National: DHS official says ‘trust’ with states prevents sharing cyber threats to election with Congress | InsideCyberSecurity

The Department of Homeland Security’s Christopher Krebs told House lawmakers that a “trust” relationship with state officials has prevented the department from sharing specific details about cyber threats to the 2016 presidential election with Congress. Krebs said “we don’t have statutory authority to compel” states to report cyber incidents to the federal government, while expressing concern that the level of trust needed to get states to share with DHS could be undermined by passing along that information to lawmakers. Krebs, who is the senior official performing the duties of the DHS under secretary for the National Protection and Programs Directorate, testified Wednesday at a joint hearing by the House Oversight and Government Reform information technology and intergovernmental affairs subcommittees on the “cybersecurity of voting machines.”

National: Vote-Hacking Fears Help State Officials Get Security Clearances | Bloomberg

Three months before some U.S. states host primary elections, the Department of Homeland Security has begun offering security clearances to state officials to more easily share classified information as the threat of cyberattacks looms over next year’s polls. The federal government is “clear-eyed” that threats to election systems remain an ongoing concern after Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, according to Chris Krebs, the DHS senior official performing the duties of under secretary for the National Protection and Programs Directorate. We’re offering security clearances initially to senior election officials, and we’re also exploring additional clearances to other state officials,” Krebs told a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee hearing on Wednesday. “These relationships are built and sustained on trust. Breaking that trust will have far-ranging consequences in our ability to collaboratively counter this growing threat.”

National: Privacy advocates cite Russian hacking in court arguments over election data security | InsideCyberSecurity

Lawyers for the Electronic Privacy Information Center told circuit judges last week that attacks on the nation’s election system by Russia underscore the risks to voter data being collected by a presidential commission, in a case that could determine the federal government’s role in securing voter rolls managed by the states. “This data, voter data, is the most sensitive data in our form of government. And we know on record it was also the target of a foreign adversary during the 2016 election,” Marc Rotenberg, president and executive director at EPIC, told a panel of judges at the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on Nov. 21. EPIC, a nonprofit advocate of online privacy and digital rights, is asking federal courts to block the presidentially appointed commission from collecting the voter data. His comments are a reference to the intelligence community’s conclusion that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election, which has prompted a number of congressional investigations that could lead to legislation setting new security requirements for voter data.

Alabama: Roy Moore Criticizes Effort To Make Sure All Eligible Voters Can Vote In Alabama | HuffPost

Roy Moore, the Republican nominee for an Alabama U.S. Senate seat, accused Democrats on Tuesday of attempting to register felons in order to sway the special election to his Democratic opponent. What he failed to acknowledge is that the new voters are all people who have done their time or are in the process of paying their debt to society, and now have had their right to vote restored by the Alabama Legislature. At the turn of the 20th century, Alabama passed a law blocking anyone convicted of a crime of moral turpitude from casting a ballot, a measure that was used largely to keep African-Americans off the voting rolls. After the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the lawin 1985, the state narrowed its scope to felonies of moral turpitude and reinserted it in the state constitution.

California: Latino groups join voting rights lawsuit | The San Diego Union-Tribune

A number of civil rights organizations and activists are asking to join the opposition to a federal lawsuit that challenges the constitutionality of the California Voting Rights Act. The groups, which include the oldest and strongest Hispanic rights organizations in the country, want to side with the California Attorney General’s office in opposition to the lawsuit. Filed on behalf of former Poway Mayor Don Higginson with representation and funding from the conservative Virginia-based The Project on Fair Representation, the lawsuit claims the voting rights act violates the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by denying all citizens the right to choose who they want to represent them.

Verified Voting Blog: Testimony of Verified Voting to the Georgia House of Representatives House Science and Technology Committee

Download as PDF Georgia’s voting machines need an update. The lifespan of voting machines has been estimated at 10-15 years.1 Purchased in 2002 Georgia’s voting machines are at the outside of that estimate. As voting systems age they are more susceptible to error, malfunction or security threats potentially losing or miscounting votes. Georgia is one…

Editorials: Florida should not deny ex-felons, including veterans, the right to vote | Col. Mike Pheneger/Miami Herald

More than 1.2 million Floridians are barred from voting because of a prior felony conviction — even though they have completed their sentences. That includes thousands of military veterans who have served our country. Each year about 60,000 Floridians finish their prison sentences or probation. In recent years, about 6 percent (approximately 3,600) were veterans. In the past, the percentage was higher — 8 percent in 2007; 11 percent in 1997. In 1978, in the wake of the Vietnam War, the national figure was 24 percent.

