The real source of election tampering isn’t foreign hackers:

As the November elections approach, we just might be cast as the “mark” in a high-stakes shell game; we’re distracted by non-threats from geeks abroad while real threats to election integrity are landing every day courtesy of mind-reading judges who kill common-sense safeguards like voter ID laws.

Election Day is still nine weeks away, but “voting season” is starting this month:

Early voting now represents a good idea run amok. New laws that aimed to make casting a ballot easier and more convenient for busy voters have created Election Month. In some states, voters have six weeks to pull the lever. “Campaign season” has become “voting season.”

Candidates’ political operations may find these rules particularly convenient — every vote you know you’ve turned out before Election Day is one less you have to worry about on a particular Tuesday in November — but the trend will almost inevitably come back to bite voters.

The argument for allowing votes to be cast in a limited number of days before Election Day makes sense. Responsible, motivated voters can find themselves unexpectedly hindered on the traditional date… But even-earlier dates for voting means that a significant portion of the ballots — perhaps more than a third this year — will be officially cast before the campaign’s final days…

This year, the earliest of ballots will be cast before any of the three presidential debates or the vice-presidential debate… how early must a vote be cast before it becomes ridiculous? If early voting is an unalloyed good, because it allegedly drives up turnout, why not allow people to cast ballots in summer? Spring? A year before?

One of the central concepts of an election is everyone casting ballots at roughly the same time, with each voter making his decision with roughly the same information. New information can change voters’ behavior, even on Election Day.

Help Wanted

Election officials across the nation are taking to the airwaves and interwebs to scream “HELP WANTED!” before the November 2016 election. Click on your state to find appropriate contact information for your local elections office. Then, tell them that you’re ready to volunteer!

CO | FL | IA | MI | NH| NV | NC | OH| PA | VA | WI

Don’t get ‘hacked off’ about the Russians just yet.

Don’t get us wrong, vigilance is incredibly important with respect to election integrity – but sometimes you have to recognize when someone is trying to play you for a fool. You may recall a recent claim by the Department of Homeland Security that it was kicking around the idea of deeming America’s election systems as part of the “critical infrastructure” to protect against Russian hackers and the like. Right on cue thereafter, the FBI issued a sensitive bulletin (that was never meant to go public, but somehow did immediately anyway) that computer hackers attacked voter registration data systems belonging to the States of Illinois and Arizona. Then (as if scripted), blaring headlines and moderate panic ensued. Here’s what you need to know:

  • no one is certain of the nationality of the hackers themselves;
  • the attacks did not touch voting machines (nor could they);
  • there’s no evidence that new voter registrations were written inside the systems, nor does it appear existing records were changed; and
  • these attacks are so common that it has probably happened before – yet it wasn’t politically advantageous to sound the alarm until now.

Why stoke panic only weeks before voting starts in some states? It’s likely because those who favor federal control of elections are desperate -- as they appear to be running out of schemes to push their collective agenda on as many states as possible. Without DOJ preclearance lording over politically-valuable states, their playbook is much thinner.   So, taking into account their failed track record of attempts to remove voter ID laws and other setbacks, playing the fear card is tried and true.

What’s the moral of this story so far? Don’t overreact to over-hyped information. Two middling hackers grabbed copies of data files that were publicly available all along. Our voting machines are quite old; they can’t even be hacked over the Internet. So, do yourself a favor: resist the familiar urge to run into the artificially-warm arms of the feds for safety – they created the TSA after all.

Schedule a TTV speaker today!

Just in time for the height of the 2016 Election, True the Vote has fanned out staff and speakers around the southern and southeastern United States -- with more to come. Do you have a meeting or conference coming up and would like to book a speaker on the subject of election integrity? We’ve streamlined the request process with a form now available on the website, here. We can’t wait to attend your next event!

Watch the August 2016 National Webinar Replay

Couldn’t make it for the August 2016 National Webinar? You missed a good one – but don’t fret. This month we covered what you can [and mostly cannot] expect from the major political parties when it comes to ballot security. TTV also led a discussion on the recent voter registration system hacks in Arizona and Illinois. If you would like to catch up, click here to watch the presentation in full and share with your pals.

An update on the TTV Knowledge Network

Can you have too much of a good thing? Well, yes, evidently we can. Over the past two weeks, our Knowledge Network has seen a record influx of interest and new accounts that have overloaded our system. It’s not a bad problem to have, but it’s annoying all the same. You might have seen this issue when trying to set up a new account or log into your existing one. Don’t worry, all information is safe. We just want to assure you we’re working overtime to accommodate all the new faces. Once all upscaling work is complete in the days ahead, we’ll send an announcement via email. If you would like to be updated as soon as that happens, you can click here.

