They knew Russian operatives might try to tamper with the nation’s electronic voting systems. Many people inside the U.S. government and the Obama White House knew. In the summer of 2016, a cluster of volunteers on a federally supervised cybersecurity team crafting 2018 election guidelines felt compelled to do something sooner. Chatting online, they scrambled to draw up ways for state and local officials to patch the most obvious cyber vulnerabilities before Election Day 2016. Their five-page list of recommendations focused on two gaping holes in the U.S. election system. It warned that internet voting by at least some citizens in 32 states was not secure and should be avoided. And, critically, it advised how to guard voting and ballot-counting machines that the experts knew could be penetrated even when disconnected from the internet. But the list was stopped in its tracks. A year later, even as U.S. intelligence agencies warn that Russian operatives have their eyes on 2018 and beyond, America’s more than 7,000 election jurisdictions nationwide still do not have access to those guidelines for shielding the voting process.
Eight advisers on President Trump’s cybersecurity team have resigned, leaving behind a scathing message for him: He has “given insufficient attention to the growing threats” facing the United States, and his inaction has “threatened the security of the homeland.” The advisers comprised more than one-quarter of the National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC). The 28-member panel, established in 2001 and drawn from the private sector, government and academia, advises the Department of Homeland Security on cybersecurity and infrastructure protection. They excoriated Trump on those fronts, saying he has failed to be “adequately attentive to the pressing national security matters” or “responsive to sound advice received from experts.” Those departing experts cited the president’s response to the violence in Charlottesville, in which he defended white supremacists, his withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate change and his inaction on safeguarding the U.S. election system after the Russian attacks on the 2016 election.
National: In one corner of the Internet, the 2016 Democratic primary never ended | The Washington Post
On Friday afternoon, a judge in South Florida dismissed a lawsuit against the Democratic National Committee, brought by people who accused it of committing fraud during the 2016 primary to the detriment of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt). Neither the DNC nor ousted chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) responded to the dismissal when asked to comment. Within hours, the attorneys who bought the suit, Jared and Elizabeth Beck, were providing updates on the case to the blogger and fantasy author H.A. Goodman. Calling out the people and outlets who they believe had covered them unfairly, the Becks described a legal system so corrupt that there could be no fair accounting for what the DNC did. It would be up to alternative media to get the truth out. “This population has been battered by propaganda, and misinformation, and corrupt politicians for so long,” Jared Beck said. “If you go into court, and you represent anyone but a rich person or a powerful corporation, the chances of you having a fair day in court are slim to none.”
n the late spring of 2011, Dale Schultz walked the short block in Madison from his State Senate office in the Wisconsin Capitol to the glass-paneled building of Michael Best & Friedrich, a law firm with deep ties to his Republican Party. First elected in 1982, Schultz placed himself within the progressive tradition that made Wisconsin, a century ago, the birthplace of the state income tax and laws that guarantee compensation for injured workers. In the months before his visit to Michael Best, Schultz cast the lone Republican vote against a bill that stripped collective-bargaining rights from most public employees. But if Schultz had doubts about some of his party’s priorities, he welcomed its ascendance to power. For the first time in his career, Republicans controlled the State Senate and the State Assembly as well as the governor’s office, giving them total sway over the redistricting process that follows the census taken at the beginning of each decade. ‘‘The way I saw it, reapportionment is a moment of opportunity for the ruling party,’’ Schultz told me this summer.
In the future, any special U.S. Senate races would happen during a general election cycle and not in a separate off-cycle election like the one currently underway, according to proposed legislation. Rep. Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, has pre-filed for next year’s session a bill to allow the governor to appoint an interim senator until the next general election, which happen every two years. Cost is a driving concern, Clouse said today. The Legislative Fiscal Office estimates that the primary, runoff and general election this year to replace Jeff Sessions will each cost about $3.5 million.
The man who oversees the election office that threw out nearly 14,000 Kansans’ ballots from the 2016 general election is running for governor a year from now. That’s a thought six other Republicans in the gubernatorial primary field – and the Democratic candidates – probably can’t get out of their heads. Secretary of State Kris Kobach is known locally for his work in making it harder for Kansans to vote in the name of eliminating voter fraud – fraud that has been proven in the most infinitesimal numbers. He’s known nationally for that, plus being co-chairman of President Donald Trump’s Advisory Commission on Election Integrity that was seemingly created to prove Trump’s unsubstantiated claim that he would have won the 2016 popular vote if not for 3 million to 5 million illegal votes.
Illinois this week became the tenth state to adopt an automatic voter registration law, and election reform advocates in Massachusetts are using the news to call on Bay State lawmakers to approve similar legislation. The law signed by Illinois Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner after unanimous passage in the Legislature there “creates more accessible and secure elections by automatically registering voters unless they opt out of the program,” members of the Election Modernization Coalition said in a statement. “The new law will add roughly one million new eligible voters to the voter rolls,” said the statement, signed by Pam Wilmot of Common Cause Massachusetts, Meryl Kessler of the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, Beth Huang of Mass Voter Table, Janet Domenitz of MASSPIRG, Cheryl Clyburn Crawford of MassVote and Jonathan Cohn of Progressive Massachusetts. “Similar laws in other states have been proven to increase turnout and make elections more secure by modernizing the voter registration process. It is a common sense and long overdue reform.”
