The FBI failed to notify scores of U.S. officials that Russian hackers were trying to break into their personal Gmail accounts despite having evidence for at least a year that the targets were in the Kremlin’s crosshairs, The Associated Press has found. Nearly 80 interviews with Americans targeted by Fancy Bear, a Russian government-aligned cyberespionage group, turned up only two cases in which the FBI had provided a heads-up. Even senior policymakers discovered they were targets only when the AP told them, a situation some described as bizarre and dispiriting. “It’s utterly confounding,” said Philip Reiner, a former senior director at the National Security Council, who was notified by the AP that he was targeted in 2015. “You’ve got to tell your people. You’ve got to protect your people.”
In February 2016, Anita Johnson met a woman in Milwaukee fretting that, although she had voted faithfully for decades, she would be unable to cast a ballot in the presidential election. Her Wisconsin driver’s license was about to expire, and since she was 90 and no longer drove, she wouldn’t renew it. But she had heard about the state’s strict new voter ID law, requiring official photo identification. Without a license, she worried she was out of luck. Maybe not, said Ms. Johnson. The state coordinator for VoteRiders, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that helps citizens vote, Ms. Johnson pointed out that the state Department of Motor Vehicles could issue a photo ID. Poll workers would accept that as proof of identity. On the very last day the would-be voter had a valid license, Ms. Johnson drove her to the agency, which issued the necessary state card. So did she get to vote for president, at 91? “She did,” Ms. Johnson said. “I know, because I drove her to the polls.”
California: Saving throw: Securing democracy with stats, spreadsheets, and 10-sided dice | Ars Technica
More than a dozen counties have now participated in a California-wide pilot project to provide a real-world test of what had previously been an academic theory. The pilot was authorized under California Assembly Bill 2023, which passed in 2010. Including audits conducted before the bill’s passage, 23 contests have been audited across several county-level elections in the state in recent years, and other counties, including Orange, Marin, and Yolo, will have additional audits in the coming weeks. California already has a mandatory audit law, which stipulates that a public manual tally of 1 percent of the precincts, chosen at random, must take place. But in Stark’s view, this is the wrong way to proceed. “There is no statistical justification for the 1 percent tally,” Stark explained. “It is a check on the accuracy of the system, but it is not well tied to ensuring that outcomes are right. It doesn’t require more counting for small margins than for large ones, and it does not require a full hand count, even if something is obviously wrong.”
Colorado has completed a first-of-its-kind statewide election audit, which drew attention from outside the state, with all participating counties passing. That means the so-called risk-limiting audit showed the state’s vote tabulating machines properly counted ballots from the election that ended earlier this month. The audit involved a manual recount of a sample of ballots from the more than 50 counties that had elections this year and compared them with how they were interpreted by tabulating machines. The exercise, which began late last week and was completed Tuesday, comes amid national concern about election integrity. “I think it’s fair to say that both state and county election officials were a little anxious because this has never been done before,” Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams said in a written statement. “But it turned out to be an amazing success, and that’s because our staff and our county clerks have done a phenomenal job. I am thankful for their hard work and dedication.”
The results are in from this month’s test run of a voting system that could bring paper ballots back to Georgia: It was easy to use and fast, but it would come with a high cost to taxpayers. The trial of the touch screen-plus-paper ballot voting system “came off without a hitch” when it was tried during the Nov. 7 election for Conyers’ mayor and City Council, Georgia Elections Director Chris Harvey said. Though this voting system would be an improvement over Georgia’s 15-year-old paperless machines, an election transparency group called Verified Voting says the state should stop using touch screens and return to the simple efficiency of filling out ballots with pens or pencils, like about 70 percent of the nation. During the trial run, voters picked their candidates on touch-screen machines, which then printed out a filled-in paper ballot that reflected their choices. Then voters could review their paper ballots for accuracy before feeding them into a trash can-shaped machine, which scanned the ballots, counted them and deposited them into a locked container.
A grassroots group, Fair Districts Louisiana, is helping to host a conference at LSU in January on the problem of politically gerrymandered district lines for Congress, the Legislature and other bodies. We need ideas for a better process. In Louisiana, as in most other states, the Legislature determines the electoral districts for congressional, state House and state Senate seats. The maps have prompted lawsuits in several states, amid growing criticism that political parties are using legislative control to give themselves unfair advantages.
For decades, an idiosyncrasy in the mail delivery system has forced some rural northern Missouri residents to have Iowa mailing addresses, which has created roadblocks and red tape for residents when they vote or pay taxes — even when they die. Local officials have been asking for help for years from local politicians and postal officials to no avail. U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill recently learned about the quirk, calling it “one of the dumbest things I’ve come across.” McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, sent a letter this week to Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan, asking that the U.S. Postal Service “take immediate action” on behalf of Missouri residents who have Iowa mailing addresses. Brennan’s spokesman David Partenheimer said in a statement this week that his agency is “working with the senator to address this issue and will respond directly to her office.” He declined further comment.
Editorials: Allowing ballot audits preserves integrity far better than disenfranchising voters | The Keene Sentinel
Earlier this year, the GOP-led Legislature was quick to jump on the notion that our state’s elections are a fragile, vulnerable thing in need of shoring up. Their answer, backed by Gov. Chris Sununu, was to make it harder for new voters to cast their ballots. It was a transparent attempt to limit voting by those who might be more likely to vote Democrat — the poor; new Massachusetts transplants; and, most of all, college students. And their effort — Senate Bill 3 — is being challenged in the courts. At the same time, lawmakers made clear they don’t really value the integrity of our state’s elections, by killing in committee a bill to authorize local moderators to conduct verification recounts of machine-counted ballots. Senate Bill 109 couldn’t have been any simpler. It would have added a paragraph of language to existing election law saying local moderators have the discretion to conduct recounts to verify machine results.
