The recent hacking of Democratic Party databases — and strong suspicions that the Russian government is involved — have led to new fears that America’s voting systems are vulnerable to attack and that an outsider could try to disrupt the upcoming elections. A cyberattack on U.S. elections isn’t as far-fetched as you might think. Just a week and a half ago, Illinois election officials shut down that state’s voter registration database after discovering it had been hacked. In June, Arizona took its voter registration system offline after the FBI warned it too might have been hacked, although no evidence of that was found. In May, security analyst David Levin was arrested after he gained access to the Lee County, Fla., elections website. Levin said in a YouTube video he was only trying to show how vulnerable the system was: “Yeah, you could be in Siberia and still perform the attack that I performed on the local supervisor of election website. So this is very important.” The county says the problems were later fixed.
Cybersecurity companies studying the breach of the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee have found evidence indicating that the same group of Russian hackers breached both groups’ computer systems. According to ThreatConnect and Fidelis Cybersecurity, two security firms that have been studying the activities of a hacker group dubbed Cozy Bear, hackers from that organization used some of the same internet infrastructure to attack the two Democratic groups. Cozy Bear hackers utilized an email address identified by German intelligence as one used by the group to register an internet domain that was then used in the attack on the DCCC. According to Justin Harvey, the chief security officer at Fidelis, the finding provides 90 percent certainty that hackers working on behalf of Russian intelligence carried out both the DNC and the DCCC attack.
It may not seem terribly important right now with all the stories roiling the campaign. But I think there’s a good chance it’s the most important. Over the last 48 hours Trump’s allies, surrogates and now Trump himself have forcibly injected the topic of voter fraud or ‘election rigging’ into the election. Longtime TPM Readers know this topic has probably been the publication’s single greatest and most consistent focus over fifteen years. The subject has been investigated countless times. And it is clear that voter fraud and especially voter impersonation fraud is extremely rare – rare almost to the point of non-existence, though there have been a handful of isolated cases. Vote fraud is clearly the aim in what is coming from Trump allies. But Trump’s own comment – “I’m afraid the election’s gonna be rigged, I have to be honest” – seems to suggest some broader effort to manufacture votes or falsify numbers, to allude to some broader conspiracy. Regardless, Trump is now pressing this issue to lay the groundwork to discredit and quite possibly resist the outcome of the November election.
It’s been a good couple of weeks for voting rights. Judicial opinions have struck down or limited strict voter ID laws in several states, showing that politicians cannot be trusted to write laws that effect our elections. In the past two weeks, courts in Wisconsin, Texas, and North Carolina have rooted out partisan abuses by invalidating or limiting strict voter ID laws. These decisions show that politicians do a poor job of crafting election rules. Most often, the main motivation is to discriminate against members of the opposite political party, often with racial overtones as well. Indeed, North Carolina argued (unsuccessfully) that benign politics, not race, motivated its voter ID law. But why should the issue of how best to run our elections turn into partisan warfare? Why must litigants and the courts spend their resources to root out these abuses? Politicians think they can win by rigging the election system in their favor. A Republican staffer in Wisconsin revealed that state Republicans were “giddy” when they passed a new voter ID law that they believed would help Republicans win in the state. A Pennsylvania lawmaker was quoted in 2012 saying that the state’s new voter ID law would help win the state for Governor Romney. Democrats have sued Arizona because they fear that the state’s voting rules will harm their supporters come November.
Friday was a great day for voting rights. In fact, it was probably the best day voting rights advocates have had since 2013, when the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act. First, a federal appeals court struck down North Carolina’s voting law—seen by many as the most regressive in the nation—finding that Republican lawmakers intentionally discriminated against black voters in drafting the bill. Hours later, a federal court told Kansas it couldn’t stop people from voting in state and local elections this fall simply because they failed to show proof of citizenship when they registered. Not long after, a federal judge ruled unconstitutional a range of strict voting rules imposed in Wisconsin. Along with other recent decisions against voter ID laws in Texas and Wisconsin, Friday’s rulings suggest a new assertiveness by the courts in fighting off the most egregious state-level barriers to the polls. Even the high court—though unlikely to overturn its disastrous 2013 ruling in Shelby County v. Holder any time soon, even with a fifth liberal member potentially on the court after the election—is poised to join the wave by issuing a ruling significantly strengthening voting rights before too long.
“Now we can go with the full bill.” That was a North Carolina legislator’s promise, just hours after the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision invalidating powerful protections against discriminatory voting rules. Out went the modest proposal. In came a bill designed to shrink the electorate. The legislature passed a law targeting specific practices — including same-day registration and early voting — that had helped drive recent surges in minority voter turnout. The law was aimed directly at the ways that communities of color participated in the electoral process. It took three years, but on Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit struck down the North Carolina law. The court wrote that the law “target[s] African Americans with almost surgical precision” and found that, “because of race, the legislature enacted one of the largest restrictions of the franchise in modern North Carolina history.”
Altamonte Springs resident LaShanna Tyson has been invited into the White House, but she can’t help pick the person who lives there. Tyson lost her voting rights back in the late 1990s, when she was convicted as the getaway driver in a deadly convenience store holdup. It was the first crime on her record, and as she served her sentence, she dreamed about one day being reunited with her three children, going back to college and reclaiming her place in society. After 13 years behind bars, she walked out of prison, but the freedom she expected wasn’t waiting for her on the other side. As one of more than 1.6 million Floridians barred from voting because of a felony conviction, she gathered Monday in Orlando with a group of activists and community leaders pushing to overhaul laws that are among the nation’s most restrictive for ex-felons looking to re-enter the polling booth. “There was a system set up to keep me and others like me from getting jobs, from getting housing, from getting second chances, and even from being able to vote,” the 45-year-old woman said.
