Verified Voting debuted its latest infographic, “A Flowchart for Conducting Risk-Limiting Audits,” at the National Association of Secretaries of States (NASS) 2018 Summer Conference in Philadelphia. In addition to sharing this with election officials at the conferences this summer, Verified Voting is working closely with jurisdictions to demonstrate how to implement robust post-election audits. Check…
National: States and counties are not ‘sitting back’ on election cybersecurity, officials tell Congress | StateScoop
Four state, local and federal officials briefed members of Congress Tuesday on the need to increase cybersecurity around voting infrastructure, a task that grows more urgent for state and local governments as the November midterm elections approach. While the nearly three-hour hearing before the House Oversight Committee was frequently sidetracked by representatives’ diversions into topics including the investigation being conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, federal agencies’ search rankings and President Donald Trump’s latest tweets, the witnesses also got a few words in about how ready election officials are to repel cyberattacks and how well states are partnering with the federal government to make voting more secure.
The underlying mechanism of American democracy–the U.S. election system–has been under attack by foreign hackers. Special Counsel Robert Mueller last week indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers accused of interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. While the Russians are charged with hacking the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign, the Department of Homeland Security found that hackers also targeted election systems in 21 states, including battleground states such as Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Florida. And while Congress approved $380 million in grant money for state election officials to upgrade their cybersecurity posture, many American states are ill- equipped to defend against cyberwar waged by nation states. That’s why Cloudflare, a San Francisco-based cybersecurity company, is offering its services free to state and county government websites that support elections, report election results, host voter registration services, and poll location information.
The federal government allocated $380 million to protect and improve election system security. In a June 24 House Oversight Committee hearing, officials and House Democrats made the case for a few dollars more. Thomas Hicks, commissioner of the Election Assistance Commission, confirmed that $335 million of the $380 million in the omnibus spending bill passed in March earmarked for election security assistance has been dispersed to states and that 100 percent of the funds have been requested. The remaining $45 million is expected to be distributed by next month.
National: Judiciary Democrats call for hearings on NRA’s role in Russia’s 2016 election meddling | The Hill
Two Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee are calling on the panel to examine whether top officials at the National Rifle Association (NRA) were aware of Russia’s attempts to contribute money to the Trump campaign through the gun rights group. Sens. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) pressed Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) in a letter to hold public hearings on the matter, a request that comes after federal authorities indicted a Russian woman last week that they allege acted as a Kremlin agent. Maria Butina was indicted for allegedly working to advance Russia’s interests by cultivating relationships with Republican power players as well as infiltrating “organizations active in U.S. politics.”
National: Trump has now walked back his walk-back on U.S. intelligence and Russia | The Washington Post
Six days ago, President Trump held a news conference to walk back comments he made suggesting that he did not believe that Russian President Vladimir Putin oversaw a plan to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. “Let me be totally clear in saying that — and I’ve said this many times — I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place,” Trump said in that statement. Trump then said he realized, after seeing the backlash to his news conference, that one statement needed clarifying. That’s when he offered his now-infamous “double-negative” defense. “In a key sentence in my remarks, I said the word ‘would’ instead of ‘wouldn’t.’ . . . The sentence should have been, ‘I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia.’ Sort of a double negative.” But on Sunday, he suggested that the investigation was “all a big hoax.”
Kathleen Henry, 80, wants all her neighbors to vote, even if they can’t drive, read, or remember as much anymore. Soon after the former civics teacher moved to the Greenspring retirement community here in 2003, she took a leading role in running the campus’s polling place and registering voters. Just this year, Ms. Henry said, she’s registered 72 residents as new voters. If a resident doesn’t have an up-to-date government form of identification – as is the case for 18 percent of citizens over 65 – Henry works to bring in a county official to take their picture to comply with Virginia’s voter ID law.
