A U.S. appeals court on Thursday will hear Virginia Democrats’ challenge to a 2013 Republican-backed state law requiring prospective voters to show approved photo identification before casting their ballots. The Virginia Democratic Party is asking the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, to overturn the law. A federal judge in May upheld the measure passed by the Republican-led legislature and signed by then-Governor Robert McDonnell, also a Republican. The appeal ahead of the Nov. 8 elections is among legal challenges around the United States to voter identification laws that were driven by Republicans who argue they prevent election fraud.
National: U.S. Intelligence Chief Suggests Russia Was Behind Election-Linked Hacks | Wall Street Journal
U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper suggested Russia was behind a recent computer hacking operation that stole records from the Democratic Party and then leaked thousands of documents online. Mr. Clapper, speaking Tuesday evening at an event hosted by the Washington Post, said Russia has been conducting similar exercises since the 1960s targeting the U.S. “It shouldn’t come as a big shock to people,” Mr. Clapper said. “I think it’s more dramatic maybe because now they have the cyber tools.” A spokesman for the Russian embassy in Washington didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Mr. Clapper’s comments were his most explicit to date connecting Russia to the hacking operation, which is believed to have been conducted over more than a year. Three internet outlets have leaked some of the stolen files since April, with some of the files proving embarrassing enough that their disclosure prompted the resignations of several top Democratic Party officials.
Efforts by hackers to infiltrate elections systems in Arizona and Illinois this summer, and the successful hack of the Democratic National Committee emails – allegedly by Russians – have officials and voters on edge as the Nov. 8 election nears. “It causes panic in the public,” said Tim Mattice, executive director of The Election Center, which represents 1,300 state and local election officials and vendors. “People think, ‘Oh my goodness … my vote is not going to count.” Statements by Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president, that only a rigged result could cost him the election have brought a strong response from officials like Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, who runs elections in the state. “Donald Trump is wrong when he says the election is being rigged,” said Husted, a fellow Republican. “It’s a ridiculous notion.”
Election Day starts this week. Beginning on Sept. 23, any Minnesotan can go to a local election office and complete an absentee ballot. The following Thursday, voters in neighboring Iowa have the same opportunity. Between Oct. 20-24, North Carolina, Nevada, and Florida get in the game. In Colorado, the entire election will be conducted by mail ballot. By the constitutionally mandated first Tuesday after a Monday in November, more than one-third of Americans will have already voted for president. There are still battleground states that make no provision for early voting—Pennsylvania, Virginia, and New Hampshire stand out for their old-fashioned ways—but in those that do it has created a new kind of electoral arms race. Early voting is a particular gift to well-organized, well-funded campaigns, which can extend their turnout operations across as long as six weeks, locking down precise factions of the electorate in domino-like fashion, and sequence their persuasion efforts with a clear view of who has yet to vote. Building on the ground-game innovations of President Barack Obama’s two successful efforts, Hillary Clinton’s campaign has reshuffled its entire org chart with the election timetable in mind, grouping early-voting states together so that get-out-the-vote efforts can happen on an accelerated, exacting schedule.
Editorials: Changing who controls ICANN jeopardizes our presidential election | Theresa Payton/The Hill
Changing who controls the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) so close to our presidential election will jeopardize the results of how you vote on Nov. 8 unless Congress stops this changeover. When the calendar hits Sept. 30, a mere 6 weeks before our election, the United States cannot be assured that if any web site is hacked, the responsible party will be held accountable. We cannot be sure if a web site is a valid. We cannot be sure if one country is being favored over another. These are all the things ICANN is responsible for and has worked perfectly since the Internet was created. Why change it now and so close to the election? Why does that matter to you as a voter? Take a look at recent cyber activity as it relates to the election. The Democratic National Convention was breached comprising the entire party’s strategy, donor base, and indeed, national convention. Everything the DNC had done to prepare for a moment four years in the making (if not longer) was undermined by a hacker who had been in their system for some time but waited for the optimal moment to spring it on the DNC – opening day of the convention. The FBI and other U.S. agencies, as the headlines blare, suspect Russia is responsible for the hack. Recently, Vladimir Putin went so far as to say, “Does it matter who broke in? Surely what’s important is the content of what was released to the public.”
Over 9000 jurisdictions (counties and states) in the U.S. run elections with a variety of voting machines: optical scanners for paper ballots, and direct-recording “touchscreen” machines. Which ones of them can be hacked to make them cheat, to transfer votes from one candidate to another?
The answer: all of them. An attacker with physical access to a voting machine can install fraudulent vote-miscounting software. I’ve demonstrated this on one kind of machine, others have demonstrated it on other machines. It’s a general principle about computers: they run whatever software is installed at the moment.
So let’s ask:
- Which voting machines can be hacked from anywhere in the world, through the Internet?
- Which voting machines have other safeguards, so we can audit or recount the election to get the correct result even if the machine is hacked?
The answers, in summary:
- Older machines (Shouptronic, AVC Advantage, AccuVote OS, Optech-III Eagle) can be hacked by anyone with physical access; newer machines (almost anything else in use today) can be hacked by anyone with physical access, and are vulnerable to attacks from the Internet.
- Optical scan machines, even though they can be hacked, allow audits and recounts of the paper ballots marked by the voters. This is a very important safeguard. Paperless touchscreen machines have no such protection. “DRE with VVPAT” machines, i.e. touchscreens that print on paper (that the voter can inspect under glass while casting the ballot) are “in between” regarding this safeguard.
