National: Hackers at DefCon conference exploit vulnerabilities in voting machines | USA Today

It took less than a day for attendees at the DefCon hacking conference to find and exploit vulnerabilities in five different voting machine types. “The first ones were discovered within an hour and 30 minutes. And none of these vulnerabilities has ever been found before, they’ll all new,” said Harri Hursti, co- coordinator of the event. One group even managed to rick-roll a touch screen voting machine, getting it to run Rick Astley’s song “Never Gonna Give You Up,” from 1987. … The groups weren’t able change votes, noted Hursti, a partner at Nordic Innovation Labs and an expert on election security issues. “That’s not what we’re trying to do here today. We want to look at the fundamental compromises that might be possible,” he said.

National: Hackers descend on Las Vegas to expose voting machine flaws | Politico

Election officials and voting machine manufacturers insist that the rites of American democracy are safe from hackers. But people like Carten Schurman need just a few minutes to raise doubts about that claim. Schurman, a professor of computer science at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, used a laptop’s Wi-Fi connection Friday to gain access to the type of voting machine that Fairfax County, Virginia, used until just two years ago. Nearby, other would-be hackers took turns trying to poke into a simulated election computer network resembling the one used by Cook County, Illinois. …  Before the 2016 election, former FBI Director James Comey assuaged fears by telling Congress that the system was so “clunky” — comprised of a mishmash of different kinds of machines and networks, with each state’s results managed by a consortium of state and county officials — that its overall integrity was fairly safe. Election security advocates aren’t as confident. Barbara Simons, Board Chair of Verified Voting, a nonprofit that since 2003 has studied U.S. elections equipment, said that the vulnerabilities on display in Las Vegas only served to reiterate a need for the country to adopt a nationwide system of verifiable paper ballots and mandatory, statistically significant audits. While numerous states have starting moving in this direction, Simons worries it’s not enough.

National: These Hackers Reveal How Easy It Is To Hack US Voting Machines | Forbes

In a muggy little room in the far corner of Caesar’s Palace, wide-eyed and almost audibly buzzing is Carsten Schurmann. The German-born hacker has just broken into a U.S. voting machine with his Apple Mac in a matter of minutes. He can turn it on and off, he can read all the information stored within and if he felt like it, he could probably change some votes if the system was in use. “This is insane,” he says. But today, that machine is not in use, it’s being opened up for anyone to try what Schurmann did. A host of technically-minded folk have gathered at DEF CON’s Voting Machine Village, where they’re tinkering with more than 25 commonly used systems used across American elections. They might just save the next election from Russian hackers. Those machines are, co-organizer Matt Blaze says, horribly insecure. Blaze’s hope is the public will be made aware of their many, many flaws, and demand elections be protected from outside, illegal interference, following the much-documented attempts by Russia to install Donald Trump as president.

National: Hackers Scour Voting Machines for Election Bugs | VoA News

Hackers attending this weekend’s Def Con hacking convention in Las Vegas were invited to break into voting machines and voter databases in a bid to uncover vulnerabilities that could be exploited to sway election results. The 25-year-old conference’s first “hacker voting village” opened on Friday as part of an effort to raise awareness about the threat of election results being altered through hacking. Hackers crammed into a crowded conference room for the rare opportunity to examine and attempt to hack some 30 pieces of election equipment, much of it purchased over eBay, including some voting machines and digital voter registries that are currently in use.

National: Hackers breach each of dozens voting machines brought to conference | The Hill

One of the nation’s largest cybersecurity conferences is inviting attendees to get hands-on experience hacking a slew of voting machines, demonstrating to researchers how easy the process can be. “It took me only a few minutes to see how to hack it,” said security consultant Thomas Richards, glancing at a Premier Election Solutions machine currently in use in Georgia. The DEF CON cybersecurity conference is held annually in Las Vegas. This year, for the first time, the conference is hosting a “Voting Machine Village” where attendees can try to hack a number of systems and help catch vulnerabilities. The conference acquired 30 machines for hackers to toy with. Every voting machine in the village was hacked.

National: Defcon hackers break voting machines easily with old exploits | CNET

When the password for a voting machine is “abcde” and can’t be changed, the integrity of our democracy might be in trouble. The Advanced Voting Solutions WinVote machine, dubbed “America’s worst voting machine,” came equipped with this simple password even as it was used in some of the country’s most important elections. AVS went out of business in 2007, but Virginia used its insecure machines until 2015 before dropping them for scrap metal. That means this vulnerable hunk of technology was used in three presidential elections, starting with George W. Bush’s re-election in 2004 to Barack Obama’s in 2012. In addition to Virginia, Pennsylvania and Mississippi used the WinVote without knowing all the ways it could be hacked. Unlike other technology — your phone, your laptop, connected cars — security wasn’t really a focus. 

