Pressure to examine voting machines used in the 2016 election grows daily as evidence builds that Russian hacking attacks were broader and deeper than previously known. And the Department of Homeland Security has a simple response: No. DHS officials from former secretary Jeh Johnson to acting Director of Cyber Division Samuel Liles may be adamant that machines were not affected, but the agency has not in fact opened up a single voting machine since November to check. Asked about the decision, a DHS official told TPM: “In a September 2016 Intelligence Assessment, DHS and our partners determined that there was no indication that adversaries were planning cyber activity that would change the outcome of the coming US election.” … Computer scientists have been critical of that decision. “They have performed computer forensics on no election equipment whatsoever,” said J. Alex Halderman, who testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee last week about the vulnerability of election systems. “That would be one of the most direct ways of establishing in the equipment whether it’s been penetrated by attackers. We have not taken every step we could.”
National: Trump’s voter-fraud commission wants to know voting history, party ID and address of every voter in the U.S. | The Washington Post
The chair of President Trump’s Election Integrity Commission has penned a letter to all 50 states requesting their full voter-roll data, including the name, address, date of birth, party affiliation, last four Social Security number digits and voting history back to 2006 of potentially every voter in the state. In the letter, a copy of which was made public by the Connecticut secretary of state, the commission head Kris Kobach said that “any documents that are submitted to the full Commission will also be made available to the public.” On Wednesday, the office of Vice President Pence released a statement saying “a letter will be sent today to the 50 states and District of Columbia on behalf of the Commission requesting publicly available data from state voter rolls and feedback on how to improve election integrity.”
A former British government intelligence official has said he was approached last summer by a veteran Republican operative to help verify hacked Hillary Clinton emails offered by a mysterious and most likely Russian source. The incident, recounted by Matt Tait, who was a information security specialist for GCHQ and now runs a private internet security consultancy in the UK, may cast new light on one of the pathways the Russians used to influence the 2016 presidential election in Donald Trump’s favour. Tait’s account, published on the Lawfare national security blog, demonstrates a willingness to collude with the Russians on the part of the Republican operative, Peter Smith, who had a long history of hunting down damaging material about the Clinton family on behalf of the GOP leadership. It also points towards possible collusion by Trump aides.
Donald Trump’s attempt at voter suppression through his “election integrity” commission is a voting rights nightmare that is being enacted so clumsily it just might backfire. Both before and after the election, Trump made wild and unsubstantiated claims about voter fraud and the system being “rigged.” Before the election, many of the claims were about voters voting five, 10, or 15 times by impersonating other voters. The ridiculous and unproven charges of voter suppression had a racial tinge, with suggestions the fraud would happen in majority minority communities. According to the New York Times, he told an audience in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, a few weeks before Election Day: “I just hear such reports about Philadelphia. … I hear these horror shows, and we have to make sure that this election is not stolen from us and is not taken away from us.” He added for emphasis: “Everybody knows what I’m talking about.”
Allegations that the federal government tried to hack Georgia’s election systems were unfounded, according to a letter the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general sent Monday to Congress. The conclusion comes more than six months after Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp accused the department of attempting to “breach our firewall” a week after the November presidential election. The letter said investigators with the inspector general’s Digital Forensics and Analysis Unit reviewed computer data from the federal agency, Kemp’s office and also interviewed a contractor. They also recreated the contractor’s actions. The data, Roth wrote, confirmed the contractor’s statements that on Nov. 15 he used a public page on Kemp’s website to verify security guards’ weapons certification licensing, which he then copied into a spreadsheet.
Maine: Voter-approved ranked-choice voting stays in effect as repeal bills fail | Portland Press Herald
A voter-approved law making Maine the first state in the nation to used ranked-choice voting for statewide elections will stay in effect until at least next year after two legislative efforts to repeal it were unsuccessful Wednesday. The Legislature was attempting to respond to a May advisory opinion from the Maine Supreme Judicial Court that found the parts of the law that applied to races for the governor’s office and Legislature were unconstitutional. A House bill would have left ranked-choice voting in state primary elections and those for Maine’s congressional seats, but not for legislative and gubernatorial races unless the Legislature approved a constitutional amendment to allow ranked-choice voting and state voters ratified it. The Senate version, which had Republican and Democratic support, would have repealed the ballot law completely.
