National: Will the US elections be hacked? It’s doubtful, but machines could be ‘rigged’ | The Guardian

It’s been a topic of debate ever since hackers – presumably working for Russia – stole thousands of private emails from the Democratic National Committee and leaked them on the net. Could a nation state or other adversary hack our elections and determine the next president of the United States? The answer depends on how they try to go about it, says Avi Rubin, computer science professor at Johns Hopkins University and technical director of the university’s Information Security Institute. Election hacking is highly unlikely, he says. Attackers reaching into the ballot box from thousands of miles away won’t happen, simply because the vast majority of election machines are not connected to the internet. Some 31 states offer voting via internet, email, or fax, but nearly all only allow it as an option for military families and Americans living overseas – a very small percentage of the electorate. Only Alaska allows any voter to cast a ballot across the net, according to Verified Voting. But election rigging is a potential threat, says Rubin. That’s where adversaries attack the electronic voting machines themselves, altering the software inside the machines to favor one candidate. “There are a thousand points of vulnerability,” says Rubin. “Anyone with access to the machines at any stage could attack them.”

National: Hackers Say It Would Be “Too Easy” To Hack The U.S. Elections | BuzzFeed

Before the hacker touched a single key on the electronic voting booth, he already had three or four ideas in mind for how he could manipulate the results. “Just based on the fact that many of these voting machines have been around for years, just based on that I could tell you old vulnerabilities that exist in the system,” Tim Monroe told BuzzFeed News. Monroe, 26, is an independent cybersecurity consultant based in Boston, who says that calling himself a hacker sounds a lot better than his actual title. “Elections are full of opportunities for hackers, and those opportunities just keep getting better as more systems go online. I look at this machine and think, ‘here’s a thing to play with and take apart.’” Monroe wasn’t looking at a machine in a polling station somewhere in the United States, but one set up at Black Hat, an annual conference for the world’s foremost cybersecurity companies to show off their research and remind each other just how vulnerable all online systems are. This year, as an alleged Russian hack infiltrating the emails of top Democratic Party officials dominated news coverage in the weeks ahead of the conference, the question of hackers meddling in the upcoming US election was a constant source of speculation.

National: Could the Presidential Election Be Stolen? | Newsweek

America’s election is at risk of being stolen: That, in essence, is what some news reports, as well as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and his allies, have been suggesting lately. … Election integrity and cybersecurity experts say there are real security vulnerabilities in America’s election system—or, more accurately, systems, as there are more than 9,000 separate state and local jurisdictions that conduct elections around the country. A number of states and municipalities continue to use insecure electronic and/or online voting technologies, despite years of warnings that these systems have bugs and poor security. It’s also true that a motivated individual could, in theory, go to the polls and pretend he or she is someone else, or lie on an absentee ballot. There are, however, two important caveats. One: Evidence of outright voter fraud of the sort Trump is warning about is extremely rare. Two: Even if a malevolent actor did succeed in meddling with an election—either by hacking into an electronic system or via lower-tech identity fraud—that doesn’t mean he or she could affect the outcome. Doing so would be extremely difficult in large part because of how fragmented the U.S. voting system is. … Pam Smith, president of Verified Voting, a nonprofit group that advocates for accurate and fair elections, says Ohio and Florida, in particular, have “been making all the moves in the right direction” after grappling with major voting crises last decade. Many counties in Ohio still use electronic voting machines, which provide the potential for hacking. But they require physical paper records of voters’ ballots, known as voter verifiable paper audit trails, which allow voters to confirm their votes were recorded correctly and also allow election officials to audit the vote tallies.

National: The history of the voting rights struggle is still being written | Facing South

In its recent decision striking down North Carolina’s “monster voting law”for “target[ing] African Americans with almost surgical precision” and discriminating in both intent and outcome, a three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals emphasized the historical discrimination that Blacks have encountered when seeking access to the ballot and made clear that the district court that previously heard the case “erred in ignoring or dismissing this historical background evidence.” Al McSurely, a longtime civil rights attorney who helped file the lawsuit in 2013, noted that lawyers for the NAACP argued not only that it was unconstitutional to deprive anyone of their right to vote but that it was morally wrong to target a group of people who had been denied their basic rights historically. “Anytime you can argue both morally and constitutionally, you have a very strong argument,” McSurely told Facing South.

