National: States using election security grants for new voting machines that won’t be ready for 2018 | McClatchy

In three Southern states with some of the nation’s most vulnerable election systems, federal grants designed to help thwart cyberattacks may not provide much protection in time for the mid-term elections as Congress intended. The $380 million in grant funding was supposed to help all states bolster their elections security infrastructure ahead of the 2018 elections after the intelligence community had warned that state voting systems could again be targeted by foreign hackers as they were in 2016. States have until 2023 to spend the grant money, said Thomas Hicks, chairman of the Election Assistance Commission, which distributes the grants. But the long procurement process for voting machines makes it hard for states to buy new machines with their grants and get them into service by the 2018 mid-terms, even though “Congress looked at getting this money out quickly to have an effect on the 2018 election,” Hicks said. …  With just over four months remaining until the mid-term elections, at least 40 states and the District of Columbia have requested more than $266 million of the $380 million pot, according to the EAC.

National: We Shouldn’t Be Surprised About Election Hacking in 2018. But Are We Prepared? | InsideSources

On the agenda this summer at one of the largest annual conventions for hackers: a session for kids in attendance on how to break into America’s voting machines. If a preteen computer whiz can crack a voting machine from a hotel in Las Vegas, what might someone more experienced — and less scrupulous — be able to do if they set their sights on the November general election? As we all know, American elections have been targeted before. In 2016, Russia attacked election-related systems in at least 21 states. And reports indicate Moscow has tried to breach other election systems around the world. But while past attacks are certainly reasons for concern, cybersecurity risks exist in every field — they’re part of the world we live in. And the United States has knowledge and resources to mount a defense.

National: Top Tech Companies Met With Intelligence Officials to Discuss Midterms | The New York Times

Eight of the tech industry’s most influential companies, in anticipation of a repeat of the Russian meddling that occurred during the 2016 presidential campaign, met with United States intelligence officials last month to discuss preparations for this year’s midterm elections. The meeting, which took place May 23 at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., was also attended by representatives from Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Oath, Snap and Twitter, according to three attendees of the meeting who spoke on condition of anonymity because of its sensitive nature. The company officials met with Christopher Krebs, an under secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, as well as a representative of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s newly formed “foreign influence” task force.

Editorials: Suppression of Minority Voting Rights Is About to Get Way Worse | Richard Hasen/Slate

On Monday, five years to the day that the Supreme Court decided Shelby County v. Holder, a case in which the court struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act with assurances that other parts of the act would still protect minority voters, the court proved those assurances false in Abbott v. Perez. In Abbott, the Roberts court on a 5–4 vote eschewed the judicial minimalism it has used to avoid other contentious issues—such as partisan gerrymandering and the clash between anti-discrimination laws and religious liberties—to contort rules limiting its own jurisdiction so that it could give states like Texas freer rein for repression of minority voting rights. The signals from Justice Neil Gorsuch, who signed onto a Clarence Thomas concurrence, show that things will only get worse going forward, especially if Justice Anthony Kennedy retires in the near future. In the time before the Supreme Court’s 2013 opinion in Shelby County, states like Texas with a history of racial discrimination in voting had to get federal approval—or “pre-clearance”—before making changes in their voting rules. To get pre-clearance, the state had to show that changes would not make minority voters worse off.

Editorials: A Counterattack on Voting Rights | David Leonhardt/The New York Times

In the suburbs of Salt Lake City, there is a planned community called Suncrest that has turned out to be a good place to study voter turnout. Suncrest feels like one community, full of modern, single-family houses. But it straddles two different counties — Salt Lake and Utah. And in 2016, the two used different voting systems. Salt Lake County switched to mail-based voting, which meant that all registered voters would receive a ballot at their home a few weeks before Election Day. They could then mail it back or drop it off at a county office. In Utah County, by contrast, residents still voted the old-fashioned way. They had to visit their local polling place, Ridgeline Elementary School, on Election Day.

Indiana: Voting system susceptible to Russian election hacking, experts say | Indianapolis Star

Indiana is one of 13 states without a paper ballot backup for all its voting machines, and an infusion of federal funds aimed at correcting that and other problems with state voting systems likely won’t fully correct the situation. State and county officials have yet to decide how to spend Indiana’s share of $380 million made available to states this year after the federal government detailed the way Russia tried to interfere with the 2016 election. The interference included attempts to target the election systems of at least 21 states. The $7.6 million Indiana is eligible for is not enough to purchase new equipment and, by one independent estimate, would cover at most one-third of the cost of replacing the paperless balloting machines.

