Europe: Estonian e-voting shouldn’t be used in European elections, say security experts | The Guardian

Estonia’s internet voting system should not be used for the European elections in May because its security vulnerabilities could lead to faked votes or totals, say independent researchers. The flaws were discovered by a team who were accredited to observe the October 2013 municipal elections. They said they observed election officials downloading key software over insecure internet connections, typing PINs and passwords in view of cameras, and preparing election software on insecure PCs. They have reported their findings to the Estonian government, but had had no response by Monday. As one of the highest-profile countries in its adoption of the internet, Estonia intends to use the e-voting system for its European elections in May, and already uses it for national parliamentary and municipal elections. Up to a quarter of votes are cast online in elections. The attacks could be carried out by nation states that wanted to compromise elections, or a well-funded candidate who hired criminal hackers with the capabilities to alter the vote, the researchers warned.

Editorials: The Debate Over Voting Rights Is Shifting Dramatically. Just Ask Rand Paul. | Ari Berman/The Nation

Last August, after the Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, Rand Paul argued: “I don’t think there is objective evidence that we’re precluding African-Americans from voting any longer.” (For a comprehensive rebuttal, read Andrew Cohen’s “Here Where Rand Paul Can Find ‘Objective Evidence’ of Voter Suppression.”) Nine months later, Paul is saying of voter ID laws: “it’s wrong for Republicans to go too crazy on this issue because it’s offending people.” He’s conceded that Republicans have “over-emphasized” the prevalence of voter fraud and has called cutting early voting hours “a mistake.” He’s working with Eric Holder and lobbying in his home state of Kentucky to restore voting rights to non-violent ex-felons. This from a guy who ran for office as a darling of the Tea Party and suggested that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was unconstitutional. Paul’s new religion on voting rights is evidence of a broader shift on the issue. In recent weeks, courts in Wisconsin and Arkansas have struck down voter ID laws and Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett decided not to appeal a Commonwealth Court decision in January overturning his state’s voter ID law

Editorials: A strategy to cure Democratic voting | Steve Chapman/Dallas Morning News

Many years ago, as a college Republican, I spent one summer in Austin working for a candidate in a special election for the Texas Senate. It was a liberal enclave with many college students — unwashed, longhaired, pot-smoking students, it seemed to me — who were predominantly Democrats. The more students who came out to vote, the less likely our candidate was to win. So our campaign strategists came up with a plan. They sent mailings to all the registered voters in precincts near the campus. Many cards came back because the addressee had moved, as college students often do. Voters no longer at the address on file with election authorities were not eligible to vote. On Election Day, a fellow campaign worker and I went to a polling place to monitor voters. When they gave their names, we checked to see whether their mailings had come back. If so, we lodged an objection. The voters affected were not pleased. If we had been asked to defend our actions, I imagine we would have come up with something about upholding the law and assuring the integrity of elections. But the people running the campaign never said anything like that. What they said was that this was a great way to reduce the number of people voting for our opponent. It didn’t help, because he was too popular. But my superiors were not the last Republicans to figure that if you can’t get people to vote for you, you can try to keep them from voting at all.

Editorials: When ‘patriots’ unite to restrict voting rights | Amy Dean/Al Jazeera

Conservative iconography is saturated with references to America’s democratic tradition. From Charles and David Koch’s political action committee, Americans for Prosperity, which uses the Statue of Liberty’s torch for its logo, to the ubiquitous presence of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence at tea party rallies, it is commonplace for conservatives to drape themselves in the flag and proclaim their allegiance to our nation’s founding documents. But lately, conservative lawmakers across the country have launched a drive that not only contradicts this rhetoric but strikes at the fundamental basis for representative government in America: They are pursuing a raft of measures that will restrict voters’ access to the polls. A heated debate about voter ID laws — measures that require voters to take government-issued identification to the polls — has been taking place for several years. The U.S. Supreme Court in 2008 upheld the constitutionality of these local voter ID laws, but even the justices were deeply divided on the question; civil liberties groups continue to argue that, as with the poll taxes and literacy tests of the Jim Crow South, these laws result in the disenfranchisement of poor people and people of color. However, conservatives have now opened another front in the war on the vote with a slate of recent laws that attack provisions such as early voting.

