A software sensor with a knack for detecting intrusions like those from Russian hackers is being embraced by U.S. states determined to protect their election systems, though cybersecurity experts warn of the tool’s limits. The Department of Homeland Security is working with a growing number of state election officials to install “Albert sensors,” which detect traffic coming into and out of a computer network. The system can’t block a suspected attack, but it funnels suspicious information to a federal-state information-sharing center near Albany, New York, that’s intended to help identify malign behavior and alert states quickly. “Every sensor we’re able to add is another in what was previously a dark spot” that federal authorities “couldn’t see into,” said Brian Calkin, vice president of operations for the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center, the Homeland Security-funded group that created the sensor in 2010 and upgraded it in 2014.
International: Cyber-stability wonks add election-ware to ‘civilised nations won’t hack this’ standard | The Register
The Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace (GCSC) has called for an end to cyber-attacks on electoral infrastructure. The GCSC works to develop “norms” of behaviour it hopes governments and others will adopt in order to leave internet infrastructure untouched during conflict. The body believes that as the internet is now critical to civil society, international agreements should protect its operation so that bystanders to conflicts aren’t harmed by disruptions to online services. Microsoft, the Internet Society and the governments of The Netherlands, France and Singapore have all funded the group. The Commission met last week and resolved that “State and non-state actors should not pursue, support or allow cyber operations intended to disrupt the technical infrastructure essential to elections, referenda or plebiscites.”
National: Goofy, Elephant, Squid: How Political Gamesmanship Distorts Voters’ Power | The New York Times
They sound like possible program titles for the Cartoon Network: Goofy Kicking Donald Duck, The Earmuffs, The Broken-Winged Pterodactyl, The Upside-Down Elephant, The Fat Squid, A Steamed Crab Hit by a Mallet. Actually, they were the shapes some people saw when looking at federal and state legislative districts that had been gerrymandered to within an inch of their lives. For the record, Goofy was in Pennsylvania, the earmuffs in Illinois, the pterodactyl in Maryland, the elephant in Texas, and the squid and steamed crab in North Carolina. About all they had in common with cartoons was that critics dismissed these squiggly and lumpy legislative lines as loony tunes, and courts rejected some of them as unconstitutional. Gerrymandering — the manipulation of political boundaries by the party in office in hopes of ensuring its enduring primacy — is almost as old as the republic.
National: Supreme Court to rule soon on partisan gerrymander cases: Last, best chance for fair elections? | Salon
It’s almost decision day for partisan gerrymandering. Fewer than four weeks remain in this U.S. Supreme Court session, so rulings in two crucial cases from Maryland and Wisconsin will arrive sometime between this Tuesday and mid-June. There’s national momentum towards fair districts. Judges and citizens have been slowly fighting back against the most extreme partisan manipulations of the system. Rigged maps in Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Texas, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania have been struck down. A bipartisan commission won an overwhelming victory in Ohio this month, and an even stronger commission seems likely to be on the ballot in Michigan this fall. Ballot initiatives have also advanced in Colorado, Utah, Missouri and Arkansas. Nevertheless, no one should expect a grand democracy-saving gesture from the Supreme Court. Yes, justices from across the court’s ideological spectrum have agreed that partisan gerrymandering is “distasteful.” They have expressed revulsion over naked power grabs, entrenched majorities insulated from the ballot box, and real fear that new technology and Big Data could make everything even worse when the next redistricting occurs after the 2020 census.
National: F.B.I.’s Urgent Request: Reboot Your Router to Stop Russia-Linked Malware | The New York Times
Hoping to thwart a sophisticated malware system linked to Russia that has infected hundreds of thousands of internet routers, the F.B.I. has made an urgent request to anybody with one of the devices: Turn it off, and then turn it back on. The malware is capable of blocking web traffic, collecting information that passes through home and office routers, and disabling the devices entirely, the bureau announced on Friday. A global network of hundreds of thousands of routers is already under the control of the Sofacy Group, the Justice Department said last week. That group, which is also known as A.P.T. 28 and Fancy Bear and believed to be directed by Russia’s military intelligence agency, hacked the Democratic National Committee ahead of the 2016 presidential election, according to American and European intelligence agencies. The F.B.I. has several recommendations for any owner of a small office or home office router. The simplest thing to do is reboot the device, which will temporarily disrupt the malware if it is present. Users are also advised to upgrade the device’s firmware and to select a new secure password. If any remote-management settings are in place, the F.B.I. suggests disabling them.
