National: FBI Director: If left unchecked, Russian hackers will change vote tallies in a future U.S. election | Cyberscoop

FBI Director James Comey predicts that if left undeterred, Russian hackers will one day attempt to change the vote tally in a U.S. election. Comey said as much during a public hearing Wednesday in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Members asked Comey a series of questions concerning Russia’s ability to conduct damaging cyber-operations against both the U.S. and its allies. “In my view, [Russia is] the greatest threat of any nation on earth given their intention and capability,” Comey blankly stated. Last year, in the months preceding the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 8, the Homeland Security Department discovered a series of digital attacks aimed specifically at voter registration databases used in different states.

National: Russian election hacking ‘wildly successful’ in creating discord: former U.S. lawmaker | Reuters

Russia succeeded in its goals of sowing discord in U.S. politics by meddling in the 2016 presidential election, which will likely inspire similar future efforts, two top former U.S. voices on intelligence said on Tuesday. Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers agreed at a panel at Harvard University that Russia likely believed it had achieved its goals and could attempt to repeat its performance in elections in other countries. “Their purpose was to sew discontent and mistrust in our elections they wanted us to be at each others’ throat when it was over,” Rogers said at the panel at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. “It’s influencing, I would say, legislative process today. That’s wildly successful.”

Editorials: The Kremlin turns its electoral meddling to Western Europe | The Washington Post

By now it should be clear that the new normal of Russian conduct on the international stage includes tampering with elections in Western democracies to boost candidates the Kremlin believes likely to do its bidding and to harass those who won’t. Having done exactly that in the 2016 U.S. elections, President Vladimir Putin’s intelligence agencies are now directing their subterfuge at Europe, including the continent’s foremost economic powers: Germany and France. The immediate targets of Russian cyber-meddling are Emmanuel Macron, the front-runner in the second and final round of France’s presidential election, set for May 7, and think tanks associated with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose governing coalition faces elections this fall. Like Hillary Clinton, whose campaign was similarly in the Kremlin’s crosshairs, neither Mr. Macron nor Ms. Merkel has been shy about condemning Moscow’s aggression in Ukraine. They have backed economic sanctions against Russia that have infuriated Mr. Putin.

Arizona: Were up to 58,000 citizens in Maricopa County denied right to vote? | The Arizona Republic

Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes is spoiling for a fight over voter-registration procedures meant to keep undocumented immigrants from voting. The newly elected Democrat says the restrictions may have denied as many as 58,000 U.S. citizens in Maricopa County the right to vote, a fear critics of the law argued at the U.S. Supreme Court. So Fontes is changing the process immediately. “We are not in the business of creating obstacles to citizens to exercise their constitutional rights,” Fontes told The Arizona Republic. But experts say his new process could break the law.

Georgia: 6th district runoff: Judge orders Georgia to reopen voter registration | Atlanta Journal Constitution

A federal judge on Thursday ordered Georgia to temporarily reopen voter registration ahead of a hotly contested congressional runoff in the 6th District. U.S. District Judge Timothy Batten made the ruling as part of a broader lawsuit by a Washington-based advocacy group, which last month accused Georgia of violating federal law by reducing the amount of time residents have to register to vote. Voter registration shut down March 20 ahead of the deciding runoff June 20 for the 6th District election, which is being held in the northern suburbs of metro Atlanta. Batten, however, ordered registration immediately reopened until May 21.

Illinois: Elections Board Offers More Information on Hacking Incident | WSIU

The State Board of Elections says hackers gained access to the information of 80-thousand Illinois voters — including their social security numbers and driver’s licenses. Elections officials say hackers had access to Illinois’ system for nearly three weeks before they were detected. They did get access to personal information, but officials say that’s about it. Senator Michael Hastings from Tinley Park says the source of the breach matches an address the FBI has linked to Russian state security. He says future elections could be in danger. “If they know how to operate through our system, not only at our state level, but through our municipalities, there’s no telling what they can do.”

