Wednesday, August 08, 2018


Yeah, this seems legit:
No law requires Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to recuse himself from a recount in the governor’s race....

Republican legislative leaders said Wednesday morning that a recount is almost certain and could possibly take weeks....

Kobach, the state’s top election official, narrowly led Gov. Jeff Colyer in the Republican primary by a mere 191 votes Wednesday morning after each of the state’s 105 counties had posted election returns....

“There’s nothing in the statute that says the secretary has to recuse himself,” said Mark Johnson, a partner at the Kansas City law firm Dentons who has experience in election law. “But I would have to believe that in a situation like this, the secretary would be well advised to remove any appearance of impropriety.”
Somehow I don't think that recusal will happen. And Kobach will also get to oversee the general election if he advances to it. Maybe there ought to be a law against that -- or, given that this is a state issue, fifty laws.

Kobach, of course, pushed phony claims of voter fraud as the driving force behind the Trump administration's election integrity commission. Also, according to The Kansas City Star, Kobach earned big bucks recommending that small towns pass a draconian anti-immigrant initiative while offering himself as a legal defender of the initiative, which was regularly rejected in court. Kobach made money; towns went broke. That guy is going to oversee a recount and then a general election involving himself?

But he's not the only democracy-averse Republican secretary of state who might get to rule on a gubernatorial election in which he's the candidate. There's also Brian Kemp in Georgia, who's in a tight race with Democrat Stacey Abrams. Democracy doesn't always go well in Georgia, as we learned this week:
It appeared, according to the Georgia Secretary of State’s website, that Habersham County’s Mud Creek precinct in northeastern Georgia had 276 registered voters ahead of the state’s primary elections in May.

Some 670 ballots were cast, according to the Georgia secretary of state’s office, indicating a 243 percent turnout.

But on Tuesday at 10 a.m., the number of registered voters on the secretary of state’s website was changed for Mud Creek to 3,704 registered voters, reflecting a more likely turnout of about 18 percent.

The odd turnout figures last Friday were filed as part of a federal lawsuit against the state by election security activists that included a number of sworn statements and exhibits from activists and voters who experienced a series of bizarre and confusing issues at the state’s polling places....

In one sworn statement, a voter explains that she and her husband, who were registered to vote at the same address, were assigned different polling places and different city council districts. In another, a voting machine froze on Election Day.

In several instances, voters showed up at their polling places as listed on the secretary of state’s website, only to be told they were supposed to vote elsewhere.

An Atlanta Democrat’s voting machine provided him a ballot including the 5th Congressional District, for which longtime Rep. John Lewis ran unopposed, instead of his 6th Congressional District ballot, which featured a competitive Democratic race.
But wait, there's more This happened in 2016:
... a security researcher in Georgia named Logan Lamb discovered a serious security vulnerability in an election server in his state. The vulnerability allowed him to download the state’s entire database of 6.7 million registered voters and would have allowed him or any other intruder to alter versions of the database distributed to counties prior to the election. Lamb also found PDFs with instructions and passwords for election workers to sign in to a central server on Election Day as well as software files for the state’s ExpressPoll pollbooks—the electronic devices used by poll workers to verify voters’ eligibility to vote before allowing them to cast a ballot.

The unpatched and misconfigured server had been vulnerable since 2014 and was managed by the Center for Election Systems, a small training and testing center that until recently occupied a former two-story house on the Kennesaw State University campus. Until last year, the Ccnter was responsible for programming every voting machine across the state, raising concerns that if the Russians or other adversaries had been able to penetrate the center’s servers as Lamb had done, they might have been able to find a way to subvert software distributed by the center to voting machines across the state.

But Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who was the only state election official to refuse security assistance from the Department of Homeland Security prior to the election, has insisted for more than a year that his state’s voting systems were never at risk in the 2016 election, because DHS told him the Russians had not targeted Georgia.

This changed [in July of this year], however, when the Justice Department unsealed the indictment against 12 Russian intelligence officers who oversaw an operation that, the department says, included targeting county websites in Georgia.
And, of course,
Georgia uses a single model of touchscreen voting machine statewide that security researchers have shown to be vulnerable to hacking. The machines do not have a paper trail and therefore provide no means of conducting an audit of their election results—an ideal scenario for anyone who wants to subvert an election.
And did I mention the 2015 data breach?
Two Georgia women have filed a class action lawsuit alleging a massive data breach by Secretary of State Brian Kemp involving the Social Security numbers and other private information of more than six million voters statewide.

The suit, filed Tuesday in Fulton County Superior Court, alleges Kemp’s office released the information including personal identifying information to the media, political parties and other paying subscribers who legally buy voter information from the state.

In response, Kemp’s office blamed a “clerical error” and said Wednesday afternoon that they did not consider it to be a breach of its system. It said 12 organizations, including statewide political parties, news media organizations and Georgia GunOwner Magazine, received the file.
But surely Kemp has some concerns about the proper conduct of elections -- doesn't he? Well, yes, as this 2017 story makes clear:
Secretary of State Brian Kemp has continuously blasted Democrat Stacey Abrams since both entered the governor’s race, even as his office oversaw a complicated fraud investigation into a voter registration group founded by Abrams.

The Republican has said he’s fulfilling his constitutional duty by directing his office’s probe of the New Georgia Project, which last week led to a decision by the State Elections Board to refer 53 allegedly forged voter applications out of roughly 86,000 forms to the state Attorney General’s office for possible prosecution.

But his critics say he should recuse himself from the probe to avoid a conflict of interest, citing his frequent attacks against Abrams as evidence he can’t be seen as a neutral arbiter of the voting complaints.
The probe's lead investigator said that he'd found no wrongdoing by Abrams or her group (the people referred for prosecution were independent contractors) -- but now Kemp gets to oversee an election in which he's running against someone he targeted for investigation. That's modern democracy in America.


UPDATE: Oops, forgot this from last year (hat tip ZenLoon in comments):
A computer server crucial to a lawsuit against Georgia election officials was quietly wiped clean by its custodians just after the suit was filed, The Associated Press has learned.

The server’s data was destroyed July 7 by technicians at the Center for Elections Systems at Kennesaw State University, which runs the state’s election system. The data wipe was revealed in an email sent last week from an assistant state attorney general to plaintiffs in the case that was later obtained by the AP. More emails obtained in a public records request confirmed the wipe.

The lawsuit, filed July 3 by a diverse group of election reform advocates, aims to force Georgia to retire its antiquated and heavily criticized election technology.

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