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North Carolina: Will North Carolina get a new election map before the mid-terms? – A hideous gerrymander | The Economist

When the Supreme Court passed up several opportunities to rein in partisan gerrymandering, Justice Anthony Kennedy’s purported reticence was the main story. Justice Kennedy, now retired, had all but invited these cases in a 2004 decision decrying state legislatures for “rigging elections” and pleading for a “workable” standard to specify when partisan electoral line-drawing goes too far. So on June 18th, when the justices disposed of challenges to gerrymanders in Wisconsin (Gill v Whitford) and Maryland (Benisek v Lamone) on procedural grounds, without discussing the merits, many said the court was delaying a reckoning because Justice Kennedy had lost his will. 

Full Article: Will North Carolina get a new election map before the mid-terms? - A hideous gerrymander.

National: Focusing on the long tail of cybersecurity | FCW

When the Department of Homeland Security announced the formation of a new National Risk Management Center in July to handle cybersecurity threats and engage with the private sector, some wondered how the center’s mission would overlap or conflict with another DHS organ, the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center. Matthew Travis, deputy undersecretary of the National Protections and Programs Directorate, elaborated further on how DHS views the differing missions of the NCCIC and the NRMC while giving a speech at an Aug. 28 conference in Washington D.C. The NCCIC, Travis said, will still serve as a threat and information sharing hub designed to react to problems and facilitate cooperation with state, local, private and critical infrastructure sectors in the face of immediate threats, like the ransomware attack that hit Atlanta earlier this year or the 2017 WannaCry attacks. The center will continue its role sharing threat indicators, conducting trainings, providing malware analysis for specific incidents and sending out technical advisories about emerging threats.

Full Article: Focusing on the long tail of cybersecurity -- FCW.

National: Here’s What Keeps The Democratic Party’s Technology Boss Awake At Night | KTTZ

The 2016 campaign was a nightmare for Democrats. So Democratic National Committee Chief Technology Officer Raffi Krikorian was brought in to the DNC in 2017 to make sure embarrassing breaches — and the subsequent leak of internal communications — weren’t repeated. But with fewer than 70 days to go until the midterm elections, there’s still a lot of room for improvement, he acknowledged, both inside and outside the organization. “We all still have work to do. And we’re not getting the support that I think we need from … governmental agencies,” Krikorian said. “This is the thing that keeps me up at night.”

Full Article: Here's What Keeps The Democratic Party's Technology Boss Awake At Night | KTTZ.

National: The Only Election Security Bill That Matters Picks Up Two New Senate Co-sponsors | Gizmodo

Democrats are pushing forward with a bill that, unlike competing legislation, would actually require the use of paper ballots and comprehensive audits in all federal elections. Today, Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Kamala Harris of California added their names to a list of co-sponsors of the Protecting American Votes and Elections Act, joining nine others, including Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, the bill’s author. The PAVE Act is the only legislation currently proposed that would require nationwide use of so-called “risk-limiting” audits to protect election results from tampering by hackers, from computer glitches and other voting system errors. Moreover, it is the only bill to mandate the use by all states of paper trail printers to verify machine-count outcomes.

Full Article: The Only Election Security Bill That Matters Picks Up Two New Senate Co-sponsors.

Arizona: Maricopa County election issues may have stemmed from misunderstanding | Arizona Republic

After a frustrating day at the polls Tuesday, voters were left asking what exactly went wrong and who was to blame. Voters were delayed and detoured for hours when dozens of polling places failed to open on time during Maricopa County’s primary election, and technical issues with electronic voting machines abounded across the county. A document The Arizona Republic obtained from the county Wednesday reveals some of the problems could have stemmed partly from a misunderstanding between the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office and the contractor it hired to set up electronic voting systems at the polls.

Full Article: Maricopa County election issues may have stemmed from misunderstanding.

Arizona: Voting problems: Who is to blame? | Arizona Republic

When voting began at 6 a.m. Tuesday, 62 Maricopa County polling places were not ready for voters. The check-in equipment that allows poll workers to verify voters’ identity had not been set up, leaving some voters unable to secure ballots for hours.  The Maricopa County Recorder’s Office blamed its IT contractor for the issues. The Tempe-based contractor pointed the finger back on an unprepared recorder’s office. Regardless of fault, thousands of Maricopa County voters found themselves bouncing between voting locations, casting provisional ballots or, in some cases, giving up on voting altogether. “This is not a hiccup,” Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes conceded. “This is a serious concern where voters across Maricopa County couldn’t get voting.”

Full Article: Arizona voting problems: Who is to blame?.

