National: Under the Din of the Presidential Race Lies a Once and Future Threat: Cyberwarfare | The New York Times

The 2016 presidential race will be remembered for many ugly moments, but the most lasting historical marker may be one that neither voters nor American intelligence agencies saw coming: It is the first time that a foreign power has unleashed cyberweapons to disrupt, or perhaps influence, a United States election. And there is a foreboding sense that, in elections to come, there is no turning back. The steady drumbeat of allegations of Russian troublemaking — leaks from stolen emails and probes of election-system defenses — has continued through the campaign’s last days. These intrusions, current and former administration officials agree, will embolden other American adversaries, which have been given a vivid demonstration that, when used with some subtlety, their growing digital arsenals can be particularly damaging in the frenzy of a democratic election.

National: Cyber ‘SWAT’ teams gird for Election Day trouble | USA Today

Law enforcement officials, government workers and cyber-security professionals are preparing to swoop in, track and hopefully block anyone attempting a cyberattack aimed at destabilizing the U.S. presidential election. The possibility is slight, with risks lessened by the fractured, pre-digital nature of the national voting apparatus. Still, fears that hackers — perhaps from Russia — could instill doubts about the voting process via attacks on the Internet infrastructure have put the cyber-security community on guard. In a way, they are girding for war, but the fronts are multiple and decentralized. Although many are keeping low profiles, we know about some.

National: The Art Of The Vote: Who Designs The Ballots We Cast? | NPR

When a voter heads to the polls, any number of factors may influence how she casts her vote: party affiliation, her impression of the candidates — or even the design of the ballot itself. The visual layout of a ballot can have a surprising effect on a voter’s decision. And anyone who recalls the 2000 presidential election, which drew national attention to some confusing elements of the Florida ballot, can tell you that designers don’t always get it right. So, who are the people designing the ballots? That depends on where you’re asking. “There is no federal ballot design authority,” Dana Chisnell tells NPR’s Rachel Martin. Chisnell is co-director of the Center for Civic Design, a nonprofit aimed at developing best practices for election materials. “How ballots get designed is really a combination of local election officials and what their printers can do, if it’s a print-based ballot, and what the computers can do, if it’s an electronic voting system.”

National: Would it matter if either Trump or Clinton refused to concede? Yes and no. | CS Monitor

After an ambiguous answer from Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump last month, Fox News TV host Chris Wallace followed up Sunday during an interview with Mr. Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, to ask whether the GOP candidates would accept the outcome of Tuesday’s election. It’s a question that has clung to the Republican ticket like heavy fog for two-and-a-half weeks since Trump said during the third and final presidential debate that he would hold the American public “in suspense” rather than vowing before Election Day to accept the results, whether he wins or loses. That noncommittal response drew harsh criticism from those who said he threatened the very fabric of American democracy. But the reality is that, even if either Trump or Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton were to fail to concede on election night or at any point thereafter, the electoral process would carry on anyway and place a new president in the White House. The winner is still the winner, whether the loser acknowledges the results or not. “Concession is constitutionally irrelevant,” Jeff Becker, an associate professor of political science at the University of the Pacific, tells The Christian Science Monitor. Even though the political mechanisms will proceed without regard for whether a defeated candidate publicly acknowledges his or her loss, an artful concession remains vitally important to American political futures, Dr. Becker adds.

National: Could Russia Hack Presidential Election 2016? | iTech Post

Cybersecurity researchers are raising the specter of a Russian cyber attack on Election Day and many voters are concerned that the presidential election could be hacked after Russia’s recent hack of the Democratic National Committee. American voters are concerned that the presidential election could become the target of hackers and the outcome could be manipulated. In this troubled context, GOP candidate Donald Trump has also added to the general anxiety by casting doubt on the legitimacy of the presidential election to be cast on Tuesday, Nov. 8. Trump suggested that in case if he loses, he might not accept the results. But is it really possible to hack the election? How really vulnerable is the U.S. presidential election to an eventual Russian hacking? … Pamela Smith, president of the non-partisan lobbying group Verified Voting, explained for the same publication that the U.S. doesn’t have a national voting system but rather local jurisdiction-specific voting systems. On the international scene, there were indeed some elections that have been tampered with over the internet, but that could happen only where there’s been a national election system. That’s not the case of the U.S.

