Australia: Cyber sector adamant e-voting is too costly and complex | Financial Review

Start-up entrepreneurs, tech industry leaders and politicians are at loggerheads with the cyber security sector, which remains adamant that electronic voting is too costly and complex. The debate has erupted in response to the recent election saga, where it has taken the Australian Electoral Commission more than a week to finish counting the votes. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition leader Bill Shorten joined the debate on Sunday, both mentioning the need to find an e-voting solution in their victory and concession speeches, respectively. Senior security analyst at cyber security firm Checkpoint, Raymond Schippers, told The Australian Financial Review it would be too difficult to adequately secure an e-voting system. “The amount of attacks over the internet is insane. In an instant someone could compromise 10,000 computers. And without the voter ever knowing, someone could change their vote and no one would ever be able to confirm it was changed,” he said.

Editorials: E-voting is still the wrong answer to the wrong question | Stilgherrian/ZDNet

Here we go again. There’s been an election in Australia, so once more, with all the regularity of a cuckoo clock, politicians and pundits alike are proposing that electronic voting is the answer. So, here we go again, explaining why it’s a bad idea. First, if e-voting is the answer, what is the actual question? Here’s what troubles people this time. … Broadly speaking, there’s two kinds of e-voting: voting over the internet, and voting in person at polling stations where votes are recorded on computers rather than paper ballots. Whichever kind of e-voting we’re talking about, it has to solve a conundrum. How do we provide the complete transparency of process needed to eliminate fraud, while still maintaining the secrecy of individuals’ votes? As I wrote in 2011, transparency is the tricky bit. “Our paper voting system is easy to understand. Anyone with working eyesight and who can read and count can scrutineer the process. No special skills are required,” I wrote.

Japan: Ruling coalition on course to win parliamentary election | The Guardian

Japan’s ruling coalition secured a resounding victory in upper house elections on Sunday, with some exit polls predicting that prime minister Shinzo Abe’s party and its allies would achieve the legislative firepower they need to rewrite the country’s pacifist constitution. According to the exit polls, Abe’s Liberal Democratic party (LDP) was on course to win 57 to 59 seats of the 121 seats that were contested. Its junior coalition partner, the Buddhist-backed Komeito, was expected to win 14 seats. Combined with other minor conservative parties, the coalition was within reach of the number of seats it needs in the upper house to set in motion plans to change the US-authored constitution for the first time since it was introduced in 1947.

Japan: Teenagers in Japan Can Finally Vote. But Will They? | The New York Times

Mena Hakamada, an 18-year-old college freshman, knows how important it is to vote. “To reflect our opinions, the only way is to vote,” said Ms. Hakamada, a physical education major at the University of Tsukuba. But Ms. Hakamada will not cast a ballot on Sunday, in the first national election in which Japanese 18- and 19-year-olds are allowed to vote. “I am busy tomorrow,” she said with a shake of her head. Ms. Hakamada is going on a field trip to the ocean, and she never got around to voting by absentee ballot in her hometown, Shizuoka, near Mount Fuji. When Japan goes to the polls to elect members to its upper house of Parliament on Sunday, the nation’s newly enfranchised teenagers are expected to make a lackluster showing.

Nauru: Tiny Pacific island of Nauru goes to the polls | Reuters

Voting to elect a new government on the tiny Pacific island of Nauru began on Saturday, with international observers invited to monitor the polls for the first time in more than a decade after criticism over human rights in the world’s smallest republic. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights last year urged Nauru to take action to improve its standing in a range of areas including freedom of expression, the independence of the judiciary and crackdowns on media access. Nauru’s government rejected the majority of the U.N criticism.