Florida: About 1,700 ballots were too big to be scanned at Duval County | WOKV

The Duval County Supervisor of Elections Office is using a new vendor for ballot printing this election, and some of those ballots are slightly larger than the specs that allow them to be read by machines at polling locations. WOKV first received reports from some voters, who said their ballots were not being read by the machines, and instead the ballots were being collected by poll workers. Duval Chief Elections Officer Robert Phillips confirms to WOKV that some ballots were printed with a very slight variance from the specs, meaning they are too wide for many of the machines at the polling locations to accept. By Tuesday night, Phillips told WOKV that around 1,700 ballots could not be scanned, across 45 precincts. It appears to be mostly non-partisan ballots having this problem, although there have been some partisan ballots that did not fit as well. 

Full Article: About 1,700 ballots were too big to be scanned at Duval County | Depend On WOKV - Jacksonville's News, Weather, and Traffic | www.wokv.com.

Georgia: State under fire over voting machines | Yahoo News

When it comes to election interference in the 2018 midterms, critics say Georgia is ripe for the picking. The state uses dubious electronic voting machines that offer no paper backup so as to detect foul play, and have been shown to be easily penetrated. “These are old school voting systems. I call them old school because they are one of the few systems in the country that still don’t have a paper trail on them,” freelance journalist Kim Zetter told Grant Burningham, host of Yahoo News’ “Bots & Ballots” podcast. “So these are what are called direct recording electronic [DRE] machines. They’re touch screen machines. They were made initially by Diebold, and Diebold, if you’ll recall, had a lot of bad publicity back in 2004, 2005, when the source code for their touchscreen machines was exposed online, and researchers looked at it and found a lot of problems.”

Full Article: Georgia under fire over voting machines.

Louisiana: State puts acquisition of new voting machines on hold after losing bidder protests | StateScoop

Louisiana’s negotiations to replace about 10,000 voting machines that are more than a decade old hit a snag this week when one of the firms that lost protested how the contract was awarded. The Associated Press reports that the state’s procurement office told Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin to hold off finalizing a deal for new ballot equipment after Election Systems & Software, the largest manufacturer of voting equipment in the United States, filed an objection after losing the bidding process. Ardoin had announced Aug. 9 that his office had selected Dominion Voting Systems to replace Louisiana’s current crop of voting machines, which were purchased in 2005. According to the AP, ES&S complained that as part of the bid process, Ardoin’s office published standards that only Dominion’s hardware could meet. Those standards were revoked, and the secretary of state’s office has said they weren’t used in the evaluation process. Dominion has until Sept. 7 to respond to ES&S’s protest, but until the dispute is resolved, Louisiana cannot move forward on replacing its outdated voting equipment, which could cost the state as much as $95 million.

Full Article: Louisiana puts acquisition of new voting machines on hold after losing bidder protests.

Michigan: Voting rights group files lawsuit over ballot proposal | MLive

A group trying to get a voting rights proposal on the November ballot is suing state election workers for not validating the initiative despite the group having the necessary number of signatures. Promote the Vote filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Eastern District Court Tuesday claiming Michigan’s Secretary of State, Board of Canvassers and Bureau of Elections has violated the Constitution by not yet authorizing their ballot proposal, which would allow citizens to register on Election Day and allow no-reason absentee voting. The suit claims the state agencies are in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendment. The group collected 432,124 signatures during its petition drive, more than the 315,654 signatures necessary to get a proposal on the ballot, according to the suit. The Bureau of Elections, however, determined that there were insufficient valid signatures when it examined a sample of 500.

Full Article: Voting rights group files lawsuit over ballot proposal | MLive.com.

New Mexico: Voters to have straight-ticket option this fall | Associated Press

New Mexico will become just one of several states to still allow the option to vote a straight-party ticket in the upcoming general election under an effort launched Wednesday by the state’s top elections chief. Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver said she’s formatting the ballots to allow voting in which a slate of major party candidates can be chosen all at one time. The move drew immediate criticism from the Republican Party of New Mexico and others who described it as partisan maneuvering. Some critics even questioned the legality of Toulouse Oliver’s decision and threatened legal action, pointing to a vote by the Legislature in 2001 to abolish straight-ticket voting.

Full Article: New Mexico voters to have straight-ticket option this fall - Fairfield Citizen.

North Carolina: Supreme Court halts ballots amid NAACP lawsuit | News & Observer

The North Carolina Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the state’s elections board to halt preparation of voting ballots amid a legal challenge from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The N.C. NAACP challenged the legality of four Constitutional Amendments set for the November election, arguing the ballot language is misleading and the GOP-controlled legislature lacked standing to propose the changes. The state Supreme Court’s move comes a week after a panel of Superior Court judges blocked two of those four proposed amendments from the ballot.

Full Article: NC election 2018: Supreme Court halts ballots amid NAACP lawsuit | News & Observer.

