National: Voters encounter some malfunctioning machines, other headaches on Election Day | The Washington Post

As voters flooded polling places across the country on Election Day, some reported problems such as broken machines, long lines and voter intimidation in states ranging from Texas to Pennsylvania. While voting appeared to proceed without headaches in many locations, election observers said they expect a significant increase in the number of issues reported nationwide compared to earlier presidential elections. In particular, voters in a handful of jurisdictions across the country encountered problems with malfunctioning voting machines, highlighting issues with the aging infrastructure expected to support tens of millions of voters turning out on Election Day. One major with some technological problems was Durham County, N.C., which has more than a quarter-million residents outside Raleigh. Officials there had technical issues with electronic poll books used to check in voters. As a result, state authorities told Durham officials to use paper poll books, rather than electronic ones, eventually leading to some delays. (Durham was already using paper ballots.) Local officials asked the North Carolina State Board of Elections to extend voting hours in some precincts, a request that was echoed by Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager. On Tuesday evening, state officials agreed to extend voting in eight precincts, pushing back the closing of polls by as much as an hour in some Durham locations and by 30 minutes in Columbus County. A group had also filed a lawsuit Tuesday afternoon seeking to keep the Durham polls open until 9 p.m.

National: US election: all quiet on the cyber front | Sydney Morning Herald

Despite concerns about possible attempts to hack or otherwise tamper with the US election, voting appears to have gone smoothly, with no attacks or intrusions. The Department of Homeland Security said it had no reports of election-related cyber breaches. … “All the discussions this year about security gave states another measure of protection,” said Pamela Smith, president of Verified Voting, a non-partisan, non-profit organisation that advocates for elections accuracy. That work also helped minimise the effects caused by breakdowns of voting machines or crashes of registration databases. In Smith’s experience, the resiliency of the voting system after something goes wrong is what keeps small problems small. For example in Colorado, the state’s electronic voter registration system went down for 29 minutes, from 2.47pm to 3.16pm local time, according to Secretary of State’s spokeswoman Lynn Bartels.

Editorials: American Elections Will Be Hacked | Bruce Schneier/The New York Times

It’s over. The voting went smoothly. As of the time of writing, there are no serious fraud allegations, nor credible evidence that anyone hacked the voting rolls or voting machines. And most important, the results are not in doubt. While we may breathe a collective sigh of relief about that, we can’t ignore the issue until the next election. The risks remain. As computer security experts have been saying for years, our newly computerized voting systems are vulnerable to attack by both individual hackers and government-sponsored cyberwarriors. It is only a matter of time before such an attack happens. Electronic voting machines can be hacked, and those machines that do not include a paper ballot that can verify each voter’s choice can be hacked undetectably. Voting rolls are also vulnerable; they are all computerized databases whose entries can be deleted or changed to sow chaos on Election Day.

Verified Voting Blog: Election integrity: Missing components to remedy

This oped appeared originally at the The Hill on November 8, 2016.

Our election systems’ vulnerabilities received unprecedented bipartisan and media attention from mid-summer onward, sparked by the apparently Russian origins of hacks into the Democrat’s communications systems. If tampering with the U.S. election process was a goal, then election technologies used for voter registration and vote tabulation, and the Internet itself, were hypothesized as additional potential targets. Further disclosures added fire to the considerable smoke.

While correction of U.S. election vulnerabilities may appear to be largely a simple matter of upgrading the election technologies, including voting devices and voter registration databases, that focus alone would be window dressing.  It would conceal and permit continuation of a broad array of vulnerabilities warranting reassessment and remedy.  Indeed, a full cyber risk assessment of our “mission critical” election processes would highlight a broad range of soft points that include many not yet a part of public and policymaker scrutiny. Outdated technology may appear to be the easiest correction, yet it is not. Other weak links in the process will defeat secure and resilient elections processes unless they, too, are redressed—like any weak chain.

Our election systems’ vulnerabilities received unprecedented bipartisan and media attention from mid-summer onward, sparked by the apparently Russian origins of hacks into the Democrat’s communications systems. If tampering with the U.S. election process was a goal, then election technologies used for voter registration and vote tabulation, and the Internet itself, were hypothesized as additional potential targets. Further disclosures added fire to the considerable smoke.

