The 2016 election season has been unique for reasons beyond the U.S. presidential candidates: For the first time, widespread reports of cyberattacks on voting systems and hacks of political organizations’ correspondence are disrupting — and influencing — the U.S. election process. … The problem is compounded by another sobering fact: The current U.S. voting infrastructure is a compilation of older, unsophisticated technology blended with newer digital electronics that often don’t work well together. This system requires patching — much like an operating system that constantly needs updating to prevent newly discovered vulnerabilities from being exploited. As a result, cybersecurity for our political process is not just about protecting our political representatives’ emails, but also about protecting the methods and machines we use to count the votes. The older the computer and operating system, the more vulnerable it is, and the same applies to voting machines. For instance, there is a voting machine in use in Louisiana, New Jersey, Virginia and Pennsylvania that has been in use since 1990 and hacked by a college professor — to draw attention to the device’s high vulnerability level — in seven minutes.
National: Was a server registered to the Trump Organization communicating with Russia’s Alfa Bank? | Slate
The greatest miracle of the internet is that it exists—the second greatest is that it persists. Every so often we’re reminded that bad actors wield great skill and have little conscience about the harm they inflict on the world’s digital nervous system. They invent viruses, botnets, and sundry species of malware. There’s good money to be made deflecting these incursions. But a small, tightly knit community of computer scientists who pursue such work—some at cybersecurity firms, some in academia, some with close ties to three-letter federal agencies—is also spurred by a sense of shared idealism and considers itself the benevolent posse that chases off the rogues and rogue states that try to purloin sensitive data and infect the internet with their bugs. “We’re the Union of Concerned Nerds,” in the wry formulation of the Indiana University computer scientist L. Jean Camp. In late spring, this community of malware hunters placed itself in a high state of alarm. Word arrived that Russian hackers had infiltrated the servers of the Democratic National Committee, an attack persuasively detailed by the respected cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike. The computer scientists posited a logical hypothesis, which they set out to rigorously test: If the Russians were worming their way into the DNC, they might very well be attacking other entities central to the presidential campaign, including Donald Trump’s many servers. “We wanted to help defend both campaigns, because we wanted to preserve the integrity of the election,” says one of the academics, who works at a university that asked him not to speak with reporters because of the sensitive nature of his work.
Joe Brookreson stands at the table, pensive, reading a cookbook, his wife looking over his shoulder. “I’m looking in that container?” asks Susan Brookreson. A ball of dough is rising in a bowl on the counter beside them. Joe is sharing the instructions for how to prepare wheat bread with his wife. “Oh, there are two rises,” Joe realizes. This means he may not be able to return home after casting his vote for president – his early vote, that is – in time to supervise the baking. “Doggone it.” Joe had planned to drive 15 minutes to Martinsburg, West Virginia, for early voting and then return home to bake the bread, but the extra leavening time is complicating his schedule. Susan reassures him: “Go. Your voting is more important.” November 8 is more than a week away, but around the United States, many people like Joe Brookreson are running to the polls to vote. Voting started as early as September 23 in some places, and is now permitted in 37 states and the District of Columbia. Each state establishes its own procedures and dates.
One question on many people’s minds is whether polling places will be disrupted on Election Day. There are concerns that vigilantes, armed with cameras and notebooks, will intimidate voters they suspect of committing fraud. Such groups insist they’ll follow the law, but civil rights groups are on alert just in case. There have already been some disturbing incidents. In Durham, N.C., a voter reported someone videotaping license plates outside an early-polling site. In West Palm Beach, Fla., a voter complained of being intimidated by a rowdy group of electioneers. A right-wing group called Oath Keepers has appealed to its members, mostly former military and police, to go undercover at polling sites and collect intelligence about possible fraud. In an online video, the group’s president, Stewart Rhodes, asked supporters “to go out as part of our call to action, to go and hunt down, look for vote fraud and voter intimidation and document it, to do the best we can to stop it this election.” There are other efforts as well. A Texas-based group called True the Vote has a smartphone app for people to document any incidents of voter fraud they see at the polls.