Florida: Orange’s Hispanic voting rights case a duel over data | Orlando Sentinel

Despite a “wave” of Hispanics moving to Orange County, elected leaders “made it harder” for them to get elected when it redrew its political borders, plaintiffs’ attorney Juan Cartagena told a federal judge Monday at the opening of a voting-rights lawsuit. Orange County’s lead attorney countered that voters have elected Latinos to county offices in districts with fewer Hispanic voters than today — and despite what the plaintiffs want, it may be legally impossible to create a majority-Hispanic district. In the suit, local Hispanics accuse Orange leaders of diluting Latino political power. The New York City civil rights group representing them, LatinoJustice PRLDE, called its first witness, who said Hispanics are a large and cohesive enough group to have a majority district.

Florida: Scheme to intimidate Florida GOP voters results in plea deal for Seattle man | Miami Herald

A plan to get back at Florida Republicans for a 2012 purge aimed at ineligible voters backfired on a Seattle man, who now faces up to six years in prison and more than $350,000 in fines. According to a U.S. Attorney’s Office plea agreement filed Monday in Tampa’s U.S. District Court, James Webb Baker Jr., 58, sent about 200 letters a month before the 2012 presidential election to prominent Florida Republicans in an effort to intimidate them and interfere with their voting rights. When contacted by phone in Seattle, Baker referred questions to his lawyer, Tampa attorney John Fitzgibbons. “Mr. Baker regrets the events which led to these charges,” Fitzgibbons said in a statement. “He has acknowledged and accepted responsibility for his actions and we look forward to the conclusion of this matter.” Though he lives 3,000 miles away, Florida politics pulled Baker into his current legal troubles. Around October 2012, Baker had read online articles about efforts by Gov. Rick Scott and Secretary of State Ken Detzner to remove people from the official county lists of eligible voters. The stories reported that county officials were identifying registered voters whose eligibility was questioned, then sending them letters informing them they may be ineligible to vote.

Indiana: State beginning process to purge voter registration list | Brazil Times

With the 2014 Primary Election now in the rear-view mirror, the Indiana Election Division (IED) is driving ahead in its Statewide Voter Registration List maintenance efforts. Beginning next week, the IED will conduct a residency confirmation and outreach procedure, known as a Statewide Mailing, to all active registered voters in Indiana, which has not been done since 2006. This will begin a process to legally remove voters from the voter registration list. Similar to the postcards mailed by the Clay County Election Office earlier this year, the Statewide Mailing should be considered purely informational for those who receive one. The cards will be sent through non-forwardable mail, and the ones returned to the IED as undeliverable due to an unknown, insufficient or incorrect address will initiate the next steps in the procedure. A second mailing will then be sent to those whose cards were returned as undeliverable, known as a National Change of Address mailing.

Massachusetts: Panel recommends early voting, rejects same-day registration | Lowell Sun

Voters will be able to cast their ballots more than week before an election starting in 2016 under new early-voting rules recommended by a House-Senate panel that reached a deal late Monday afternoon on broad new election reforms. The pact would also authorize online voter registration and allow 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote, but excludes a Senate-backed provision to allow same-day voter registration at the polls. It also recommends random post-presidential election audits of select precincts to verify the accuracy of vote counts. “I think it’s a great bill and I’m very proud,” said Sen. Barry Finegold, co-chairman of the Election Laws Committee and the lead Senate conferee negotiating the final bill. “I think it’s going to give more opportunities to the electorate to participate and the fact that we’re going to be able to get younger voters to pre-register will be huge. It’s a big step in the right direction for more people to participate in the electoral process.”

