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National: DHS on elections systems as critical infrastructure: ‘It was already the law’ | Cyberscoop

A Homeland Security official gave some more insight into their efforts on designating election systems as critical infrastructure shortly after the 2016 presidential election, saying it helped the department streamline communication in the event of a incident. Neil Jenkins, from DHS’s Office of Cybersecurity and Communications, gave the first detailed account Wednesday of the process leading up to the controversial decision, which was made by departing officials in the final days of the Obama administration and widely panned by state and local authorities. DHS designated election systems in 30,000 jurisdictions as critical infrastructure to ensure there would be someone in regular communication with state and local election officials about cyber threats to national polls. Jenkins told NIST’s Information Security and Privacy Advisory Board that in August and September, when officials first became aware of Russian efforts to interfere with the election, the “started trying to catalogue the services we could offer to state authorities,” to help them shore up network security and protect the systems that tabulated and reported results. Read More

Editorials: How the White House and Republicans Blew Up the House Russia Investigation | Ryan Lizza/The New Yorker

The evidence is now clear that the White House and Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, have worked together to halt what was previously billed as a sweeping investigation of Russian interference in last year’s election. “We’ve been frozen,” Jim Himes, a Democratic representative from Connecticut who is a member of the Committee, said. The freeze started after last Monday’s hearing, where James Comey, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, revealed that the F.B.I. has been investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia since last July. Comey also said that there was no evidence to support Trump’s tweets about being wiretapped. Today, the House panel was scheduled to hear from three top officials who had served under the Obama Administration: Sally Yates, the former Deputy Attorney General, who briefly served as acting Attorney General, before being fired by President Trump; John Brennan, the former head of the C.I.A.; and James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence. But last week Nunes cancelled today’s hearing. Read More

Arizona: New Republican Effort to Target Arizona Initiatives Appears | Associated Press

Just days after Gov. Doug Ducey signed a new law opponents said will make it harder for citizen initiatives to make the ballot, Republican Arizona lawmakers are reviving stripped parts of that legislation that will make it much easier for opponents to challenge initiatives in court. The new proposal changes the legal standard required to keep an initiative off the ballot. It says the language in the proposed measure is subject to a “strict compliance” standard rather than “substantial compliance.” That will allow citizen’s initiative to be thrown out for mere paperwork or language errors, even if the proposed law complies with other respects to the law. The “substantial compliance” standard now in place allows such minor errors if the intent of measure remains clear. Read More

Florida: GOP-led House wants to limit challenges to redistricting | Palm Beach Post

A measure that would cut off one of the main avenues for challenging legislative redistricting plans was approved Wednesday by a House committee, alarming groups that fought maps struck down by the courts in recent years for political gerrymandering. The measure (HB 953), which was substantially broadened by an amendment filed Tuesday evening, passed the House Public Integrity & Ethics Committee on a 14-3 vote. The Senate has already approved a much-narrower version of the legislation (SB 352) that would set guidelines for what happens when redistricting legal cases are unresolved in election years. Read More

Montana: Effort to use mail ballots in special election killed | The Missoulian

Following a move that killed — at least for Wednesday — a bill that would allow counties to choose a money-saving mail vote for the May special election to fill Montana’s empty seat in Congress, some Democrats are claiming the legislation was doomed to fail because of “partisan hijinks.” On Wednesday Rep. Virginia Court, a Democrat from Billings, tried to force a legislative committee to vote to advance Senate Bill 305, carried by Sen. Steve Fitzpatrick, R-Great Falls. The bill would allow counties to choose to conduct the May 25 election to replace former U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke, who resigned to become Secretary of the Interior, by mail. The bill had not been scheduled for a vote by House Judiciary Committee Chair Alan Doane, R-Bloomfield. Read More

Serbia: Amid a Murky Media Landscape, Serbia Prepares to Elect a President | The New York Times

When he was Serbia’s information minister in the late 1990s, Aleksandar Vucic censored journalists, forced media critics out of business and served as chief propagandist for the regime of Slobodan Milosevic, the Serbian strongman reviled for the atrocities that followed the breakup of Yugoslavia. Today Mr. Vucic is the prime minister of Serbia, having been elected in 2014 as a reformer on promises to lead Serbia into a democratic future and membership in the European Union. He has renounced the extreme nationalist views of his past. Western leaders rely on him as a partner to maintain calm within the Serbian minorities in Kosovo and Bosnia, to support their migration policies and to keep sufficient distance from Russia — even though Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, has professed his support for Mr. Vucic. Read More

Texas: Senate Committee approves Texas voter ID overhaul | The Texas Tribune

A Texas Senate panel cleared legislation Monday that would overhaul the state’s voter identification rules, an effort to comply with court rulings that the current law discriminates against black and Latino voters. The Senate State Affairs Committee voted 7-0 to send the legislation to the full chamber. Filed by Committee Chairwoman Joan Huffman, Senate Bill 5 would add options for Texas voters who say they cannot “reasonably” obtain one of seven forms of ID currently required at the polls. It would also create harsh criminal penalties for those who falsely claim they need to choose from the expanded list of options. Read More

Wisconsin: Attorney General appeals redistricting case | Wisconsin Public Radio

Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel has filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court challenging a ruling that overturned the state’s Republican-drawn legislative districts. In a first-of-its kind decision last year, a panel of federal judges ruled Wisconsin’s legislative map was a partisan gerrymander that was “intended to burden the rights of Democratic voters” by making it harder for them to translate votes into legislative seats. In a separate order issued earlier this year, the court told lawmakers to redraw the map by Nov. 1 so it would be ready for the 2018 general election. Read More

India: Congress Complains of ‘faulty electronic voting machine’ as Video of VVPAT generating wrong receipt in trial goes viral, EC orders probe | India.com

Following the media demonstration of the Electronic Voting Machines (EVM), which allegedly printed a BJP slip when Samajwadi Party button was pressed, leaders from the Congress party demanded a through investigation into the matter alleging the EVMs are faulty and can be tampered with. The trial on the EVMs were being conducted before the Ater bypolls in Madhya Pradesh. The Congress leaders alleged that the voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) system generated a slip with the BJP’s lotus symbol when CEO Saleena Singh, who was checking the arrangements, had pressed the button for the Samajwadi Party candidate. The Election Commission has also ordered a probe into the matter. The Congress party leaders have also said that they would approach the Election Commission for an inquiry. The Congress also demanded that by-elections to Ater and Bandhavgarh should be held via ballot paper and not EVMs. Read More

Paraguay: ‘A coup has been carried out’: Paraguay’s congress set alight after vote to let president run again | The Guardian

Protesters stormed and set fire to Paraguay’s Congress on Friday after the senate secretly voted for a constitutional amendment that would allow President Horacio Cartes to run for re-election. The country’s constitution has prohibited re-election since it was passed in 1992 after a brutal dictatorship fell in 1989. “A coup has been carried out. We will resist and we invite the people to resist with us,” said Desiree Masi from the opposition Progressive Democratic Party. Firefighters managed to control the flames after protesters left the congress building late on Friday night. But protests and riots continued in other parts of Asuncion and elsewhere in the country well into the night, media reported. Earlier, television images showed protesters breaking windows of the congress and clashing with police, burning tires and removing parts of fences around the building. Police in riot gear fired tear gas and rubber bullets. Read More