Democrats are asking county elections officials to extend the voter-registration deadline so it doesn’t fall on the Columbus Day holiday, when state and federal offices will be closed. In letters to all 15 county elections officials, party officials are asking for a one-day extension, to Oct. 11. They cite a state law that allows the deadline to be moved when it falls on a holiday, and cite a 58-year-old attorney-general opinion that reinforced that practice. In a practical sense, they said, not extending the deadline could deter would-be voters who attempt to register at state motor-vehicle offices or by mail. Those offices are closed Oct. 10, the published registration deadline. “You can’t get a piece of mail postmarked when the post office is closed,” said Spencer Scharff, voter-protection director for the state Democratic Party.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has discarded as of August the registrations of about 6,570 prospective voters under a rule that allows him to purge them after 90 days primarily for lack of proof of citizenship, the League of Women Voters said Tuesday. Those prospective voters whose names are missing likely registered at some place other than a motor vehicle office and so their right to vote is not protected by recent court orders compelling Kobach to keep them on the rolls. They would need to register again in order to vote in November. “Today, it feels like a lot of people,” said Marge Ahrens, co-president of the League’s Kansas chapter. “We have many (Kansas) towns that are not that big.” Kobach’s spokesman, Craig McCullah, said Tuesday he could not immediately confirm whether the League’s figures are accurate.
A federal judge has ordered Texas to issue new voter education materials, siding with those who accused state officials of misleading voters about identification requirements for the November elections. U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos on Tuesday ordered changes to certain press releases, posters placed at polling locations and materials on state websites related to voting in the Nov. 8 elections. She is also requiring that “all materials related to the education of voters, poll workers, and election officials that have not yet been published shall reflect the language” of a prior court order allowing those who arrive at the polls without one of seven forms of photo identification required under state law to cast a ballot. Ramos’ order came after the federal government and other groups challenging the state’s photo ID law — ruled discriminatory by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit — accused Texas of circulating “inaccurate or misleading information” about a temporary fix she ordered for the upcoming election.
Gov. Scott Walker’s administration wants to stamp “voting purposes only” on the free IDs the state makes available, making it harder for people to use them to open bank accounts or prove their identity when they pick up their children from day care. The Division of Motor Vehicles also wants the free IDs – born of voter fraud fears – to be cheapened in quality, with some fraud protections removed. State officials believe the changes would prompt more people to pay for IDs that can be used more widely, thus increasing transportation funding by nearly $1 million over two years. “I don’t think the elderly and low-income people who don’t drive should be the state’s target for boosting revenue for transportation spending,” said Jon Peacock, research director for the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families.
Australia: Random number generator to determine candidate positions on ballot paper on Thursday | The Canberra Times
Candidates will discover on Thursday their position on the ballot paper in October’s election, although with a random ballot paper it is not clear there is any advantage to be had. The names of more than 100 candidates expected to stand for the hotly contested ACT election will be announced at lunchtime. With an extra eight seats up for grabs as the Parliament swells to 25 members, this election offers the best opportunity to get elected of any election since self-government. If every incumbent keeps their seat other than the two retiring members, there will still be 10 new faces. To ensure no advantage from ballot position, the ACT Electoral Commission will use a random number generator to decide the order in which the parties appear. Independents will all be on the right-hand side of the ballot paper – in one column if there are up to five independents, and spreading over two or more columns if there are more.
The presidential elections in Gabon have been keeping those following the outcome of the race on the edge of their seats for several days. The vote took place on Saturday 26 August, but results were only announced late on Wednesday afternoon. According to the final tally announced by the minister of the interior, the incumbent Ali Bongo won by 49.8%, while his rival, Jean Ping, got 48.23%. Just over 628 000 people took part in the vote in the Central African country of 1.8 million inhabitants. The opposition strongly disputes this outcome and says votes were manipulated – especially in Bongo’s stronghold of Haut-Ogooué, where the incumbent got over 90% of the votes. Following the announcement of the results, opposition supporters reportedly torched a part of the Parliament building in Libreville – an ominous sign of possible escalating post-election violence. Ping (73), a former foreign minister who headed the African Union Commission between 2008 and 2012, was confident earlier in the race. He told the media on Sunday, 29 August – a day after the vote and before any results were released – that he had won the elections and that his predecessor should accept it. He repeated this statement on Tuesday saying that his opponent, Bongo (57) should prepare to hand over power.
Jordan’s moderate Islamist opposition could emerge from Tuesday’s parliamentary election with renewed influence after surviving government attempts to ban it as part of a wider crackdown on political Islam, analysts said. The group could win up to a fifth of seats in the parliament after ditching its “Islam is the Solution” slogan and joining with Christians and prominent national figures to create a broad-based civic grouping, The National Coalition for Reform, they added. Officials said turnout was 36 percent of 4.1 million eligible voters at the end of polling, lower than the election in January 2013.
United Kingdom: Labour plan to expel members who join ‘tsunami of online abuse’ as voting closes in leadership contest | The Telegraph
New Labour members will be required to sign a code of conduct about online behaviour or face being barred from the party in a bid to tackle a “tsunami of online abuse”. Labour now has 551,000 members, reinforcing its position as the largest political party in Europe, but it has been beset with reports of members engaging in abusive exchanges, particularly with so-called “moderate” MPs who have opposed Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. The new policy, agreed by Labour’s National Executive Committee on Tuesday, came hours before voting in the party’s leadership contest came to a close. Any votes received after midday today will not be counted.