With the wide variety of voting systems technology and uneven security requirements in local jurisdictions across the country, the best defense against election hacking may involve less technology, experts said. “I don’t have a lot of confidence” in the security of election equipment, said Alex Halderman, who is director of the University of Michigan’s Center for Computer Security and Society and researches voting machine security. “The machines have vulnerabilities that could allow someone to hack in and alter the software that’s running on them,” he said at a Sept. 8 Brookings Institution discussion. “You don’t even need physical access to the machines.”
National: Data breaches like Equifax could make it cheap, easy to alter voter registrations | Philadelphia Inquirer
How convenient for voters: Pennsylvania and New Jersey allow them to change registration information online, including address and party affiliation. How convenient for wannabe attackers, too: With more personal information available online, it could be cheap and easy to falsely submit thousands of changes online to voter registrations, making some legitimate voters ineligible to cast ballots. A new study found that it would have cost as little as $1,934 last year to falsely submit online changes to 10 percent of registrations in Pennsylvania, a political battleground state that was pivotal to the 2016 presidential election. A similar attack on 10 percent of New Jersey voters’ registrations would have cost just $1,069, the researchers found. “It’s clear that impostors can definitely launch these attacks, and it’s not particularly expensive to launch these attacks against these websites,” said Latanya Sweeney, a government professor at Harvard University and one of the study’s authors.
National: Trump fraud commission will review proposal for background checks for voters | The Kansas City Star
President Donald Trump’s controversial voting commission will weigh a proposal Tuesday about requiring a background check before a person can register to vote — similar to buying a gun. John Lott, the president of the Pennsylvania-based Crime Prevention Research Center, will present the concept when the commission holds its second meeting of the year in New Hampshire. Lott’s PowerPoint, which was posted on the White House’s website in advance of the meeting, includes a slide titled “How to check if the right people are voting.” He notes that Republicans worry that ineligible people are voting, while Democrats contend “that Republicans are just imagining things.” Lott proposes applying the federal background check system for gun purchases, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, to voter registrations.
A commission created by President Donald Trump to investigate his allegations of voter fraud is coming to New Hampshire a week after its vice chairman angered state leaders by claiming out-of-state voters in November helped elect a Democrat to the U.S. Senate. The vice chairman, Republican Kris Kobach, who also is Kansas’ secretary of state, said last week that newly released data showed more than 6,500 people registered to vote last year using out-of-state driver’s licenses but only 15 percent had acquired New Hampshire licenses. That was proof, he said, that fraud likely led to then-Gov. Maggie Hassan’s victory over Republican incumbent Kelly Ayotte in the Senate race. But state law allows someone — like a college student or military personnel on active duty — to be domiciled in New Hampshire for voting purposes and be a resident of another state for driver’s licensing purposes. Kobach’s comments prompted all four members of New Hampshire’s congressional delegation to demand the state’s representative on the commission, Secretary of State Bill Gardner, step down. Gardner, a Democrat, said he could not condone Kobach’s claims but would remain on the commission because he wants to understand why Americans are losing trust in the election process.
National: Top Russian Politician Boasts Russia ‘Stole’ 2016 Election For Donald Trump While U.S. Intelligence ‘Slept’ | Inquistr
Vyacheslav Nikonov, a top Russian lawmaker and leading member of the United Russia Party led by President Vladimir Putin, made a startling boast in a television broadcast seen nationwide in Russia on Sunday night — admitting outright that Russia “stole” the 2016 United States presidential election for Donald Trump. Nikonov, 61, a member of the Russian Duma (parliament) since 2011 and grandson of legendary Soviet Union-era political figure Vyacheslav Molotov — who gave his name to the “Molotov cocktail” improvised explosive device — also mocked U.S. intelligence services for, he said, sleeping on the job as the Russians stole the election right in front of them, the political news site Axios reported. Nikonov’s brazen admission marks the second time in a week that a Russian politician has openly bragged about Russian interference in the U.S. political process on live, national television. Last Monday Nikita Isayev, director of Russia’s Institute of Contemporary Economics and head of the “New Russia Movement,” stated that his country’s intelligence agencies possess compromising information on Trump, and called for the Russian government to “hit” Trump with the “kompromat” material as payback for recently increased U.S. sanctions on Russia.