Puerto Rico: Continuing One-Hundred Years of Federal Disenfranchisement in Puerto Rico | State of Elections
In 1917 President Woodrow Wilson signed the Jones Act granting Puerto Ricans American citizenship. Last June 11th Puerto Rico held its sixthplebiscite (popular vote) on altering its territorial relationship with the United States. This was Puerto Rico’s fifth plebiscite on this issue in twenty-six years. While 97% voted in favor of Puerto Rican statehood, as a result of political boycotts, only 23% of the eligible voters participated. Voter turnoutin previous plebiscites ranged from 60% to 78%. None of this bodes well for supporters of Puerto Rican statehood. Opponents to Puerto Rican statehood argue the vote is illegitimate, in part due to the original wording of the ballot, as well as the low voter turnout. In order to qualify for federal funding the ballot had to be approved by the U.S. Department of Justice. The Justice Department called the first draft of the ballot “ambiguous and potentially misleading” as it only allowed votes for statehood or independence with no reference to retaining Puerto Rico’s current territorial status. The Puerto Rican legislature amended the ballot as requested by the DOJ. However, Puerto Rico’s decided to hold the referendum instead of allowing the DOJ to review the changes.
Virginia: As state sets to certify election results, expert says ‘something really went wrong’ | WTOP
As Virginia’s State Board of Elections prepares to certify House of Delegates results Monday that the Department of Elections has serious questions about, an expert said it is possible that not all of the serious problems, which appear to date back years, have been exposed yet. WTOP learned Friday that at least 147 people in Stafford County and Fredericksburg voted in the wrong race Nov. 7, a Department of Elections investigation has confirmed so far. During a court hearing earlier last week, the state disclosed that a total of at least 384 registered voters were assigned to the wrong House district. The new details of the investigation showed that the issues confirmed during this limited investigation include voters tied to the 28th, 88th and now the 2nd House District. The Department of Elections disclosed Wednesday that at least 384 registered voters in the Fredericksburg area were misassigned one way or the other between the 28th House District and the 88th. The 28th District race is separated by just 82 votes and could determine which party controls the House of Delegates.
Virginia: Federal judge rejects Democrats’ bid to bar state elections officials from certifying result in House District 28 | Richmond Post-Dispatch
A federal judge in Alexandria on Wednesday evening rejected Democrats’ emergency bid to halt the State Board of Elections from certifying the vote totals in House District 28, increasing pressure on state elections officials to act in the Fredericksburg-area contest. U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III in Alexandria held a hearing on the case by telephone, then denied Democrats’ motion for a temporary restraining order. The top Republican in the House of Delegates said that the Democrats’ “effort to litigate their way to victory” is failing.
Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday welcomed the prospect of talks on a “grand coalition” with her Social Democrat (SPD) rivals and defended the record of the previous such government, saying it had worked well. Merkel’s fourth term was cast into doubt when the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) walked out of three-way coalition talks with her conservative bloc and the Greens last Sunday, causing a political impasse in Europe’s biggest economy. But on Friday, the SPD reversed a previous decision and agreed to talk to Merkel, raising the possibilities of a new “grand coalition” which has ruled Germany for the last four years, or of a minority government.
A left-right coalition led by a flamboyant TV host took a surprise lead in the Honduran presidential election, initial results showed on Monday, upsetting forecasts that the crime-fighting, U.S.-allied incumbent would comfortably win. With 57 percent of ballot boxes counted, Salvador Nasralla had an almost 5 point lead with 45 percent, the first results showed, when they were released nearly 10 hours after voting ended. “I am the new president-elect of Honduras,” Nasralla, 64, wrote on Twitter after the results were announced.
Italy: Bracing for Electoral Season of Fake News, Italy Demands Facebook’s Help | The New York Times
With critical national elections only months away, anxiety is building that Italy will be the next target of a destabilizing campaign of fake news and propaganda, prompting the leader of the country’s governing party to call on Facebook and other social media companies to police their platforms. “We ask the social networks, and especially Facebook, to help us have a clean electoral campaign,” Matteo Renzi, the leader of the Democratic Party, said in an interview on Thursday. “The quality of the democracy in Italy today depends on a response to these issues.” In a global atmosphere already thick with suspicion of Russian meddling in elections in the United States, France and Germany, as well as in the British referendum to leave the European Union and the Catalan independence movement in Spain, many analysts consider Italy to be the weak link in an increasingly vulnerable European Union.
Liberia’s opposition Liberty Party will take its claims of election fraud to the Supreme Court this week after the electoral commission ruled on Friday that the first-round Oct. 10 vote was fair, it said on Sunday.n The appeal will likely set the West African country’s presidential election back well into December, and could result in the first round poll being re-run, which could delay the first democratic transfer of power in over 70 years by months. Ex football star George Weah was meant to face Vice-President Joseph Boakai in a run-off vote in early November to determine who will replace Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Millions of Nepalis headed to the polls Sunday for a historic election billed as a turning point for the impoverished Himalayan nation, hoping to end the ruinous instability that has plagued the country since the end of a bloody civil war a decade ago. The two-phase elections for national and provincial parliaments are the first under a new post-war constitution born out of a peace deal that ended the 10-year Maoist insurgency in 2006 and set the country on a path from monarchy to democracy. It took nine years after the end of the conflict for the new charter to be agreed as a series of brittle coalition governments bickered over the country’s future as a federal democratic state.