Protesters and police in Kenya have clashed after the leader of the opposition claimed he was cheated of victory by a hacking attack that he said manipulated the results in the country’s presidential election. Raila Odinga, the leader of the National Super Alliance, said election commission computer systems and databases were tampered with overnight to “create errors” in favour of rival candidate Uhuru Kenyatta, who has been in power since 2013. Odinga urged his supporters to remain calm, but added: “I don’t control the people.” “You can only cheat the people for so long,” he said. “The 2017 general election was a fraud.” With ballots from 96% of polling stations counted, results released by Kenya’s electoral commission show Kenyatta leading with 54.4% of the vote, against Odinga’s 44.8%, a difference of 1.4 million votes. The election is seen as a key test of the stability of one of Africa’s most important countries.
On a late-spring evening in Boston, just as the sun was beginning to set, a group of mathematicians lingered over the remains of the dinner they had just shared. While some cleared plates from the table, others started transforming skewers and hunks of raw potato into wobbly geodesic forms. Justin Solomon, an assistant professor at M.I.T., lunged forward to keep his structure from collapsing. “That’s five years of Pixar right there,” he joked. (Solomon worked at the animation studio before moving to academia.) He and his collaborators were unwinding after a long day making preparations for a new program at Tufts University—a summer school at which mathematicians, along with data analysts, legal scholars, schoolteachers, and political scientists, will learn to use their expertise to combat gerrymandering.
Increased use of open source software could fortify U.S. election system security, according to an op-ed published last week in The New York Times.Former CIA head R. James Woolsey and Bash creator Brian J. Fox made their case for open source elections software after security researchers demonstrated how easy it was to crack some election machines in the Voting Machine Hacking Village staged at the recent DefCon hacking conference in Las Vegas. … “They confirmed what we already knew,” said James Scott, a senior fellow at the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology. “These are extremely vulnerable machines.” “Think of what a voting machine is,” he told LinuxInsider. “It’s a 1980s PC with zero endpoint security in a black box where the code is proprietary and can’t be analyzed.” Although the researchers at DefCon impressed the press when they physically hacked the voting machines in the village, there are more effective ways to crack an election system. “The easiest way to hack an election machine is to poison the update on the update server at the manufacturer level before the election,” Scott explained. “Then the manufacturer distributes your payload to all its machines for you.”
“In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions who voted illegally,” tweeted Donald Trump on November 27, following his win. Perhaps in an effort to prove social media blather correct, Trump has issued an executive order creating the Presidential Advisory Committee on Election Integrity. The goals of the committee include “studying vulnerabilities in the voting systems that could lead to voter fraud,” which requires collecting a large amount of personal voter information from the states. After facing serious legal pushback, even his supporters are wondering about its legitimacy. While the purity of the democratic process should be every citizen’s concern, the committee’s latest crusade, in violating privacy, has gone too far.
Editorials: Time is now to prepare for more cyberattacks on U.S. electoral system | Chase Johnson/Idaho Statesman
Many Americans today question what is to be done about preventing future Russian interventions in our electoral system. Russian “micro-targeting” used to spread misinformation during the 2016 presidential election was so sophisticated that influence packages were custom tailored by interest group, locality and even individual voter. An ongoing question remains about whether or not Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm with connections to White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, was the American port of entry for Russian influence operations. Other questions revolve around the role of the Trump presidential campaign. While these are important questions, the answers await Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
“Redistricting is a game of margins,” attorney Kate McKnight told lawmakers at the Legislative Summit in Boston. Legislatures always start with existing district maps and work from there, she said. No one starts completely from scratch. McKnight was joined by fellow attorney Abha Khanna for a discussion of the U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings in recent redistricting cases. Moderating the session, “Redistricting Goes to Court,” was Jessica Karls-Ruplinger, with the Wisconsin Legislative Council. As state legislators prepare to adjust the margins of districts in the next redistricting cycle based on the 2020 census, they’ll be looking to the court for guidance. It can be difficult to predict how a decision in one case might apply to others, but the attorneys told the group the court has asserted some general principles in recent decisions.
California: They sued for Clinton’s emails. Now they want information on California voters | Los Angeles Times
California’s top elections officer and 11 county registrars have been asked to hand over detailed voter registration records or face a federal lawsuit, a request that centers on new accusations that the records are inaccurate. The effort by the conservative-leaning organization Judicial Watch seeks an explanation for what its attorneys contend are official records that don’t match the group’s estimates of the legally eligible voting population in the counties, including Los Angeles County. “We want the actual data,” said Robert Popper, an attorney for the Washington, D.C.-based organization. The effort was sharply criticized Tuesday by California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, who said he has yet to make a final decision on how to respond. “It’s bad math and dubious methodology,” Padilla said of the accusations.
