When Logan Lamb visited the website of Georgia’s Center for Election Systems in Aug. 2016, what he found left him speechless. Although the cybersecurity researcher had no password or special authorization, he was able through a Google search to download the state’s voter registration list, view files with Election Day passwords, and access what appeared to be databases used to prepare ballots, tabulate votes, and summarize vote totals. He also discovered a vulnerability that would allow anyone to take full control of a server used for Georgia’s elections. It was everything a Russian hacker – or any malicious intruder – might need to disrupt the vote in Georgia. “Had the bad guys wanted to just completely own the central election system, they could have,” Mr. Lamb told the Monitor in an interview … There are only a handful of states in the US that are currently performing audits that start with voter-verified paper ballots. Many counties in California have conducted pioneering work with such audits. New Mexico hires an independent CPA to oversea an audit of a few key races in that state. And Rhode Island recently enacted a law to develop a voter-verified audit system. But the single most important development in this area is about to take place in Colorado.
National: State election boards’ hands are sometimes tied when it comes to voting machine security. | Slate
Voting in the United States is highly decentralized—and in many ways that’s a good thing when it comes to security. Having different regions operate their own elections and count their own votes makes it harder for someone to forge, compromise, or change a large number of votes all at once. But that decentralization also means that individual states, counties, or districts are also often free to make bad decisions about what kind of voting technology to use—and it’s surprisingly hard to stop them. Earlier this week, North Carolina’s state elections board made a last-ditch attempt to convince a judge to prohibit counties in the state from using voting software manufactured by VR Systems on the grounds that the board hadn’t officially certified the software since 2009. On Monday—the day before Election Day—that attempt failed when Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway declined to intervene.
National: Trump fraud commission sued by one of its own members, alleging Democrats are being kept in the dark | The Washington Post
President Trump’s voter fraud commission was sued Thursday morning by one of its Democratic members, who alleged that he has been kept in the dark about its operations, rendering his participation “essentially meaningless.” Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said in a complaint filed in federal court that the 11-member panel is in violation of a federal law that requires presidential advisory commissions to be both balanced and transparent in their work. “The Commission has, in effect, not been balanced because Secretary Dunlap and the other Democratic commissioners have been excluded from the Commission’s work,” says the complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. “The Commission’s operations have not been open and transparent, not even to the commissioners themselves, who have been deprived access to documents prepared by and viewed by other commissioners.”
One possible consequence of the controversy engulfing Roy Moore’s campaign for the U.S. Senate is apparently off the table. Josh Pendergrass, communications director for Gov. Kay Ivey, said today the governor does not intend to change the date of the Dec. 12 election. “The Governor is not considering and has no plans to move the special election for the U.S. Senate,” Pendergrass said in a text message. Moore has strongly denied the allegation reported by the Washington Post that he dated and had a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl when he was 32.
New Jersey: Pols Push for Voting Machines that Offer Paper Trail for Every Ballot Cast | NJ Spotlight
Voters across New Jersey are going to polling places today to pick a new governor, select candidates for seats in the state Legislature, and to decide many contested county and municipal elections. But questions have been raised in recent weeks about whether the electronic machines that will be used to count the vote in many places in New Jersey are vulnerable to computer error or even hacking, and lawmakers are pushing for the machines to eventually be upgraded so there’s a “voter-verified” paper trail to back up each vote that is cast on Election Day. To be sure, there’s been no evidence of any widespread voting-machine failure or large-scale tampering leading up to today’s elections in New Jersey, and election officials say there have been no recorded cases of an electronic-voting machine having been hacked in New Jersey during any recent election. What’s more, the machines themselves are not attached to any network so hacking would have to occur in person rather than remotely. But a Princeton University computer-science professor opened the eyes of lawmakers by showing them during a recent hearing in Trenton how voting machines that are used in 18 of New Jersey’s 21 counties could theoretically be hacked manually by someone seeking to make sure an election turns out in a specific way.
North Carolina: Forsyth County seeks voting machine extension from General Assembly | Winston Salem Chronicle
Forsyth County Board of Elections is hoping the General Assembly will give counties an extension on getting new voting machines. Currently the county is under a state deadline to switch to a paper-based ballot system by next year. The county had planned to replace its current touchscreen voting machines used for early voting with new machines that will produce paper ballots. Plans to test the machines and have them ready by 2018, were sidelined by a legal battle over proposed changes to the makeup of election boards in the state. As North Carolina awaits a ruling, the State BOE’s term expired and the board is currently vacant. Without a state board, there is no one to certify new voting machines for use in the state, so Forsyth can’t get new machines and its current ones will no longer be certified after year’s end.
