Illinois: Info on 1.8M Chicago voters was publicly accessible, now removed from cloud service: election officials | Chicago Tribune

A file containing the names, addresses, dates of birth and other information about Chicago’s 1.8 million registered voters was published online and publicly accessible for an unknown period of time, the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners said Thursday. The acknowledgment came days after a data security researcher alerted officials to the existence of the unsecured files. The researcher found the files while conducting a search of items uploaded to Amazon Web Services, a cloud system that allows users to rent storage space and share files with certain people or the general public. The files had been uploaded by Election Systems & Software, a contractor that helps maintain Chicago’s electronic poll books.

National: For decade-old flaws in voting machines, no quick fix | The Parallax

Hackers rocked the voting machines this summer. On July 28, at the first DefCon “village” dedicated to exposing weaknesses in electronic voting machines—and the first coordinated, research-based assault on EVMs in the United States since 2007—it took visitors just 80 minutes to hack the first machine. The hackers proceeded to find and penetrate multiple security vulnerabilities in each of the village’s 20 machines, representing five voting machine models, calling into question how secure machine-assisted elections are. Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) and Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), two of Congress’ senior cybersecurity experts, visited the village and later told hackers that they were “surprised” by how easy it was to hack voting machines. Langevin promised during the first on-stage appearance of sitting Congressmen at DefCon that when they return to Washington, D.C., “this is going to be a primary topic of conversation.”

National: Election officials: ‘We are going to need more assistance’ | FCW

The Department of Homeland Security continues to work with state and local governments to protect election systems as critical infrastructure. At an Aug. 16 public meeting of the federal Election Assistance Commission, however, officials made clear that risks still remain. EAC Vice-Chairman Thomas Hicks pointed to a recent planning exercise in Albany, N.Y., as an example. That exercise, conducted in July, resulted in some surprising results that remain classified. “I found the meeting very informative, enlightening and frightening,” Hicks said. “I would encourage every state to hold a similar meeting with election officials, emergency management folks and IT officials.”

National: In Ukraine, a Malware Expert Who Could Blow the Whistle on Russian Hacking | The New York Times

The hacker, known only by his online alias “Profexer,” kept a low profile. He wrote computer code alone in an apartment and quietly sold his handiwork on the anonymous portion of the internet known as the Dark Web. Last winter, he suddenly went dark entirely. Profexer’s posts, already accessible only to a small band of fellow hackers and cybercriminals looking for software tips, blinked out in January — just days after American intelligence agencies publicly identified a program he had written as one tool used in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee. But while Profexer’s online persona vanished, a flesh-and-blood person has emerged: a fearful man who the Ukrainian police said turned himself in early this year, and has now become a witness for the F.B.I. “I don’t know what will happen,” he wrote in one of his last messages posted on a restricted-access website before going to the police. “It won’t be pleasant. But I’m still alive.” It is the first known instance of a living witness emerging from the arid mass of technical detail that has so far shaped the investigation into the D.N.C. hack and the heated debate it has stirred. The Ukrainian police declined to divulge the man’s name or other details, other than that he is living in Ukraine and has not been arrested. There is no evidence that Profexer worked, at least knowingly, for Russia’s intelligence services, but his malware apparently did.

Editorials: Voter suppression is the civil rights issue of this era | The Washington Post

Standing up to racism and intolerance is a moral imperative, and those who do, like Heather Heyer, the young woman who died as she challenged the thugs in Charlottesville last Saturday, are champions of American principles. In an era when so many bedrock values are under attack, it’s important to think strategically and prioritize the ones worth fighting for. … In statehouse after statehouse where Republicans hold majorities, the playbook is well established, and the tactics are becoming increasingly aggressive. Mr. Trump’s voter fraud commission is at the vanguard of this crusade, and the fix is in. Its vice chairman, Kris Kobach, is the nation’s most determined, litigious and resourceful champion of voter suppression. Under his tutelage, the commission is likely to recommend measures whose effect will be that new obstacles to voting would be taken up in state legislatures.

Editorials: Purging voter rolls to suppress turnout | Baltimore Sun

Last week, the U.S. Solicitor General took the unusual step of reinterpreting a 24-year-old federal statute specifically designed to convenience voting in order to switch sides in a pending Supreme Court case that centers on Ohio’s aggressive purging of voter rolls. The Trump Justice Department now sides with Ohio, which contends that not voting for six years — and then not responding to a single mailing asking the voter to confirm his or her registration — is sufficient to remove that person from state voter rolls. That should cause no small amount of alarm. It’s part of a broader effort by the Trump administration to restrict voting rights under the guise of fighting fraud, which is nearly non-existent. The true purpose is to keep from the polls individuals who are less likely to support Republican candidates or causes. And it’s a potential stake through the heart of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, also known as the “Motor Voter Act,” which was meant to expand, not shrink, the nation’s voter registration rolls.

