It appeared, according to the Georgia Secretary of State’s website, that Habersham County’s Mud Creek precinct in northeastern Georgia had 276 registered voters ahead of the state’s primary elections in May. Some 670 ballots were cast, according to the Georgia secretary of state’s office, indicating a 243 percent turnout. But on Tuesday at 10 a.m., the number of registered voters on the secretary of state’s website was changed for Mud Creek to 3,704 registered voters, reflecting a more likely turnout of about 18 percent. The odd turnout figures last Friday were filed as part of a federal lawsuit against the state by election security activists that included a number of sworn statements and exhibits from activists and voters who experienced a series of bizarre and confusing issues at the state’s polling places. That confusion comes amid swelling public concern for the security of Georgia’s voting systems. Georgia is one of four states that uses voting machines statewide that produce no paper record for voters to verify, making them difficult to audit, experts say.
National: Michael McCaul presses Senate to pass critical bipartisan cyber and election security legislation | Washington Times
Warning of continuing threats to U.S. interests across cyberspace, House Homeland Security Chairman Rep. Michael McCaul on Wednesday again urged the Senate to pass legislation intended to rename and reorganize the Department of Homeland Security’s primary cyber protection wing. The proposal, which the House passed in December, would streamline DHS’s primary operation currently overseeing the defense of federal networks and U.S. critical infrastructure from cyber threats, known as the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD). The bill creates a stand-alone organization for that mission with a more logical name, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).
National: Trump team isn’t doing enough to deter Russian cyberattacks, according to our panel of security experts | The Washington Post
The White House insists that it’s mounting a robust response to digital offensives against election systems and other critical infrastructure. We asked The Network, a panel of more than 100 cybersecurity leaders from government, academia and the private sector, to share their opinions in our ongoing, informal survey. (You can see the full list of experts here. Some were granted anonymity in exchange for their participation.) Our survey revealed broad doubts among experts about the country’s deterrence strategy, after President Trump chose not to back the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusions that Moscow directed the cyberattacks aimed at disrupting the 2016 presidential election at a July press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Editorials: Intentionally deceiving voters should be a crime | Sean Morales-Doyle & Sidni Frederick/The Hill
Democrats in the House and Senate recently introduced the Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act, a bill that would prohibit the spread of false election information that’s specifically meant to prevent voters from casting ballots. (Full disclosure: Our organization, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, helped draft earlier versions of this legislation.) The bills’ introduction came in a week that has seen an attempted hack of the emails of three 2018 Senate campaigns and revealed a trove of fake Facebook pages and accounts likely meant to stir chaos as we approach midterms – reminders that the integrity of our elections is increasingly fragile in the digital age.
Santa Monica, Calif., with a “well-being index” to gauge the happiness of its residents and a fleet of city buses powered by natural gas, often lives up to its reputation as a wealthy, liberal enclave on California’s coast. But this month, a trial in a Los Angeles courtroom has put the seaside city on the same side as a conservative legal activist who is challenging the state’s voting-rights law. The fight revolves around the city’s at-large election system for its seven City Council seats. Instead of winning office by capturing the majority in any particular district, council members are elected citywide.
Florida: Bill Nelson: The Russians have penetrated some Florida voter registration systems | Tampa Bay Times
Russian operatives have “penetrated” some of Florida’s voter registration systems ahead of the 2018 midterms, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said Wednesday, adding new urgency to concerns about hacking. bThe state, however, said it has received “zero information” supporting his claim. “They have already penetrated certain counties in the state and they now have free rein to move about,” Nelson told the Tampa Bay Times before a campaign event in Tampa. He said something similar a day earlier in Tallahassee but declined to elaborate. “That’s classified,” the Democrat said Tuesday. He is facing a re-election challenge in November from Gov. Rick Scott, whose administration said it has no knowledge of the allegations made by Nelson.
With worn-out clichés about the dead voting, Chicago used to be the poster child for voter fraud. But if any state is a poster child for terrible election practices, it is surely Georgia. Bold claims demand bold evidence, and unfortunately there’s plenty; on Monday, McClatchy reported a string of irregularities from the state’s primary election in May, including one precinct with a 243-percent turnout. McClatchy’s data comes from a federal lawsuit filed against the state. In addition to the problem in Habersham County’s Mud Creek precinct, where it appeared that 276 registered voters managed to cast 670 ballots, the piece describes numerous other issues with both voter registration and electronic voting machines. (In fact it was later corrected to show 3,704 registered voters in the precinct.)
