If two nearly simultaneous hearings Wednesday by the House and Senate Intelligence Committees into Russia’s meddling in last year’s presidential election revealed anything, it’s that U.S. officials saw what was going on but were all but powerless to stop it. In his prepared remarks, former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said the Russian government, “at the direction of Vladimir Putin himself, orchestrated cyberattacks on our Nation for the purpose of influencing our election — plain and simple.” But in response to a question from the committee’s ranking member, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., Johnson said he was concerned he would be criticized “for perhaps taking sides” in an ongoing election if he publicly spoke out about the Russian meddling that he knew was going on.
National: We just learned the government knows Russia will sabotage the next election. Now what? | The Washington Post
The Senate Intelligence Committee held a hearing this morning on Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election, and on what the government knows about Russian intentions to meddle in future contests. The Committee heard from three federal officials, two from the Department of Homeland Security, and one from the FBI. Together, those officials made clear that not only did Russians peddle in propaganda and fake news in an effort boost the fortunes of Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton in 2016; they also penetrated election systems via cyber warfare. But they also hinted at another important truth, which a forward looking one. Here it is: The very core of our democracy is at extraordinary risk if we are not prepared to prevent Russian interference in our next election, which is less than 18 months away.
More than 100 cybersecurity and voting experts are urging the government to make the U.S. voting system more secure. The experts — which come from various industries, from business and academia to technology non-profits — signed a letter addressed to Congress on Wednesday suggesting how three major objectives need to take place to protect the integrity of the system and restore voter confidence. The letter comes as Jeanette Manfra, acting deputy undersecretary for cybersecurity and communications at DHS, told the Senate Intelligence Committee hackers targeted election-related systems in 21 states last year. The letter alleges many jurisdictions are unprepared to handle an increase in cybersecurity risks. To start, the experts believe all jurisdictions should create voter-verified paper ballots and phase out electronic voting machines.
More than a hundred security researchers and computer science experts have warned in a letter to lawmakers that not enough is being done to ensure the integrity of state and federal elections. The letter, published Wednesday, argues many US states are “inadequately prepared” to respond to cybersecurity risks with upcoming elections. The hundred-plus co-signatories, including cryptographer Matthew Blaze, security expert Bruce Schneier, and PGP creator Phil Zimmermann, say the US “needs prompt action to ensure prudent elections security standards.” The experts also outlined several recommendations that would “form the basis of robust, enforceable, sensible federal standards that can restore needed confidence in American elections,” including ensuring that any electronic election machines produce a voter-verified paper ballot to establish the “official record of voter intent.”
A sinister portrait of Russia’s cyberattacks on the U.S. emerged Wednesday as current and former U.S. officials told Congress Moscow stockpiled stolen information and selectively disseminated it during the 2016 presidential campaign to undermine the American political process. The Russians ‘‘used fake news and propaganda and they also used online amplifiers to spread the information to as many people as possible,’’ Bill Priestap, the FBI’s top counterintelligence official, told the Senate Intelligence committee.
The Supreme Court has officially agreed to hear a case with the potential to put firm limits on partisan gerrymandering — and dramatically change the way states draw legislative boundaries. The case, Gill v. Whitford, challenges the 2011 Wisconsin state assembly map. Those districts were drawn by the Republican state legislature in Wisconsin, and packed Democrats into a smaller number of districts to maximize Republican odds. The lawsuit argues that the map is an unconstitutional effort to help Republicans retain power.
State election chiefs said Wednesday that federal homeland security officials haven’t shared enough intelligence information about Russian attempts to access last year’s election — possibly hampering efforts to better protect their systems. “We need this information to defend state elections,” Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson, president-elect of the National Association of Secretaries of State, told members of the Senate Intelligence Committee. The committee held a hearing on Russia’s interference in last year’s elections as part of its ongoing investigation. “We were woefully unprepared to defend and respond (to Russian meddling) and I am hopeful that we will not be caught flat-footed again,” said Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., the committee’s chairman. “I am deeply concerned that, if we do not work in lock step with the states to secure our elections, we could be here in two or four years talking about a much worse crisis.”
Senior members of Congress last week introduced a bill that would automatically register Americans to vote when they interact with a wide range of government agencies, unless they decline. The reform not only expands access to the most fundamental right in our democracy and increases participation, it also reduces mistakes on the rolls and enhances the security of voting infrastructure. In short, it brings election administration into the 21st Century. The initiative, led by Rep. Robert Brady (D-Pa.), and Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), comes amid increased momentum for automatic registration at the state level. Eight states and the District of Columbia have approved the policy, and 32 states have introduced bills to implement or expand the reform in 2017. Oregon — the first state to jump on board — has already fully implemented automatic registration, and early research on its effects on turnout is encouraging.
The state Board of Election Commissioners on Wednesday approved rules necessary to implement a new voter-identification law, clearing the way for ballots to be cast under the legislation as soon as September. Instead of asking for photo identification — but not requiring it — the proposed rules and Act 633 of 2017, by Rep. Mark Lowery, R-Maumelle, make the process more straightforward, said Keith Rutledge, director of the Board of Election Commissioners. “We’ve had some complaints on that over the past year,” he said. “This pretty much will clear that up. You either show me your ID or you sign this affidavit — basically.” The law and the proposed rules tell voters to show photo identification before casting ballots, but allow people without photo identification to sign a sworn statement saying they are registered voters in Arkansas.