National: Congressional redistricting less contentious when resolved using computer algorithm | phys.org
Concerns that the process of U.S. congressional redistricting may be politically biased have fueled many debates, but a team of University of Illinois computer scientists and engineers has developed a new computer algorithm that may make the task easier for state legislatures and fairer for their constituents. “United States congressional district maps are redrawn every 10 years in response to national census data, and this process empowers every state legislature to decide how they will carve up each of their congressional districts,” said Illinois professor of computer science Sheldon H. Jacobson. “One of the problems is that this can lead to oddly shaped and dispersed districts that favor one political agenda over another.” The researchers’ study, performed in collaboration with Douglas M. King, a lecturer of industrial and enterprise systems engineering, proposes a new, geographically based and data-driven algorithm that allows a user to specify the goal that guides the creation of the districts, then creates the districts computationally while enforcing other requirements, such as each district being a contiguous area. Their algorithm speeds up computations by gleaning insight from the geography of the state.
Editorials: Lawsuits, Falsehoods, and a Lot of White Men: Trump’s Election Commission Meets Amid Growing Controversy | Ari Berman & Pema Levy/Mother Jones
A few days before President Donald Trump’s “election integrity” commission meets in New Hampshire on Tuesday, its vice chair, Kris Kobach, published a column in Breitbart claiming “proof” that voter fraud in the state tipped the election against Trump and Republican Senate candidate Kelly Ayotte. Kobach cited numbers released by the state’s Republican House speaker showing that 6,540 people voted in New Hampshire on Election Day using out-of-state driver’s licenses as ID. “It seems that they never were bona fide residents of the State,” Kobach concluded. (This claim echoed one made in February by Trump, who told senators, with no evidence, that “thousands” were “brought in on buses” from Massachusetts to “illegally” vote in New Hampshire.)
New Hampshire: Judge weighing whether to block new voting ID, registration law from taking effect | WMUR
On the eve of a special New Hampshire House election in Belknap County, a judge Monday took under advisement the state’s request to dismiss a lawsuit by the state Democratic Party and League of Women Voters seeking to block a new law tightening voting ID and registration requirements. Judge Charles Temple, after listening to 2-1/2 hours of arguments, promised to rule by 7 a.m. Tuesday on whether to issue a preliminary injunction to prevent the law from taking effect while the merits of the challenge are heard in further hearings. That’s when polls open in Laconia and Belmont for a special New Hampshire House election to decide who will succeed Republican Robert Fisher, who resigned earlier this year. If Temple refuses to issue an injunction, the election will go forward using new affidavits for voters who do not have the type of “verifiable” IDs mandated in the new law, known as Senate Bill 3. But if the judge issues an injunction, it is unclear what forms will be used Tuesday for voters who do not have the proper IDs to present to voting officials. The Belknap County election would be the first to operate under the new requirements of Senate Bill 3, which went into force Friday.
New Hampshire: Outside Groups Target New Hampshire As Key Battleground In Fight Over Voting Rights | NHPR
The next statewide elections are more than a year away, but, already, the battle over how New Hampshire voters cast their ballots is well underway. This week will see a court hearing for two lawsuits challenging a controversial new voting law, which just went into effect on Friday. That law, in turn, could have its first test tomorrow in Laconia, where voters head to the polls for a House special election. Then there’s the Trump administration’s voting commission, which meets tomorrow at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics and, since its inception, has fanned competing choruses about voter fraud and voter suppression. All of this happens against the backdrop of New Hampshire’s role as a new kind of political battleground — the fight over who gets to vote, and how.
Identified cases of voter fraud are rare in North Dakota, but weaknesses in the election system and lack of prosecution does leave room for getting away with it, according to information from the North Dakota Secretary of State’s Office. “While some individuals argue that there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud, there are others who argue the exact opposite. Regardless, the truth is that under the current forms of election administration, it is not possible to establish whether widespread voter fraud does or does not exist because it is difficult to determine either way when proof is not required of voters when registering or prior to voting,” Secretary of State Al Jaeger wrote to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. When cases are suspected, he wrote, “This office has often been informed the State’s Attorneys have cases of ‘greater consequence’ on which to focus. Unfortunately, there can be no convictions when there is no will to prosecute.”
