Oct 09 2008

Purged State Voter Rolls Resulted From Illegal Widespread Primary Use of Social Security Database to Verify Voter Registrations

According to a New York Times article, tens of thousands of eligible voters in at least six swing states have been removed from the rolls or have been blocked from registering in ways that appear to violate federal law. States have been trying to follow the Help America Vote Act of 2002, which requires election officials to use the Social Security database to check a registration application only as a last resort, if no record of the applicant is found on state databases, like those for driver’s licenses or identification cards. The requirement exists because using the federal database is less reliable than the state lists, and is more likely to incorrectly flag applications as invalid. Many state officials seem to be using the Social Security lists first.

Last week, after the inquiry by the Times, Michael J. Astrue, the commissioner of the Social Security Administration, alerted the Justice Department to the problem and sent letters to election officials in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Nevada, North Carolina and Ohio. The letters ask the officials to ensure that they are complying with federal law. By using the Social Security database so extensively, states are flagging extra registrations and creating extra work for local officials who are already struggling to process all the voter registration applications by Election Day. Read More

Oct 09 2008

Transportation Security Administration Likely to Relax Restrictions on Liquids Next Year

The head of the Transportation Security Administration, Kip Hawley, says that the agency will likely relax its restrictions on liquids on commercial flights next year, the Wall Street Journal reports. The rules were put in place after an alleged plot to bring “a liquid bomb” onto planes heading to the US from the UK.

In a post on TSA’s blog, Hawley said that TSA believes, “widespread deployment of new multi-view x-ray systems with an enhanced algorithm that detects specific liquids remains about a year away. But the multi-view x-ray itself is a significant improvement over the standard x-ray that’s been at the checkpoint since its inception in the 1970s.” Once the technology is ready, Hawley says that the agency will be more flexible toward liquids brought on by air travelers.

Security expert Bruce Schneier, among others, has questioned the efficacy of these restrictions on liquid and TSA security procedures generally. In a recent column, Schneier explained the security holes in TSA’s restrictions. Read More