National: Leader Of Voter Fraud Probe Really Doesn’t Want To Release Trump Meeting Documents | HuffPost

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) continued to fight releasing documents from a meeting with President Donald Trump in November, saying that the public did not need to see them and that disclosing them would impede his ability to serve on Trump’s commission to investigate voter fraud. Kobach, who has lent support to Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud and exaggerated instances of it in the past, made the argument with his lawyer in a Friday court filing as part of an ongoing lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union over a Kansas law requiring people to prove their citizenship to vote. As part of the lawsuit, the ACLU is requesting a Kansas federal judge unseal documents that Kobach was photographed holding when he met with Trump in November 2016, as well as a draft amendment to federal voting law, which circulated in his office. The documents contain potential amendments to the National Voter Registration Act, a 1993 law requiring motor vehicle and some other state agencies to provide opportunities to register to vote.

Editorials: The man who may disenfranchise millions | The Washington Post

The day after last fall’s presidential election, Kris Kobach got to work. In an email plotting action items for the new Trump administration, Mr. Kobach, the Republican secretary of state in Kansas and a champion of voter suppression campaigns there and nationally, said he had “already started” drafting a key legislative change that would enable states to impose rules complicating registration for millions of new voters — exactly the sort of rules he had advanced in Kansas, with mixed success. Writing to a Trump transition official, Mr. Kobach said he was preparing an amendment to the National Voter Registration Act to allow states to demand documentary proof of citizenship for new registrants.

Editorials: Election hacking requires better vigilance | Matthew V. Masterson/Washington Times

This week, hackers from across the globe are gathering in Las Vegas at the annual DEF CON conference for an exercise ripped straight from news headlines — trying to hack U.S. election systems. It’s a unique exercise that has raised a lot of eyebrows in the election community. For me, it’s yet another moment to focus on the topic of election system security and the need for constant vigilance. For all of the hype surrounding the DEF CON exercise and beyond the 2016 election system hacking attempts shaping news headlines these days, attempts to hack into government-controlled systems isn’t exactly a new concept or exercise. There were 10 federal agency cyber breaches in 2014, including targets such as the White House, State Department, Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and Nuclear Regulatory Commission. In fiscal 2016, OPM found federal agencies faced 31,000 “cyber incidents” that led to “compromise of information or system functionality.”

Alabama: Federal Judge Says Alabama Doesn’t Have To Tell Felons They May Now Be Able To Vote | HuffPost

Alabama election officials don’t have to immediately educate impacted people about a change in state voting qualifications that clarified tens of thousands of felons have the right to vote, a federal judge ruled Friday. The ruling came in response to a request from lawyers from the Campaign Legal Center, on behalf of 10 voters over a law that prohibited anyone who committed a “felony of moral turpitude” from voting. In May, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) signed a law defining exactly which offenses constituted a crime of moral turpitude, earning widespread praise. But Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill (R) told HuffPost in June the state wouldn’t undertake any effort to target people affected by the change and let them know they’re now eligible to vote.

Arizona: Trump taunts states, like Arizona, that denied voter data to task force | Cronkite News

Arizona election officials had sharp words Wednesday for President Donald Trump after he suggested that states that are withholding voter information from a presidential commission have something to hide. “What are they worried about?” Trump asked, during remarks at the first meeting of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. “There’s something, there always is,” Trump said. “We could say the same thing about him,” shot back Pima County Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez. “What is he hiding in his taxes?”

Delaware: New law eases access to absentee voting | Delaware Public Media

Under the new law you no longer have to get a request for an absentee ballot notarized. A notary — usually found at a bank or UPS store — verifies your identity and places a seal on your affidavit explaining why you need to vote absentee. State Election Commissioner Elaine Manlove says that’s a hurdle in the absentee voting process for people who aren’t used to voting that way.