Mississippi: Lawmaker hopes to increase low voter turnout | MSNewsNow

Hinds County voters returned to the polls Tuesday in the special election runoff for county attorney, but election officials reported extremely low turnout, which isn’t uncommon for runoffs. One lawmaker hopes bills he is introducing will increase the numbers casting their ballots. Throughout much of the day, Tuesday poll workers sat waiting for voters. At Precinct 14, Fondren Presbyterian Church, only eight people had voted by 11:30 in the special runoff is for county attorney. According to Hinds County election officials, just  6.8% of registered voters cast their ballot in the November 7 election. There are more than 150,800 registered voters in the county.

Nevada: After losing control a year ago, Nevada GOP is trying to flip state senate through unexplained recall process | The Washington Post

Republicans here in the suburban desert have begun recall campaigns against three Democratic state senators without giving an official cause, raising concerns nationally that they are using recalls to give the GOP the power to redraw legislative district lines after the 2020 elections. The recall campaigns, which are being challenged in court beginning Wednesday, target state senators who represent politically divided middle-class neighborhoods. The coordinated efforts began less than a year after the senators won election to four-year terms and rely on a Nevada law that allows voters to recall state officials without stating a reason. The campaign has drawn allegations from Democrats — and at least one high-ranking Republican, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval — that a provision designed to help voters hold elected officials accountable is being used to advance partisan goals. If successful, the test here could provide a model for other states that also allow recalls without any allegations of malfeasance.

New Hampshire: Critics Say Residency Bill Targets Student Voters | Valley News

Hanover-area officials are sounding the alarm over a bill they say would discourage New Hampshire college students from out of state from voting here. The Senate bill, which would require voters to seek residency in order to vote, would place unnecessary hurdles between students and the ballot box, according to opponents. But supporters counter that if passed, the law would clarify state election laws, and do a better job of vetting who is allowed onto the voter rolls. “I’m continually disappointed and frustrated, of course, by what I see as a nasty attempt to suppress voting, especially of college students,” said state Sen. Martha Hennessey, D-Hanover, on Wednesday.

New Mexico: Santa Fe ordered to implement ranked-choice voting | Albuquerque Journal

Santa Fe is set to become the first city in New Mexico to use ranked-choice voting after a state district court judge ruled that the city can’t postpone implementation of the election system any longer now that appropriate vote-counting software is ready to go. Attorneys for the city said after Wednesday’s court hearing that it would be up to policy makers — the City Council — to decide whether to appeal the decision. Santa Fe voters approved a change to ranked choice voting, also known as “instant runoff,” nine years ago, but it has never been used. A group of Santa Feans sued after the City Council decided in July to delay implementing ranked-choice until 2020 due to concerns that software would not be ready for the 2018 campaign and more time was needed to educate voters about the voting method.

Wisconsin: Voter ID laws discriminate based on race, socioeconomic status | The Badger Herald

Voting in free and fair elections is a cornerstone of today’s version of the American democracy. While voting rights certainly didn’t extend outside white, male landowners when the democratic experiment was written into existence in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, as this country has grown, expanded and modernized, so too has the number and scope of people allowed to elect their political officials. As part of the restructuring of the south following the Civil War, the 15th amendment granted African American men to vote. In 1920, women were granted the same right by the 19th amendment after extensive lobbying for a right they deserved equally as much as their male counterparts. Fast-forward to the 21st century, and voting turnouts are despicably low, with the national turnout rate slightly more than 58 percent for the 2016 presidential election. At least 19 states saw a decrease in voter turnout in 2016, a statistic antithetical to previous data showing an increase in voter turnout in presidential races where no incumbent is on the ballot. So, either 42 percent of Americans are disillusioned enough with American politics and the electoral process to abstain from exercising a right so desperately sought after in other parts of the world, or there is something else at play here. Enter Republican-sanctioned voter ID laws.

