National: Hacking voting machines takes center stage at DEFCON | Tech Target

“Anyone who says they’re un-hackable is either a fool or a liar.” Jake Braun, CEO of Cambridge Global Advisors and one of the main organizers of the DEFCON Voting Village, said the U.S. election industry has an attitude similar to what had been seen with the air and space industry and financial sectors. Companies in those sectors, Braun said, would often say they were un-hackable their machines didn’t touch the internet and their databases were air-gapped —  until they were attacked by nation-states with unlimited resources and organized cybercrime syndicates and they realized they were “sitting ducks.” … Candice Hoke, law professor and co-director of the Center for Cybersecurity and Privacy Protection, said in a DEFCON talk the laws surrounding investigations of potential election hacking were troublesome. “In some states, you need evidence of election hacking in order to begin an investigation. This is an invitation to hackers,” Hoke said. “We all know in the security world that you can’t run a secure system if no one is looking.”

National: New website aims to track Russian-backed propaganda on Twitter | Reuters

A website launched on Wednesday seeks to track Russian-supported propaganda and disinformation on Twitter, part of a growing non-governmental effort to diminish Moscow’s ability to meddle in future elections in the United States and Europe. The “Hamilton 68” dashboard (here) was built by researchers working with the Alliance for Securing Democracy, a bipartisan, transatlantic project set up last month to counter Russian disinformation campaigns. The website, supported by the German Marshall Fund, displays a “near real-time” analysis of English-language tweets from a pool of 600 Twitter accounts that analysts identified as users that spread Russian propaganda.

National: Voting machines and election systems – a quick look | Associated Press

Digital voting machines are in the spotlight in Venezuela, where the head of Smartmatic, a maker of election systems used in the country’s tumultuous constituent-assembly election, said Wednesday that the official turnout figure had been “tampered with .” The company’s CEO said the count was off by at least 1 million votes — possibly in either direction. Tibisay Lucena, head of Venezuela’s National Electoral Council, dismissed that allegation as an “irresponsible declaration” that might lead to legal action. The government-stacked electoral council claims more than 8 million people voted in the election for a nearly all-powerful constituent assembly. Independent analysts have expressed doubts at that number. Here’s a look at the technology and politics of voting machines and election systems. The voting-machine market is a speck in the prodigious tech sector. Iowa University computer scientist Douglas Jones estimates its annual revenues in the United States at less than $200 million — roughly what Google pulls in every day. It’s much harder to get reliable information about the fragmented global market for election systems.

Editorials: Republicans Want To Defund The Commission That Fights Voting Machine Hacking | Steny Hoyer/HuffPost

This past weekend, hackers gathered in Las Vegas with a simple mission: break into America’s electronic voting machines and take control. Within minutes, some had already succeeded – but that’s a good thing. These hackers were part of a workshop held to identify vulnerabilities so they can be fixed well before any Americans cast actual votes next election. This exercise underscores the very real danger posed by outdated and insecure voting-machine software – as well as the important mission our government must continue undertaking to close these vulnerabilities and safeguard our elections. However, in their FY2018 funding proposal, Republicans are going after the small but highly successful agency that protects the integrity of our voting systems: the Election Assistance Commission. In June, House Republicans included a provision in their Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill that would abolish the Election Assistance Commission.

Florida: Is Trump’s Fraud Commission to Blame for Rise in Florida Voter Cancellations? | Tampa Bay Times

During a recent 20-day period, 1,715 Florida voters took themselves off the registration rolls. The 117 percent spike in cancellations over the same period last year came as news spread of President Donald Trump’s fraud commission and its request for voter data from all 50 states. Did the request for voter information trigger the cancellations? While the increase suggests a correlation, regular maintenance of the voting rolls, a routine required by state law and unrelated to the federal commission, might also explain the increase. Here’s what we do know: On June 28, Trump’s official request for voter information, made by the commission’s vice chairman, Kris Kobach, sought the names, addresses, birth dates, political parties, electoral participation histories and last four digits of the voter’s Social Security number of every registered voter in the country.

