National: Elections at Risk in Cyberspace, Part II: Variety is the Spice of Hacking for Voting Machines | Signal Magazine

Election-day activities center on polling places and their voting machines, and this is where the public interest in vote security is most acute. Each state is in charge of acquiring and managing voting machines, and many states have different types of machines within their borders. The wide variety of voting machines used across the United States, rather than deterring hackers, actually helps empower them if they want to change the outcome of people’s votes, say many cybersecurity experts. Many voting machines are so old that modern security has not yet caught up to them. The differences among voting machines also mean that no single tactic could be employed to cause them to give misleading vote totals. Any coordinated effort to use the machines to affect voting outcomes would have to be tailored to each type of machine and would require an extensive network of operatives to be effective on a large scale. Some electronic voting machines still in use in the United States date back to the last millennium, according to a report by the Brennan Center for Justice, a liberal nonpartisan policy and law institute connected with New York University School of Law. The oldest machines have all the security of an ATM—which is to say, very little. Newer machines still are vulnerable because they provide access points for cybermarauders to inject malware that could change votes outright.
Direct-reporting voting machines that offer no paper backup are the most vulnerable, states Chuck Brooks, vice president of government relations and marketing for Sutherland Government Solutions. Also, the diversity of electronic voting machines precludes any easy security fix. Few have had software updates, he says.

National: What it takes to secure the elections | TechCrunch

While virtually every industry and domain is flourishing and being revolutionized by technological advances, more than three-quarters of U.S. citizens will vote for their next president on paper ballots this November. The main reason for this is concern over cybersecurity threats against the electoral system and process. In the wake of major breaches, such as the hacking of the Democratic National Convention and attacks against voter registration databases in at least two states, it is now feared more than ever that the presidential elections might be influenced or compromised by nation-states such as Russia. And that’s why any form of technology being used in elections is generally frowned upon and regarded as a potential attack vector for malicious actors. But is this a pattern that has to repeat itself every four years? Are we doomed to choose our leaders in settings that one expert described to me as reminiscent of the dark ages for fear of major hacks, or is it possible to see future elections leverage the full power of the newest tech without fearing cyber threats?

National: Election cyber threats: More states request DHS help | CNN

More states and local election boards have asked the Department of Homeland Security to help with cybersecurity, the department announced Monday night. The total, which has been steadily rising in recent weeks, has reached 33 state and 11 county or local election agencies, DHS said. More than two dozen states were known to have requested help before the updated tally. DHS has been urging states to take advantage of its resources, which include scanning systems for vulnerabilities and recommendations for improving cybersecurity on election and voter registration systems. The update from Secretary Jeh Johnson warned those on the fence to make a decision.

National: Hurricane Matthew and Its Effect on Voting Rights | The Atlantic

Hurricane Matthew brought utter devastation to Haiti and other islands in the Caribbean after it swept through the region early last week. In Haiti, the storm killed at least a thousand people; damaged infrastructure advancements the nation had made in its push to modernize; and delayed a presidential election originally scheduled for early October. While the problems it’s caused on the eastern United States have been less dire, the storm has nevertheless had serious consequences in many communities. And, as in Haiti, its aftereffects may have repercussions on the country’s upcoming presidential election as well. Efforts to calculate the political costs of a disaster—which are already ongoing in the case of Matthew—often generate callous, clinical results that don’t capture the length and breadth of those effects; they may focus on how displacement might benefit one candidate or the other, but can’t capture the human stories behind those missed votes. The most difficult exercise in a catastrophe’s aftermath is accounting for the things and people lost: the resulting health crises, the activities made difficult, the memories erased, and the strain of rebuilding. Worrying about political consequences can seem crass when people’s day-to-day lives are in ruins. Sometimes, though, the things victims have to lose are political in nature, making a discussion about politics unavoidable—and even necessary.

National: Unable to Vote, Ex-Convicts Reach Out, Try to Have Impact on US Election | VoA News

Kenneth Inniss, 56, has not voted in a U.S. election since 1984, when he first went to prison for a felony conviction. He is now out but will have to wait one more year until he is off parole to vote. “It’s a right that we take for granted until it’s taken from us,” he said. “And that’s when it really hit home for me. I don’t have a say in how those laws are keeping me incarcerated.” Inniss recently packed into a glossy black van with eight other formerly incarcerated New Yorkers and embarked on a road trip to Cleveland, Ohio. The group had a simple mission: Inform Ohio ex-prisoners of their right to vote.

National: Senator wants nationwide, all-mail voting to counter election hacks | Ars Technica

“It’s not a question of if you’re going to get hacked—it’s when you’re going to get hacked.” Those were the words of Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam as he sought to assure investors last week that the company is still interested in purchasing Yahoo despite the massive data breach of Yahoo consumer accounts. Whether McAdam’s words ring true for the hodgepodge of election systems across the US is anybody’s guess. But in the wake of the Obama administration’s announcement that the Russian government directed hacks on the Democratic National Committee and other institutions to influence US elections, a senator from Oregon says the nation should conduct its elections like his home state does: all-mail voting.