Tuesday is Cleveland’s Mayoral primary. If you go to vote, you’ll notice, as it has been for years, you’ll be filling out a paper ballot. This though, is not the norm. In most Ohio counties, a touch screen computer system is used. But it turns out, when it comes to voting, old school is better than new technology. “In my opinion, old school is better,” said Pat McDonald, the Director of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections. Technology is rapidly evolving, but one thing that’s stayed the same though is the fact, a paper trail doesn’t lie. “It’s great as well for audit trails. So during recounts and auditing purposes, you have that actual, physical piece of paper which is the ballot to compare a hand-count to the actual tabulation system,” said McDonald. In Cuyahoga County it’s been only paper ballots since 2008.
Some registrars across the commonwealth are working to acquire new, approved equipment so voters can cast ballots in less than two months. On Friday, the Department of Elections called for touchscreen voting booths to be decertified in Virginia. The State Board of Elections approved the request. The touchscreen method is being phased out because of concerns of hacking. “Our No. 1 priority is to make sure that Virginia elections are carried out in a secure and fair manner,” James Alcorn, Chair of the State Board of Elections, said in a release. “The step we took [Friday] to decertify paperless voting systems is necessary to ensure the integrity of Virginia’s elections.” Touchscreens were previously set to go away in 2020.
On Thursday last week hackers from the Germany-based Chaos Computer Club warned that software being used to tabulate and transmit vote totals in Germany’s upcoming parliamentary elections contains major vulnerabilities that could threaten the integrity of the outcome and undermine voter confidence. In an organisational blog post and technical report it said that the software, PC-Wahl version 10, is susceptible to various external attacks, including those that could secretly modify vote totals before they are reported to electoral officials. To further back up its assertions, the group also published proof-of-concept attack tools on GitHub, including source code. In its release, the CCC said its findings amount to a “total loss” for PC-Wahl, as the software allegedly does not even adhere even basic principles of IT security. SC Media contacted PC-Wahl’s via email for a response, and also reached out to the offices of Dieter Sarreither, Germany’s Federal Returning Officer, who is responsible for overseeing federal elections (known in local terms as Bundestagswahl), including September 24’s parliamentary elections.
Malta: Legislative overhaul ‘will be required if 16 or 17-year-olds are elected mayors’ | The Malta Independent
In the hypothetical situation that a 16 or 17-year-old is elected as a local council mayor, changes will be required to existing legislation, according to Vote 16 committee chairperson Andrew Debattista. Yesterday morning, Parliamentary Secretary for Reform Julia Farrugia Portelli launched a consultation document on voting rights for 16-year-olds, called ‘Vote 16; Empowering Youth’. In the previous legislature, 16-year-olds voted in local council elections, and now there are plans to extend these rights to general elections and those for the European Parliament. The document also questions whether such youngsters could be allowed to contest local elections, with the possibility of becoming mayors if they have the highest number of votes.
It was pouring rain in Oslo and many other Norwegian cities on Election Day Monday. That was at least some consolation, perhaps, for the thousands of permanent Norwegian residents over the age of 18 who couldn’t brave the bad weather and troop to the polls anyway, because they’re not eligible to vote. The newspaper Aftenposten reported recently that there’s now nearly a half-million people in Norway, many of them long-time residents, who are not allowed to vote in the national parliamentary elections that roll around every four years. That’s largely because of Norway’s law against dual citizenship. Even though tens of thousands qualify for citizenship and could readily obtain a Norwegian passport, the law demands that they’d have to give up the citizenship of their birth, and that’s not easy for anyone who maintains ties with their homeland and views their homeland as an important part of their identity.
Up to a million Catalans have gathered in Barcelona to call for independence less than three weeks before the region is due to hold a vote on whether to break away from Spain. For the sixth successive year, Catalonia’s national day – La Diada de Catalunya – was used as a political rally by the pro-independence movement. Organisers said 450,000 people had registered for the event, and Barcelona police later tweeted that 1 million turned up. The Spanish government has vowed to stop the referendum going ahead on 1 October, but the Catalan regional government is refusing to back down and polls suggest a clear majority of people in the wealthy north-eastern region want to be allowed to vote.