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IV. Election News This Week
- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has created the Election Infrastructure Cybersecurity Working Group. According to DHS, the effort is designed to assist states in managing the cybersecurity risks to election and voting systems in coordination with the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the U.S. Department of Justice. The National Association of Secretaries of State made four appointments to the working group. The appointees are Secretary of State Denise Merrill (D-Connecticut), Secretary of State Connie Lawson (R-Indiana), Secretary of State Alex Padilla (D-California) and Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R-Georgia).
- This week the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced that Russian hackers may be responsible for infiltrating the voter registration databases in Arizona and Illinois. Following the announcement, media outlets in just about every state approached elections officials about the security of their systems. We’ll have more for you about that next week. In the meantime, the National Conference of State Legislatures has a primer for what legislators should be asking their elections officials about elections security.
- In response to concerns raised by Wisconsin election officials, this week the state’s Division of Motor Vehicles said the state will use overnight mail to get people voting credentials in order to make sure they can vote. Because not all IDs are immediately available at the DMV some voters have to wait until they are mailed. Members of the state’s new Elections Commission expressed their concerns this week about the lag time to get the IDs. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Michael Haas, director of the commission, said he expects his staff to develop an outreach plan by next week that will emphasize that people can get voting credentials in one trip to the DMV.
- Recently election officials in Prince William County, Virginia rented billboard space to urge commuters who may not be able to make to the polls on November 8 to apply for an absentee ballot. The billboard is located at a busy commuter intersection, but some have pointed out that the signs location—about 200 feet away from the intersection—makes it difficult for drivers to see. The billboard cost $3,262 to rent.
- A fire broke out just before 6 p.m. on August 31 in the Erie County, New York Board of Elections offices and caused about $275,000 worth of damage. Despite the damage price tag, officials weren’t concerned about the impact this may have on the Sept. 13 primary. Board of elections staff were working late when the fire broke out. No one was hurt and no critical hardware (voting machines) or software was damaged.
- Mi Familia Vota, a nonpartisan voter registration group is partnering with Arizona’s largest Spanish-language television and radio stations to produce a media campaign aimed at boosting Hispanic voter registration. The spot is set to air about 2,500 times through Election Day on Univision and Telemundo affiliates in the state. The spots feature DJs and talk show hosts from popular Spanish-language radio stations.
- And while we’re talking about vote rigging/hacking and since it’s right before a long holiday weekend when people might be raising a glass to toast the end of summer, Vine Pair — a website about wine, beer and cocktails—has an interesting piece on the history of using alcohol to buy votes in this country.
- Personnel News: Keith Rutledge has been hired to serve as the new Arkansas state board of election commissioners executive director. Michael Fitzgibbons has been removed as chairman of the Sevier County, Tennessee election commission. The Tuscarawas County, Ohio board of elections has recommended Allan Sayre to serve as the county’s new elections director. Robert Kando has been fired from his job as executive director of the Rhode Island board of elections.