Maryland: Auditors say Maryland election board put voters’ personal data at risk | Baltimore Sun

A report released by legislative auditors Friday says the State Board of Elections needlessly exposed the full Social Security numbers of almost 600,000 voters to potential hacking, risking theft of those voters’ identities. The determination that election officials did not fully protect voters’ personal information was one of several highly critical findings in the report. The audit also faulted state election officials’ handling of issues including ballot security, disaster preparedness, contracting and balancing its books. State lawmakers called for a hearing in response to the Office of Legislative Audits report, which prompted strong reaction from critics of the board and its longtime administrator, Linda H. Lamone.

Nevada: State looks at replacing aging voting machines | Las Vegas Review-Journal

Nevada lawmakers and election officials got a sneak peek at a new generation of voting machines last week as the state eyes replacing its aging ballot-counting fleet. “We’re looking at doing it for 2018,” Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske said of a possible timeline to have new machines in place. The secretary of state’s office invited two vendors certified in Nevada — Election Systems & Software and Dominion Voting — to show off their wares Wednesday in a daylong open house at the Capitol. From a technical standpoint, Nevada’s current machines, some more than 10 years old, are ancient. … Both ES&S and Dominion use touch-screen machines and scanners for tabulation. Writing on the screens can be made bigger, and the color contrasts altered. There are adaptations for braille, and headphones where the ballot can be read to voters.

Utah: Who has upper hand in fight over special election? | Utah Policy

In the fight over how Congressman Jason Chaffetz will be replaced in the event he resigns, Gov. Gary Herbert has an advantage. He’s by far the most popular politician in the 3rd Congressional District. Herbert, of course, isn’t running to replace Chaffetz. But in his disagreement with key legislative leaders over the special election process, he enjoys a lot of political capital. He can use it to fend off legislative efforts to dictate how party nominees are chosen in a special election. In case you don’t remember, Herbert is perfectly happy to use Utah’s current election process in a special election, allowing candidates to get on the election ballot either by gathering sufficient signatures or by going through the caucus/convention system – or both.

France: In France, the Predictable Has Finally Happened | The Atlantic

French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron suffered a “massive, co-ordinated hacking” effort Friday night less than 48 hours before the election—an attack that drew immediate parallels to the cyberattacks that hit Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign last year, as well as to alleged electoral interference in other parts of Europe. Macron’s campaign announced Friday that tens of thousands of its internal emails and documents were leaked to the public via a file-sharing website. The parallels to the 2016 U.S. election are striking: Both occurred days before an election. Both were carried out by hacking the personal and professional email accounts of campaign staffers. And both were directed at more establishment-friendly candidates—not their conservative opponents. While the perpetrators of the Macron hack haven’t been identified, numerous intelligence agencies have expressed confidence that Russia was behind the hacking of Clinton’s emails during the 2016 U.S. election. Russia is also said to have targeted the French electoral process, as well as elections in other counties where the leading candidates have been critical of Vladimir Putin, the Russian president.

India: Election Commission calls all-party meeting to discuss issues related to electronic voting machines | Times of India

The Election Commission has convened a meeting with all seven national parties and 48 recognized state parties here on May 12 to discuss issues related to electronic voting machines and voter-verfiable paper audit trail (VVPAT), besides seeking their suggestions regarding its upcoming EVM “hackathon” challenge. The Commission has written to the chiefs of all national and state recognised parties, attaching a status paper on EVM/VVPAT. It has also sought their views on proposed electoral reforms such as making bribery in elections a cognizable offence and disqualification arising out of framing of charges for offenses of poll bribery.

Venezuela: Protesters demand elections as Maduro offers new constitution | Miami Herald

Facing almost daily protest calling for new elections, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro on Monday offered what the opposition called a fraudulent alternative: a new constitution. Speaking to followers in the midst of a May Day march, Maduro said he would be calling a “constitutional assembly” that would replace the 1999 constitution forged by his predecessor, the late Hugo Chávez. Maduro said the deep reform was needed to bring “peace to the republic,” and that he would be providing details about the process late Monday. But even before the plan had solidified, the opposition was rejecting it as yet another distraction. María Corina Machado, the leader with the Vente Venezuela party, said the people wouldn’t stop protesting what she called Maduro’s “mafioso dictatorship.”