Florida: New online voter registration system is on pace for an official launch Oct. 1 | Bradenton Herald
Two years in the making, Florida’s new online voter registration system is on pace for an official launch on Oct. 1, as the Legislature directed in the 2015 session. It’s the most significant change in voter registration in years in Florida, and most county election supervisors got their first close-up look at the system Wednesday at their statewide conference in Davenport. Reviews were generally favorable, but growing concerns about cybersecurity were also heard. “It works,” Escambia Supervisor of Elections David Stafford said. Paul Lux of Okaloosa said he was pleased with how the system will function. Stafford, Lux and supervisors Wesley Wilcox in Marion and Chris Chambless in Clay all participated in dry-run tests last month.
Kansas: Civil rights advocates: ‘Confidential’ documents undercut Kobach’s voting fraud claim | Lawrence Journal-World
A Kansas election official is trying to hide materials that undercut his public claim that substantial numbers of noncitizens have registered to vote and that documentary proof-of-citizenship requirements are necessary to stop it, civil rights advocates contend in a court filing. The American Civil Liberties Union obtained the materials as part of its federal civil lawsuit in Kansas challenging the state’s voter registration law that requires people to submit citizenship documents such as a birth certificate, naturalization papers or U.S. passport. It asked a federal judge in a filing late Tuesday to remove the confidential designation that Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach placed on materials he was photographed taking into a November meeting with then President-elect Donald Trump, as well as a separate draft amendment to the National Voter Registration Act.
Texas: Group that fueled Trump voter fraud claim scales back 2016 election audit | The Texas Tribune
The Houston-based organization that fueled President Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated claim that “millions” of people voted illegally in the 2016 election says it’s scaling back its effort to catalogue the fraudulent votes it alleged. True The Vote, a watchdog group focused on “election integrity,” says it’s short on the cash needed to complete a forensic audit of the 2016 election — an effort Trump applauded in his first days in the White House. “As it stands, we do not have the funding to do what we want to do. We’ve gathered 2016 voter rolls, we’ve gathered information from thousands of [Freedom of Information Act requests], but we’re limited by the lack of resources,” Catherine Engelbrecht, the group’s founder, said Tuesday in a video message to supporters. “Next steps up are for us to sort of pull back on the national audit, and focus on targeted investigations.”
Utah: Lawmakers put brakes on action against governor over special election — for now | Deseret News
Lawmakers put the brakes on taking action Wednesday in their ongoing dispute with Gov. Gary Herbert over the special election process to replace Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah. “We could give you a bunch of different options today, but I think it’s more important we give you a plan,” House Majority Whip Francis Gibson, R-Mapleton, told the House GOP caucus, promising they’ll see something “relatively soon.” Even an attempt by Rep. Keven Stratton, R-Orem, to have the caucus vote to encourage Chaffetz to rescind his intent to resign on June 30 was shot down by Gibson, who conducted the caucus.
Assembly lawmakers passed a bill Wednesday that would have blocked a statewide presidential election recount in 2016. After votes in the 2016 presidential election were counted, Green Party candidate Jill Stein — who came in fourth in the race — requested a recount. Had the bill authored by Sen. Devin LeMahieu, R-Oostburg, and Rep. Ron Tusler, R-Harrison, been law, only Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who lost to President Donald Trump by less than 1 percent, would have been able to request a recount.
Top of the election agenda are the economic management, provision of basic services, the perennial problem of corruption and there is little concern for external affairs. Australia is PNG’s biggest aid donor, with about $500 million spent annually, but the illegal asylum seeker detention centre on Manus Island and the Kokoda track are the two issues that dominate media coverage of its nearest neighbour. This year’s election is receiving little foreign media attention with the ABC, Radio New Zealand, Al Jazeera and SBS among the very few reporting in country, which may also be because of the difficulty in obtaining journalist visas.
Britons are politically more divided by age than at any time over the past four decades, with a surge in support for the opposition Labour Party among younger voters the key factor in a shock election result, pollster Ipsos Mori said on Tuesday. Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May lost her parliamentary majority in the June 8 election after a lacklustre campaign during which her poll lead of 20 points or more evaporated. The Conservatives still won the largest number of House of Commons seats, but are now having to seek a deal with a small Northern Irish party to support their minority government. Ipsos Mori said age was a bigger dividing factor than in any election since it began keeping detailed records in 1979.
The election of the new President of Vanuatu will be held on 03 July , 2017 to replace late President Baldwin Lonsdale who died suddenly in the early hours of Saturday, June 17, at the Vila Central Hospital in Port Vila. The writ for the election of the next Head of State to the Electoral Commission to organise and hold the election was signed by the Chief Justice, Vincent Lunabek, on Monday, June 19. It was made public through Radio Vanuatu and other media sources an hour after the plane that took the President’s body left Port Vila for his home-Province of Torba in northern Vanuatu for burial.