National: Push for Automatic Voter Registration Ramps Up Again | The Atlantic

One of the many supposed truisms about politics is that you’re never supposed to look past the next election. Yet as this historic presidential race draws to a close, voting rights advocates are already ramping up efforts to expand the rolls in future elections through automatic voter registration. In the District of Columbia, the city council this week unanimously approved legislation allowing eligible citizens to register when they sign up for a driver’s license. In Nevada, organizers for a group led by Obama campaign veterans are gathering signatures to put a similar law on the ballot in 2018; they must submit the petition by Election Day this year. Voters in Alaska will decide a ballot measure next week that would automatically register nonvoters when they sign up to receive dividend payments from the state’s oil revenue fund. And in Illinois, Democrats in the state legislature are hoping to hold a vote in the weeks after November 8 to override Republican Governor Bruce Rauner’s veto of legislation enshrining automatic voter registration.

National: Civil rights advocates work to prevent polling chaos  | The Washington Post

It’s 10 a.m. but the room is already warm with body heat and the smell of coffee. Behind the locked glass doors of a downtown Washington office, in a conference room outfitted with 20 phone lines, computer workstations and posters that try to make inspirational art out of single words such as “Dedication,” volunteers are fielding phone call after phone call. This is one of the front lines in one of the most contentious presidential elections in memory. It is one outpost of the Election Protection Coalition voter hotline, a volunteer-staffed nonpartisan network of organizations devoted to protecting the right to vote. The advocates behind the operation say they are worried that more than any presidential election in the past 50 years, the 2016 contest carries a pronounced risk for impropriety and mischief. They, too, like Donald Trump, worry that the election could be rigged. But not in the way the Republican nominee has insisted it will be — by “inner city” residents resorting to fraud to help elect Hillary Clinton. They are more concerned about a combination of ordinary and extraordinary voter confusion; a lack of pre-election federal oversight and the specter of in-person voter intimidation by Trump supporters.

National: The Election Will Still Go on, Even if Hackers Attack | TIME

With cybersecurity researchers raising the specter of a cyber attack on Election Day, state and local officials are doubling down on a different message: no matter what, the final vote will be legitimate. “If there’s one message we want be heard loud and clear, it’s that these elections will be fair,” Denise Merrill, the president of the National Association of Secretaries of State and the Secretary of State of Connecticut, told TIME. “It might take longer to count every vote, there might be more hurdles, but it’ll be fair.” In the event that hackers attack voting systems, state and local officials have paper-based back-up plans in place, she said. In the event that hackers shut down larger targets, like parts of the power grid, government buildings, electrical facilities, water systems, street lights, dams or bridges, all of which are now connected to the internet, state and local election officials can implement other contingency plans, election officials told TIME.

National: Threats Of Intimidation Of Minority Voters Leads Civil Rights Organization To Launch Reporting App | Forbes

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s rabble-rousing allegations of “large scale voter fraud” has incited his followers, including white nationalist and alt-right groups, to proclaim they would monitor polling places to prevent “rigged elections.” The fearmongering has raised concerns of voter suppression and intimidation, particularly in African-American and Latino communities that tend to lean more democratic. And in a numbers game, that is what the opposition is worried about. There is a record 27.3 million Hispanic eligible voters for the 2016 election, 44% of which are millennials with an average age of 19, according to Pew Research and Census data. While the voter growth among this ethnic group is mostly of U.S.-born Latino youth, there has also been a 26% increase in eligible voters who have become naturalized citizens since 2012.

