News. Debate. Community. Levers for a better democracy.
Jessica McGowan/Getty Images

Voters in Atlanta cast ballots in the 2018 election. A new voting system ordered by the state has prompted legal challenges from voters who claim it has numerous deficiencies.

Voters challenge newly ordered election equipment in Georgia

Georgia voters are challenging a new $107 million voting system ordered by state officials last month, claiming it does not provide the kind of paper record that will ensure their votes are being cast properly.

The petition, sent earlier this week to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, is filed under a provision of state law that allows voters to request a reexamination of voting devices approved by the state. It claims that the system doesn't meet the state's certification requirements but does not say whether it should just be fixed or replaced with a different system.

The challenge is just the latest development in a battle over election procedures and security that dates back to before the 2018 gubernatorial race in which Democrat Stacey Abrams lost a tight race to Republican Brian Kemp amid claims of voting irregularities.

The close race signaled that Georgia, a traditionally Republican state, may be turning into a political tossup heading into the 2020 presidential election.

The petition, signed by 1,450 voters, claims the printed barcode generated by the voting system is not readable by a voter and therefore not an acceptable method of validating votes. The system was purchased from Colorado-based Dominion Voting Systems.

"Requiring a voter to cast votes recorded in the form of a barcode that she cannot read, interpret or verify directly undermines the state's decision to adopt a voting system that includes a verifiable ballot," the petition states.

In the wake of foreign attempts to hack into voting systems in the 2016 election, most experts and advocates have called for all election systems to create a paper record that can be used to verify and audit voting results.

In a related development, some of the people who had filed a lawsuit challenging the state's old voting system have amended their suit to challenge the new Dominion system.

Raffensperger responded by accusing those challenging the new system of hoping it would fail and calling on Georgians to "reject these ridiculous tactics."

Last week, the federal judge hearing the court challenge to the state's old election system ordered the state to stop using it after the end of this year, calling it "antiquated, seriously flawed, and vulnerable to failure, breach, contamination, and attack."

News. Community. Debate. Levers for better democracy.

Sign up for The Fulcrum newsletter.

U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue

Naturalized citizens living in Mississippi must prove their citizenship when they register to vote, unlike those born in the United States. Above, members of the military are sworn in as U.S. citizens at Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi.

Mississippi voting rules are biased against naturalized citizens, lawsuit alleges

The latest effort to ease restrictions on voting through litigation is a challenge to Mississippi's requirement that naturalized citizens show proof of their citizenship when they register.

The lawsuit, filed Monday by the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance, says the law is unconstitutional because it violates of the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause by treating one category of citizens differently from another. People born in the United States need only check a box on the state's registration form attesting they are citizens.

The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which helped bring the suit, says Mississippi is the only state with a unique mandate for would-be voters who were not born American citizens.

Keep reading... Show less
Committee on the Modernization of Congress

"Members are clearly concerned for the future of Congress. These are not partisan or political concerns," writes Mark Strand.

Now that the House’s modernization panel is extended, it has a lot more work to do

Strand is president of the Congressional Institute, a nonprofit that seeks to help members of Congress better serve their constituents and their constituents better understand Congress. He testified before the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress in March.

As the House of Representatives marches toward a partisan impeachment, the American public can be forgiven for missing a bright spot of productive bipartisanship: the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress. After an encouraging year of bipartisan committee work, the House voted last week to extend the panel for a year.

This committee has made 29 unanimous recommendations to improve technology, transparency, accessibility and constituent engagement as well as provide better support for staff. Twenty-nine unanimous recommendations. And these aren't boiler plate measures like "The House should have more transparency." They are well thought-out solutions that can be taken up by committees of jurisdiction, such as allowing new members to hire a transition staffer, promoting civility during new-member orientation, streamlining bill writing and finalizing a system to easily track how amendments would alter legislation and impact current law.

The committee's members wanted to be part of this work. They understand how important it is for the House to catch up with modern times. There's still a lot of work to do, though, which is why it's great they will be able to continue through the end of 2020.

Keep reading... Show less