Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Sunday he is concerned that the U.S. remains “vulnerable” to election meddling, and that the cyber threat facing the U.S. is “going to get worse before it gets better.” “The Department of Homeland Security very much was on alert on Election Day and in the days leading up to it, along with the FBI. And we were very concerned,” Johnson said on CBS News’ “Face the Nation.” He said that “a number of vulnerabilities” in election infrastructure were identified and addressed. “But that process needs to continue,” he said. “I’m concerned that we are almost as vulnerable perhaps now as we were six, nine months ago.”
States across the nation are ramping up their digital defenses to prevent the hacking of election systems in 2018. The efforts come in the wake of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, which state officials say was a needed wake up call on cybersecurity threats to election systems and infrastructure. … Security experts are still divided over the extent of hacking risks to actual voting machines. Some say that because many different voting machines are used across the country and because they are not connected to the internet, that would make any large scale attack hard to carry out. … But others contend that digital voting machines are vulnerable and could be targeted to influence actual election outcomes. “Some election functions are actually quite centralized,” Alex Halderman, a University of Michigan computer science professor, told the Senate Intelligence Committee in June. “A small number of election technology vendors and support contractors service the systems used by many local governments. Attackers could target one or a few of these companies and spread malicious code to election equipment that serves millions of voters.”
American Democracy depends on the sanctity of the vote. In the wake of the 2016 election, that inviolability is increasingly in question, but given that there are 66 weeks until midterm elections, and 14 weeks until local 2017 elections, there’s plenty of time to fix the poor state of voting technology, right? Wrong. To secure voting infrastructure in the US in time for even the next presidential election, government agencies must start now. At Def Con 2017 in Las Vegas, one of the largest hacker conferences in the world, Carsten Schurmann (coauthor of this article) demonstrated that US election equipment suffers from serious vulnerabilities. It took him only a few minutes to get remote control of a WINVote machine used in several states in elections between 2004 and 2015. Using a well-known exploit from 2003 called MS03-026, he gained access to the vote databases stored on the machine. This kind of attack is not rocket science and can be executed by almost anyone. All you need is basic knowledge of the Metasploit tool.
Editorials: The U.S. could be free of gerrymandering. Here’s how other countries do redistricting. | Bernard Grofman and German Feierherd/The Washington Post
This year, on the first day of its term, the Supreme Court will consider the much-anticipated Gill v. Whitford. That case brings up the hot-button question of whether a state legislature may draw electoral districts that favor one party over another. Gerrymandering, as it’s called, is clearly prohibited if it’s done to dilute the votes of racial groups. But when it comes to partisan gerrymandering, the Supreme Court, while willing to hear some challenges, has so far been unwilling to declare such a plan to be an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. A decision on Gill affirming the lower court — or setting a new standard and remanding the case for further review by the lower court — has the potential to change that. Before the Supreme Court weighs in, let’s look at how other countries redistrict. How does redistricting differ in the United States from elsewhere? Are there lessons for Americans in these varying experiences and procedures?
I know all about common names. I have heard all the jokes, as had my father, a unique and remarkable man named Bob Smith. Unfortunately, common names like ours are just one of many problems that will face Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach in his new role as co-chair of President Trump’s Election Integrity Commission. Recall that in 2010, candidate Kobach publicly declared that he planned to remove Alfred K. Brewer from the Wichita voting rolls, because he had died. Brewer was surprised to hear this when journalists found him alive, raking leaves. The deceased was actually his father, Alfred K. Brewer Sr., who would have been 110 at the time. Screening lists for suffixes like “Junior,” “Senior” and “III” is not a foolproof procedure. For example, former President George W. Bush is not a “Junior” because he lacks one of his father’s two middle names. How about birthdays? A few years ago, two political scientists studied Georgia’s voter rolls, only to discover numerous instances of two different people (and in a few cases, more than two) with the same matching first, middle, and last names and birthdays — including the year. Seem unlikely? Georgia has nearly 5 million registered voters, so even a one-in-a-million chance means there will be a few such cases — and with common names, the chances of a name and birthday match are considerably higher.
The Colorado Republican Party is considering whether to cancel the June 2018 primary elections for Congress, the governor’s office and other offices, and instead nominate candidates through an existing caucus process dominated by insiders. The move is permitted under Proposition 108, a ballot question approved in 2016 that overhauls how major-party candidates are selected in Colorado and allows the state’s 1.4 million unaffiliated voters to cast ballots in either the Republican or Democratic primaries. A caveat in the new law allows political parties to opt out of the new law by a 75 percent vote of its central committee.
Suppose you had an election and nobody showed up to vote.That’s what happened Tuesday in this Mitchell County community, population, 110. There were two ballot issues: Should the term of the mayor be changed from two years to four years, and, should the terms of council members be changed from two years to four years (staggered).
While other states have started sending voter information to President Donald Trump’s commission investigating election fraud, a judge will determine whether New Hampshire will comply. A hearing is set for Monday in a lawsuit filed by two lawmakers and a civil liberties group hoping to stop Secretary of State Bill Gardner from sending voter roll data to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. The case, filed early last month, had been on hold pending the outcome of a similar lawsuit in Washington. In that case, a judge denied the Electronic Privacy Information Center’s request to block the data collection, though the advocacy group is appealing the ruling.