While correction of U.S. election vulnerabilities may appear to be largely a simple matter of upgrading the election technologies, including voting devices and voter registration databases, that focus alone would be window dressing.  It would conceal and permit continuation of a broad array of vulnerabilities warranting reassessment and remedy.  Indeed, a full cyber risk assessment of our “mission critical” election processes would highlight a broad range of soft points that include many not yet a part of public and policymaker scrutiny. Outdated technology may appear to be the easiest correction, yet it is not. Other weak links in the process will defeat secure and resilient elections processes unless they, too, are redressed—like any weak chain.

The illustrative list below elucidates some agenda items relevant on the eve of casting, counting, and reporting tallies — and on checking the accuracy of vote tallies if hacking may have occurred.

Connecticut: Glitches plague state election results website | Connecticut Post

The statewide debut of an election results website was marked by growing pains, including the deletion of tallies from Tuesday’s watershed presidential contest that forced the system to be temporarily shut down. This was the first time all 169 Connecticut municipalities were required to use the system, which cost the state between $350,000 and $450,000 as part of a broader technology upgrade. Participation had been voluntary for the presidential primary in April, and for the August primaries. From Bridgeport to Danbury to Greenwich, local registrars of voters reported multiple kinks in the system, from lost data to network crashes, and then being unable to log back in to complete their work. The registrars say that having a centralized website is more efficient than the past practice of faxing in the results to the state and waiting up to two days for the information to be posted. But the execution, they say, was a mess.

Missouri: Voters support campaign contribution limits and voter ID requirements | St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Missourians on Tuesday appear to have overwhelmingly voted to reinstate campaign donation limits and to require photo identification for future elections but snuffed out two proposed cigarette tax increases. … The campaign donation proposal, if it withstands an expected court challenge, will cap donations at $2,600 per election for individual candidates for state and local offices and $25,000 for political parties. The measure, Constitutional Amendment 2, also makes it illegal in most cases to shuffle money between committees. “It just resonated with the people,” said Todd Jones of the Missouri Campaign Contribution Reform Initiative, speaking of the wide margin late in the evening. “They finally want to take back control of their government. They haven’t had that opportunity when people are writing million-dollar checks” to campaigns. Opponents contended that the current system ensures transparency and that the limits would unfairly restrict political expression.

North Carolina: The governor’s race still isn’t over. And it’s about to get even uglier. | The Washington Post

One of the most hotly contested races of 2016 is still being contested. And the North Carolina governor’s race could drag on past Thanksgiving in an ugly way: The Democrat is declaring victory but the Republican incumbent is refusing to concede, and his campaign is raising the possibility of voter fraud. There could even be a recount. Cooper declared victory early Wednesday with a 5,000-vote lead over McCrory out of 4.6 million votes cast. That’s a 0.5 percentage point lead, and it’s small enough that McCrory isn’t willing to concede until thousands of provisional, absentee and military ballots are counted and the election results certified by state election officials. In fact, on Thursday afternoon, McCrory’s campaign announced they hired a lawyer and set up a legal defense fund in preparation to contest the results.

Wisconsin: Milwaukee elections head says voter ID law hurt city’s turnout | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Wisconsin’s voter ID law caused problems at the polls in the city and likely contributed to lower voter turnout, Milwaukee’s elections chief said Thursday. The city saw a decline of some 41,000 voters in Tuesday’s election compared with 2012, when President Barack Obama won broad support in Milwaukee and coasted to re-election. “We saw some of the greatest declines were in the districts we projected would have the most trouble with voter ID requirements,” said Neil Albrecht, executive director of the city’s Election Commission. …Albrecht acknowledged that some of the drop-off in turnout had to do with the candidates and less enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Austria: Interior Minister says no further delay to December 4 election, dismisses ballot scare | Reuters

Austria said on Tuesday there was no reason to delay again its presidential election due on Dec. 4 after newspapers reported it was possible to order postal ballots online using fake passport numbers. A new flaw in the electoral system would be a major embarrassment. A re-run of the presidential run-off held in May was already ordered because rules on ballot-counting were broken, which in turn was postponed because of faulty envelopes. Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka, however, said there was no reason for yet another delay of the re-run between the far-right Freedom Party’s Norbert Hofer and former Greens leader Alexander Van der Bellen. Having narrowly lost the neck-and-neck contest in May, Hofer could become the European Union’s first far-right head of state. The post is largely ceremonial but the president heads the armed forces and can play an important role in the formation of coalition governments. Asked if there was any reason to postpone the vote, Sobotka said: “No, absolutely certainly not.”

