The Obama administration received multiple warnings from national security officials between 2014 and 2016 that the Kremlin was ramping up its intelligence operations and building disinformation networks it could use to disrupt the U.S. political system, according to more than half a dozen current and former officials. As early as 2014, the administration received a report that quoted a well-connected Russian source as saying that the Kremlin was building a disinformation arm that could be used to interfere in Western democracies. The report, according to an official familiar with it, included a quote from the Russian source telling U.S. officials in Moscow, “You have no idea how extensive these networks are in Europe … and in the U.S., Russia has penetrated media organizations, lobbying firms, political parties, governments and militaries in all of these places.”
A forensic report claiming to show that a Democratic National Committee insider, not Russia, stole files from the DNC is full of holes, say cybersecurity experts. “In short, the theory is flawed,” said FireEye’s John Hultquist, director of intelligence analysis at FireEye, a firm that provides forensic analysis and other cybersecurity services. “The author of the report didn’t consider a number of scenarios and breezed right past others. It completely ignores all the evidence that contradicts its claims.” The theory behind the report is that it would have been impossible for information from the DNC to have been hacked due to upload and download speeds. The claims have slowly trickled through the media, finding backers at the right -wing site Breitbart in early June. Last week, the left-wing magazine The Nation published a 4,500-word story on the allegations. The claims are based on metadata from the leaked files, which were published on WikiLeaks during the 2016 presidential election.
Perhaps the biggest takeaway from President Trump’s unproven allegations about the security of elections is that he’s managed to blur the difference between voting records and the act of voting. Or put another way, it’s a distraction from resolving the challenges in keeping voter registration data accurate and up to date. Trump awkwardly waded into the topic last fall when he insisted millions of fraudulent votes had been cast in California and two other states. No evidence of widespread chicanery existed then, nor has any been brought forward since. At times, it seemed the president was wrongly conflating fraud with a 2012 nonpartisan study that warned of problems with some states’ voter registration lists. Fast forward to last week, when a conservative legal organization insisted that 11 California counties have more registered voters than voting-age citizens. The group refused to share its methodology, and partly based its conclusions on the counties’ lists of “inactive” voters — people who haven’t cast ballots in the past two statewide elections.
The political committee backing a ballot initiative to automatically restore voting rights to nonviolent felons brought in over $500,000 last month. “Floridians for a Fair Democracy” received $250,000 of the July haul from the American Civil Liberties Union, with another $150,000 coming from the The Advocacy Fund, a San Francisco-based group that funds a variety of progressive causes across the country. The remaining $100,000 in contributions came in from Robert Wolthius, a San Francisco software engineer.
Georgia: Fulton County reverses controversial changes to polling sites | Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Fulton County officials on Monday reversed a decision that would have changed polling locations in several majority African-American precincts, effectively bowing to the wishes of community advocates concerned about voter confusion ahead of municipal elections in November. The decision came after the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia sued the county Board of Registration and Elections claiming it did not give the public enough notice about the changes before it initially voted in mid-July to approve them. “We heard from members of the public that they would be very inconvenienced and disrupted by certain changes,” said Mary Carole Cooney, the chairwoman of the elections board. “We decided that we would not change anything prior to the November election. We can always revisit that” after the election is complete, she said.
The nuclear conflict with North Korea that has made Guam the target of a threatened attack has led to new calls to change the government of the Pacific island whose inhabitants are American citizens but have no say in electing the president or the use of military force. Guam is a U.S. territory where many of its 160,000 residents have long advocated for a different form of government; they just can’t agree on what they want. Some want to become the 51st state, or at least have more say in the government. Others want independence from the U.S. Another faction wants to eliminate the heavy American military presence on an island where 7,000 troops are stationed and the main thoroughfare is called Marine Corps Drive. The feud between President Donald Trump and North Korea has upset some residents, given their lack of voting power in presidential elections.
