National: Here’s how hackers could cause chaos in this year’s US midterm election | MIT Technology Review

On November 6, Americans will head to the polls to vote in the congressional midterm election. In the months before the contest, hordes of foreign hackers will head to their keyboards in a bid to influence its outcome. Their efforts will include trying to get inside the digital infrastructure that supports the electoral process. There’s a worrying precedent here. Last year, the Department of Homeland Security notified 21 states that Russian actors had targeted their election systems in the months leading up to the 2016 US presidential election. DHS officials said the Russians were mainly scanning computers and networks for security holes rather than taking advantage of any flaws that were discovered. Still, that’s no cause for complacency. Intelligence officials are already warning that Russia is intent on meddling in this year’s election too, and hackers from other countries hostile to the US could join in. This week, both DHS and the Federal Bureau of Investigation said Russia is laying the groundwork for broad cyberattacks against critical US infrastructure. Last year, the DHS designated voting technology as part of that vital framework.

National: DHS chief issues stern warning to Russia, others on election meddling, cyberattacks | The Hill

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen issued a stern warning to Russia and other countries looking to meddle in future U.S. elections, saying that the U.S. government will consider all options “seen and unseen” for responding to malicious attacks in cyberspace. “The United States, as you know, possesses a spectrum of response options both seen and unseen, and we will use them to call out malign behavior, punish it and deter future cyber hostility,” Nielsen said in keynote remarks at the RSA cybersecurity conference in San Francisco on Tuesday. “Our cyber defenses help guard our very democracy and all we hold dear. To those who would try to attack our democracy to affect our elections, to affect the elections of our allies, to undermine our national sovereignty, I have a simple word of warning: Don’t,” Nielsen said.

National: DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen Talks Russia Hacks, Upcoming Elections | Fortune

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen promised that the federal government would do all it could to prevent Russians from hacking future elections, but stopped short of guaranteeing that those measures would be effective. “I feel secure that we are and will continue to do everything we can to help state and locals secure their election infrastructure,” Nielsen said on Tuesday, avoiding answering a question about whether the U.S. voting system is hacker proof. The DHS secretary’s comments at the annual RSA cybersecurity conference in San Francisco come after members of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee urged Nielsen and the DHS to speed up efforts to secure the nation’s elections, according to the New York Times. In September, the DHS notified 21 U.S. states that Russia had attempted to hack their voting systems prior to the last presidential election.

National: Flurry of lawsuits filed over citizenship question on census | The Hill

Lawsuits are piling up against the Trump administration’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. The nonpartisan Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, along with the law firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against the citizenship question on behalf of the City of San Jose and the Black Alliance for Just Immigration. The suit was filed against the Commerce Department in the Northern District of California. The lawsuit is the fourth legal challenge that’s been brought since Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross agreed in March to grant a request from the Department of Justice to reinstate the citizenship question on the 2020 census.

National: US and UK Warn of Cybersecurity Threat From Russia | The New York Times

The United States and Britain on Monday issued a first-of-its-kind joint warning about Russian cyberattacks against government and private organizations as well as individual homes and offices in both countries, a milestone in the escalating use of cyberweaponry between major powers. Although Washington and London have known for decades that the Kremlin was trying to penetrate their computer networks, the joint warning appeared to represent an effort to deter future attacks by calling attention to existing vulnerabilities, prodding individuals to mitigate them and threatening retaliation against Moscow if damage was done. “When we see malicious cyberattacks, whether from the Kremlin or other nation-state actors, we are going to push back,” Rob Joyce, a special assistant to the president and the cybersecurity coordinator for the National Security Council, said in joint conference call with journalists by senior officials in Washington and London. That would include “all elements of U.S. power available to push back against these kinds of intrusions,” he added, including “our capabilities in the physical world.”

Editorials: NRA Proves the Need for Campaign-Finance Reform | Bloomberg

The National Rifle Association is finished answering questions. That’s what the organization told Senator Ron Wyden last week in a letter complaining about Wyden’s “time-consuming and burdensome” inquiries into the NRA’s ties to Russians. That answer isn’t good enough. The NRA’s relationship with Alexander Torshin, a Russian politician and deputy governor of Russia’s central bank who has been linked both to Vladimir Putin and to Russian organized crime, is too troubling to ignore. And the group’s dismissive response to Wyden has a larger significance: It underlines the need for full disclosure of sources of political funding. The Treasury Department recently put Torshin on a list of sanctioned Russians. He has been an NRA member since 2012 — tweeting (in Russian) repeatedly about his affiliation with the group and attending multiple NRA functions where he socialized with the group’s top leaders. At one such meeting in 2016, he’s reported to have spoken with Donald Trump, Jr.