Michigan: Homeless groups say clients struggle for IDs | Detroit Free Press

Too many homeless people in Michigan are blocked from improving their lives by unreasonable requirements to have state identification cards, according to representatives of metro Detroit agencies who met Friday at a conference in Waterford. “This has been a growing problem for years and it’s reached a crisis point,” said Elizabeth Kelly, executive director of the Hope Hospitality and Warming Center, a homeless shelter in Pontiac. Homeless people rarely possess driver’s licenses, so most depend on ID cards issued by Secretary of State offices. But to get the state ID card demands unreasonable proof of identity, said Kelly and others at the Homeless Healthcare Collaboration conference. They said rules were tightening at Social Security offices too, and that’s keeping some homeless people from accessing the services they need. “You have people going to the Secretary of State and being told they have to have a Social Security card, and so they go to a Social Security office and they’re told they have to have a state ID card — it’s a classic case of Catch-22,” University of Michigan social research professor Gregory Markus told the audience.

North Carolina: Judge considers voter ID arguments | Winston-Salem Journal

A federal judge is expected to rule soon whether 13 Republican legislators — including the leaders of the state House and Senate — can ignore subpoenas for documents by groups challenging North Carolina’s new voting laws. Judge Thomas Schroder heard arguments Friday in U.S. District Court in Winston-Salem. Attorneys representing the state had appealed a March 27 ruling from Magistrate Judge Joi Peake, arguing that the legislators — including Thom Tillis, the speaker of the state House, and Phil Berger Sr., the president pro tem of the Senate — had absolute legislative immunity and that providing documents and emails generated while drafting the legislation would put a chill on debate and research necessary in making laws.

Editorials: Are four North Carolina lawmakers really committing voter fraud? | Facing South

Four North Carolina state lawmakers could be targets of criminal investigations for voter fraud based on controversial standards embraced by some of their own colleagues. Today Democracy North Carolina, a voting rights watchdog group, released findings that show someone with exactly the same first name, last name, and date of birth as each of the lawmakers is registered to vote in another state. The registrants’ middle names and middle initials also correspond. Earlier this year, the State Board of Elections released a report that identified 35,750 North Carolina voters whose first name, last name and date of birth matched registered voters in other states. Some state lawmakers and conservative activists claimed that was proof voter fraud was occurring — a claim that voting rights advocates challenged.

Ohio: Troubled Lucas County election board under microscope | Associated Press

Ohio’s elections director will be taking a close look at one of the state’s largest counties, where a series of missteps and squabbling among election board members delayed voting results for hours in this past week’s primary. The latest trouble comes on top of several years of infighting and accusations of wrongdoing within the Lucas County’s elections board. Secretary of State Jon Husted called the situation there the worst he’s faced from an elections board. “There’s not even a close second,” he said. A committee appointed by Husted in early April to look into the board’s operations recommended Friday that the county’s top two elections officials be fired and that three of its four board members be replaced.

Wisconsin: Van Hollen appeals ruling striking down Wisconsin voter ID law | Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

State Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen on Monday appealed a two-week-old decision striking down Wisconsin’s voter ID law. Van Hollen had promised an appeal as soon as U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman in Milwaukee blocked the voter ID law for violating the U.S. Constitution and federal Voting Rights Act. Monday’s filing puts the case before the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago. Van Hollen also asked Adelman to suspend his ruling while the appeal proceeds, saying his decision was too broad. In his ruling, Adelman expressed skepticism that any voter ID law could pass court muster because minorities have a more difficult time than whites obtaining photo identification. He wrote that he would review any changes to the voter ID law that state lawmakers may make — something attorneys in Van Hollen’s Department of Justice said the judge doesn’t have the authority to do.