A Michigan petition aimed at preventing political gerrymandering will go before the Board of State Canvassers on Thursday, when potential approval could end a delay that cost organizers more than a month of prime summer signature-gathering time. The “Voters Not Politicians” petition proposes creating an independent citizen redistricting commission to redraw legislative and congressional boundaries every 10 years, a task currently controlled by the Michigan Legislature. Organizers submitted language on June 28, prompting Bureau of Elections staff to review what critics are calling an overly complicated proposal to amend the Michigan Constitution. The small-print proposal spans seven pages and would alter or repeal several sections of the state’s primary governing document.
South Dakota Secretary of State Shantel Krebs is considering a second request from the presidential advisory commission on election integrity for South Dakota voter registration data, an aide to Krebs said Friday. The July 26 request differs from the previous one because it promises voter information won’t be released to the public, according to spokesman Jason Williams. “The commission also stated in the second letter that they were no longer requesting personal identifying information such as Social Security numbers, driver license numbers, and full date of birth,” Williams said. He added: “This request is currently being reviewed by legal counsel to ensure that South Dakotan’s personal information is properly protected according to state law.”
On the second day of early voting in the November election, Jacob Montoya cast a ballot at the Hays County Government Center. He was a San Marcos mayoral candidate and eager to cast his ballot in that race and other local contests. But his vote ultimately went uncounted, one of 1,816 votes stored on a memory card that was misplaced and discovered weeks after Election Day on Nov. 6. “Do you think the younger generation is going to vote after something like this?” Montoya said. “My vote didn’t matter. First of all, they didn’t count it, and then when they did find it, they didn’t count it anyway.” … The confusion regarding the November election has led many Hays County residents to call for the use of paper ballots, which advocates say could give voters peace of mind that their vote has been accurately recorded.
The goal of a special legislative session is usually for Texas lawmakers to get stuff done that they didn’t, or couldn’t, during the regular session. But, during the 30-day session ending this week, though, lawmakers worked to undo something they passed just a few months prior: a bipartisan effort to curb mail-in ballot fraud in nursing homes. State Rep. Celia Israel, D-Austin, says she and Republicans in the Texas Legislature were mostly on the same page about tackling this problem at the outset of the regular session.
Germany’s general election campaign kicked off in earnest over the weekend and it promises to be a nail-biter—for third place. Chancellor Angela Merkel looks like a sure bet to win a fourth term as the head of Europe’s biggest economic power when the country votes in late September. Her center-right alliance has a 15-point polling lead over its closest challenger, the center-left Social Democratic Party, or SPD, of candidate Martin Schulz. Merkel’s campaign slogan—“For a Germany in which we live well and happily”—channels a public mood wary of change. In a 40-minute speech to supporters in the city of Dortmund on Saturday that opened six weeks of campaigning, she didn’t even mention her opponent by name.
A little over 24,000 overseas Indians, who are entitled to cast their ballot in India, have registered themselves as voters. Now, in a bid to attract more such Indian citizens living abroad to become voters here, the Election Commission has launched a portal which allows them to register online. The portal also has a long list of frequently asked questions to help people understand the procedure. While there are no estimates on the number of overseas Indians eligible to vote in India, only 24,348 have registered with the poll panel.
Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga on Sunday called for a strike to support his claim to the presidency and accused the ruling party of “spilling the blood of innocent people”, despite growing pressure on him to concede election defeat. The election commission on Friday declared incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta winner of the presidential poll by 1.4 million votes. International observers said Tuesday’s election was largely fair but Odinga disputes the results, saying it was rigged. He has not provided documentary evidence. “Jubilee have spilt the blood of innocent people. Tomorrow there is no work,” Odinga told a crowd of around 4,000 cheering supporters, referring to the ruling party. He promised to announce a new strategy on Tuesday. Senator James Orengo, one of Odinga’s chief supporters, said the opposition would call for demonstrations. “When we people call you to action, peaceful action, don’t stay behind,” Orengo told the crowd in Kibera, Nairobi’s largest slum. He also called for a boycott of Nation television and newspapers, Kenya’s largest independent media group, over their coverage of the disputed elections.