Did you know? PEW Research highlighted a study that detailed the total amount it would cost to collect ALL voter files in the country. True the Vote’s national voter roll research databank costs $126,482 -- just for the raw data! If you haven’t yet, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to help underwrite our research efforts.

Voter ID and Automatic Voter Registration Updates

Voter ID Updates

FLORIDA
A Riviera Beach man is upset he was allowed to vote Tuesday morning without being asked for photo identification, but the precinct captain denies the incident. Photo identification, such as a driver license, is a requirement to vote. “The only way a person is allowed to vote if they have photo identification. That is the only way they get a ballot,” said Marie Foster, precinct captain at the voting precinct at Hurst Chapel on Silver Beach Road, west of Dixie Highway.
Voter says he cast ballot without proper ID; voting official denies charge
 
MISSOURI
Governor Jay Nixon continues to criticize legislation that would require Missouri voters to show photo ID’s at the polls. Nixon, a Democrat, vetoed the bill earlier this year, but the Republican-controlled legislature is expected to try an override attempt during veto session two weeks from now. He told reporters yesterday that the state shouldn’t be making it harder for people to vote.
Nixon Continues to Criticize Voter ID Law
 
Ashcroft told a crowd of about 20 people at his campaign stop in Cape Girardeau the secretary of state’s office under Kander has “written misleading ballot language, fought to stop a photo-voter ID law and caused countless Missourians to be disenfranchised from voting because of election mismanagement.”
Jay Ashcroft accuses Missouri Secretary of State of election mismanagement
 
A decade ago, Missouri Republicans began their quest to require voters to present a government-issued photo ID before casting a ballot.
Every time they’ve gotten close to succeeding, something has come along to put the kibosh on the idea — either a court ruling, a Democratic filibuster or Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto pen.
GOP leaders believe they’ll take the first step toward finally putting the issue to rest when they return to the Capitol next month to consider whether to override Nixon’s latest veto of a voter ID bill.
Missouri Republicans gearing up for another voter ID fight
 
The hot button issue this campaign season is a proposed change to Missouri’s Constitution that would require voter photo IDs in order to cast a ballot. Smith insists that has already been ruled by a number of state courts to be unconstitutional. She says voter fraud cases are minimal and the photo ID plan could hurt minority voting access. Ashcroft, on the other hand, wrote the proposed Amendment 6 and enthusiastically supports it as a way to prevent voter fraud.
Smith, Ashcroft discuss Missouri Secretary of State election [Auto-play video]
 
NORTH CAROLINA
Most North Carolina voters will not have to show photo identification when they go to the polls this fall after the U.S. Supreme Court refused Wednesday to put on hold an appellate court decision striking down North Carolina's controversial law.
US Supreme Court refuses to bring back voter ID for November
 
Republican Governor Pat McCrory then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to restore the law for the coming election in November. Late today the Supreme Court refused to do that, with the justices split for the most part 4 to 4 and the four most conservative justices falling one vote shy of the five votes it takes to block a lower court decision.
Divided Supreme Court Refuses To Reinstate North Carolina Voter ID Law
 
An evenly divided U.S. Supreme Court refused to reinstate North Carolina’s Republican-backed voter-ID requirement for the November election, leaving intact a lower court’s conclusion that lawmakers intentionally discriminated against racial minorities.
U.S. High Court Won’t Revive North Carolina Voter-ID Law

The ruling has become cannon fodder in the state's hotly contested gubernatorial race. Through surrogates, Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, a former mayor of Charlotte, said his opponent should have fought for the law and Democratic nominee for governor, N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper, a lawyer from Nash County, said McCrory should have vetoed the law in the first place.
 
“The attorney general pushed for a law to require a photo ID to buy Sudafed, but even after Russian hackers compromised voting systems in other states, Roy Cooper still doesn't believe people should be required to show a photo ID to vote,” said Russell Peck, a spokesman for the McCrory campaign. “This is Roy Cooper once again kowtowing to liberal special interests and his campaign donors like George Soros instead of doing his job to defend the laws and the people of North Carolina.”
Parties split on voter ID ruling
 
TEXAS
Texas on Wednesday kicked off a voter education campaign ahead of the November elections amid heightened scrutiny of the state's voter ID law.
Under an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice and minority rights groups, the state is required to spend $2.5 million to educate voters about its voter ID requirements. Registered voters will be able to cast a ballot Nov. 8 without a photo ID under the agreement, which came weeks after a federal appeals court ruled that Texas’ 2011 voter identification law was discriminatory.
Texas Launches Voter Education Campaign Amid Scrutiny of Voter ID Law
 
