Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, has agreed to cooperate with Robert Mueller’s inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election, in a move that could cause legal trouble for the president. The dramatic development in the Trump-Russia saga was announced at a court hearing in Washington DC on Friday morning, where Manafort confessed to two criminal charges as part of a plea deal. “I’m guilty,” he said. Manafort signed a 17-page plea agreement that said he would assist government prosecutors with “any and all” matters, and brief officials about “his participation in and knowledge of all criminal activities”. He also agreed to turn over documents and testify in other cases.
Verified Voting Blog: Serious design flaw in ESS ExpressVote touchscreen: “permission to cheat” | Andrew Appel
This article was originally posted at the Freedom to Tinker blog. Kansas, Delaware, and New Jersey are in the process of purchasing voting machines with a serious design flaw, and they should reconsider while there is still time! Over the past 15 years, almost all the states have moved away from paperless touchscreen voting systems…
WJBF Atlanta Bureau Chief Ashley Bridges was in oral arguments as attorneys for Secretary Brian Kemp and the Georgia Secretary of State’s office fought back against a suit to immediately move to paper ballots due to the insecurity of Georgia’s election system. Federal Court proceedings do not allow recording devices, but here’s a rough log of Bridges’ “Reporter’s Notebook.” Areas that may be of particular interest, or that grew particularly heated. Attorneys referenced below for the Plaintiff’s filing the case are Cross, Macguire and Brown. \Attorneys for Kemp and the Secretary of State are former Governor Roy Barnes and his son-in-law John Salter. (A political twist that surprised many when Democrat Barnes took the case, instead of Georgia’s own attorney general) Totenberg is the judge.
Plaintiffs: Present a just-released National Academy of Sciences report claiming, “Every effort should be made to use human-readable paper ballots in the 2018 election.”
Salter for Secretary of State: Claimed Kemp believes that the election can be “safely and accurately” conducted and Plaintiffs want judge to “rule to make this elephant have wings and fly”
Totenberg: “The reality is times change and we’re in a rapidly changing time”
Plaintiffs: David Cross: “Georgia is frozen in time” have a right not “just to the case, but to have that ballot count”
The state of Illinois is working to beef up voter security through its Cyber Navigator Program, a program that will require at least half of the $13.9 million in federal funding the state received for election upgrades. The program, which is still being finalized, will provide training and grants to local election officials. The state will conduct risk assessments of each participating county to ensure that clerks are using best practices, and the program will also put all participating counties on a centralized, more secure internet network. The program is a reaction to Russian hacking in the 2016 election, which gave hackers access to 76,000 active Illinois voter registrations. As the state works to coordinate the logistics, some West Central Illinois counties are split on its value.
The chances of a Kansas voter’s ballot being counted might depend on which county he or she lives in — especially if they vote by mail. The issue of counties having different standards for determining whether a ballot should be counted came up last week (Monday) during a meeting of the State Objections Board, where Davis Hammet of Topeka objected to Republican Kris Kobach’s victory in the Aug. 7 GOP primary for governor. Hammet’s objections involved how the election was administered and whether the varying standards could have influenced the outcome of a race that Kobach won over Gov. Jeff Colyer by less than 350 votes. Hammet noted Johnson County rejected 153 mail-in ballots because the signature on the envelope used to mail the ballot back to the county did not match the voter’s signature on file in the county election office. In contrast, Shawnee and Douglas counties’ election officials didn’t reject any ballots because of mismatched signatures, The Lawrence Journal-World reported.
The crowded and chaotic Democratic congressional primary in Massachusetts that is now being recounted has fueled calls from election reform advocates for the state to adopt a system allowing voters to rank candidates on the ballot rather than select just a single one. Ten candidates were vying for their party’s nomination to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas. The top two vote-getters in the Sept. 4 primary, Lori Trahan and Dan Koh, wound up separated by only a few dozen votes after the initial count. The recount sought by Koh in the 37 cities and towns of the 3rd Congressional District is slated to conclude Monday. Regardless of the outcome, the winner will have done so with just slightly more than 20 percent of the total Democratic votes cast in the race — a result that some see as troubling if not outright undemocratic.
Texas: Quirk in Texas law means registrars cannot block suspect addresses from voter rolls | Houston Chronicle
The debate in Harris County over a resident’s challenge to 4,000 voter registrations ended with the county attorney declaring them invalid, but drew attention to a quirk in Texas law that bars voter registrars from investigating what they suspect are bogus addresses. Residents of a county are permitted to challenge the voter registration of other county residents if they have “personal knowledge” a voter has listed an incorrect address. The Harris County attorney concluded local Republican Party official Alan Vera could not possibly know where 4,000 voters lived, and rejected the challenges. Vera’s list, however, included thousands of voters who listed their residences at business addresses, such as parcel stores and post offices, raising questions about how those applications were approved, and what Harris County can do to correct them. Texas law requires voters to register where they live. At the same time, state law requires counties to take voters at their word that their voter registration applications are truthful.