Pennsylvania: In case that could affect 2018 elections, high court rules gerrymandering suit can proceed | Philadelphia Inquirer
In a case that could force the redrawing of congressional maps before the 2018 elections, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Thursday ordered the Commonwealth Court to decide a gerrymandering lawsuit by the end of the year. “We will have our day in court, and we will get a decision and a resolution of this matter in time for the 2018 election,” said Mimi McKenzie, the legal director of Philadelphia-based Public Interest Law Center, which represents the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania in the case. If the districts are, in fact, redrawn before next year’s midterm elections, the result could have national implications. New districts could give Democrats a boost in competitive, Republican-held districts just outside Philadelphia as they push to take control of the U.S. House. “It’s something that has broad national implications,” said Michael Li, senior redistrict counsel for the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University.
A former lawmaker filed a petition at Kenya’s Supreme Court on Monday challenging President Uhuru Kenyatta’s victory in last month’s presidential election in a last minute move that opens the door to legal scrutiny of the vote. Harun Mwau filed the petition hours before a Monday deadline set by the constitution expired. Earlier in the day, a coalition of civil society groups said they were being targeted by the government in an effort to head off potential legal cases. The Supreme Court has until Nov. 14 to rule on election petitions. If it upholds the result, Kenyatta will be sworn in on Nov. 28.
Spain: Will Catalonia’s separatists win in December? The voting system is stacked in their favor. | The Washington Post
Catalonia’s Oct. 27 unilateral declaration of independence from Spain has gained the region a lot of attention — perhaps more so than at any time since the Spanish Civil War. How did Catalonia end up declaring independence? Like the U.S. electoral college, Catalonia’s electoral system can turn a popular vote loser into a winner. In fact, the strong biases built into the Catalan electoral system elevated the crisis by inflating the secessionists’ parliamentary majority. And these same rules may perpetuate the crisis. After the declaration of independence, Spain’s central government used its powers under Article 155 of the constitution to take control of the regional government. Madrid called for fresh regional elections on Dec. 21. But Catalonia’s separatists may win a parliamentary majority again, even if they lose at the polls. The Catalan parliament is elected via proportional representation, which is commonly used around the world. Why did this “proportional” system lead to a surprise advantage for separatists? It’s all in the fine print.
National: Rep. Debbie Dingell’s bill would require paper voting, recounts in close elections | The Hill
A new bill would require states to use voting machines with paper backups and conduct audits in close elections. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) introduced the Safeguarding Election Infrastructure Act on Wednesday, which aims to increase elections security by requiring voting machines funded by the federal Help America Vote Act print a paper receipt of each vote. “Our democracy depends on free and fair elections, and we must do everything we can to protect the security and integrity of that process,” said Dingell in a written statement. “The reality is, many of our voting machines have not been updated in nearly two decades and are susceptible to cyberattacks. We know that foreign adversaries pay very close attention to our elections, and until we address these vulnerabilities, our democratic process is at risk,” she said.
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar introduced legislation to automatically register voters, a news release from her office stated Wednesday. The Register America to Vote Act would ensure every state develops and implements a secure process to automatically register eligible citizens to vote when they turn 18. Minnesota is among the 32 states where automatic voter registration bill have been introduced. Last year, Minnesotans turned out to vote at the highest rate of any state in the country with 81 percent of registered voters casting a ballot. Klobuchar is the ranking member of the Senate Rules Committee with oversight jurisdiction over federal elections.
One late morning in May 2016, the leaders of the Democratic National Committee huddled around a packed conference table and stared at Robert Johnston. The former Marine Corps captain gave his briefing with unemotional military precision, but what he said was so unnerving that a high-level DNC official curled up in a ball on her conference room chair as if watching a horror movie. At 30, Johnston was already an accomplished digital detective who had just left the military’s elite Cyber Command, where he had helped stanch a Russian hack on the US military’s top leadership. Now, working for a private cybersecurity company, he had to brief the DNC — while it was in the middle of a white-knuckle presidential campaign — about what he’d found in the organization’s computer networks. Their reaction was “pure shock,” Johnston recalled. “It was their worst day.”
After Virginia, the Democratic Party is breathing a sigh of relief. The rather easy victory for Governor-elect Ralph Northam stems the tide of recent hemorrhaging of key positions across the United States to Republicans, and continues Democrats’ control over a blue-ish state. Northam’s victory, and that of Justin Fairfax, the second black official elected in a statewide race in Virginia, also offers a sign that virulent and race-baiting white-identity politics—politics that characterize the Trump era and the late portion of Republican Ed Gillespie’s campaign—are beatable, even in the cradle of the old Confederacy. Those signs are reason enough for Democrats to celebrate. But the true national significance of Northam’s victory, as well as of major gains by the party in the General Assembly, might not be in the message they send, but the fact that those gains constitute the first big victory for Democrats in the political mapmaking game in at least a decade.
