National: America Continues to Ignore the Risks of Election Hacking | The New Yorker

Last month, when Congress authorized three hundred and eighty million dollars to help states protect their voting systems from hacking, it was a public acknowledgement that, seven months out from the midterm elections, those systems remain vulnerable to attack. America’s voting systems are hackable in all kinds of ways. As a case in point, in 2016, the Election Assistance Commission, the bipartisan federal agency that certifies the integrity of voting machines, and that will now be tasked with administering Congress’s three hundred and eighty million dollars, was itself hacked. The stolen data—log-in credentials of E.A.C. staff members—were discovered, by chance, by employees of the cybersecurity firm Recorded Future, whose computers one night happened upon an informal auction of the stolen passwords. “This guy—we randomly called him Rasputin—was in a high-profile forum in the darkest of the darkest of the darkest corner of the dark Web, where hackers and reverse engineers, ninety-nine per cent of them Russian, hang out,” Christopher Ahlberg, the C.E.O. of Recorded Future, told me. “There was someone from another country in the forum who implied he had a government background, and he wanted to get his hands on this stuff. That’s when we decided we would just buy it. So we did, and took it to the government”—the U.S. government—“and the sale ended up being thwarted.” (Ahlberg wouldn’t identify which government agency his company had turned the data over to. The E.A.C., in a statement, referred questions about “the investigation or information shared with the government by Recorded Future” to the F.B.I. The F.B.I., through a Justice Department spokesperson, declined to comment.)

National: Elections officials explore security options | GCN

Since elections were declared critical infrastructure nearly 17 months ago, state and local officials have been working to protect the integrity of the 2018 elections, but security holes in elections systems and voting equipment still exist. As part of the omnibus spending bill passed in March, Congress authorized $380 million in new Help America Vote Act funds to the states to help them secure elections systems in their counties and local jurisdictions. On April 17, the Elections Assistance Commission distributed the award packets to states along with instructions on how to apply for funding. States have 90 days to respond, and the funds must be used within five years. However, the new funding did not stop elections officials from asking for more support ahead of the 2018 elections at an April 18 EAC public forum.

National: Democratic Party Alleges Trump-Russia Conspiracy in New Lawsuit | The New York Times

The Democratic National Committee opened a surprise legal assault on President Trump on Friday, filing a lawsuit in federal court alleging that the organization was the victim of a conspiracy by Russian officials, the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks to damage Hillary Clinton’s presidential run. The 66-page complaint, filed in federal court in New York, uses the publicly known facts of the investigation into Russia’s election meddling to accuse Mr. Trump’s associates of illegally working with Russian intelligence agents to interfere with the outcome of the election. In the document, the committee accuses Republicans and the Russians of “an act of previously unimaginable treachery.”

Georgia: Demonstration shows Georgia voting machines could be hacked | Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A rapt audience watched as professor Alex Halderman, an expert on electronic voting machines, changed votes in a hypothetical election before their eyes. At a Georgia Tech demonstration this week, Halderman showed how to rig an election by infecting voting machines with malware that guaranteed a chosen candidate would always win. Four people from the audience voted on the same kind of touch-screen machines used in real Georgia elections, casting ballots for either President George Washington or Benedict Arnold, the Revolutionary War general who defected to the British. Despite a 2-2 split in this election test run, the voting machine’s results showed Arnold won 3-1.

Kansas: Federal judge finds Kris Kobach in contempt of court | The Kansas City Star

A federal judge on Wednesday found Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach in contempt of court in a case involving state voting laws, her latest rebuke of the Republican candidate for governor. Kobach is considered a GOP frontrunner despite his constant court battles involving voter fraud and strict voting requirements that he has pushed while in office as the state’s top election official. In her ruling, U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson in Kansas City, Kan., referred repeatedly to Kobach as acting “disingenuously.” She chastised him for failing to treat the voters affected by the ongoing court case the same as all other registered voters in accordance with a previous court order.