Editorials: The courts are saving democracy in North Carolina (for now). | Mark Joseph Stern/Slate

Later this year, North Carolina will probably hold its first truly free and fair election since 2010. It may also be the state’s last. Over the last few weeks, state and federal courts have issued a series of rulings striking down North Carolina Republicans’ brazen attack on democracy and the franchise. In the most important of these decisions, a federal district court held on Monday that the state’s notorious partisan gerrymander is unconstitutional and should not be used in the 2018 election. Because the U.S. Supreme Court is currently short-staffed, the justices may well split 4–4 on an emergency appeal, compelling Republican legislators to comply with the lower-court order. But once Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed, he would likely provide the fifth vote to lock partisan gerrymandering claims out of federal courts for good. The impending election may thus be North Carolina voters’ best and only chance to end the GOP’s illegitimate entrenchment of power in their state—at least temporarily. No one seriously argues that North Carolina Republicans did not create a partisan gerrymander when they redrew congressional districts in 2011. The current lines were drawn in 2016 after a federal court invalidated part of the previous map as a racial gerrymander.

Full Article: The courts are saving democracy in North Carolina (for now)..

Texas: Opponents of Texas maps pressing forward on federal oversight request | The Texas Tribune

The voters of color, civil rights groups and Democratic lawmakers who have long challenged the validity of Texas’ political maps were dealt a bruising loss earlier this year when the U.S. Supreme Court signed off on most of the state’s current political boundaries and pushed aside claims that state lawmakers had intentionally discriminated against voters of color when they drew the maps. But a crucial question remained in the case: Would the state’s opponents ask the courts to force Texas back under federal oversight of its electoral map drawing, given previous maps that federal judges ruled discriminatory? Their answer came Wednesday in a series of brief court filings in which some of the plaintiffs in the case indicated they wanted to press forward on those high stakes efforts.

Full Article: Opponents of Texas maps pressing forward on federal oversight request | The Texas Tribune.

Cameroon: The Mirage Of Presidential Elections In Cameroon | Democracy Chronicles

2018 is a year for general elections in Cameroon. The coming elections include a presidential election that is more than likely to be a complete mirage, a staged-managed invention to shore up the international reputation of the longtime incumbent, Paul Biya, who has ruled with an iron fist since 1982. His victory in the rigged contest is not in doubt. This is arguably as a result of the nature of Cameroon’s undemocratic politics, the corruption of the electoral machine, voter apathy and pushing through with elections despite deep political crisis in the English-speaking regions of the mostly French-speaking west African country.

Full Article: The Mirage Of Presidential Elections In Cameroon.

Congo: Decision on Bemba Ballot Push Could Affect Congo’s Election | VoA News

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, supporters of former vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba are demanding he be allowed on the ballot for the December 23 presidential election. Congo’s electoral commission disqualified Bemba because of his 2016 conviction by the International Criminal Court. The court said Bemba was responsible for war crimes committed by his militia in the Central African Republic. But in June, the court overturned the conviction and released Bemba from prison. His party, the Movement of the Liberation of the Congo (MLC), argues that the ICC case is finished and Bemba should be allowed on the ballot.

Full Article: Decision on Bemba Ballot Push Could Affect Congo's Election.

Ireland: Presidential election to be held on Friday 26 October | TheJournal.ie

The Irish presidential election is to be held on Friday, 26 October, it has been confirmed. Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy confirmed the news this morning on RTÉ’s Today with Miriam O’Callaghan. In a statement, Murphy announced that he had made a Presidential Election Order, setting out key dates in the election process. The last date for receipt of a nomination is 26 September while the winner of the 26 October election will be inaugurated two weeks later on 11 November 2018. Murphy has appointed Barry Ryan as the Presidential Returning Officer. 

Full Article: Presidential election to be held on Friday 26 October · TheJournal.ie.

Sweden: Sweden Struggles With `Country in Chaos’ Social Media Attacks | Bloomberg

A familiar script is playing out in cyber space as Swedes prepare to vote in 10 days. Facing what could be the most tumultuous election in a century, the nation’s institutions and political groups have come under increasing cyberattacks that are threatening to disrupt the outcome. There has been a proliferation of new “bots” on Twitter that are primarily stumping for the nationalist, anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats and attacking the ruling Social Democrats. The pattern of attack is by now familiar. Cyber warfare erupted almost a decade ago in the Baltic states and the U.S. election was famously upended by the hacking of the Democratic Party, which has since led to indictments of Russian intelligence operatives. There were also attempts to influence the French election, with Emmanuel Macron’s campaign falling victim to hacking.

Full Article: Sweden Struggles With `Country in Chaos' Social Media Attacks - Bloomberg.

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.”

Full Article: The Cybersecurity 202: Lawmakers dismiss voting machine maker's claim that spies benefit from election hacking demos - The Washington Post.

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.

Full Article: Election Assistance Commission ignoring Russia interference.