States across the country are in the process of receiving grants from the federal government to secure their voting systems. Earlier this year Congress approved $380 million in grants for states to improve election technology and “make certain election security improvements.” But how states use that money is up to them. In Texas, officials say they want to use the bulk of their grant to secure the state’s voter registration database. According to federal officials, Russians tried to hack a Texas election website in 2016. Dana Debeauvoir, who runs elections in Austin, Texas, as the Travis County clerk, says running elections has become increasingly more expensive and technologically complicated. She says she cast her first ballot on a lever machine — a big metal box with a bunch of tiny metal handles voters crank to select the candidate of their choice. These machines, and others, were banned by Congress when lawmakers passed the Help America Vote Act in 2002. “So they are now no longer used — also right along with punch card voting,” Debeauvoir says.
National: Trump’s ‘bizarre’ voter fraud panel found none, former member Matthew Dunlap says | The Washington Post
Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, one of the 11 members of the commission formed by President Trump to investigate supposed voter fraud, issued a scathing rebuke of the disbanded panel on Friday, accusing Vice Chair Kris Kobach and the White House of making false statements and saying that he had concluded that the panel had been set up to try to validate the president’s baseless claims about fraudulent votes in the 2016 election. Dunlap, one of four Democrats on the panel, made the statements in a report he sent to the commission’s two leaders — Vice President Pence and Kobach, who is Kansas’s secretary of state — after reviewing more than 8,000 documents from the group’s work, which he acquired only after a legal fight despite his participation on the panel. Before it was disbanded by Trump in January, the panel had never presented any findings or evidence of widespread voter fraud. But the White House claimed at the time that it had shut down the commission despite “substantial evidence of voter fraud” due to the mounting legal challenges it faced from states. Kobach, too, spoke around that time about how “some people on the left were getting uncomfortable about how much we were finding out.”
There’s no proof to support President Donald Trump’s repeated claims of widespread voter fraud during the 2016 election, according to a member of the disbanded commission set up to examine abuse at the ballot box. Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, who sat on the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, wrote Friday that a review of documents shows the panel’s evidence of voter fraud is “glaringly empty.” Dunlap said the documents confirmed the commission’s “troubling bias” that assumed widespread fraud going into the review before any data had been collected.
As a key deadline approaches next week on updating statewide voter rolls before the November election, it appears a controversial data-mining operation mostly used by red states to purge legitimate voters is withering, or at least dormant, in 2018. The Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck program, known as Crosscheck, has been blasted in the press, academia,legal briefs, and federal court rulings for sloppy analytics that generate tens or hundreds of thousands of suspected duplicate voter registrations in member states. (It uses few data specifics, including common names, producing false positives.) Some of those states have used Crosscheck’s analyses to turn a bland voter roll bookkeeping process (removing dead people, people who moved) into a partisan cudgel. This June, a federal district court issued a restraining order against Indiana election officials to not use Crosscheck to prematurely purge its voter rolls.
The Democrat challenging Rep. Martha Roby (R) for her Alabama House seat says that her campaign website faced more than 1,400 hacking attempts, most of them from Russia. Tabitha Isner told Business Insider that the attempts were first brought to her attention when the company that she uses to host her website advised her to upgrade her services because of a spike in traffic. That’s when she had her web administrator examine the uptick, she told the news outlet. The web administrator, Kristopher Vilamaa, said that when he looked into it, he discovered that many Russian IP addresses had been blocked from the site.
Are you an American citizen? The Trump administration really wants to know. In March, it added to the 2020 census a question asking people, for the first time in more than half a century, about their citizenship status. Administration officials have claimed, in public and before Congress, that the Justice Department needs the question answered in order to properly enforce the Voting Rights Act. But late last month, the government turned over a batch of emails as part of a federal lawsuit that casts significant doubt on those claims. The push to include the question has also set off concerns about the way such data might be used in the next decennial redistricting cycle, which begins in 2021. For perspective, the editorial board spoke with Vanita Gupta, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition of groups that is opposing the citizenship question. From 2014 to 2017, Ms. Gupta served as the acting head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division. The new documents give us evidence in black and white of something that many of us already suspected to be the case: The rationale that the Justice Department needs to go door-to-door to find out who is a citizen in order to enforce the Voting Rights Act is obviously a ruse.
Some 13 weeks till Election Day, and “The warning lights are blinking red,” says the U.S. director of national intelligence. “I cannot emphasize enough the vulnerability,” says Senator Marco Rubio. “We could be just a moment away from it going to the next level,” says the FBI director. On Thursday, the Trump administration’s national security team held a joint press conference to underscore the threat. They’re all worried about foreign countries meddling in the midterms, just as Russia did in 2016. And with good reason: Although election security hasn’t been a notable priority for this administration — it has evidently held just two meetings on the topic since taking office — there’s every reason to think more attacks are imminent. What’s the proper response? Precaution, not panic. In particular, three problems need attention.
Early voting for the state’s primary elections starts Monday. However, there is a slight change to the process this year due to the current threat of foreign cyber attacks. The Alaska Division of Elections (DOE) said it is suspending the return of ballots online until security advancements can be made to the state voting system. “We want our voters to feel confident in our elections system and that their votes are secure, which is why we are taking proactive steps to improve how we safeguard their ballots as we head into this year’s elections,” said State Elections Director Josie Bahnke.