Missouri: State Accused of Violating Federal Voter-Registration Laws | Courthouse News

The League of Women Voters of Missouri sued the state Tuesday, claiming it did not follow federal voting-rights law requiring it to update the voter database with information from motor-vehicle records, which the group says impacts half a million residents every year. The National Voter Registration Act, or NVRA, requires states to offer residents the opportunity to register to vote whenever someone applies for a new or renewed driver’s license or state ID. It also requires the state to update the individual’s voter registration record whenever a voter updates their address information with the state motor vehicle agency. But the League of Women Voters of Missouri, joined by the St. Louis and Greater Kansas City branches of the A. Philip Randolph Institute, claims the state has failed to comply with the federal law.

Maine: Top court clears way for ranked-choice voting in June | Bangor Daily News

Ranked-choice voting will be used in Maine’s June primary elections, the state’s high court ruled on Tuesday in a massive win for supporters of the first-in-the-nation system that has faced constitutional scrutiny and run a political gauntlet in the Legislature. The decision from the Maine Supreme Judicial Court allows Secretary of State Matt Dunlap to continue implementing the system for gubernatorial and congressional primaries just before his office needs to finalize state ballots for printing to go to overseas voters later this month. Implementation of the law lurched into limbo after the court advised last year that the system was partially unconstitutional as it pertains to general elections in state races. Primaries and congressional elections weren’t addressed in that advisory opinion.

New York: Cuomo Plans to Restore Voting Rights to Paroled Felons | The New York Times

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced on Wednesday that he intends to restore voting rights to felons on parole, a move that could open the ballot box to more than 35,000 people. The mechanism through which Mr. Cuomo plans to do so is unusual: He would consider pardons for all 35,000 people currently on parole in New York, as well as any new convicted felons who enter the parole system each month. The move amounts to a legal sidestep of the State Legislature, where the Republican-controlled Senate has opposed many of Mr. Cuomo’s proposed criminal justice reforms. It does not change state law, which currently bars convicted felons from voting unless they are on probation or have completed parole.

Pakistan: Election Com­mission sets up team to scrutinise Internet voting system | Dawn

The Election Com­mission of Pakistan (ECP) has formed a committee to conduct a technical audit of the Internet voting solution process that was proposed by the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra). The task force formed on the directions of the Supreme Court is mandated to assess the technical soundness of the web-based automated system that has been designed to help overseas Pakistanis vote through the Internet. Only expatriates who have been issued national identity cards for overseas Pakistanis and valid machine-readable passports will be eligible to use the system to cast their votes.

Turkey: Erdogan declares early elections on June 24 | Reuters

President Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday called snap elections for June 24, saying economic challenges and the war in Syria meant Turkey must switch quickly to the powerful executive presidency that goes into effect after the vote. The presidential and parliamentary elections will take place under a state of emergency that has been in place since an attempted coup in July 2016. It was extended by parliament on Wednesday for another three months. In 15 years of rule as prime minister and then president, Erdogan has transformed a poor, sprawling country at the eastern edge of Europe into a major emerging market. But Turkey’s rapid growth has come been accompanied by increased authoritarianism, with a security crackdown since the failed coup leading to the arrest of tens of thousands.

National: First-of-its-kind forum on election security gathers state and local officials with Election Assistance Commission | CyberScoop

A top U.S. election official says that the allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election came with a silver lining: At least we’re now focusing on election security. Christy McCormick, a member of the Election Assistance Commission, told a crowd of state and local election officials from across the country on Wednesday that the events of 2016 jump-started a focus on election security that was not as prominent before. “I know that election officials have always focused on these problems to some degree. Not so laserly focused on election security but I think this has brought this to the forefront for us in the last couple of years. So if there’s a good consequence to what happened, that is one of them,” McCormick said Wednesday at a public forum the EAC hosted in Miami to allow the state and local officials to discuss their election security plans ahead of upcoming elections.

National: Reducing Voters’ Paperwork Might Expand The Voter Rolls | NPR

Political brawls over voting laws have consumed states across the country for the past decade. But below the surface, a movement to automatically register eligible voters to vote is rapidly gaining traction. By next year, more than a quarter of all Americans will live in states where they no longer have to fill out registration forms in order to cast a ballot. The latest state to implement automatic voter registration is California, which had been scheduled to start on Monday although it’s been delayed while officials conduct more testing. Everyone who meets the legal requirements to vote in California will be automatically registered when they update their driver’s license or state ID at the Department of Motor Vehicles, a move that election officials expect will help move some of the more than 6 million eligible, but unregistered, residents onto the state’s voter rolls.