Editorials: North Carolina’s redistricting fiasco needs a rapid redrawing of districts | News & Observer

The worst-kept secret on Jones Street is that Republicans probably have maps for new legislative districts in a locked drawer somewhere. This, while they’re pretending, in court hearings, to be worried about having enough time to draw and approve new districts – as directed by courts who found 28 of their existing districts to be racially gerrymandered. But if a new map got out, Republican leaders might alienate some of their own members who might come out with a disadvantage in their re-election bids. So they appear to be stalling. And to just insult Democrats a little bit more, they’ve brought in Thomas Hofeller, a veteran GOP consultant who helped draw the 2011 maps that included those legislative and congressional districts found by no less than federal courts to be racially gerrymandered, to draw the maps again. That’s just an in-your-face move at the Democrats from a woefully immature Republican leadership that governs like a schoolyard bully.

Rhode Island: Gorbea gets a win with automatic voter registration law | The Providence Journal

They are all Democrats. But not all of the Democrats in Rhode Island’s highest elected offices had the same luck getting their legislation through the overwhelmingly Democratic-controlled General Assembly. In the year before the 2018 elections, Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea scored a big one. Her push for early, in-person voting did not succeed, but the Assembly approved — and the governor signed — her bid for automatic registration of all potentially eligible voters who do business at the Department of Motor Vehicles, unless they decline to be registered.

Texas: GOP ballot fraud bills focus on criminal penalties, but critics say more changes needed | Dallas Morning News

Texas lawmakers say the best way to combat mail-in voter fraud is to fine the heck out of offenders and toss them in jail. In response to a rash of absentee voter fraud in West Dallas, Grand Prairie and other parts of the state, the Republican-controlled Legislature is expected to approve bills during its special session that increase penalties for mail-in election crimes targeting the elderly. Misdemeanors will become felonies and low-level felonies would get an upgrade. The fines associated with the crimes also would increase. “Once we increase the penalties, including turning misdemeanors into felonies, our hope is we won’t be dealing with mail-ballot fraud anymore,” said Rep. Craig Goldman, R-Fort Worth.

Editorials: Will Cuba’s Next Elections be Democratic? | Osmel Ramirez Alvarez/Havana Times

The general elections for this year have already been announced by the Cuban State Council. It’s a process which takes place every five years. However, every 2.5 years, half-way through this term, another partial election take place, on a municipal level only. On this occasion, the 612 member legislature will be selected again (the National Assembly of the People’s Power) and its President, Provincial Parliaments and their presidents, as well as the State Council and its President, who is also the President of the Council of Ministers. That’s why the Cuban President is the Head of State and the Head of Government. And I say “selected” instead of “elected”, because in the Cuban political system, the Cuban people can only choose their District representative. Anyone higher up than this official, up to the President of the Cuba, is either “approved” by a direct vote or it’s these representatives who approve them themselves.

Germany: As Election Nears, German Media Braces for Devious Hacks | The New York Times

To come here as an American on the eve of Germany’s next national political campaign is to go back in time to our own recent past, before the hacks and the (Wiki)leaks led to the paralyzing debate over whether Russia intervened in our presidential election. I arrived in this idyllic, rational and not completely batty world capital (a strange sight to these American eyes) the week before last to find the country’s political world on tenterhooks, waiting for disruptive leaks but not knowing when or whether they might come. A group of hackers — “not us,” say the Russians; “yeah, you,” say the Germans — was sitting on a huge trove of political secrets gathered over the past couple of years. Its first big attack, on the Bundestag, the German Parliament, came in 2015. It vacuumed up some 16 gigabytes of emails and digital files from at least 16 members’ offices, including, officials here believe, that of Chancellor Angela Merkel. Cyberthieves have since struck think tanks related to her party, the Christian Democratic Union, and to its junior coalition partners, the Social Democrats.

Senegal: Parliamentary elections marred by voting problems | Reuters

At least hundreds of Senegalese voters were prevented from casting their ballots in parliamentary elections on Sunday because of delays in issuing identity cards, voters and officials said. In an embarrassing turn for one of West Africa’s most stable democracies, voters were left off voting lists at polling stations or told they did not have the right documents to vote. Opposition leaders have criticized President Macky Sall for trying to stamp out political opposition in a contentious campaign.

Venezuela: Amid clashes US warns that Venezuela is heading for dictatorship after ‘sham’ election | The Guardian

The United States has vowed to take strong and swift action against the “architects of authoritarianism” in Venezuela after protesters and security forces fought deadly street battles during voting for President Nicolás Maduro’s controversial constitutional assembly. “The United States stands by the people of Venezuela, and their constitutional representatives, in their quest to restore their country to a full and prosperous democracy,” the US State Department said in a statement. “We will continue to take strong and swift actions against the architects of authoritarianism in Venezuela, including those who participate in the national constituent assembly as a result of today’s flawed election,” it said. Many voters decided against taking part in an election the opposition said would turn the country into a full-fledged dictatorship.