Three days after Donald Trump’s election, Katie Fahey, a 28-year-old Michigander who works for a recycling nonprofit, sent a message into the Facebook ether, not knowing what might come of it. “I’d like to take on gerrymandering in Michigan,” she wrote. “If you’re interested in doing this as well, please let me know.” To her surprise, the message got shared, and shared, and shared some more. Pretty soon the Facebook post had turned into a Facebook group with a couple hundred supporters of all political persuasions from all over the state—lawyers and veterinarians, teachers and doctors, stay-at-home parents and accountants and mailmen. Google Docs and conference calls ensued, followed by fundraising and the formation of leadership committees. By early December, an ambitious statewide campaign to end gerrymandering in Michigan had emerged, with Fahey at its helm.
North Carolina: ‘What’s the disincentive?’ to gerrymander over and over, asks judge | News & Observer
While the North Carolina General Assembly considered new maps for electing its members in 2018, a panel of federal judges were in a courtroom less than half a mile away weighing the next steps for two of at least five lawsuits that have challenged redistricting plans from the past decade. Three judges rejected a request to delay trials in two lawsuits filed last year by Common Cause and the League of Women Voters accusing lawmakers of using blatant partisan gerrymandering in 2016 to draw the districts that elect members of Congress. Those maps were drawn to correct unconstitutional racial gerrymanders.
New Hampshire: Handwritten notes on N.H. voter checklists stall release to Trump fraud panel | Concord Monitor
New Hampshire election checklists being compiled for President Donald Trump’s electoral commission won’t be on their way to Washington anytime soon because they have to be cleaned of some voters’ personal information, including the identity of some potential victims of abuse. Review of the lists of voters compiled by more than 200 different town and city supervisors of the checklist and clerks found 51 polling place checklists from 42 communities “contained handwritten information that was either clearly confidential information or information which is not required for the election day checklist,” according to a memo released Tuesday from Secretary of State William Gardner and Attorney General Gordon MacDonald. “This information includes, among other things, dates of birth, driver’s license numbers, and telephone numbers.”
A judge listened to testimony from witnesses on both sides in a lawsuit seeking to make it legal in the state for voters to photograph their marked ballots. Judge P. Kevin Castel did not immediately rule Tuesday on the merits of a year-old lawsuit brought by several voters who want to distribute pictures of their ballots on social media. Last year, the judge refused to shut down the 1890 law just before the presidential election, saying it would “wreak havoc” to let ballot selfies occur at thousands of polling places.
If somebody you know got stopped seven or eight times for driving drunk, would you think they had a problem? Texas lawmakers have now been popped by federal judges seven or eight times in recent years for intentionally discriminating against minority voters in with voter ID and redistricting legislation. Think they’ve got a problem? The federal government has a program for repeat offenders like Texas; it’s called “preclearance,” and it forces states with histories of official racial discrimination to get their new election and voting rights laws checked by the feds — either the Justice Department or the courts — before those laws can go into effect.
With less than a month to go in Germany’s election campaign, third place has become the most sought-after prize. Angela Merkel’s center-right bloc has held a lead of about 15 percentage points across a variety of polls for weeks. The Social Democrats, under Martin Schulz, may yet close the gap, but history suggests they have virtually no chance of winning. The battle for third place, however, is anything but over. A cluster of parties, including the far-left Die Linke, the liberal Free Democrats (FDP), the Greens and the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) are in a dead heat, all polling in the 7-10 percent range.
Iraq’s oil-producing region of Kirkuk will vote in a referendum on Kurdish independence on Sept. 25, its provisional council decided on Tuesday, a move that could increase tension with Arab and Turkmen residents. The ethnically mixed region is claimed by both the central government in Baghdad and the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq. The vote is “definitely happening” on Sept. 25, Kirkuk Governor Najmuddin Kareem told Reuters after a majority of the provincial council voted in favor of taking part. Only 24 of the 41 council members attended Tuesday’s vote, with 23 voting in favor of participating in the referendum. One abstained.
Kenya: Court orders opposition access to electronic vote-count systems after presidential poll | Reuters
Kenya’s Supreme Court on Monday ordered the election commission to allow the opposition, which is disputing the results of this month’s presidential poll, to have access to its computer servers and electronic devices used in the counting of votes. Election authorities say President Uhuru Kenyatta won a second term in the Aug. 8 poll by 1.4 million votes. A parallel tally by independent monitors based on a sample of around 2,000 polling stations produced a similar result. But opposition leader Raila Odinga’s coalition said in its court petition that results from more than a third of polling stations were flawed. At least 28 people were killed in election-related violence, many of them shot by police after the results were announced, amid scattered protests in opposition strongholds.
The Carter Center has launched an international election observation mission to Liberia’s Oct. 10 presidential and legislative elections. Six long-term observers recently joined a core team of experts already on the ground. Together, the team represents six countries. The Center’s observers will meet regularly with representatives of the National Election Commission, political party candidates, civil society organizations, the international community, and citizen election observers to assess electoral preparations and the pre-electoral environment, including election administration, campaigning, voter education, and other issues. They will be joined by a larger delegation of election observers in October that will assess the voting, counting, and tabulation processes.
There are 534 candidates contesting next month’s election – with more women standing than in 2014. The Electoral Commission has officially released the electorate and party list candidates for the September 23 election. There are 16 registered parties, fielding a total of 534 candidates – slightly down on the 554 people who ran in the last election. This year the gender split is 341 men, 190 women and three gender diverse or not specified. In 2014, there were 390 men and 164 women candidates.
A Seoul court sentenced a former spy agency chief to four years in prison Wednesday, finding him guilty of meddling in the 2012 presidential election through a covert cyber operation. The Seoul High Court handed down the verdict to Won Sei-hoon, who headed the National Intelligence Agency (NIS) from 2009 to 2013, more than two years after the top court sent the case back to the lower court for retrial, citing insufficient evidence. Won was put behind bars immediately after the ruling. He was on trial without detention.