National: State officials press Congress for more election cyber resources | The Hill

State election officials on Tuesday urged members of Congress to send more resources to states to bolster the security of their election IT infrastructure. Officials from Rhode Island and Virginia made the plea to Democratic members of a task force focused on election cybersecurity that was formed in the wake of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. “States need additional funding and resources dedicated to the security of election systems,” Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea (D) told lawmakers at the public forum on Capitol Hill. “These funds are critically needed for the assessments, testing procedures and the strengthening of IT capacity. In many states, they also need funding for the hardware of voting systems themselves.” Gorbea urged Congress to play a “critical role” by both appropriating additional resources to states for election cybersecurity and exercising oversight of the federal government’s efforts to safeguard future elections. 

National: Kobach transcript: Changes to US election law discussed | Associated Press

The vice chairman of President Donald Trump’s election fraud commission says he wants to change U.S. election law so states have an incentive to require proof of U.S. citizenship to register to vote, according to a deposition unsealed Thursday. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a leading advocate of tighter voting laws, gave the testimony in a deposition made public as part of a federal lawsuit filed by American Civil Liberties Union challenging a Kansas voter registration law that requires documents such as a birth certificate, U.S. passport or naturalization papers. The deposition in August is the result of an ACLU court filing after Kobach was photographed holding a document with the words on one page facing out as he entered a meeting with then President-elect Donald Trump to talk about immigration. The ACLU asked a court to force Kobach to release the document. A federal judge said there was a pattern of Kobach misleading the court in that suit, fined him $1,000 and ordered him to submit to questioning under oath by the ACLU about that document and a proposed draft amendment to the National Voter Registration Act.

Georgia: Incompetence or a Cover-Up? Georgia destroyed election data right after a lawsuit alleged the system was vulnerable. | Slate

On July 3, state voters and a good-government group filed a lawsuit alleging that Georgia officials ignored warnings that the state’s electoral system was extremely susceptible to hacking. On July 4, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s office was alerted about the lawsuit by the press and declined to comment. It received a copy of the suit on July 6. And on July 7, Georgia officials deleted the state’s election data, which would have likely been critical evidence in that lawsuit, the Associated Press reported Thursday. Two things could have happened here. Either it was an incredible act of incompetence on the part of Georgia’s election officials, or it was an attempted cover-up to try to hide from the public a major election security lapse. Lawmakers from both parties are calling for heads to roll.

Editorials: Georgia’s voting system – Outrageous security lapse | SavannahNow

The fact that the state university housing the servers that are at the center of a case over the security of Georgia’s election system wiped them clean of all data is both an outrage and extremely suspicious. If a pending state investigation into this breach at the Center for Elections System at Kennesaw State University shows that laws were broken, then Georgia Attorney General Christopher Carr shouldn’t hesitate to file charges. The sanctity of Georgia’s ballot box and its elections records must be protected. Our democracy is based on free and fair elections. The public must have confidence that the process is safe and secure. According to The Hill newspaper in Washington, the servers in question had been in the possession of the Center for Elections System, which runs Georgia’s election system on a contract basis. On July 3, a diverse group of election reform advocates filed suit, alleging that Georgia’s election system was flawed and could potentially be rigged. The plaintiffs want to scrap the state’s 15-year-old vote-management system, particularly its 27,000 AccuVote touchscreen voting screens, which are used in Chatham County and elsewhere, that don’t employ paper ballots or keep hardcopy proof of how voters voted. They allege these machines are hackable.

Maine: Legislature delays and potentially repeals ranked-choice voting | Portland Press Herald

A citizen-backed law that made Maine the first state to adopt a ranked-choice voting system will be delayed and possibly repealed following a series of contentious votes Monday in a special session of the Legislature. The Senate voted 19-10 to delay the law until December 2021 – and then repeal it if a constitutional amendment hasn’t been passed by then to address legal concerns raised by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. The House held six procedural votes, then finally agreed with the Senate on a 68-63 tally. The bill now will go to Republican Gov. Paul LePage. LePage will have 10 days to sign it, veto it or allow it to become law without his signature. The Republican long has argued that ranked-choice is unconstitutional and he is unlikely to veto the delay.