National: There Are 868 Fewer Places to Vote in 2016 Because the Supreme Court Gutted the Voting Rights Act | The Nation

When Aracely Calderon, a naturalized US citizen from Guatemala, went to vote in downtown Phoenix just before the polls closed in Arizona’s March 22 presidential primary, there were more than 700 people in a line stretching four city blocks. She waited in line for five hours, becoming the last voter in the state to cast a ballot at 12:12 am. “I’m here to exercise my right to vote,” she said shortly before midnight, explaining why she stayed in line. Others left without voting because they didn’t have four or five hours to spare. The lines were so long because Republican election officials in Phoenix’s Maricopa County, the largest in the state, reduced the number of polling places by 70 percent from 2012 to 2016, from 200 to just 60—one polling place per 21,000 registered voters. Previously, Maricopa County would have needed federal approval to reduce the number of polling sites, because Arizona was one of 16 states where jurisdictions with a long history of discrimination had to submit their voting changes under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. This part of the VRA blocked 3,000 discriminatory voting changes from 1965 to 2013. That changed when the Supreme Court gutted the law in the June 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision.

National: U.S. Government: Hackers Ready to Hit Back If Russia Tries to Disrupt Election | NBC

U.S. military hackers have penetrated Russia’s electric grid, telecommunications networks and the Kremlin’s command systems, making them vulnerable to attack by secret American cyber weapons should the U.S. deem it necessary, according to a senior intelligence official and top-secret documents reviewed by NBC News. American officials have long said publicly that Russia, China and other nations have probed and left hidden malware on parts of U.S critical infrastructure, “preparing the battlefield,” in military parlance, for cyber attacks that could turn out the lights or turn off the internet across major cities. It’s been widely assumed that the U.S. has done the same thing to its adversaries. The documents reviewed by NBC News — along with remarks by a senior U.S. intelligence official — confirm that, in the case of Russia.

National: Media launches joint war-room to spot voting problems | Politico

After spending 2016 trying to outmaneuver each other and deliver the next big break, hundreds of newsrooms are now engaged in unprecedented reporting partnerships to uncover barriers to voting and debunk fake news that can cause chaos and confusion on Election Day. The biggest of the new alliances is Electionland, a project involving more than 400 newsrooms across the country casting aside competitiveness to share real-time data and tips on everything from reports about long lines and voter intimidation to hoax tweets suggesting stuffed ballot boxes. New York-based journalism non-profit ProPublica created the free service earlier this year by partnering up with national desks at USA Today and The New York Times, as well as scores of local news organizations including the Arizona Republic, Miami Herald and the Virginian-Pilot. Participating reporters and editors are all connected to an online smorgasbord of story leads and sources culled from social media, text messages and a national telephone helpline that the public is using to report voting problems. “It’s an entire national newsroom, essentially only looking at problems facing people who vote,” said Jessica Huseman, a ProPublica senior reporting fellow.

National: World’s fate hangs on dubious election technology | UKAuthority

In a few hours’ time, western democracy – perhaps even world peace – will be at the mercy of vulnerable code in black boxes on dilapidated bare bones PCs with virtually zero endpoint security, otherwise known as e-voting machines. Security experts are warning that the combination of a highly polarised contest and obsolete information technology make domestic or foreign cyber attacks on tomorrow’s US presidential and other elections a near certainty. The warning comes from the US Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology, which in the second part of its devastating investigation “Hacking elections is easy” details specific weaknesses in the electronic voting systems widely installed with federal funding after 2002. “Electronic voting manufacturers operate without sufficient accountability, oversight, and governance. Rather than produce robust, secure systems, they distribute bare bones proprietary systems with less native security than a cheap cell phone.” According to the report, state voter registration systems have already been compromised at least twice.