Editorials: The Trump administration’s deception on the census should be a major scandal | Paul Waldman/The Washington Post
I realize that many times before you’ve been told, “If this weren’t the Trump administration where there’s a new scandal every day, this would be a major scandal.” You sighed and said, “I’m sure that’s true,” then moved on. But let me explain why the administration’s treatment of the U.S. census should, in fact, be a major scandal, particularly given some blockbuster news we just got. This scandal has a malign conspiracy, public lies, possible perjury, and an unrelenting assault not just on a core American institution enshrined in the Constitution but on democracy itself. As you may have heard, the Trump administration has decided to add a question to the 2020 Census asking whether those answering are U.S. citizens. It’s already widely known that it’s hard enough already to get people, particularly in immigrant communities, to answer the questions, because there’s not only concern about privacy but also fear that the census will be used to target people for harassment or even deportation.
A few months after he started leading the Commerce Department, Secretary Wilbur Ross became impatient. As a powerful decider for the U.S. census, he had a keen interest in adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census as soon as possible. “I am mystified why nothing [has] been done in response to my months old request that we include the citizenship question. Why not?” he wrote in a May 2017 email to two Commerce Department officials. The email was among the more than 2,400 pages of internal documents the Trump administration filed in federal courts Monday as part of the lawsuits against Ross’ addition of a controversial citizenship question to the 2020 census. NPR has filed Freedom of Information Act requests for similar documents. The court filing also includes census-related articles by NPR and other news organizations compiled by federal agency press offices. The Commerce Department and the Census Bureau are facing six lawsuits from more than two dozen states and cities, plus other groups, that want the question removed.
Editorials: Let noncitizens vote. What’s the worst that could happen? | GustavoArellano/Los Angeles Times
As if President Trump’s America needed more reason to hate California, here comes news that San Francisco began to register noncitizens last week to vote for local school board races this November. Actually, it’s old news: Voters OK’d the plan in 2016 with the passage of Measure N. But its implementation has triggered Fox News and their peers, and has Republican politicians whispering that this is the latest Democratic plot to use undocumented Mexicans to destroy America — never mind that most of the people now eligible to vote in San Francisco are actually Chinese. Conservatives need to calm down. Noncitizen voting already is happening in some Maryland towns, and democracy there is still alive. Giving them access to the ballot box is a great gesture — it lets more people hold government accountable, adds a shot of vitality to our democracy, blah blah blah.
There is no democracy without the vote. There is no democratic legitimacy. There is no rule of law. And yet the vote has been contested throughout our country’s almost 250 year history. We think most often of the march toward universal suffrage rights for all adult citizens: the vote for all white men in the 1820s and 1830s, the extension of voting rights to African-American men in 1870 (15th Amendment) and women in 1920 (19th Amendment). But these de jure enactments have never been the whole story.
California: Could Russia hack California’s elections? It would be hard, but not impossible | San Francisco Chronicle
Although California has received an “all-clear” from government agencies looking into Russian attempts to hack into voting data for states across the nation, safe today doesn’t mean safe tomorrow, a leading computer security expert warned. “The bottom line is, be nervous,” said Matt Bishop, a UC Davis computer science professor who specializes in computer security. California has been pushing hard to make its voting systems more secure and more efficient since Florida’s famous “hanging chad” election of 2000. … San Francisco’s system is typical, said John Arntz, the city’s elections chief. There’s an “air gap” in the electronic voting machines and the equipment that tallies the votes, he said.
Florida: Judge: Florida’s early-voting-on-campus ban shows ‘stark pattern of discrimination’ | Tampa Bay Times
Gov. Rick Scott’s elections officials showed “a stark pattern of discrimination” in blocking early voting at state college and university campuses, a federal judge ruled Tuesday. The decision by U.S. District Judge Mark Walker is yet another voting rights defeat for the Republican governor, and could yet emerge as an issue in his campaign to unseat three-term Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson. Walker issued a preliminary injunction that directs Scott’s chief elections official, Secretary of State Ken Detzner, to tell all 67 counties that they can use campus buildings for early voting this fall. Detzner has until Friday to tell the judge he will obey.