Venezuela: Constitutional vote marred by violence, death | Al Jazeera

At least nine people, including an election candidate, have been killed in the past 24 hours in Venezuela as the country voted for an all-powerful new legislative body tasked with reforming the constitution. Country’s opposition parties boycotted Sunday’s polls, which they say is aimed at consolidating President Nicolas Maduro’s power. Counting of ballots across Venezuela began on Sunday night after the voting was extended by an hour. Preliminary results were expected before the end of the day. Shootings at protests killed a 13-year-old and a 17-year-old in the western state of Tachira. A soldier was also shot dead there. The death toll also included a 30-year-old regional leader of a youth opposition party in the northeast town of Cumana and two protesters in the western state of Merida.

The Voting News Weekly: The Voting News Weekly for July 24-30 2017

On Friday, the 25-year-old Def Con conference’s first “hacker voting village” opened with an invitation to hackers break into voting machines and voter databases. Within 90 minutes, the first vulnerabilities began to be exposed, revealing an embarrassing low level of security. Co-organizer Matt Blaze told Forbes Magazine “[o]ne of the things we want to drive home is that these things are ultimately software-based systems and we know software-based systems have vulnerabilities, that just comes with the territory.” Blaze has previously highlighted serious weaknesses in machines. We want to make the problems public, so they can be fixed, so the public will know what the problems are and will be able to demand their systems be improved. Anything that helps informs the public qualifies as good faith here.”

The Los Angeles Times published an in-depth report on the state of voting system security across the country. The article obseves that more than 40 states use voting systems that date back to the modernization push following the 2000 presidential election debacle. The vulnerabilities of the dated equipment are chilling, according to J. Alex Halderman, director of the Center for Computer Security and Society at the University of Michigan. “As a technical matter, it is certainly possible votes could be changed and an election outcome in a close election could be flipped,” he said, explaining that even voting equipment disconnected from the Internet can be corrupted by compromised software that is ultimately distributed to elections officials online. “The technical ability is there and we wouldn’t be able to catch it. The state of technical defense is very primitive in our election system now.”

Commenting on the first public meeting of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Electoral Integrity Michael Halpern and Michael Latner noted “[t]he most remarkable thing about the first meeting is not who was there and what was said, but rather who was not there and what was not said.” The lacks election scientists who could most effectively evaluate data on elections and voter fraud: election scientists, and instead is packed with with attorneys like J. Christian Adams, Hans von Spakovsky, and Christy McCormick, all of whom have specialized in bringing unsupported allegations of voter fraud, and are outspoken advocates for more restrictive voter eligibility requirements.

The Campaign Legal Center sparred in federal court with lawyers for the State of Alabama over issues related to the state’s felony disenfranchisement law. The voting rights advocacy group seeks to force the state to take steps to educate thousands of convicted felons that they may be eligible to vote under a new state law.

U.S. District Court Judge Julie Robinson rejected Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s request that she overturn a $1,000 fine levied on him by a U.S. magistrate judge. In upholding the original finding, Robinson became the second federal judge to deem Kobach at the very least misleading in his court appearances. Robinson, a George W. Bush appointee, continued that “these examples… demonstrate a pattern, which gives further credence to Judge O’Hara’s conclusion that a sanctions award is necessary to deter defense counsel in this case from misleading the Court about the facts and record in the future.”

Two federal judges told lawyers for the North Carolina legislature that they are concerned that legislative leaders have taken few if any steps to draw new election maps since they were struck down last year. U.S District Judge Catherine Eagles asked, “You don’t seem serious. What’s our assurance that you are serious about remedying this?” The legislative leaders have argued that they need until November to draw new maps for use in the next regular election in the fall of 2018. Plaintiffs including voters and civil rights groups, however, say the maps must be redrawn immediately and that a special election should be held before the legislature convenes its next regular work session in May 2018.

In a response to voting irregularities in Dallas County, the Texas Senate approved a bill Wednesday that would increase penalties on mail-in ballot fraud. Several Democrats said they initially planned to back it, but they voted against the proposal due to a section that appeared to criminalize certain political discussions between family members “in the presence of” a mail-in ballot. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Kelly Hancock confirmed the fraud definition would apply to voters filling out ballots at home, the same as it would for voters being influenced at the polls.