Florida: Trial over Broward County’s disputed voting lists ends | Sun Sentinel

Broward County is not doing enough to remove ineligible voters from its lists, it was claimed at a federal trial that wrapped Wednesday. The argument came from the conservative American Civil Rights Union, which has been pursuing similar claims nationwide. … The defense said the data provided was misleading. Some voters, such as boat dwellers and homeless people, don’t have residential addresses. The dead people who were found on the rolls in 2012 were removed after the elections office verified the information it was given.

Georgia: Elections watchdog group seeks answers after Georgia drops 590,000 from voter rolls | Mic

A watchdog group is pushing the state of Georgia to explain why more than 591,000 people were struck from the voter rolls. “Each of the 591,548 voters affected by the move had already been on the state’s ‘inactive’ registration list,” the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported this week. That means those voters had not cast a ballot, updated their registration or address or responded to efforts to contact them for at least three years. Let America Vote, an advocacy group run by former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, wrote in a Wednesday letter to Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp that federal law doesn’t permit the purge of voters simply for not voting.

Massachusetts: States with Election Day registration see bonus for democracy | The Boston Globe

Voting on Election Day usually entails some pre-planning, with registration required several days, if not weeks, ahead of time in most places. But now, following a court decision last week, Massachusetts is under pressure to join more than a dozen other states — including Connecticut, Maine, and Vermont — in allowing residents to register or reregister on Election day, and vote moments later. While the state’s top election official is raising concerns about costs, research shows that allowing same-day, or election-day, registration can bolster democracy by motivating voters to go to the polls. “While most other election reforms show pretty mixed effects, Election Day registration . . . has produced a wide consensus that in pretty much every study you find positive and increased voter turnout,” said Professor Barry C. Burden, director of the Elections Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Michigan: New voting machines coming to Michigan: Here’s how they’re different | Detroit Free Press

Cities across Michigan will be breaking in new voting equipment for Tuesday’s primary, following the discovery of irregularities during last year’s presidential election recount and as a commission appointed by the president looks into questions of voter integrity across the country. Detroit, which experienced numerous problems during the November 2016 election, will be the biggest of the 60 cities that will switch to the new voting machines next week. Some 45 counties will have the equipment on board by the November election. All municipalities in the state will be hooked up by the August 2018 primary election. “We knew it was time to get new equipment,” Secretary of State Ruth Johnson said during a demonstration Wednesday of the new equipment in Rochester Hills. “Our equipment was at least 10 years old and nearing the end of its life. Elections are too important to rely on old voting machines.” “They’ve made a lot of changes. We have high hopes for them,” said Sally Williams, the state’s newly appointed elections director.

North Carolina: Opponents expect new voter suppression bill | Winston Salem Chronicle

With the Republican-led legislature reconvening today, Aug. 3, for the first of two special sessions, there are concerns that part of the agenda beyond overriding Gov. Cooper’s vetoes, redrawing legislative voting maps and tinkering with judicial districts will be to pass another law designed to restrict voter access to the polls. “A new voter suppression bill is coming soon,” warned Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy N.C., a nonpartisan public policy advocacy group, in a mass email to supporters last week. “They’ve also been threatening for months to revive provisions of the 2013 Monster Voting Law, including a new photo ID bill that will target certain North Carolinians, harm eligible voters  and trigger more costly litigation.”