National: Prosecutors suspected Manafort was a ‘back channel’ between Trump campaign and Russia | Los Angeles Times

Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, came under scrutiny by the special counsel because prosecutors suspected he might be a back channel between the Trump campaign and Russian efforts to interfere in the U.S. election, a Justice Department lawyer said Thursday. The disclosure came as lawyers for Manafort tried to convince a federal judge to throw out one of two federal cases against him, arguing that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III had no authority to hit him with criminal charges unrelated to the Russian meddling. An attorney for Mueller’s office, Michael Dreeben, told the court that the prosecution of Manafort’s alleged financial crimes arose because Manafort had “long-standing ties” to Russians, and investigators wanted to know if those connections provided a “back channel to Russia.”

Connecticut: Long road ahead for Connecticut early voting, despite House approval | New Canaan News

Early voting will not occur in Connecticut before 2021, if ever, the House of Representatives determined Thursday. Only a simple majority of representatives approved of asking voters on the ballot whether Connecticut residents should be allowed to vote before election day. Many Republicans voiced concerns that creating more voting days would be expensive for town. Meanwhile, Democrats said the provision would allow more people to access the polls.  … The simple majority means major hurdles are ahead before the state constitution could be amended to permit early voting.

Illinois: Nine competing proposals aim to change political map-making process | Illinois News

Momentum is growing to change the way political boundaries are drawn in Illinois, but disagreements about how to accomplish that persist. The problem is Illinois’ gerrymandered maps have been blamed for more than 60 percent of statehouse races only having one candidate in the 2016 general election. The existing process leaves the decision to the legislature, which is a partisan body. A previous citizen-led petition drive that garnered more than half-a-million signatures was thwarted in the courts in 2016 by a group connected to House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Kansas: Kobach to appeal contempt ruling; secretary of state hit with fresh ethics complaint | The Topeka Capital-Journal

Secretary of State Kris Kobach affirmed plans Thursday to appeal a federal judge’s order finding him in contempt and another skeptic of Kobach’s role in voting rights litigation responded by submitting an ethics complaint against Kansas’ chief election officer. A U.S. District judge declared Kobach in contempt for refusing to comply with her directives in a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union challenging state law requiring proof of citizenship when registering to vote. Judge Julie Robinson also instructed Kobach to pay unspecified attorney fees for declining to abide by her 2016 order blocking enforcement of the citizenship law in Kansas. “The secretary of state’s office will be appealing this decision,” said Kobach spokeswoman Moriah Day. “Secretary Kobach has no additional comment at this time.”

Kentucky: Grimes Says Election Threats Warrant New Security | WUKY

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes says state election systems remain secure, but the top election official warns it’s a never-ending battle against new and emerging threats. “No evidence exists to suggest that these bad actors altered any votes in any way,” Grimes reassured Kentucky voters Thursday, before holding up a copy of indictments in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The secretary spoke with reporters following a meeting with Kentucky’s Election Integrity Task Force – made up of representatives from the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, the state attorney general’s office, and other law enforcement officials – a month ahead of the May primary.

Maryland: Bill seeks transparency in online political ads | Associated Press

In the wake of alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential race, Maryland is close to enacting a law that some experts say would set a new standard for how states deal with foreign interference in local elections and increase overall transparency in online political ads. If signed by Gov. Larry Hogan, the law would require online platforms to create a database identifying the purchasers of online ads in state and local elections and how much they spend. The measure would effectively extend disclosure rules that apply to paid political ads for radio, television and print to social media.

Michigan: Legislature: No more election recounts like 2016’s | Associated Press

Political candidates who lose big wouldn’t be able to seek a recount under legislation nearing the Michigan governor’s desk. The Republican-led Senate voted 27-8 Wednesday for legislation upping the standards for election recounts to require that aggrieved candidates prove they have a reasonable chance of victory. The House also voted 93-16 to pass legislation to double losing candidates’ fees to recount votes if they lost by more than 5 percentage points. Both bills will soon go to Gov. Rick Snyder. Currently, candidates must allege that they believe they are aggrieved due to fraud or mistake to petition for a recount and are required to pay the state $125 per precinct.