California: Court temporarily blocks change in California recall rules | Associated Press

A California law that aims to delay a recall election targeting a Democratic senator will remain on hold while judges determine whether it’s legal, a state appellate ruled Monday. The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and several activists filed a lawsuit last month saying Democratic legislators violated the California constitution when they changed the state’s recall election law to draw out the process for removing lawmakers from office. The association, the California Republican Party and others are looking to remove Sen. Josh Newman, D-Fullerton, from office over his vote for a gas tax increase earlier this year. They challenged new recall rules that give people time to rescind their signature from recall petitions, among other changes. It would likely delay the recall into 2018 and possibly align it with the statewide primary when turnout is higher and potentially friendlier to Newman.

Georgia: Thousands of voting machines in limbo because of 6th District lawsuit | Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Thousands of voting machines from the hotly contested 6th Congressional District special election are currently off-limits for future use because of a lawsuit seeking to invalidate the results. That worries metro Atlanta officials who say they could be short of spare machines to run municipal elections in November. The suit, filed over the July 4 holiday, demands that Republican Karen Handel’s win in a June 20 runoff be thrown out and the contest redone over concerns some election integrity advocates have about the security and accuracy of Georgia’s election infrastructure. The machines and related hardware are central to that system, and the three metro counties with areas in the 6th District — Cobb, DeKalb and Fulton — have stored the machines used in the special election after plaintiffs sought to preserve electronic records that could have bearing on the suit.

Illinois: Information about 1.8 million Chicago voters exposed on Amazon server | USA Today

Names, addresses, dates of birth and other information about Chicago’s 1.8 million registered voters was left exposed and publicly available online on an Amazon cloud-computing server for an unknown period of time, the Chicago Board of Election Commissions said. The database file was discovered on Friday by a security researcher at Upguard, a company that evaluates cyber risk. The company alerted election officials in Chicago on Saturday and the file was taken down three hours later. The exposure was first made public on Thursday. The database was not overseen by the Chicago Board of Election but instead Election Systems & Software, an Omaha, Neb.-based contractor that provides election equipment and software.

Indiana: Attorney General intervenes in elections lawsuit | Indianapolis Star

Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill has intervened in a lawsuit filed earlier this year by a civic group that alleges discrimination in access to early voting. Hill specifically wants to defend a 2001 state statute cited in the complaint. The statute requires a unanimous vote of a three-member board — comprising of a Democrat, a Republican and the county clerk — to expand early voting. An IndyStar investigation published earlier this month highlighted how the law has been used by state and local Republicans to restrict early voting in predominantly Democratic areas while expanding voting access in Republican-held areas. In the court filing, Hill says the Marion County Election Board does not “adequately” represent the state’s interest. He said Indiana is “left to wonder whether MCEB (Marion County Election Board) intends to provide any defense of the statute at all, or instead intends to enter into a consent decree permanently guaranteeing multiple satellite early voting facilities at its desired locations in Marion County.”

Ohio: Battle over how Ohio maintains voter rolls nearing conclusion | NBC

How Ohio maintains its voter registration rolls has been under legal attack for well over a year. The war of interpretation is approaching its end before the U.S. Supreme Court. For decades Ohio has maintained its voter rolls the same way, under both Democrat and Republican leadership. When someone uses the US postal service for a change of address, is convicted of a felony or files a death certificate, appropriate action is taken to adjust the voter’s registration to prevent fraud.

Texas: With Supreme Court appeal, Texas wants to keep congressional map intact | The Texas Tribune

If Gov. Greg Abbott calls a second special legislative session this summer, it won’t likely be for redistricting. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton revealed Friday that Abbott has no plans to ask lawmakers to redraw the state’s congressional map — found by a federal court this week to discriminate against Latino and black voters — in a fresh round of legislative overtime. Instead, Paxton is appealing the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court and trying to keep the boundaries intact for the 2018 elections, according to his filings to a panel of three judges in San Antonio. On Tuesday, the panel ruled that Congressional Districts 27 and 35 violate the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act, setting up a redistricting scramble ahead of the 2018 elections. The judges ruled that Hispanic voters in Congressional District 27, represented by U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi, were “intentionally deprived of their opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice.” Congressional District 35 — a Central Texas district represented by Democrat Lloyd Doggett of Austin — was deemed “an impermissible racial gerrymander” because lawmakers illegally used race as the predominant factor in drawing it, the judges wrote.