Sagauche County had an unusual problem with its election on Tuesday. The Post Office in the town of Saguache was burglarized Monday night, turning it into a crime scene and making it difficult to retrieve mail-in ballots. The county’s clerk and recorder, Carla Gomez says there were only six ballots at the Post Office that day. She says most of the county’s voters drop their ballots off in-person. “We were obviously concerned because we wanted to pick up any ballots that we needed to collect to get through the day and there was no mail available because the post office was closed,” Gomez said. “So what I did then was just notify the Secretary of State’s office immediately.”
Much ado was made earlier this year when the Trump administration asked all 50 states for their voter-registration rolls. Idaho Secretary of State Lawerence Denney told Kris Kobach, vice chairman of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, that the commission could have only the voter registration information available under Idaho law — name, address, party affiliation and election-participation history. Denney assured the public that other personal information collected on Idaho’s voter registration forms — a voter’s date of birth, driver’s-license number and the last four digits of the Social Security number — is not releasable under Idaho’s public records law. Kobach, he said, could not have it. In fact, Denney had already given it to Kobach. In February, Denney gave Kobach information on all registered Idaho voters, including two pieces of voters’ non-public personal information — their birth dates and abbreviated Social Security numbers. And that was not the first time. Kobach received the same information about Idaho voters in 2014, 2015 and 2016. Why did this happen?
Maine: Secretary of State, a member of Trump fraud commission, sues panel for information about its work | Portland Press Herald
Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap has filed a federal lawsuit against President Trump’s voter fraud commission in an effort to obtain information and correspondence about the commission’s work. Dunlap, one of four Democrats on the 11-member Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, filed the lawsuit Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, more than three weeks after requesting the information. Despite the fact that he is a member of the commission, Dunlap says he has been kept in the dark about what it is doing. The lawsuit alleges that the commission’s chairman, Vice President Mike Pence, and vice chairman, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, are in violation of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, which prohibits the body from excluding commissioners from deliberations and information. The Executive Office of the President is also a named defendant, as the office is staffing the commission and maintaining its records. “Since the Sept. 12 meeting, I have received no correspondence from the commission other than to acknowledge receipt of my information request” of October 17, Dunlap said in a prepared statement. “Clearly, there is information about this commission being created and discussed, but I have no access to that information and it has not been provided upon request.”
New Mexico: Judge: State workers can take paid leave to vote in most elections | Santa Fe New Mexican
State employees have a right to be paid when they take time off work to vote in an election, a state judge in Santa Fe ruled Wednesday in a case that could have consequences for workers in private businesses, nonprofits and government agencies. The decision resolves for now a lawsuit challenging a policy allowing New Mexico government workers to claim paid administrative leave while voting in most elections — but not local races. It was filed last month by two state employees just days before the first round of polling in Albuquerque’s mayoral race. The lawsuit argues that the workers effectively would be penalized for taking time from work to vote in the city election because they would lose either pay or vacation time. First Judicial District Court Judge David Thomson said the state government’s voting leave policy must extend to municipal elections.
As New York State’s archaic election and voting laws continue to dampen voter turnout, the New York City Council is about to take a step to encourage participation. The City Council’s governmental operations committee will vote on Tuesday, November 14 to approve a bill allowing online voter registration for city residents, Council Member Ben Kallos, chair of the committee, told Gotham Gazette on Thursday. The bill is then expected to pass the full City Council on Thursday. “With the historic low in turnout on Tuesday, online voter registration will be an essential tool to help more residents become voters,” Kallos said in a phone interview, referring to the 22 percent of registered voters who showed up to the polls to vote for mayor. Following the committee vote, the bill will head to the Council floor for a vote at its next stated meeting, he said.
Pennsylvania: Is your vote safe? Penn State panel casts doubts, but county elections chief says not to worry | Press & Journal
A Nov. 1 forum on election security at Penn State Harrisburg raised concerns about the vulnerability of voting systems nationally and in Pennsylvania to cyber attack. … Marian Schneider, a former special adviser to Gov. Tom Wolf on election policy and one of three speakers at the Penn State Harrisburg event, said it is “irrelevant” whether…
Pennsylvania: York County still scrambling to resolve races impacted by voting machine error | York Dispatch
Sandra Thompson said she’s still in “wait-and-see” mode when in comes to any potential next steps for her candidacy for York County Court of Common Pleas judge. The local attorney and York NAACP chapter president unofficially finished on the outside looking in at three judge vacancies after the municipal election Tuesday, Nov. 7, but a technical oversight with the county voting machines has left her and other candidates unsure of the results. The oversight, discovered Monday afternoon, allowed a single voter to cast multiple votes for a single candidate in races where more than one candidate is elected.