Florida: NAACP wants ‘tone deaf’ Scott to end ‘posturing’ on voting rights | Tampa Bay Times

The Florida state conference of the NAACP wants Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet to drop their appeal of a court decision that struck down the 150-year old system for restoring voting rights to convicted felons. The four Republican state officials filed a motion Monday with the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, asking for that court to put on hold the March 27 order by U.S. District Judge Mark Walker until the state’s appeal runs its course. “The appeal shows the Governor and Florida Cabinet are tone deaf,” NAACP President Adora Obi Mweze said in a statement. “The continued posturing by our state officials shows the importance of Floridians supporting Amendment 4 this fall.”

Missouri: State sued for alleged violation of voter laws | Associated Press

Advocacy groups on Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit against the state of Missouri for not following federal voter laws. The lawsuit accuses the state of not automatically updating voter registration after address changes and not providing required registration information to some voters. The lawsuit lays blame on the Department of Revenue for its role in registration tied to driver’s license services, as well as the secretary of state for not ensuring voter laws are followed.

New Jersey: State Adopts Automatic Voter Registration | Bloomberg

Democratic Governor Phil Murphy made New Jersey the latest U.S. state with automatic voter registration at motor-vehicle agencies as mid-term elections loom in November. The legislation was sponsored by Democrats and backed by civic groups that said it would ease a paperwork burden and increase election participation. Republicans in New Jersey, like some elsewhere in the country, said it was a gateway to fraud, with the potential to allow undocumented immigrants to vote. New Jersey’s bill passed both legislative houses along party lines on April 13. Murphy’s predecessor, Republican Chris Christie, vetoed versions in 2016 and 2015, saying the Democratic-led legislature was attempting to increase voter rolls in its favor.

Pennsylvania: Secretary of State plots strategy for election security funds | GCN

Pennsylvania’s Acting Secretary of State Robert Torres has set an aggressive timeline for the improving the security of the state’s voting machines and processes.  By the end of December 2019, all Pennsylvania counties must have voter-verifiable, paper-record voting systems in place. Pennsylvania’s ability to invest in elections infrastructure comes from its $13.5 million share  of $380 million in funds included in the omnibus spending law passed in March to help states secure elections infrastructure. The funding is an extension of the 2002 Help America Vote Act. To take advantage of the funds, each state is also required to contribute a 5 percent match to the HAVA funds, which brings the total amount to be distributed to Pennsylvania counties to $14.2 million. 

Editorials: With elections looming, Canada cannot be complacent on policing social media | Tim Harper/The Toronto Star

Starting in Ontario, followed by Quebec, Alberta and the country as a whole, voters will go to the polls. New Brunswick also votes this year and another vote in British Columbia cannot be ruled out. But with these key contests looming, there has been very little serious discussion in this country about how voters will receive information they need to cast informed ballots, and the overall security of our democratic process. It’s time for a serious look at how our votes can be manipulated by “bots” and fake news, and whether the electoral process itself is safe from meddling by internal or external sources.

Ireland: Facebook to trial ads tool in Ireland ahead of abortion referendum | Reuters

Ireland will become the second country to trial a new tool that Facebook hopes will ensure greater transparency in political advertising, when it holds a referendum on abortion next month, the company’s vice president for global policy said on Tuesday. Facebook introduced the tool this month as part of steps to deter the kind of election meddling and online information warfare that U.S. authorities have accused Russia of pursuing, although Moscow has denied the allegations. The ‘view ads’ tool, which allows users to view all the ads a particular advertiser is running in that jurisdiction, has been successfully tested in Canada, Joel Kaplan said.

Mexico: ‘We are watching you’: Political killings shake Mexico election | Reuters

Magda Rubio had just launched her campaign for mayor of a small city in northern Mexico, when a chilling voice came through her cell phone. “Drop out,” the caller warned, “or be killed.” It was the first of four death threats Rubio said she has received since January from the same well-spoken, anonymous man. She has stayed in the race in Guachochi, located in a mountainous region of Chihuahua state that is a key route for heroin trafficking. But two armed body guards now follow her round the clock. “At 2 a.m., you start to get scared, and you say, ‘something bad is going on here’,” she said. An explosion of political assassinations in Mexico has cast a pall over nationwide elections slated for July 1, when voters will choose their next president and fill a slew of down-ballot posts.

Pakistan: In a first, watermarked ballot papers to be used in 2018 general elections | The Express Tribune

The ballot papers in the upcoming general elections will bear a watermark on them which is unprecedented in Pakistan’s electoral history, Express News reported. According to reports, preparations for the general elections are in full swing with ballot papers to be used for voting to have an exclusive watermark for which paper is being purchased from France. The special paper will be provided in June 2018 after which the printing process shall begin.