The bill to redraw judicial districts in North Carolina will not advance this session, the legislation’s sponsor said Tuesday. Rep. Justin Burr, a Republican from Albemarle, told The News & Observer that House Bill 717 will be taken up when the General Assembly returns in a few months. That is when a special redistricting session could occur. Burr introduced the bill in a House committee on Monday, where it was approved and calendared for consideration by the full House on Tuesday. Democrats and some court officials said the bill was too significant to be rushed through at the end of session. On Tuesday, Burr said he thought he would have more time to advance the proposal. He said the governor vetoed the budget earlier than he anticipated, narrowing the time frame that the bill could be moved through both chambers. Legislative leaders say they anticipate ending the session as early as this week.
Seattle’s first-in-the-nation voucher system for publicly financing political campaigns is facing a new legal challenge by two local property owners who say it forces them to support candidates they don’t like. The Pacific Legal Foundation, a libertarian-leaning law firm, sued the city Wednesday in King County Superior Court over the “democracy voucher” program, which was passed by voters in 2015 and is being used for the first time in this year’s City Council and city attorney races. Under the program, Seattle’s voters decided to tax themselves $3 million a year in exchange for four $25 vouchers that they can sign over to candidates. According to the city, it costs the average homeowner $11.50 per year.
Want to influence an election? All you need is about $400,000, according to cyber security consultant Trend Micro Inc. That’s the sum it takes to buy followers on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, hire companies to write and disseminate fake news postings over a period of 12 months, and run sophisticated web sites to influence public opinion, according to Udo Schneider, a security expert for the German-speaking market at Trend Micro. “Hacking the actual voting process isn’t worth it as it leaves traces, is very expensive and technologically challenging,” Schneider said Wednesday at a security conference organized by Deutsche Telekom AG in Berlin. Yet influencing public opinion via fake news and data leaks, as is believed to have happened during the U.S. and French election campaigns, is relatively simple and “could also happen ahead of the German elections.”
There was no outright winner in Mongolia’s presidential election on Monday, forcing the country’s first ever second-round run-off between the two leading candidates, the country’s General Election Committee said on Tuesday. The populist former martial arts star Khaltmaa Battulga of the opposition Democratic Party won the most votes, but failed to secure the majority required, the committee said. He will face ruling Mongolian People’s Party (MPP) candidate Miyeegombo Enkhbold, who came second, in a run-off on July 9, the committee’s chairman Choinzon Tsodnomtseren confirmed at a briefing on Tuesday morning.
President Donald Trump fired off a tweet Saturday aimed at the growing number of secretaries of state resisting a broad request for data by his voter-fraud commission, including officials from deep red states whose support the controversy-laden White House can ill afford to lose. “Numerous states are refusing to give information to the very distinguished VOTER FRAUD PANEL,” Trump tweeted of officials from more than 20 states who so far have questioned the panel’s request. “What are they trying to hide?” Indiana, home of Vice President Mike Pence, and Mississippi, a state that voted heavily for the president, are among those states. Trump’s taunt may have been meant to counter a backlash that could effectively scuttle much of the work of Presidential Advisory Commission on Voter Integrity before it begins. Officials on the panel said they planned to compare the state records to databases of undocumented immigrants and legal foreigners in order to determine if large numbers of unqualified voters are participating in U.S. elections.