National: The crusade of a Democratic superlawyer with multimillion-dollar backing | The Washington Post

After a lopsided string of court victories knocking down state voting restrictions, Democratic superlawyer Marc E. Elias was literally flying high last week in his pursuit of other ­Republican-initiated voting laws he says hurt his party’s most loyal constituencies. First up was the battleground of Ohio, where Elias told a federal appeals court that the state had unlawfully cut a few days of early voting disproportionately used by African Americans. Less than 24 hours later, the lawyer whose firm counts Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee among its clients was in a federal courtroom 1,600 miles away. He charged that Arizona’s new law regarding the handling of absentee ballots was an unconstitutional effort to discourage Latino and Native American voters as well as those who assist them.

Editorials: Questioning If An Election Will Be ‘Rigged’ Strikes At The Heart Of Democracy | Danielle Kurzleben/NPR

On Dec. 13, 2000, after perhaps the most hotly contested presidential election in American history (and a Supreme Court decision that divided Americans), Al Gore did one of the most important things that keeps American democracy working: he conceded. “Let there be no doubt: While I strongly disagree with the court’s decision, I accept it,” he said in a seven-minute statement. He added, “And tonight for the sake of our unity as a people and the strength of our democracy, I offer my concession.” No one expected a recount process that would drag out until December. But this year, before the ballots are even cast — much less counted — Donald Trump is signaling that he is ready to challenge the presidential election results. “I’m telling you, Nov. 8, we’d better be careful, because that election is going to be rigged,” Trump told Fox News earlier this week. “And I hope the Republicans are watching closely or it’s going to be taken away from us.” His former adviser and longtime associate Roger Stone elaborated later in the week that the campaign should encourage supporters to challenge any unfavorable results. “I think he’s gotta put them on notice that their inauguration will be a rhetorical, and when I mean civil disobedience, not violence, but it will be a bloodbath,” he said. “The government will be shut down if they attempt to steal this and swear Hillary in. No, we will not stand for it. We will not stand for it.”

Editorials: Courts call voting laws what they are, racist | Miami Herald

Federal courts across the country have finally recognized that legislative maneuvers designed to limit access to the ballot box violate federal law against discrimination. In effect, the courts agreed with critics who have been saying for years that such efforts are racist. Since mid-July, federal courts have used the Voting Rights Act to strike down voter ID laws in Texas, North Carolina, Wisconsin and North Dakota. Specifically, the courts have focused on the protection afforded by Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. That provision outlaws any voting procedure that “results in a denial or abridgment” of the right to vote based on race. One of the most significant rulings was issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. A three-judge panel denounced a blatantly racist effort by North Carolina legislators to impose new voter ID requirements and to end voting procedures favored by blacks, including voter registration on Election Day and early voting. The law also blocked out-of-precinct voting. Florida also has a voter ID law, but it allows 12 different forms of identification. This is deemed ample and flexible enough to allow most voters to pass legal muster.

Arkansas: Before flaws noted, Arkansas flagged 7,730 on voter list | Arkansas Online

Flawed data flagged 7,730 people in Arkansas to be removed from voter rolls, a spokesman for the secretary of state said Friday. That data have caused headaches for county clerks, who have been left to work out what’s accurate. Some on the list are felons who have not yet taken the steps to regain their right to vote and must be kept off voter rolls, but others on the list have not committed a felony or have already had their rights restored. Interviews with a handful of county clerks show that they are removing only a fraction of those people. In Pulaski County — where nearly 2,000 of those named on the state’s list reside — about 20 percent will be removed after staff members investigated each person, said Jason Kennedy, assistant chief deputy of the clerk’s office.

Connecticut: Justice Department Signs Off On ‘Motor Voter’ Settlement | Hartford Courant

The state and the U.S. Justice Department reached a settlement to resolve claims that Connecticut’s method of registering voters at the Department of Motor Vehicles was not in compliance with federal law. Under a program beginning next week, applications for driver’s licenses and identification cards will effectively serve as voter registration applications unless a customer specifically opts out. And when a customer changes the address on file at the DMV, that information will be reflected on the voter rolls unless they make a different request. “The motor voter provision of the [National Voter Registration Act of 1993] critically supports and enhances our citizens’ access to the democratic process,” U.S. attorney Deirdre M. Daly said in a statement. “Compliance with those requirements plays an important role in ensuring that all Conneticut citizens can more easily exercise their right to vote.”