Australia: Foreign affairs minister accuses New Zealand opposition of trying to bring down government | The Guardian

Australia and New Zealand have become embroiled in an extraordinary diplomatic spat over claims the New Zealand opposition colluded with the Australian Labor party (ALP) in an attempt “to try and bring down the government”. During a febrile day of politics in both countries, Australia’s foreign affairs minister, Julie Bishop, said New Zealand’s opposition party was threatening the stability of a usually robust partnership between the two nations. She said she would find it “very hard to build trust” if New Zealand’s opposition Labour party were to win the general election in September. Her comments came only 24 hours after it was revealed that Australia’s deputy prime minister, Barnaby Joyce, held New Zealand citizenship and may be ineligible to sit in parliament under the Australian constitution, which disqualifies dual nationals. Malcolm Turnbull’s government currently commands a majority of one seat in the House of Representatives.

Kenya: Opposition leader to challenge election result in court | The Guardian

The Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga has said he will go to court over last week’s presidential election results, ignoring calls by some election observers for him to concede defeat to President Uhuru Kenyatta. Twenty-four people have died in violence since the election on 8 August. Odinga’s decision will ease concerns that he may call for demonstrations that could trigger further violence. “We have now decided to move to the supreme court,” the 72-year-old leader of the National Super Alliance (Nasa) coalition told reporters in the capital, Nairobi. “This is just the beginning, we will not accept and move on.”

National: Will U.S. Cyberwarriors Be Ready for the Next Big Hack? | RealClearDefense

Hackers around the world see weaknesses in U.S. voting systems, electric grids and other pillars of American society. Russia’s alleged election meddling and other high-profile breaches have created a heightened sense of vulnerability even as new gee-whiz technologies to keep hackers at bay flood the market. To deter future attacks, experts warn, the United States needs to shore up its defenses and upend the perception that its systems are easy prey. “I guarantee the North Koreans and the Iranians saw what the Russians did and they’re going to try things in 2018 and 2020,” said former Pentagon cybersecurity policy chief Eric Rosenbach. “We have to change the perception that they’re going to get away with that,” he said at an industry conference last month.

National: America’s dubious tradition of gerrymandering: Out of Line – Impact 2017 and Beyond | Cleveland Plain Dealer

Credit a clever cartoonist in Massachusetts for coining the term gerrymander in 1812, though the practice of drawing district maps to create political advantages was common practice long before then. The cartoon published by the pro-Federalist Boston Gazettecriticized legislative maps orchestrated by Massachusetts Gov. Elbridge Gerry for the benefit of his Democratic-Republican Party over the Federalists. One district resembled the shape of a salamander. The cartoon depicted the district as a monster, labeling it “The Gerry-mander.” Merriam-Webster now definises gerrymander this way: “to divide (a territorial unit) into election districts to give one political party an electoral majority in a large number of districts while concentrating the voting strength of the opposition in as few districts as possible.”

National: Math experts join brainpower to help address gerrymandering | Associated Press

Some of the brightest minds in math arrived at Tufts University last week to tackle an issue lawyers and political scientists have been struggling with for decades. They came from colleges across the country for a weeklong conference on gerrymandering, the practice of crafting voting districts in a way that favors voters from a certain political party or demographic. It’s a topic of growing interest among many math and data experts who say their scholarly fields can provide new tools to help courts identify voting maps that are drawn unfairly. Among those working to bridge the classroom and the courtroom is Moon Duchin, a math professor at Tufts who orchestrated the gathering at her Boston-area campus. The workshop was the first in a series being organized at campuses nationwide to unite academics and to harness cutting-edge mathematics to address gerrymandering.

California: New motor voter law coming in April, state lawyer says | San Francisco Chronicle

Californians who apply for driver’s licenses or state ID cards will be automatically registered to vote starting in April unless they opt out, a state lawyer said in court Thursday. Deputy Attorney General Paul Stein told a federal magistrate that the long-awaited implementation of the state’s “new motor voter law” was grounds for dismissing a suit by voting-rights advocates who objected to California’s requirement that drivers who renew their licenses by mail each year must fill out a separate form to register to vote. The automatic registration procedure, which was approved by state lawmakers in 2015, ”goes above and beyond what (federal law) requires” and will take effect before the June 2018 primary election, Stein said. “There’s no need for a court order.”