State officials from Virginia, California and Kentucky said Thursday that they will refuse a request for voter roll data from President Trump’s commission on election integrity. Earlier Thursday, it was reported that the commission sent letters to all 50 states asking for voters’ names, birthdays, the last four digits of their Social Security numbers and their voting history dating back to 2006. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) said in a statement that he has “no intention” of fulfilling the request, defending the fairness of his state’s elections. He also blasted the commission in his statement, saying it was based on the “false notion” of widespread voter fraud in the November presidential election. “At best this commission was set up as a pretext to validate Donald Trump’s alternative election facts, and at worst is a tool to commit large-scale voter suppression,” McAuliffe stated.
On Wednesday, all 50 states were sent letters from Kris Kobach — vice chair for the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity — requesting information on voter fraud, election security and copies of every state’s voter roll data. The letter asked state officials to deliver the data within two weeks, and says that all information turned over to the commission will be made public. The letter does not explain what the commission plans to do with voter roll data, which often includes the names, ages and addresses of registered voters. The commission also asked for information beyond what is typically contained in voter registration records, including Social Security numbers and military status, if the state election databases contain it. … A number of experts, as well as at least one state official, reacted with a mix of alarm and bafflement. Some saw political motivations behind the requests, while others said making such information public would create a national voter registration list, a move that could create new election problems.
Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) introduced an amendment to the appropriations bill on Thursday to fund the Election Assistance Commission (EAC). The EAC provides services to state elections officials, including playing a role in election cybersecurity. The EAC is currently slated to be entirely defunded by the end of 2018. “In order to prevent future attacks against our democratic process, we must harden our defenses,” Quigley said in remarks launching his amendment. “Eliminating the EAC, the federal government’s only independent direct line of communication to state and local election officials, would be dramatically out of step with the federal government’s work to improve election systems and provide states with the support they need to hold accurate and secure elections.”
House Democrats are creating an election security task force to study how the government can lock Russian hackers out of the 2018 elections, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Thursday. The task force will hold hearings, collect data on state-level election hacks, and interview election officials and cybersecurity experts. Ultimately, the group aims to turn its findings into legislation. “Unless we act, they will do this again,” Pelosi said. House Homeland Security ranking member Bennie Thompson of Mississippi will lead the task force with Rep. Robert Brady of Pennsylvania, the top Democrat on the House Administration Committee, which oversees federal elections.
National: Russian Hackers Reportedly Discussed Getting Hillary Clinton’s Emails To Michael Flynn | Buzzfeed
Russian hackers discussed during the 2016 presidential campaign if they could obtain emails deleted by Hillary Clinton and get them to Michael Flynn, the retired general who was then a member of the Trump campaign, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. The newspaper attributed the revelation to US officials with knowledge of intelligence about the hackers’ communications. That intelligence is being reviewed by US investigators who are examining if the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to influence the election, the Journal reported. The hackers hoped to get the emails to Flynn via an intermediary, the Journal reported. Around the same time, a Republican with a history of opposition research against the Clintons was working to get the emails from hackers, including some with ties to the Russian government.
Editorials: EAC’s 2016 survey provides a deep dive into a wealth of election, voting data | Sean Greene/The Hill
I love baseball. As a researcher, I am fascinated by the endless stream of statistics it generates, data that provides a detailed picture of the rhythms and pace of any given game or season. Coaches, players and general managers use the data to tweak everything from how to set their infield defense to planning team finances and roster decisions years down the road. And fans use the data in their own way to better understand and enjoy the game. This is exactly how I’d like Congress, election administrators and the American people to view the U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s 2016 Election Administration and Voting Survey (EAVS), the most comprehensive nationwide data about election administration in the United States. It’s a treasure trove of data collected to paint a picture of the administration of the 2016 Federal Election and to give us indicators about ways we can improve election administration and voter experience. And it allows anyone to use the data to dive into what they think is important to better understand how elections work in our country.