New Jersey: State Working To Bolster Cybersecurity Of New Jersey Election Systems | Jersey Shore Online

The New Jersey Department of State Division of Elections, and the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, through its New Jersey Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Cell, are working to reaffirm the state’s commitment to election security. New Jersey Secretary of State Tahesha Way said that they are participating in training sessions, constructing interagency communication channels, and integrating practices to strengthen the security of elections in NJ. “The Division of Elections has been and continues to work with federal partners at the Department of Homeland Security, the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, and other third-party security experts to continuously improve our security posture as the threat landscape evolves. The Department of State is working to ensure that every individual able to cast a ballot in November can do so knowing the state affords a safe and secure system,” said Way.

North Dakota: State fights part of voter ID ruling amid appeal | West Fargo Pioneer

North Dakota is fighting part of a federal judge’s ruling that loosened the state’s voter identification law. Early this month, U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland issued an order preventing the state from requiring that IDs include a “current residential street address, which Native American communities often lack. The state asked Tuesday, April 10, to delay that order while an appeal is pending. The state also asked for a stay on Hovland’s order requiring a voter education campaign, arguing that “informing the public now about information that may later change may cause more confusion.”

Texas: Redistricting battles return to the Supreme Court | SCOTUSblog

ince October, the Supreme Court has heard oral argument in two major redistricting battles, involving allegations of partisan gerrymandering in Wisconsin and Maryland. When the justices take the bench next Tuesday, they will hear oral argument in a third redistricting dispute, this time involving allegations that Texas lawmakers drew federal congressional and state legislative districts that harmed some of the state’s black and Hispanic residents. The tale of the two cases known as Abbott v. Perez is a long and complicated one. It began in 2011, when Texas’ Republican-controlled legislature began redistricting in the wake of the 2010 census, which indicated that Texas had gained over four million new residents, who were predominantly minorities; that population growth meant that the state would get four new seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Canada: Vancouver council pushes province to allow permanent residents right to vote | Vancouver Courier

Vancouver city council unanimously agreed Wednesday to request the provincial government allow permanent residents—estimated at 60,000 in Vancouver­­–the right to vote in the Oct. 20 municipal election. The vote, however, didn’t come without some reservations from NPA Coun. Elizabeth Ball who argued it was “a gift” to vote and a privilege that comes with being and becoming a Canadian citizen. “Coming to Canada and becoming a citizen is highly coveted all around the world,” she told council. “There are reasons why it’s coveted because we are a civilized society with rules, and those rules allow us all to live together in a relatively happy way.”

Germany: Facebook to roll out political ad feature in time for German state vote | Reuters

Facebook said on Friday it would roll out a new feature designed to make political advertising more transparent in time for a key German regional election, as it seeks to restore trust after a massive data breach. The social network has been at the centre of controversy over suspected Russian manipulation of the 2016 U.S. presidential election via its platform, and the leak of personal data of 87 million users to a political consultancy that advised Donald Trump’s team. On Friday, a German data privacy regulator said it was opening non-compliance procedures against Facebook in relation to the data leak to the consultancy, Cambridge Analytica, that was exposed a month ago.

South Korea: Foreign voters seek more information on elections in other languages | The Korea Herald

With less than two months until the June 13 local elections, foreign residents with voting rights say they lack information on candidates. In 2005, the South Korean government revised the Immigration Control Act to allow non-Korean citizens who have held resident visas (F-5) for at least three years to vote in gubernatorial elections, so that they can claim their rights in their registered local constituencies. The number of eligible foreign voters has tripled since the law came into effect for the local and gubernatorial election in 2006, but manifestos of and information about the candidates are not provided in any other language, only in Korean.

Texas: Testimony ends in trial to determine if Dallas County discriminates against white voters | Dallas Morning News

Testimony ended Thursday in the landmark redistricting case over whether Dallas County discriminates against white voters. The four-day trial — Ann Harding vs. Dallas County — featured analysis by local and national redistricting experts and video of two raucous county Commissioners Court meetings. U.S. District Judge Sidney Fitzwater will wade through the evidence and issue a ruling. That could take months because the judge will receive 50-page closing arguments from lawyers on both sides and hear final oral arguments in late May or early June.