The sponsors of a bill designed to help state election officials be briefed on threat information failed to insert any of their provisions in a defense spending package approved Monday by the U.S. Senate. Sens. James Lankford, a Republican from Oklahoma, and Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota, had pushed to get parts of their bill, the Secure Elections Act, included in the National Defense Authorization Act. Brought on by concerns from the intelligence community that the Russian government will repeat its 2016 efforts to influence U.S. voters ahead of this November’s midterm elections, the Secure Elections Act was designed to make it easier for state elections officials to get the security clearances necessary to be briefed on threats. It would also direct the Department of Homeland Security to share threat information with state elections officials.
National: New Government Reports Shows Federal Agencies Facing Significant Cyber Security Risks | CPO Magazine
With all the talk about cyber security risks in the news, you would think that the U.S. federal government would be doing a better job of protecting its data from cyber attacks, including the very real threat of state-sponsored hackers. Yet, as a new Office of the Management and Budget (OMB) report points out, nearly 75 percent of federal agencies are still woefully unprepared to handle cyber security risks of any kind. This all comes on the heels of the United States government eliminating the position of federal cybersecurity czar earlier this year. While the report, which was prepared in collaboration of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), did not specifically call out which agencies were failing to respond to global cyber threats, it did suggest that the failures, gaps and inadequacies were relatively evenly distributed across the entire federal government. In fact, 71 of the 96 federal agencies reviewed were deemed to be “at risk” or “at high risk” of a cyber attack. The report defined “at risk” to mean that there were significant gaps in security preparedness, while “at high risk” means that fundamental processes were not even in place to deal with cyber security risks.
The Senate wants to turn up the pressure on President Trump and his military chiefs to strike back against Russian hacking. The massive defense policy bill the Senate approved Monday night calls on Trump to curb Russian aggression in cyberspace. It gives Trump the green light to direct U.S. Cyber Command to “disrupt, defeat and deter” cyberattacks by the Russian government, conduct surveillance on Kremlin-backed hackers and partner with social media organizations to crack down on disinformation campaigns such as the ones that disrupted the 2016 election. It would also require the administration to send quarterly reports to Congress about the progress of its efforts.
Editorials: Less than Fundamental: The Myth of Voting Rights in America | David Schultz/International Policy Digest
There is a myth among election law experts that voting is a fundamental right in the United States. However, the Supreme Court’s recent Husted v. Philips Randolph Institute upholding Ohio’s voter purge law and Minnesota Voter Alliance v. Mansky striking down Minnesota’s political apparel ban are only the latest examples demonstrating that the right to vote in America is less than fundamental. These cases are part of the second great disenfranchisement in American politics. Like the first one after the end of Reconstruction, this one too aims to rig the election process, entrenching one set of interests in power. The story of voting rights in America is one of exceptionalism. In 1787 when the US Constitution was drafted the right to vote was absent from the text. The Constitution then (and still to this day because the Electoral College actually picks the president) did not a grant a right to vote for president. Senators were chosen by the state legislatures. While members of the House of Representatives could be selected by the people, who could vote was a matter of state law, franchise was generally limited to property-owning white males, at least 21 years old, who were citizens and members of a church or particular faith.
Editorials: The Best Way to Fix Gerrymandering Is to Make It Useless | Lee Drutman/The New York Times
In the months leading up to Monday’s Supreme Court punt on the gerrymandering cases out of Wisconsin and Maryland, those hoping the court would rein in partisan gerrymanders had been cautiously optimistic. Justice Anthony Kennedy made it known that if a “workable standard” could be found to distinguish legitimate districting from partisan gerrymandering, he might sign onto it. Reformers thought they had found that standard in something called the “efficiency gap.” But for now, with the court’s decision to not rule on the central questions the cases raise, we still lack a standard. The light is still green for state legislatures to draw maps as they please, and tempt their luck in the lower courts.
Two Florida counties are asking a court to throw an amendment off the November ballot that asks voters around the state to overrule decisions made by their local voters on which of their officials should be elected. In separate lawsuits filed this month in Leon County Circuit Court, Broward and Volusia counties are asking the court to invalidate Amendment 10, the proposal placed on the November ballot by the Republican-controlled Constitution Revision Commission. The two counties argue that the proposal unconstitutionally misleads voters because it fails to explain that if approved, voters in Broward and Volusia counties would be stripped of their right to govern themselves.
Thank goodness Palm Beach County elections officials haven’t waited for the state of Florida for help in hardening our voting system from cyberattacks. First, the Legislature failed to approve money for a cyber-security unit in the state elections office, so Gov. Rick Scott is resorting to a federal grant to contract for five consultants to assist elections officials. Then the Scott administration let months go by without bothering to seek $19.2 million in federal money for cyber security that’s been available since President Trump signed the most recent spending bill, in March.