Last week, when Donald Trump endorsed Brian Kemp over Casey Cagle in Georgia’s Republican-gubernatorial-primary runoff election—which takes place on Tuesday—it looked like the President was simply choosing the candidate who was running as the self-proclaimed “politically incorrect conservative.” But, in fact, there is very little political distance between Kemp, Georgia’s secretary of state, and Cagle, the lieutenant governor: both are avowed right-wing Christians who extol the blessed trinity of school choice, the elimination of abortion rights, and the primacy of the Second Amendment, and both are vocal supporters of Trump. They are so closely aligned politically that the New York Times called the President’s endorsement “unexpected.” And, though it’s possible that Trump split the difference by focussing on the candidates’ most significant policy disagreement—Kemp is a vociferous critic of the Affordable Care Act, and Cagle wants to expand Medicaid in Georgia—he also happened to endorse a candidate whose views on election hacking and Russian meddling most reflect his own.
There has been a lot of talk about election security over the last year. Now, there is word that the national controversy over Russians meddling in the 2016 election may be closer to home than many believed. In a recent report from the U.S. House of Representatives, Georgia was named as one of the top four states with vulnerable election systems. The report says that in 2016, Russian hackers tried to penetrate the state system and maybe even county election offices.
New Hampshire: Officials say college students don’t have standing to sue over election law | Union Leader
Six college students listed as plaintiffs in a lawsuit that challenges the Senate Bill 3 election reform bill are legally able to vote in New Hampshire and lack the standing necessary to challenge the law, New Hampshire officials said in recent court filings. The six produced proof of dormitory addresses, leases or New Hampshire driver licenses during the discovery process, when lawyers queried the opposing party about claims made in the lawsuit. Under the law, the documents are enough to prove residency for voting purposes. One of the six was registered to vote before the suit was filed; another voted twice after the suit was filed.
State officials will spend more than $7 million over the next two years to upgrade and secure the decade-old system that forms the backbone of the state’s elections. They’ll use several million more in mostly federal dollars to fund additional auditing and cybersecurity measures as the state works to harden election systems in the wake of nationwide Russian interference in 2016. State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement spokesman Patrick Gannon said the agency has no indication of any “successful infiltration” into North Carolina election systems during the last election. But state officials are taking seriously mounting evidence from the U.S. intelligence community and federal investigators of widespread disinformation campaigns and repeated attacks on critical election infrastructure across the country.
For the past month, the deputy village chief of a hamlet in rural Cambodia has had a singular focus. A member of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), the deputy chief says he has been instructed to press every adult in the hamlet to vote in Sunday’s national election. “Every day we are telling people of the achievements of the party, that they should be grateful and it’s an obligation to vote,” he wearily told Reuters in his home in Kampong Thom province, on condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisals.
Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo on Monday named lawyer and governance specialist Jean Mensa to head the national electoral commission, dismaying the main opposition party which said Mensa was an unsuitable choice. She replaces Charlotte Osei who was fired by Akufo-Addo last month for “misbehaviour and incompetence,” relating to alleged breaches of Ghanaian procurement laws. Osei denied the accusation. Until her appointment, announced by the presidency, Mensa headed the Accra-based Institute of Economic Affairs think-tank, organisers of presidential debates ahead of general elections in Ghana. The West African nation, a major commodity exporter, will hold elections in December 2020, a vote that is likely to be a close contest between Akufo-Addo’s New Patriotic Party and the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC).
Opposition parties in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Monday called on President Joseph Kabila to step down ahead of elections in December but ruled out boycotting the poll. In an exceptional move, five parties signed a joint statement setting out demands ahead of the December 23 presidential vote, whose outcome is crucial for the sprawling, volatile DRC. “We are not going to boycott the elections, because we have known from the very beginning that this is the ruling party’s plan, to push the opposition into boycott the elections,” said Delly Sesanga, a supporter of exiled opposition leader Moise Katumbi.
A suicide bomber struck outside a crowded polling station in Pakistan’s southwestern city of Quetta, killing 31 people as Pakistanis cast ballots Wednesday in a general election meant to lead to the nation’s third consecutive civilian government. The attack in Quetta, the provincial capital of Baluchistan, also wounded 35 people and several were reported to be in critical condition, raising concerns the death toll could rise further, according to hospital official Jaffar Kakar, a doctor. A witness who was waiting to cast his ballot, Abdul Haleem, said he saw a motorcycle drive into the crowd of voters just seconds before the explosion. Haleem’s uncle was killed in the explosion.