Editorials: Foreigners Could Hack US Elections, Experts Say | Jimmy Chin/WhoWhatWhy

What if a foreign head of state had the power to handpick our next President? It sounds like the plot of a movie, but it actually might be in the realm of possibility.Most people take our elections for granted. The few who don’t often suspect that one party might be trying to steal votes from the other. But they don’t envision that the theft could be coming from outside US borders.What experts are telling us, though, is that our voting machines are so insecure that all elections, whether at the national, state, or local level, are vulnerable to being attacked by hackers in other countries. … Given that the security at some of our most protected institutions can be breached, and given that US elections pose an enticing target for our adversaries, what would prevent a foreign agent from hacking our ballot boxes? The answer: Not much. Experts indicate that the election systems in place today do not provide the adequate protection that would be able to stop a foreign hacker — a hacker anywhere, in fact — from rigging our races. Even worse, these attacks could go undetected.

Alaska: PFD voter registration initiative signature gathering approved | Alaska Dispatch News

The state’s Elections Division has issued petition booklets for an initiative that aims to make applications for Permanent Fund dividends double as voter registration forms, clearing the way for signature gathering to begin. It has set an Aug. 22 deadline for the petition booklets to be submitted. The petition sponsors have received training from state elections officials on how to comply with state signature gathering rules since the July certification of the measure by Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott. The initiative sponsors will now have about a year to collect 28,545 valid signatures, according to elections officials, a task made more complicated by a requirement that minimum numbers of signatures must come from 30 of the state’s 40 House of Representatives districts.

Verified Voting Blog: Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams obscured key facts in online-voting commentary

Last week’s guest commentary by Secretary of State Wayne Williams in The Colorado Statesman obscured some important facts. He was responding to criticism of his new rule establishing criteria for the casting of election ballots by email.

Last week’s guest commentary by Secretary of State Wayne Williams in The Colorado Statesman obscured some important facts. He was responding to criticism of his new rule establishing criteria for the casting of election ballots by email.

In it, Secretary Williams implies that the federal government expanded voting by email. He writes, “The federal government, along with the Colorado General Assembly, expanded the electronic ballot transmission for military and overseas voters.” In fact the federal government has neither endorsed nor expanded the return of marked ballots over email. The Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment, or MOVE Act of 2009 (a bill we proudly supported) only directs states to send blank ballots to military and overseas voters electronically, not return of voted ballots That’s because voted ballots could be manipulated or deleted in transit — undetectably. Due to such unsolved security issues, last year Congress eliminated a Defense Department online voting project. The federal agency tasked with helping enfranchise military voters has stated that ballot return by postal mail is the “most responsible” method. In no instance does the federal government encourage states to offer electronic ballot return for military and overseas voters.

In 2006 the Colorado General Assembly passed legislation to permit online ballot return for military voters, but only under the most restricted circumstances. And it did so before most of the public was aware of today’s cybersecurity risks and of attacks in which data and sensitive information of millions of Americans had been compromised.

Florida: Redistricting war expands in federal courts | Orlando Sentinel

The legal arguments about Florida’s political maps continue to mushroom. While the Florida Supreme Court and the Legislature grapple with how congressional districts will be drawn, more legal fights are building in federal courts. Voting-rights groups Friday formally sought to intervene in a federal lawsuit filed this month by U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, who is among the most-outspoken opponents of a redistricting process spurred by the anti-gerrymandering Fair Districts requirements. The groups, which helped spearhead voter approval of the requirements in 2010, argued in a court document that Brown’s position in the case would “eviscerate the Fair Districts amendments.” Also late last week, a coalition that includes state Rep. Mike Hill, R-Pensacola Beach, filed a separate lawsuit in federal court alleging that the Fair Districts amendments — and the way they have been carried out — violate constitutional free-speech and due-process rights.

Hawaii: Preliminary Injunction Filed to Halt Biased Hawai‘i Election | Maui Now

The plaintiffs in the suit against the State of Hawai‘i and its agencies to stop the racially exclusive election and constitutional convention to establish a Native Hawaiians-only nation have filed a motion for a preliminary injunction, according to a press release from the Grassroot Institute of Hawai‘i. The motion asks the court to put the election on hold until after a decision is reached in Keli‘i Akina, et al vs. The State of Hawai‘i, et al. The group of four Native Hawaiians and two non-Native Hawaiians who filed the suit against the election are asking that all the groups involved—Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Na‘i Aupuni and the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission—be prevented from engaging in voter registration or calling and holding elections while the case is ongoing.

Montana: Deputy attorney general withdraws from closed primary case | The Missoulian

A deputy attorney general will no longer be defending the state in a Republican challenge to the state’s open primary elections after the party accused him of misconduct. Deputy Attorney General Jon Bennion, a Republican, filed a motion Friday to withdraw as counsel from the case. “I submit this notice of withdrawal in order to prevent future misunderstandings with the Montana Republican Party and to facilitate future communications,” Bennion said in court documents. Two other attorneys from Attorney General Tim Fox’s office will continue to defend the state in the case calling for primaries in which voters can only cast ballots for candidates in their own party.