Larry Harmon, 60, hadn’t voted in a while when he drove to the high school in November 2015 to weigh in on a local referendum in Kent, Ohio. But he wasn’t allowed to cast his ballot. “I served in the military and they tell us, ‘Oh, you’re fighting for freedom.'” he said. “Then you come back and you’re taken off the voter rolls because you didn’t vote for two elections? That doesn’t make sense. I thought that was our right.” Thanks to six years of inactivity — and a single piece of unanswered mail asking him to confirm his voter registration — Harmon, now a plaintiff in a major voter purge lawsuit before the Supreme Court, was removed from Ohio’s voter rolls. “I’ve been paying my taxes, paying my property taxes, registering my car,” he said. “All the data was there for (election officials) to know that I was there.” Harmon was a casualty of the latest voting battleground: How America’s lists of registered, eligible voters are maintained.
Utah election officials at the Capitol brought voters in to test out new voting machines with a goal of finding a system that is secure and quickly counts ballots from counties that do all-mail voting. The voter feedback from Wednesday will help an ongoing state process to choose the best provider of voting equipment for county officials, Utah Director of Elections Mark Thomas said. Vetting should be completed in the next couple of months, Thomas said. The new technology will provide counties with cost benefits, but the Legislature has appropriated only $270,000 toward replacing the machines.
Intelligence officials here are on high alert, bracing for a wave of cyberattacks, embarrassing information leaks and fake news stories spread on social media as part of an expected Russian campaign to sow political discord ahead of next month’s German federal elections. The nation’s domestic intelligence agency says Moscow would like to see Chancellor Angela Merkel, a backer of sanctions against Russia, lose in September, but since that outcome is unlikely, the Kremlin can be expected to settle for any shenanigans that weaken the public’s “faith in democracy.” Many fear the Russian subversion effort will get fuel from the U.S. presidential vote while even contested charges of Russian hacking and meddling in the campaign have become a consuming political and legal distraction for the Trump administration.
A concrete bridge and a narrow, garbage-filled river divide the slum of Mathare into two parts, a space between ethnic groups and voting blocs that are competing fiercely — and many say dangerously — over Kenya’s presidential elections scheduled for Tuesday. Here in one of the most economically successful and stable countries in East Africa, Mathare is only a few miles away from Nairobi’s rising skyline. Tech firms have popped up on the city’s periphery. Every week, thousands of tourists pile into sleek safari trucks. This spring, the top U.N. humanitarian official here, Siddharth Chatterjee, called Kenya “a beacon of hope in a region mired in fragility.” But with the election approaching, Mathare feels far from stable. On one side of the rutted bridge is a community of ethnic Kikuyus, the tribe of incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta, 55. On the other side are the Luos, the tribe of opposition candidate Raila Odinga, 72. Most days, those tribes peacefully coexist, as the slum is consumed by honking minibuses and a frenzy of commercial activity, with traffic moving across the bridge in both directions. But as the election approaches, it is a line not to be crossed.
A Kenyan opposition spokesman said police raided his alliance’s offices on Friday night, four days before elections – but the government quickly denied any raid had taken place, dismissing the report as “fake news”. Watchmen working at the opposition alliance building in Nairobi also told Reuters there had been no raid – and guards in a building opposite said they had seen no sign of any raid. Kenyans are preparing to vote for a president, lawmakers and local officials on Tuesday in an election already marred by online hoaxes and fake stories from all sides. Kenyan media who initially reported the raid had taken place withdrew stories from websites soon after. Police could not be reached for comment.
Mauritania has voted in favor of a referendum to abolish the senate and change the national flag in what the West African county’s opposition says is just a bid by President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz to bolster power and extend his mandate. The referendum won 85 percent of the vote, the national electoral commission said on Sunday, though only a little over half of the population voted. The opposition, which boycotted the vote, said the referendum would give Abdel Aziz too much power over decision-making and pave the way for him to scrap presidential term limits. It said the vote was marred by fraud.
The re-election of Paul Kagame, Rwanda’s longtime president, had never been in question. But opponents and rights advocates say his nearly 99 percent margin of victory reflects what they call an oppressive political environment that stifles dissent in the central African nation. The lopsidedness of the result of the Friday vote giving Mr. Kagame a third seven-year term, announced on Saturday, was no surprise to supporters. They called it an accurate barometer of his enormous popularity in transforming Rwanda from the post-genocide depths into a beacon of African prosperity and stability. “People trust him. If it were not democratic, he could even score 100 percent,” said Wellers Gasamagera, the spokesman for Mr. Kagame’s Rwandan Patriotic Front political party. “There is nothing strange as to the high score in terms of votes.” Still, the results also punctuated the glaring absence of a viable opposition in Rwanda. Dissenting views are frequently silenced.
The United States said Saturday it was “disturbed by irregularities observed during voting” in Rwanda’s election, which longtime President Paul Kagame won with nearly 99 percent of the vote. A State Department statement reiterated “long-standing concerns over the integrity of the vote-tabulation process.” Kagame easily won a third term in office in what he had called “a formality.” He faces another seven years leading the small East African nation praised for its economic performance but criticized for its silencing of opponents. Electoral authorities said Kagame won 98.63 percent of the vote. Neither of his two challengers won a full percentage point.
Senegal’s ruling coalition will take 125 of 165 seats in parliament, the body counting votes said Saturday, confirming an expected landslide for supporters of President Macky Sall ahead of a 2019 re-election bid. The results of the July 30 legislative elections were published by the National Vote Counting Commission (CNRV) through the public APS news agency, and though official still need to be validated by the country’s constitutional council. The presidential coalition Benno Bokk Yaakaar (BBY) took 49.48 percent of votes in Senegal’s list system, while the coalitions of ex-president Abdoulaye Wade and Dakar Mayor Khalifa Sall trailed massively, delivering them 19 seats and seven seats respectively.