National: Is Your County Elections Clerk Ready for Russian Hackers? | Stateline

The weakest link in any local voting system is that one county clerk who’s been on the job for three days and opens up an email file that could take down the whole system. The head of every U.S. intelligence agency says Russia attempted to penetrate elections systems nationwide during the 2016 presidential election, and will try again during this year’s midterm elections. In a decentralized election system with more than 10,000 separate jurisdictions, the onus for security is on local officials. “That keeps me awake at night,” said Nancy Blankenship, the clerk for Deschutes County, Oregon. Blankenship, like thousands of other county clerks, is the chief elections official for her area. It’s not so much the threat of foreign hackers changing votes that concerns Blankenship — Oregon is not only a vote-by-mail state, but also does its ballot counting without an internet connection — it’s the possibility that hacking could undermine public confidence in the system.

National: Schiff Says Russia Probe ‘Far From Done’ After GOP Shuts It Down | Bloomberg

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence panel said he plans to continue work on the Russia probe despite Republican moves to shut it down, saying 30 witnesses still need to be interviewed. “Our work is far from done,” Representative Adam Schiff told reporters Tuesday, a day after Republicans said they were ending the inquiry after finding no evidence of collusion between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russian operatives who meddled in the 2016 presidential campaign. Schiff said that Democrats will write their own conclusions and plan to release transcripts of the panel’s interviews at that time.

Georgia: Bill replacing Georgia voting machines on track for final votes | Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia might have a new voting system with paper ballots in time for the 2020 presidential election, according to a bill that cleared the House Governmental Affairs Committee on Wednesday. The legislation, Senate Bill 403, would replace the state’s 16-year-old electronic voting machines with a system that creates a paper backup to ensure accuracy. “We want…

Illinois: Voters to decide fate of Aurora Election Commission | Aurora Beacon-News

Aurora has had its own Election Commission since 1934. Voters on March 20 will decide whether that will continue. People through the years have called for the abolition of the Aurora Election Commission, calling it an unneeded governmental body, inefficient and out-moded. Others defend the commission as a convenience to Aurora voters, and a hedge against politics and the possibility of playing games with elections. In 1986, voters decidedly rejected an attempt to abolish the commission with about 60 percent of the voters supporting it. In the 1990s, another effort to put the question on the ballot never got that far.

Kansas: Kobach witness can’t support claim that illegal votes helped Hillary Clinton | Topeka Capital Journal

Jesse Richman endured a blistering critique Tuesday of his estimate of 18,000 noncitizen voters in Kansas and said he couldn’t support claims by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote because more than 3 million illegal ballots were cast in the 2016 presidential election. Richman, who teaches political science at Old Dominion University, testified as an expert witness for Kobach in a trial over the state’s voter registration law. Kobach, who is seeking the GOP nomination in this year’s governor’s race, has referred to the 18,000 figure as the best available estimate for showing proof of citizenship is needed to address widespread voter fraud. American Civil Liberties Union attorneys took aim at shortcomings in Richman’s methods and presented two experts to refute his conclusions. Varying estimates from Richman are based on small-sample surveys, including one in which six of 37 noncitizens said they tried to register to vote. Under questioning by ACLU attorney Dale Ho, Richman acknowledged he had no way of knowing if those six were successful in their efforts.

North Carolina: Cooper agrees to appoint Board of Elections | WRAL

Gov. Roy Cooper announced Wednesday that he’ll make appointments to a long-delayed new State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement this week while simultaneously continuing to fight the Republican-mandated changes to the board in court. The appointments would allow the organization, which has staff but no appointed board, to clear a backlog of work ahead of this year’s elections. Among other things, the board appoints county boards of elections. Those local boards oversee election logistics, including approving early voting sites and certifying election equipment. Twenty-five of North Carolina’s 100 counties, including Wake and Cumberland counties, do not have functioning boards because they have too few members. Cooper’s announcement was made as part of a press release titled “Governor’s Office Comment on GOP’s Continued Effort to Rig Elections.”

Pennsylvania: GOP gearing up to challenge District 18 results, impound all voting machines used in special election | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Republican officials are alleging voting irregularities in the District 18 special election, and say they plan to go to court seeking to impound all the voting machines used Tuesday. Democrat Conor Lamb of Mt. Lebanon holds a slim lead over Republican state Rep. Rick Saccone of Elizabeth Township. With a few absentee and provisional ballots still out, his lead is a few hundred votes out of more than 200,000 cast in the congressional district formerly held by Republican Tim Murphy. The seat had been safely Republican for more than a decade and national Republican organization spent millions supporting Mr. Saccone. But Mr. Lamb mounted a strong challenge and remained ahead in the vote count Wednesday morning. A Republican source familiar with the campaign said that the GOP planned to petition for the voting machines used in all four counties to be impounded, pending a recount.