New Mexico: Charges against Duran followed by shock, caution, quiet | NMPolitics

Democrats and Republicans locked in highly charged battles over problems at the Albuquerque Public Schools and the work of the state auditor, among other issues, put their guns down over the weekend, at least temporarily, after Secretary of State Dianna Duran was charged with abusing the New Mexico’s campaign finance system. The allegations come from the office of Attorney General Hector Balderas, a Democrat who accuses Duran, a Republican, of fraud, embezzlement, money laundering and other charges. Duran allegedly used funds intended for her campaign instead for personal use — apparently including gambling. Instead of responding to the charges by accusing Balderas of partisan motives, the state’s top Republicans issued statements that some interpreted as placing distance between themselves and Duran — or at least not wanting to be viewed as defending her.

Ohio: Electronic poll books will be at voting locations across the state by November 2016 | Cleveland Plain Dealer

Electronic poll books will soon replace the paper books precinct workers use to check in registered voters during elections. Pat McDonald, director of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, said he and other directors are elated to jettison the paper books, which is possible because the state will pay 85 percent of the cost. Elections boards are meeting with vendors and expect to have the technology in place by the presidential election in 2016, officials said. The new state budget included a $12.7 million appropriation for e-books, which will be distributed to the 88 counties based on percentage of registered voters.

Texas: New Law Aims to Reduce “Rolling Voting” | The Texas Tribune

A soon-to-be law takes aim at the practice of “rolling voting,” which critics say can be used to tip the scales in favor of one side in some elections by moving polling places too often. The law’s backers say it adds uniformity and predictability to the process by requiring, among other things, that mobile polling locations be open for two consecutive days, eight hours a day, in some cases. That contrasts with some elections, often those held by school districts, in which officials move around the locations for briefer periods, according to the rolling voting opponents.

Utah: Residents in Utah County vote-by-mail cities won’t need to cast ballots twice | Deseret News

Residents in the five Utah County cities holding vote-by-mail elections this year won’t have to cast two ballots to weigh in on both city and county issues. Elections officials have reached a compromise after five cities — Alpine, Cedar Hills, Lehi, Orem and Vineyard — protested the Utah County clerk’s refusal to allow a proposed sales tax increase to be printed on mail-in ballots. The compromise came in a private meeting Monday afternoon between Utah County Clerk Bryan Thompson and representatives from the five cities and the Utah Lieutenant Governor’s Office.

Virginia: Court to move on redistricting as deadline passes | Richmond Times-Dispatch

The day before today’s court-imposed deadline to redraw Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District, there were no signs of reconciliation between Democrats and Republicans in the legislature. That will almost certainly put the map in the hands of a federal court. “There haven’t been any conversations, no,” said Matt Moran, spokesman for House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell, R-Stafford, on Monday afternoon — two weeks after the state Senate adjourned a special legislative session hours after it began. “The House of Delegates acted in good faith to begin the redistricting process. Senate Democrats unilaterally ended that process in the middle of a public hearing, defying a federal court ruling and unilaterally shutting down the possibility of a legislative remedy. The ball is squarely in their court,” Moran said.

Greece: Greeks fight ballot box fatigue with Internet jokes | AFP

Called to the ballot box for the third time in eight months, some Greeks are responding to election fatigue with a bailout-sized dose of Internet humour. In one hit post on the news site Protagon, comedienne Lila Stabouloglou suggested “electoral tourism” could prove a handy money-spinner for Greece’s cash-strapped authorities in the run-up to the vote in three weeks’ time. “The Greek Tourism Organisation is enthusiastically preparing to promote the idea of electoral tourism ahead of the vote on September 20,” she wrote in the mock news report. Her post was topped with a fake campaign poster, showing a ballot box floating alongside two boats in beautiful turquoise waters. “Live Your Elections in Greece”, it said — a riff on a well-known old tourism campaign, “Live Your Myth in Greece”.

Ivory Coast: Opposition coalition threatens to obstruct elections | Reuters

A coalition of opposition groups in Ivory Coast threatened on Monday to try to block presidential elections in October unless the government opens talks on issues such as insecurity and the electoral commission. The National Coalition for Change (CNC), formed in May and led by former prime minister Charles Konan Banny, groups 13 political leaders, several of whom have declared themselves candidates in the Oct. 25 election. With the economy booming in Ivory Coast, the world’s largest cocoa exporter, President Alassane Ouattara is widely regarded as favourite. If no candidate wins a majority in the vote, a run-off will be held roughly two weeks later.

Myanmar: Parties banned from criticising army in election campaign | South China Morning Post

Myanmar has banned political parties from criticising the army or the military-dominated constitution in state media during campaigning for elections seen as a test of the country’s transition from military rule. The parties standing in the November 8 elections will be allowed to broadcast 15-minute speeches on state television and radio, according to a statement by the Union Election Commission, and publish them in state-owned newspapers. But the addresses will be vetted by the commission and the Ministry of Information and could be rejected if officials find that they violate the rules.

Ukraine: France and Germany Warn Vladimir Putin About Ukraine Separatist Elections | Wall Street Journal

The leaders of France and Germany told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday that rebel-run elections conducted in the separatist-controlled regions of Ukraine would endanger the so-called Minsk peace process for the country, a German government spokesman said. Ukraine is obliged to hold local elections by the end of this year in the east under the cease-fire deal agreed between Kiev, Moscow, Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists in Minsk, Belarus, on Feb. 12. The country will hold local elections on Oct. 25 but has said it won’t run elections in rebel-held areas in the east because of continued violence there. The separatists have said they will hold their own ballots in mid October and early November.