Editorials: Russia Has the Most Boring Election of 2016 | Leonid Bershidsky/Bloomberg

The thrilling spectacles offered by the U.S. presidential election, the U.K. referendum on leaving the European Union and even Austria’s cliffhanger presidential vote have overshadowed an election campaign in Russia, which will get a new parliament on Sept. 18. That’s because, even though they have all the the trappings of democracy, the Russian elections are mostly theater, whose actors are shadows from the country’s brief experiment with competitive politics. In theory, the elections shouldn’t be boring. The previous ones, in 2011, gave rise to the most meaningful and vigorous protests against Vladimir Putin’s corrupt system of his more than 15 years in power. Then, tens of thousands of Muscovites took to the streets to protest what they saw as the falsification of vote results: Statistical analysis suggested that United Russia, the pro-Putin party, owed its majority to widespread ballot-stuffing. It even appeared briefly that the Kremlin — occupied then by Putin’s stand-in, Dmitri Medvedev — was unsettled enough to change a few things. Gubernatorial elections, which had been abolished, were allowed again, and the authorities took care to make voting more transparent for the 2012 presidential election, organizing a live video feed from every polling station and making sure not to obstruct observers’ work. Putin, however, saw the protests as a U.S.-inspired threat of a revolution like the one would shake Ukraine in 2013-2014. As soon as his third presidential term began — after he pulled off an undeniable electoral triumph — he started tightening the screws, using the parliament — the State Duma — to pass legislation that sharply limited the freedoms of assembly and expression. The chamber came to be known as an “amok printer” because of the speed at which it spewed out repressive laws.

Zambia: Electoral Commission suspends election campaigning over violence | Al Jazeera

Political campaigning in Zambia’s capital Lusaka has been suspended for 10 days because of violent clashes before next month’s national elections, the electoral commission said. The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) announced on Sunday that it was suspending campaigns in Lusaka and Namwala, south of the capital, until July 18 when the situation would be reviewed. “The electoral commission of Zambia has observed with dismay the rise in political violence in some districts which has regrettably resulted in injury, loss of life and property,” commission spokesman Chris Akufuna said in a statement. No public rallies, meetings, processions or door-to-door campaigning would be allowed, Akufuna said.

The Voting News Weekly: The Voting News Weekly for July 4-10 2016

australia_260g News Weekly The publication Risk & Insurance examined the security concerns involved in electronic voting and Johns Hopkins computer scientist Avi Rubin explained why he believes that we will not be able to securely vote on the Internet in the foreseeable future. The FBI has alerted the Arizona Secretary of State that the state’s voter registration system has been compromised by malicious software. A controversial measure that would require a government-issued photo ID to vote was vetoed by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, with the Democratic governor arguing it would act as a barrier against citizens’ fundamental right to vote. The New York Times questioned the state of Ohio’s practice of periodically removing infrequent voters from voter rolls. A little-known Virginia law that dictates how the state’s delegates must vote at presidential nominating conventions could be struck down by a federal judge. The Australian prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has declared victory in the federal election aeight days after polls closed in the tight race, while Democratic Audit UK examined the security and privacy issues that led Norway to terminate its internet voting trials.

National: Cyber Vulnerabilities Threaten 2016 Election | Risk & Insurance

Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of registered voters believe the 2016 presidential campaign will be compromised by a cyber breach in some way, according to a poll conducted by data security firm PKWARE and Wakefield Research. Their concerns are not unwarranted; at a time when breaches and data theft make headlines on a regular basis, much of the voting process remains unprotected. “There is a lot of vulnerability in paperless voting systems, whether they are direct reporting electronic machines, or email return ballots,” said Pamela Smith, president of Verified Voting, a nonprofit organization that advocates for accuracy, transparency and verifiability of elections. Most polling places use paper ballots that are tabulated by a scanner. Even if the scanner goes haywire, there is a paper record of voters’ intent and officials can take a manual count. In fully paperless systems, no such backup exists. “In a situation like that, there’s no way to demonstrate that the software is working properly. If something seems amiss or there is an unexpected outcome, you really wouldn’t have a way to go back and correct it because you don’t have an independent record of voter intent,” Smith said. Electronic systems, then, offer a prime target for hackers looking to influence elections.