Wisconsin: Bill to allow early electronic voting gets hearing in Madison | WIZM

Early voting in Wisconsin could be done electronically this year. A bill will get a hearing this week in Madison allowing early electronic voting rather than submitting an early absentee paper ballot that gets opened and counted on election night. It’s just a policy shift that simplifies the voting process, says Republican legislator and bill sponsor Janel Brandtjen. “They already have the machines,” she said. “They’re there. They’re able to be used. Why wouldn’t we take advantage of technology? I kind of look at this as working smarter, not harder.”

Germany: Another Angela Merkel-led grand coalition in Germany | Deutsche Welle

In her capacity as the leader of the conservative CDU, Angela Merkel meets Thursday evening with the head of the Bavarian conservative party Horst Seehofer, Social Democratic (SPD) chairman Martin Schulz and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Here’s what you need to know ahead of their talks about the new possible German government. How did we get here? After the CDU/CSU outperformed the SPD in Germany’s September 24 national election, Merkel was charged with forming a government, while Schulz declared that the Social Democrats would go into the opposition. But the breakdown of talks to form a three-way coalition between conservatives, the center-right business-friendly Free Democratic Party and the Greens (FDP) has put the grand coalition back on the table as the only other realistic chance for a parliamentary majority. After pressure from within his own party, Schulz dropped his categorical opposition to continuing the current arrangement between Germany’s two largest political parties, traditionally rivals.

Honduras: A U.S. Ally Says He Won Honduras’s Presidential Election. Hondurans Aren’t So Sure | The New Yorker

By 2 o’clock on Monday morning, the day after national elections were held in Honduras, two Presidential candidates had declared victory. One was the heavily favored incumbent, Juan Orlando Hernández. The other was Salvador Nasralla, a former sportscaster and political neophyte who spoke, as one journalist put it, with “the cadence of the game-show host he once was.” The results were partial but striking: with fifty-seven per cent of the vote tallied, Nasralla had a five-point lead. Blindsided but undeterred, Hernández assembled a small group of anxious supporters in Tegucigalpa, the capital, to insist that he was winning. But, as he spoke, the chief magistrate of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal—the four-person body that certifies the results—who had remained curiously silent for hours after the voting ended, announced numbers that contradicted the President. The chief magistrate added, however, that it was too early to call the election. (The Electoral Tribunal is aligned with Hernández’s party, the Partido Nacional, which controlled the vote counts at individual polling places, per an election law that party members had recently modified in Congress.)

Liberia: Parties register election appeal with Supreme Court | AFP

The parties of the Liberian presidential candidates who finished second and third in October 10 elections have lodged an appeal with the Supreme Court calling for a re-run of the vote. Incumbent Vice-President Joseph Boakai and veteran opposition leader Charles Brumskine brought the demand to Liberia’s highest legal body on Monday after the country’s electoral commission ruled that irregularities recorded during voting did not affect the overall result. Legal documents filed by Boakai’s Unity Party and Brumskine’s Liberty Party said alleged errors linked to the voter register and ballot paper serial numbers amounted to “the violation of the constitution and laws of Liberia”. The filing added that “the pervasiveness of the fraud and gross irregularities throughout the electoral process warrant a re-run of the elections” – an unprecedented demand to start the entire process of choosing a new president from scratch.

Zimbabwe: Downtrodden wary of ‘free and fair election’ promise | The Irish Times

Recent promises made by Zimbabwe’s new president that free and fair elections will be held in 2018 are viewed with suspicion by people in Matabeleland, a part of the country that has suffered greatly under the ruling regime. From early 1983 to late 1984 government soldiers unleashed in the southwestern region by former president Robert Mugabe killed up to 20,000 Ndebele people, according to rights activists. Suspected of being affiliated with a rival nationalist party called Zapu, the victims were seen as a threat to the ruling Zanu-PF by the former dictator. Mugabe’s successor, the recently sworn-in President Emmerson Mnangagwa (75), was state security minister at the time and allegedly played a central role in co-ordinating attacks on civilians that became known locally as the Gukurahundi massacres. He denies any involvement.

