Despite finding no signs of foul play during the 2016 elections’ actual ballot-casting, state officials told the Election Assistance Commission they are looking to shore up the cybersecurity of voting systems to ensure that Americans are confident in their election results. Director of the New Jersey State Department’s division of elections Bob Giles said at an EAC meeting Feb. 13 that although “cybersecurity wasn’t as big a concern” entering the 2016 election because his state’s voting machines were not connected to the internet, the attention garnered by Russia’s reported electoral influence has led to a rethinking of his agency’s cybersecurity protocols. Giles said cyber hygiene practices such as improving password strength and multifactor authentication will be included in the state’s plan to modernize its voter registration system.
National: The White House tells media to ask Kris Kobach to prove there’s voter fraud. They do. He doesn’t. | The Washington Post
Stephen Miller, senior policy adviser to President Trump, defended his boss’s continuing insistence on rampant voter fraud in the 2016 election Sunday by offering an expert witness. “I suggest you invite Kris Kobach onto your show,” he told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, “and he can walk you through some of the evidence of voter fraud in greater detail.” Kobach is Kansas’s secretary of state and is fighting the ACLU in federal court over his state’s recent voting restrictions. (A law passed in Kansas in 2011 was credited with disproportionately keeping young and black voters from the polls.) On Monday, three networks invited Kobach on. Two pressed the issue. Kobach offered zero proof. At question is not the existence of voter fraud at all. There are certainly instances in which people vote illegally, like the woman in Texas who cast ballots in 2012 and 2014 despite not being a citizen. The question is whether fraud occurs at a large enough scale to affect election results. A teenager stealing a candy bar from a convenience store every three weeks is different than armed men emptying its safe every night. Miller suggested that Kobach could prove the latter. He barely proved the former.
National: Not Okay: Professor Smeared After Advocating for Election Integrity | Electronic Frontier Foundation
Imagine if someone, after reading something you wrote online that they didn’t agree with, decided to forge racist and anti-Semitic emails under your name. This appears to be what happened to J. Alex Halderman, a computer security researcher and professor of computer science at the University of Michigan. Halderman is one of many election security experts—along with EFF, of course—who has advocated for auditing the results of the 2016 presidential election. The recent attempts to smear his name in retaliation for standing up for election integrity are a threat to online free speech. Halderman, who is a frequent collaborator and sometimes client of EFF, published a piece on Medium in November 2016 arguing that we should perform recounts in three states—Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania—to ensure that the election had not been “hacked.” To be clear, despite a report in New York Magazine, Halderman never stated that there was hard evidence that the election results had in fact been electronically manipulated. He just stated that we should check to be sure:
The only way to know whether a cyberattack changed the result is to closely examine the available physical evidence — paper ballots and voting equipment in critical states like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.
“It is a fact and you will not deny it.” That unnerving remark — made on Sunday by Stephen Miller, a senior policy adviser to President Trump — sums up the new administration’s attitude toward the truth: We Decide, You Report. Mr. Miller made the comment at the end of a heated back-and-forth with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, who had asked him to defend Mr. Trump’s latest claim of voter fraud — that his narrow loss in New Hampshire was due to voters who had been bused in illegally from Massachusetts. When Mr. Stephanopoulos pressed him for even a single example of fraud, Mr. Miller responded: “George, go to New Hampshire. Talk to anybody who has worked in politics there for a long time.” O.K., why don’t we? Start with New Hampshire’s secretary of state, Bill Gardner, who has been in office for four decades. “We have never gotten any proof about buses showing up at polling places,” Mr. Gardner told The Boston Globe. Or how about Tom Rath, the state’s former attorney general and a Republican, who tweeted on Sunday that “allegations of voter fraud in NH are baseless, without any merit — it’s shameful to spread these fantasies.” Even New Hampshire’s governor, Chris Sununu, who shortly before the election floated his own evidence-free claim about buses of illegal Democratic voters, has backed off.