National: Private Hearing With Intelligence Chiefs Revives House Inquiry on Russia | The New York Times

The House’s investigation into Russian meddling in the election lurched back to life on Thursday, as a closed-door hearing with James B. Comey, director of the F.B.I., and Adm. Michael S. Rogers, head of the National Security Agency, cleared the way for the inquiry to move forward. Representatives K. Michael Conaway of Texas, the newly minted Republican leader of the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation, and Adam B. Schiff of California, the top Democrat, said they were inviting more witnesses and requesting documents — effectively restarting the investigation that halted in recent months amid political infighting. Those witnesses will include Sally Q. Yates, the former acting attorney general who was fired by President Trump, they said. Plans for a public hearing with Ms. Yates in March were scrapped at the last minute despite protest from committee Democrats. Representative Devin Nunes, Republican of California and the committee’s chairman, argued that they first needed more time with Mr. Comey and Admiral Rogers.

National: Comey says he feels mildly nauseous to think news of Clinton emails might have influenced election | Associated Press

FBI Director James Comey told Congress Wednesday that revealing the reopening of the Hillary Clinton email probe just before Election Day came down to a painful, complicated choice between “really bad” and “catastrophic” options. He said he’d felt “mildly nauseous” to think he might have tipped the election outcome but in hindsight would change nothing. “I would make the same decision,” Comey declared during a lengthy hearing in which Democratic senators grilled him on the seeming inconsistency between the Clinton disclosure 11 days before the election and his silence about the bureau’s investigation into possible contacts between Russia and Trump’s campaign. Comey, offering an impassioned public defense of how he handled the election-year issues, insisted that the FBI’s actions in both investigations were consistent. He told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the FBI cannot take into account how it might benefit or harm politicians. “I can’t consider for a second whose political futures will be affected and in what way,” Comey told the senators. “We have to ask ourselves what is the right thing to do and then do that thing.”

Europe: Russian Election Hacks in France and Germany Are Still Active Despite US Sanctions | WIRED

Ten Days after US intelligence agencies pinned the breach of the Democratic National Committee last October on the Russian government, Vice President Joe Biden promised government would “send a message” to the Kremlin. Two months later, the White House announced new sanctions against a handful of Russian officials and companies, and kicked 35 Russian diplomats out of the country. Six months later, it appears that the message has been thoroughly ignored. The Russian hackers who gleefully spilled the emails of the DNC, Colin Powell, and the Clinton campaign remain as busy as ever, this time targeting the elections of France and Germany. And that failure to stop Russia’s online adventurism, cybersecurity analysts say, points to a rare sort of failure in digital diplomacy: Even after clearly identifying the hackers behind one the most brazen nation-state attacks against US targets in modern history, America still hasn’t figured out how to stop them.

Arizona: Referendum campaign tackles citizen initiative measures | Arizona Daily Sun

Former Attorney General Grant Woods and former Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson are leading a referendum campaign to overturn up to three proposals to tighten the laws overseeing the citizen initiative process. Voters of Arizona was registered at the secretary of state’s office Thursday morning as the committee tackling the referendum attempt on the 2018 ballot, political consultant Joe Yuhas said. “I think Grant and Paul come from different perspectives politically but yet they share a common feature and that is that as Arizona natives … they have participated in and been the beneficiaries of Arizona’s direct democracy that has existed since statehood,” Yuhas said. Yuhas said the committee will also simultaneously pursue legal action challenging the laws.

Arizona: New Maricopa County registrar wants to change Arizona’s reputation for voter suppression | Los Angeles Times

To hear Adrian Fontes tell it, the hopes of thousands of would-be voters are trapped in dust-covered boxes at the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office. The boxes are filled with forms reflecting failed attempts to register to vote. Fontes, the new Maricopa County recorder, says those failures are the result of a strict interpretation of registration rules, and he intends to do something about it. Since 2004, Arizonans attempting to register to vote without showing proof of citizenship are put in a kind of voter purgatory, denied the right to vote as their county sends them reminders to confirm their citizenship.