Michigan: House panel OKs new rules after Stein’s halted recount | The Detroit News

The Green Party’s 2016 presidential candidate Jill Stein could not have requested a recount in Michigan under legislation a committee advanced Thursday to the full House for a possible vote. The House Elections and Ethics Committee approved a bill sponsored by the panel’s chairman, Rep. Aaron Miller, R-Sturgis, that would require “aggrieved candidates” to show that they could have won the election if not for fraud or error. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be able to initiate a recount, as Stein did after Republican Donald Trump won Michigan last November by 10,704 votes over Democrat Hillary Clinton. “The ridiculous 2016 recount charade for which Michigan taxpayers were forced to foot the bill shows just how important it is to update our statutes before it happens again,” Miller said in a statement. “These bills protect tax dollars while still preserving the integrity of the recount process for instances in which it is truly necessary.”

New Jersey: New Jersey to replace thousands of aging voting machines | WHYY

Many of the 11,000 voting machines in New Jersey are so old, officials said, they will soon have to be replaced. Amid concerns about hacking, state lawmakers are examining how to make sure new machines will be more secure. While there’s no evidence of hacking, the machines are hackable, said Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker, D-Middlesex. And Princeton computer science professor Andrew Appel said he could quickly break the security seals on a voting machine, replace the chip that records the results, and reseal it so the tampering would be undetectable. “I was able to get a bunch of them and figure out what their weaknesses are,” he said during a hearing before lawmakers Thursday. “So if you have three or four seals on there, it’ll take me 10 minutes to get them off.”

Ohio: Supreme Court tackles Ohio voter purge efforts | McClatchy

After tackling partisan gerrymandering in October, the U.S. Supreme Court will take on the controversial issue of voter purges in a November case that could have major implications for the 2018 mid-term elections. Scheduled for oral argument on Nov. 8, Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute will determine whether failure to cast a ballot in recent elections, or “voter inactivity,” can lawfully trigger efforts to remove a person from the voter registration rolls. Critics say the purge policy used by Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted violates the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 and disproportionately impacts black, Hispanic and poor voters who traditionally support Democrats. Republicans argue that fraud by ineligible voters can occur if people who die or move away aren’t regularly identified and cleared from the registration rolls as the NVRA requires.

Czech Republic: Election websites hacked, vote unaffected: Statistics Office | Reuters

results were hacked on Saturday afternoon, the Czech Statistical Office (CSU) said on Sunday, adding that the vote count was not affected. Czechs voted on Friday and Saturday in the parliamentary election, with the results then shown on two websites that CSU maintains with an outside provider. “During the processing (of the vote), there was a targeted DDoS attack aimed at the infrastructure of the O2 company used for elections,” CSU said on its website. “As a result, servers and 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.”

Kenya: Low Turnout in Kenya’s Do-Over Election Raises Concerns | The New York Times

It took the police the better part of two hours to haul away the bricks that had been stacked, at some point in the night, in front of the polling station at the Olympic Primary School. But few people in the sprawling Nairobi neighborhood of Kibera — as in many other places across Kenya — wanted anything to do with Thursday’s historic vote for president. Some Kibera residents spent the day lobbing stones at the police, while the police spent the day firing tear gas back. “This vote is a massive flop, whichever way you cut it,” said Maina Kiai, a leader of a Kenyan civil society coalition and a former United Nations special rapporteur. For decades, Kenya has been struggling to move from the shadow of dictatorship to a truly inclusive democracy, and the country has sacrificed much on that journey. Ten years ago, more than 1,100 people died and hundreds of thousands were displaced after an election many thought was stolen.

Georgia: Georgia Wiped Its Election Server While Advocates Fought for Security Investigation | Gizmodo

A server that held data central to Georgia’s elections was wiped this summer, destroying the potential for a forensic investigation to determine whether or not the server was compromised by hackers, the AP reports. The data destruction was revealed in an email last week from an associate state attorney general to a group that is suing Georgia in an attempt to force additional security measures into the election system. The lawsuit was filed on July 3rd and data was reportedly destroyed on July 7th. In August, backups of the wiped server were also destroyed. “The lawsuit was filed, and right after the lawsuit was filed, they wiped their server. After it was moved to federal court, they did it again,” Marian Schneider, the president of Verified Voting, an organization that advocates for election security and has worked with the group of Georgia advocates involved in the lawsuit, told Gizmodo.