Editorials: Why Internet Voting Is a Nonstarter | Avi Rubin/JHU Engineering Magazine

I began my college studies in computer science in 1985, and I watched as the Internet transformed the world over the last 25 years. As a computer scientist, I have an acute appreciation for the benefits of our global, interconnected network. I love the Internet. By all accounts, I am an early adopter. I was the first of all my friends with a cellphone and a mobile email reading device. I was the first to buy an Apple Newton; I hacked my own TiVo when the product was first introduced, and I use a smart doorbell and thermostat at home. I embrace technology and progress. Let’s put it all online. Find a way to automate this. Give me a high-tech way to do that. I do online banking, store my medical records in the cloud, and use wireless payments at the mall. My car, a 2013 Tesla, has its own Internet connection, and I navigate my boat with my iPad. So why am I stuck in the Dark Ages when it comes to voting? Why do I believe in paper ballots instead of direct-recording electronic voting machines? And why do I believe that we will not be able to securely vote on the Internet in the foreseeable future?

Arizona: Online voter registration system down, computer compromised | Tucson News Now

A cyber-security issue affecting the state’s voter registration system has not been resolved, according to the Arizona Secretary of State’s blog page. The July 5 post is an update to a June 30 post saying the FBI alerted that “a credential related to the Voter Registration System had been compromised.” Further investigation revealed a county computer had been compromised by malicious software, according to the blog. Pima County Recorder, F. Ann Rodriguez confirmed that the county computer that was compromised is not a Pima County computer. Rodriguez said in two conference calls with county recorders across the state, the Secretary of State’s office explained security experts were working with the system vendor to make sure voter information was not accessed or otherwise tampered with. As a result, the Secretary of State, Michele Reagan, decided to take the voter registration site offline. This now affects two important processes.

Missouri: Nixon vetoes voter ID bill, Republicans vow to override | St. Louis Post-Dispatch

A controversial measure that would require a government-issued photo ID to vote was vetoed by Gov. Jay Nixon on Thursday, with the Democratic governor arguing it would act as a barrier against citizens’ fundamental right to vote. It proved to be one of the most contentious items of debate during the 2016 legislative session, reflective of a broader ideological divide between Democrats and Republicans on voter access. GOP lawmakers argue the bill would prevent voter fraud, but their Democratic colleagues said it was a solution in search of a problem. Missouri Democrats fought the issue throughout session, eventually winning some compromises. Under the measure, voters without a photo ID can sign an affidavit at the polls, swearing they are who they say they are under penalty of perjury. Their vote then counts so long as their signature matches the one on file. Other provisions in the bill include exemptions for anyone born before 1946, anyone with a disability and those with religious objections to their photo being taken. Under the measure, the state also foots the bill for the IDs and any documents needed to get them.

Editorials: The Purge of Ohio’s Infrequent Voters | The New York Times

Should voting sporadically in past elections be grounds to remove a voter from the election rolls? This is the issue being fought out in Ohio, the crucial swing state where a federal court recently upheld the controversial purging of scores of thousands of voters from the rolls for failing to participate in three consecutive federal elections. Updating voter rolls for accuracy, change of address and death is a routine task carried out by elections officials everywhere, but only a few states remove voters for reasons of inactivity. Ohio’s purge prompted a lawsuit by civil liberties groups accusing the Republican-controlled state government of engaging in suppression of minority and poor voters who tended to favor Democratic candidates. But last month, a federal district judge found that the policy of the Ohio secretary of state, Jon Husted, of purging a voter after six years of inactivity and failure to reply to a state warning did not violate “the integrity of the election process.” An appeal is being considered.

