Kentucky’s front-line elections officials received cybersecurity training Thursday in another preventive step against hacking, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said. County clerks statewide attended training by the federal Department of Homeland Security on preventing and detecting cyberattacks, Grimes said. The session comes a few weeks before the state’s May 22 primary election. Kentuckians will have a long ballot this year with races for county positions, the legislature and Congress.
National: Election security bill still needs work in some areas, state officials tell Senate sponsors | CyberScoop
Several secretaries of state are telling the main backers of a Senate election security bill that the legislation might need tweaks to how it addresses information sharing, state-federal communication channels, funding mechanisms and post-election audits, among other things. The secretaries, who are the top election officials in their states, met with bill sponsors James Lankford, R-Okla., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., in person and via phone Monday to discuss the Secure Elections Act. The legislation is intended to bolster election security by smoothing out coordination between the state and federal levels and providing states financial support for operations and equipment upgrades. State secretaries from Indiana, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Colorado and New Mexico participated in the meeting.
National: Timing remains unclear for election-security legislative effort in Senate | InsideCyberSecurity.com
The Senate Rules Committee has yet to set timing for a hearing on election security legislation based on recommendations emanating from the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Russia probe, but plans to do so, according to new Rules Chairman Roy Blunt (R-MO). Blunt, who was elected as chairman last week, told Inside Cybersecurity Tuesday that “there will be a hearing at some point” on election security, although Blunt said “it is not scheduled yet.” Rule Committee ranking member Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who is a co-sponsor on the Secure Elections Act, told Inside Cybersecurity that she “hopes” the election security hearing will take place “soon.” Klobuchar also said that she’s “really glad” that $380 million for the Election Assistance Commission to help states improve election systems was included in the recently passed $1.3 trillion fiscal 2018 omnibus spending bill. “It does take that immediate pressure off, but now we want to kind of use this momentum to get this done,” Klobuchar said.
Arizona Republicans appeared to back off their efforts Wednesday to rig the rules to keep Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) seat in their column, pulling from the state Senate floor a proposed change in state law that would have guaranteed a lengthy appointment from the GOP governor should the ailing senator leave office in the coming weeks. Statehouse Republicans seemingly tried to pull a fast one on their Democratic counterparts, quietly adding an emergency clause to a bipartisan bill to clean up special election laws in the state that would have handed Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) assurance that he’d get to appoint a replacement for McCain through 2020.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach violated a court order that required his office to inform certain people that they were eligible to cast a ballot while a lawsuit challenging a state law requiring proof of U.S. citizenship worked its way through the courts, a federal judge ruled Wednesday. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson found Kobach, a conservative Republican running for Kansas governor, in contempt of court. She did not fine Kobach but ordered him to pay court costs, including attorney fees for the American Civil Liberties Union, which sought the contempt ruling. Moriah Day, a spokeswoman for Kobach’s campaign for governor, said the secretary of state’s office would appeal the decision and would have no other comment.
A superior court judge has ordered Secretary of State Bill Gardner’s office to turn over the state’s electronic voter database to parties who have charged a 2017 voter registration law restricts the right to vote and is unconstitutional. Hillsborough County Superior Court Judge Charles Temple further ordered state prosecutors and Gardner’s office to turn over email and other communication state officials had with lawmakers during and after they crafted the so-called SB 3 that’s under review. Lawyers for the state maintained the voter database had an “absolute statutory privilege” and could not be disclosed to third parties. But Temple said that while the database is exempt from the Right-to-Know Law that “does not create a statutory privilege against nondisclosure in the course of civil litigation.”
Seven voters in New York’s 25th Congressional District have filed a lawsuit against Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-NY, for failing, so far, to call a special election. The seat has been vacant since long-serving Democratic Congresswoman Louise Slaughter died on March 16. The plaintiffs said because the governor has not issued a Proclamation of Election in a “reasonably timely manner,” they have been denied their constitutionally-protected rights to vote and to representation. The suit claimed Cuomo is required to call the election and should have been prepared to do so promptly after Slaughter died.
The state Elections Commission outlined initial plans Wednesday to use $7 million in federal funds to thwart hackers and boost election security by hiring workers, training clerks and upgrading software. The commissioners unanimously signed off on the framework of the plan and asked Gov. Scott Walker’s administration to approve it. Department of Administration spokesman Steven Michels said the administration is inclined to grant permission to accept the federal cash. The move to tighten election security comes almost two years after Russian agents targeted election systems around the country, according to federal officials. In the summer of 2016, Russian government actors tried unsuccessfully to gain access to a Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development system as they scanned for vulnerabilities they could exploit at the Elections Commission, according to those officials.
Electronic voting machines (EVMs) can indeed be rigged. Contrary to the Election Commission of India’s stonewalling and denials, new research and experiments by American computer scientists have established that electronic voting systems can be manipulated in a variety of ways. Some of the new evidence has been published in a New York Times article ‘The Myth of the Hacker-Proof Voting Machine’, which provides startling details backed by technical findings and expert interviews. The intense research being conducted in America is due to domestic controversies about whether the 2016 presidential election was free and fair. However, the insights into EVM vulnerability are both relevant and timely for India.
A Canadian organisation is seeking to fundraise 7,000 Canadian dollars (€4,500) to send up to 24 independent electoral observers to Ireland for the referendum campaign to assess whether both sides “play fair” in the process. Non-governmental organisation SDAI-ADID says it is interested in “supporting and strengthening democracy through election observation” and that it wants to observe whether the electoral process adheres to “international standards of free, fair and transparent elections”.
Italy’s president is likely on Wednesday to appoint a mediator to try to break a deadlock that has prevented the formation of a government since inconclusive elections six weeks ago, a source said, although no quick breakthrough is expected. President Sergio Mattarella will probably ask Maria Casellati, the speaker of the Senate, to hold more flexible, less formal talks than those he has already led, a source close to the president told Reuters. The European Union’s third-largest economy has been under a caretaker government since the March 4 polls, when anti-establishment and far-right parties were the big winners at the expense of more mainstream groups.
The Netherlands’ current election process – with manual voting, polling stations that stay open for long hours, and manual vote counting – is no longer feasible and can give rise to doubts about results’ reliability. The association of Dutch municipalities VNG and the Dutch association of civil affairs NVVB therefore composed an ‘Election Agenda 2021’ with several proposals for making this process more efficient, NOS reports. The Agenda is focused on 2021, because that’s when the next parliamentary election is scheduled. The agenda will be presented at a NVVB conference on Wednesday and Thursday.