Editorials: The Trump Administration’s Lies About Voter Fraud Will Lead to Massive Voter Suppression | Ari Berman/The Nation
After falsely alleging that 3 million to 5 million people voted illegally in 2016, Donald Trump debuted a new lie about voter fraud in a meeting with senators on Thursday, saying, according to Politico, that “thousands” of people were “brought in on buses” from Massachusetts to “illegally” vote in New Hampshire. Trump claimed that’s why he and former GOP senator Kelly Ayotte lost their races in the state. White House Senior Adviser Stephen Miller repeated Trump’s latest lie in an interview with ABC’s This Week on Sunday. “This issue of busing voters in New Hampshire is widely known by anyone who’s worked in New Hampshire politics,” Miller said. “It’s very real. It’s very serious.” When pressed for evidence by George Stephanopoulos, Miller said, “This morning, on this show, is not the venue to lay out all the evidence.” “For the record, you have provided absolutely no evidence,” Stephanopoulos responded. Miller could provide no evidence for Trump’s claim because there is none. “We have never gotten any proof about buses showing up at polling places,” New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner, who’s been in office since 1976, told The Boston Globe. “I will pay $1000 to 1st person proving even 1 outofstate person took bus from MA 2 any NH polling place last ElectionDay,” tweeted former New Hampshire GOP chair Fergus Cullen.
Russian hackers tried to destabilize our election, and even if the actual damage is undetermined, it is a national security crisis that requires all patriotic hands on deck. The president says there were 3 to 5 million fraudulent votes in the last election, and even if it is an assertion that makes strangers back away warily, he has the power to set up a commission to look into it. And all this happened 21/2 years after a commission warned of “an impending crisis” in voting technology. So exactly what sense does it make for a congressional committee to terminate the only federal agency that is responsible for testing and certifying our voting system? Pause here for cognitive dissonance.
One lawmaker says the special election to replace U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ senator seat is illegal. After appointing Luther Strange to the seat, Governor Robert Bentley expressed that the special election to find a permanent replacement for the position would be held during the 2018 general election. According to Representative Chris England (D-Tuscaloosa), this is a crystal clear violation of a law. England says the law requires Bentley to call the election forthwith. By waiting until the November 2018 general election, Strange would serve more than a year and a half in the position without a public vote.
Amid national concerns from the president that voter fraud is rampant, a Reno assemblywoman introduced a bill requiring voter identification at the polls. Assemblywoman Lisa Krasner, R-Reno, introduced Assembly Bill 164 on Monday that would mandate voters show identification when voting. The bill also contains a provision the Department of Motor Vehicles to provide voter identification cards at no cost if a person can’t afford it. … Multiple studies show that voter fraud is not a nationwide problem. Republican Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske has put out multiple press releases and testified in front of the Legislature that it did not occur in Nevada.
Gov. Chris Sununu said Monday he is unaware of widespread voter fraud in the Granite State, but he said he wants to work with President Donald Trump’s administration to “learn of any evidence they may have.” The governor issued a statement to WMUR.com after several days of a media and social media firestorm over Trump’s assertion – and the assertion of Trump’s senior White House policy adviser – that thousands of people from Massachusetts were bused into New Hampshire to vote illegally in the November election. Neither produced evidence of their claims, and a Federal Election Commission member called on Trump to produce evidence. See WMUR.com’s recent reports here, here and here.
Whether you believe, or not, that voting fraud is a problem in the U.S., one thing is certain: Tidying up outdated voter rolls is sometimes easier said than done. Just ask election officials in the nation’s largest city. After an independent review found that New York City’s voting lists contained people who were dead or in prison, elections officials began an aggressive housecleaning purge in 2014 and 2015 that eliminated more than 200,000 supposedly invalid registrations ahead of last year’s elections. The result? A record number of complaints during the 2016 presidential primary from legal voters who turned up to cast a ballot, but found that they were no longer registered. “Democracy itself is under attack,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, a Democrat, declared last week soon after announcing plans to join a federal lawsuit against the board over the way the purge was handled.