Editorials: Electronic voting infrastructure must become more resilient against attacks | Mark Peters/The Hill

Cybersecurity for elections has been in the news a lot lately. There have been proposals for new cybersecurity efforts for election systems. There have been demonstrations of hacking voting machines. However, we’ve been missing a crucial point: election equipment cannot be made completely secure. Given that well-defended systems in other fields still suffer cybersecurity breaches, we should assume that well-secured election infrastructure will sometimes be compromised by hackers. Therefore, it is imperative that we enhance the resiliency of our election systems and processes so that they provide accurate election results even if the equipment used for registration, voting, results reporting, or other parts of the election process have been successfully hacked.

National: Ethics watchdog: Trump voter fraud commission official may have violated law | The Hill

An ethics watchdog group is alleging that the vice chairman of President Trump’s election voter fraud commission may have violated a federal conflict of interest law. The left-leaning group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), filed the complaint Tuesday with the Department of Justice regarding Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. CREW said Kobach is paid to write columns for Breitbart News. One column  — which Kobach later brought up during a New Hampshire meeting of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity — made claims about voter fraud in New Hampshire, according to the group.

National: 6 Months In, There’s No End In Sight: Who’s Who In The Vast Russia Imbroglio | NPR

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference has passed the six-month mark, and President Trump’s staff is painting a picture of a process nearing its end. “We still expect this to conclude soon,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders has told reporters. Ty Cobb, the outside attorney brought in to help the White House in its response to the probe, told NPR’s Tamara Keith that Mueller’s interviews with Trump campaign officials would be completed “ideally by Thanksgiving.”

National: Virginia Elections Official to Testify Before Congress About Concerns of Electronic Voting Machine Vulnerabilities | NBC

Congress will question Virginia’s top elections official Wednesday about a decision he made weeks before this year’s election to prevent votes from being hacked. Virginia Department of Elections Commissioner Edgardo Cortes recommended removing all touchscreen voting machines and using paper ballots over concerns the electronic machines could be vulnerable to hackers trying to infiltrate Virginia’s election system. The U.S. House Oversight Committee called Cortes to testify and explain his decision Wednesday as part of a hearing on voting system vulnerabilities.

National: Gerrymandering opponents turn to ballot initiatives to redraw lines | The Hill

Advocates of radically overhauling partisan gerrymandering are increasingly looking to ballot initiatives to reform the redistricting process, in hopes of circumventing recalcitrant legislatures. Supporters of a proposal to create a nonpartisan redistricting commission in Michigan say they will turn in more than 400,000 signatures by the end of the year. They need 315,000 of those signatures to be valid in order to qualify for next year’s ballot. In Ohio, a coalition of organizations is in the process of collecting the 305,591 valid signatures they need to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot. And in Colorado, another coalition plans two ballot initiatives — one that would reform congressional redistricting, and another to reform legislative redistricting.

Editorials: You can’t hack paper ballots | Paul Campbell/Buffalo Reflex

Recently in this column I wrote about the problems with a cashless society, and today I am talking about the hazards of a paperless voting system. I’m sure this looks to some like I am anti-technology, but I’m not. All technologies — from television sets to the Internet — have their downsides, and these should be explored as objectively as possible. Everyone should read an excellent article on this subject in the December issue of The Atlantic magazine. The story, by Jill Leovy, is about Barbara Simons, 76, who has been an ardent fan of paper ballots for the past two decades. Just about everybody, including the League of Women Voters and the ACLU, passed her off as a crackpot for years. In the aftermath of the alleged Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election, however, the guardians of our voting system are taking a second look at Simons’ ideas. It should be noted that Simons, now retired, was a computer engineer for decades.

Colorado: State first to complete new kind of election audit | Craig Daily Press

Colorado has become the first state in the country to complete a risk-limiting audit, or RLA, designed to catch mistakes when ballots are tabulated, and Moffat County was part of the successful test that garnered national interest. “It went really great — better than expected,” said Deputy Election Clerk Amanda Tomlinson. “The processes took over a year of preparation with the secretary of state and learning to use the RLA tool.” The RLA is a procedure that provides strong statistical evidence that an election outcome is correct and has a high probability of correcting an erroneous outcome. It requires humans to examine and verify more ballots in close races and fewer ballots in races with wide margins.