Virginia: Vote count in close Stafford races fuels criticism, concern | Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star
Questions are swirling around two close elections in the Fredericksburg region that appear destined for recounts. In a conference call Friday, House Democratic Caucus Executive Director Trent Armitage said that 55 military ballots delivered to the Stafford County registrar’s post office box on Tuesday—Election Day—went uncounted because they were not picked up until Wednesday. Democrats said they had no way of knowing which candidates the 55 votes went for, but the ballots arrived on time and came from active-duty military personnel. “We find that to be absolutely ridiculous,” Armitage said. Stafford Supervisor Laura Sellers, a Democrat, lost her Garrisonville District seat to Republican Mark Dudenhefer by just 15 votes. And Republican Bob Thomas holds an 83-vote lead over Democrat Joshua Cole in the race for the 28th District House of Delegates seat representing parts of Fredericksburg and Stafford.
Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga told an audience in Washington Thursday that Kenyans are so upset over the presidential election that they are considering secession. Odinga, whose speech was broadcast on Kenyan television, told his audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies that exclusion is the biggest problem in Kenyan politics today. He said unless that problem is addressed, it could tear the country apart. Odinga said all four of Kenya’s presidents since independence in 1963 have been from the Kikuyu or Kalenjin communities, despite the fact that the country is home to 44 recognized ethnic groups. President Uhuru Kenyatta is Kikuyu, and his deputy, who is expected to run in the next election, is Kalenjin. Odinga refused to compete in the recent presidential election, calling it a sham. Kenyatta won with 98 percent of the vote.
Liberian presidential candidate George Weah’s party said on Wednesday that it will respect the decision to delay the country’s planned run-off vote, but called for the electoral process to be put back on course in a “timely” manner. The former international football star was supposed to face Vice President Joseph Boakai in the second round of presidential elections in the English-speaking West African country on Tuesday. But the runoff vote, which was meant to represent Liberia’s only democratic transfer of power in seven decades, was halted on Monday by the Supreme Court over an opposition party complaint of electoral fraud.
Russia: Putin says Olympic disqualifications are sign of U.S. meddling in Russia’s elections | The Washington Post
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday accused the United States of trying to interfere with Russia’s presidential campaign in retaliation for what the Kremlin dismisses as unfounded U.S. allegations that Moscow interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential vote. On the eve of a possible meeting with President Trump at an economic forum in Vietnam, Putin suggested that the United States is pressing for the disqualification of Russian athletes at the 2018 Winter Olympics as a way of creating discontent with his tenure as president. The International Olympic Committee recently banned six Russian cross-country skiers, including two 2014 Olympic medalists, from future competition in an ongoing doping investigation based on a damning 2016 report. With fewer than 100 days before the beginning of the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, the IOC has still not made a decision about whether to let the country that hosted the 2014 Games participate.
Some disabled people were denied their vote at June’s general election because they were turned away at the polling station or were unable to get inside, a report says. The Electoral Commission revealed that 72% of voters with disabilities believed the 8 June poll was well run, considerably fewer than the 80% recorded among those without disabilities. In a survey of more than 3,500 voters, the commission heard complaints from disabled people that voting literature was difficult to read or understand and that polling stations were hard to access. Some were unaware they could take someone with them to help them cast their ballot or could ask polling station staff to assist. The report recorded complaints that polling booths were too narrow for wheelchairs; noise and flickering lights caused anxiety for some disabled voters; staff did not offer tactile voting devices or did not know how to use them; and disabled people were unable to vote in secret.
The Trump administration slapped sanctions on 10 Venezuelan officials Thursday on allegations of corruption and rights violations after President Nicolas Maduro’s candidates swept nationwide state governor elections last month. The individuals are associated with undermining electoral processes, media censorship, or corruption in Maduro’s administered food programs in Venezuela, the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control said in a statement. As a result of the Treasury’s action, all of the sanctioned individuals’ assets under U.S. jurisdiction are frozen and all U.S. citizens are prohibited from dealing with them. Maduro’s allies claimed a landslide victory in October’s gubernatorial elections, while opposition candidates accused the government of election tampering and fraud. Since then, Venezuela’s legislative super body has moved to silence some of Maduro’s most strident critics — stripping the parliamentary immunity of Freddy Guevara, vice president of the opposition-led National Assembly — and approving legislation to clamp down on the media.