligible voters. On January 25th, President Donald Trump Tweeted “I will be asking for a major investigation into VOTER FRAUD…” Trump claimed millions voted illegally in the election: “You have people registered in two states.
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly on Tuesday said he backed a decision in the Obama administration’s final days to designate elections systems as critical infrastructure in order to boost their cyber defenses, after the government concluded Russian hackers tried to influence the 2016 presidential race. Some conservative states, such as Georgia, had expressed concerns that the Obama administration move amounted to a federal takeover of elections traditionally run by state and local governments.
Tomorrow, the Committee on House Administration (CHA) will convene to markup H.R. 634, the “Election Assistance Commission Termination Act.” The bill is part of CHA Chairman Gregg Harper (MS-3)’s ongoing attempt to eliminate the EAC, a campaign he has waged for several Congresses (and about which I wrote most recently in March 2015).
Minnesota’s voting equipment is aging out, and without legislative help, the burden of about $28 million in replacement costs will fall squarely on cities and counties. Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon met Monday with the Range Association of Municipalities and Schools to drum up support for a state-funded solution to voting infrastructure now more than a decade old. He’s not asking for the Legislature to foot the bill for the entire cost, rather follow Gov. Mark Dayton’s budget proposal calling for a 50-50 split between the state and local governments.