Europe: European Parliament backs (modest) electoral reform changes | Politico

Members of the European Parliament on Wednesday backed changes to the rules governing European elections — but the reforms were a long way from the ambitious plans that many lawmakers had hoped for. At the end of more than two years of tricky negotiations with EU member countries, MEPs voted by 397 votes to 207 in favor of the changes, with 62 abstentions. Some of the proposals will be in place in time for next year’s election. They agreed to allow internet voting, allow EU citizens to vote from non-EU countries, and put in place tough penalties for those who vote in more than one country. They also agreed to put names and logos of EU political parties next to national ones on the ballot paper, but only on a voluntary basis. There was also success for Germany and Spain which, unlike most other EU countries, don’t have mandatory thresholds of votes in EU elections but will now be able to introduce a limit of between 2 and 2.5 percent. Berlin had lobbied hard for electoral thresholds despite a 2014 German court ruling which declared them unconstitutional.

Australia: Typeform Breach Update: TEC, ARM, And UK’s LibDems Also Affected | Hacking News

The Typeform data breach that shook the internet world last week now appears much more shocking and far-reaching then initially speculated. At that time, Typeform did not clearly mention the affected customers. Rather it summed up by saying that it is notifying the affected customers directly. However, the recent reports and repeated confessions about data breach from a number of organizations give us a hint of the Typeform’s victimized clientele. In this Typeform breach update, we report the data breaches faced by various political parties. One of the initial entities that confirmed data breach right after the news about Typeform breach surfaced online, is the Tasmanian Electoral Commission (TEC). After receiving the notification from Typeform, they quickly published a media release about the incident. 

Iraq: Manual recount of votes from disputed election begins | Reuters

Iraqi authorities began recounting votes on Tuesday from May’s disputed parliamentary election, officials said, a step toward forming a new government after weeks of delays. Counting started in the ethnically mixed northern oil-producing province of Kirkuk, the election commission said, and at least six other provinces were expected to follow suit in coming days. Parliament ordered a full recount last month after a government report concluded there were widespread violations. As a result, political blocs began heated talks about the formation of the next government.

Mali: Election officials end strike, easing fears for July 29 poll | Reuters

Election organizers in Mali have ended a two-week strike over working conditions, a union said on Wednesday, lifting a threat to a looming vote. Malians are due to vote on July 29 in a presidential election that many hope will chart a way out of six years of political unrest and jihadist violence. But attacks by militants had cast doubt on the government’s ability to hold the poll on time even before the strike, which disrupted the distribution of voting cards. Last week, militants raided the headquarters of a regional military base in central Mali, leaving at least six people dead. Four civilians were also killed on Sunday by a car bomb that targeted French troops in the north.

Mexico: Puebla suffers rash of ballot burglaries, one dead | The Mast

Only hours before the polls closed in Mexico’s highly contentious general elections, the city of Puebla suffered a rash of ballot robberies at polling stations, leaving one person killed and voters unable to make their selection for president, the state governor, and congressional representatives. The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) confirmed that one of their local chairpeople in the state of Puebla, Fernando Herrera Silva, was also assassinated on Sunday. In a statement, the PRI said, “We demand the state and judicial authorities to clarify this attack, which also recorded three other people injured. This process is marred again by acts of violence and it is the duty of the state government to guarantee the safety of citizens, in the free exercise of their rights.”

Taiwan: DPP website hacked by Chinese hackers | Taiwan News

The Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) official website was attacked by Chinese hackers early Tuesday morning, and the website was replaced with pictures and words reading “Chinese netizens are supporting Tsai Ing-wen to run for re-election” in simplified Chinese characters.  DPP spokesperson Kolas Yotaka said on Tuesday noon that the cyber attack took place between 1:30 a.m. and 2 a.m. July 3, and the party will heighten its cybersecurity after the hack.  A screenshot image showed that the title of the website was changed into a long sentence, which read “We don’t touch your confidential information, it’s not worth it; our next target will be the Kuomintang.”

Zimbabwe: Opposition says ‘no election’ without ballot paper deal | Reuters

Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader Nelson Chamisa made a veiled threat on Wednesday to boycott elections on July 30 if there is no agreement between the independent election agency and political parties on ballot papers. Chamisa and his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) are the main rivals to President Emmerson Mnangagwa in the first presidential and parliamentary vote since Robert Mugabe resigned last November following an army coup. The MDC is wary of any attempt to put it at a disadvantage to Mnangagwa and the ruling ZANU-PF party, insisting there be a deal on how to design, print and store ballot papers.