Kansas: ‘It takes five minutes or less.’ Court ruling means new Kansas voters sign up easily | The Kansas City Star

Four days after a federal judge threw out a Kansas voting restriction, 72 newly naturalized Americans became registered voters in the same courthouse where the landmark voting rights trial took place. “That’s the reason why I became a citizen: to be able to vote,” said Patricia Mascote, who owns a convenience store in Overland Park and has lived in the United States for nearly 30 years after emigrating from Mexico. If Mascote’s naturalization ceremony had taken place just a week earlier, Mascote could have been required to submit her naturalization documents to complete the registration process. Instead, all she and the other newly registered voters had to do was write down their names and addresses and attest to their new status as citizens.

Kansas: Kobach asks for new hearing in local effort to summon grand jury to investigate his office / Lawrence Journal World

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is asking a state appellate court for a new hearing to determine whether the Douglas County District Court should be required to summon a citizen-initiated grand jury to investigate allegations that his office has mishandled voter registration applications. Kobach filed the petition Friday, which was the deadline to ask for a rehearing in the case. Steven X. Davis, a Lawrence resident who is running as a Democrat for a seat in the Kansas House, had filed petitions in August 2017 calling for a grand jury to investigate general allegations that Kobach’s office had mismanaged the state’s voter registration system and had been “grossly neglectful with respect to their election duties.” Kansas is one of only six states that allows citizen-initiated grand juries.

Maryland: Voter registration snafu affects 80,000, four times as many as initially announced | Baltimore Sun

As many as 80,000 voters will have to cast provisional ballots in Tuesday’s primary election because of a computer glitch — four times as many as state officials initially announced. On the eve of the election, Democratic legislative leaders called for the immediate resignation of Motor Vehicle Administrator Christine Nizer, who oversees the agency that failed to forward voter information to the Maryland Board of Elections. Republican Gov. Larry Hogan ordered an audit of what went wrong. The MVA discovered the problem was more widespread after it first announced late Saturday that nearly 19,000 were affected, according to a document obtained by The Baltimore Sun. The computer glitch affected some voters across the state who tried to change their registration address or party affiliation through the MVA since April 2017.

North Carolina: Supreme Court Orders New Look at North Carolina Gerrymandering Case | Bloomberg

The U.S. Supreme Court told a panel of judges to reconsider a ruling that would force North Carolina to redraw its congressional voting map to give Republicans less of a partisan advantage. The justices ordered a new look based on their week-old ruling in a similar case from Wisconsin. That decision said Democratic voters hadn’t shown they have legal standing to challenge the state’s Republican-drawn assembly map. North Carolina Democrats are trying to invalidate a map that gave Republicans 10 of the 13 U.S. House seats in the 2016 election with 53 percent of the overall congressional vote. Democrats say fairer lines would produce something closer to representational parity. A three-judge panel said that North Carolina lawmakers were “motivated by invidious partisan intent” and that the map “perfectly achieved the General Assembly’s partisan objectives.”

North Carolina: Lawmakers seek amendment to settle elections board court fight | WRAL

Republican state lawmakers are moving ahead on a sixth proposed constitutional amendment that would once again restructure the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement. It would also, sponsors say, put an end to long-running litigation over the boundaries of executive and legislative power in the state constitution. Critics of the proposal, unveiled late Friday, say it’s setting the scene for legislators to take away the governor’s traditional appointments to many of the state’s quasi-judicial oversight boards and commissions. Supporters counter that the legislature already has ultimate delegating power over all appointments to all state boards and commissions that set policy. However, courts have not always agreed.

Texas: Supreme Court Upholds Texas Voting Maps That Were Called Discriminatory | The New York Times

The Supreme Court on Monday largely upheld an array of congressional and state legislative districts in Texas, reversing trial court rulings that said the districts violated the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act by discriminating against voters on the basis of race. The vote was 5 to 4, with the court’s more conservative members in the majority. Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., writing for the majority, said the trial court had “committed a fundamental legal error” by requiring state officials to justify their use of voting maps that had been largely drawn by the trial court itself. In dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote that the majority opinion represented a dark day for voting rights. The Constitution and the Voting Rights Act “secure for all voters in our country, regardless of race, the right to equal participation in our political processes,” she wrote. “Those guarantees mean little, however, if courts do not remain vigilant in curbing states’ efforts to undermine the ability of minority voters to meaningfully exercise that right.”