Editorials: Peace of Mind for a Tumultuous Election: Paper Trails and Risk-Limiting Audits | Arlene Ash and Mary Batcher/Huffington Post

With increasingly heated allegations of “rigged elections,” things have probably not gotten better since a September 29 poll concluded that “more than 15 million voters may stay home on Election Day” over concerns about cyber-security. Equally problematic would be doubts about who won following November 8. A vibrant democracy requires trusted elections. Paper validation of ballots cast and meaningful audits of those ballots are important – and neglected – tools for bolstering trust. As statisticians working in healthcare and business, we frequently help researchers, patients, and business executives think about the probability and severity of potential risks. Based on the news coverage it receives, you might think that the problem of people who are not entitled to vote showing up at polling places is rampant. It is not. A comprehensive study of all American elections between 2000 and 2014 identified only 31 possible cases out of a billion votes cast. That is, only 0.000003 percent of votes might have been due to the kind of fraud that Voter ID laws could possibly prevent! In contrast, electoral malpractice, intentional or not – including confusing ballot designs, computer security breaches and malfunctions, long lines, partisan administration, misleading information about where and how to vote, poorly maintained voting lists, and overly aggressive voter list purges – plague every American election.

Arizona: Supreme Court Says Arizona Can Ban ‘Ballot Harvesting,’ | The New York Times

The Supreme Court issued an order on Saturday allowing Arizona to enforce a law banning so-called ballot harvesting, in which others collect voters’ completed absentee ballots and submit them to election officials. The court’s two-sentence order stayed a ruling from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that would have temporarily blocked the law. The justices gave no reasons for reviving the law, but the court often views last-minute changes to election procedures with disfavor. Arizona allows voters to submit absentee ballots by mail or in person. The challenged law, enacted this year, barred letting others collect the ballots, with exceptions for family members and caregivers. According to officials in Arizona, there are similar laws in 26 other states and nearly identical ones in “14 other states that make mass ballot collection in some form a felony.”

Florida: Election general counsel sides with judge’s decision about voter registration | Florida Record

As Tuesday’s general election approaches, a federal judge’s recent rejection of a Florida Democratic Party request to allow unverified voters to cast ballots was the right decision, says an election general counsel. “I believe the judge was correct in determining that the registrations were being processed as quickly as possible,” Ronald Labasky, general counsel for the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections (FSASE), told the Florida Record. On Oct. 20, U.S. District Court Judge Mark E. Walker said there was no evidence that Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner wasn’t doing enough to handle the 72,000 voter registration forms county election offices received the previous week. That backlog, much of which had been blamed on Hurricane Matthew, has been addressed, Labasky said. “Most of the backlog has been eliminated by the state,” he said.

Hawaii: Unusual congressional election confuses voters | Associated Press

The death of one of Hawaii’s congressmen has led to an unusual ballot and voter confusion in urban Honolulu.
The rare double election means residents in the 1st Congressional District are selecting someone to fill the late U.S. Rep. Mark Takai’s seat for the two-month unfinished term and someone to represent the district for the next two years. Takai died in office last July. The situation could lead to two different people winning the same House seat on election night, to serve the two different terms. Former U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa is one of the candidates. The Democrat is hoping to return to her old seat in Congress, which she gave up to run for Senate two years ago.

Ohio: Democrats ask Supreme Court to restore order barring voter intimidation in Ohio | Politico

Democrats made a last-ditch plea to the Supreme Court Sunday night, urging the justices to restore an injunction barring Donald Trump’s campaign and its allies from Election Day actions that could intimidate voters looking to cast their ballots in the battleground state of Ohio. The Ohio Democratic Party’s emergency application to the high court asked the justices to reimpose the restraining order a federal appeals court lifted earlier in the day, arguing the 6th Circuit had issued a finding “with no basis in law.” The application seems likely to face an uphill battle at the shorthanded Supreme Court. Five justices are typically needed to grant such relief and the court is currently split 4-4 between Democratic and Republican appointees. Partisan considerations aside, the justices are also often wary of making last-minute changes to election rules or procedures.