National: Congressional watchdog to investigate Trump fraud panel | Reuters

The U.S. Congress’ watchdog office has agreed to investigate President Donald Trump’s commission on voter fraud after three Democratic senators raised concerns the panel’s work may diminish the public’s confidence in the democratic process. The Government Accountability Office said in a letter dated on Wednesday that it had accepted a request from Democratic Senators Amy Klobuchar, Michael Bennet and Cory Booker to investigate the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. Trump established the panel in May after charging, without evidence, that millions of illegal immigrants voted in the November 2016 election. Most state election officials and election law experts say that U.S. voter fraud is rare.

National: Lawmakers debate how states should maintain voter registration rolls | WJLA

On Capitol Hill Wednesday, lawmakers held a hearing to evaluate how states maintain accurate and up-to-date voter registration rolls.
Chairman of the House Administration Committee Rep. Gregg Harper, R-Miss., said it is paramount for elections to be conducted in a fair and open manner. “Ensuring the accuracy of voter registration lists is the foundation to a successful election. Having accurate lists increases voter confidence, it eases the administration of elections, reduces wait times, and certainly helps prevent voter fraud and irregularity,” Harper said. The hearing also questioned crosscheck programs and automatic voter registration practices. … Hearing witness and Director of the Voting Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union Dale Ho claimed that the interstate crosscheck program struggles with accuracy.

National: Russia Fanned Flames With Twitter, Which Faces a Blowback | The New York Times

Fires need fuel. In this era of political rage, a Twitter account that called itself the unofficial voice of Tennessee Republicans provided buckets of gasoline. Its pre-election tweets were a bottomless well of inflammatory misinformation: “Obama wants our children to be converted to Islam! Hillary will continue his mission.” A mysterious explosion in Washington, it said, had killed one of Mrs. Clinton’s aides, raising her “body count” to six. Another proclaimed, “Obama is the founder of ISIS.” The account, @TEN_GOP, eventually reached more than 130,000 followers — 10 times that of the official state Republican Party’s Twitter handle. It was one of the most popular political voices in Tennessee. But its lies, distortions and endorsements came from the other side of the world.

Alabama: Jefferson County probate judge says crossovers not actual votes |

Jefferson County Probate Judge Alan King said today he believes that most of the county’s 380 voters listed as illegal crossover voters in the Sept. 26 election did not actually vote that day. King said a chief inspector at one precinct misunderstood procedures and crossed off the names of those who voted in the Aug. 15 Democratic primary to ensure they could not vote again in the Republican runoff. “And so, it makes it appear, if someone is looking at our data that yes, someone on Sept. 26 came in and voted and received a Republican ballot on Sept. 26, when the reality is, no they didn’t,” King said. King said that explanation is based on his conversations with Barry Stephenson, chief of the county’s board of registrars. King said they would fully investigate the matter next week.

Arizona: Investigator: Secretary of state violated law, but no penalties | Arizona Republic

Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan broke the law when her office failed to mail publicity pamphlets to hundreds of thousands of voters in time for the May 2016 special election, a state-appointed investigator has concluded. But, the investigator found, there is no provision in state law to punish anyone for not delivering the pamphlets on time and Reagan and her staff did not act criminally. That’s the outcome of a long-awaited investigative report released Wednesday by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. Michael Morrissey, a former federal prosecutor now in private practice, led the review as an appointed special investigator. “Approximately 200,000 households did not receive the publicity pamphlets in a timely manner,” Morrissey’s report states. “That is a violation of law.”

Iceland: Iceland set for second snap election in a year after series of scandals | The Guardian

Iceland heads into its second snap parliamentary election in less than a year on Saturday with the financial crash that brought the country to its knees nearly a decade ago still playing out in its politics. The island’s economy is thriving again, thanks mainly to an unprecedented tourism boom, but some of its top politicians have been hit by a succession of financial and ethical scandals that have badly dented voters’ trust. The prime minister, Bjarni Benediktsson, called the election last monthafter his three-party government collapsed over an alleged attempt to cover up efforts by his father to help “restore the honour” of a convicted child sex offender. Benediktsson formed his centre-right coalition barely 10 months ago, following early elections triggered by his predecessor’s resignation. Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson had stepped down amid public fury at revelations in the Panama Papers that his family had sheltered money offshore.