You did your civic duty. You voted. You may even get a red, white and blue sticker to wear proudly on your T-shirt. But are you sure your vote will be counted — and counted properly? If your state uses computers for voting or counting results, there’s a chance it may not, experts say. “We know that computers can have some bugs or even cleverly-hidden malicious code called malware,” said Barbara Simons, president of Verified Voting, a non-profit, nonpartisan group encouraging secure and accurate elections. “As we learned in 2016, we also have to worry about the possibility of computers and voting systems being hacked,” she added. But if you live in Colorado, you’ll now have a better chance of finding out if your vote fell victim to a glitch or a hack.
In the wake of the Trump Administration requesting partial social security numbers, dates of birth and other information about registered voters across the U.S., one Idaho state lawmaker is trying to keep that information private – at least partially. Right now, anyone can ask for a copy of Idaho’s voter roll, which gives out a person’s name, address, age and voter history and more. The measure from state Rep. John Gannon (D-Boise) would allow anyone to opt out of revealing most of that data – making only their name and voting precinct visible to the public.
A federal lawsuit filed Wednesday claims a new Indiana law forcing small precinct consolidation in Lake County is a violation of voters’ rights. The Indiana State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and a group of Lake County residents said, in the lawsuit, the forced consolidation of voting precincts with fewer than 600 voters “places severe, undue burdens on one of the most fundamental rights guaranteed to citizens in our representative democracy: the right to vote.” “Plaintiffs bring the instant lawsuit to protect the right to vote and to prevent the disenfranchisement of and unjustified burdens on voters in Lake County, Indiana – including in particular, the disparate burdens placed on Lake County’s African American, Hispanic, poor and disabled voters,” the lawsuit read.
As a federal commission searches for evidence of voter fraud and many states try to impose new voting restrictions, a city in Maryland may move in the opposite direction: allowing noncitizens to vote in local elections. In College Park, home to the University of Maryland’s flagship campus, the City Council is debating a measure introduced by Councilwoman Christine Nagle that would give noncitizens — a broad category that includes green card holders, students with visas and undocumented immigrants — the right to cast ballots for the city’s mayor, council members and other local officials. Startling though it may seem, the proposal has extensive precedent both in the United States and worldwide: Forty states used to allow noncitizen voting, and dozens of countries currently do.
New Jersey appears not to have shared any of the information that President Trump’s voter fraud commission first requested in June, and state election officials won’t clarify their stance on the commission’s work or say if they will cooperate. Robert Giles, director of the New Jersey Division of Elections, said last month that the request for voter data was “under review” and that the state would not release information to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity “that is not publicly available or does not follow the appropriate legal process for information requests.” On Friday, the division said that it had no documents responsive to an Open Public Records Act request for correspondence the division has had with the commission since the beginning of June, including any voter information it may have shared. Since then, election officials have not returned several messages seeking to clarify whether the commission has filed a formal request for information and whether New Jersey would share the data if such a request is made.
North Carolina: Redistricting picks up pace under new court mandated deadline | The North State Journal
The joint redistricting committee convened for the second time Friday, after having received further instruction from courts in the form of a Sept. 1 deadline for new legislative maps. With the hastened schedule, committee members offered suggestions for the use of specific criteria and also heard input from nearly 50 members of the voting public on what they think should guide the process. Key Democrats offered their criteria and commentary during a press conference preceding the meeting, arguing that while leaps in technology have made gerrymandering more effective, technology should also be used to ensure fair maps are drawn. “Attorneys defending the current maps said they’re serious about remedying this and creating a constitutional map, and we’re here today to help them create a constitutional map,” said Senate Democratic Leader Dan Blue (Wake). “Up to this point the actions taken by the [Republican] majority don’t instill a lot of faith in their sincerity in bringing these legislative maps in compliance with the law.”
