Papua New Guinea’s parliamentary elections took place June 24 to July 8, and there was significant controversy. During the election, officials went on strike in the capital city, Port Moresby, and violence broke out at polling stations in Enga province, where at least 20 people died. Election officials worked slowly to tally the votes, delaying the announcement of results as a way to protest lack of payment. It wasn’t until late September that the last undeclared seat was filled. Despite these and other setbacks, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill formed a new government in Papua New Guinea in early August. Here’s what you need to know about this country’s complex voting system. In Papua New Guinea’s ninth election since independence from Australia in 1975, 3,340 candidates ran in races for 111 parliamentary seats. Half of those candidates came from 44 political parties — including 25 new parties registered for this election. The other half of the candidate pool ran as independents.
Cybersecurity has become an increasingly salient topic in the realm of national defense. The reliance on technology for military, intelligence, and domestic infrastructure has made the disruptive potential of cyber-attacks for national security greater than ever. Elections are uniquely at risk. The aftermath of 2016 highlighted the importance of cybersecurity in election integrity. Almost four-fifths of states in 2016 claim to have been victims of foreign interference, with most pointing to the Russian government as the source. This threat of election-related cybersecurity is intertwined with national security interests, the U.S. response to cyber-attacks in 2016, and the implications for future election cyberattacks.
President Donald Trump’s voter fraud commission is facing mounting criticism from Democratic members on the panel who have questioned the group’s purpose and claimed they don’t even know when the group will meet next. Several Democrats on the Election Integrity Commission said the work has stalled, and internal communication has slowed to a trickle since the panel held its first meeting in July. “The reality is, I don’t know anymore now than I knew three months ago,” said Alan King, a probate judge in Alabama and one of the commission’s Democratic members.
The Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee helped fund research that resulted in a now-famous dossier containing allegations about President Trump’s connections to Russia and possible coordination between his campaign and the Kremlin, people familiar with the matter said. Marc E. Elias, a lawyer representing the Clinton campaign and the DNC, retained Fusion GPS, a Washington firm, to conduct the research. After that, Fusion GPS hired dossier author Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer with ties to the FBI and the U.S. intelligence community, according to those people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Elias and his law firm, Perkins Coie, retained the company in April 2016 on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the DNC. Before that agreement, Fusion GPS’s research into Trump was funded by an unknown Republican client during the GOP primary. The Clinton campaign and the DNC, through the law firm, continued to fund Fusion GPS’s research through the end of October 2016, days before Election Day.
The Alabama secretary of state’s office is not yet releasing the names of 674 voters it believes may have violated the state’s new ban on crossover voting in primary runoffs. John Bennett, communications director for Secretary of State John Merrill, said the names would be disclosed after they are verified by county election officials. Merrill asked county officials to review the list of crossover voters and report any errors by Nov. 6. After the list is confirmed, it will be turned over to prosecutors, Merrill told the Associated Press. He said it would be up to prosecutors whether to pursue charges, but said he believed it was his office’s responsibility to report the violations.
A state audit of Santa Clara County’s elections office — which has been plagued with an inordinate amount of mistakes over the years — found that it lacks detailed policies employed in other counties to prevent errors and analyze them fully when they do occur. The audit — called for by a frustrated Assemblyman Evan Low, D-Campbell, who previously chaired the assembly’s elections committee — reviewed 26 errors that have happened from 2010 to 2016. In addition to the lack of procedural guidelines, the audit found that the county doesn’t have a clear plan or process to alert voters potentially affected by an error in ballot materials. And while “in most in most cases, it identified and took action to notify voters of the errors before the relevant elections,” auditors found that there’s no concrete system of recording these mistakes.
The governor may be the determining signatory on which two competing pieces of legislation being debated in the Guam Legislature would become law. Bills 156-34 and 45-34 attempt to legislate election reform related to primaries. While Bill 156 intends to change the date of the primary election and the date of filing candidate nomination papers – to ease the burden on the Guam Election Commission – Bill 45 would eliminate the primary entirely. Sen. Mary Torres introduced Bill 156, while Sen. Joe San Agustin introduced Bill 45.
Illinois: ‘Embarrassing’ Voter Data Leak Will Never Happen Again, Chicago Election Chief Says | DNAinfo
The head of the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners Tuesday apologized to aldermen for allowing the personal information of 1.8 million Chicago registered voters to be exposed on a public server. Executive Director Lance Gough said the Aug. 12 discovery that Election Systems & Software discovered backup files stored on a Amazon Web Services server that included voter names, addresses, and dates of birth. In many cases it also included the voters’ driver’s license and state identification numbers and the last four digits of Social Security numbers. “It was quite embarrassing,” Gough said. “I’m here to apologize. This will never happen again.”
Kansas: BuzzFeed sues Kris Kobach over refusal to provide emails through KORA request | The Topeka Capital-Journal
BuzzFeed is suing Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and his office for refusing to comply with an open records request for emails containing immigration- and election-related terms. The lawsuit, filed Friday in Shawnee County District Court, says Kobach’s office first asked for $1,025 for 13 hours of work and an attorney’s review, then refused to release any records when a reporter challenged the cost. In denying the request, Sue Becker, senior counsel for KSOS, said records may be unrelated to Kobach’s official business or policy proposals exempt from open records law. BuzzFeed is asking the court to order Kobach’s office to provide the documents as required by the Kansas Open Records Act and pay attorney fees.
