A May 8 report on election security by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence calls for paper backups for state voter registration databases, risk assessments for voting machine manufacturers and better sensor technology for state and local election systems. The committee recommended two-factor authentication for state voter registration databases, better sensors around election systems to detect malicious activity, paper backups for state voter registration data and assessments for third-party vendors like voting machine manufacturers to ensure they’re meeting baseline security standards. Cybersecurity experts have long called for states to institute paper records for their voting machines, and the Senate Intel report reiterated that advice, but the recommendation to do the same for state voter registration databases takes on new importance after the committee found activity around as many as six states’ election infrastructure that went beyond mere scanning and targeting of public websites.
National: Lawmakers call for action following revelations that APT28 posed as ISIS online | CyberScoop
The world got a fresh reminder Tuesday of the difficulties associated with assigning blame for hacking – and of the consequences when a case of mistaken identity takes hold. New evidence reinforces the notion that a group dubbed the CyberCaliphate, which sent death threats to the wives of U.S. military personnel in 2015 under the banner of the Islamic State, is actually an infamous Russian-government-linked hacking group accused of meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the Associated Press reported. Activity from the CyberCaliphate coincided with attempts by the Russian group, known as APT28 or Fancy Bear, to breach the womens’ email accounts, according to the Associated Press. The episode brings to life established links between the CyberCaliphate and APT28 in a way that no cybersecurity research did. The hacking victims were led to believe that jihadists, and not state-backed Russians, were breaching their accounts and leaving threatening messages.
It wasn’t until Anchorage Daily News reporter Nat Herz caught wind of irregularities in the 2016 General Election that the Division of Elections admitted its computers had been hacked not once, but twice. The second attack was at 5:37 am on Election Day, 2016. In what could be viewed as a cover-up by the Division of Elections, Election Division Director Josie Bahnke said she didn’t disclose it because the attack had no effect on the outcome of the elections. Emails uncovered by Herz support that assertion but do not explain why no report was made to the public in the year and a half that followed, especially after the September, 2017 notification of Russian intrusion into Alaska’s Election Division data, which had also occurred in 2016.
A federal judge has rejected a Democratic effort to overturn a 2016 Arizona law barring groups from collecting early ballots from voters as part of their get-out-the-vote efforts. The ruling issued by U.S. District Court Judge Douglas Rayes Tuesday evening comes in a lawsuit filed shortly after the law was passed by the Republican-controlled Arizona Legislature. Rayes also rejected challenges by national and state Democratic groups that alleged the state’s policy of rejecting ballots cast in the wrong precinct was illegal. Democratic groups argue the law banning the collection of early ballots disproportionately affects minority voters. Gov. Doug Ducey has called it a common-sense law to protect election integrity. Violators of the law that bans anyone but caregivers or family members from delivering a completed early ballot to a polling place can face a felony charge.
In Southern California, home to some of the nation’s most competitive congressional contests, that threat of Russians cyberhacking this year’s midterm elections is being taken seriously. Consider just a few of the many new security protocols being adopted by election officials in the four-county region encompassing Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Office emails are being encrypted and networks buttressed. Election employees are randomly being mock phished to see if they’ll fall for simulated online invaders. Federal officials are being invited to inspect and test the region’s many voting systems.
The House spent about an hour Tuesday debating and then tabling a bill that would restore voting rights to parolees, who are still serving their sentences. The bill, which didn’t receive much attention this year, was a priority for the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus. A deal was brokered to let them debate the bill for a limit period of time, but it never got called for vote. “There is no harm in broadening civic engagement,” Rep. Brandon McGee, D-Hartford, said. He vowed to bring the bill back next year and win more support for the measure. He said they want to provide rights to individuals who are living and breathing in their communities.
A bill passed by Georgia’s legislature that would have criminalized unauthorized access of computer systems and allowed companies to “hack back” in defense against breaches was vetoed on May 8 by Georgia Governor Nathan Deal. The veto came after many weeks of opposition from information security firms and professionals, as well as major technology companies—including Google and Microsoft executives, who expressed concern that the bill would actually make it more difficult to secure computer systems. Given that Georgia is the home of Fort Gordon, an Army base that serves as home to units of the Army’s Cyber Command and to parts of the National Security Agency, and that Georgia has become home to an increasing number of cybersecurity firms as a result both of the Army/NSA presence and research at Georgia’s universities, Deal realized after feedback from the industry that the bill could have resulted in inadvertent damage.
Illinois: After election night debacle, DuPage County officials cut ties with voting machine vendor | Daily Herald
The DuPage County Election Commission has severed its relationship with the company that supplied faulty equipment and caused results to be delayed for hours during the March primary. Members of the board that oversees the election commission on Wednesday terminated all four contracts the agency has with Liberty Systems LLC. The two-year pacts were rescinded as part of a settlement agreement with the vendor. Commission officials say Liberty Systems provided the wrong ballot-like cards needed to close the county’s optical scan voting machines. The so-called “ender cards” were too thick to run through the voting machines that read paper ballots — a mistake officials didn’t discover until after the polls closed on March 20.
Editorials: Kentucky felons may get voting rights back after Florida case | Ben Carter/Courier Journal
When it comes to people without a lot of political power, people with felony convictions are near the top of an increasingly long list. All but two states (Vermont and Maine) temporarily strip people convicted of felonies of their right to vote. Three states (Florida, Kentucky and Iowa) permanently strip people with felony convictions of the right to vote. In between these extremes, the rest of the states automatically restore the right to vote at varying stages of rehabilitation: after release, after parole or after probation. Here in Kentucky, people convicted of felonies lose their voting rights permanently. The only way get the right to vote back is to apply to the governor and, according to the application for restoration of voting rights, that decision is solely within the governor’s “prerogative.”
