Media Release: Pennsylvania Special Election Underscores Urgent Need for Voter-Verifiable Paper Systems to Check Computer-Generated Votes

Marian K. Schneider: “All races should be audited – whether they are close or not.” The following is a statement from Marian K. Schneider, president of Verified Voting, formerly Deputy Secretary for Elections and Administration in the Pennsylvania Department of State, about Tuesday’s special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District. For additional media inquires, please…

National: There’s more to Russia’s cyber interference than the Mueller probe suggests | The Washington Post

An underlying theme running through special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation is that Russia’s ultimate goal was to make sure Donald Trump was elected president. That’s just part of the picture. Last month, Mueller’s team released the details of the grand jury indictments of 13 Russian nationals, as well as a shadowy Russian firm known as the Internet Research Agency, for conducting information warfare against the United States and breaking three U.S. federal laws. Our research looks at Russian cyber and information warfare activity — and distinct patterns begin to emerge. But this is a nonlinear strategy and a long-term assault on Russia’s adversaries. Although boosting the Trump campaign may have been one of Russia’s primary goals in 2016, the 2020 goal could just as easily be helping the president’s Democratic challenger.

Editorials: Weakening encryption is no solution to election hacking | Joel Wallenstrom/The Hill

FBI Director Christopher Wray is right: The cyber threat has evolved into a full blown information security crisis with the ongoing midterm elections becoming the primary concern. Meanwhile, the Senate’s email system is being probed by an adversary and the FBI is looking into the hacking of former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen’s Senate campaign communications. Despite all this, Wray has renewed the call for weakening of encryption, the one measure proven to safeguard our critical information. While unobstructed access to everyone’s information through a ‘magical digital backdoor’ would make investigations easier, it would also make law enforcement’s task of protecting our economy, national security, and personal information practically impossible.

Georgia: House advances bill to reduce voting hours in Atlanta | Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Voters in Atlanta would have one less hour to cast their ballots under a bill that cleared a subcommittee Thursday. The legislation, Senate Bill 363, would force the city of Atlanta to close its polls at 7 p.m. like the rest of the state. Currently, Atlanta is allowed to keep precincts open until 8 p.m. under a state law passed in the 1970s. The bill was filed by Republican Sen. Matt Brass after Democratic Sen. Jen Jordan won a special election in December to represent a district that covers parts of Atlanta and Cobb County. Voting in Cobb County ended at 7 p.m.

Indiana: Lawson recommends technology, staffing upgrades to improve election security | NWI Times

A national council of election experts, led by Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson, is recommending steps to ensure American elections are secure from hacking or tampering. On Thursday, Lawson and other members of the Election Infrastructure Subsector Government Coordinating Council will urge states and localities to upgrade their election technology and invest in staff with cyber experience at the state and local levels. “This is a race with no finish line,” said Lawson, a Republican who also is president of the National Association of Secretaries of State.

Kansas: ‘Incredible and offensive’: Retired attorney feels sorry for Kobach team in voter fraud trial | Topeka Capital Journal

Bart Budetti thinks Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and his assistants are in over their heads and wasting U.S. District Court Judge Julie Robinson’s time. A 75-year-old retired attorney who once found himself opposite Kobach in a legal dispute over a food bank, Budetti watched a trial unfold last week with daily confrontations and colorful references to a bazooka, red herring, icebergs, Gmail usage and the type of sandwich that can be used as fertilizer. Kobach is defending himself and the state’s voter registration law in a case that challenges his ability to prove claims of widespread fraud. Video of previously sealed testimony from Kobach’s deposition last year revealed he prepared for the eventuality of losing the case.

North Carolina: Battle over state elections board rages on | WRAL

Two days before a bill fixing problems with state class sizes was set to become law, Gov. Roy Cooper’s administration on Tuesday filed a legal challenge to a provision of the measure dealing with the state elections board. The request for a temporary restraining order is the latest shot in a long-running war between the Democratic governor and Republican legislative leaders over the elections board that even predates his inauguration. In a special December 2016 session, Republican lawmakers created an eight-member State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement that would be evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats. The elections board has traditionally had five members, with the majority belonging to the governor’s party.

Utah: Federal appeals court denies San Juan County’s request for stay in voting district case that benefited Navajos | The Salt Lake Tribune

San Juan County’s request to stay November elections of all seats on the county commission and school board in wake of a federal court’s ruling to redraw voting districts has been denied by the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. Lawyers for the county filed an emergency motion on Feb. 27 in the Denver court. They objected to special elections being held this year and requested that the balloting continue under the previous redistricting plan until San Juan County’s appeal has been decided. In a Dec. 21 ruling, Judge Robert Shelby, U.S. District Court for Utah, gave Navajo voters a majority in two of three newly drawn commission districts and in three of five school board districts. Shelby had ordered that all seats be vacated and that special elections be held in November.

