National: Post-recount, experts say electronic voting remains ‘shockingly’ vulnerable | The Parallax

As the Obama administration took tough action against Russia for interfering with the 2016 U.S. election this week, two experts in U.S. voting-machine security offered evidence at Europe’s largest annual hacker conference here they say proves that while the voting machines used in the November presidential election were not hacked, U.S. voting systems remain “shockingly” exposed to hackers. “We knew on November 8 that hacking was possible,” J. Alex Halderman, a University of Michigan computer science professor who specializes in testing voting-machine security, said Wednesday in front of a crowd of more than 1,000 attendees of the 33rd annual Chaos Communication Congress. Prior to Election Day, as Donald Trump repeatedly claimed that the election would be “rigged” against him, email servers belonging to the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign manager John Podesta, as well as voter registration systems in Illinois and Arizona, were hacked. And after the election, which resulted in Hillary Clinton winning the popular vote by a substantial margin but Trump winning more votes in the overriding Electoral College, many people, including Green Party candidate Jill Stein, called into question whether votes had been tallied without interference. Trump also alleged on Twitter that if it wasn’t for “the millions of people who voted illegally,” he would have won the popular vote. “Shockingly—at least shockingly to me and many other people, even under these circumstances—approximately zero U.S. states were going to look at enough paper ballots to know whether the computers had been hacked,” Halderman said. “This is a major gap in our system.”

National: Here’s the evidence U.S. intelligence has on Russia’s election hacking | The Daily Dot

U.S. intelligence agencies on Thursday released a detailed report laying out evidence showing that Russia’s government orchestrated cyberattacks meant to tamper with America’s presidential election. The 13-page Joint Analysis Report (JAR), released by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), details the technical methods two Russian intelligence agencies used to “compromise and exploit networks and endpoints associated with the U.S. election, as well as a range of U.S. Government, political, and private sector entities.” The report coincides with the White House announcement that it has ejected 35 Russian intelligence diplomats and imposed sanctions on nine Russian officials or entities. 

National: White House fails to make case that Russian hackers tampered with election | Ars Technica

Talk about disappointments. The US government’s much-anticipated analysis of Russian-sponsored hacking operations provides almost none of the promised evidence linking them to breaches that the Obama administration claims were orchestrated in an attempt to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. The 13-page report, which was jointly published Thursday by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, billed itself as an indictment of sorts that would finally lay out the intelligence community’s case that Russian government operatives carried out hacks on the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and Clinton Campaign Chief John Podesta and leaked much of the resulting material. While security companies in the private sector have said for months the hacking campaign was the work of people working for the Russian government, anonymous people tied to the leaks have claimed they are lone wolves. Many independent security experts said there was little way to know the true origins of the attacks. Sadly, the JAR, as the Joint Analysis Report is called, does little to end the debate. Instead of providing smoking guns that the Russian government was behind specific hacks, it largely restates previous private-sector claims without providing any support for their validity. Even worse, it provides an effective bait and switch by promising newly declassified intelligence into Russian hackers’ “tradecraft and techniques” and instead delivering generic methods carried out by just about all state-sponsored hacking groups.

National: Supreme Court Faces Its Own Campaign Season | US News & World Report

America’s nasty, brutish and not-so-short 2016 presidential campaign raised some painful issues about the nation’s democratic institutions and the treatment of people involved in them. Charges were made about voter fraud, “rigged” elections and whether people’s ethnic or racial background makes them more likely to commit crimes. It was the sort of ugly dialogue justices on the US Supreme Court can typically experience as interested observers, separated from the politics and immune from the fallout. But this year, a high court already hit with the collateral damage of legislative-executive branch politics may well be dealing with the aftermath of a painful election season. Voting rights, redistricting and the fairness of the criminal justice system to racial and ethnic minorities are all topics likely to reach the high court, adding a judiciary sequel to the tense debates of the 2016 campaign season. “It’s going to go on forever, apparently,” quips David Coale, a partner at Dallas-based Lynn Pinker Cox Hurst who has been monitoring critical cases rooted in the Lone Star State.