A state appellate court refused on Wednesday to reconsider its April ruling upholding the legality of a 1976 Louisiana law that bars felons on probation and parole from voting. The case now heads to the Louisiana Supreme Court. Felons challenged the state law, claiming it’s unconstitutional and prevents more than 70,000 felons on probation and parole in Louisiana from voting. Bruce Reilly, deputy director of VOTE, said Wednesday the group’s members will do everything in their power to have their right to vote recognized.
Supervisor of Elections Caroline Fawkes met with BVI election officials recently to talk about the territory’s experience with the use of DS 200 Voting Scanner/Tabulator Machine over the years.\ The machines; DS 200 paper ballot tabulators make by ES&S, were a pet project of St. Croix District Board of Elections Chairman Adelbert Bryan, who spearheaded a campaign against the old, 1980s-vintage Danaher Electronic 1242 machines. Bryant said the old machines were unreliable and could be manipulated. Despite many public claims, no evidence that they can actually be manipulated or that they ever have been manipulated was presented. The territory switched to the new machines in 2013. The machines did not count votes by party symbol correctly in 2014, leading to controversy. The software was subsequently updated.
With Washington voters having cast their ballots through the mail since 2011, Sens. Joe Fain and Mark Mullet said today that the state should pay for postage to increase voter participation and reduce any confusion or barriers to participating in elections. The two lawmakers from King County drafted legislation this month that they intend to file ahead of the 2019 legislative session. “Voting is a critically important right and our state has an interest in removing barriers that keep people from exercising that right,” said Fain, R-Auburn, who has worked on election reform and proposals to expand voter access while a member of the state Senate in a press release. “Whether it is the cost or fact that many don’t keep stamps at home in an increasingly paperless society, this is one way to simplify the process and encourage people to participate in our self-government.”
West Virginia: Voter ID Law: Some Say It’s A Balance, Others Say It’s Not Needed At All | West Virginia Public Broadcasting
Having gone into effect at the beginning of this year, West Virginia’s new voter identification law sees its first statewide election during the May 8 primaries. While state legislators responsible for passing the law say it strikes a balance, experts opposed to such measures — here and elsewhere in the country — say it is a “solution in search of a problem.” Some organizations, though, are teaming with the Secretary of State’s office for public outreach programs to help educate voters about the law and what they need to bring with them to the polls. The West Virginia Legislature passed the law during the 2016 regular session. Under the provisions of the new law, voters are required to show an acceptable form of ID to legally make their way to the polls. The aim, according to Republican leaders, was to prevent voter fraud while not burdening those who legitimately want to exercise their constitutional rights.
At the gates of Tikrit under a giant billboard of a Shi’ite militia commander, hundreds of Iraqi Sunni Arabs wait in the scorching sun for hours to be searched before being let into the city that was once the power base of Saddam Hussein. Treated as Islamic State sympathizers by Iraq’s Shi’ite dominated security forces and militias, the Sunnis near Tikrit say they feel disillusioned and alienated ahead of a May 12 election to elect a new prime minister. Under Saddam, power was concentrated within Iraq’s minority Sunni community but the tables turned in 2003 with the U.S.-led invasion that toppled the dictator and ushered in Shi’ite dominance, and a cycle of bloodletting and revenge. Six months after the defeat of Islamic State, Iraq’s Sunni Arabs are at their lowest point yet.
There are far more than three billboards outside Roscommon, and their opposing messages indicate an intensifying battle for undecided voters in the historic referendum on abortion this month. On the roads into this quiet town in the middle of rural Ireland, it is impossible to miss the laminated placards fixed to lamp-posts. Some have one from each camp, vying for the attention of passersby in a polarised campaign in which voters have to make a binary choice between yes and no. A few hoardings have been torn down in the night, in a sign of strongly held beliefs. But mostly, the people of Roscommon are holding their views close, unwilling to discuss with each other – let alone a stranger – where they will place their cross on 25 May.
A secular coalition that ran in Lebanon’s parliamentary elections said on Tuesday it will legally challenge the defeat of one of its candidates, slamming the vote count as untransparent. Kulluna Watani, an alliance of civil society activists, had projected it would win at least two seats in the landmark May 6 vote — an achievement in a country with a deeply entrenched political class. But just one candidate, high-profile reporter Paula Yacoubian, scored a spot in the 128-member parliament. A second, writer and feminist activist Joumana Haddad, was expected to win according to several preliminary party counts, and had been tearfully celebrating with supporters on Sunday night. But as official results came in on Monday, it appeared Kulluna Watani had not scored enough votes to secure a second seat for Haddad.
In a historic election upset in a country that has been governed by just one coalition for decades, a Malaysian opposition bloc led by the 92-year-old former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad swept to a majority in national parliamentary elections. Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is accused of stealing hundreds of millions of dollars in government funds, gave an emotional national address on Thursday, saying that he would “accept the verdict of the people.” But the election’s result has not yet been settled. The country’s king must now rule on who will be the next prime minister, as the loose coalition of opposition parties led by Mr. Mahathir is not officially recognized as a single political entity.
About 80 candidates for Mexico’s upcoming elections have withdrawn from their respective campaigns in the northern state of Chihuahua because of the high levels of violence during the election campaign, reported the executive secretary of the State Electoral Institute, Guillermo Sierra. A candidate for the state legislature was shot dead, authorities announced Tuesday, at least the sixth politician murdered in the past 10 days in what has become a blood-soaked campaign. Abel Montufar Mendoza, a mayor who was running for a legislative seat in the violent state of Guerrero, was found dead inside his car in the city of Ciudad Altamirano, said Roberto Alvarez Heredia, the state’s security spokesman.