Utah: Security on mind as state auditions new voting machines, software | Deseret News

Just last weekend, a long-running hackers convention in Las Vegas lined up a dozen U.S. electronic voting machines, many of which were obtained from government auctions and second-hand sources like eBay, and unleashed attendees on them. By the end of the weekend, all of the machines had been breached in one form or another. And while most of the equipment was somewhat out of date in terms of technology, a few of the models are still in use. DefCon 25 organizers said the exercise was about illustrating and helping address security vulnerabilities in the U.S. election system, a popular national conversation topic following allegations that are still under investigation of outside meddling in the 2016 election cycle. On Wednesday, another lineup of voting machines popped up at the Utah Capitol. This time, however, the event was aimed at giving members of the public an opportunity to audition some of the latest in voting technology as part of a state process to choose a new provider of voting equipment for county officials who operate Utah elections.

India: Government clears proxy vote move for Non-Resident Indians | The Indian Express

The Government on Wednesday approved changes in electoral laws to permit Non-Resident Indians to cast their vote in assembly and Lok Sabha elections from overseas. If the proposal passes political muster in Parliament, NRIs will be able to exercise their voting rights through “proxy”. Currently, only service personnel are permitted to vote through proxy. However, the facility for NRIs will not be the same as that enjoyed by service personnel. For instance, voters in the armed forces can nominate their relatives as permanent proxy to vote on their behalf. But the Union Cabinet’s approval for proxy voting by NRIs carries a caveat: they cannot nominate one proxy for all polls.

Kenya: Activists demand justice for murdered election official | Deutsche Welle

Rights activists marched through the streets of Nairobi to protest against the murder of election commission official Christopher Msando just days ahead of the polls. Dozens of Kenyans came together on Tuesday to protest the murder of Christopher Msando, a top election official who was tasked with overseeing the country’s crucial electronic voting system. He was found dead with signs of torture in a forest on the outskirts of Nairobi over the weekend. “We want to ensure that all Kenyans will be able to feel they are secure. Come election day, Kenyans have to be confident when they are going out there to cast their ballot,” said one protester in Nairobi. “As a democratic nation we want to ensure that everyone exercises their civic duty to go out there and vote,” she added.  “The foul murder of Chris Msando is politically instigated,” said another protester marching along the streets of Nairobi.

Rwanda: Police Reassure of Security During Elections |

The Inspector General of Police, Emmanuel Gasana, yesterday received a team of African Union observers currently in the country for the presidential election. The IGP briefed the delegation, led by the former Interim President of Mali, Dioncounda Traore, on the security situation in the country and reassured them of “peaceful, safe, and smooth elections.” Gasana underscored that the police established a security campaign plan for the entire electoral period – before, during, and shortly after the elections. He informed the observers that the campaign period has been incident-free and reassured them that the elections will be conducted in a secure environment.

Venezuela: Election results ‘manipulated’ by at least 1 million votes, polling company says | The Washington Post

Election results decried by government opponents as a brazen power grab were manipulated by at least 1 million votes, the company that provided Venezuela with its voting system said Wednesday. Antonio Mugica, chief executive of London-based Smartmatic, which has provided technology for Venezuelan elections since 2004, said it detected an inflated turnout figure Sunday through the nation’s automated balloting system. “With the deepest regret, we have to say that the turnout data presented on Sunday, July 30 for the constituent election was manipulated,” Mugica said at a news conference in London. His company’s analysis of the data, Mugica said, suggested an inflated number of “at least 1 million” — a potentially important difference that would allow the government to claim a higher turnout than an opposition-held unofficial ballot last month.

Venezuela: Election turnout figures manipulated by one million votes: election company | Reuters

Turnout figures in Venezuela’s Constitutional Assembly election were manipulated up by least 1 million votes, Smartmatic, a company which has worked with Venezuela since 2004 on its voting system, said on Wednesday. “We know, without any doubt, that the turnout of the recent election for a National Constituent Assembly was manipulated,” Smartmatic CEO Antonio Mugica said at a news briefing in London. Mugica said Smartmatic, which has provided electronic voting technology for elections around the world, was able to detect the overstated officially announced turnout because of Venezuela’s automated election system. “We estimate the difference between the actual participation and the one announced by authorities is at least 1 million votes,” he said.