Illinois: Don’t panic, Chicago, but an AWS S3 config blunder exposed 1.8 million voter records | Associated Press

A voting machine supplier for dozens of US states left records on 1.8 million Americans in public view for anyone to download – after misconfiguring its AWS-hosted storage. ES&S says it was notified by UpGuard researcher Chris Vickery of the vulnerable database that contained personal information it collected from recent elections in Chicago, Illinois. The records included voters’ names, addresses, dates of birth, and partial social security numbers. Some of the records also included drivers’ licenses and state ID numbers. “The backup files on the AWS server did not include any ballot information or vote totals and were not in any way connected to Chicago’s voting or tabulation systems,” ES&S said in a statement on Thursday. “These back-up files had no impact on any voters’ registration records and had no impact on the results of any election.”

Illinois: Election Systems & Software Leaks 1.8 Million Chicago Voter Records | Gizmodo

A leading US supplier of voting machines confirmed on Thursday that it exposed the personal information of more than 1.8 million Illinois residents. State authorities and the Federal Bureau of Investigation were alerted this week to a major data leak exposing the names, addresses, dates of birth, partial Social Security numbers, and party affiliations of over a million Chicago residents. Some driver’s license and state ID numbers were also exposed. Jon Hendren, who works for the cyber resilience firm UpGuard, discovered the breach on an Amazon Web Services (AWS) device that was not secured by a password. The voter data was then downloaded by cyber risk analyst Chris Vickery who determined Election Systems & Software (ES&S) controlled the data. ES&S provides voting machines and services in at least 42 states.

Michigan: State panel gives OK to ballot petition aimed at ending gerrymandering | Detroit Free Press

Voters Not Politicians wants to change the state constitution to create an independent citizen commission to draw political lines, taking the role away from the Legislature. The group would have to collect close to 316,000 valid signatures to get the proposed constitutional amendment on the November 2018 ballot. The proposal would establish a 13-member independent citizens commission on which independent voters would have five members, and the two major parties would each have four. The commission is expected to cost at least an extra $5.5 million a year, based on a formula by which an amount equal to 25% of the current budget of the Michigan Secretary of State would be appropriated to support its work, said James Lancaster, a Lansing attorney representing Voters Not Politicians. The money to support the commission would be in addition to what the Secretary of State’s Office now spends, he said.

New Jersey: At Senator Menendez’s Trial, Stakes Are High for Democrats | The New York Times

When Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey goes on trial on federal corruption charges in less than three weeks, far more than his own fate hinges on the outcome. If Mr. Menendez, a Democrat, is convicted and then expelled from the United States Senate by early January, his replacement would be picked by Gov. Chris Christie, the Republican governor of New Jersey and an ally of President Trump. That scenario — where Mr. Menendez’s interim replacement would more than likely be a Republican — would have immediate and far-reaching implications: The Republicans would be gifted a crucial extra vote just as the party remains a single vote shy in the Senate of advancing its bill to dismantle President Obama’s signature health care law. Those potential consequences only heighten the drama around the first federal bribery charges leveled against a sitting senator in a generation.

North Carolina: Preliminary Redrawing of North Carolina Districts Suggests Combining Two | Government Technology

Reps. Jean Farmer-Butterfield and Susan Martin could face off for a single N.C. House seat if new district maps follow a recently released framework. The General Assembly’s Redistricting Committee approved rules for redrawing state legislative districts last week. Farmer-Butterfield, who is a member of the committee, said the criteria was voted on based on recommendations from committee leadership.
 If a preliminary redrawing of legislative districts is approved, Wilson County could go from having two state representatives to one, which would mean Farmer-Butterfield, a Wilson Democrat, could face Martin, a Wilson Republican, in a race to determine who will represent the county.

Editorials: North Carolina Republicans have made a game out of redistricting | News & Observer

Their old legislative district maps have been ruled unconstitutional by federal courts because of racial gerrymandering, and now Republican leaders of the General Assembly have no choice but to draw new districts by Sept. 1. Yet they seem not just calm but upbeat about the whole process. And to do the map drawing they’ve hired Tom Hofeller, who drew the current unconstitutional maps. He’ll be paid $50,000 for the task. So there’s the first curiosity about all this. Hofeller’s of course a friend of the GOP, which is to be expected. But how can taxpayers, who are footing this bill, have confidence in someone whose last maps were thrown out by courts? But there are other curious things here. The Republicans, who have Democrats on their committees pertaining to redistricting but ignore them, have passed rules clearly aimed to benefit them in terms of guidelines for drawing the new maps.