A proposed constitutional amendment that would limit state lawmakers to serving a maximum of 10 years qualified for the Nov. 6 general election ballot, an official in the secretary of state’s office said Friday. The Arkansas Term Limits committee’s ballot proposal also would limit lawmakers to serving three two-year terms as a state representative, two four-year terms as a senator or any terms that would exceed a total of 10 years in the General Assembly. The amendment wouldn’t affect members of Congress. If approved by voters, Arkansas’ legislative term limits would be the strictest in the nation, said John Mahoney, a policy specialist for the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Georgia election officials got a friendly warning in August 2016 that their electronic voting system could be easily breached. But less than a month before the November election, a state cybersecurity official fretted that “critical vulnerabilities” persisted, internal emails show. The emails, obtained through a voting security group’s open records request, offer a glimpse into a Georgia election security team that appeared to be outmatched even as evidence grew that Russian operatives were seeking to penetrate state and county election systems across the country. “I am sure that you are aware that these are opportunities for malicious users to gather account credentials,” William Moore, a cybersecurity official on a Kennesaw State University team tasked with running Georgia’s election system, wrote to a colleague in October. Officials at Kennesaw’s Center for Election Systems were struggling to respond to the report of a cyber watchdog who nosed around the system to test its defenses two months earlier and wound up gaining access to a colossal, 15-gigabyte store of confidential material, including voter data and passwords to the system.
New Jersey: State sought more money to protect voting machines from hackers. Republicans in Congress said no. | NJ.com
New Jersey’s voting machines are among the nation’s most vulnerable to hacking, and state officials asked Congress for more money to protect their equipment. Republicans who run the show in Washington said no. Both the House and Senate declined to allocate millions of dollars in grants to states when they passed spending bills funding the Election Assistance Commission for the 12-month period beginning Oct. 1. “This is going to be an ongoing need and election officials are going to need a regular stream of funds to combat the threats and defend their systems,” said David Becker, executive director and founder of the Center for Election Innovation and Research, a Washington research group. … State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal sought more federal help. “I strongly believe that the federal government should be doing more, not less, to ensure our democratic institutions are free from foreign intrusion, and I’m disappointed that Congress disagrees,” he said.
Two minor political parties have refused to accept the results of the Kingdom’s July 29 national elections. One has filed a complaint with the Constitutional Council demanding a recount, while the other has warned that it will lead demonstrations. A National Election Committee (NEC) official said while the complaint was valid, it should not have been sent to the council, while the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) spokesman said the complaint went against the peoples’ will. While the NEC is slated to announce preliminary results later this week and official results on August 15, unofficial calculations have shown that the CPP will control all 125 seats in the National Assembly. Speaking on Sunday, CPP spokesman Sok Eysan urged opposition parties to learn “new strategies” before competing with his party.
Iraq’s election commission ignored an anti-corruption body’s warnings about the credibility of electronic vote-counting machines used in May’s parliamentary election, according to investigators and a document seen by Reuters. The devices, provided by South Korean company Miru Systems under a deal with the Independent High Elections Commission (IHEC), are at the heart of fraud allegations that led to a manual recount in some areas after the May 12 election. The results of the recount have not yet been announced and political leaders are still trying to form a government. Concerns about the election count center on discrepancies in the tallying of votes by the voting machines, mainly in the Kurdish province of Sulaimaniya and the ethnically-mixed province of Kirkuk, and suggestions that the devices could have been tampered with or hacked into to skew the result.
About 1.67 million votes were excluded from the count in Pakistan’s July 25 general election, surpassing the number of ballots rejected in 2013 polls, according to a report by an independent poll watchdog. Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) is a coalition of 30 domestic non-governmental organizations that observe general election and mobilize voters. According to the FAFEN report, the increase in the number of discarded ballots was a ubiquitous phenomenon observed in Pakistan’s all four provinces and Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT). Overall, the increase was recorded at around 11.7 per cent. There were more than 100 million registered voters in Pakistan but out of them, only about 51 per cent exercised their franchise, according to the Election Commission.
Opposition candidate Soumaila Cisse is mounting a legal challenge in Mali’s constitutional court alleging “ballot box-stuffing” after he came in a distant second to incumbent President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in the first round of the country’s presidential election. Keita won 41.42 percent of votes in the July 29 presidential poll, easily ahead of Cisse with 17.8 percent. They will face off in a second-round runoff on Sunday, August 12. “Soumaila Cisse filed last night (Saturday) around 20 submissions to the constitutional court for ballot box-stuffing, violations of the electoral law and other irregularities,” a spokesman for the candidate told the AFP news agency on Sunday.
Security agencies continued a crackdown on opposition activists in Zimbabwe on Sunday, less than three days after historic presidential elections won by Emmerson Mnangagwa, the leader of the ruling Zanu-PF party. Human rights groups reported dozens of abductions, beatings and rapes carried out by unidentified men overnight in the centre and north-eastern areas of the former British colony. The wave of repression began on Friday night with the army moving through neighbourhoods in Harare, the capital, and satellite towns, targeting supporters and officials of the opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). An MDC spokesman said thousands of its members were now in hiding. “The nature of an abduction means we can’t tell who has gone, but we have lots of people missing. We have helped five people who narrowly escaped abduction to flee Zimbabwe. Others we are hiding in safe houses. There is intimidation and atrocious treatment of people who they catch,” Nkululeko Sibanda, an MDC spokesman, said.