Wisconsin: Election Security Focus of Testing, Planning | Associated Press

Wisconsin’s plan to bolster election security after its voter database was apparently targeted by Russia in 2016 includes training nearly 2,000 municipal clerks to fend off hackers and a two-week U.S. Department of Homeland Security test to identify vulnerabilities in the state system. The Wisconsin Elections Commission on Tuesday discussed ways to protect ballots that are cast and counted across 1,853 municipalities in 72 counties before the August primary and the November midterm election. Security has been stepped up since Homeland Security confirmed “Russian government cyber actors” had been looking at but had not compromised Wisconsin’s elections systems two years ago. In May or June, Homeland Security will run a two-week risk vulnerability assessment to simulate hacking attempts on the state election system from inside and outside the network. That will include sending simulated malicious emails, known as phishing, to track email activity.

Editorials: The problem with the way some Canadian parties pick their leaders | The Globe and Mail

Doug Ford went into the final days of the Ontario Progressive Conservative leadership race saying the party’s voting system was “corrupted” in favour of “hand-picked elites.” Then he won the leadership, and it has been his chief opponent, Christine Elliott, who has had to reconcile with a bizarre online selection system that made Mr. Ford the winner – even though she won more than 50 per cent of the popular vote and more ridings than he did. No doubt Mr. Ford is happy with the outcome. But the truth is that the one-member, one-vote online voting system for electing party leaders, which is used by Canadian political parties at all levels, is proving to have many drawbacks.

Colombia: Former rebels shunned as critics of peace deal dominate election | The Guardian

Pablo Catatumbo was once one of the most feared men in Colombia. He spent most of his 64 years as a military commander of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (or Farc), plotting the violent overthrow of the country’s government. This weekend, however, he cast his vote in parliamentary elections, as the former rebels made their first foray into electoral politics after a historic peace deal in 2016. “It’s the first time in my life that I’ve voted and I do it for peace,” he said after completing his ballot at a Bogotá polling station.

Editorials: As Colombia votes, the former guerrillas are rendered irrelevant | Rodrigo Palau Zea/The Washington Post

When Colombians went to vote in congressional elections on Sunday, international media had little doubt what the story was: the participation of former members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) — the guerrilla movement that had conducted a 52-year war against the country’s central government until concluding a peace treaty in November 2016. “Former FARC rebels face first ballot,” blared the BBC. “Critics of peace deal dominate Colombia election,” declared the Associated Press. The Voice of America went with “Former Colombian guerrillas run for office.” You could be forgiven for thinking the campaign was all about FARC, but, as it turned out, nothing could be further from the truth. To an amazing extent, Colombia’s congressional vote was FARC-free territory.

Nepal: First Woman President Bidya Devi Bhandari Re-elected for Second Term | PTI

Nepal’s first woman president Bidya Devi Bhandari was on Tuesday re-elected for a second term in office. Incumbent President Bhandari defeated Nepali Congress leader Kumari Laxmi Rai with an overwhelming majority in the presidential election. Bhandari, 56, won since her nomination was backed by the ruling Left alliance of the CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Centre), the Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum-Nepal and other fringe parties.

Sierra Leone: Opposition ahead as run-off called | AFP

The election commission said Tuesday, after the country’s main opposition finished slightly ahead of the ruling party in the first round of voting. Opposition leader Julius Maada Bio, from the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), took 43.3 per cent of votes in the March 7 election, while Samura Kamara of the incumbent All Peoples Congress (APC) took 42.7 per cent, the commission said. Turnout appeared to be around 85 per cent of Sierra Leone’s 3.1 million voters.

Sierra Leone: Why you shouldn’t get carried away by Sierra Leone’s blockchain elections | Crypto-Lines

Last week Sierra Leone became the first country in the world to hold blockchain elections. They were supervised by Agora, a blockchain startup based in Switzerland. Once the voting of the region had taken place, over 400, 000 ballots were then manually fed into Agora,s blockchain. The CEO of Agora was very pleased with how smooth the process worked. He exuded excitement for the future of blockchain elections saying: “I strongly believe that this election is the beginning of a much larger blockchain voting movement.” 

Turkey: Parliament approves controversial changes to election laws | Associated Press

Turkey’s parliament has approved a set of changes to the country’s electoral laws that critics say are aimed at helping President Recep Tayyip Erdogan consolidate power and could lead to election fraud. The changes were approved Tuesday after a tense, all-night session that saw altercations between nationalist and main opposition lawmakers. Turkey faces elections next year, when Erdogan will need to secure 51 percent of the vote to remain at the helm. The changes would allow Erdogan’s ruling party to enter a formal alliance with the nationalist party, permitting the smaller party to gain parliamentary seats even if it fails to pass the 10-percent electoral threshold. In turn, Erdogan would secure the nationalists’ continued support.