International: Coalition of former Transatlantic leaders offer chilling election security warning | Washington Times

With more than 20 major elections scheduled in the next two years, governments on both sides of the Atlantic are still not prepared to fend off outside attacks to meddle in campaigns and election counts, an international bipartisan group of political, technology, business and media leaders warned Monday. “Governments are scrambling to prepare for the last disinformation campaign, rather than the next,” the Transatlantic Commission on Election Integrity said in a statement after a meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark. “In the coming years, the proliferation of technology will make it easy for everyone to sow the seeds of confusion and distrust,” the group said. The commission formed in May in the wake of reports that Russia had meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and worked with favored parties in votes across Europe in recent years. U.S. election officials have said they expect Russia to try to interfere in the November midterm and 2020 presidential elections as well.

National: Russia probe likely got access to NRA’s secret donors | McClatchy

For months, the National Rifle Association has had a stock answer to queries about an investigation into whether Russian money was funneled to the gun rights group to aid Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. The NRA, which spent $30 million-plus backing Trump’s bid, has heard nothing from the FBI or any other law enforcement agency, spokesman Andrew Arulanandam reiterated in an email the other day. Legal experts, though, say there’s an easy explanation for that. They say it would be routine for Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators, who are looking at the NRA’s funding as part of a broader inquiry into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections, to secretly gain access to the NRA’s tax returns from the Internal Revenue Service.

California: The November election just got a lot less confusing for California voters | Los Angeles Times

Californians won’t vote on the nation’s toughest privacy protections after all — because the Legislature did its job and handled the matter. That’s one less confusing ballot proposition and hundreds fewer annoying TV ads that voters will be pestered with in November. Same with a complex local tax measure. The soft drink industry was scared of local governments slapping taxes on sugary soda. So soda makers qualified a ballot initiative making it harder to increase local taxes period. But they withdrew the measure last week after the Legislature passed a bill to ban new soda taxes for 12 years. There also won’t be a squirrely ballot measure sponsored by paint manufacturers asking taxpayers to subsidize their lead paint cleanup. Outraged legislators responded to the initiative by introducing bills to penalize the companies. In the end, everyone holstered their weapons and agreed to negotiate.

Florida: Elections supervisors urged to take federal help on security | Tampa Bay Times

Florida election supervisors should take advantage of help from the Department of Homeland Security to make systems more secure, Sens. Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson wrote in a letter Monday. “County election boards should not be expected to stand alone against a hostile foreign government,” the lawmakers said in recommending “a wide range of services” from DHS to strengthen security. “We encourage you in the strongest terms to take advantage of those resources, and to let us know about your experience with DHS and FBI.”

Georgia: Election officials admit misplacing voters in Georgia House race | Atlanta Journal Constitution

Something went very wrong when dozens, maybe even hundreds, of voters received the wrong ballots in a tight primary election in North Georgia. They lived in one state House district but voted in another. Now, the election that seemed to unseat an incumbent representative might be thrown out. State Rep. Dan Gasaway, who lost the May 22 primary by just 67 votes to Chris Erwin, is asking a judge to order a new election. Election officials in Habersham County have acknowledged the errors, sending letters to voters saying “your address was found to have been placed in the wrong House district.”

Massachusetts: Court upholds 20-day voter registration cut-off | Reuters

Massachusetts’ top court on Monday unanimously upheld a state requirement that people must register to vote 20 days before an election, ruling in a case that could impact the ability of thousands of citizens to cast ballots. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled in favor of the state’s top election official by reversing a lower court judge’s 2017 ruling that concluded the registration cut-off violated the state’s constitution. The 7-0 ruling by the top court came in a lawsuit filed in 2016 by the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts on behalf of two organizations, Chelsea Collaborative and MassVote, and several individual qualified voters.

Utah: Federal judge sides with San Juan County, says it’s been ‘pretty vigorous’ in implementing new voter boundaries that benefit Navajo residents – The Salt Lake Tribune

A federal judge declined Monday to reopen a landmark voting rights case filed by Navajo residents in southeastern Utah, suggesting that San Juan County’s Republican-controlled leadership has led “a pretty vigorous effort” to comply with the redistricting that he ordered last year to reverse the political domination by whites over American Indians there. It’s a surprising dismissal that for now ends the six-year legal battle that has overtaken politics in this remote and rural corner of the state and left lingering bad blood over the ruling. (The county has an appeal still pending.) “I have little doubt that after six years of litigation in this case, there’s not a lot of fond feelings and also some level of distrust,” said U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby. “But this process we’ve been engaged in here [with the request to reopen the case] is not helpful in correcting any of that.”