Michigan: State elections officials ask judge to delay straight-ticket voting ruling as they appeal | The Detroit News
State election officials are asking a federal judge to delay implementing a court order that strikes down Michigan’s new law banning straight-ticket voting while they appeal the case. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette filed an emergency motion late Friday asking U.S. District Court Judge Gershwin A. Drain to stay the four preliminary injunctions he issued against state election officials on July 22 that ban enforcement of the new law. Schuette, in a motion filed by his staff, said he is requesting a decision on the motion by Tuesday “due to the upcoming election deadlines, which are Aug. 16 for final ballot language for the Nov. 8 election and Sept. 24, the day all ballots must be ready to send overseas to members of the U.S. armed forces and to absentee voters. “Defendant is irreparably harmed by having a statute enacted by its elected representatives enjoined so close in time to the pending election,” Schuette wrote.
Not to rush the general election on primary day, but come Nov. 8, Missouri voters will be asked to approve a voter ID measure. The constitutionality of voter ID was cast in severe doubt by three federal courts during the past two weeks, so Missourians should be prepared to vote no and save the state some money. Amendment 6, as it will be titled on the November ballot in Missouri, would require voters starting next year to present a government-issued photo ID before casting ballots. Such measures in other states have failed federal court challenges. Amendment 6 would force Missouri to spend a lot of money defending a law that doesn’t deserve to be defended. It is the fruit of a decade-long effort by Republican lawmakers to make it harder for many Missourians to exercise their rights to vote. In 2009, then Secretary of State Robin Carnahan estimated the number at 240,000 and identified most of them as minorities, the disabled and elderly.
Officials with the North Carolina State Board of Elections are scrambling to undo three years of work on the state’s voter identification law ahead of the November election. The move comes after the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday struck down a North Carolina law that would have required a government-issued photo ID to vote in the November election. The panel said the law discriminated against black voters. Governor Pat McCrory and top Republican legislators have promised to appeal the decision.
Jim Vincent, president of the Providence branch of the NAACP, is hailing a federal appeals court ruling that strikes down a North Carolina voter ID law that judges say was “passed with racially discriminatory intent.” “Justice was served,” Vincent said Monday. “I am extremely concerned about voter suppression in this year’s presidential election, given how close it could be.” North Carolina is one of about a dozen swing states in the presidential race. Vincent said he’s unsure how Friday’s decision — combined with recent federal court rulings against voter ID laws in Texas and Wisconsin — could affect Rhode Island’s 2011 voter ID law. “Because it’s the least intrusive voter ID law, it may be the most difficult to overturn,” he said. But Vincent said Friday’s ruling bolsters his argument that Rhode Island’s law was based on scant evidence of voter fraud. And he said it underscores his questions about why Rhode Island simultaneously made it easier to vote by mail ballot, when mail ballot fraud is more common than impersonation at the polls. “The state of Rhode Island is in a state of confusion,” he said.
Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel sought to restore the state’s full voter ID law Monday, asking a federal appellate court to take emergency action. The Republican attorney general’s action Monday came in the wake of a ruling last month by a federal judge in Milwaukee that pared back the photo ID law by allowing voters without identification to cast ballots by swearing to their identity.
Australian federal police have dropped their investigation into Queensland Labor’s election day “Mediscare” text messages, saying they could not identify any commonwealth offences. The prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, had blamed part of his shock election result on the belief that many voters had been misled by text messages sent by Labor’s Queensland branch on election day, purporting to be from Medicare. He accused Labor, during his election-night speech, of running “some of the most systematic, well-funded lies ever peddled in Australian politics”.
Tokyo has elected its first female governor to take charge of the city amid troubled 2020 Olympic Games preparations after a foul-mouthed campaign of misogyny and mudslinging. Yuriko Koike claimed victory after exit polls and early vote counts pointed to a strong lead for the former defence and environment minister. “I will lead Tokyo politics in an unprecedented manner, a Tokyo you have never seen,” she said in a voice slightly hoarse after two weeks of campaigning. The election, which was contested by a record field of 21 candidates in a city home to 13.6 million people, was called after the previous governor, Yoichi Masuzoe, resigned over a financial scandal involving the use of public funds to pay for lavish hotels and spa trips.
The FBI is investigating a previously unreported cyberattack on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC); like the earlier Democratic National Committee (DNC) breach, Russia denied any involvement. Russia previously called claims that it was behind the DNC hack and trying to influence the presidential election “absurd.” It has repeatedly “denounced the ‘poisonous anti-Russian’ rhetoric coming out of Washington.” Regarding the DCCC attack, a Kremlin spokesman told Reuters, “We don’t see the point any more in repeating yet again that this is silliness.” Then, days after news about the DCCC hack broke, Russia claimed that someone hacked 20 of its government organizations. This weekend, the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) released a statement claiming that it had discovered malware designed for cyberespionage on the computer networks of 20 Russian government organizations.
Venezuela’s election board said on Monday the opposition successfully collected 1 percent of voter signatures in every state in the first phase of their push for a referendum to recall socialist President Nicolas Maduro. But council head Tibisay Lucena asked for a judicial probe into some apparent cases of voter identity fraud, and did not name a date for the next phase, to collect 20 percent of signatures. The timing is crucial because if Maduro were to lose a referendum this year, as polls indicate he would due to an economic crisis, that would trigger a new presidential vote, giving the opposition a chance to end 17 years of socialism. But should he lose a referendum next year, Maduro, 53, would be replaced by his vice president, maintaining the Socialist Party in power until the OPEC nation’s next presidential election scheduled for the end of 2018.