Virginia: Anti-Trump lawsuit may lead judge to strike down law on presidential convention voting | Richmond Times-Dispatch

A little-known Virginia law that dictates how the state’s delegates must vote at presidential nominating conventions could be struck down by a federal judge next week. After roughly six hours of oral argument Thursday, U.S. District Judge Robert E. Payne seemed poised to issue a narrow opinion in a case brought by a Virginia delegate to the Republican National Convention seeking legal immunity for his plan to vote against Donald Trump. Payne seemed to accept one element of the argument brought by Carroll “Beau” Correll, a Winchester attorney who supported Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas in the primary. In a lawsuit filed last month, Correll said the state cannot enforce an election law that could, in theory, lead to criminal prosecutions for delegates who don’t cast their vote for Trump on the first ballot despite their obligations under party rules.

Australia: Malcolm Turnbull declares win, eight days after polls close | The Guardian

The Australian prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has declared victory in the federal election after a concession call from the opposition leader, Bill Shorten,eight days after polls closed in the tight race. At a press conference in Sydney, Turnbull thanked Shorten for the congratulatory call and expressed hope the 45th Australian parliament would be “exciting and constructive”. “I want to thank all of the candidates that ran for the Coalition, many have been returned; a number have not, of course, as you know. We have had a successful election.” Turnbull cited the fact that the Coalition had received 800,000 more first preference votes than Labor, led in two-party preferred terms and had won more seats, despite the results not having been finalised. The concession and victory speeches come eight days after the polls finished, because of extremely close results in a few key marginal seats, and six seats still remain undecided.

Voting Blogs: TGDC Releases Draft Project Charter for New Voting System Standards | Election Academy

The Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC) may not be well-known, but it plays a crucial role in the process of standards-setting in the field of voting technology testing and certification. About a year ago, the TGDC announced that it was going to convene a series of public working groups as part of a new approach to updating the federal Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG). Late last month, the TGDC issued a draft project charter for VVSG version 2.0 that attempts to define both the scope of the project and lay out a way forward.

Arizona: Courts should approve Arizona election plans, group says | Associated Pres

A Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit already suing over Arizona’s troubled presidential primary says the state’s top election officials should be required to have court-approved plans in place for how they’re going to manage the upcoming primary and general elections. The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed a motion Thursday for a preliminary injunction calling for election administration plans to be submitted by the secretary of state and Maricopa County officials. In its lawsuit over the March primary, the group argues that countless Arizona voters were disenfranchised by the cutting of polling places to just 60 from about 200 in the 2012 presidential primary. The cut in polling places was one of the causes of lines that exceeded five hours in some locations.

California: One month later, California finishes its vote count, and Clinton wins | The Washington Post

It lasted longer than the 1979 conflict between China and Vietnam, but California’s slow-moving count of provisional and mail-in ballots is finally over — and as expected, Hillary Clinton won. Wednesday night, after ballots were finally processed in San Mateo County, Clinton had won 2,745,293 votes to 2,381,714 for Bernie Sanders. The eventual margin was 363,579 votes, or 7.1 percentage points, closer than the 2008 primary between Clinton and Barack Obama. It was closer, too, than Sanders seemed to get on election night, when a rout bigger than any poll had suggested effectively ended the Democratic primary. Since then, Sanders added 879,671 votes to his California total; Clinton added 804,713 votes. As expected, most of the outstanding ballots left on June 7 were cast for Democratic candidates, and as expected, they broke for Sanders. (For a sense of California’s scale, Sanders won more votes in the long provisional/mail-in count than he won, total, in the New York primary — 820,256 votes.)

California: Long wait expected for general election results | San Diego Union Tribune

Strong coffee — and lots of it —might be the only way to stay up late enough to see who ends up a winner in some races in November’s general election. Ballots in San Diego County will likely be an unprecedented two cards rather than one, and it will consequently take extra time to count votes. The change is driven by an unusually high number of state and local ballot measures atop the regular federal, state and local races. The implications of the seemingly simple change in ballot layout and design could have implications locally as well across the country. The outcome of races and ballot measures of national interest will be delayed by the extra time it takes to count votes from San Diego and other large California counties. Among the high-profile state measures that have captured national attention are those involving recreational marijuana, the death penalty (two separate initiatives), gun control, single-use plastic grocery bags and whether porn actors should use condoms.