Germany: Merkel warns of Russian cyber attacks in German elections | Deutsche Welle

Chancellor Angela Merkel warned on Tuesday that Russia could try to influence next year’s German national elections through cyber warfare and disinformation, an assertion that comes after Washington blamed Moscow for interfering in the US election. Merkel told a conference that Germany already faced “a daily task” of responding to Russian cyber attacks and a disinformation campaign. “We are already, even now, having to deal with information out of Russia or with internet attacks that are of Russian origin or with news which sows false information,” Merkel said alongside her Norwegian counterpart Erna Solberg.

National: European poll watchers report myriad flaws in U.S. elections | The Washington Post

A report from international election observers on their preliminary findings on U.S. elections starts off promisingly. “The 8 November general elections were highly competitive,” they said, “and demonstrated commitment to fundamental freedoms of expression, assembly and association.” The observers also commended local election officials for their competence and professionalism. But that’s about where the positivity ends. Hundreds of election monitors from around the world fanned out across the United States on Tuesday to ensure free and fair elections, as well as to document the process for the benefit of their home nations. About 300 of them were brought to the United States by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The OSCE’s report damns the U.S. elections with faint praise, and then gets to the meat of the issue: Too many voting machines are faulty, and huge portions of the population can’t vote anyhow.

National: Why We Can’t Use the Internet to Vote | Mel Magazine

Every four years, America elects a president. And every four years around election time, Kim Alexander gets annoyed by the same question: Why can’t we vote over the internet yet? “I hate the question,” says Alexander, founder of the California Voter Foundation. Voting over the internet isn’t a priority for CVF, and won’t be for the foreseeable future. You would think an organization dedicated to “the responsible use of technology to improve the democratic process” would be for using the internet to make voting easier. Alexander did, too, once, back in the mid-’90s, shortly after she established CVF and the internet first entered the public consciousness. “But then I started to learn what about it takes to run secure elections, and how vulnerable the internet is,” Alexander says. “This internet is not a safe place to cast ballots.”

National: Russian hackers accused of post-election attacks on U.S. think tanks | Reuters

A Russian hacking group began attacking U.S.-based policy think tanks within hours of Donald Trump’s presidential election victory, according to cyber experts who suspect Moscow is seeking information on the incoming administration. Three cyber security firms told Reuters that are tracking a spear-phishing campaign by a Russian-government linked group known as Cozy Bear, which is widely suspected of hacking the Democratic Party ahead of the election. “Probably now they are trying to rush to gain access to certain targets where they can get a better understanding on what is going on in Washington after the election and during the transition period,” said Jaime Blasco, chief scientist with cyber security firm AlienVault. Targets included the Council for Foreign Relations, said Adam Segal, a security expert with the think tank. His colleagues include former U.S. Senator John D. Rockefeller IV and former Reagan administration State Department official Elliott Abrams.

National: States with new voting restrictions flipped to Trump | New York Daily News

While a surge of unexpected Donald Trump supporters flipped some Rust Belt states red, voter suppression measures may have also contributed to a depressed Democratic turnout. Ohio and Wisconsin, which saw drops in overall voter numbers since 2012 despite working class white support for Republicans, also enacted laws restricting voters’ ability to cast ballots. A lack of enthusiasm among Democrats may be partly to blame for fewer voters in places such as Milwaukee County, though some suggest that Republican-led restrictions on voters functioned as intended. “It’s undeniable that there is an effect [from new voting laws]. The people that enact these laws know what they’re doing,” said Gerry Hebert, the director of voting rights and redistricting at the Campaign Legal Center.