Editorials: Can and Should States Mandate Tax Return Disclosure as a Condition for Presidential Candidates to Appear on the Ballot? | Vikram David Amar/Verdict

Last week a few lawmakers in California went public with plans to introduce legislation in Sacramento that seeks to prevent presidential candidates who fail to disclose tax returns for the five most recent years prior to the election from having their names appear on the state’s November ballot in 2020 and beyond. The effort is patterned on a similar proposal being pushed by some legislators in New York state. The proposal there, dubbed the Tax Returns Uniformly Made Public (or TRUMP) Act, requires each presidential candidate to disclose tax returns prior to 50 days before the November election, else his name will not appear on the ballot and the state’s electors will be prohibited by state law from casting their votes for him in the so-called electoral college. While many voters (and certainly many journalists) seem to want access to candidates’ tax return information (to see possible conflicts of interest, levels and directions of charitable giving, relative aggressiveness in seeking to minimize tax burdens, and so forth) before presidential elections are held (and were disappointed that Mr. Trump departed from modern tradition in declining to produce his returns), state legislative proposals like the TRUMP Act raise a number of legal and policy issues; in the space below, I address some of them.

Guam: Appellate court decision could greatly impact Guam voting rights | KUAM

An appellate court decision in a voting rights case in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands may weigh heavily on a similar lawsuit here at home on who can vote for Guam’s political status. “This is basic civics; this is fundamental civics that everyone regardless of race has a right to vote,” proclaimed Dr. Ron McNinch of the University of Guam. Shortly before the new year, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a decision on CNMI resident John Davis’ case against the Commonwealth Election Commission. Davis filed a lawsuit alleging a CNMI law “unconstitutionally limit(s) voting on the basis of race.” McNinch broke it down, saying, “The Davis CNMI case, the Davis v. The CEC case is a case about voting over land issues in the CNMI, and the CNMI developed kind of like Guam developed, its own kind of resident, traditional resident only voting process where if you didn’t fit a certain category of voter, you couldn’t vote.

New Hampshire: Expected rush of election law reform bills prompts change in state Senate committee structure | WMUR

With election law reform expected to be a major issue in the upcoming legislative session, state Senate Republicans intend to adjust the body’s committee structure to meet what is expected to be rush of bills on the topic. A rule change the Senate is expected to pass when it meets to organize on Wednesday is a measure to create an Election Law and Internal Affairs Committee. “The rationale for it is that election law issues are going to be a major topic, and it deserves its own committee,” Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley said Monday. In the House, meanwhile, a Republican lawmaker said he intends to file at least 10 bills that would deal with election law reform – an issue described as a priority by Gov.-elect Chris Sununu as he prepares to take office on Jan. 5.

North Carolina: GOP legislative leaders ask US Supreme Court to halt 2017 elections | News & Observer

Attorneys for state leaders on Friday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block elections ordered for 2017 after a federal court found 28 state Senate and House districts were illegal racial gerrymanders. The 39-page filing asks Chief Justice John Roberts for emergency intervention to put a halt to the three-judge panel’s order for redrawn districts by March and a special election in 2017. The petition asks for the chief justice to enter an order by Jan. 11, when the General Assembly is set to convene its next session. “On Election Day, millions of North Carolina voters went to the polls and selected the state legislators who would represent them in the General Assembly for two-year terms in accordance with the North Carolina Constitution. Or so they thought,” Paul Clement, a Washington-based attorney representing the state, stated in the petition signed by Thomas Farr, a Raleigh-based attorney who has represented the legislators on redistricting, Phil Strach, another Raleigh-based attorney, and Alexander McC. Peters of the state attorney general’s office.