Editorials: Why Wednesday’s ‘Election Integrity’ Actions Should Be Watched By States | David Becker/Route Fifty
On Wednesday, word arrived of three seemingly unrelated events. While each of these events has broad implications for the security and integrity of American elections, the nature and timing of each of these—all on the same day—raise serious questions. The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, or PACEI, sent letters out to every state requesting that they provide:
“publicly available under the laws of your state, the full first and last names of all registrants, middle names or initials if available, addresses, dates of birth, political party (if recorded in your state), last four digits of social security number if available, voter history (elections voted in) from 2006 onward, active/inactive status, cancelled status, information regarding any felony convictions, information regarding voter registration in another state, information regarding military status, and overseas citizen information.”
They requested that this information be provided within 16 days, via e-mail or via the Safe Access File Exchange, a secure FTP site. It is notable that the PACEI does not state where or how this information will be stored or protected, other than to admit that all these files will be made publicly available, and furthermore does not state what it will do with this sensitive and personal information, other than “fully analyze” it.
I’ve had a chance now to read the letter that vice-chair Kris Kobach has sent to the states, requesting that they send the Pence Commission copies of their publicly available voter files. My initial reactions fall into two buckets, the small and the expansive. I want to make clear that there is no intrinsic problem with matching voting lists against other lists and reporting the results. In fact, valuable insights can emerge from linking voter records. I don’t know a better way to advance knowledge and practice than to conduct research, report the results, and then hash out what they mean. But here’s the caveat. As a social scientist who has conducted voter roll matching both for scientific research and for litigation, I know how hard it is to do this right. For example, the well-known “birthday problem” makes it likely that two different people will be mistakenly matched to one another. Few people have the expertise to handle these complexities correctly. Just as litigation is rarely the best vehicle to advance the science of a field, I worry about developing matching routines on the fly in the context of a commission that is controversial.
Spencer Trawick lost the right to vote when he was convicted of felony third-degree burglary for breaking into a Dothan house in 2015. As an 18-year-old at the time, he had registered to vote only months before he got in trouble, so he was disappointed to learn that he had been barred from casting a ballot in Alabama. But on Monday, Trawick filled out a registration form while inside the Dothan City Jail with the help of Pastor Kenneth Glasgow, a civil rights advocate who has been registering inmates to vote for more than a decade. “You’re registered to vote, man! You’re a full citizen now,” Glasgow told Trawick after he filled out a voter registration form supplied by the Dothan pastor. “You can say, ‘All right, I [am] a citizen!'”
Arizona: State settles lawsuit making voter-registration data more affordable | The Arizona Republic
Arizona has settled a lawsuit with a national voting-rights group, resulting in an agreement that allows the public to access voter information at a much lower cost. The settlement between Project Vote and the state was finalized late last week. Electronic access to the voter rolls will be available to the public at a cost of a few hundred dollars rather than thousands. For example, the price of obtaining the state’s database of about 3.6 million voters will drop from about $30,000 to around $500. Project Vote, a national nonpartisan voting-rights advocacy organization, sued the state, Maricopa County and Pima County to challenge the cost of acquiring voter-registration data after receiving bills for tens of thousands of dollars. Political parties get the same information for free, as is required by state law.
President Trump’s voter fraud commission will not be getting the names and addresses of California’s registered voters. The panel’s request was denied on Thursday by Secretary of State Alex Padilla, who said it would only “legitimize” false claims of massive election cheating last fall. Padilla refused to hand over data, including the names, addresses, political party and voting history of California’s 19.4 million voters. Kris Kobach, the secretary of state of Kansas who serves as vice chairman of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, sent letters to all 50 states on Wednesday for information he said would help the group examine rules that either “enhance or undermine the American people’s confidence in the integrity of federal elections processes.” Padilla, though, suggested the effort is little more than a ruse.
Colorado: Elections head will withhold confidential data from White House commission | Colorado Springs Gazette
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams said Thursday he plans to fulfill a White House commission’s request for detailed state voter data by providing the same public information that would be available to anyone who asks. However, if information that’s considered confidential is requested, it’ll be held back, he said. Williams and all other secretaries of state in the country received a letter Wednesday detailing the request from Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a co-chair of the bipartisan Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. President Donald Trump created the commission last month to examine vulnerabilities in election systems “that could lead to improper voter registrations, improper voting, fraudulent voter registrations and fraudulent voting.”
