National: Lawmakers dismiss ES&S’s claim that spies benefit from election hacking demos | The Washington Post

The nation’s leading voting equipment vendor made the bombastic claim that foreign spies may be infiltrating events where ethical hackers test vulnerabilities in voting machines — such as the Def Con hacking conference that took place this month in Las Vegas — to glean intelligence on how to hack an election. “[F]orums open to anonymous hackers must be viewed with caution, as they may be a green light for foreign intelligence operatives who attend for purposes of corporate and international espionage,”  Election Systems and Software wrote in a letter made public Monday to a bipartisan group of lawmakers on the Senate Intelligence Committee. ES&S was responding to bipartisan group of lawmakers on the Senate Intelligence Committee who inquired about the security of the company’s machines after researchers at Def Con discovered new vulnerabilities in voting equipment made by ES&S and other vendors. Yet the company’s response took issue with the idea of testing by independent hackers in the first place: “We believe that exposing technology in these kinds of environments makes hacking elections easier, not harder, and we suspect that our adversaries are paying very close attention.”

National: The agency created to protect elections is broken | Yahoo News

More than a decade before anyone worried about Russian bots, there were chads. The hanging chad was the most famous chad of all. But there was also the pregnant chad, the fat chad, the dimpled chad and the tri-chad. These were all minute variations on a scrap of paper a fraction of an inch in diameter, the vestige of a voting ballot not quite fully punched through. Hanging chads that could not be counted led George W. Bush to beat Al Gore in Florida in the 2000 election by 537 votes and become president. The hanging chad became the central image of that election, and of the Supreme Court case that decided it. Scenes of Florida election officials studying indentations on sheets of paper suggested a ridiculously outmoded system. Two years later, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act, or HAVA, which was designed to provide funds for states “to replace punch card voting systems” and to “establish minimum election administration standards” for the nation’s 10,000 voting jurisdictions.

National: Lankford says his Secure Elections Act isn’t dead, despite delays | newsOK

U.S. Sen. James Lankford says election security legislation he has touted for months is not dead, despite delays by a Senate committee and mixed messages from the White House. The Secure Elections Act, which was introduced by the Oklahoma City Republican late last year, appeared to be headed for passage this fall. It has attracted a bipartisan following as intelligence officials continue to warn of Russian attempts to hack America’s elections. But last week, the Senate Rules Committee abruptly pulled the bill from consideration and a White House spokesperson suggested it was unnecessary because the Department of Homeland Security already “has all the statutory authority it needs to assist state and local officials” as they seek to ensure their elections are secure.

National: Senators Want Independent Security Testing of Voting Machines | Decipher

While a proposed measure that would have given state officials more tools to help secure elections has bogged down in the Senate, four members of that body’s Intelligence Committee are pressuring a major manufacturer of electronic voting machines to allow independent tests of their products by election agencies and to work with researchers to assess the security of the machines. In a letter sent to the president and CEO of Election Systems & Software, a maker of voting machines used in many states, a bipartisan group of senators expressed concerns about the company’s reaction to the Voting Village hacking contest at the DEF CON security conference earlier this month. The Voting Village gave participants the opportunity to get their hands on various electronic voting machines, look for vulnerabilities, and see whether they could find ways around the defenses on the machines. Before DEF CON, ES&S officials sent a FAQ to customers, informing them of the contest and somewhat downplaying any negative results that might come from it.

Editorials: Election security can’t wait. Someone should convince the White House. | The Washington Post

Compared to what Congress should be doing in the face of multiple foreign threats to the integrity of U.S. elections, the Secure Elections Act is just a first step. Yet the Senate is having trouble taking even this initial move. The fault lies with a shortsighted White House, which has poured cold water on the bill, and some state leaders, who complain about being required to make some basic changes. The bipartisan bill, shepherded by Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), appeared to be on its way to easy passage in October. But a committee session to consider the modest bill was suddenly and curiously canceled last week. Yahoo News reported that one cause was the White House, quoting a Trump administration spokeswoman who expressed opposition to “legislation with inappropriate mandates or that moves power or funding from the states to Washington for the planning and operation of elections.”

Arizona: Officials knew of issues with voting machines a day before Tuesday’s primary | The Hill

Arizona officials knew on Monday about issues plaguing voting machines at certain polling locations, a day before the state’s primary elections, according to The Associated Press. Polling sites across the state have faced technical difficulties throughout the day, as voters pick nominees for U.S. House and Senate seats, as well as state and local offices. Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes said at a press conference Tuesday morning that his office had been alerted to issues with voting equipment when troubleshooters were testing polling sites on Monday, The Arizona Republic reported.