Georgia: Project Vote sues Georgia over voter registration records | Atlanta Journal Constitution

Georgia is being sued for the second time this year over its handling of voter records, this time by a group seeking more information from Secretary of State Brian Kemp about how the state decides to reject applicants trying to register to vote. Project Vote, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit active on voting and election administration policy, said in federal court filings this week that it has sought public records since May 2014 detailing Georgia’s process for reviewing voter registration applications and the subsequent reasons why applications may be rejected.

Indiana: Leaders eye legislative redistricting reforms | NWI Times

A state commission is continuing its work toward a November decision on whether to recommend changes in Indiana’s process for drawing congressional and legislative district boundaries. On Thursday, the 12-member Special Study Committee on Redistricting heard testimony from Michael Li, a New York University expert who analyzes redistricting across the country, and Ed Cook, a nonpartisan Iowa official who oversees that state’s redistricting system. They both emphasized the need for Hoosiers to decide what they want to prioritize in redistricting since it’s not possible to have a “perfect map” with fully competitive districts that never break up communities of interest, are equal in population, contiguous and compact.

Texas: Deadline Approaches for Texas Voter ID Law, But It Likely Won’t End the Legal Battle | KUT

The deadline for a federal appeals court to rule on the state’s controversial voter ID law is fast approaching. The U.S. Supreme Court gave the court until July 20 to make a decision about whether the law violates federal civil rights law. But, no matter what happens, this likely isn’t the end of this legal battle. First of all, the fact that the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals even has a deadline on this is the first indicator that this case is pretty unique. “Rarely does a circuit court get told by the Supreme Court to decide something by a particular date,” says Joseph Fishkin, a professor at UT Austin’s School of Law. He says there’s a lot that’s novel about this case.

Virginia: McAuliffe unveils electronic voter registration at DMV | The Washington Post

Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Thursday unveiled a new voter-registration initiative that managed not to rankle Republicans — quite a feat for a swing-state governor with a buddy on the ballot in a presidential election year. McAuliffe (D) said that Virginia’s motor vehicle offices, which have handled voter registrations since 1996, are making that paper-based process into an electronic one. The change will eliminate processing delays that can require the use of provisional ballots on Election Day, McAuliffe said at a news conference at a Richmond Department of Motor Vehicles office. It also will cut down on the use of staff time and paper at the DMV.

Editorials: Scaremongering over voting rights restoration in Virginia | The Washington Post

In April, Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) ordered voting rights restored to 206,000 ex-convicts in Virginia, a move in line with similar recent reforms in more than 20 states that have lifted the stigma of disenfranchisement from citizens who have served their sentences and paid their debts to society. The fact that Virginia’s list of newly eligible voters was prepared in haste and that it contained errors — including murderers still behind bars — is evidence of incompetence and slapdash execution. It is not an argument that the order is illegal or unconstitutional, as critics would have Virginians believe. Those critics, including top Republicans in Richmond as well as some prosecutors, insist that the state constitution allows the governor to restore voting and other civil rights to ex-convicts only on an individualized basis. As evidence, they point to the actions of recent governors who, while seeking to expand and accelerate the restoration of voting rights to former inmates, refrained from establishing a fully automatic system for doing so.

Australia: Ruling Party Inches Closer to Re-election Win | Associated Press

Australia government appeared increasing likely to retain power after a knife-edge election, with a third independent lawmaker on Friday offering support to the ruling coalition if it falls short of a majority. But the opposition warned that while the conservative Liberal Party-led coalition was likely to cling to power, the government would not survive a year. Although vote counting was continuing after the weekend election in a handful of seats and official results could still be days away, Christopher Pyne, the government leader in the House of Representatives, claimed victory Friday, saying his coalition was certain of 74 seats in the House and was likely to win another three. The government needs at least 76 seats to form a majority in the 150-seat chamber.

