VOTING MODERNIZATION AND SECURITY

Voting Rights

● Voter intimidation and suppression continue to be American issues. In 2018, Georgia was placed in the spotlight for a voter suppression scheme that involved an “exact match” process that prevented registration for around 53,000 eligible voters, mostly (70%) African American citizens (African Americans make up 32.4% of Georgia’s population). The US Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder (2013) no doubt allowed Georgia to get away with this crime. The decision eliminated Section 4b of the Voting Rights Act, which contained the formula for ruling which states and local governments had to obtain federal preclearance before making changes to voting laws. Voter suppression must be ended through Federal Government oversight, as some states allow it themselves. This is not a call for the federal government to run state and local voting, but for laws to be put back in place that prevent states and local governments from implementing policies that disproportionately impact any race, gender, or group of people.

●  Registered voters with a felony offense on their criminal records can vote. Even when on parole, ex-felons who are not currently in prison retain the right to vote. Ensuring that these PA citizens are aware of this right is imperative. Informing a person that this is untrue is illegal, and is an example of voter intimidation/discriminatory conduct, according to the PA Department of State. This law must be enforced at and around polling stations.

● The PA Department of State defines voter intimidation as “Any activity that threatens, harasses or intimidates voters, including any activity that is intended to, or has the effect of interfering with any voter’s right to vote, whether it occurs outside the polling place or inside the polling place.” This definition means different actions to different people. Due to this conflict, police should be present around (100 feet or further from) polling stations to deter voter intimidation. Whether or not a voter and an advocate for a candidate agree with an advocate’s actions, having a legal authority nearby with whom voters can speak would serve as an excellent means of voter protection. Many instances of voter intimidation occur in high traffic places such as roads and sidewalks leading towards a polling station due to laws relating to how close to a polling station one can advocate for or against a candidate. This loophole should be closed, as voting must be intimidation-free in PA.    Make Voting Easier, usingmail, early, and/or weekend voting; and/or making Election Day a holiday In recent national elections, voter turnout has consisted of roughly half of the American registered voter population. In an effort to raise voter turnout and ensure that all eligible voters can express this fundamental right, the DCDC supports:

●  Establishing voter leave laws across Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania is one of only 18 states with no required time off of any kind on election days. Requiring employers to give their employees time off would allow many previous non-voters to get to the polls, effectively removing another obstacle towards a higher voter turnout. and/or

● Making election day a federal holiday to give all workers time to get to a polling station.

● Expanding opportunities for mail-in ballot options. Mail-in ballots allow citizens to take time at home to study issues and candidates at their leisure after seeing their options. Jurisdictions also save money on election location and labor costs. Mail-in ballots have also increased voter turnout in places they have been enacted, likely due to convenience.   Ensure Ballot Box Security, guaranteeing that all election results are trusted by the citizens PA currently uses direct-recording electronic systems without a voter-verifiable paper audit trail, or DRE without VVPAT, a system with minimal modern security measures or options for accountability procedures. The DCDC supports the Department of State’s directive to have “voter-verifiable paper-record voting systems selected no later than December 31, 2019, and preferably in place by the November 2019 general election,” as well as Governor Wolf’s order that all 67 counties had to replace voting machines with paper-trail ballot machines. The DCDC supports these directives for the following reasons:

● Security experts agree that voter-marked paper ballots are essential to ensuring the security of each PA voter’s voice. The University of Pittsburgh cites The Brennan Center for Justice stating that paper records independent of voting software are “an important security redundancy that should act as a deterrent to cyber- attacks and should provide voters with more confidence that their votes have been counted accurately.” Paper ballots do not prevent errors or attacks, but certainly makes votes more secure to security threats. According to the Department of Computer and Information Science, University of Pennsylvania, the DRE systems used by PA have vulnerabilities well-known by the computer science community.

● The University of Pittsburgh’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Pennsylvania’s Election Security has compiled an excellent report on the state’s use of ballot machines. They state that, As of November 2018, only 13 of 67 counties in Pennsylvania used optical scan systems as primary polling place equipment, which security experts recommend as best practice in combination with meaningful audits. Also, an astonishing 54.77% of PA voters vote on machines that have already been decertified in Virginia for their known vulnerabilities.

● The Blue Ribbon Commission continues, stating that Security experts agree that optical scanners should count votes filled out on paper or on a ballot-marking device by voters. Optical scanner systems provide accountability for vote counts and also allow the proper documentation of votes in case a recount is required due to security threats or  other reasons. This is supported by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, and computer science professors across the country.