National: The Electoral College Is Hated by Many. So Why Does It Endure? | The New York Times

In November 2000, as the Florida recount gripped the nation, a newly elected Democratic senator from New York took a break from an upstate victory tour to address the possibility that Al Gore could wind up winning the popular vote but losing the presidential election. She was unequivocal. “I believe strongly that in a democracy, we should respect the will of the people,” Hillary Clinton said, “and to me that means it’s time to do away with the Electoral College and move to the popular election of our president.” Sixteen years later, the Electoral College is still standing, and Mrs. Clinton has followed Mr. Gore as the second Democratic presidential candidate in modern history to be defeated by a Republican who earned fewer votes, in his case George W. Bush. In her concession speech on Wednesday, Mrs. Clinton did not mention the popular vote, an omission that seemed to signal her desire to encourage a smooth and civil transition of power after a divisive election. But her running mate, Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, highlighted her higher vote total than Donald J. Trump’s in introducing her.

Alaska: Voters favor ballot measure tying voter registration to Permanent Fund dividends | Alaska Dispatch News

Alaskans were split on two ballot measures Tuesday, voting in favor of one that would automatically register voters when applying for the Permanent Fund dividend and against another to allow the state to borrow money for student loans. The first ballot measure, which was passing by a wide margin, automatically registers qualified Alaskans to vote when applying for a Permanent Fund dividend. Supporters noted it could capture tens of thousands of voters who qualify for the dividend and are eligible to vote but have not registered. Individuals could later choose to register for a party or opt out. With all but 10 precincts reporting statewide early Wednesday, the measure was passing with 64 percent of the vote. The measure was endorsed by a broad range of interest groups, including Alaska Native organizations, the American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska, oil company BP and Alaska U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan.

California: Uncounted ballots mean Sonoma County election results may not be final until December | The Press Democrat

Sonoma County election officials still need to count at least 40,000 mail-in and provisional ballots cast as part of Tuesday’s general election and may not finish tallying the results until their state-imposed deadline in early December. About 169,600 ballots were counted when the county released results early Wednesday morning with all precincts reporting, reflecting a 62 percent turnout among local voters. The turnout percentage will move higher when the outstanding ballots are tallied, a process that elections officials said would take weeks. The uncounted votes consist largely of mail-in ballots that voters postmarked or delivered in person to polling places on Election Day. Bill Rousseau, the county’s clerk-recorder-assessor and election’s chief, estimated that up to 50,000 mail-in and provisional ballots remained uncounted. The county will have a more precise estimate of the outstanding ballots Thursday after reporting it to the California Secretary of State, he said.

Maine: Trump takes 1 of Maine’s 4 electoral votes, in a first for the state | The Portland Press Herald

Maine split its electoral vote for the first time in state history, with Donald Trump’s strong showing in central and northern Maine allowing him to capture one of the state’s four votes in the Electoral College. Republican Trump carried the 2nd Congressional District handily, beating Democrat Hillary Clinton by 51 percent to 41 percent, with 89 percent of the district’s precincts reporting Wednesday morning. Clinton carried the statewide vote, 48 to 45 percent, with 90 percent of precincts reporting. She also won the 1st District vote, 54 percent to 40 percent, with 93 percent of the district’s precincts reporting. Maine allows for a split in its electoral vote, awarding one elector to the winner of each congressional district and two to the winner of the statewide vote. Only Nebraska divvies up its electoral votes in the same manner – all other states award electors on a winner-take-all basis.

Montana: Voting Machine Error Slows Cascade County’s Results | KRTV

Election officials say a formatting error delayed Cascade County results on Tuesday. County Clerk & Recorder Rina Moore says the elections office noticed problems with the voting machine’s ballot feeder early Tuesday night. She says officials were only able to count 20 ballots at a time compared to the 200 to 300 the machine typically processed. An elections copy specialist from Butte revealed the problem stemmed from incorrectly-cut ballot stock, resulting in the feeder error. Moore says officials resorted to feeding ballots through a voter scanner and tabulator system which the elections office had not used before, and she said she hoped would help provide a final count.