Texas: Voting law on language interpreters violates Voting Rights Act, court says | The Texas Tribune

Texas ran afoul of the Voting Rights Act by restricting the interpretation assistance English-limited voters may receive at the ballot box, a federal appeals court found. In an opinion issued Wednesday, a three-judge panel of the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that an obscure provision of the Texas Election Code that requires interpreters helping someone cast a ballot to also be registered to vote in the same county in which they are providing help clashes with federal voting protections.

Texas: Surprise: Repealed law on nursing-home voting still in effect for November | San Antonio Express-News

Texas legislators in the special session repealed a new law meant to prevent mail-in ballot fraud at nursing homes while expanding residents’ voting opportunities, acting to kill the measure ahead of its Sept. 1 effective date to avoid unintended consequences. But as it turns out, the law will live through the November general election, despite concerns from elections administrators over its cost and the logistics of implementing the requirements. That’s because the law takes effect on Sept. 1, but the repeal isn’t effective until Dec. 1. “We’re scrambling,” said Bexar County Elections Administrator Jacquelyn Callanen.

Utah: ‘Count My Vote’ readying 2018 ballot initiative to eliminate caucus/convention system for nominating candidates | Utah Policy has been told that the group behind Count My Vote has decided to run a citizen initiative petition in 2018 that will do away with the caucus/delegate/convention route for candidates and only allow candidates to get on the primary and general election ballots via gathering voter signatures. When CMV’s 2014 petition was in public discussion, various polls showed a majority of citizens supported the so-called “direct primary” option. Also, UtahPolicy is told the new initiative will say that any vacancy in a partisan office will be filled by special election. Right now it is usually filled by appointment by local party officials.

Australia: Australia Faces the World’s Most Ridiculous Constitutional Crisis | Bloomberg

Australia’s parliament is in the grip of the world’s most ridiculous constitutional crisis. The situation threatens the country’s democratic process, which is reason enough for politicians and courts to work to unpick it. More importantly, though, it raises questions the rest of the world would do well to ponder. Over the past month, five members of Australia’s 226-member parliament have admitted that they may have unwittingly held dual citizenship — a condition that, under Australia’s 1900 constitution, disqualifies them from political office in Canberra. The latest blow on Monday ensnared Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, putting into jeopardy the government’s one-seat majority in the governing House of Representatives. Joyce’s father was born in New Zealand in 1924. As a result, Kiwis officially consider him one of their own.

Cayman Islands: Candidate: ‘Drop residency requirements’ for voters, politicians | Cayman Compass

Alric Lindsay has lived in Cayman since he was a child and was adopted by a Caymanian man. His business is here, as is his home, as is pretty much his entire life. However, Mr. Lindsay found himself facing a legal challenge to his ability to run for political office earlier this year based on the fact that he had been out of the country for 797 days during the seven years before March 29, 2017 – nomination day for the general election. A Grand Court decision in mid-April found him eligible to run for office in George Town South, where he finished third out of five candidates. About a month before the vote, he was required to hire a lawyer, go to court and prove he was eligible to stand for election. He believes it made a difference in the campaign.

Editorials: Kenyan Democracy’s Missed Opportunity | Neha Wadekar/The New Yorker

Last Tuesday, Nairobi felt like a city awaiting the apocalypse. Streets normally clogged with traffic were eerily quiet. Grocery-store shelves had been largely emptied of supplies. Anxious wealthy residents booked flights out of town, conveniently scheduling their summer vacations to avoid the chaos of a Kenyan national election. The Chinese government, Western private-sector companies, and other foreign investors braced as well. A peaceful vote in Kenya, which is regarded as the most vibrant economic and democratic power in East Africa, could unleash billions of dollars in infrastructure and development contracts. Kenya has had a long and calamitous history of political violence and corruption since it gained independence from British colonial rule, in 1963. Much of this conflict is rooted in ethnic tensions between different tribes, which many historians attribute, in part, to decades of British colonial rule that intentionally played major tribes against one another. Rich and poor Kenyans alike feared a repeat of the 2007 post-election violence between two of the country’s largest tribes, the Luo and Kikuyu, which killed more than twelve hundred people and displaced more than half a million.