California: Fate of Judge Persky, symbol within #MeToo movement, heads to voters | San Francisco Chronicle
No California judge has been recalled from office since 1932, when Los Angeles voters removed three Superior Court judges accused of taking kickbacks. None has been recalled because of an unpopular ruling since 1913, when San Franciscans ousted a judge who had set a low bail for a man charged with sexual assault. But history may not provide much shelter for Aaron Persky, a Santa Clara County Superior Court judge who faces a June 5 recall vote primarily because of a single decision: the six-month sentence he issued two years ago to former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner, convicted of attempted rape and two other felonies for sexually penetrating a drunk and unconscious woman outside a fraternity party in January 2015. Furor over the sentencing spread nationwide, fueled by a heart-wrenching courtroom statement from Turner’s victim and the widespread view that Persky, swayed by his own background as a former Stanford athlete, had let Turner off far too lightly.
Gov. Rick Scott and Florida’s three elected Cabinet members Friday mounted a new legal defense of the state’s 150-year-old system for restoring the voting rights of convicted felons. In a filing with the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, the four Republican state officials said U.S. District Judge Mark Walker repeatedly “erred” and abused the court’s discretion when he struck down the system as unconstitutional in March. Walker had ordered the state to create a new clemency system for felons within 30 days, but on the night before the deadline, a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit stayed Walker’s order, which criticized the existing system for being arbitrary and for giving the governor too much power over every case.
Maryland gubernatorial candidate Valerie Ervin is threatening legal action after state election officials announced they would not print new ballots reflecting her recent candidacy following the sudden death of her running mate. The state board of elections announced that it would not reprint ballots for the June 26 primary to reflect Ervin as a Democratic candidate for governor. She was previously running as lieutenant governor on the ticket with former gubernatorial candidate and Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, who died of a heart attack on May 10. Ervin’s campaign said in a news release Monday night that it had sent a letter to State Board of Elections Administrator Linda Lamone, threatening legal action if ballots are not reprinted, along with other suggestions on what election officials could do to better address the change in candidates.
New Jersey lawmakers are considering whether the voting machines now used in the state should be replaced by a paper ballot system using electronic scanners. Princeton University computer science professor Andrew Appel says the voting machines are vulnerable to hacking. “So we should run our elections in a way that can detect and correct for computer hacking without having to put all our trust in computers. Therefore, we cannot use paperless touchscreen voting computers. They’re a fatally flawed technology.”
A bill that would provide nearly $115 million to counties to help upgrade aging voting equipment, reimburse election boards for more recent machine purchases and set up a unified purchasing and leasing program through the Ohio Secretary of State passed a statehouse panel Wednesday. The measure approved by the House Finance Committee already passed the Ohio Senate. It is in limbo for when the full House will take up the issue. House members must first elect a new speaker for legislation to move forward. The Butler County Board of Elections has about 1,600 voting machines, but there are about 150 that are unusable, according to the elections office, and on average 50 voting machines need repairs after each election.
A petition to the U.S. Supreme Court seeking expanded voting rights in U.S. territories has received an important boost. Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands Bar Association, and leading voting rights scholars have each filed amicus briefs in support of Supreme Court review in Segovia v. United States. Last month, Luis Segovia, a veteran living in Guam, along with other former state residents living in Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, petitioned the Supreme Court to answer whether it is constitutional to deny absentee voting rights in these territories while allowing citizens living in other U.S. territories or even a foreign country to continue being able to vote for President and voting representation in Congress.
West Virginia: Dark money tactics used in West Virginia’s primary could spread as midterm season heats up | CNN
A pair of mysterious pop-up super PACs, one with Republican roots and another tied to Democrats, spent more than $3 million in hopes of swaying West Virginia’s GOP Senate primary while keeping their donor lists hidden from voters until after the election. The groups arrived on the scene with blurry names, like “Mountain Families PAC,” but blunt intentions: to quietly use truckloads of outside money to feather their political beds ahead of the November general election. By the time their donors were revealed a few days ago, the primary felt like a distant memory. To do this, the PACs used legal tactics that were nonetheless designed to defy the spirit of current campaign finance law, campaign finance experts say.