Canada: Opposition parties offered control of electoral reform committee | CBC

The Liberal government has offered to give two opposition parties control over a legislative committee that will study overhauling the province’s electoral system. The Liberals say they’re willing to give up their majority on the committee to persuade the opposition Progressive Conservatives to join the consultations on new voting systems, a lower voting age, online voting, and other possible changes. Premier Brian Gallant said in question period “We’re not even seeking a majority of the composition” of the eight-member committee, the first time the Liberals have made that concession.

Japan: Japan lowers voting age, but are young ready to vote? | Associated Press

A 19-year-old Japanese college student joined others casting a historic first ballot at a polling station earlier this week. Then he wondered if he had spent enough time looking into the candidates. Kouki Nozomuto, who used an early voting system in Yokohama for those who are busy on election day, is among 2.4 million newly eligible voters for Sunday’s race for the upper house of parliament, the first national election since Japan lowered the voting age last year from 20 to 18. “I thought I’ll just go in between classes, so I think maybe I should have spent more time (to prepare),” he said afterward, saying he came because he thinks it’s a citizen’s duty to vote and he wants his voice to be heard. “On reflection, that’s what I think I should have done better.”

Malta: Why electronic voting is seen as a ‘difficult journey’ | Times of Malta

Evidently dealing with a sacred cow, Chief Electoral Commissioner Joseph Church believes that every step in the digital transformation of elections in Malta “is a journey that includes difficult, yet not impossible, tasks”. A firm believer in the opportunities offered by the new technology to “improve the electoral process”, Mr Church, however, rules out a big bang approach. “I am conscious that any development has to take place within a mature debate with political parties. The dialogue among all stakeholders, addressing concerns and ideas in an open and transparent process, will help avoid contentions on the digital transformation of elections in Malta.” One might question the need to change Malta’s accepted voting system, which has served the county well for many years. The main reason motivating other countries to embark on an IT transformation of their electoral systems is improving turnout. However, it is very difficult to improve the turnout at a Maltese general election, as the lowest since Independence was 93 per cent.

United Kingdom: British expats considering lawsuit over missing postal votes after hundreds denied say in EU referendum | The Independent

The Electoral Commission has said it “appreciates the frustration” of hundreds or possibly thousands of expats who were unable to have their say on the UK’s membership of the European Union because of missing postal votes. Infuriated voters have reported more than 500 cases to The Independent where they registered but did not receive their papers in time for the historic referendum. Those affected live in dozens of countries across the globe, including Thailand, Australia, the US and across the channel in France. Some voters, many of whom said they backed Remain, have called for a re-run of the referendum over the “farce”. One man is investigating the possibility of a class action lawsuit with a London solicitors’ firm over the “denial of a fundamental right”.

National: Cybersecurity Experts Go to Washington | BU Today

Officially, it was a cybersecurity briefing on Capitol Hill hosted by Jean Morrison, Boston University provost, and the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus, but it felt a little like a college freshman-level computer science seminar. Sharon Goldberg, a College of Arts & Sciences associate professor of computer science, was explaining some of the deep insecurities built into the internet, and why they matter. Her students were a group of Congressional aides and interns and other Hill staffers. They had crowded into a room in the Cannon House Office Building recently on their lunch hour and were taking copious notes so they could better inform policymakers, who are scrambling these days to catch up with technical reality. “The internet was designed several decades ago as a network for universities, for graduate students to send each other emails, to do scientific computing—not for what it’s doing today,” said Goldberg, one of three cybersecurity experts who addressed the briefing. It was a time, she added, “when basically everyone on the internet believed they could all trust each other because they were all graduate students playing with computers.”