● Virginia has already replaced its paperless DRE vote-count machines, completing the entire process in a matter of weeks. Delaware and Lousisiana are fellow states on their way to replacing their DRE machines. Voting Rights

● Voter intimidation and suppression continue to be American issues. In 2018, Georgia was placed in the spotlight for a voter suppression scheme that involved an “exact match” process that prevented registration for around 53,000 eligible voters, mostly (70%) African American citizens (African Americans make up 32.4% of Georgia’s population). The US Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder (2013) no doubt allowed Georgia to get away with this crime. The decision eliminated Section 4b of the Voting Rights Act, which contained the formula for ruling which states and local governments had to obtain federal preclearance before making changes to voting laws. Voter suppression must be ended through Federal Government oversight, as some states allow it themselves. This is not a call for the federal government to run state and local voting, but for laws to be put back in place that prevent states and local governments from implementing policies that disproportionately impact any race, gender, or group of people.

●  Registered voters with a felony offense on their criminal records can vote. Even when on parole, ex-felons who are not currently in prison retain the right to vote. Ensuring that these PA citizens are aware of this right is imperative. Informing a person that this is untrue is illegal, and is an example of voter intimidation/discriminatory conduct, according to the PA Department of State. This law must be enforced at and around polling stations.

● The PA Department of State defines voter intimidation as “Any activity that threatens, harasses or intimidates voters, including any activity that is intended to, or has the effect of interfering with any voter’s right to vote, whether it occurs outside the polling place or inside the polling place.” This definition means different actions to different people. Due to this conflict, police should be present around (100 feet or further from) polling stations to deter voter intimidation. Whether or not a voter and an advocate for a candidate agree with an advocate’s actions, having a legal authority nearby with whom voters can speak would serve as an excellent means of voter protection. Many instances of voter intimidation occur in high traffic places such as roads and sidewalks leading towards a polling station due to laws relating to how close to a polling station one can advocate for or against a candidate. This loophole should be closed, as voting must be intimidation-free in PA.    Make Voting Easier, usingmail, early, and/or weekend voting; and/or making Election Day a holiday In recent national elections, voter turnout has consisted of roughly half of the American registered voter population. In an effort to raise voter turnout and ensure that all eligible voters can express this fundamental right, the DCDC supports:

●  Establishing voter leave laws across Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania is one of only 18 states with no required time off of any kind on election days. Requiring employers to give their employees time off would allow many previous non-voters to get to the polls, effectively removing another obstacle towards a higher voter turnout. and/or

● Making election day a federal holiday to give all workers time to get to a polling station.

● Expanding opportunities for mail-in ballot options. Mail-in ballots allow citizens to take time at home to study issues and candidates at their leisure after seeing their options. Jurisdictions also save money on election location and labor costs. Mail-in ballots have also increased voter turnout in places they have been enacted, likely due to convenience.   Ensure Ballot Box Security, guaranteeing that all election results are trusted by the citizens PA currently uses direct-recording electronic systems without a voter-verifiable paper audit trail, or DRE without VVPAT, a system with minimal modern security measures or options for accountability procedures. The DCDC supports the Department of State’s directive to have “voter-verifiable paper-record voting systems selected no later than December 31, 2019, and preferably in place by the November 2019 general election,” as well as Governor Wolf’s order that all 67 counties had to replace voting machines with paper-trail ballot machines. The DCDC supports these directives for the following reasons:

● Security experts agree that voter-marked paper ballots are essential to ensuring the security of each PA voter’s voice. The University of Pittsburgh cites The Brennan Center for Justice stating that paper records independent of voting software are “an important security redundancy that should act as a deterrent to cyber- attacks and should provide voters with more confidence that their votes have been counted accurately.” Paper ballots do not prevent errors or attacks, but certainly makes votes more secure to security threats. According to the Department of Computer and Information Science, University of Pennsylvania, the DRE systems used by PA have vulnerabilities well-known by the computer science community.

● The University of Pittsburgh’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Pennsylvania’s Election Security has compiled an excellent report on the state’s use of ballot machines. They state that, As of November 2018, only 13 of 67 counties in Pennsylvania used optical scan systems as primary polling place equipment, which security experts recommend as best practice in combination with meaningful audits. Also, an astonishing 54.77% of PA voters vote on machines that have already been decertified in Virginia for their known vulnerabilities.

● The Blue Ribbon Commission continues, stating that Security experts agree that optical scanners should count votes filled out on paper or on a ballot-marking device by voters. Optical scanner systems provide accountability for vote counts and also allow the proper documentation of votes in case a recount is required due to security threats or  other reasons. This is supported by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, and computer science professors across the country.

