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electionlineWeekly--August 25, 2011

Table of Contents

II. Election News This Week

  • The secretary of state’s office in Maine is investigating a possible breach of its statewide voter registration database. The state was notified on Wednesday by a cyber-monitoring division of the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security that Maine’s Central Voter Registration database had been compromised. According to The Bangor Daily News, the breach was discovered as part of a routine security check. “I am in the process of assessing what, if any information has been compromised,” Secretary of State Charlie Summers said in a statement. “I have taken immediate action to shut down this computer and disable the username and password for the town clerk.” The breach appears to have come from a specific computer that was infected with malware.

  • Rock the Vote called on the state of Michigan this week to work to increase voter participation by allowing potential voters to register to vote online. "Today's generation uses technology to register for classes and pay for taxes," said Heather Smith, president of Rock the Vote. "It would seem quite normal that we'd also be able to fill out a voter registration form with technology." A survey that tested how accessible the voting process was to all registered voters, released in June, found Michigan ranked 38th nationally, scoring 31 percent out of 100 percent. The average score was 41 percent, with the highest scoring state, Washington, at 68 percent. However, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson said Michigan has no plans to offer online voter registration, arguing the state needs to improve security in the voting process before introducing new technology. "There's nothing that's more important to the foundation of our democracy, our republic, our country than making sure our votes are clean and also encouraging people to vote," she told WJR-AM 760. "It's always a balancing act." Johnson said new technology carries risks and could potentially compromise Michigan elections.

  • This week, Ohio Secretary of State John Husted cautioned county officials against sending out automatic absentee ballot applications. In the directive issued Monday, Husted said because not all counties mail unsolicited applications for absentee voter ballots it “creates a disparate availability of access to the franchise for voters across [Ohio]”. “Uniformity in the way in which Ohio’s elections are administered is of the utmost importance, which is why Ohio must have a standardized approach to administering elections that ensures equal access for all voters,” Husted said in a statement. Cuyahoga County Executive Ed Fitzgerald expressed his disappointment with the directive to a local television station. “This is taking a step backward in terms of ballot access,” Fitzgerald told the station. “We should be doing what we can to make voting easier in Ohio.”