Minnesota: After DNC hack, Minnesota braces for digital threat to election | Minneapolis Star Tribune

The list of precautions the state has taken to keep computer hackers from hijacking the November election stretches to two single-spaced pages: a cyber security team, a new outside election consultant and an encrypted internet transmission system. Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon and his staff say they feel confident that they have taken every reasonable step to prevent hackers from upending the election. Yet, memories of a hack in 2009 that shut down the Secretary of State’s business website never quite fade. And now a foreign-led hack of Democratic National Committee computers is reigniting previous concerns about the upcoming election. “If the [voting] system is connected to the internet or if the system is connected to a network that’s connected to the internet, there’s a cascading risk,” said Mike Johnson, who spent 15 years directing cyber security for Bremer Bank and now teaches at the University of Minnesota’s Technological Leadership Institute. Across the country, in the aftermath of the extraordinary attack on the DNC computers, cyber security experts are newly assessing the vulnerability of the nation’s voting system. Some say the technological weaknesses are significant enough to disrupt the presidential election.

North Carolina: State will ask Supreme Court to allow voter ID law to stand | Reuters

North Carolina will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to allow a state law requiring voters to show identification to stand, after an appellate court struck it down a week ago, Republican Governor Pat McCrory said on Friday. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday refused the state’s request to put its decision on hold while North Carolina asks the Supreme Court to overturn it ahead of the U.S. general election on Nov. 8. McCrory said the state will ask justices by early next week to stay the appeals court’s ruling, which found that sweeping changes to the state’s voting rules in 2013 intentionally discriminated against African-Americans. An application for a stay would likely be directed to Chief Justice John Roberts, who has responsibility for emergency actions that arise from the 4th Circuit. Roberts could act alone or refer the matter to all eight justices. Five votes are needed to grant an application for a stay.

Ohio: Voting laws put to test in Ohio, other states | Dayton Daily News

In Ohio, Secretary of State Jon Husted likes to say, it is easy to vote and hard to cheat. But Ohio’s voting laws — like several others throughout the country — are being put to a test with legal challenges that strike at a bedrock of American democracy: free and fair elections. On Thursday the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati heard arguments on a federal lawsuit filed by civil rights groups seeking to invalidate two voter laws passed by the Republican-controlled Ohio legislature in 2014. The laws, both addressing absentee voting, make it difficult for some voters — particularly African-Americans and low-income Ohioans who tend to favor Democrats — to cast ballots, according to attorney Subodh Chandra. “The pattern is unmistakable, and the result is unconstitutional,” said Chandra, a former federal prosecutor.

Pennsylvania: Aging voting machines pose a future cause for concern in some counties | PennLive

People often complain about long lines when they go to cast their vote on Election Day, particularly in presidential election years, but imagine how much worse it would be if large numbers of the state’s aging voting machines broke down and parts to fix them were hard to come by. It’s that type of scenario that Sen. Elder Vogel, R-Beaver County, hopes to avoid. He authored a resolution calling for a study on aging voting machines in the state that the Senate adopted last month. It directs the Joint State Government Commission to complete the study within the next 18 months and issue its findings and recommendations. County election officials are already “scavenging parts” when problems arise, he said. He wants to be proactive “before it becomes a crisis.” Barry Kauffman, a senior adviser to Common Cause Pennsylvania, agrees this is an issue that needs to be dealt with – and soon. “We know these machines are aging out … some of the software isn’t even serviced anymore,” Kauffman said. “There is a serious need to protect the integrity of our elections.” Along with that, he would like to see more voting machines that are user-friendly and ensure votes are counted correctly. “In the end, we need timely, accurate results,” he said.

Texas: Harris County Sued over Disabled Voting Access | The Texas Tribune

Harris County, which includes Houston, has violated the Americans with Disabilities Act because many of its polling places are inaccessible to voters with disabilities, a new lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice alleges. Many polling places in Harris County, which were surveyed by the justice department during elections in 2013 and 2016, have architectural barriers — such as steep ramps and narrow doors — that make them inaccessible to voters who use wheelchairs, according to the lawsuit. The county also failed to accommodate the needs of voters who are blind or have vision impairments, the federal government argues. Voters with disabilities are “being denied the same opportunities as nondisabled voters to vote in person,” according to the lawsuit.

US Virgin Islands: V.I. GOP Sues To Put Ackley On Ballot | St. Thomas Source

Gordon Ackley, write-in GOP candidate for Congress, and the V.I. GOP jointly filed suit Friday in federal court to demand the V.I. Election System hold a GOP primary or simply place Ackley on the November ballot, according to a statement sent Friday by Dennis Lennox, spokesperson for Ackley and the V.I. GOP. Ackley never filed a nominating petition prior to the statutory May 17 deadline for all candidates, but was chosen by the V.I. GOP to be its nominee for Congress at its June 11 convention on St. Thomas. The suit alleges V.I. voters were disenfranchised because there was no primary. “The actions of the defendants not only have the effect of violating the rights of Mr. Ackley and the Republican Party but also cast serious doubts on the ability of defendants to hold a fair and meaningful election in the U.S. Virgin Islands,” according to the complaint, filed in District Court on St. Thomas.

