Election winners are always happy to take the win, but the losers — and often the voters — require evidence, and that evidence needs strong backing. Modern voting systems must engender confidence that the final tally represents the true preferences of voters, without manipulation or tampering. After apparent Russian interference in the 2016 national elections, politicians nationwide are investigating our security posture. It seems that no Russian probes into Texas election systems went anywhere, but we might not be so lucky next time. Texas’s current voting systems were not designed to defend against the cyberattack skills that the Russians and other sophisticated adversaries can bring to bear. It’s time for our state to plan an orderly retirement of its old and insecure voting equipment and adopt better practices. Texas has a unique chance to be a national leader here, and there are three Texans poised to lead the charge. Director of Elections Keith Ingram heads the Secretary of State’s investigation into election security. Under the Texas Cybersecurity Act, he must issue a report — due December 1, 2018 — that contains legislative recommendations aimed at bolstering our election systems.
National: After GOP is criticized over election security, key official goes to Homeland Security | The Hill
The official recently replaced atop the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) is joining the Department of Homeland Security to protect elections from cyber threats, The Hill has learned. Matthew Masterson was replaced as chairman of the EAC in February as a result of a decision made by Republican leadership. The move opened up House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to criticism. Masterson has now signed on to work as a senior cybersecurity adviser at Homeland Security’s main cyber wing and to assist the department’s election security mission. A Homeland Security official confirmed that Masterson will work at the National Protection and Programs Directorate, which spearheads efforts to protect critical infrastructure from cyber and physical threats.
Kirstjen Nielsen, the homeland security secretary, recently warned dozens of foreign diplomats — including the Russian ambassador — that the United States would retaliate if adversaries abroad meddled in its coming elections. “To those who would try to attack our democracy, to affect our elections, to affect the elections of other countries, to undermine national sovereignty, I have a word of warning: Don’t,” Ms. Nielsen told an estimated 80 foreign envoys and other officials during a speech last week, according to a person in attendance. Two other people with knowledge of the event confirmed the comments. All three spoke on the condition of anonymity because the remarks were given at a closed-door meeting.
National: Former Cambridge Analytica workers say firm sent foreigners to advise U.S. campaigns | The Washington Post
Cambridge Analytica assigned dozens of non-U.S. citizens to provide campaign strategy and messaging advice to Republican candidates in 2014, according to three former workers for the data firm, even as an attorney warned executives to abide by U.S. laws limiting foreign involvement in elections. The assignments came amid efforts to present the newly created company as “an American brand” that would appeal to U.S. political clients even though its parent, SCL Group, was based in London, according to former Cambridge Analytica research director Christopher Wylie. Wylie, who emerged this month as a whistleblower, provided The Washington Post with documents that describe a program across several U.S. states to win campaigns for Republicans using psychological profiling to reach voters with individually tailored messages. The documents include previously unreported details about the program, which was called “Project Ripon” for the Wisconsin town where the Republican Party was born in 1854.
The 2020 U.S. Census will include a controversial question about citizenship status, the Commerce Department announced Monday night, a move that sparked outrage from Congressional Democrats, civil rights groups and liberal state attorneys general. A spokeswoman for California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the state will be suing the administration immediately. Before the announcement, Becerra and California Secretary of State Alex Padilla wrote in an op-ed that including a citizenship question would be “illegal.” “The Trump administration is threatening to derail the integrity of the census by seeking to add a question relating to citizenship to the 2020 census questionnaire,” the pair wrote in an op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle. “Innocuous at first blush, its effect would be truly insidious. It would discourage noncitizens and their citizen family members from responding to the census, resulting in a less accurate population count.”
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach encouraged President Donald Trump to add a question about citizenship status to the U.S. Census during the early weeks of Trump’s presidency. More than a year later, Trump’s administration has moved to enact that exact policy for the 2020 census. “I won’t go into exact detail, but I raised the issue with the president shortly after he was inaugurated,” Kobach said Tuesday. “I wanted to make sure the president was well aware.” Kobach, a Republican candidate for Kansas governor who is running on a platform focused on immigration, also published a column in January on Breitbart calling for Trump to reinstate the question to the Census.
The National Rifle Association acknowledged that it accepts foreign donations but says it does not use them for election work — even as federal investigators look into the role the NRA might have played in Russia’s attack on the 2016 election. Pressure on the organization has also been increased by a McClatchy report that suggested that the FBI had been investigating whether a top Russian banker with Kremlin ties illegally funneled money to the NRA to aid Donald Trump’s campaign for president. The Federal Election Commission has also opened a preliminary investigation into this question.
Editorials: The government is finally investing in election security | Wilfred Codrington III & Lawrence Norden/Slate
The 2,232-page budget bill President Trump signed Friday included a provision that election security and technology experts have been pushing for years: money to update the nation’s outdated voting infrastructure. It came on the heels of similar calls from the current and former chiefs of homeland security and a bipartisan group of lawmakers. According to a recent analysis, the $380 million from lawmakers is not enough to fully replace the most vulnerable parts of our electoral machinery (we probably need at least another $380 million directed to jurisdictions with the most vulnerable equipment to do that), but it will allow states to make real progress toward long-overdue upgrades and cybersecurity improvements.