Advancements in technology have already impacted the U.S. voting system, taking it from all paper to electronic ballots. Now that we live in a digital age, how close are we to online voting? There are currently four ways to vote in a U.S. election: paper ballots in person or by mail, direct recording electronic systems (DRE), ballot marking devices, and punch cards. Various companies have created phone apps and services to make it easy for people to register to vote, but actual voting in national elections cannot be done online. “Right now, any computer system on the planet can be hacked,” said Holmes Wilson, co-founder and co-director of Fight For The Future (FFTF). … In 1974, the first form of electronic voting, the Video Voter, was used in a U.S. government election and, although that method ended in 1980, its successor, the DRE voting machine, is used in many states, and it is the main method used in Texas. “The problem with these machines is that, to trust them, you had to believe that it was possible to build error-proof, tamper-proof computerized equipment, and as a computer scientist, I know that’s not possible,” said David Dill, professor of computer science and electrical engineering at Stanford University and founder of Verified Voting. “We need to get rid of all paperless DRE’s in the U.S., and have improved auditing laws and procedures everywhere.”
How do you spread a rumor without taking responsibility for spreading it? By saying you don’t vouch for its accuracy — yet. That’s what Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis., did on CNN on the topic of vote rigging. In an interview on the Situation Room, Duffy said he didn’t have evidence of “widespread problems across the country,” but he went out of his way to relay some troubling reports. “Articles that I have read, I haven’t verified them,” Duffy told host Wolf Blitzer on Oct. 27, 2016. … The claim about billionaire Soros emerged on several conservative websites. One Daily Caller report said, “Smartmatic, a U.K.-based voting technology company with deep ties to George Soros, has provided voting technology in 16 states including battleground zones like Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Virginia.” The article noted that Smartmatic stated on its website that it “will not be deploying its technology in any U.S. county for the upcoming 2016 U.S. presidential elections.” That nuance was lost on many people. More than 125,000 signed a petition posted Oct. 21, 2016, on the White House website that said, “We the people ask Congress to meet in emergency session about removing George Soros-owned voting machines from 16 states.” To be clear, abundant evidence shows that Soros owns no voting machines in the United States.
Voter fraud is not a widespread problem in the United States, but by the time Donald Trump is through with us, it might be. The GOP nominee spent the weekend campaigning in Colorado, and rather than focusing on those who have yet to cast their ballots, he tried to convince his supporters that their mail-in ballots will not be counted. Colorado is one of three states where ballots are mailed to all registered voters. People can either send back their ballot, or vote in person. … Many interpreted that as a call to cast two ballots for Trump, but he’s saying only one of those two votes should be counted. The mail-in vote will be voided so that the Colorado voter can submit a single, reliable in-person vote for Donald J. Trump. That sounds reasonable, but that’s not how voting works in Colorado. The Colorado secretary of state’s office told Fox 31 Denver that people cannot change their votes. They can choose to vote in person rather than submitting their mail-in ballot, but once a clerk has received their ballot it cannot be changed.
Iowans can vote early in this year’s general election, but they cannot vote often. Unless they want to spend some time in jail and perhaps lose the right to vote entirely. Terri Lynn Rote of Des Moines was arrested last week on suspicion of casting two ballots for the upcoming election: one at the Polk County Election Office and one at a satellite voting location. The 55-year-old woman was booked Thursday on a first-degree charge of election misconduct and released Friday after posting bond. Iowa Code Chapter 39A rightly contains unforgiving language about offenses with the potential to affect the election process, including voting or attempting to vote more than once in the same election. Such wrongdoing should “be vigorously prosecuted and strong punishment meted out through the imposition of felony sanctions which, as a consequence, remove the voting rights of the offender.” Iowans will be watching to see if Rote, a registered Republican who supports Donald Trump for president, is vigorously prosecuted. Because she certainly should be. Rote is not an elderly person with dementia who forgot she had already voted. It appears she knew exactly what she was doing. She told Iowa Public Radio she feared her first ballot for Trump would be changed to a vote for Hillary Clinton. So she went and cast another one. “The polls are rigged,” she said.
Missouri voters will decide the outcome of a contentious voter ID measure in November’s election. Republican state lawmakers passed legislation and overrode Governor Nixon’s veto of such a bill this year. The measure requires voters to present a photo ID, but allows them to forgo the procedure if they sign an affidavit. The affidavit state’s that the voter is aware that they can get a photo ID for free and that they’ll attempt to obtain one. Republican state Senator Dan Hegeman of Cosby supported the bill. “I think that the integrity of our elections is certainly worth stepping up and working with people to ensure that integrity, so that people feel comfortable that the election process is fair and substantive.” The bill becomes law if citizens pass the voter ID ballot measure next month. But the ballot measure actually goes further. It allows the legislature to come back in future sessions and strip the affidavit process and require voters to have a photo ID as a condition to cast a ballot.