Colombians have failed to elect a president outright, setting the stage for a bitter runoff between two frontrunners from opposite ends of the political spectrum, while a peace process with leftist rebels hangs in the balance. Iván Duque, a hardline conservative who viscerally opposes the peace accord, took the largest share of the vote on Sunday with 39%, though fell short of the 50% required to win at the first round. Instead, he will face Gustavo Petro – a leftwinger and former mayor of Bogotá, who came second with 25% – in the second round on 17 June. Petro, himself once a guerrilla, was Colombia’s first progressive candidate in generations and had been expected to gain a larger share. But a third candidate, the more moderate Sergio Fajardo, appeared to siphon off Petro’s support, receiving 23%. It remains to be seen if Fajardo, a reformer and former mayor of Medellín, will back Petro in the second round.
As Kairana Lok Sabha Constituency went to bypolls on Monday, the malfunctioning of the EVMs and VVPAT emerged to be the biggest story from the polling ground. The extent of EVMs malfunctioning grew severe as the day progressed. More than 200 EVMs and VVPATs from the polling booths of all the five assembly segments of the Lok Sabha were reportedly malfunctioning, which led to the Samajwadi Party (SP) and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) to raise allegations of “scientific rigging” in the byelection. Interestingly, even the BJP leadership raised the issue of EVM malfunctioning and urged the EC to conduct repolls at some booths. The RLD’s candidate in Kairana Tabassum Hasan, who got the support of Opposition parties, wrote to the chief election commissioner complaining about malfunctioning EVM and VVPATs in her constituency. She alleged that despite raising the issue at the state and national level, the local administration was not dealing with the issue. The voters were being deprived of their right and hence the Election Commission must urgently send engineers and technicians to repair the machines, she wrote.
The Iraqi parliament has urged an investigation into allegations of vote fraud in this month’s general election, passing a resolution seeking a partial recount. The non-binding resolution seeks to cancel ballots cast from overseas and within displacement camps inside the country and would require 10 per cent of all votes to be manually recounted. If cheating were discovered it could lead to a recount of all ballots nationwide. The move by MPs follows protests over alleged vote rigging on May 12. The proposed recount would be compared to electronic tallies, to address concerns that electronic voting machines had been hacked. “In case of discovery of fraud, then a recount would be carried out for all votes across the country,” Abdel Malik Al Husseini, spokesman for the speaker of parliament, told The National.
A standoff over Italy’s future in the eurozone has forced the resignation of the populist prime minister-in-waiting, Giuseppe Conte, after the country’s president refused to accept Conte’s controversial choice for finance minister. Sergio Mattarella, the Italian president who was installed by a previous pro-EU government, refused to accept the nomination for finance minister of Paolo Savona, an 81-year-old former industry minister who has called Italy’s entry into the euro a “historic mistake”. “I have given up my mandate to form the government of change,” Conte told reporters after leaving failed talks with Mattarella. Italy has been without a government since elections on 4 March ended in a hung parliament.
Horacio Cartes resigned from the presidency of Paraguay on Monday — a long-expected step that paves the way for him to take a Senate seat. The recently approved Vice President Alicia Pucheta will take over as leader. The Senate now must vote on whether to accept the resignation, but approval seems likely. Cartes’ five-year term ends in August and Paraguay’s constitution says former presidents automatically become senators for life, with a voice but without a vote. But Cartes, 61, won a full Senate seat during last month’s elections, a post that would help him extend his political influence into the future, and the Supreme Court ruled that it was constitutional. He has to resign before his term ends so that he can be sworn in as senator for the coming sessions.
European leaders on Monday called for a new presidential election in Venezuela, saying they will “swiftly” levy a new round of sanctions targeting those close to President Nicolas Maduro. Despite widespread calls for a return to democratic rule, Venezuela’s election showed the country was further straying from constitutional order, the European Union’s foreign ministers said. The threat from the EU’s foreign ministers drew backlash from Maduro, who said that and any more sanctions will only further hurt Venezuelans. “This is the European Union that arrogantly wants to put its nose in Venezuela’s business,” Maduro said. “Enough of this old colonialism.”