California: Noncitizens Will Soon Be Able To Vote In San Francisco — For School Board | WOSU

President Trump has often criticized San Francisco’s sanctuary policy for harboring people in the country unlawfully. Now the city is bracing for additional criticism from the federal government as it prepares to become the first city in the state and one of the first in the country to allow noncitizens to vote in local elections. Proposition N passed in November. It will allow noncitizens, including people in the country illegally, who have children in the city’s school district to vote in local school board elections. Supporters want to give immigrant parents more of a voice in how the city’s public schools are run.

California: Lawmakers vote for earlier primary elections | Associated Press

California may hold its presidential primary elections in March after lawmakers in both chambers of the Legislature passed bills Thursday to increase the influence of the nation’s largest and most diverse state. The state Senate passed a bill to move California’s primary from June to the third Tuesday in March. The state Assembly voted to move the primary to the first Tuesday after the first Monday in March. One of the bills must pass both houses and be signed by the governor for the date to change.

Illinois: Voting records hack didn’t target specific records, says IT staff | The Hill

The hackers that breached the Illinois election database do not appear to have been looking for anything in particular, IT professionals told the state Senate subcommittee on cybersecurity during a hearing Thursday. In August, federal intelligence agencies believe one of the same Russian hacking operations that struck the Democratic National Convention last summer breeched an online voter database in Illinois. A similar attack struck Arizona as well, the only other known state breach attributed to Russia in the 2016 election season. Reports emerged in August that hackers broke into the database by taking advantage of a common coding error in web forms that allows visitors to trick the database into running commands. That is known as an SQL injection, where SQL, pronounced “sequel,” is the type of database in use.

Kansas: Lawsuits over Kansas voter registration law remain on track | Associated Press

Legal challenges to a Kansas law requiring documentary proof of citizenship remain on track for trial after rulings Thursday in two separate federal cases. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson issued decisions that keep both cases alive in the courts. The judge denied a motion for partial summary judgment sought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the League of Women Voters and voters. Robinson rejected the claim that the proof of citizenship law discriminates against people born outside Kansas. But the key argument in the ACLU lawsuit is that the Kansas law violates the National Voter Registration Act, a federal law that requires only minimal information to register to vote. The ACLU contends that an assurance of U.S. citizenship under penalty of perjury is sufficient.

Minnesota: Republicans aim to erase campaign spending laws | Associated Press

Republicans are moving to erase Minnesota’s public campaign subsidies, which could reshape the fundraising fight in next year’s gubernatorial election and unleash more money into statewide and local elections. Passed in 1974 as part of an anti-corruption wave triggered by President Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal, Minnesota’s subsidy has become ingrained in state elections. With all 201 legislative seats up for grabs last year, nearly nine of every 10 candidates agreed to limit their total campaign spending. In return, they shared in $2.2 million in public funding. In 2014, when both Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican challenger Jeff Johnson accepted subsidies, that public money accounted for more than 20 percent of the $4.5 million spent on the race.

North Carolina: Elections agency works to avoid late-night result changes, ineligible felon voters | News & Observer

State election officials say they’re taking steps to avoid some problems seen during November’s election by improving procedures for publishing vote counts and removing active felons from voter rolls. State Board of Elections executive director Kim Strach provided her post-election report to an N.C. House committee Thursday, highlighting some of the upgrades in the works. One Election Night problem was the late counting of early votes in Durham County. Because of difficulties reading the memory cards on voting machines, the county didn’t add early voting totals to online records until nearly midnight – even though the state’s website indicated that most of the county was finished reporting totals.

Ohio: Attorney general rejects congressional redistricting amendment language | Cleveland Plain Dealer

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine on Thursday rejected a proposal that would change how Ohio draws its congressional districts. But supporters say they have plenty of time to resubmit their constitutional amendment and collect the signatures to put it on the November 2018 ballot. Fair Congressional Districts for Ohio last week submitted its proposed constitutional amendment and a summary to appear on petitions. DeWine cited two errors where the summary language did not match the proposed Bipartisan Congressional Redistricting Reform Amendment. DeWine’s office is the first stop for any proposed ballot measure. DeWine’s job is not to judge the merit of proposed ballot initiatives but to certify that the amendment summary that will appear on petitions accurately summarizes the amendment.