Ireland: Online voter registration system to deal with dead voters and multiple votes | The Irish Times

Online registration for voters is to be introduced, the Department of Local Government has said. The online system will use a “single identifier” which is most likely to be an individual’s Personal Public Service (PPS) number. It is expected to take two to three years to implement and will replace 23 different forms with one form for registration. The array of forms currently include change of address, the supplementary registration and various postal voting forms. Minister of State John Paul Phelan said the voter registration problem was the biggest issue that continually arose in elections and referendums; that “people are registered in multiple places because they’ve moved houses and also the continuation of people being on registers years after they’ve passed away”.

Malaysia: Lowering the voting age to 18 | The Star

In a recent media interview, Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad expressed support for the proposal to lower the voting age from 21 to 18. The right to vote is therefore a sacred and precious right in any democratic country. In Malaysia, the right to vote is guaranteed by the Federal Constitution. According to Article 119(1) of the Federal Constitution, a citizen who has reached 21 years old, resident in a particular election constituency and has been registered as a voter, is eligible and has the right to vote in any elections to the Dewan Rakyat or the State Legislative Assembly. According to reports, the Prime Minister stated that it is worthwhile to consider the proposal as the Government believes that people are now wiser and can make informed decisions.

Mali: Administrators’ strike threatens July presidential vote | Euronews

Mali local government administrators at the frontline of organising next month’s presidential election launched a seven-day strike on Monday demanding more security and allowances, two unions representing them said. The administrators, who hold the rank of prefects or sub-prefects, are the government’s representatives at the local level. They are in charge of organising the July 29 vote, and said the strike will last until at least July 1, after talks with the government collapsed over the weekend. “We are concerned about our safety and working conditions. We have requested benefits in accordance with regulations, but we have not been listened to,” said Olivier Traore, secretary general of one of the unions.

Mexico: Cyberattacks in Mexico Raise Alarm Bells Ahead of Sunday’s Election | Bloomberg

Cyber attacks against Mexican financial institutions and reports of alleged election interference around the world are fueling concerns among analysts that the nation’s presidential vote on Sunday may become a target for hackers. While Mexicans will cast their vote July 1 by paper ballot, electronic systems will be used to tally and transmit the results, which the electoral authorities will then release to trusted media outlets. The slightest disruption to the voting process can sow doubt and distrust, said Ron Bushar, vice president of government solutions for cybersecurity services company Mandiant. Tensions are already high in the country given that polls show Mexicans are likely to elect a leftist for the first time in almost five decades. That candidate, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has accused his rivals of fraud and collusion to keep him from winning in the past two presidential elections, while his opponents say that his presidency would be a disaster for Mexico’s economy. Such polarization is fertile ground for cyber criminals.

Pakistan: Media faces threats, abductions ahead of vote | Associated Press

When Pakistan’s military spokesman held a press conference earlier this month on emerging threats, Matiullah Jan, a journalist who has written critically of the judiciary and the military, was surprised to see his own picture flash on the screen. The spokesman, Gen. Asif Ghafoor, said Jan and a handful of other journalists and bloggers were anti-state and anti-military. Those are serious allegations in Pakistan, where the military has ruled, directly or indirectly, for most of the country’s history, and where rights groups say it is waging an unprecedented campaign of intimidation ahead of next month’s elections. “He wasn’t specific,” Jan said of the press conference. “But he tried to paint everyone on the so-called slide prepared by intelligence reports with a broad brush as being anti-state and anti-army. 

Zimbabwe: Opposition fears crackdown after election rally bombing | The Guardian

Opposition leaders in Zimbabwe fear the bombing of a ruling party election rally on Saturday will serve as a pretext for a wide-ranging crackdown by the government or the military in the southern African state. The attack at the White City stadium in Bulawayo apparently targeted the president, Emmerson Mnangagwa. At least 49 people, including both of Zimbabwe’s vice presidents, were injured by the explosion that occurred close to the VIP podium immediately after Mnangagwa finished his speech. Mnangagwa later called for peace, love and unity in Zimbabwe and pledged that the attack would not derail what has been a largely peaceful election campaign so far.