Pennsylvania: Judge denies injunction to end strike, will revisit Monday | Philadelphia Inquirer

A judge ruled Friday there was no urgent need to issue an injunction to end Philadelphia’s four-day transit strike, but said she would take a second look at the request before Election Day. After a 2 1/2-hour hearing Friday night, Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Linda Carpenter denied SEPTA’s request to immediately force 4,738 striking workers back on the job. She scheduled a second hearing for 9:30 a.m. Monday. “There’s enough evidence that an injunction might be appropriate,” Carpenter said. “There’s not enough evidence that injunction right now is necessary.” SEPTA had been threatening to go to court since the strike began at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, and filed the injunction paperwork at 3 p.m. Friday. The strike has brought the city’s subways, buses, and trolleys to a standstill and caused heavy traffic on the region’s streets, highways and regional rail. “This is about the riders,” said Pasquale Deon, SEPTA’s board chairman, “and it’s just a horrible situation to put the city of Philadelphia in.”

Texas: Report: Texas has closed most polling places since court ruling | The Texas Tribune

Five Texas counties rank among the top 10 nationwide for closing the greatest percentage of their polling places since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a portion of the Voting Rights Act in 2013, according to a new report released less than a week before Election Day. And taken together, Texas counties have closed more polling places than any other state, the report found. According to the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a civil rights advocacy group, since the high court found Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional — ruling that Texas and other states with history of racial discrimination no longer needed federal pre-clearance when changing election laws — Texas counties have closed at least 403 polling places. This will be the first election in 50 years conducted without the full force of the Voting Rights Act. Fisher, Medina, Aransas and Coke and Irion counties ranked the highest in polling place reductions, closing more than half of their voting locations. In terms of total polling places closed, Texas is followed by Arizona, which closed 202 polling places. Louisiana holds third place, with 103 poll closures.

Bulgaria: Runoff expected as pro-Russia candidate tops Bulgaria race | Associated Press

A former Bulgarian Air Force officer who has called on the European Union to lift its sanctions against Russia was the probable winner of the country’s presidential election Sunday, but he did not secure enough votes to avoid a runoff, exit polls showed. The exit polls gave opposition Socialist candidate Rumen Radev a narrow lead over the candidate of the ruling center-right party, Parliament Speaker Tsetska Tsacheva, who was seen as the race’s front-runner ahead of Sunday’s voting. The Balkan nation’s relations with Russia, the future of the European Union and immigration — in the wake of thousands fleeing Africa and the Middle East — dominated the election campaign.

Canada: Trudeau government to mail every household in Canada questions on electoral reform | National Post

The Trudeau government is mailing postcards to every Canadian household this month to find out how people feel about the way they elect MPs, the National Post has learned. More than 13 million full-colour postcards were being printed up this week which, when they land in mailboxes at the end of the month, will encourage Canadians to go to a website — or — and answer questions about their democratic values. The websites are “parked” right now with Internet web hosting company but will go live no later than Dec. 1, said a senior government official. The online consultations, which will close Dec. 31, will be the last of three extensive rounds of consultations on electoral reform under way since the spring. This means the Trudeau government is expected to declare its preference for how, if it all, to change the way MPs are elected early in the new year.

Nicaragua: Ortega on course for landslide reelection | Reuters

Nicaraguan leader Daniel Ortega powered toward his third consecutive term as president of the poor Central American country on Sunday, as voters cheered years of solid growth and overlooked criticisms he is installing a family dynasty. By fusing his militant past with a more business-friendly approach, Ortega stands in stark contrast to many once-dominant Latin American leaders, whose popularity has plummeted in recent years after failing to guarantee gains in economic prosperity. The 70-year-old former guerilla fighter, who is running with his wife, Rosario Murillo, as vice president, had 72.1 percent of votes, with 66.3 percent of polling stations counted, the electoral board said. The announcement sent hundreds of his leftist Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) party supporters out into the streets of Managua to celebrate.