Australia: Tasmanian electoral body caught up in Typeform data breach | ZDNet

The Tasmanian Electoral Commission says an “unknown attacker” has breached a server’s security and downloaded a back-up file containing the names, addresses, emails, and date-of-birth information of electors. The breach occurred through a server of the Barcelona-based company Typeform, whose online forms have been used on the TEC website since 2015 for election services, the commission said in a statement on Saturday. Typeform said the breach was identified on June 27, with the vulnerability closed down within half an hour of detection.

Cambodia: NGOs warned of unofficial election monitoring | Khmer Times

The National Election Committee has warned civil society organisations that intend to deploy observers to monitor the election on July 29 without being registered that they will face the law. The NEC issued a statement on Saturday informing all its Phnom Penh and 24 provincial election committees to closely monitor election watchdog Comfel for training its volunteers to monitor the election on July 29, noting that the NGO was infringing on the Law on Political Parties, election law and law on NGOs and associations.

Iraq: Manual recount of votes from disputed election begins | Reuters

Iraqi authorities began recounting votes from May’s disputed parliamentary election on Tuesday, officials said, a step towards forming a new government after weeks of delays. Counting started in the northern oil-producing province of Kirkuk, a election commission source there said, and at least six other provinces were expected to follow suit in coming days. Parliament ordered a full recount earlier in June after a government report concluded there were widespread violations.

Pakistan: Pakistan’s Bittersweet Election Season | The Diplomat

Uncertainty, doubts, and skepticism are on the rise as Pakistan inches toward its July 25 parliamentary elections, the most controversial in the country’s democratic history thanks to recurring direct and indirect interference by the powerful military. There exists both hope and despair – hope of a third transfer of power from one elected government to another and despair because of the increasing role of the proverbial “invisible hand” that some observers and political analysts label as the “creeping coup.” Unlike the past, where the military used to pack elected governments through direct interference or pick and choose by acting behind the scenes, this time it is the top judiciary and the accountability department — the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) — standing in the front row and believed to be targeting some, while sparing others.

Turkey: Government signals early local election in November | Hurriyet Daily News

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has signaled the bringing of local elections forward to November 2018 instead of March 2019, on the condition that opposition parties agree as the process requires a constitutional amendment. “I think holding local elections on the first or second Sunday of November, which corresponds to a date between Nov. 1 and 8, would be appropriate,” AKP Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair Mustafa Elitaş told the Demirören News Agency on July 2. “But three parties have to agree on that,” he added, in reference to the need to amend the constitution in order to change election dates. Elitaş’s statement followed comments from Food, Agriculture and Livestock Minister Ahmet Eşref Fakıbaba, who fueled discussions by saying that the first year after a local election is usually “wasted” on preparations and orientation, and it would be better to spend the last months of the year on such preparations.

Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe has an election coming up. Is political violence brewing? | The Washington Post

Zimbabweans head to the polls on July 30, in the first presidential election since the ouster of President Robert Mugabe last year. Until a week ago, Zimbabwe’s presidential campaigning had been relatively peaceful, with the exception of some violence reported during the party primary elections. That changed abruptly on June 23, when Emmerson Mnangagwa, Zimbabwe’s new president, survived a grenade blast at a political rally in Bulawayo, the country’s second-largest city. The president’s office announced on June 26 that two people died from injuries sustained during the attack, while 49 others remained in the hospital.

National: Voting Rights Debate Moves From Statehouses to Ballot Boxes | Governing

Voting has become one of the most partisan issues in contemporary politics. Republicans have sought to make it more secure by requiring photo identification. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last month to allow Ohio to purge inactive voters from the rolls is likely to open the door to similar efforts in other red states. Democrats, conversely, are doing everything they can to make voting easier. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill in March implementing automatic voter registration. The following month, Gov. Phil Murphy signed a similar bill in New Jersey, bringing to 12 the number of states that sign people up, unless they opt out, when they interact with the department of motor vehicles or other state agencies. Democrats control the political branches of government in most of these states.

National: You Should Be ‘Significantly Concerned’ There’s No White House Cyber Coordinator, Policy Experts Say | Defense One

How concerned should Americans be about a White House shuffle that removed the cybersecurity coordinator position? Significantly concerned, according to a collection of top cybersecurity policy experts gathered by the Atlantic Council think tank. White House National Security Adviser John Bolton eliminated the cybersecurity coordinator position soon after taking office in May. The elimination was greeted with consternation by many cyber analysts who believed the job, which encompasses government cyber protections, international cyber negotiations and broad U.S. cyber policy, was too complex to be subsumed into broader White House operations.

