Clinton County commissioners are rallying financial support for new voting machines to improve election quality. Commissioners Pete Smeltz and Paul Conklin, who were present at Thursday’s voting meeting, said they submitted a letter to state Sens. Joe Scarnati (R-Brockway) and Jake Corman (R-Bellefonte), U.S. Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-Howard) and State Rep. Tom Marino (R-Williamsport) asking them to put pressure on Congress to authorize the remaining $396 million in Help America Vote Act funds so Pennsylvania counties can replace aging election equipment. This cause has the backing of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP), and commissioners agree that most Pennsylvania counties need to replace their voting machines.
Will your vote be safe this year from foreign adversaries working to undermine U.S. democracy? Some of the nation’s governors aren’t so sure. State leaders of both parties worried aloud Sunday about the security of America’s election systems against possible cyberattacks ahead of this fall’s midterm elections, aware that Russian agents targeted more than 20 states little more a year ago, and the Trump administration has taken a mostly hands-off approach to the continued interference. U.S. intelligence leaders report Russian hackers are already working to undermine this November’s elections, which will decide the balance of power in Congress and in statehouses across the nation.
Encrypted messages. Two-factor authentication. Real-time monitoring of social media for malicious internet bot activity. This is the new reality for candidates running in 2018, scared of email hacks and elaborate misinformation schemes like the ones Russia used to disrupt the 2016 campaign. And many candidates say they’re concerned they can’t rely on Congress or the White House for advice, or protection. “Since many in Washington continue to bury their head in the sand over the dangers our Democracy faces, our campaign has taken deliberate steps to guard against cyberattacks by mandating extensive security measures,” said Gareth Rhodes, a Democrat running for an upstate New York House seat. He said he’s put his campaign staff through training on how to identify phishing and hacking attempts.
U.S. Supreme Court justices on Wednesday debated the legality of a Minnesota law barring voters from wearing political apparel at polling places, struggling to draw the line between protecting free speech and preventing voter intimidation. Minnesota’s law, challenged by conservative activists, prohibits badges, buttons, hats, T-shirts or other items with overly political messages inside polling sites during elections. At least nine other states have similar laws. During a one-hour argument before the nine-member court, several justices peppered attorneys on both sides with hypothetical examples of apparel, challenging them to say whether they would be acceptable in a voting site or not. Liberal Justice Elena Kagan wondered about “Make America Great Again” and “Resist,” popular slogans for supporters or opponents of President Donald Trump.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security now considers U.S. elections a part of the nation’s critical infrastructure. The DHS is now offering the Guam Election commission technical assistance to help with election security. In fact, GEC Executive Director Maria Pangelinan just returned from a meeting in Washington D.C. where DHS officials briefed election officials on the services they are offering. Pangelinan says Homeland Security is offering assistance with assessing the cyber security and physical security needs of the GEC. Pangelinan says that Guam’s election system is relatively safe from cyber-attacks because the system is not internet based and the island no longer uses electronic voting booths.
Are Hawaii voters ready to cast their votes by mail only? Some lawmakers think so. It’s a measure that’s been proposed and election officials have a strong argument for it. Chief election officer Scott Nago says the numbers show more people are not heading to the polls anymore. Voting by mail would also save the state money. We learned that 62 percent voted absentee during the 2016 primary. For the general election, absentee votes made up 54 percent.
Maine: Dunlap scoffs at voter fraud, vows to make ranked choice voting work if needed | Lewiston Sun Journal
After playing a big role in the demise of a national voter-fraud commission that he feared could limit access to the polls, Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap was hailed by some as a hero. But he is not buying it. “I’m no Rosa Parks,” Dunlap told a crowd Wednesday at the Muskie Archives at Bates College. All Dunlap did, he said, was ask for a meeting schedule and some information any member of the commission ought to possess. After a court agreed he should get the data, President Donald Trump pulled the plug on the commission. Dunlap called his seven-month membership on the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity a “strange journey” that is not quite over because he is still suing the panel to get his hands on information the White House did not want him to have.
The state office in charge of Oregon’s elections was granted funding from the Legislature for an Internet security position to protect against Russian government interference and hacking by others, officials said Tuesday. While Adm. Mike Rogers, director of the U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency, said Tuesday in Washington that the U.S. response to Russian meddling and disinformation campaigns has not been strong enough, Oregon has been taking steps to bolster its cyberdefenses. A letter signed by Oregon Deputy Secretary of State Leslie Cummings asked for $166,348 to cover the cost of the new IT security position, saying “Oregon was one of 21 states targeted by Russian government cyberactivities.”
Texas officials pushed back against a report that Russian-supported hackers compromised the state’s electoral data system prior to the 2016 election. NBC News, citing classified material, reported that state websites or voter registration systems in seven states — Texas, Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois and Wisconsin — were breached by Russian-backed covert operatives. With early voting underway for the March 6 primary, Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos said in a statement: “Our agency has seen no evidence that any voting or voter registration systems in Texas were compromised before the 2016 elections, contrary to the suggestions contained in the alleged classified intelligence assessment described, but not shown, to us by NBC News.”
The Plan for Aging Voting Equipment Task Force kicked into gear in Park County, with a public brainstorming session Feb. 20 at the Cody Library on ways of lowering election costs in order to cover what’s expected to be an $8-10 million bill for new voting machines in the state. … As the state struggles to find funding for future elections, it is exploring ways to lower costs by asking voters how they would feel about the consolidation of polling places, casting ballots in county vote centers or switching to a vote-by-mail system.
Cambodia’s ruling party swept the country’s Senate elections on Sunday, winning every seat in the legislature’s upper chamber in an all-but-predetermined contest that observers and analysts say is the latest symptom of the faltering political health of the southeast Asian country. Preliminary results from Sunday’s poll showed the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) claimed all 58 elected seats in the Senate, according to the National Election Committee (NEC), further entrenching the dominance of the CPP and Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has ruled Cambodia since 1985. The poll’s result demonstrates that the “death knell for democracy” in Cambodia is “ringing very loud and clear,” Mu Sochua, who was deputy president of the former opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), told TIME in an email. Sochua, who has lived in exile since fleeing Cambodia in October under threat of arrest, called on the international community to “speak and act with one voice” to prevent Cambodia’s reversion to a “one-party state.”
China went into overdrive on Tuesday (Feb 27) to defend the Communist Party’s move to lift term limits for President Xi Jinping as criticism persisted on social media in defiance of censorship. The party has shocked many observers by proposing a constitutional amendment to end the two-term limit for president, giving Xi a clear path…
El Salvador’s legislative and municipal election preparations are being closely monitored by members of the European Union’s Election Observation Mission, who are verifying that the balloting is carried out according to law, observer Gloria Sierra told EFE. Along with her mission companion Michal Nobis, Sierra travels to various municipalities in San Salvador province to meet with assorted officials comprising the country’s political and social fabric to gather data for the Mission’s final report, a document that is designed to help reflect the country’s democratic health. With “absolute impartiality,” the observers’ workdays consist of following an agenda full of meetings and visits to key sites in the process leading up to the March 4 municipal and legislative elections.
Amid the political firestorm over Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential elections here in the United States, it may have been easy to overlook the steady drip of warnings about a possible replay of Russian mischief-making right next door in Mexico. Back in December, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster spoke ominously about “initial signs” of a trademark campaign of subversion, disinformation, and propaganda, ahead of Mexico’s presidential elections on July 1. One month later at a press conference in Mexico City on February 1, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was asked about evidence of Russian election interference. He had this advice to offer to Mexican officials: “Pay attention. Pay attention to what’s happening.”