The North Carolina chapter of the NAACP, along with a handful of individual voters, sued the state’s elections board and three county elections boards Monday over an alleged voter purge that it claims disproportionately affected African Americans. Some 4,500 voters’ ability to vote is in limbo, the complaint alleges, due to the efforts by a few individuals to challenge their registrations. The NAACP-NC accused state and local officials of violating the National Voter Registration Act and the federal Voting Rights Act in their handling of the challenged voters. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina. “The Tar Heel state is ground zero in the intentional, surgical efforts by Republicans to suppress the voice of voters,” NAACP-NC President Rev. William Barber II said in a statement announcing the lawsuit. “The NAACP is defending rights of all North Carolinians to participate in this election. We’re taking this emergency step to make sure not a single voters’ voice is unlawfully taken away. This is our Selma and we will not back down and allow this suppression to continue.”
This month Elections P.E.I. sent out more than a hundred thousand voter information packages to Islanders registered to vote in the plebiscite on electoral reform. Each letter contains a unique personal identification number (PIN) which can be used to vote online or over the phone. The only other information needed to cast a ballot using that PIN is the person’s date of birth. Inevitably, some PINs have been delivered to the wrong people. All that might be needed to use that person’s PIN to cast a ballot could be a visit to their Facebook page. “This is not a fool-proof system,” said chief electoral officer Gary McLeod. “And that’s one of the risks that we have right now.” It is illegal under P.E.I.’s Plebiscite Act to vote for someone else, McLeod pointed out. Offenses can lead to fines of up to $2,000 or imprisonment for up to two years. “We can track where the vote is put on from— if somebody notices that somebody’s voted and it wasn’t them – we can actually go in and track where that vote came from” using their IP address, McLeod said.
Georgia (Sakartvelo): Ruling party in Georgia wins constitutional majority after vote run-off | Reuters
Georgia’s ruling party decisively won a second round of voting on Sunday, giving it more than three quarters of seats in parliament, enough to change the constitution if it wants, data from the Central Election Commission showed on Monday. The result cements Georgian Dream’s already firm grip on power in the ex-Soviet nation and is a crushing defeat for the opposition United National Movement (UNM) and its founder, former president Mikheil Saakashvili, a regional governor in Ukraine who has spoken of a possible return to his homeland. Georgian Dream, which came to power in 2012, is pro-Western but also favors closer ties with Russia, while the UNM is strongly pro-Western.
Iceland’s incumbent Independence party was in pole position to try to form a new government after voters chose continuity in Saturday’s elections and support for the anti-establishment Pirate party, while sharply up, fell below early expectations. The Pirates, founded four years ago by a group of activists, anarchists and former hackers, tripled their share of the vote to 14.5%, and together with an alliance of three left-of-centre parties won a total of 27 seats – five short of a majority in the country’s 63-seat parliament. The centre-right Independence party, however, won almost 30% of the vote and a total of 29 seats with its coalition partner of the past three years, the Progressive party, which was badly hit by this year’s Panama papers scandal and lost more than half its MPs. In a campaign whose early stages were dominated by public anger at Iceland’s traditional elites and a strong desire for political change, the Independence party promised to lower taxes and keep Iceland’s economic recovery on track.
Moldova’s presidential election will go to a runoff between the pro-Russian front-runner and a pro-European candidate who both tapped into widespread anger about corruption. With almost all ballots counted Monday, Igor Dodon had 48.3 percent, falling short of the majority of votes needed for outright victory in the first round. In the Nov. 13 runoff, he will face Maia Sandu who scored 38.4 percent. Dodon’s strong result in Sunday’s voting reflected widespread dissatisfaction with the pro-European government which has been in office since 2009. Moldovans are angry about the more than $1 billion that went missing from the banking system in 2014 and accuse authorities of covering up the loss. Moldova’s president shapes the country’s foreign policy and appoints judges but major decisions need approval from Parliament, where pro-European politicians have a majority. However, this is the first time Moldovans have elected a president by popular vote in 20 years, giving the post more authority and influence.