In a bid to create a better chance for black residents of rural areas to get elected to local office, a team of civil rights and private lawyers has filed what one prominent civil rights organization calls the first major voting rights lawsuit of the year. Attorneys from from the Washington-based Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and two private law firms filed the suit Monday in federal court in North Carolina. The suit alleges that the black residents who account for about a third of the population in Jones County, N.C., are prevented from electing candidates who represent their needs because the county elects commissioners at large rather than by district. The complaint alleges the at-large system prevents black residents from electing black candidates from their communities, and says the at-large system dilutes black voting power.
A second Vermont recount for a state House seat has some Republicans and town clerks crying foul, but Democrats say the incumbent who lost has a right to ask the Legislature to resolve the contested election. Susan Hatch Davis, a Progressive from Washington, went to court after the November vote showed Republican Robert Frenier of Chelsea beat her by eight votes, and a recount showed he won by seven. The court refused to authorize a second recount, so Davis asked the Legislature to intervene. Now the House Republican leader is accusing Democrats of trying to steal a seat to prevent the GOP from sustaining a governor’s veto.
Editorials: Why do Virginia lawmakers want to make our elections hackable? | Dale Eisman/Richmond Times-Dispatch
When all 17 agencies in the federal government’s worldwide intelligence network agree that Russian cyber-spies penetrated voter registration and record-keeping systems in at least four states last year, you’d think that state legislators would shy away from embracing new, expensive, and vulnerable-to-hacking election technologies. And when the Department of Defense — which, despite billions of dollars invested in protecting its own computers — has fallen victim to hackers and concluded it can’t guarantee the integrity of ballots cast online by troops stationed overseas, you’d think online voting would be totally off-the-table. But in Virginia, you’d be wrong. State senators ignored warnings from a non-partisan group of computer scientists and voted 36-4 last week for an internet voting “pilot program” pushed by Sen. William DeSteph, R-Virginia Beach. SB 1490 may be the worst bill you’ve never heard of in the 2017 legislative session and it’s now halfway to passage.
Matteo Renzi’s chances of recapturing the Italian prime minister’s office this year may be slipping away. His push for early elections has triggered so much dissent within his own party that he may have to wait until next year for a comeback attempt. The ex-premier’s Democratic Party, the biggest force in parliament, holds a meeting of its leaders in Rome on Monday. They’ll decide whether to seek national elections this year, or wait until a vote scheduled for early 2018. Should Renzi prevail on Monday, there is the prospect of yet another European election alongside Germany, France and the Netherlands this year. The anti-establishment Five Star Movement, which wants a referendum on Italy’s membership of the euro area, is keen to exploit its standing in opinion polls that show it neck and neck with the Democratic Party.
Netherlands: Far-right outcast Geert Wilders vows to ‘de-Islamise’ the Netherlands after taking lead in Dutch polls | The Independent
The controversial right-wing Dutch politician Geert Wilders says he intends to govern in the Netherlands after the elections, and expects the electorate to rise up if other political parties deny him that option. In a rare 40-minute interview with broadcaster WNL, the far-right leader also compared mosques to Nazi temples and the Quran to Hitler’s autobiography Mein Kampf. Mr Wilders does not often sit down for in-depth interviews with Dutch media. The founder of the one-man Party for Freedom, or PVV, prefers to control the narrative through Twitter. The “Dutch Trump” knows that the media will pick up news from his timeline.
The stage seemed set for a ceremonial rubber-stamping of the status quo. Some of the new parliamentarians, many of who came through a corrupt process supported by domestic and foreign elements, started to arrive late and, at times, act unprofessionally on the floor. Key officials, including the speakers of both chambers of the Federal Parliament, were awkwardly seated under the stage where ballots were being cast for the most important election in Somalia’s history. And the event itself was being conducted in Halane district, a geographical space that is physically located in Mogadishu, but in reality is entirely a different world – it is a type of a “Green Zone” for UN agencies, diplomatic missions, and private security. But, we now know that bad optics don’t always result in bad outcomes.