A federal judge wants to know what it would take to shift Georgia to a paper ballot voting system in the three months before the November election. A former Virginia election official says it’s possible. On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg ordered the Georgia secretary of state’s office, among others, to look into the “concrete realities” of moving to a paper ballot election in a time crunch. The move is in response to a lawsuit, filed in July by a group of election integrity activists, meant to stop Georgia from using electronic voting machines that have no paper backup. Liz Howard, a former deputy commissioner with Virginia’s Department of Elections, said that state pulled off very quick transitions across dozens of counties, twice. “We have hands on experience with ‘this is doable,’ how it’s doable, the partners that we worked with and working with local election officials while they’re making the transition,” Howard said.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said Wednesday that he has no plans to recuse himself from a recount process in the race for governor because any counting of ballots would take place at the county level. “The recount thing is done on a county level, so the secretary of state does not actually participate directly in the recount,” Kobach said at a campaign event in Topeka after initial results showed him winning by fewer than 200 votes. “The secretary of state’s office merely serves as a coordinating entity overseeing it all but not actually counting the votes,” Kobach said, contending that his role puts him at arm’s length from the actual recount. No law requires Kobach to recuse himself, but legal and political experts said that he should do so to maintain trust in the election. Kobach, the state’s top election official, led Gov. Jeff Colyer in the Republican primary by a mere 191 votes Wednesday morning after each of the state’s 105 counties had posted election returns after technical difficulties in Johnson County delayed results on election night.
Minnesota, a swing state that has been attacked by foreign hackers more than once, has millions in federal funds to spend on election security ahead of the 2018 midterms — but will be the only state in the country that can’t touch that cash because of a standoff between Republicans and Democrats. Mark Ritchie, a…
A federal judge invalidated part of North Carolina elections law that allows one voter to challenge another’s residency, a provision that activist groups used to scrub thousands of names from rolls ahead of the 2016 elections. U.S. District Judge Loretta Biggs said in an order signed Wednesday that the residency challenges are pre-empted by the 1993 federal “motor voter” law aimed at expanding voting opportunities. The National Voter Registration Act “encourages the participation of qualified voters in federal elections by mandating certain procedures designed to reduce the risk that a voter’s registration might be erroneously canceled. Defendants’ conduct contravened these procedures,” Biggs wrote.
North Carolina: Roy Cooper sued election board. Instead of fighting, the board’s lawyer took his side | News & Observer
wo constitutional amendments planned for the fall ballot. Rather than fighting Cooper, the state lawyer representing the elections board has jumped in on Cooper’s side. The state Republican Party is calling out state Attorney General Josh Stein, a Democrat, for supporting the Democratic governor’s position on the lawsuit without getting election board members’ approval. “It is highly unusual for an attorney to make a decision of this magnitude without a formal request or vote from his client board,” the state GOP said in a statement. “It is illegal for any member of the board to take a public stance on a ballot question.” In an email, a spokeswoman for Stein said the office is confident it is properly representing the board. “Our office has consulted closely with the State Board about this case and will continue to do so,” spokeswoman Laura Brewer said in an email. “Attorney client privilege prevents me from sharing the substance of those conversations. We are confident our clients are aware of and support the action we are taking in this litigation.”
From a national point of view, voting seems kind of scary at the moment. One story after another is surfacing about vulnerabilities in electronic voting systems. A quick internet search would likely bring up how it is possible to hack into some of them remotely, exposing Americans’ fundamental freedom to vote and leaving their political future up for grabs. But anyone who casts a ballot in Oklahoma can rest easy. Yes, it has those electronic machines that take ballots and count them digitally, but those are not the ones being talked about when it comes to hackers or vote manipulators.
Pennsylvania: Absentee-ballot problem: Votes come in late because of tight deadlines | Philadelphia Inquirer
Every vote counts. But the reality in Pennsylvania is that not every vote is counted. In fact, if past patterns hold, more than 2,000 absentee ballots cast by Pennsylvanians this November won’t be tallied — and the voters won’t know it. The problem is the deadlines, election officials say: Outdated election laws set timelines that are too compressed. Would-be voters who wait until the end — and of course, people do — have almost no chance of getting their votes counted if they use standard mail service. Just three days separate the deadlines for requesting a mailed absentee ballot and for returning it to county officials. “We’re in the 21st century and we’re relying on a 19th-century system,” said David Thornburgh, head of the Philadelphia-based good-government group Committee of 70. “It’s just absurd in 2018 to be basically back in the Pony Express era.”
Joseph Kabila will not be a candidate in December elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, according to government officials. Many had predicted that the 47-year-old president, in power since 2001, would run for a third term, despite being barred from doing so by the constitution. Kabila’s candidacy was opposed by the US and EU, as well as significant regional actors. Hours before the legal deadline for deposing candidatures for the polls expired, a government spokesman said that the little-known Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, a former interior minister, would be the ruling coalition’s candidate.
The first round of voting in Mali’s presidential election gave outgoing President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita a conclusive lead over his rival — but unresolved anger and finger-pointing over the results have highlighted some of the country’s divisions. Eighteen of the 24 candidates in the election joined forces Monday to demand the resignation of the minister of territorial administration and decentralisation, Mohamed Ag Erlaf. They accused him of being to blame for an “electoral robbery” and urged people in the capital Bamako to rally on Tuesday.
Zimbabwe’s MDC opposition party on Wednesday confirmed it would launch a legal challenge to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s narrow election victory, which it says was due to fraud. “Those results represent a total negation of the will of the people,” MDC lawyer Thabani Mpofu told reporters. “The election results made by ZEC (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission) will be challenged.” Mpofu declined to give the date when the legal case will be lodged, which is set to delay Mnangagwa’s inauguration.