Secure Virginia

E-Signatures Just One Concern, Election Integrity Advocate Says

VOTING CONCERNS: One election integrity advocate says Virginia is trading the security of elections for ease. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.

VOTING CONCERNS: One election integrity advocate says Virginia is trading the security of elections for ease. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.

By Kathryn Watson | From, Virginia Bureau

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The acceptance of electronic or e-signatures on voter registration forms from third parties poses risks, but there’s a lot more to be worried about leading up to Nov. 4, says one election integrity advocate.

At the end of September, Attorney General Mark Herring confirmed a directive that the State Board of Elections issued a year ago under the administration of former Gov. Bob McDonnell. The Norfolk Electoral Board had asked Herring whether it should accept signatures issued by third parties electronically, given concerns about potential ID theft and voter integrity. Continue reading

HHS Grants $9 Million to Lawyers Representing Illegal Aliens, Virginia Included

On September 30, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced it will award $9 million in taxpayer-funded grants for direct legal representation of approximately 2,600 unaccompanied illegal alien minors facing deportation. (Politico, Sept. 30, 2014; Dallas News, Sept. 30, 2014) According to Spokesman Kenneth Wolfe, HHS has previously funded legal access programs that include providing information, legal screenings, and recruitment and training of pro bono lawyers, but this will be the first time it has awarded grants for direct legal representation. (Associated Press, Sept. 30, 2014)

HHS will award the grant to two organizations in FY 2014: the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) ($2,226,513) and the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) ($2,034,755). (Grant announcement, Oct. 1, 2014) The Conference of Catholic Bishops will partner with Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. to use the grant through affiliates in Los Angeles, California; Houston, Texas; Miami, Florida; Baltimore, Maryland; Washington, D.C., Arlington, Virginia; and New Orleans, Louisiana. (CLINIC press release, Oct. 2, 2014) HHS plans to award the remaining $4.7 million in fiscal year 2015. (Grant announcement, Oct. 1, 2014) Continue reading

First Amendment Implications of the Federal Aviation Administration Ban on Commercial Drones

By Cynthia D. Love, Sean Lawson and Avery E. Holton
Mercatus Center

Unmanned aircraft systems, commonly referred to as “drones,” have recently become a focus of the media, the public, and policymakers because of their use by the U.S. military. But public- and private-sector interest in domestic use of drones is also growing, especially in the field of journalism. In light of privacy and safety concerns raised by the new technology, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has sought to establish standards that limit the use of drones for “commercial” purposes while allowing experimental and recreational use.

In a new paper for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, scholars Cynthia D. LoveSean T. Lawson, and Avery E. Holton argue that the FAA’s actions to prohibit drone use by the media infringe on core First Amendment protections. The FAA should ensure that its efforts to regulate drones are consistent with constitutional principles. The agency should work with news media as key stakeholders in this discussion, and adhere to the Administrative Procedures Act by following a notice-and-comment rulemaking process, allowing all concerned parties, including amateur journalists and citizens, an opportunity to provide guidance about balancing safety, privacy, and freedom of the press.

For the complete study, see “News from Above: First Amendment Implications of the Federal Aviation Administration Commercial Drone Ban.” Continue reading

Caucus Ready to Target Plate Readers, Drones

By Kathryn Watson | From, Virginia Bureau

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The government is watching you.

Local police in Virginia randomly collect and keep photographs of license plates. Virginia universities are testing drones and, as of next July, police and other Virginia authorities will have use of the unmanned aerial devices.

It’s with that in mind that two Northern Virginia lawmakers — Democratic Sen. Chap Petersen and Republican Delegate Richard Anderson — have formed the Ben Franklin Privacy Caucus. In the months ahead, and starting 2 p.m. Tuesday, the lawmakers are looping the public into the process of forming privacy-related bills for the 2015 legislative session. Continue reading

Richmond Justice Initiative Honors Henrico County Prosecutor

From Richmond Justice Initiative:

RICHMOND, Va. — Richmond Justice Initiative hosted a reception for its organization Saturday evening in the home of Amy and Steven Williams, partner with McGuire Woods LLP. Richmond Justice Initiative awarded the Assistant Commonwealth Attorney of Henrico, Mike Feinmel, with its Freedom Maker Award.

Virginia Congressman Rob Wittman, an advisory board member for Richmond Justice Initiative, delivered an address as the keynote speaker in support of the organization’s work and accomplishments and spoke on the issue of human trafficking.

“It was an honor to host this event in the Williams’ home. It is only by the support of our community and individuals such as Mike Feinmel and Congressman Wittman that we are able to continue to fight human trafficking in Richmond and beyond,” said Sara Pomeroy, Founder and President of Richmond Justice Initiative. Continue reading


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