Colorado: Federal judge blocks part of Colorado’s Amendment 71; secretary of state plans appeal | Denver7
A federal judge on Tuesday struck down a key part of Colorado’s voter-approved Amendment 71, which made it more difficult for people seeking to get a measure on the statewide ballot for a vote. U.S. District Court of Colorado Judge William J. Martinez wrote in the order that parts of the “raise the bar” amendment, which was approved by 55 percent of Colorado voters in 2016, was unconstitutional. The portion deemed to be unconstitutional required people hoping to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot to get signatures from at least 2 percent of the total number of registered voters in each of the state’s 35 Senate districts.
Florida: Judge orders governor to create new process to restore voting rights of convicted felons | The Hill
A federal judge has ordered Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) to create a new system to restore voting rights for convicted felons, the Tampa Bay Times reported Tuesday. U.S. District Judge Mark Walker gave Scott and three of his elected Cabinet members until April 26 to create the new system. The order was part of an injunction issued by Walker in favor of the Fair Elections Legal Network, which successfully sued Florida over the state’s system for restoring voting rights to convicted felons. Currently, the state can strip convicted felons of their voting rights unless the decision is overturned by the governor and Cabinet. Those felons cannot register to vote unless they are given back their voting rights.
Illinois: DuPage County Board blasts election commission for stunning voting machine snafu | Naperville Sun
DuPage County officials did not mince words this week in criticizing their election commission for voting machine problems that resulted in DuPage being the last Illinois county to post results after polls closed in the March 20 primary. “There’s no excuse,” DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin said. “It’s stunning, to me, in the level of incompetence.” Critique during Tuesday morning’s County Board meeting followed an advisory referendum where 56 percent of voters said yes last week to a proposition for the county clerk’s office to take over election commission duties. The scrutiny also has brought to light other problem areas with DuPage elections.
Mississippi: Lawsuit: Mississippi Constitution still disenfranchising thousands | Jackson Clarion Ledger
Mississippi’s Constitution, born in 1890 from the cauldron of white supremacy, continues to bar thousands of Mississippians from voting, a lawsuit filed Tuesday alleges. “The scheme, created in the wake of Reconstruction, was harsh, punitive and unforgiving,” the lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center alleges. “Born out of racial animus and still disproportionately impacting black Mississippians, the scheme impermissibly denies the right to vote to tens of thousands of citizens across the state.” Sen. David Blount, D-Jackson, put the number of disenfranchised Mississippians at more than 180,000 — 8 percent of the adult population. Gov. Phil Bryant opposes any change to the law.
Wisconsin: Judge today reaffirms ruling that Walker must call special elections for two seats that have been vacant over a year | Wisconsin Gazette
A circuit judge today reaffirmed a prior ruling that ordered Scott Walker to call for special elections in two legislative districts that have remained unrepresented for over a year. The seats became vacant when Walker tapped Republican Sen. Frank Lasee and Rep. Keith Ripp to serve in his administration. The initial ruling came from Dane County Circuit Judge Josann Reynolds, who was appointed by Walker. Reynolds ruled last week on a case brought by voters in the two districts, who argued that Walker’s failure to act had left them disenfranchised. Their judges asked Reynolds to force Walker to call the elections, and she did, ordering him to do so by Thursday.
Jean-Pierre Kalamba waved his hand over a map of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African nation that has delayed elections for two years since the president, Joseph Kabila, refused to resign after his term ended in 2016. Kalamba, an election official, said the government is struggling to raise the $1.8 billion the electoral commission says it needs to run the next poll, set for December 23. The commission’s budget goes through the legislature, controlled by Kabila’s party — the same people the opposition accuses of delaying the elections. He added, mistrust between politicians is at fever pitch, nearly every step the commission takes is scrutinized and criticized.
One manager threatened employees to get them to vote — and then checked for telltale ink-stained fingers as they clocked in the next day. A regional governor pledged improved water and sanitation service to towns with a high turnout. Some people were promised more food and even cash if they went to the polls. With President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi running virtually unopposed in this week’s election, Egypt’s leadership has made clear it considers a high turnout crucial to ensuring that the balloting has credibility. For months ahead of the balloting that began Monday and runs through Wednesday, pro-government media have pushed the message that voting was a patriotic duty to foil foreign plots against Egypt.
With allegations of Russian interference and a flood of “fake news,” the race for Mexico’s presidential election is shaping up to look a lot like the last one in its giant northern neighbour, the United States. The campaign for the July 1 polls officially opens Friday, but already the internet is swarming with dubious “news” stories: there are allegations of meddling by Moscow, and attention is fixated on scandal-rocked data miner Cambridge Analytica’s local activities. Trying to get ahead of the curve, the National Electoral Institute (INE) recently signed deals with Facebook and Twitter, and is due to sign another with Google, seeking to fight the fake with the true.
United Kingdom: British election spending laws explained – and why they need updating | The conversation
Back in November 2017, the Electoral Commission reopened investigations into allegations that Vote Leave, the official exit campaign in the 2016 referendum on UK membership of the European Union, had breached spending rules. Into 2018 this was a story that had rather bubbled under the surface. However, a slow drip of revelations regarding the work of Cambridge Analytica, unearthed by The Guardian, The Observer and Channel 4 News have brought the issue to the front and centre. It is worth reminding ourselves how the case got here, and what it means for the electoral integrity of the UK. During referendums in the UK, there are strict spending rules which designate the amount of money official, or “designated”, campaigns are allowed to spend. In 2016, Vote Leave and Britain Stronger in Europe had a limit of £7m.