Australia: Senate blocks government attempt to restore compulsory plebiscite for marriage equality | The Guardian
The government’s attempt to restore the compulsory plebiscite bill has been blocked by the Senate, paving the way for a voluntary postal vote. The plebiscite was to be held on November 25 with the government offering to remove the $15m of public funds for the yes and no cases. On Wednesday morning the government attempted to restore the plebiscite bill to the Senate notice paper. Labor, the Greens and Nick Xenophon Team used their numbers in the Senate to block the attempt to revisit it, with Derryn Hinch voting to allow debate but committing to block the plebiscite. With the compulsory plebiscite rejected again, the government will now attempt to fall back on its Plan B of a voluntary postal ballot to be conducted between 12 September and 15 November.
The Kenyan opposition leader, Raila Odinga, threw early results of the country’s presidential election into doubt on Wednesday, claiming that the electoral commission’s servers had been hacked to award the incumbent, Uhuru Kenyatta, a significant lead. Given Kenya’s history of postelection violence, Mr. Odinga’s comments renewed fears of deadly unrest, although he asked supporters to remain calm. Rights organizations have also warned of discrepancies in the preliminary results. Protests followed shortly afterward in parts of Kisumu, one of Kenya’s biggest cities and an opposition stronghold. Demonstrators also burned tires, set up roadblocks and clashed with the police in parts of Nairobi, the capital, The Associated Press reported. Earlier, at least one protester was killed by police gunfire in Kisii County, The A.P. said, citing a regional police commander, Leonard Katana.
At least five people have been killed in post-election violence in Kenya after opposition leader Raila Odinga claimed “massive” fraud in Tuesday’s vote. Two people were shot dead in the capital Nairobi on Wednesday, said the city’s police chief Japheth Koome, claiming they took advantage of the protests to steal. At least one more person was shot dead earlier in the day in South Mugirango constituency in Kisii County, around 300km west of Nairobi, during a clash with the security forces, according to Leonard Katana, a regional police commander, the AP news agency reported. In the southeastern Tana River region, police said five men armed with knives had attacked a vote tallying station and stabbed one person to death. “Our officers killed two of them and we are looking for others who escaped,” said regional police chief Larry Kieng.
Authorities of the National Elections Commission (NEC) yesterday announced that they have hired a European company to print ballot papers for the October polls. Jerome G. Korkoya, NEC chair, made the disclosure yesterday during a regular weekly press briefing at the Commission’s headquarters in Monrovia. Korkoya said the Commission has already concluded the process of selecting a “reputable company” noted for printing election materials, including ballot papers, from Europe. “The company has gone through all of our procurement procedures, and was determined to be the most responsive bidder,” Korkoya said. Although Korkoya did not name the company in question, he said NEC will encourage all qualified political parties’ representatives as well as independent candidates to go to Europe and monitor on behalf of their respective institutions the ballot printing process, but added that those interested in going to Europe to authentic the process will do so at their own expense. “They will pay for their own plane tickets, lodging and internal travels therein in case any group of friends choose to go to Europe,” Korkoya added.
Mauritania has joined Senegal in abolishing the Senate, its upper legislative chambers. It was one of the decisions made by voters in a referendum conducted at the weekend. The voters also decided to alter their national flag, the electoral commission announced on Sunday, in a clear victory for President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz the day after the vote. While turnout was 53.73 percent, 85 percent of voters on Saturday declared “Yes” to changes put to a referendum when they were defeated in the Senate in March, despite fierce criticism from a boycott movement that called mass protests during campaigning.
New Zealand: Another Party Leader in New Zealand Resigns as Campaign Turns Tumultuous | The New York Times
A suddenly tumultuous New Zealand election campaign was rocked by the resignation of another party leader on Wednesday, just over a week after the leader of the country’s largest opposition party also quit. The resignation on Wednesday of Metiria Turei, the Green Party’s co-leader, came after her party surged in the polls following her candid admission last month that she had lied to the government about her living situation while on welfare as a single mother in the 1990s. The revelation stole the political spotlight from the larger Labour Party before the Sept. 23 general election, and started a polarizing conversation in New Zealand about poverty and the challenges of surviving on welfare. But Mrs. Turei’s admissions also led opponents and reporters to dig into her past, prompting more revelations about her living situation while on welfare and the disclosure that she had lied about where she lived in order to cast a vote for a friend seeking office.
Rwanda’s electoral commission on Wednesday confirmed President Paul Kagame’s overwhelming victory in last week’s presidential election, even improving his score slightly to 98.79 percent. There had been little doubt that the 59-year-old would return to the helm of the east African nation, which he has ruled with an iron fist since the end of the 1994 genocide. Preliminary results showed he had won 98.63 percent of the votes, handing him a third term in office.