In a closely watched court challenge, lawyers defending Wisconsin’s 2011 redistricting plan filed their opening brief with the U.S. Supreme Court. The plaintiffs argue that the 2011 plan was designed to heavily favor Republican candidates in state legislative races, giving them a built-in advantage to retain a large majority of seats in Wisconsin’s legislative houses, despite statewide vote totals in presidential races that typically split nearly evenly between Republicans and Democrats.

According to a report published Thursday, Russian spies tried to use fake Facebook accounts to spy on French President Emmanuel Macron’s campaign. Three sources briefed on the effort, including a U.S. congressman, told Reuters that the intelligence officials created about two dozen accounts to monitor Macron’s campaign officials and others close to the centrist French politician. About two dozen Facebook accounts were created to conduct surveillance on Macron campaign officials and others close to the centrist former financier as he sought to defeat far-right nationalist Marine Le Pen and other opponents in the two-round election.

At least five people were killed in the week leading up to today’s controversial vote in Venezuela to elect a 545-member constituent assembly with the power to rewrite the constitution and dissolve state institutions. Critics at home and abroad have warned the election will lead to the demise of the nation’s democracy.

National: It took DEF CON hackers minutes to pwn these US voting machines | The Register

After the debacle of the 2000 presidential election count, the US invested heavily in electronic voting systems – but not, it seems, the security to protect them. This year at the DEF CON hacking conference in Las Vegas, 30 computer-powered ballot boxes used in American elections were set up in a simulated national White House race – and hackers got to work physically breaking the gear open to find out what was hidden inside. In less than 90 minutes, the first cracks in the systems’ defenses started appearing, revealing an embarrassing low level of security. Then one was hacked wirelessly. “Without question, our voting systems are weak and susceptible. Thanks to the contributions of the hacker community today, we’ve uncovered even more about exactly how,” said Jake Braun, who sold DEF CON founder Jeff Moss on the idea earlier this year. “The scary thing is we also know that our foreign adversaries – including Russia, North Korea, Iran – possess the capabilities to hack them too, in the process undermining principles of democracy and threatening our national security.”

National: U.S. elections are an easier target for Russian hackers than once thought | Los Angeles Times

When Chris Grayson pointed his Web browser in the direction of Georgia’s elections system earlier this year, what he found there shocked him. The Santa Monica cybersecurity researcher effortlessly downloaded the confidential voter file of every registered Georgian. He hit upon unprotected folders with passwords, apparently for accessing voting machines. He found the off-the-shelf software patches used to keep the system secure, several of which Grayson said could be easily infected by a savvy 15-year-old hacker. “It was like, holy smokes, this is all on the Internet with no authentication?” Grayson said in an interview. “There were so many things wrong with this.” … Among the most alarmed have been pedigreed computer security scholars, who warn that a well-timed hack of a vendor that serves multiple states could be enough to cause chaos even in systems that were thought to be walled off from one another. And they say security lapses like those in Georgia reveal the ease with which hackers can slip in.

Editorials: What does the US election integrity commission need to be credible? Some actual experts | Michael Halpern and Michael Latner/The Guardian

Last Wednesday, the US Presidential Advisory Commission on Electoral Integrity (PACEI) held its first meeting, with many election experts and political observers anxious to get clarity on the group’s composition and stated objectives. But even before its first meeting, experts have called it a sham and orchestrated chaos, and have accused it of breaking the law. Our assessment of the first meeting is that, as currently structured, the commission will almost certainly create more problems than it solves. The most remarkable thing about the first meeting is not who was there and what was said, but rather who was not there and what was not said. Election integrity commissions are traditionally bipartisan affairs, and have been led by major figures from both parties, like Jimmy Carter and Jim Baker. This commission is headed by Republicans Kris Kobach and Vice-President Mike Pence. Only two notable Democrats, Maine and New Hampshire Secretaries of State Matt Dunlap and Bill Gardner, have agreed to serve on the 15-member panel.

Alabama: State clashes with advocacy group in federal court over felony disenfranchisement suit |

Lawyers for the state of Alabama sparred Tuesday afternoon in federal court in Montgomery with attorneys representing a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit over issues related to Alabama’s felony disenfranchisement law. The hearing centered on a request by the Campaign Legal Center, a voting rights advocacy group, that Chief District Judge W. Keith Watkins force the state to take steps to educate thousands of convicted felons that they may be eligible to vote under a new state law. The organization is also asking Watkins to force the state to automatically add to the voting rolls several thousand convicted felons who applied to register to vote in recent years but were denied that opportunity, yet are now eligible to regain the franchise under the new law. “An issue will be ordered forthwith,” Watkins said at the conclusion of the hearing, without offering a specific timeframe for a ruling on the Campaign Legal Center’s request for a preliminary injunction, which was initially filed June 30.