The State Board of Elections fired its executive director and assistant to the director on Tuesday. The board did not explain why Executive Director Maryellen Allen, a Democrat, and Assistant to the Director Matthew Selph, a Republican, were dismissed. “This was a bipartisan decision of the state board of elections, both non-merit employees, that their services were no longer needed,” said Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, who serves as the chairwoman of the board. When pressed for the reason, Grimes just repeated her earlier statement. “Their services were no longer needed,” she said. Both Allen and Selph said they were not given a reason they were fired, but Selph said he felt it was because he raised questions about the operation of the board.
The New York City Board of Elections is admitting it broke state and federal law when it improperly removed voters from the rolls ahead of the presidential primary last spring, including more than 117,000 voters in Brooklyn. That’s according to a draft consent decree announced Tuesday— nearly a year after the Board was sued in federal court for violating the National Voter Registration Act and state election law. The Brooklyn voter purge was first reported by WNYC just days before last spring’s primary election. As a part of the settlement, the Board agreed to a series of remedial measures that will be in place at least through the next presidential election, November 2020 — pending court approval. The deal restores the rights of improperly purged voters and establishes a comprehensive plan to prevent illegal voter purges in future elections.
Two websites run by the Czech Statistical Office (CSU) were taken offline after a DDoS attack at the weekend tried to disrupt reporting of the country’s parliamentary elections. The results of the election, held on Friday and Saturday, were posted to the sites; showing billionaire Andrej Babiš’ populist ANO party with the largest share of the vote at nearly 30%. A statement on the CSU site reportedly had the following: “During the processing, there was a targeted DDoS attack aimed at the infrastructure of the O2 company used for elections. As a result, servers volby.cz and volbyhned.cz had been temporarily partly inaccessible. The attack did not in any way affect either the infrastructure used for the transmission of election results to the CSU headquarters or the independent data processing.” The sites are now back up and running.
Iceland on Saturday holds its second snap election in just a year after a slew of scandals ensnaring its politicians in a nation whose economy is thriving thanks to tourism. Prime Minister Bjarni Benediktsson of the conservative Independence Party called the vote last month after a junior member of the three-party centre-right coalition quit the government over a legal scandal involving the prime minister’s father. Saturday’s vote will be the fourth time Iceland has held legislative elections since its 2008 financial crisis, when its three major banks collapsed and the country teetered on the verge of bankruptcy. With the emergence of several anti-establishment parties, Iceland’s political landscape is splintered, with at least eight parties vying for the 63 seats in the single-chamber parliament.
Kenya stood on Tuesday at dangerous crossroads two days ahead of presidential elections, with deep divisions between rival leaders, publicly-voiced doubt over the vote’s credibility and a last-ditch legal bid to delay the poll. The opposition staged further protests, pursuing its vow to keep up the pressure from the street but also fuelling anxiety over potential violence on polling day and beyond. And in a further twist to the saga, the Supreme Court announced it would meet on the eve of voting to hear a petition to delay the election. Thursday’s drama is rooted in a decision by the same court to overturn the result of the first presidential election, which took place on August 8.
On September 1, after Kenya’s Supreme Court became the first in Africa to nullify a flawed presidential election, Kenyans danced in the streets and some revelers pledged to convert to Seventh Day Adventism, the religion of Kenya’s somber chief justice, David Maraga. Then the mood darkened. President Uhuru Kenyatta, whose dubious victory had been overturned, told supporters that the judges were “crooks” and threatened to “fix” them. Chief Justice Maraga revealed that he and his bench colleagues had received numerous threats; when nearly $5 million mysteriously appeared in his bank account, he instructed the bank to return it at once. A rerun was scheduled for October 26. but the opposition leader Raila Odinga pulled out two weeks ago, claiming that nothing had been done to remedy the problems that marred the first election. Then, just last week, the election commission’s chairman confirmed that his institution was presently incapable of guaranteeing a credible poll. The previous day, one of his own officials, made the same claim after fleeing to the US in fear of her life. Throughout October, street demonstrations against the electoral commission have taken place across the country, and security forces have killed dozens of people. Meanwhile, the United States and the rest of the international community appear to be looking the other way as this nation, an important US trading and defense partner, dissolves into undemocratic chaos.
Editorials: What more proof do we need that Venezuela’s ruling party rigged the vote? | Francisco Toro/The Washington Post
The surprises are still coming from Venezuela’s elections for state governor on Oct. 15. The headline result — a shocking, across-the-board victory for the ruling Socialists — stunned the public in Caracas and those up and down the hemisphere. But that, as has now become clear, is not the end of the story. The ruling party founded by the late Hugo Chávez and run by his handpicked successor, Nicolás Maduro, piled on the dirty tricks to win this election. In itself, that is nothing new. Illegal campaign funding, intimidation, threats, harassment, coercion: All these things have become sadly normalized in Venezuela over the past five years, and they no longer count as news.
United Kingdom: ‘Fake news’ inquiry asks Facebook to check for Russian influence in UK | The Guardian
Mark Zuckerberg has been asked to search for evidence that Russia-linked Facebook accounts were used to interfere in the EU referendum and the general election as part of a parliamentary inquiry into “fake news”. Damian Collins, the chair of the digital, culture, media and sport committee, has written to the Facebook founder after suspicions that Russian “actors” used the platform to interfere in British politics. Facebook has 32 million users in Britain. Similar evidence on the 2016 US presidential election has already been supplied by Facebook to several US Senate committees, including the Senate intelligence committee, before a hearing with legal representatives from Facebook, Twitter and Google on 1 November in Washington DC. Facebook in the US disclosed last month that an influence operation that appeared to be based in Russia spent $100,000 (£75,000) on adverts to promote divisive political and social messages over a two-year period. In a letter to Zuckerberg sent on Thursday, Collins wrote that the committee was investigating the phenomenon of fake news.