Editorials: Tennessee needs to update its election system and both parties agree | Shanna Singh Hughey/The Tennesseean

Should Tennessee be doing more to safeguard our elections? According to a ThinkTennessee poll, 68 percent of Tennessee voters think so. And with good reason. The Department of Homeland Security this fall informed 21 states that their 2016 elections were targeted by Russian hackers. Thankfully, Tennessee was not one of those states. But as the CIA director recently said, he has “every expectation” that Russia will continue to try to interfere with the upcoming midterm elections.

Virginia: State to adopt new ballot guidelines after confusing 2017 elections | WTOP

Months after control of Virginia’s House of Delegates was decided by a disputed, mismarked ballot, the State Board of Elections will set new ballot requirements that include clearer instructions for voters. Proposed changes to be adopted March 23 address “a need for improved clarity and additional examples” and “a need for improved usability of ballots for voters based on best practices and research,” a memo to the three-member board said. Virginia would go from more general rules about what printed ballots should look like to two specific approved forms. One of the proposed forms would include voting instructions in the leftmost column on the front of a three-column ballot. The other secondary choice would place voting instructions across the top of a two-column ballot just beneath the header that lists the date and type of election.

Indonesia: Indonesia battles fake news as elections loom | AFP

Indonesia is battling a wave of fake news and online hate speech ahead of presidential elections in 2019, as a string of arrests underscore fears it could crack open social and religious fault lines in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country. The pluralist nation’s reputation as a bastion of tolerance has been tested in recent months, as conservative groups exploit social media to spread lies and target minorities. Indonesian police have cracked down, rounding up members of the Muslim Cyber Army (MCA), a cluster of loosely connected groups accused of using Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to attack the government and stoke religious extremism. Two of the group’s most high-profile falsehoods were claims that dozens of Islamic clerics had been assaulted by leftists and that Indonesia’s outlawed communist party was on the rise, according to police.

Netherlands: Concerns raised over election software safety | NL Times

The software that will be used to count votes in the upcoming municipal elections is still not safe. Hackers can use the vulnerable software to influence the election results, experts that examined the software told RTL Nieuws. Ethical hacker Sijmen Ruwhof discovered more than 50 vulnerabilities in the software. He calls ten of them ‘high risk’. Last year Ruwhof also concluded that the software – called OSV – is vulnerable to attacks. “The average iPad is more secure than the Dutch voting system”, Ruwhof said at the time.This prompted former Home Affairs Minister Ronald Plasterk to order the votes in the parliamentary election counted by hand. 

Russia: Kremlin paradox: Putin win certain, yet vote push unprecedented | Reuters

Vote in Russia’s presidential election this Sunday or get hyper-inflation and Africans in the army.  That is the surreal message in a viral video meant to encourage people to vote in an election which polls show Vladimir Putin is on track to comfortably win. While Putin has dominated the country’s political landscape for the last 18 years, the Kremlin and its allies are still pulling out all the stops to ensure high voter turnout. The clip, which has drawn accusations of racism and homophobia in some quarters, has been publicized by state TV and watched six million times online. Alexander Kazakov, a pro-Putin political consultant who circulated the clip, said he wanted to ensure Putin’s win was utterly convincing. “Only then will Putin be able to conduct the best domestic and foreign policy,” he said.

Sierra Leone: Frontrunners head into run-off elections – as coalition government looks likely | The Sierra Leone Telegraph

On Tuesday, 27 March 2018, the people of Sierra Leone will do it all over again. They will be going out to vote in what was announced by the country’s Chief Electoral Commissioner – Mr Mohammed N’fa-Alie Conteh as a run-off election, to decide who will be the next president. After seven long days of nail biting suspense, voters in the country have finally been informed by the Election Commission that following the counting and recounting of ballots across the country – including the nullification of votes in polling stations where evidence of electoral malpractice was found, none of the 15 candidates has won the required 55% to form a government. The run-off is a two-horse race affair between the ruling APC candidate – Dr Samura Kamara who polled 42.7%, and the opposition SLPP candidate – Julius Maada Bio who received slightly better with 43.5%.