Offering asides, recommended links, blogworthy quotations, and more, In Brief is the Northwest Progressive Institute's microblog of world, national, and local politics.

Tag Archives: Fair Elections

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Huge: Court strikes down Pennsylvania’s Republican congressional gerrymander and orders a new map for 2018!

“On Monday, Pennsylvania’s state Supreme Court dealt Republican gerrymandering a crippling blow when it struck down the GOP’s congressional map for illegally discriminating against Democratic voters,” Stephen Wolf reports.

Aside

Good news: Virginia is getting rid of its easily hacked black box voting machines

This is a very positive development for fair elections:

Remember Virginia’s easily hacked voting machines that we wrote about more than two years ago? It seems that the state has learned its lesson about the potential vulnerability of voting machines and has decided to ditch all of its direct-voting machines and replace them with ones “that leave a paper trail”.

The State Board of Elections decided in a meeting on Friday that it would replace all of its current generation of voting machines that are vulnerable and plans to replace them all in time for its gubernatorial elections in November.

Here’s the recommendation from the Department of Elections. It declares:

The Department of Elections officially recommends that the State Board of Elections decertify all Direct Recording Electronic (DRE or touchscreen) voting equipment.

This recommendation is being made for multiple reasons, including the current security environment surrounding election administration, recently released public reports with confidential information related to unauthorized access to DREs at DefCon’s “Voting Machine Hacking Village,” the fact that no DREs in use in Virginia have a voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT), and the initial security assessment review of various DRE equipment conducted by the Virginia Information Technology Agency (VITA).

In sum, the Department of Elections believes that the risks presented by using this equipment in the November General Election are sufficiently significant to warrant immediate decertification to ensure the continued integrity of Virginia elections.

Way to go, Virginia! It’s about time more states took steps to end black box voting. The sanctity of our elections is extremely important. All states need elections systems that have a verifiable voter paper trail. The existence of paper ballots and paper records allows for a manual hand recount in the event of an extremely close election, like the one Washington State had in 2004 for Governor.

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Facebook sold ads to Russian firm tied to pro-Kremlin propaganda during election

Via The Washington Post: “Representatives of Facebook told congressional investigators Wednesday that the social network has discovered that it sold ads during the U.S. presidential campaign to a shadowy Russian company seeking to target voters, according to several people familiar with the company’s findings.”

Quotation

Within the mother lode Lamb found on the center’s website was a database containing registration records for the state’s 6.7 million voters; multiple PDFs with instructions and passwords for election workers to sign in to a central server on Election Day; and software files for the state’s ExpressPoll pollbooks — electronic devices used by pollworkers to verify that a voter is registered before allowing them to cast a ballot. There also appeared to be databases for the so-called GEMS servers. These Global Election Management Systems are used to prepare paper and electronic ballots, tabulate votes and produce summaries of vote totals.

— Politico: Will the Georgia special election get hacked?

Ars Technica has more.

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Federal judge says Texas “voter ID” law intentionally discriminates

Via The New York Times, a not unexpected but welcome development: “A federal judge ruled on Monday that the voter identification law the Texas Legislature passed in 2011 was enacted with the intent to discriminate against black and Hispanic voters, raising the possibility that the state’s election procedures could be put back under federal oversight.”

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New evidence: Before Trump job, Manafort worked to aid Putin

“Before signing up with Donald Trump, former campaign manager Paul Manafort secretly worked for a Russian billionaire with a plan to ‘greatly benefit the Putin Government,’ The Associated Press has learned. The White House attempted to brush the report aside Wednesday, but it quickly raised fresh alarms in Congress about Russian links to Trump associates.”

Quotation

I have been authorized by the Department of Justice to confirm that the FBI, as part of our counterintelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts. As with any counterintelligence investigation, this will also include an assessment of whether any crimes were committed.

— Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James Comey (Excerpts from the House Intelligence Committee hearing on Russia)

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Wild west: How B.C. lobbyists are breaking one of the province’s few political donation rules

Via The Globe and Mail: “With no limits on political donations in B.C., the provincial Liberals [who are actually conservatives] raised an astonishing $12-million last year. One alarming source: Lobbyists are giving tens of thousands of dollars in their own name – and some power brokers are breaking one of the few rules the province has in place. Kathy Tomlinson reports.”