California: Democrats fall short on gathering signatures to halt recall | The Sacramento Bee

California Democrats fell far short of collecting enough signatures to prevent a recall election of state Sen. Josh Newman, a vulnerable Democrat targeted by Republicans over his vote to increase the gas tax. Under a rule change rushed through the Legislature by Democrats this year, voters who signed a petition supporting a recall election were given a chance to remove their signatures, which Democrats argued were gathered by Republicans who used deceptive methods. Democrats needed roughly 7,000 signature withdrawals to halt the recall. They garnered just 846, the Secretary of State’s office said Wednesday.

Colorado: Secretary of State makes a deal with electoral college members suing him | The Colorado Independent

Colorado’s GOP Secretary of State Wayne Williams and attorneys for three members of the 2016 Electoral College class who are suing him for voter intimidation have reached a deal. They haven’t settled but instead agreed to make concessions on both sides that could grease the wheels to have their case heard by the U.S. Supreme Court more quickly. Under their agreement, the electors will not sue Williams personally and won’t ask for damages and attorney fees beyond a dollar. In exchange, the Secretary of State’s Office will waive any immunity, meaning the case won’t get bogged down in protracted litigation — and could move through the courts more quickly.

Georgia: Election server wiped after suit filed | Associated Press

A computer server crucial to a lawsuit against Georgia election officials was quietly wiped clean by its custodians just after the suit was filed, The Associated Press has learned. The server’s data was destroyed July 7 by technicians at the Center for Elections Systems at Kennesaw State University, which runs the state’s election system. The data wipe was revealed in an email sent last week from an assistant state attorney general to plaintiffs in the case that was later obtained by the AP. More emails obtained in a public records request confirmed the wipe. The lawsuit, filed July 3 by a diverse group of election reform advocates, aims to force Georgia to retire its antiquated and heavily criticized election technology. The server in question, which served as a statewide staging location for key election-related data, made national headlines in June after a security expert disclosed a gaping security hole that wasn’t fixed six months after he reported it to election authorities. It’s not clear who ordered the server’s data irretrievably erased.

Georgia: Probe underway in destruction of data on election system server | Atlanta Journal Constitution

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp said Thursday that his office is launching an investigation after data was quietly destroyed on a computer server shortly after a lawsuit was filed seeking to force the state to overhaul its election technology. The data wipe, first reported by The Associated Press, was revealed in an email sent by a state prosecutor to lawyers representing election transparency advocates who filed the lawsuit in July questioning the security and accuracy of Georgia’s election infrastructure. The documents show the destruction of the data occurred July 7 at the Center for Elections Systems at Kennesaw State University, which runs the state’s election system. The director of the center referred questions Thursday to Kennesaw State’s press office. The KSU center’s system will be used in the upcoming elections. KSU represenattives late Thursday issued a statement explaining that the server, which had been examined by the FBI, was wiped so it could be repurposed. School spokeswoman Tammy DeMel said in the statement the FBI made a copy of all of the data on the server before informing KSU it had not been compromised and returning the technology. DeMel said the university determined the technology on the server had exceeded its life and erased the data to repurpose the device.

Georgia: Evidence Destroyed In Georgia Election Lawsuit | Opposing Views

A Georgia lawsuit mounted by voters urging for an overhaul of the state elections system has run into a roadblock. A computer server that was deemed crucial evidence in the lawsuit has been wiped clean for unclear purposes, prompting plaintiffs in the case to cry foul. On Oct. 26, emails obtained through an open records request disclosed that the data of a computer server at the Center for Elections Systems at Kennesaw State University was destroyed on July 7, AP reports. The university’s center runs the entire Georgia state election system. The server contained electronic poll book data and was deemed crucial evidence in an ongoing lawsuit against the state’s election officials. It remains unclear who ordered the server to be wiped. GOP secretary of state Brian Kemp of Georgia has denied any involvement in the decision and Center for Elections Systems director Michael Barnes declined to comment.