National: Facebook Helped Drive a Voter Registration Surge, Election Officials Say | The New York Times

A 17-word Facebook reminder contributed to substantial increases in online voter registration across the country, according to top election officials. At least nine secretaries of state have credited the social network’s voter registration reminder, displayed for four days in September, with boosting sign-ups, in some cases by considerable amounts. Data from nine other states show that registrations rose drastically on the first day of the campaign compared with the day before. “Facebook clearly moved the needle in a significant way,” Alex Padilla, California’s secretary of state, said in an interview on Tuesday.

National: Democracy Live launches voting app to view election ballots on smartphones | Puget Sound Business Journal

Democracy Live launched its LiveBallot app and website Thursday to provide American voters with online access to their ballot ahead of Election Day. The LiveBallot social-balloting technology can offer every registered U.S. voter a digital replica of the ballot they’ll see at the polls, plus candidate bios, contact information and links to recent news articles about them. The information can be shared on social media. “LiveBallot is the only app that delivers a customized ballot to each of the 200 million voters in the U.S.,” Democracy Live President and CEO Bryan Finney said in an interview. “For the first time in election history, voters will have a virtual replica of their ballots on their personal devices, computers and in their hands ahead of Election Day.”

Arizona: Federal judge: Arizona counties don’t have to tally out-of-precinct votes | Capitol Media Services

A federal judge rejected a bid by Democrats to force counties to tally the votes of people who show up at the wrong polling place. In his ruling late Tuesday, Judge Douglas Rayes acknowledged that Arizona has a history of discrimination in voting practices. But Rayes said challengers, led by the state and national Democratic parties, failed to show that the current restrictions affect minorities any more than the population as a whole. This is the second defeat for the Democrats. Rayes had earlier refused to block the state from enforcing its new law making it a felony for individuals to collect early ballots from others and bring them to the polling place. On Tuesday the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused to disturb that ruling.

Florida: Voter registration extended to next week after Hurricane Matthew | The Washington Post

A federal judge ordered Florida to extend its voter registration deadline by six days, until Tuesday, because of Hurricane Matthew. In the storm’s wake, many residents are still struggling to return to their homes and recover, even as they face looming deadlines to register to vote. Nowhere has the issue of voter registration been more contentious than Florida, where Republicans had refused to push back the deadline. At a hearing Wednesday morning, U.S. District Judge Mark Walker ordered the extension. “No right is more precious than having a voice in our elections,” he said at the hearing, according to the Tampa Bay Times. The original deadline had been this week, on Oct. 11. After Gov. Rick Scott (R) refused to move that deadline, Walker had issued an emergency order Oct. 10 to keep registration open one more day so his court could hold a hearing on the matter.

Kansas: Kobach files late response in voter case | The Wichita Eagle

A federal court will decide whether to excuse Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s late filing in a case about the constitutionality of requiring people to prove they are citizens when they register to vote. Kobach filed an 88-page response in a federal lawsuit Tuesday night, hours after being found in default for failing to respond in time to an amended complaint. A spokeswoman for his office said it still must file a motion to set aside the default. The plaintiffs’ attorneys filed a motion to strike Kobach’s late response Wednesday afternoon, contending it was improper because it was not paired with a motion to allow a late filing or set aside the default. “He chose to represent himself in the case, as well as several others, and he has a responsibility to get things filed and filed on time. And at this point, he hasn’t done that,” said Will Lawrence, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs. Kobach did not return phone calls about the case on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Missouri: Groups opposing voter ID amendment team up to relay concerns to voters | St. Louis Post-Dispatch

With only a few weeks left before the Nov. 8 general election, opponents to a voter ID amendment are ramping up appeals to voters they hope will reject the proposal. Some advocacy organizations have formed a coalition for broader outreach. They include Progress Missouri, the NAACP, AFL-CIO, AARP, Missouri Faith Voices, Metropolitan Congregations United and Communities Creating Opportunity. At issue is an amendment that will allow Missourians to decide if the state constitution should be changed to require voters present photo identification before voting. If voters approve it, a bill passed by the legislature will also take effect, which lays out which IDs qualify and requires the state to pay for individuals to obtain an ID or documents necessary to get an ID.

South Carolina: Planning to write-in a vote for president? Think again, South Carolina voters | The Herald

Maybe lawmakers generations ago saw the election of 2016 coming. Maybe they didn’t want to count cartoon characters or dead folks when sorting out candidates for the top job in the country. For whatever reason, they made sure South Carolina voters won’t be straying too far from the pack on election day. Title 7 – Elections, Chapter 13 in South Carolina reads like a phone book. About halfway down is one of the shorter voting rules, but one that could surprise a voter on Nov. 8. It states: “The ballots shall also contain a place for voters to write in the name of any other person for whom they wish to vote, except on ballots for the election of the president and vice President.” So all those next day reports of odd write-in votes nationwide won’t happen in South Carolina. “It varies by state law,” said Wanda Hemphill, registration and elections director for York County.