Quotation

[N]ow that a recount is underway, we believe we have an obligation to the more than 64 million Americans who cast ballots for Hillary Clinton to participate in ongoing proceedings to ensure that an accurate vote count will be reported.

— Marc Elias: Listening and responding to calls for an audit and recount

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Oregon Republican Party claims responsibility for robocalls about inactive voters

“County clerks around Oregon are being ‘overwhelmed’ by calls from concerned voters who have received automated robocalls erroneously telling them that their voter registration may be inactive and that their ballot may not be counted,” reports The Register-Guard of Eugene, Oregon. Oregon Republicans have admitted they’re behind the calls; Democrats are demanding the Republicans cease their voter suppression activities immediately and disclose who they’ve already called.

Quotation

We have three major voter suppression operations under way.

— A top Trump operative, admitting to Bloomberg that Trump is trying to keep Democratic voters from voting (Inside the Trump bunker, with twelve days to go).

Quotation

I never worked directly with Wyman in any of the four years I was the prime sponsor of HB 1745, enacting the Washington Voting Rights Act. In a previous session, the secretary’s staff did meet with me and stakeholders regarding concerns several of us had. I never heard from staff or the secretary about what she may have thought about the bill. To my knowledge, Wyman has never made any public statements about the bill after opposing it during her first campaign. She certainly never made any visible effort to help pass the bill in this biennium.

Letter from Luis Moscoso: Kim Wyman didn’t work with me on voting rights bill

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Russian hackers infiltrated two state voter registration databases, federal officials say

Another reminder why voting needs to be done on paper: “Hackers based in Russia were behind two recent attempts to breach state voter registration databases, fueling concerns the Russian government may be trying to interfere in the U.S. presidential election, U.S. intelligence officials tell NBC News.”

Quotation

No trying-to-be objective and fair journalist, no citizen who cares about the country and its future can ignore what Donald Trump said today. When he suggested that “The Second Amendment People” can stop Hillary Clinton he crossed a line with dangerous potential. By any objective analysis, this is a new low and unprecedented in the history of American presidential politics. This is no longer about policy, civility, decency or even temperament. This is a direct threat of violence against a political rival. It is not just against the norms of American politics, it raises a serious question of whether it is against the law. If any other citizen had said this about a Presidential candidate, would the Secret Service be investigating?

Former CBS News anchor Dan Rather

Quotation

It made me physically ill… It was like a gut punch. I never thought, after all the years of dedicating my life to helping advance the Republican Party, that I would sit in a meeting of Republican officials and hear them openly plotting to impede another citizen’s voting rights.

— Wisconsin Republican Todd Allbaugh (via The Nation: The Republican Party’s war on voting Is working)

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Democratic Party, Clinton and Sanders campaigns to sue Arizona over voting rights

“The Democratic Party and the presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders will sue the state of Arizona over voter access to the polls after the state’s presidential primary last month left thousands of residents waiting as long as five hours to vote,” The Washington Post reports.

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Conservative lose key Supreme Court voting rights case

Another right wing political power grab has ended in failure after the Supreme Court unanimously affirmed that states may draw legislative districts based on total population, not merely the population on the voter rolls. The opinion in the case, Evenwel v. Abbot, was authored by Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Video Clip

John Oliver tackles voting in the United States on “Last Week Tonight”

Recommended Link

Redmond’s Villeneuve, Eyman file dueling statewide initiatives

Reporter Newspapers reports on the filing of the Majority Vote Protection Act by NPI founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve. The Majority Vote Protection Act would set a minimum turnout threshold for passage of initiatives and referenda, and require that any initiative to impose a supermajority vote requirement for anything pass by the same supermajority threshold.

 

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Ten ways to make Seattle (and Washington) politics more inclusive in 2016

Laura Bernstein of The Seattle Globalist recaps the highlights of Young, Gifted and Brown, a panel created to provide analysis of the 2015 Seattle elections. Bernstein reports the panel “brought together some of the best and brightest in local politics Tuesday night for a discussion on how to move forward to 2016 and keep elevating the diverse voices that are far too often left out of political conversations in Washington State.”

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NYT has mostly ignored its own public editor’s call to stress lack of voter fraud in stories about voter ID schemes

Media Matters holds The New York Times’ newsroom accountable for not challenging fake right wing justifications for unnecessary voter ID laws meant to disenfranchise Democratic voters.