Albania: Leaders fail to back compromise for June 18 vote | Associated Press

Albania’s political leaders on Thursday failed for the second time to reach a compromise as the opposition has boycotted the parliament and the June 18 parliamentary election. Following intensive meetings with Western diplomats, Prime Minister Edi Rama, leader of the Socialist Party, and Lulzim Basha of the main opposition Democratic Party met again Thursday night. Rama said the government offered direct monitoring of the voting with a task force of opposition representatives accompanied by monitors from the European Union, the United States and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Algeria: Voters disillusioned ahead of Algeria poll | AFP

In Sidi Mhamed, a drab satellite town southwest of Algiers, residents are struggling to make ends meet, stay safe and secure a better future for their children. Few have any hope that Thursday’s legislative election will improve their lives. The sense of disillusionment with the political process is palpable. A few party billboards and some scraps of graffiti on apartment block walls are the only reminder that a nationwide election is just days away.

Canada: Online voting not ready for federal, provincial election: officials | CBC

A small group of election officials from across Canada who observed a ground-breaking plebiscite vote on P.E.I. has concluded online and telephone voting should be considered only under limited circumstances in Canada in the foreseeable future, given the risks involved. P.E.I.’s plebiscite on electoral reform, held over a 10-day period in October and November 2016, allowed voters to participate by voting online, by telephone, or with a traditional paper ballot. It was the first time in Canada online voting was included as an option in a province-wide election. More than 80 per cent of Island voters who participated voted online. An audit team made up of election officials from across the country was assembled to observe the vote. That team concluded that, while online voting was secure enough for a non-binding plebiscite in Canada’s smallest province, “a perfectly secure and fool-proof electronic voting system does not yet exist.” Because of the “major risks” associated, the audit team concluded online and telephone voting for federal and provincial elections in Canada “should be limited to use only by absentee voters for the immediate foreseeable future.”

France: Official probe launched as Marine Le Pen is accused of deploying ‘fake news’ against Macron | The Independent

Marine Le Pen has been accused of using “fake news” during a head-to-head debate with Emmanuel Macron days before the final vote of France’s presidential election, after she alluded to allegations circulating online that her rival has an offshore account in the Bahamas. Mr Macron filed a legal complaint on Thursday, prompting the Paris prosecutor’s office to open a formal investigation into whether falsified documents and false online news were being used to influence voting ahead of Sunday’s second round ballot. The Front National candidate, who has been urged by her father and predecessor as party leader to adopt a “Trump-style” campaign, asked Mr Macron if the online rumours about his personal finances were true during a virulent exchange watched by 15 million people.

Germany: Spy chief warns Russia cyber attacks aiming to influence elections | The Independent

Germany’s domestic intelligence agency expects new cyber attacks targeting politicians and government officials ahead of federal elections. Hans-Georg Maassen, head of the BfV agency, said spies are keeping a “very close watch” on threats as the country gears up for September’s vote. “We expect further attacks, and we are keeping a very close watch on the threats,” Mr Maassen told a cyber security conference in Potsdam. “We are finding increasingly aggressive cyber espionage.” He said his agency had detected and foiled repeated email phishing attacks directed at Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU party, and other attempts targeting politicians and institutions.

South Korea: Voters swamp ballot booths as early voting in presidential election kicks off | The Straits Times

Hundreds of thousands of South Koreans flocked to polling stations across the nation on Thursday (May 4) to choose their next president, two months after the previous one was ousted from office in disgrace and amid regional tension over a belligerent North Korea. Instead of voting on the scheduled election day of Tuesday (May 9), many chose to cast ballots earlier as they have to work or have other plans, such as a trip to vacation hot spots. Some 3,500 polling stations are open across the nation from 6am to 6pm from Thursday to Friday.