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


Even if they lacked any moral compass beyond their own political survival, one might imagine that Republican politicians and conservative media figures would want to tell their voters and audiences the truth just to make sure they survive to vote in November and buy into reverse mortgage scams advertised on Fox News. But the Pavlovian urge to win the short-term news cycle, own the libs and defend the economic interests of corporate America and Trump’s re-election are combining with the predilection for conspiracy-minded thinking on the right.

— David Atkins, writing for The Washington Monthly: Republican America isn’t prepared for the coronavirus crisis

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Coronavirus may disrupt the 2020 presidential election — we need a plan

“Quarantines and fear could decimate voter turnout. Congress needs to fund mail-in ballots nationwide now,” Jon Stokes argues in an essay for WIRED.

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Three-quarters of Americans lack confidence in tech companies’ ability to fight election interference

“A significant majority of Americans have lost faith in tech companies’ ability to prevent the misuse of their platforms to influence the 2020 presidential election, according to a new study from Pew Research Center,” TechCrunch reports.

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Federal judge orders Georgia to switch to paper ballots for 2020 elections

Via Ars Technica: “Election security advocates scored a major victory on Thursday as a federal judge issued a one hundred and fifty-three page ruling ordering Georgia officials to stop using its outdated electronic voting machines by the end of the year.”


Every election is important. This one, in 2020, is existential.

— Former Attorney General Eric Holder, speaking at Defending the Census, a Netroots Nation 2019 panel discussion

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Trump smashed months of FBI work to thwart election interference

Via Politico: “Trump’s willingness to accept foreign assistance has essentially invited overseas spies to meddle with 2020 presidential campaigns, undoing months of work, said law enforcement veterans.”

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“I’m not asking any of you to give any blood,” civil rights legend Representative John Lewis said at a rally for Stacey Abrams. “I’m just asking you to go and vote like you never voted before. We have to vote!”

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Security-challenged firms are gatekeepers of U.S. elections

Required reading from the Associated Press’ cybersecurity writer: “Three privately held companies sell and service more than ninety percent of U.S. elections systems. But the companies have long stressed convenience for their customers over product security, security experts and elections officials say.”

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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.


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.”


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.”


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.”


[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.


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).


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.”