Wisconsin: No changes in election laws for Tuesday’s primary | Journal Times

Despite two recent federal court rulings and a shift to a new agency overseeing Wisconsin elections, officials say much will stay the same for voters heading to the polls for Tuesday’s primary. Of particular note: Residents still have to show photo identification to vote. “There are no changes to Wisconsin’s election laws for Tuesday’s primary,” Michael Haas, interim administrator of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, said in a statement Thursday. “You will need to show an acceptable photo ID to vote.” However, the state is prepared to implement court-ordered changes ahead of the Nov. 8 presidential election, pending appeals of recent federal court decisions, according to a news release.

Australia: NSW’s e-Voting system under fire | Computerworld

In the aftermath of the 2 July federal election, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and opposition leader Bill Shorten both indicated support for the potential use of eVoting to avoid drawn-out post-election ballot counting. However, the eVoting platform used in Australia’s most populous state — New South Wales’ iVote system — has again come under fire. The iVote system supports telephone and Internet-based voting in the state. The current version of iVote was produced by Scytl in partnership with the NSW Electoral Commission (NSWEC) and used in the 2015 state election. The robustness, privacy and verification method of the system have been questioned by two university researchers, one of whom was previously instrumental in uncovering a security vulnerability in iVote.

Sao Tome and Principe: Sao Tome votes in runoff boycotted by president | Daily Mail Online

Voters in the tiny archipelago of Sao Tome and Principe went to the polls Sunday to elect a new head of state, with just one candidate in a runoff boycotted by the incumbent president. Held up as a regional model of democracy, the west African former Portuguese colony is mired in its worst crisis in a quarter-century of multiparty politics. In the first round of voting on July 17, former prime minister Evaristo Carvalho, the ruling party candidate, initially seemed to have scraped past the 50 percent needed for an outright win. Election officials then revised Carvalho’s tally downwards to 49.8 percent and the share of 79-year-old President Manuel Pinto da Costa to 24.83 percent, thus prompting a runoff. But Pinto da Costa, who had lashed the process as a fraud and demanded it be scrapped, announced he would not contest the second round.

South Africa: Election Shows Many South Africans Losing Faith in ‘Pompous’ A.N.C. | The New York Times

A week before South Africa’s local elections on Wednesday, the Zithas held a family meeting inside their entertainment room to decide how to vote. Loyal backers of the African National Congress in every election since the end of apartheid, the family decided it was time for a change. Now, on a leisurely Sunday morning, as his wife and daughter got ready for church, Danny Zitha, 61, a former high school teacher, said the long-governing A.N.C. had left him disillusioned because of its corruption, arrogance and incompetence. He will never go back, he said. “Not at all, as long as I’m alive, sorry,” he said, adding with a laugh, “Maybe after death.” The A.N.C., which was the party of Nelson Mandela and helped free South Africa from white-minority rule, suffered its worst losses ever at the polls in the municipal elections last week. Unrivaled for the past two decades, the party lost control of two black-majority cities, including the capital, Pretoria, in what many believe is a profound change in how race and the legacy of apartheid influence South African politics. The party’s decline was especially steep in the biggest cities, with many black, middle-class voters in places like Chantelle, a suburb of Pretoria, turning against it. Twenty-two years after the end of apartheid, such voters appeared more concerned with mundane matters like good governance and taxes than with the party’s heroic liberation past.

Thailand: Thai junta passes ballot box test with referendum win | Reuters

Thai voters approved a junta-backed constitution in a referendum on Sunday, preliminary results showed, an outcome that paves the way for an election next year but will also require future elected governments to rule on the military’s terms. Voters handed the junta led by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha a convincing win in its first major popularity test at the ballot box since it seized power in a 2014 coup. With 94 percent of the vote counted, early results from the Election Commission showed 61.4 percent of Thais had voted for the charter, while 37.9 percent rejected it. Full results are due on Wednesday. The junta says the constitution is designed to heal more than a decade of divisive politics in Thailand that has dented economic growth and left scores dead in civil unrest. But Thailand’s major political parties and critics of the government say the charter will enshrine the military’s political role for years to come.