Arizona: Election officials, Insight Enterprises swap blame for voting issues | Arizona Republic

Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes and a Tempe-based technology company are trading blame for problems that caused dozens of polling places to fail to open on time Tuesday. The county hired Insight Enterprises, a global information technology contractor, to set up voter check-in equipment on Monday and provide technical support on Tuesday, the Recorder’s Office and an Insight representative agreed. But the explanations diverge from there. The check-in equipment lets poll workers verify the identity of a voter and print a custom ballot. The equipment uses an internet connection to access the voter registration database and connect to the printer. If voters cannot check in or print a ballot, they cannot vote. The Recorder’s Office said the contract called for 103 Insight employees to set up polling sites Monday, but only 73 technicians showed up, according to an email the office sent to the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and county executives. Insight begs to differ.

Florida: Duval County vote count could have ‘delay’ after ballot size snafu | Florida Politics

Voting machine issues are cropping up in Jacksonville precincts as Election Day continues. And “unscanned ballots,” some worry, may add drama to the count this evening. The problem: the width of some ballots, mostly but not exclusively NPA, is too broad for the tabulation machine. However, Supervisor of Elections Mike Hogan expressed confidence, saying the size issue “might delay it somewhat but we plan on finishing it tonight.” We reported this morning about ballot tabulation issues at Mandarin’s Precinct 606, where a machine had rejected ballots, requiring a manual count.

Georgia: Companies vie to replace Georgia voting system | WXIA

The effort begins in earnest later this week to replace Georgia’s elections system. Georgia’s current voting system is a very familiar electronic touchscreen that uses technology developed 20 years ago. A half-dozen companies have told the Georgia Secretary of State’s office they are submitting proposals. Most of them appear to want to give voters a new touchscreen interface. After tapping their choices in the new systems, voters would hit the “print” button and produce a paper ballot, then submitting the paper ballot to a scanner. But several of the new systems translate voter choices into barcodes. And many election watchdogs are skeptical of them. “The problem with a barcode on a voter verified paper ballot is that the voter can’t actually verify the barcode. Because we can’t read barcode marks,” said Susan Greenhalgh of the National Election Defense Coalition.

Kansas: ‘This makes no sense’: Johnson County knows election delay’s cause. Critics skeptical of fix | The Kansas City Star

Faulty software code was to blame for an overnight delay in Johnson County’s primary election night results, an embarrassing ordeal that kept people across the country waiting for the outcome to several high-profile Kansas races. “The slow reporting of results was unacceptable and we apologize,” Tom Burt, president and CEO of Election Systems & Software, said in a statement Monday. “We know the election office and other Johnson County government leaders put their faith in us and we let down our valued partners.” Burt went on to say that the Omaha-based company, the county’s elections vendor, has rewritten the portion of the code that caused the delay and initial tests of that new code were successful. He said testing will continue so the new software can be certified prior to the general election. … “The big issue apparently is that they didn’t test this system at scale,” said Duncan Buell, professor of computer science and engineering at the University of South Carolina, who has studied that state’s election results extensively. “You need to test for all possible scenarios.”

Louisiana: State delays voting machine contract talks amid protest | Associated Press

Louisiana is delaying contract negotiations with the winning bidder for the state’s voting machine replacement work, while it considers a protest of the contract award. Paula Tregre, director of the Office of State Procurement, has told Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin to refrain from conducting any contract talks until the outcome of the protest is settled, according to documents provided to The Associated Press on Tuesday. “The stay shall remain in effect until you are notified in writing that it has been lifted,” Tregre wrote in a Friday letter to Ardoin. She cited a state law that calls for stalling negotiations during the protest of a contract award unless the contract is deemed urgently needed “to protect the substantial interests of the state,” a threshold Tregre apparently didn’t believe was met.

Michigan: Voting rights nonprofit confirms it sent mystery FOIAs in Michigan | The Detroit Times

A voting rights nonprofit affiliated with a Democratic super political action committee is behind the recent mystery public record requests that blanketed clerk’s offices around Michigan. Priorities USA Foundation contracted a third party to send hundreds of public records requests to clerks throughout the state asking for copies of ballots and accompanying materials from the November 2016 election, the group confirmed Tuesday. The nonpartisan foundation is a separate but affiliated entity with Priorities USA Action, a self-defined “progressive” super PAC that spent $6.4 million supporting Democrat Hillary Clinton and $126 million opposing Republican Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election. Among the super PAC’s biggest donors in 2015-16 were George Soros, the liberal chairman of the Open Society Foundations; New York hedge fund manager James Simons; and Newsweb Corp. CEO Fred Eychaner of Chicago, according to Federal Election Commission filings. 

New Hampshire: Judge asked to shut down voter registration law | The Nashua Telegraph

More than a dozen lawyers are setting up shop in the Hillsborough Superior Court-North in Manchester for the next two weeks for the preliminary injunction hearing on the controversial voter residency law commonly known as SB 3. Judge Kenneth Brown is being asked to stop the law from taking effect until after the lawsuit against the state — brought by the New Hampshire Democratic Party, the League of Women Voters, and some individual voters — is decided in court. This could mean the law, which critics claim will dampen college voter turnout, will not be in effect for the November midterm election. Numerous witnesses are expected to testify, and the state is seeking to dig into the New Hampshire Democratic Party’s budget as part of the proceedings. Lucas Meyer, the president of the New Hampshire Young Democrats, testified Monday the state party has budgeted $150,000 to $250,000 for voter education in the wake of SB 3’s passage.