Kansas: Kobach Statements ‘Demonstrate a Pattern’ of Misleading Claims | The Atlantic

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach could use a little credibility at the moment. President Trump’s so-called election-integrity commission, of which he is the de facto chief, has come under suspicion for both its methods and its purpose. But citizens seeking assurance about Kobach’s motives won’t find that from the federal courts. In a ruling yesterday, flagged by the indefatigable Rick Hasen, Judge Julie Robinson of the U.S. District Court of Kansas rejected Kobach’s request that she overturn a $1,000 fine levied on him by a U.S. magistrate judge. That wasn’t the most significant part of the ruling. Over 13 pages, Robinson carefully lays out ways in which Kobach appeared to be playing fast and loose with the facts in the lower court. And in affirming Magistrate Judge James O’Hara’s fine, she became the second federal judge to deem Kobach at the very least misleading in his court appearances. …  Robinson, a George W. Bush appointee, continued that “these examples… demonstrate a pattern, which gives further credence to Judge O’Hara’s conclusion that a sanctions award is necessary to deter defense counsel in this case from misleading the Court about the facts and record in the future.” In the dry language of federal courts—a federal judge is unlikely to call a statewide official a liar—that’s a stinging judgment on Kobach’s honesty.

North Carolina: Judges: Is North Carolina Is Serious About Fixing Districts? | Associated Press

Two federal judges said Thursday they are concerned that North Carolina legislative leaders have taken few if any steps to draw new election maps since they were struck down last year, and one judge suggested they don’t appear to be taking their duty seriously. A three-judge panel is deciding when and how the electoral map must be remade. “What concerns, at least me, is the seriousness of how this is being taken by the legislature. This is serious,” Judge James A. Wynn of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals told a lawyer for the legislative leaders at a hearing in federal court in Greensboro. His fellow panel member, U.S District Judge Catherine Eagles, then added: “You don’t seem serious. What’s our assurance that you are serious about remedying this?” The panel ruled in August 2016 that 28 state House and Senate districts were illegally drawn, based on racial considerations. After Republicans took the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, the justices agreed this summer that the districts must be redrawn. Democrats hope the new boundaries could help them erode the GOP’s veto-proof majorities in both legislative chambers.

Texas: Senate backs crackdown on mail-in ballot fraud | The Texas Tribune

The Texas Senate tentatively approved a bill Wednesday aiming to crack down on mail-in ballot fraud, largely by beefing up criminal penalties — a response to voting irregularities in Dallas County. “Any attempt to scam the system,” said Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, who authored Senate Bill 5, “must be addressed accordingly.” With a 21-10 vote, the chamber advanced the bill mostly along party lines. Several Democrats said they initially planned to back it, but they voted against the proposal due to a section that appeared to criminalize certain political discussions between family members “in the presence of” a mail-in ballot. “There is the possibility that a family member looking over my shoulder — saying you should vote for Sen. Van Taylor — that individual would be in violation of this section of the law,” said Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas. “I see this as a potential trap for senior citizens.”

Wisconsin: State files first brief to U.S. Supreme Court in gerrymandering case | Wisconsin State Journal

State lawyers defending Wisconsin’s 2011 redistricting plan, which was called an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander by a federal court panel, filed their opening brief Friday with the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that the high court should reject the lower court ruling and throw out a lawsuit brought in 2015 by a group of state Democratic voters. The Supreme Court in June announced that it would decide the case, and later set oral arguments for Oct. 3. The group of Democrats charges that the 2011 plan was designed to heavily favor Republican candidates in state legislative races, giving them a built-in advantage to retain a large majority of seats in Wisconsin’s legislative houses, despite statewide vote totals in presidential races that typically split nearly evenly between Republicans and Democrats.

France: Russia used Facebook to try to spy on Macron campaign – sources | Reuters

Russian intelligence agents attempted to spy on President Emmanuel Macron’s election campaign earlier this year by creating phony Facebook personas, according to a U.S. congressman and two other people briefed on the effort. About two dozen Facebook accounts were created to conduct surveillance on Macron campaign officials and others close to the centrist former financier as he sought to defeat far-right nationalist Marine Le Pen and other opponents in the two-round election, the sources said. Macron won in a landslide in May. Facebook said in April it had taken action against fake accounts that were spreading misinformation about the French election. But the effort to infiltrate the social networks of Macron officials has not previously been reported.