After partial vote recounts in certain states, US election officials found no evidence that votes had been manipulated by a cyberattack on voting machines, security researchers told an audience at the Chaos Communication Congress hacking festival on Wednesday. But, the researchers called for a vast overhaul in voting machine security and related legislation, warning that an attack is still possible in a future election. “We need this because even if the 2016 election wasn’t hacked, the 2020 election might well be,” said J. Alex Halderman, a professor of computer science at the University of Michigan, during a presentation with Matt Bernhard, a computer science PhD student. Halderman’s and other security experts’ concerns made headlines in November when he participated in a call with the Clinton campaign about a potential recount in some states. Green Party candidate Jill Stein subsequently held a crowdfunding campaign to finance the recounts. “Developing an attack for one of these machines is not terribly difficult; I and others have done it again and again in the laboratory. All you need to do is buy one government surplus on eBay to test it out,” Halderman, who has extensively researched voting machine security, said during the talk.
The Obama administration could announce as early as Thursday moves to retaliate against Russia for its alleged use of cyberattacks to meddle in last month’s presidential election, a senior U.S. official said. The White House has been considering a variety of measures to respond to the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and the email account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, including sanctions and retaliatory cyber actions. U.S. officials have said the “proportional response” could involve both steps that would be publicly disclosed afterward and covert moves that would remain classified.
Legislators in several Northeastern and New England states are considering whether to join the growing move toward opening polling places days, and even weeks, before Election Day. Connecticut legislators will weigh a measure to allow up to two weeks of early voting before the next election. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) included an early voting proposal in a package of election reforms he unveiled this month. And Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea (D) will ask legislators to consider allowing early voting, as well. “We just need to expand voting infrastructure to include early voting so people can exercise their franchise, their right,” said Connecticut state Rep. William Tong (D), who plans to introduce a bill once the legislature returns to session next year. Tong said he decided to act after seeing lines out the door at 6 a.m. on Election Day in his suburban Stamford district. Some people left the long lines before they had a chance to vote to get to work on time.
Colorado voters will pick their presidential nominees via primaries in 2020 after Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) signed two voter-passed propositions into law on Tuesday. Voters approved Proposition 107, which eliminates presidential preference caucuses, by a nearly 2-to-1 margin in November. Voters passed Proposition 108, which allows all voters to participate in partisan primary elections, by a similar margin. The new rules mean all Colorado voters will be allowed to participate in any presidential primary they choose four years from now. Delegates allocated by the primaries will be bound to the winners at national party conventions, under the new state law.
On Jan. 1, Minnesota joins the majority of U.S. states in choosing its presidential candidates in primary elections. Minnesota has used caucuses to choose presidential candidates throughout its voting history, save for three elections. While the first presidential primary under the new law won’t be held until March 2020, the system officially goes on the books Jan. 1, 2017. The shift from a caucus system to primaries is the most notable of the new laws taking effect in Minnesota at the change of the year. The others deal with minor changes to workers’ compensation and life insurance laws that won’t much affect the general public.
Missouri could soon join at least 20 other states where it is legal to take a selfie in the voting booth. Two state lawmakers have introduced legislation that would alter Missouri voting rules, paving the way for people to publicly post pictures of themselves and their ballots without fear of prosecution. “Everybody takes selfies of everything,” said Rep. Charlie Davis, R-Webb City. “Why should someone not be able to exercise their First Amendment rights?” Davis has introduced House Bill 315, which eliminates 27 words in the election code that could be used to prosecute people taking selfies after they vote. Rep. Travis Fitzwater, R-Holts Summit, has introduced an identical version of the measure in House Bill 249. The proposals come after an election cycle in which questions were raised about the legality of taking ballot selfies across the nation.
North Carolina: Gov. Pat McCrory sought SBI probe in Bladen County, but agency isn’t investigating | News & Observer
The State Bureau of Investigation hasn’t launched the criminal probe that Gov. Pat McCrory requested recently into allegations of voter fraud in Bladen County. Republicans had filed a complaint claiming that a handful of people there may have improperly submitted hundreds of absentee ballots, while also getting paid for get-out-the-vote efforts by a community group funded by the N.C. Democratic Party. The State Board of Elections held a hearing on the complaint earlier this month and rejected it, arguing that attorneys for Republicans had not presented substantial evidence sufficient to change the outcome of the election. But they unanimously agreed to refer the matter to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The issue stems from absentee ballots submitted with help from the Bladen County Improvement Association PAC, which received $2,500 from the N.C. Democratic Party for get-out-the-vote efforts. The ballots featured similar handwriting and the same choice for a write-in candidate for soil and water commissioner.
In Kenya, a controversial amendment to the electoral law is now before the Senate. The bill would give the electoral commission a workaround if biometric voting equipment fails, but the opposition has rejected the change for fear of voter fraud. But as political temperatures rise ahead of next year’s polls, Senate members are advising caution and careful consideration. The Senate did not vote on the amendment to the electoral law Wednesday. Instead, Senate Speaker Ekwe Ethuro sent the bill to committee. “The standing committee on legal affairs and human rights must, therefore, proceed with dispatch and be ready to table its report on 4 January 2017 when the Senate is expected to assemble for the special sitting,” Ethuro said.
While lawyers desperately tried to restore the impeached South Korean president’s powers, politics advanced without her Tuesday as parties and potential candidates postured for elections that could take place in just months. Dozens of lawmakers split from the conservative ruling party and likely will try to create a party fielding outgoing U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as its presidential candidate. Ban’s potential rivals reacted by questioning his presidential credentials and touting their own ideas, including significant policy changes in regard with relations with nuclear-armed North Korea and allies United States and Japan.
Millions of people may be disenfranchised by the government’s plans to trial asking for ID in order to vote, Labour has said. Cat Smith, Labour’s shadow minister for voter engagement, raised concerns that 7.5% of the electorate may not have the right kind of identification in order to exercise their right to vote. “Labour supports measures to tackle electoral fraud and will be backing a number of the reasonable proposals planned by the government,” she said on Tuesday. “However, requiring voters to produce specific forms of photo ID risks denying millions of electors a vote. “A year ago the Electoral Commission reported that 3.5 million electors – 7.5% of the electorate – would have no acceptable piece of photo ID. Under the government’s proposals, these voters would either be denied a vote entirely, or in other trial areas, required to produce multiple pieces of ID, ‘one from group A, one from group B’.