Voting officials are educating the public on new Texas voter ID requirements before the general election this November.
The changes come after a federal court order found it unconstitutional to require a government-issued ID to vote. Now voters who don't have a government issued ID can fill out a form declaring a reasonable impediment to obtaining a government ID, along with supporting documentation. . . .
Voting officials said they're putting ads in newspapers and on television and answering any questions voters may have over the phone. While the new rules are fairly simple, officials still anticipate confusion close to election day. 
Voting Officials Educate Public on New ID Rules
 
Hays County Elections Administrator Joyce Cowan is reminding residents of Hays County that voters who cannot obtain one of the seven forms of approved photo ID now have additional options when voting in person.
The change was ordered by a federal judge who found the state’s Voter ID law disenfranchised some voters.
“My office is working to make sure all the voters in Hays County are ready to cast a ballot,”  Cowan said. “These new options for voters who cannot obtain a photo ID are currently in place and will be used in the November election.”
Changes to Voter ID law allows more options
 
WISCONSIN
A federal appeals court declined Friday to hear an appeal before a full panel of judges on the court to Wisconsin's voter ID provision before November.
The decision deals a setback to the American Civil Liberties Union and other challengers to the law.
Court declines to hear appeal on Wisconsin voter ID law before election
 
A federal appeals court has refused to reconsider a pair of rulings affecting Wisconsin's voter ID law, meaning no more changes to the requirement are likely before the November election.
The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday unanimously declined to have a full panel of judges hear appeals of two recent rulings affecting the voter ID requirement and a host of other election-related laws.
Appeals Court Upholds Wisconsin Voter ID Rulings
 
In both cases, lower courts ruled last month that the voter-ID law makes it unreasonably difficult to vote for no legitimate reason. . . .
The Seventh Circuit blocked Adelman's ruling but not Peterson's.
With this in mind, the court found that the issue is not so urgent as to require en banc treatment.
No En Banc Rehearing of Wisconsin Voter ID Law
 
The DMV provides free photo ID cards to residents who need them for voting. The agency has resources available online to help people navigate that process, which includes application information and a list of the documents they will need to obtain an ID. . . . Commissioner Ann Jacobs said she worries that an individual who goes in to apply the week of the November 8th election may not get the documents in time for their ballot to be counted. . . .
In response, the DMV said in a statement that the agency will issue the required photo ID receipt by overnight mail on the same day a person applies. That would allow someone who faces problems on Election Day to still cast a provisional ballot, and then provide the documentation needed to have that ballot counted after the election.
Need Voter ID? Act Early
 
Wisconsin election officials raised concerns Tuesday that some voters won’t be able to get IDs in time to vote in the Nov. 8 presidential election — potentially violating a court order.
In response, a Division of Motor Vehicles official said the state would use overnight mail to get people voting credentials in some cases to make sure they can more easily vote.
Courts have kept Wisconsin’s voter ID law in place but have ruled state officials must promptly provide free voting credentials to people who don’t have IDs, even if they lack birth certificates or other identity documents.
Some could have trouble getting ID near election

Updates courtesy of the Lawyers Democracy Fund.

Two recent hacks of voter registration databases in Arizona and Illinois highlight the vulnerability of online voter registration systems and the risk that vulnerability poses to election integrity, particularly in states without voter ID laws.

“If it’s an organized effort, and someone hacks into a system and falsely registers bogus voters, you could hire a crew of people to vote multiple times under different names,” von Spakovsky told The Daily Signal. “That’s a problem for states with no voter ID laws. There is no way to prevent that.”

Fortunately, neither the Arizona or Illinois hack got that far. Nor are these attacks on online voter databases evidence that our nation’s voting machines are similarly vulnerable. Such cyber attacks on voting systems, by Russian hackers or anyone else, are extremely unlikely, as “electronic voting machines are not Internet-based and do not connect to each other online.”

But conflating actual voter registration data attacks with speculative voting machine hacks serves to stir up misdirected fears about “rigged” elections.  As Yahoo News first reported, the FBI “Flash” alert on the registration hacking incidents “seems likely to ramp up pressure on the Department of Homeland Security to formally designate state election systems as part of the nation’s ‘critical infrastructure’ requiring federal protection.”

Some state election officials, Republican and Democrat, see DHS’s offer of “federal protection” as a federal power grab; Pennsylvania and Georgia already said thanks, but no thanks.

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