In the end, the decision seemed inevitable. After a seven-day trial in Kansas City federal court in March, in which Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach needed to be tutored on basic trial procedure by the judge and was found in contempt for his “willful failure” to obey a ruling, even he knew his chances were slim. Kobach told The Kansas City Star at the time that he expected the judge would rule against him (though he expressed optimism in his chances on appeal). Sure enough, yesterday federal Judge Julie Robinson overturned the law that Kobach was defending as lead counsel for the state, dealing him an unalloyed defeat. The statute, championed by Kobach and signed into law in 2013, required Kansans to present proof of citizenship in order to register to vote. The American Civil Liberties Union sued, contending that the law violated the National Voter Registration Act (AKA the “motor voter” law), which was designed to make it easy to register.
There’s been a delay in the tabulation of the ranked-choice ballots, as Democrats wait for a gubernatorial candidate to be announced. It was looking like the ranked-choice results would be in Tuesday, when a problem was discovered with a few voting memory sticks not loading into the computer. Secretary of State Matt Dunlap says those memory sticks worked on election night, but now they won’t download.
Nearly a week after Nevada’s primary election, officials are yet to look under the hood to see what caused glitches with Washoe County’s new voting machines. County Registrar of Voters Deanna Spikula said her office was still working to finalize and audit results from last week’s primary election and had not had a chance to conduct a full assessment of what went wrong with the county’s recently unveiled, multimillion-dollar election hardware. Officials last week said they were aware of fewer than 10 voters affected by well-publicized malfunctions that left some candidates off of ballots or displayed the wrong slate of ballot choices — potentially giving voters a chance to help decide races they weren’t eligible to vote in.
Clark County Registrar of Voters Joe Gloria is calling for a redo of a primary election decided by a razor-thin margin because 43 voters may have cast ballots twice as a result of an “unacceptable” failure in procedure by poll workers. Aaron Manfredi won the Republican primary for county administrator on June 12 by only four votes. A total of 59,032 votes were cast in that race. “Because the number of discrepancies is higher than the difference in the candidates’ totals, (the registrar) is unable to certify the results of this race and is calling for a special election to resolve the contest,” county spokesman Dan Kulin wrote in a statement.
In the first year in decades that all judicial races will be partisan races, North Carolina will not have primary elections that allow the political parties to winnow the names of candidates who will appear on ballots this fall. U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles notified attorneys for the Democratic Party and North Carolina lawmakers on Tuesday that she plans to rule for the legislators in a lawsuit filed late last year. The North Carolina Democratic Party contended that abolishing primary elections for judicial races violated its right to assemble and choose a candidate of its choice to appear on the ballot.
Wisconsin: Democrats seek to bring case back to Supreme Court before 2020 elections | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Wisconsin Republicans are claiming victory with Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision to send a lawsuit over the state’s legislative boundaries back to a lower court without addressing whether the map is constitutionally drawn. But Democrats say the ruling doesn’t put the legal fight to bed as Republicans suggest, and vow to clear any hurdle to get the nation’s highest court to answer the question of whether Wisconsin’s districts are so partisan that they violate the Constitution before the next round of map drawing.
Shortly after Mexican presidential candidate Ricardo Anaya held up a placard announcing his campaign’s newest website, Debate2018.mx, during a debate on June 12, the site was overwhelmed by an influx of traffic. Anaya’s campaign said the site — which was to offer evidence of wrongdoing by campaign frontrunner Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador — likely experienced a distributed denial of service attack and that most of the traffic had come from Russia and China. But experts have cast doubt on that version of events and said homegrown cyber activity will likely play a bigger role in Mexico’s election.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez dropped his pledge to call an early election in Spain less than three weeks after taking office. In his first interview since ousting Mariano Rajoy with a no-confidence vote on June 1, 46-year-old Sanchez said he aims to see out the final two years of the parliamentary term. “I plan to call elections in 2020, and so to see out the legislature,” Sanchez told state television broadcaster TVE Monday. “After the confidence motion, we need a period of time to get back to normal before calling an election.”
Thailand’s military junta has moved closer to keeping its long-held promise to hold a general election that could see power transferred back to civilian hands. Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Kreangam said on Monday that a new bill has been submitted to King Maha Vajiralongkorn for his approval. The bill lays out rules for a lower house election, will take effect 90 days after the king approves it and it is published in the Royal Gazette, the government’s public journal. An election must then follow within 150 days.
Turkey could stage another election if the alliance between President Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AK Party and the nationalist MHP party cannot form a majority in parliament after Sunday’s vote, the MHP leader said. Turks will vote on June 24 in presidential and parliamentary elections that will herald a switch to a new powerful executive presidency narrowly approved in a referendum last year. Polls suggest Erdogan’s alliance could narrowly lose its parliamentary majority, while the presidential vote may also go to a second round run-off.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has so far withheld the official voters roll from most parties — a move that has raised concern over the body’s ability to run credible elections next month. The country’s main opposition has said Zimbabwe should not hold the polls if the commission does not show impartiality. Last week, some Zimbabwe opposition parties were unable to register their candidates for the July 30 presidential election. The parties blamed their plight on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, saying they did not have the official voters roll from which to find the required 100 signatures of endorsement from registered voters.