South Dakota: Krebs: Law prohibits write-in votes in election | Plainsman

Disillusioned voters who don’t like any of the presidential candidates in the Nov. 8 general election may be tempted to write in another name. Doing so is not allowed by state law, said Secretary of State Shantel Krebs. “What it doesn’t do is it does not throw the entire ballot out,” she said at a Beadle County Republican Party campaign luncheon in Huron on Monday. “That’s the misconception right now,” she said. “Your ballot is still marked race by race. Any race not marked is not counted.” The intense interest in the presidential race between frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is prompting the national media to regularly call secretaries of state across the country. Krebs said she also gets as many as 1,500 e-mail inquiries a day in her office.

Texas: Odd voting law on interpreters scuttled before November election | The Texas Tribune

Mallika Das, a U.S. citizen who was born in India, walked into a Williamson County polling place in 2014 eager to cast her ballot. Because she was not proficient in English and had found it difficult to vote in the past, Das brought her son, Saurabh, to help her. They both spoke Bengali, an Asian dialect. But when Saurabh told poll workers he was there to interpret the English ballot for his mother, the duo ran into an unexpected requirement. By law, a poll official determined, Saurabh could not serve as an interpreter for his mother because he was not registered to vote in the county. Saurabh was registered to vote in neighboring Travis County.

Texas: State Election Officials Say Voter ID Change Ads Should Be Airing ‘Any Day Now’ | KUT

Texans across the state will soon be inundated with TV and radio ads ahead of this year’s presidential election. However, the ads won’t be from candidates running for office, but from the state of Texas. The state-funded ads are intended to inform voters of the recent court-ordered changes to Texas’ voter ID law. When Texas lost a legal battle over its voter ID law earlier this year, they were given a couple of instructions. They had to change the law and make it easier for people to vote this November. They also had to let Texas voters know what changed, and they have to spend $2.5 million doing that. Alicia Pierce, a spokesperson with the Texas Secretary of State’s office, says TV and radio ads have just been shipped to markets for all 254 counties in the state – and they should be airing “any day now.” “It does take time from once it leaves the studio to actually get up on air, but they were approved and could be running as soon as today,” she says.

Wisconsin: Judge blasts state over voter ID | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Ripping the Division of Motor Vehicles for giving out inaccurate information, a federal judge said Wednesday he would order Gov. Scott Walker’s administration to make changes to how it treats people who seek voting credentials but was unlikely to suspend the voter ID law. “I think the training that was provided to the DMV counter service was manifestly inadequate,” U.S. District Judge James Peterson said during a daylong hearing. “The DMV has a lot of competencies, but one of them is not communicating to voters what they need to get an ID. “I don’t know why we’re here a month before the election.” Peterson was reacting, in part, to recently released audio recordings of DMV workers supplying people with inaccurate voter ID information.

Wisconsin: Judge rips Wisconsin officials over voter ID law confusion | Associated Press

A federal judge considering a challenge to Wisconsin’s voter ID law ripped state officials Wednesday over inadequate training for Division of Motor Vehicles workers after some employees recently gave prospective voters erroneous information about obtaining alternative credentials to cast a ballot. Liberal advocacy group One Wisconsin Institute asked U.S. District Judge James Peterson to block the entire law, citing a flurry of reported problems at DMV field offices. Despite his criticisms of the credential program, Peterson said at the conclusion of a hearing that he was reluctant to block the mandate. A federal appellate court has already found the law constitutional, leaving him uncertain whether he even has authority over the law, the judge said. He added that he wants to respect legislators’ decision to adopt the requirement to protect election integrity.

Canada: British Columbia Election Act challenged in Supreme Court of Canada | CBC

A section of B.C.’s Election Act that restricts advertising is being challenged this morning in the Supreme Court of Canada. The B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association is challenging the law, arguing it restricts freedom of expression in this province, and that it should include an exception for third parties spending less than $500 on election advertising. Section 239 of B.C.’s Election Act says election advertising sponsors must register with the chief electoral officer. The B.C. Civil Liberties Association is an intervener in the case. Lawyer Laura Track said the association is concerned the law is too broad.

Ghana: Opposition Party to Challenge Disqualification of Presidential Candidate | VoA News

Attorneys for the Ghanaian opposition National Democratic Party (NDP) plan to file a petition in court Thursday seeking to challenge the electoral commission’s decision to disqualify former first lady Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings, presidential candidate of the party, from the Dec. 7 general election. Mohammed Frimpong, general secretary for the NDP, says the disqualification appears politically motivated, to ensure the former first lady doesn’t pose any threat to incumbent President John Dramani Mahama of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC). “We have credible information around that the ruling government is very uncomfortable with our candidate,” Frimpong said. “And if she stood, it means that she was going to divide a lot of votes with the ruling government. … And for that they hatched several plots against her.” Frimpong contends the electoral commission failed to apply the law requiring that a party be notified of any problems in its nomination documents, and allowed time for issues to be amended.

Zimbabwe: Electoral Commission Compiles New Voters’ Roll | VoA News

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) says it is setting up a new biometrics voters’ roll, which is expected to be in place by May next year and ready for the crucial 2018 general elections in which 92-year old President Robert Mugabe is the sole candidate for the ruling Zanu PF party. According to ZEC mapping has already started for the new voters’ roll and all Zimbabweans are expected to register to vote in any national election starting next year.