The Hofeller Files Return, Part 2

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Remember those files we shared with you last week? Well, we did some digging and found out that President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Federal Election Commission James “Trey” Trainor was also involved in gerrymandering schemes.

Emails suggest that Trainor worked closely with the deceased GOP gerrymandering guru Thomas Hofeller and numerous local officials in Texas from 2011 to 2013 to draw maps that benefited Republican candidates in one of the largest counties near the greater-Houston area.

Dozens of emails show that their work ramped up just weeks after the Supreme Court struck down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which required states with a history of discriminatory practices (like Texas) to “pre-clear” any new maps with the Department of Justice. (read more)

Election Officials Ignore Warning Signs: More states are moving toward hand-marked paper ballots, but others will continue to use outdated and vulnerable touchscreen voting machines in the coming months. Voters in North Carolina head to the polls in March, but many will be doing so on voting machines that the State Board of Elections never certified.

Election Systems & Software (ES&S) is one of a handful of companies that provide the US with voting machines, but told officials in the Tar Heel State just one month after they originally certified their machines that they couldn’t provide enough of those units and officials needed to approve a different model. Election security officials called the move a “bait-and-switch” on the part of ES&S. (read more)

Voting-Machine Vendors Grilled on Capitol Hill: Unsurprisingly, voting-machine vendors and election security experts spoke in near polar opposite of each other about the threats facing US election infrastructure.

When Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) had his opportunity to question ES&S during a Committee on House Administration hearing on Thursday, he pressed the company’s president and CEO Tom Burt about that “bait-and-switch.”

“If a bait-and-switch means that we decided to send the most recent and the most secure system to the citizens of North Carolina, then that’s what we did,” Burt responded. (read more)

Wireless Internet Access in Voting Machines: Burt told Butterfield that ES&S stopped providing states with voting machines that had internet connectivity in 2006, and that no voting machine currently provided by ES&S has wireless access.

Yet a team of election security experts at the National Election Defense Coalition say it’s irrefutable that it’s still happening. The organization has found more than 30 voting systems with internet access — and continues to find more as it digs deeper. (read more)

Presidential Candidate Unveils Voting Rights Policy: Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg became the latest 2020 Democratic hopeful to make a pitch for election reform, laying out his vision for expanding ballot access and improving election security.

His plan calls for a “new national Voting Rights Act” that includes same-day and automatic voter registration, pre-registering 16- and 17-year-olds, and expanding access to early voting. But notably, he appears to be the only Democrat willing to keep voter ID laws in place.

Bloomberg’s policy rollout came on the same day that he joined Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams for an invite-only voting rights summit in Atlanta that morning. He’s donated more than $5 million to Abrams’s Fair Fight organization. (read more)

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