Vermont Secretary of State James Condos – who was recently elected president of the National Association of Secretaries of State – has a new op-ed in The Hill newspaper detailing everything he and his colleagues across the nation are doing to prepare for cybersecurity threats to the election process in 2018 and beyond. It’s a powerful signal that the field is getting ready – and will stay ready – for Election Day 2018 and going forward as part of a never-ending race to keep America’s democracy safe from outside interference.
Mindy Moretti’s latest installment of electionlineWeekly looks at a new effort underway in Iowa aimed at using posters to inform voters of how – and why – their election cybersecurity is being protected. The “last mile” idea is vital in any project, but especially here where the key is to get people to think about their specific role in the overall cybersecurity scheme. It’s also a great way for jurisdictions to think through what their systems are in order to explain them to voters – and of course the information and assurance to voters is invaluable.
Denver’s Amber McReynolds announced last night that she will be leaving that office in mid-August to become executive director of the National Vote at Home Institute and Coalition. It’s a huge loss for for Denver but a huge get for National Vote at Home – and I think is a net-plus for the field because Amber will be able to share her experience more widely on changes to state and local election systems nationwide.
An Iowa local judge has issued a temporary injunction blocking some changes to the state’s early and absentee voting laws, and is limiting how the state can roll out its new voter ID requirement. The state says it will appeal, but this case (and the one yesterday in Florida) signal that we are now close enough to the general election that litigation to change (or prevent changes) to state and local election laws is in play to affect the rules regarding November’s vote.
Yesterday, a federal judge temporarily blocked a Florida rule prohibiting the use of on-campus buildings at public universities for early voting. The case, which relied in part on the Twenty-Sixth Amendment regarding youth voting, will not only affect Florida but could affect other states where voting rules and policies for young people are in dispute – and could eventually draw in the U.S. Supreme Court. It’s a significant development that could reshape state and local election policy for years to come.
Candidate filing in Louisiana had a surprise last week as interim Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin – who had said he wouldn’t run for re-election when he was appointed to replace the resigning Tom Schedler – changed his mind and joined the race. It’s just the latest twist in Louisiana, a state that seemingly likes its politics as spicy as its food; it’ll be interesting to see how Ardoin fares in convincing voters it’s time to remove “interim” from his title.
San Bernardino, CA’s registrar of voters resigned suddenly last week under pressure from county leadership – and reports suggest that differences of opinion about election cybersecurity were the primary cause. Obviously, the timing of this resignation isn’t ideal for the county with the general election less than four months away; here’s hoping that San Bernardino can stay on track with its election preparations. In the meantime, I’ll be watching to see if the outgoing registrar’s security concerns generate any new scrutiny of either the county or state election systems.
This week’s issue of electionlineWeekly features the latest of Mindy Moretti’s now-famous “exit interviews” – this time with Josh Franklin, who may not be well-known to casual observers of American elections but is recognized as a key player by hard-core electiongeeks nationwide. He’s leaving NIST to work on election issues with for the Center for Internet Security – and he’s also one of the more interesting people in the field, which shines through in this conversation.
The U.S. Election Assistance Commission is once again hosting an annual Language Access for Voters summit next Tuesday, July 24 at the Newseum in Washington, DC. It looks like an amazing event with many of the smartest people in the field – and if you are in the DC area, there are few places with a better view of the city than the Newseum! Check it out …
A federal court in New Hampshire is hearing a lawsuit challenging some localities’ practice of discarding mail ballots if the voter signature on the ballot doesn’t match the one on file. The stats indicate that the impact is concentrated in a small number of communities and wards, suggesting that the problem is varying enthusiasm of enforcement by local moderators. Don’t be surprised if the state, like others sued on similar practices, is required to notify voters and give them an opportunity to “cure” the signature problem.