Verified Voting Blog: Hack the Vote: The Perils of the Online Ballot Box

While most voters will cast their ballots at polling stations in November, online voting has been quietly and rapidly expanding in the United States over the last decade. Over 30 states and territories allow some form of Internet voting (such as by email or through a direct portal) for some classes of voters, including members of the military or absentees.

Utah just passed a law allowing disabled voters to vote online; and Alaska allows anyone to cast their ballots online. And there were recent news reports that Democratic and Republican national committees are contemplating holding primaries and caucuses online. We estimate that over three million voters now are eligible to vote online in the U.S.

But online voting is fraught with danger. Hackers could manipulate enough votes to change the results of local and national elections. And a skilled hacker can do so without leaving any evidence. Read More

California: Assembly approves bill for all-mail special elections | Capitol Alert

Seeking to improve low voter participation in special elections, the California Assembly on Thursday narrowly passed and sent to the Senate legislation that distribute all ballots by mail for elections to fill vacancies. The constant shuffle of elected officials seeking new seats follows a familiar pattern — a state legislator resigns or wins election to a new office, and a tiny sliver of the electorate chooses a replacement. Turnout in a recent pair of special elections hovered around 12 percent and 8 percent, respectively. Citing the expense, the Senate leader floated letting the governor fill vacancies. An effective solution, according to proponents of Assembly Bill 1873, is to make mailboxes, not polling places, the nexus of special elections. Read More

Florida: Ordered to Unseal Secret Redistricting Documents, a GOP Operative Seeks High Court Intervention | FlaglerLive

A Republican consultant trying to keep hundreds of pages of redistricting-related documents secret is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to halt the release of the records in the latest twist in a legal battle over Florida’s congressional districts. Pat Bainter on Wednesday asked U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to issue an emergency stay blocking an order by the Florida Supreme Court less than 24 hours earlier that granted permission for the documents to be used in an ongoing trial challenging the constitutionality of the congressional map approved by the Legislature in 2012. Bainter argues that the 538 pages of “confidential material” contain “protected political speech — internal deliberations and strategy, and the names and contact information for like-minded individuals who wish to remain anonymous,” according to documents filed with the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of Bainter, his Gainesville-based consulting company, Data Targeting, Inc., and several employees. Read More

Florida: Seattle man pleads guilty to intimidating Florida Republican voters in 2012 election | Reuters

A Seattle man pleaded guilty on Thursday to identity fraud and voter intimidation for forged letters he sent to 200 Republican donors in Florida that told them they were ineligible to vote in the 2012 presidential election. Angered by what he believed was an attempt to suppress Hispanic voter turnout for Democratic Party candidates, James Baker Jr. in 2012 created false voter eligibility letters purporting to be from elections authorities, according to a U.S. Department of Justice press release. Baker, 58, entered his plea in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida and faces up to six years in prison and a $350,000 in fines. Read More

Illinois: When it comes to fall ballot questions, the more the merrier | Chicago Sun Times

Another vote, another advisory referendum. The Nov. 4 ballot seems to be getting bulkier and bulkier for every day the General Assembly remains in session this spring. On Thursday, the Senate ignored GOP charges of election-year “gimmickry” and approved two ballot questions, sending one to Gov. Pat Quinn for final approval and the other back to the Illinois House. By a 33-17 vote, the Senate approved legislation that would put a non-binding referendum on the fall ballot that would ask whether voters favor imposing an additional 3-percent tax on millionaires with money raised going toward public schools. “I’m not a biblical scholar, but I remember from my childhood and Sunday school: ‘to whom much is given, much is expected,’” said Sen. Michael Noland, D-Elgin, the millionaire-tax bill’s chief Senate sponsor. Read More

Editorials: Is Indiana’s strict voter ID law disenfranchising immigrant voters? | PRI

An increasing number of voters in the US are now required to show a photo ID to vote. Eight states have “strict” ID laws, and several more are considering similar rules: no proof, no vote. Critics argue that minorities, immigrants, and the poor are less likely to have photo IDs and are effectively being disenfranchised. Indiana was among the first states to pass a voter ID law back in 2005. If you ask Indianapolis attorney Tom Wheeler, who works with the Republican Party and Republican candidates, whether the law was necessary, he brings up the 2003 Democratic mayoral primary in East Chicago, Indiana. “The fraud was so bad, that the (Indiana) Supreme Court couldn’t even figure out who won the race,” said Wheeler. But ask Bill Groth, a lawyer who often represents Democratic Party interests, and he’ll give you a different slant. “The state of Indiana later stipulated that there was not a single recorded prosecution for imposter voting fraud in the history of the state,” said Groth. So which man is lying? Neither. Read More

Michigan: Conyers discounts conspiracy theory behind challenges to keep him off primary ballot | The Detroit News

U.S. Rep. John Conyers said Thursday he doesn’t believe he fell victim to a conspiracy to bounce him from the ballot and end his storied political career. The Detroit Democrat was removed from the Aug. 5 primary ballot for not having enough valid petition signatures before a federal judge Friday restored him to the ballot over concerns Michigan’s election law may be unconstitutional. Conyers, 85, hired family friend and political consultant Steve Hood to handle the petition gathering. Hood has since publicly apologized for not checking the voter registration status of the circulators he hired — a mistake that initially disqualified hundreds of signatures and may have cost Conyers his congressional career. “I know the whole Hood family,” Conyers told The News Thursday. “I know his father, his brother. I know the church. It was very painful.” Read More

New Mexico: Independent voters plan lawsuit over closed primary elections | KOB

For decades independent voters have been complaining about being left out of New Mexico’s closed primary elections – now somebody is doing something about it. Lawyers plan to slap election officials with a lawsuit in Bernalillo County District Court next Tuesday, June 3: Election Day. It won’t stop the primary election, but they hope it will let more New Mexicans vote next time around. You know how this thing works:  Republicans get to vote in the Republican primary, Democrats vote in the Democratic primary. Independents and minor party members don’t get to vote in the primaries, even though their tax dollars will help to pick up the $3 million for next week’s election. David Crum is an independent voter who moved to New Mexico about 20 years ago. Read More

Ohio: Conservative groups push for voter photo ID requirement in Ohio | Twinsburg Bulletin

A conservative group says it will pursue a ballot issue if lawmakers don’t move legislation requiring eligible residents to show government-issued photo identification cards to vote. During a lobbying day at the Statehouse May 29, the Ohio Christian Alliance and other supporters indicated they would launch an initiated statute in 2015, absent lawmaker action on the issue before year’s end. The process would involve circulating petitions and collecting more than 100,000 signatures before the end of the year. The legislature would then have about four months to act before backers circulate more petitions and gather another 275,000-plus signatures to place the issue on the November ballot. Read More

Utah: Grand County residents speak up on by-mail voting | Moab Sun News

The long-standing American tradition of going to the polls to cast your vote is going away in Grand County, and voters will have to send their ballots in by mail for the upcoming primary election. “I don’t like it,” said long-time resident and business owner Andy Nettell. “There is something about going to the polls, seeing your neighbors, and dropping your ballot in the box that makes you feel like you are participating in democracy.” Other residents were surprised when the notice showed up in their mailbox. “This was the first I had heard of it. I was taken completely by surprise,” local teacher and resident, Joanne Savoie said. “Was there any discussion on this? Who made this decision?” The decision was made by Grand County clerk/auditor Diana Carroll, under Utah State Code 20A-3-302, which allows the election officer (clerk/auditor) to conduct the election by mail. Carroll made the decision, she said, “to reduce election costs, to clean up voter rolls, and to increase voter turnout.” Read More