Editorials: Kennedy’s Retirement Could Threaten Efforts to End Partisan Gerrymandering | Michael Wines/The New York Times

For 14 years, as partisan gerrymanders across the country grew more extreme, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy came to symbolize hopes that the Supreme Court would eventually rein them in. His retirement this week did not merely dampen those hopes. Experts said it also presented a potentially crippling threat to growing efforts by voting rights advocates and Democrats to halt gerrymanders by legal and political means. Justice Kennedy was widely seen as the swing vote on gerrymandering in a court divided between liberals, who see the practice as unconstitutional, and conservatives, who regard it as a political problem, not a legal one. Indeed, he single-handedly preserved it as a judicial question, in a 2004 case involving Pennsylvania’s Legislature, when he declined to join four other justices who declared that it is impossible to determine when a political map becomes unacceptably partisan. “That no such standard has emerged in this case,” he wrote then, “should not be taken to prove that none will emerge in the future.”

Editorials: How to Solve the Redistricting Mess | Bloomberg

To adhere to a standard of “one person, one vote,” the Supreme Court requires each congressional district to contain a roughly equal number of people. The court has also ruled that gerrymandering legislative maps to dilute the power of racial minorities is unlawful (though its commitment to that view might be questioned). However, the court has avoided taking a stand on partisan gerrymanders, by which legislative maps are manipulated to give a decisive advantage to one party over another. This month, it sent claims on gerrymandered districts in several states back to lower courts. That’s unfortunate. Political gerrymanders, whether by Democrats or Republicans, undermine confidence in the political system, add to an already abundant supply of partisan rancor, and discriminate against the Americans whose votes are discounted.

Delaware: Early voting proposal fails in Delaware legislature | Associated Press

Legislation allowing early voting in Delaware has died in the state Senate, more than a week after it was declared to have passed the House despite falling short of the two-thirds vote requirement. The Democratic Senate majority leader announced late Saturday that the bill would not be considered on the final night of this year’s legislative session because it did not have enough votes.

Florida: Counties fault Rick Scott’s staff over voting money conditions | Tampa Bay Times

County elections officials and Gov. Rick Scott’s administration are at odds again, this time over new state requirements on how millions of dollars in cyber-security money can be spent across the state. Florida was awarded $19.2 million from the feds in March, and most of the money is to help counties fortify their voting equipment against the ever-present threat of cyber-attacks from Russia and elsewhere, as they plan primary and general elections. First, counties accused the state of slow-walking an application for federal help. Scott had to personally intervene in May and direct Secretary of State Ken Detzner to seek the money.

Guam: Voting rights case gets support from US Virgin Islands, constitutional scholars | The Guam Daily Post

The U.S. Virgin Islands and two constitutional law scholars have filed briefs in support of a voting rights case filed by Guam resident Luis Segovia, a member of the Guam Army National Guard, which has now reached the Supreme Court. The case could decide whether 4 million Americans living in U.S. territories can vote in presidential elections. Segovia, who previously lived in Illinois and served in the state’s National Guard, has served two deployments to Afghanistan and provided security during the 2005 Iraqi elections.

Illinois: County GOP joins effort to end Bloomington Election Commission | Government and Politics |

Voters may finally have their say on the Bloomington Election Commission. Months after the McLean County Libertarian Party started circulating petitions for a ballot question that would dissolve the BEC, the McLean County Republican Party is throwing its weight behind the proposal as well. “It was unanimous: We think this is an issue that should go before the public,” said party Chair Connie Beard of a vote among precinct committeemen last week. “We think eliminating the BEC would increase efficiency, save taxpayer dollars and make the process more directly connected to voter control.”

North Carolina: Voter ID amendment goes to voters | WRAL

North Carolina voters will be asked this fall to add a photo identification requirement for voting to the state constitution. The state Senate gave final approval to the proposal Friday on a party-line 33-12 vote. There was little discussion on the floor for a bill that has been through multiple committees and floor votes this session and has been a hotly contested issue for years between legislative Democrats and the Republican majority. This will be one of six proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot this November, and it takes a majority vote of the people to change the constitution. Voters will be asked to vote for or against a “constitutional amendment to require voters to provide photo identification before voting in person.”