Montana: At Secretary of State’s behest, county elections delves into ballot rejection process | The Missoulian

The May special election to find Montana’s new congressional representative just keeps coming back into play. Tuesday, Missoula County Elections Administrator Rebecca Connors told the County Commission about her office’s survey into their handling of rejected ballots. The survey was done at the request of Secretary of State Corey Stapleton, who, according to Connors asked the same of each Montana county elections office. And if the local offices didn’t want to, his office would. Stapleton’s request for the surveys came after an email exchange between him and Connors that was made public after the commissioners decided to respond. In the emails, Stapleton accused Missoula County of not taking voter fraud seriously and asked “why 91 illegal signatures on mail ballots are once again going to be silently set aside on the shelf of indifference.”

Montana: Stapleton Now Says No Evidence Of Voter Fraud | MTPR

Montana’s secretary of state said Tuesday that he’s looked into whether there was election fraud during this May’s special election and hasn’t seen any evidence showing a coordinated effort to cast mismatched, or illegal, signatures on ballots. Secretary of State Corey Stapleton raised the issue of potential voter fraud in August. At a meeting with state lawmakers, he said that just because it hasn’t happened in Montana before doesn’t mean it’s not happening now. But in a Tuesday afternoon phone conference with clerks, Stapleton said that after examining results from a survey of illegal ballots from the May 25 special election, he now believes Montana has a healthy election system that could use some improvement.

New Hampshire: Amendment would raise bar for voting eligibility in New Hampshire | Concord Monitor

A late amendment to a bill that would limit voting to New Hampshire residents passed a Senate committee Tuesday, setting the stage for a new political battle in the Legislature next session over voting requirements. The proposed change would require residency in the state, setting a higher bar for eligibility than present election law, which requires only that voters be “domiciled.” Democrats were quick to condemn the move, calling it an attempt to suppress voting that would effectively target college students. Under current law, being domiciled means physically occupying a space in the state “more than any other place.” Residency carries stronger burdens of proof, such as utility bills or rental, and one of the consequences of declaring residency is that new residents must register their cars in New Hampshire and get state-issued driver’s licenses.

New Mexico: Judge promises ruling Wednesday in ranked-choice voting case | Santa Fe New Mexican

It’s double overtime for the ranked-choice voting case that might turn the city of Santa Fe’s 2018 election on its head. After a daylong hearing Tuesday, state District Court Judge David Thomson said he would rule Wednesday morning on a petition brought by a group of advocates who want to force the city to use the long-delayed ranking mechanism in March, when voters will choose a full-time mayor. The state’s top election officials say the ranked-choice software module is ready. City attorneys, however, say it’s too late to change the rules — and dropped in the curveball argument Tuesday that a ranked-choice election might violate the state constitution.

New York: Lawmakers: Election Hacking Will Be Long-Term Challenge | Associated Press

Officials say New York managed to dodge Russian hacking attempts last year — and they’re aiming to keep it that way. Lawmakers at a hearing on election security Tuesday said the state must take steps to protect the democratic process because the risk of hacking is here to stay. Possibilities include statewide cybersecurity guidelines for county election boards and more aggressive auditing of ballots after an election to look for discrepancies. “We know now the cyberattacks were part of a comprehensive effort by Putin’s Russia,” said Assemblyman Charles Lavine, a Democrat from Long Island and the chairman of the Committee on Election Law. “These attacks were not aberrations. Only the most naive and/or the most corrupt would believe they will not continue into the future.”

Virginia: State Board of Elections certifies disputed Fredericksburg-area results despite 147 people voting in the wrong House race | Richmond Post-Dispatch

Virginia’s State Board of Elections on Monday certified the results of two Fredericksburg-area House of Delegates elections, despite Democrats asking the board to delay the process because 147 people voted in the wrong House district. The elections board’s 3-0 vote to certify the results showing Republicans winning the 28th and 88th District races does not finalize the outcome. But it closes an initial, chaotic chapter in the legal battle over a close 28th District race that could decide which party controls the House after Democrats picked up at least 15 seats in a wave election on Nov. 7.