Voting Blogs: Durham County’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Election Day | Election Academy

As I mentioned yesterday, Election Day went very smoothly for most of the nation – which is good for the country and the election community, but can be uncomfortable for any jurisdictions where problems do arise because they tend to stand out. It can be even more difficult when the problems arise in a state where results are being closely scrutinized for their political impact. Meet Durham County, North Carolina. The county election office has already seen its share of problems this year; the office is under the supervision of an acting director after the current director went out on medical leave. Before that, there was a controversy following the March primary where provisional ballots were mishandled and/or went missing – which resulted in resignations and has since been referred to the DA and now the State Bureau of Investigation. The November election didn’t go well, either.

Texas: Pasadena trial to begin amid uncertainty about voting rights under Trump | Houston Chronicle

The Houston City Council in 1979 consisted of eight men – seven Anglos and one African-American – including real estate developers, lawyers and a former major league baseball catcher. All were elected citywide, although five nominally represented geographic districts in which they lived. A year later the council had grown to 14 members, nine of them elected from single-member districts. The revamped body included three African-American men, one Latino man and two women, both Anglo. Some of the members elected under the new system would have a lasting impact on their city. Anthony Hall would serve as chairman of the Metropolitan Transit Authority board and as a top mayoral aide. Eleanor Tinsley would establish a legacy as a champion of parks and beautification efforts. Ben Reyes would become a leader of local Latino politics before serving time in federal prison for bribery. All of this happened because of lawsuits filed under the federal Voting Rights Act. Next week in a Houston federal courtroom, this landmark law will again be invoked in a challenge to an allegedly discriminatory council system, this time in a suburban city that’s undergone a dramatic demographic transformation.

Ghana: Disqualified Candidate Seeks Ouster of Electoral Commission Chief | VoA News

Hassan Ayariga, the twice disqualified presidential candidate of Ghana’s opposition All People’s Congress, is calling on the chairperson of the country’s electoral commission to step down with immediate effect, before next month’s general elections. If chairperson Charlotte Osei does not resign, Ayariga said Ghana’s presidential, legislative and local elections on December 7 will no longer be seen as transparent and credible. Civil society groups in Ghana and other members of the electoral commission dismissed Ayariga’s demands and defended Osei as someone who has implemented electoral laws without favoring any side. The APC leader noted that Osei, who has held her position for less than a year, has faced legal challenges more than 15 times, with every one of her decisions being overturned in court.

Moldova: Voters Torn Between Past And Future Ahead Of Presidential Run-Offs | Eurasia Review

On October 30, 2016, for the first time in 20 years, Moldovans went to the polls to elect their president directly. Before the March 2016 Constitutional Court ruling, which reintroduced direct elections, it was the national legislature that elected the head of state, provided that a 61 vote majority could be reached in a Parliament of 101 members. Unsurprisingly, the three fifths majority was hard to achieve in an increasingly divided and partisan political climate. This situation was, in turn, a result of a proportional electoral system typical to a nascent post-Soviet electoral democracy plagued by paternalism, corruption, and parochial political culture. In light of hasty constitutional change, viewed by many as an attempt by the government to defuse the opposition protest movement sparked by the infamous billion dollar scandal, the campaign season was very short. Of the 24 candidates who ventured into the race, only twelve were able to collect enough signatures of support in order to be registered by the Central Election Commission. Of those twelve, only nine made it to election day. Two candidates withdrew, and the third one was excluded by a court ruling on charges of breaking campaign finance laws.

Russia: Russian Officials Were in Contact With Trump Allies, Diplomat Says | The New York Times

The Russian government maintained contacts with members of Donald J. Trump’s “immediate entourage” during the American presidential campaign, one of Russia’s top diplomats said Thursday. “There were contacts,” Sergei A. Ryabkov, the deputy foreign minister, was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency. “We continue to do this and have been doing this work during the election campaign,” he said. Mr. Ryabkov said officials in the Russian Foreign Ministry were familiar with many of the people he described as Mr. Trump’s entourage. “I cannot say that all, but a number of them maintained contacts with Russian representatives,” Mr. Ryabkov said. Later, the Foreign Ministry in Moscow said Mr. Ryabkov had been referring to American politicians and supporters of Mr. Trump, not members of his campaign staff. The contacts were carried out through the Russian ambassador in Washington, who reached out to the senators and other political allies to get a better sense of Mr. Trump’s positions on various issues involving Russia.