Editorials: The Assault on Democracy in North Carolina | Michael Dorf/Newsweek

A recent special legislative session in North Carolina failed to result in the repeal of House Bill 2—the infamous “bathroom law” that has made the Tar Heel State synonymous with anti-trans/anti-gay intolerance and thus cost businesses and workers millions of dollars. Yet that was only the second-most appalling legislative news from Raleigh in the past couple of weeks. The even bigger story is the state GOP’s effort to override the popular will. In November, North Carolina voters chose Democrat Roy Cooper to replace incumbent Republican Pat McCrory as their governor. McCrory took a month to concede, raising bogus voter-fraud allegations. Then, in a special session just two weeks before Cooper’s inauguration, the GOP-controlled North Carolina Legislature passed new measures that strip the governor of many of the position’s powers. As a lame-duck governor, McCrory signed those bills into law.

Editorials: A new model for South Carolina elections? | Jack Bass/The State

As South Carolina faces the prospect of spending millions of dollars to buy new voting machines, Oregon’s system of vote by mail offers a model that could not only save us money but also eliminate long lines and increase security for election results. Oregon’s system is used for all elections — federal, state and local, whether primary, general or special — and has been in operation for roughly 25 years. One result is increased voter participation by working parents and senior citizens. The system makes voter fraud virtually impossible, and research has shown that it favors neither party. The idea originated with Oregon county election officials and has fully met their goals of substantially saving money and increasing voter participation. Voting by mail has been adopted in whole or part by three Western states, and South Carolina could become a leader in showing it works in the South.

Washington: Four ‘faithless electors’ to be fined $1,000 each for not casting Clinton votes | The Seattle Times

Fines of $1,000 each are headed for the mailboxes of four Democratic electors who refused to honor Washington state’s popular vote for president. Secretary of State Kim Wyman’s office said the citations were mailed to the so-called “faithless electors” on Thursday. The penalties stem from the Electoral College vote on Dec. 19, when Washington’s 12 electors met to officially cast the state’s vote for president and vice president of the U.S. In acts of protest, four of them refused to cast their ballots for Democrat Hillary Clinton, who won the state with 54 percent of the vote — breaking state law and their own written pledges.

Wisconsin: Recount found thousands of errors, but no major flaws in state election system | Wisconsin State Journal

Wisconsin’s first statewide presidential recount found no major problems with the state’s voting system, but it did reveal several errors affecting thousands of ballots that could spur local clerks to tighten procedures, according to a Wisconsin State Journal review of the results. The recount revealed a yawn-inducing shift in the presidential election results — President-elect Donald Trump extended his lead over Democrat Hillary Clinton by 131 votes and total votes increased by about 400 out of nearly 3 million cast. Recount proponents had raised concerns about Russia possibly tampering with election results, but the recount found no evidence to support such claims. However, the small net change in votes obscured that there were thousands of both positive and negative swings in the final totals. At least 9,039 presidential votes weren’t counted correctly on Election Night, and only were added to the official results because of the recount, the State Journal review found. Another 2,161 votes were originally counted but later tossed out for reasons including to square vote totals with the number of voters who signed the poll book.

The Gambia: Jammeh Vows Escalation If West Africa States Interfere | Bloomberg

Gambian President Yahya Jammeh said a standoff with neighboring West African states over his refusal to step aside after losing December’s election will escalate into war if the alliance doesn’t back down from its stance. Speaking in a televised New Year’s address, Jammeh said a vow by the Economic Community of West African States to take “all necessary actions” to enforce the Dec. 2 election results violates a principle of “non-interference” and is “in effect a declaration of war.” He said the stance would disqualify member countries from brokering any mediation between the president and opposition leader Adama Barrow, who was declared the election winner.

China: Thousands march in Hong Kong protest demanding voting rights | International Business Times

Almost 5,000 people marched through Hong Kong on New Year’s Day in protest against the government’s attempt to disqualify four pro-democracy lawmakers, according to a police estimate. Hong Kong’s semi-autonomous government has started legal proceedings against four recently elected legislators, who altered their swearing-in oaths to stage a protest against the Chinese government in Beijing. Their demonstration included flaunting a banner that read “Hong Kong is not China”, which used language that some have claimed was derogatory Japanese slang.