Felon Voting Rights and Vulnerable Voting Machines

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High school students in Illinois that are eligible to vote will be allowed a two-hour excused absence to cast a ballot during the 2020 election. (read more)

It’s a novel idea that came from high school students themselves, and Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) signed the bill last week. Efforts to expand voting rights has been a key issue for Democrats over the past few years. For example, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear signed an executive order just days after his inauguration to automatically restore voting rights to felons once they finish their sentences.

Meanwhile, in Georgia… A cybersecurity expert for the Coalition for Good Governance, a group that’s suing the state over its voting machines, said he found evidence that someone hacked the state’s central election server as early as 2014.

The plaintiffs received an FBI-made copy of the server in March 2017, and expert Logan Lamb said in an affidavit that “evidence suggests an attacker exploited a bug that provided full control of the server.” (read more)

The news about Georgia’s voting machines comes as officials were already under scrutiny for a host of actions taken to implement new touchscreen voting machines. Notably, the state audited its ballot-marking devices (which have their own issues that need to be dealt with) using a risk-limiting audit (RLA) to ensure the machines were safe before the year ended.

The problem? The creator of RLAs said that’s not possible.

Resignations, Warnings of Misinformation: The election accountability group Verified Voting participated in Georgia’s audit, and the secretary of state’s office hailed it as a success. But Dr. Philip Stark, the founder of RLAs and a member of Verified Voting’s board of directors, resigned in protest after he found out. So did Dr. Richard DeMillo, a cybersecurity expert from Georgia and adviser for the group.

“We should have trustworthiness before we try to encourage people to have trust,” Stark told WhoWhatWhy, adding that election officials are “entirely gambling on the equipment functioning as intended, no bugs, no hacking, no anything else, and we’ve seen quite recently that it’s not a reasonable assumption to make.” (read more)

Legal Battle Ensues Over Felon Voting Rights: The ACLU announced that it’ll be back in federal court this week over Florida’s Amendment 4 and whether more than one million formerly incarcerated people can vote in this year’s election. The state passed a law requiring individuals to pay any fines and fees (in addition to completing any jail sentence) before their voting rights can be restored, which critics say runs contrary to Amendment 4, but the Florida State Supreme Court recently ruled in the state’s favor. (read more)

FEC Complaint Hits Pro-Sanders Group: A nonprofit organization founded by 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is facing an FEC complaint by the watchdog group Common Cause. The group alleges that the political nonprofit organization Our Revolution “violated campaign finance law by accepting donations in excess of federal limits while boosting [Sanders’s] White House ambitions.” (read more)

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