● Virginia has already replaced its paperless DRE vote-count machines, completing the entire process in a matter of weeks. Delaware and Lousisiana are fellow states on their way to replacing their DRE machines. Voting Rights

● Voter intimidation and suppression continue to be American issues. In 2018, Georgia was placed in the spotlight for a voter suppression scheme that involved an “exact match” process that prevented registration for around 53,000 eligible voters, mostly (70%) African American citizens (African Americans make up 32.4% of Georgia’s population). The US Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder (2013) no doubt allowed Georgia to get away with this crime. The decision eliminated Section 4b of the Voting Rights Act, which contained the formula for ruling which states and local governments had to obtain federal preclearance before making changes to voting laws. Voter suppression must be ended through Federal Government oversight, as some states allow it themselves. This is not a call for the federal government to run state and local voting, but for laws to be put back in place that prevent states and local governments from implementing policies that disproportionately impact any race, gender, or group of people.

●  Registered voters with a felony offense on their criminal records can vote. Even when on parole, ex-felons who are not currently in prison retain the right to vote. Ensuring that these PA citizens are aware of this right is imperative. Informing a person that this is untrue is illegal, and is an example of voter intimidation/discriminatory conduct, according to the PA Department of State. This law must be enforced at and around polling stations.

● The PA Department of State defines voter intimidation as “Any activity that threatens, harasses or intimidates voters, including any activity that is intended to, or has the effect of interfering with any voter’s right to vote, whether it occurs outside the polling place or inside the polling place.” This definition means different actions to different people. Due to this conflict, police should be present around (100 feet or further from) polling stations to deter voter intimidation. Whether or not a voter and an advocate for a candidate agree with an advocate’s actions, having a legal authority nearby with whom voters can speak would serve as an excellent means of voter protection. Many instances of voter intimidation occur in high traffic places such as roads and sidewalks leading towards a polling station due to laws relating to how close to a polling station one can advocate for or against a candidate. This loophole should be closed, as voting must be intimidation-free in PA.    Make Voting Easier, usingmail, early, and/or weekend voting; and/or making Election Day a holiday In recent national elections, voter turnout has consisted of roughly half of the American registered voter population. In an effort to raise voter turnout and ensure that all eligible voters can express this fundamental right, the DCDC supports:

●  Establishing voter leave laws across Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania is one of only 18 states with no required time off of any kind on election days. Requiring employers to give their employees time off would allow many previous non-voters to get to the polls, effectively removing another obstacle towards a higher voter turnout. and/or

● Making election day a federal holiday to give all workers time to get to a polling station.

● Expanding opportunities for mail-in ballot options. Mail-in ballots allow citizens to take time at home to study issues and candidates at their leisure after seeing their options. Jurisdictions also save money on election location and labor costs. Mail-in ballots have also increased voter turnout in places they have been enacted, likely due to convenience.   Ensure Ballot Box Security, guaranteeing that all election results are trusted by the citizens PA currently uses direct-recording electronic systems without a voter-verifiable paper audit trail, or DRE without VVPAT, a system with minimal modern security measures or options for accountability procedures. The DCDC supports the Department of State’s directive to have “voter-verifiable paper-record voting systems selected no later than December 31, 2019, and preferably in place by the November 2019 general election,” as well as Governor Wolf’s order that all 67 counties had to replace voting machines with paper-trail ballot machines. The DCDC supports these directives for the following reasons:

● Security experts agree that voter-marked paper ballots are essential to ensuring the security of each PA voter’s voice. The University of Pittsburgh cites The Brennan Center for Justice stating that paper records independent of voting software are “an important security redundancy that should act as a deterrent to cyber- attacks and should provide voters with more confidence that their votes have been counted accurately.” Paper ballots do not prevent errors or attacks, but certainly makes votes more secure to security threats. According to the Department of Computer and Information Science, University of Pennsylvania, the DRE systems used by PA have vulnerabilities well-known by the computer science community.

● The University of Pittsburgh’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Pennsylvania’s Election Security has compiled an excellent report on the state’s use of ballot machines. They state that, As of November 2018, only 13 of 67 counties in Pennsylvania used optical scan systems as primary polling place equipment, which security experts recommend as best practice in combination with meaningful audits. Also, an astonishing 54.77% of PA voters vote on machines that have already been decertified in Virginia for their known vulnerabilities.

● The Blue Ribbon Commission continues, stating that Security experts agree that optical scanners should count votes filled out on paper or on a ballot-marking device by voters. Optical scanner systems provide accountability for vote counts and also allow the proper documentation of votes in case a recount is required due to security threats or  other reasons. This is supported by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, and computer science professors across the country.

● Virginia has already replaced its paperless DRE vote-count machines, completing the entire process in a matter of weeks. Delaware and Lousisiana are fellow states on their way to replacing their DRE machines. 

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