North Carolina: Judges’ Ruling on Election Map Plunges North Carolina Politics Into Disarray | The New York Times

The federal court ruling on Monday declaring that North Carolina’s congressional district map was unfair to Democrats — and might have to be redrawn soon — threw the state’s politics into confusion bordering on chaos. Candidates like Linda Coleman were left struggling to understand what would come next, and how the fast-approaching midterm elections would now be conducted. The court left open a host of possibilities. Ms. Coleman might have to run in a new Democratic primary, in a newly drawn district with voters who do not know her. Or she might find herself in an open, multicandidate election with no primary at all.

Texas: Officials Aim to Shutter Driver’s License Offices in Black, Hispanic Communities | Rewire

Texas officials are pushing to close dozens of driver’s license offices in counties with large populations of Hispanic and Black voters—a move that could have an outsize impact in a state that makes it difficult to vote without a photo ID. The Texas counties of Zapata, Jim Hogg, Brooks, and Kenedy stretch from the U.S.-Mexico border to the Gulf of Mexico and are the gateway to the Rio Grande Valley. Residents of these mostly rural and overwhelmingly Hispanic counties either have to or may soon have to travel to another county to obtain a driver’s license.

Texas: Election judges can carry guns to the polls, Attorney General Ken Paxton says | The Texas Tribune

Firearms are generally not allowed at the polls while voters are casting ballots in Texas. But with some limited exceptions, presiding election judges who are licensed to carry may bring their guns to polling places, Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a nonbinding opinion Monday. Presiding election judges, who are generally civilians appointed by local party officials to head up a team of poll workers, do everything from settling election disputes to doling out “I Voted” stickers. They’re charged with keeping their polling places calm, and they have “the power of a district judge to enforce order and preserve the peace,” according to Texas election law.

India: Political parties divided over reverting back to ballot paper | The Economic Times

Political parties were divided on reverting back to ballot paper in place of EVMs in elections and holding simultaneous polls to the Lok Sabha and Assemblies at an all-party meeting convened by the Election Commission that also discussed state funding. The meeting of all the recognised national and state parties was convened to discuss the fidelity of electoral rolls, election expenditure regulation and inclusion of print media in the election campaign silence period. Chief Election Commissioner A.K Rawat said the Commission would take a call on all the issues raised by parties including on EVMs and ballot paper, integrity of electoral rolls and ceiling on expenditure by political parties. “There will be a satisfactory solution to the issues,” he told reporters after the meeting.

Sweden: Several former Nazis running for office as Sweden Democrats: report | The Local

Several former members of the violent and anti-democratic Nazi organization National Socialist Front (Nationalsocialistisk front – NSF) can be found on the election lists of the Sweden Democrats, according to an expose from the newspaper Expressen and the anti-racism group Expo. Matching all election candidates from all political parties – over 6,000 candidates for parliament, more than 12,000 for county councils and more than 52,000 and the municipal level – against lists of Nazi activists, the groups found a number of people with deep ties to Nazism who are now running for office as Sweden Democrats. Expressen and Expo said the candidates in question weren’t just peripherally involved in Nazi activities but were “deeply rooted in the Nazi environment”.

Taiwan: Marriage Equality Vote Set After Referendum Crosses Signature Threshold | Into

Within the next 24 hours, anti-LGBTQ groups in Taiwan are expected to make a major announcement: They have reportedly collected enough signatures to put a referendum banning marriage equality on the ballot in November. Last year the Council of Grand Justices ruled that sections of the Taiwan Civil Code limiting marriage to one man and one woman violate the constitution. But unlike the U.S. Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision, the landmark ruling did not serve to legalize marriage equality in the self-governing Chinese territory. The court merely offered its legal opinion. Instead judges gave the legislature two years to either amend the civil code or draft a separate law allowing LGBTQ couples to wed. If the government did not act before that time, marriage equality would automatically become the law of the land.

Thailand: Election could get delayed, again | The ASEAN Post

Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha seems to have dropped another hint that the country’s long-awaited election will be delayed yet again. Despite previously promising that one will be held in February 2019, Prayut recently said that a further delay is possible. “We still confirm that the general election will be held in February 2019. Let’s talk about it later if we cannot hold such an election then, and now there isn’t any factor to make us hold the election sooner,” he told reporters after a cabinet meeting in the southern province of Chumphon.

But scepticism and frustrations are running high in the Land of Smiles following delay after delay as to a promised date for the country’s general election. Shortly after the junta’s – The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) – military coup on 22 May, 2014, it promised an election the following year. Four years later and Thailand is still under military rule. This scepticism was related in the Suan Dusit Rajabhat University’s latest poll findings published in June. The poll, carried out between 5 to 9 June and involving a sample size of 1,130 people throughout the country, revealed that the hottest political topic among Thais is whether or not an election will ever take place, and if so, when.