Kentucky: Grimes denies allegations of gathering improper voter data | Lexington Herald Leader

Calling the claims against her “politically motivated and spurious,” Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes denied that she ever improperly obtained voter data or that she took inappropriate action in a contract with a state vendor. “Candidates for office in Kentucky have a number of available alternatives to obtain voter data, including purchasing it from the State Board of Elections or receiving it from political parties,” Bradford Queen, Grimes’ communications director, said in written statement Thursday. “As a result, in her capacity as a candidate, Secretary Grimes would have no reason to obtain voter data by other means.”

North Carolina: Special master named to draw legislative districts | News & Observer

Federal judges announced their plans on Thursday to ask a Stanford University law professor to look at nine North Carolina legislative districts as they weigh the constitutionality of election maps adopted in August. The news came in an order filed in federal court by the three-judge panel asked to decide whether the new maps correct 28 districts drawn in 2011 and later found to be unconstitutional racial gerrymanders. The judges raised questions about seven state House districts and two state Senate districts that “either fail to remedy the identified constitutional violation or are otherwise legally unacceptable.” One Senate district was in Guilford County; the other was in Hoke and Cumberland counties. The House districts were in Wake County, Mecklenburg County and Guilford County. … Judge Catherine Eagles informed the attorneys in the order that Nathaniel Persily, who has helped draw districts for New York, Maryland, Georgia and Connecticut, would review North Carolina’s new legislative maps and possibly help the judges draw new lines for 2018.

Virginia: State Supreme Court to hear appeal in redistricting case | Associated Press

Virginia’s Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal by a redistricting advocacy group challenging a judge’s decision upholding 11 state House and Senate districts. The court on Tuesday granted a petition filed by the advocacy group OneVirginia2021, which claims that during the 2011 redistricting process, lawmakers violated the requirement that election districts must be compact. Richmond Circuit Court Judge W. Reilly Marchant ruled in March that the districts are constitutional.

Greece: Mitsotakis pledges to grant voting rights for Greeks abroad | Neos Kosmos

Leader of the Opposition, Kiriakos Mitsotakis, jumped aboard the ‘diaspora voting rights’ train on Monday, when he presented a draft bill on behalf of his party Nea Dimokratia which proposes how Greeks abroad could vote in the country’s elections. It is the second attempt of the opposition to start this conversation, as the same draft legislation has been dragging in parliament for 18 months without being brought up for vote.

Liberia: Election Complaints Overshadow Liberia Presidential Runoff | New Vision

“REMEMBER TO VOTE” wrote Liberia’s National Elections Commission (NEC) on its Facebook page on Wednesday, a daily reminder to Liberians that the final stage of selecting their president is fast approaching. “REMEMBER NOT TO CHEAT AGAIN NEC!” came the swift reply in the comments. Former international footballer George Weah and incumbent Vice President Joseph Boakai face a runoff for Liberia’s presidency on November 7, a crucial test of the country’s stability. But complaints about the conduct of the first round of voting on October 10 are drowning out their efforts to campaign in the small west African nation. As Weah and Boakai mount last-minute pushes for funding and support at home and abroad, Liberians are preoccupied with another political process playing out at the electoral commission and potentially in the country’s courts.

Russia: Putin’s Acolytes Are Determined to Crush the Opposition, One Activist at a Time | Newsweek

Ivan Skripnichenko, a 35-year-old Russian opposition activist, was standing guard at a makeshift memorial to a slain Kremlin foe when a man dressed in army surplus clothing walked up to him. “Don’t you love Putin?” he asked, before knocking Skripnichenko down with a punch to the face. Eight days later, Skripnichenko was dead. “It was a powerful and professional blow,” Marina Lebedeva, an anti-government activist who says she witnessed the August 15 attack in central Moscow, tells Newsweek. The assailant also kicked Skripnichenko as he lay on the ground next to the flower-strewn “people’s memorial” for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was shot dead at the exact same spot near Red Square by Chechen gunmen in 2015. Authorities have refused to give permission for the memorial, and so opposition activists have been guarding it around-the-clock since Nemtsov’s murder.