News. Debate. Community. Levers for a better democracy.
Inquire Indiana: Which Counties Don't Have Paper Ballots?

Indiana moving far too slowly to thwart election hacking, lawsuit alleges

Indiana is not moving nearly assertively enough to upgrade its voting machines so they're less vulnerable to hackers, a nonprofit alleges in a federal lawsuit pressing the state to spend millions more before the presidential election.

At issue is the timetable for eliminating the direct recording electronic, or DRE, voting machines that are in use in 58 of the state's 92 counties. The complaint filed Thursday by Indiana Vote by Mail, which advocates for any array of proposals to give Hoosiers easier access to the ballot box, wants to force the state to replace the paperless devices in the next year with machines that produce a voter-verified paper audit trail.

Indiana for now looks to be among just eight states using paperless balloting in 2020, when President Trump will be counting on its 11 electoral votes. The state last went for the Democratic candidate for president in 2008.


Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson announced plans this summer to retrofit 2,000 electronic machines before the primaries in May so they produce a paper record. But that's only 10 percent of the equipment at issue. That's because the state allocated just $6 million to the project. Lawson had sought $75 million for the project but was rebuffed in budget negotiations by the governor, fellow Republican Eric Holcomb.

The General Assembly enacted a law this year giving counties in the state until 2030 to stop using paperless voting machines at any of the 5,0000 polling places. The DRE machines are widely understood to be more vulnerable to attack than their paper-trail siblings. But Lawson told the Indianapolis Star it is already "virtually impossible" for someone to hack into Indiana elections, because voting machines and tabulation devices aren't connected to the Internet.

Over the summer, volunteer hackers successfully gained access to every voting system they targeted as a test of the nation's election security.

News. Community. Debate. Levers for better democracy.

Sign up for The Fulcrum newsletter.

Congress
Getty Images

Republican Tom Graves (left) and Democrat Derek Kilmer lead the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, which demonstrated unanimous support for all of its proposal to the full House of Representatives.

Panel charged with fixing Congress is given another year to try

The House has rewarded its special "fix Congress committee" for its wholly bipartisan and relatively productive first year by extending its life for another year, giving the panel time to tackle some of the more contentious problems on its watch list.

With polarization, dysfunction and gridlock now Capitol Hill's three defining characteristics, the panel was created in January to set the stage for different behaviors to germinate — by proposing how the House could become a more efficient, transparent and up-to-date place for members to pass bills and conduct oversight, and for staffers to help them.

The idea is that it's essential for Congress to get back some of the capacity, stature and muscle ceded in recent decades to the president and the courts — and thereby recalibrate the balance of powers at the heart of a thriving federal republic.

Keep reading... Show less

Residents of Texas may register to vote when they apply for or renew a driver's license in person, but not online. A lawsuit that had been intended to change that was thrown out by an appeals court.

Online voter registration ban in Texas survives in federal court

A federal appeals court has blocked a lower court ruling that had opened the door to online voter registration in Texas.

The decision is a setback for advocates of easing access to the ballot box. They contend the nation's second-most-populous (and increasingly purple) state is being improperly strict in its interpretation of a federal law requiring states to give residents an opportunity to register when they apply for or renew driver's licenses.

But the ruling is not necessarily the final word on easing voter registration in Texas.

Keep reading... Show less