Canada: Controversial election bill expected to pass Tuesday | Ottawa Citizen

The House of Commons is poised to pass contentious legislation Tuesday that will overhaul Canada’s election law — a move the governing Conservatives defend as sensible but which the opposition says is designed to keep the Tories from being caught cheating in the 2015 election. The so-called Fair Elections Act is certain to pass third reading in the Commons because Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Tories hold a majority in the chamber. MPs were expected to spend much of Monday voting on proposed amendments, including 45 from the government itself, after experts and the opposition heavily criticized the original bill. After the House passes it, the bill will go to the Senate, where the Conservatives also hold a majority, and where it is expected to be given a relatively quick review before being approved. But the political consequences for Harper could be long-lasting, as his critics continued on Monday to allege that the Tories are trying to rig the electoral system in their favour.

Estonia: Electronic voting system vulnerable to attacks, researchers say | CFOworld

The electronic voting system that has been used in Estonia since 2005 cannot guarantee fair elections because of fundamental security weaknesses and poor operational procedures, according to an international team of security and Internet voting researchers. The analysis performed by the team’s members, some of whom acted as observers during 2013 local elections in Estonia, revealed that sophisticated attackers, like those employed by nation states, could easily compromise the integrity of the country’s Internet voting system and influence the election outcome, often without a trace. The team chose to analyze the Estonian system because Estonia has one of the highest rates of Internet voting participation in the world — over 21 percent of the total number of votes during the last local election were cast through the electronic voting system. During their observation of the local elections and by later watching the procedural videos released by the Estonian election authority, the researchers identified a large number of poor security practices that ranged from election officials inputting sensitive passwords and PINs while being filmed to system administrators downloading critical applications over insecure connections and using personal computers to deploy servers and build the client software distributed to voters. The researchers also used open-source code released by the Estonian government to replicate the electronic voting system in their laboratory and then devised several practical server-side and client-side attacks against it.

Lithuania: President Faces New Election Runoff | Wall Street Journal

Lithuania’s Dalia Grybauskaite faces a second runoff after falling shy of the 50% of votes needed to clinch a second term in Sunday’s presidential election, which was dominated by concerns about neighboring Russia and the Baltic nation’s exposure to the Ukraine crisis. With 100% of votes counted, Ms. Grybauskaite, currently in her first five-year term as president, had collected 46.6%. Her closest rival, a Social Democrat member of the European Parliament named Zigmantas Balcytis, had 13.8%, according to results released by Lithuania’s election commission Monday. The two will face off in a second round of elections on May 25 alongside European Parliament elections. Ms. Grybauskaite, a staunch independent and former EU commissioner known as a hard-nosed critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has been vocal in her opinion that Ukraine should forge deeper alliances with the West. Her anti-Putin rhetoric boosted her popularity in the latest elections, according to polls published by Lithuanian media.

India: How Secure Are India’s Elections? | Cleo Paskal/Huffington Post

According to exit polls, Narendra Modi is likely to be declared the next Prime Minister of India. The only thing that might stand in his way is an electronic voting machine (EVM). The problems with EVM security have been widely known since the large-scale irregularities in Florida during the 2000 elections. Many countries have moved to get rid of them. In 2006 Dutch TV aired a documentary showing how easy it was to hack the EVMs that were about to be used in their general election. The machines were subsequently withdrawn and the Netherlands went back to paper ballots. Germany has declared EVMs unconstitutional. And, after spending close to $75 million on its EVMs, Ireland found them to be so insecure they literally scrapped them.

Ukraine: Kyiv calls referendums a ‘farce’ as breakaway regions declare independence | Al Jazeera

Ukraine’s government condemned referendums in eastern Ukraine as a “farce” on Monday, as separatists from the pro-Moscow regions declared independence and asked to join Russia. Organizers said 89 percent of those who cast ballots Sunday in the Donetsk region and about 96 percent of those who turned out in Luhansk voted for sovereignty for the sprawling areas that lie along Russia’s border and form Ukraine’s industrial heartland. Donetsk has about 4.4 million people, and Luhansk has 2.2 million. The results were seized upon by separatists who pushed for further autonomy from Kyiv and annexation by Russia. On Monday, the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) declared the region independent and signaled a desire to follow Crimea in being annexed by Moscow.