Connecticut: Trump Voter Fraud Panel Request For Information Gets Chilly Connecticut Reply | Hartford Courant
President Donald Trump’s special commission to investigate alleged voter fraud is asking Connecticut election officials for reams of personal data on all registered voters in the state and got a frosty reply from Secretary of the State Denise Merrill. “In the spirit of transparency, we intend to share publicly-available information with [President Trump’s] Kobach Commission while ensuring that the privacy of voters is honored by withholding protected data,” Merrill said in a public response Thursday. Letters from the new commission reportedly went out to all 50 states Wednesday requesting publicly available voter information, and information on “law, policies or other issues [that] hinder your ability to ensure the integrity of elections you administer.” Also, the commission asked for “convictions for election-related crimes” dating to the 2000 presidential election.
Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes says her office will not comply with a request by the President’s Commission on Election Integrity. The commission, headed by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and Vice President Mike Pence, was formed by President Trump in May to investigate alleged acts of voter fraud. Trump has claimed without evidence that 3 million to 5 million people voted illegally in the 2016 election.
Maine: Ranked-choice voting supporters consider people’s veto if legislature scraps law | Bangor Daily News
Supporters of Maine’s first-in-the-nation ranked-choice voting law say they could launch a people’s veto effort to keep the initiative alive. While approved by voters last fall, the law ran into constitutional problems, and could be scuttled by the Legislature. The threat of a people’s veto adds another layer of complexity to a political stalemate. The ranked-choice voting law ran into a legal problem. After it was approved, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court issued an opinion finding that the law was unconstitutional for use in general elections for governor or the Legislature.
Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon says he’s not sure he’ll turn over the data requested by a White House panel for a study of voter fraud. The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity asked all states this week to supply publicly-available voter roll information. The request includes voters’ names, addresses, dates of birth, recent voting history and details about military status and felony convictions. Simon, a Democrat, is hesitant.
A recall election in a town of about 45 people is expected to be among the first tests of North Dakota’s new voter identification law later this year. The new law, passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature and signed by Gov. Doug Burgum in late April, goes into effect Saturday, July 1, along with a swath of other bills. July 1 marks the beginning of a new two-year funding cycle known as a biennium. Proponents of the new law said it will help protect the “integrity” of North Dakota elections while addressing concerns raised by a federal lawsuit over voter ID requirements passed in the previous two legislative sessions.
On July 22, Timorese will once again cast their vote in the country’s fourth parliamentary election since independence from Indonesia in 1999. With the March presidential election now almost a distant memory, all eyes are on the hotly contested parliamentary election. It is interesting to note that despite all the news and controversy surrounding the three front-runner parties, more than 20 parties are registering to contest the election. With former political rivals and revered resistance parties FRETELIN and CNRT locked in a consensus of convenience, it remains to be seen how the coalition government will pan out, with much depending on the ability of newcomer party, Partido Libertasaun Popular (PLP), to make any inroads in challenging the popularity of the two stalwarts.
On Friday, June 16th, Lebanon quietly ended one of the longest stretches of government paralysis in post-Second World War history. The parliament met to ratify a new electoral law that will govern national elections next year, nearly a decade after the last parliamentary polls were held. The law’s proponents claim that it will improve representation for the many sects that compose the country’s religiously diverse population. They say it also addresses demands by civil-society groups who have railed against the propensity of the political élite to pass power down through the generations and keep reformists at bay. In Beirut, there is both cynicism and optimism about what the new law might deliver. Mostly, though, one senses an uncertainty about the future—a familiar enough feeling in a country that endured a brutal, fifteen-year civil war, but unfamiliar in other ways. There is a genuine wondering-aloud as to whether a new chapter in Lebanon’s history might be about to begin, and some hope that a political system built on the principle of fostering coexistence might be insulated from a region wracked by sectarianism.