Wisconsin: Stolen Votes: Understanding the real cybersecurity threats to Wisconsin elections | The Milwaukee Independent
A private vendor inadvertently introduces malware into voting machines he is servicing. A hacker hijacks the cellular modem used to transmit unofficial Election Day results. An email address is compromised, giving bad actors the same access to voting software as a local elections official. These are some of the potential vulnerabilities of Wisconsin’s election system described by cybersecurity experts. State officials insist they are on top of the problem and that Wisconsin’s elections infrastructure is secure because, among other safeguards, voting machines are not connected to the internet and each vote is backed by a paper ballot to verify results. In July, the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism reported that Russian hackers have targeted websites of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, the state Department of Workforce Development and municipalities including Ashland, Bayfield and Washburn. Elections in this swing state are administered by 1,853 municipal clerks, 72 county clerks and the Wisconsin Elections Commission.
Wisconsin: Democrats revive gerrymandering lawsuit to block election maps in 2020 | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Democrats renewed their gerrymandering fight Friday with a pair of lawsuits over election maps that have helped Republicans maintain big margins in the state Assembly. An expanded group of Democratic voters filed a new version of their long-running lawsuit on Friday, three months after the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously found the plaintiffs lacked legal standing to bring an earlier version of their suit. Just hours later, the campaign operation for the Democratic members of the Assembly filed a separate suit. The group asked to consolidate its case with the other one. The new filings, submitted to a three-judge court in Madison, were aimed at addressing legal flaws identified by the high court and giving the Democrats a chance to challenge the maps for all 99 of the state’s Assembly seats.
Texas: Ted Cruz’s Campaign Marked a Fund-Raising Letter an Official ‘Summons.’ It Wasn’t Against the Rules. | The New York Times
Ted Cruz’s Senate re-election campaign has been sending voters in Texas a fund-raising letter in an envelope labeled “summons enclosed,” drawing criticism from some who called it misleading and raising questions about whether such a practice was legal. It is. That is according to Myles Martin, a spokesman for the Federal Election Commission, who said the salient question was whether a mailing contains a disclaimer saying that it came from a political campaign. And this one did. Aside from that, he said in an email, “the F.E.C.’s regulations don’t speak to how candidates may choose to word particular solicitations to potential contributors.”
Wyoming: FBI partners with Wyoming, Cheyenne officials to prevent election hacking | Wyoming Tribune Eagle
Election officials and candidates from across the state came to Cheyenne on Friday to get an intensive course in cybersecurity from the FBI. The event was a chance for the FBI to partner with the Wyoming Secretary of State’s Office to help educate county clerks and candidates for elected office. Experts from both government agencies spent Friday covering types of threats the group could face, how to keep their organizations secure and what steps they should take if they become the target of a suspected hack. “I call it Cyber 101. We want to educate them regarding potential cyber threats, but also the tools available to them to potentially mitigate the threats,” said FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Calvin Shivers. “We wanted to take a proactive posture and educate our elected officials, our candidates, our clerks of court regarding potential threats.
Afghanistan: Protestors shut down election offices in Afghanistan ahead of vote delayed by three years | The Independent
Protesters demanding anti-fraud measures shut down the offices of Afghanistan’s election commission in three of the country’s major provinces on Saturday, just weeks before a vote for Parliament, The protest is the latest symptom of a political logjam that could turn violent amid a raging war with the Taliban. The last-minute jockeying over an election already delayed by three years suggests that after five elections over 17 years, costing about $1bn, Afghanistan lacks a basic consensus on how an election should be held and a credible body to oversee it.
Voters in Bhutan, “Land of the Thunder Dragon”, went to the polls Saturday in the first round of only the third election in the small Himalayan nation wedged between rivals India and China. The two parties with the most votes will contest a runoff on October 18, with Harvard-educated Tshering Tobgay, 52, hoping for a second consecutive term as prime minister. But the keen mountain-biker’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP) faces a tough challenge from the Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT), winner of Bhutan’s first election in 2008, and two other parties. The 800,000 inhabitants of Switzerland-sized Bhutan got television in 1999 and democracy arrived only in 2008 when its “dragon kings” ceded absolute power.
India: Old electronic voting machines destroyed, buyers have to seek election commission nod | Hindustan Times
The election commission (EC) does not provide or sell electronic voting machines (EVMs) that are no longer in use to any local body, state or university to conduct elections nor can buyers procure machines from the manufacturers without the consent of the poll panel. Officials aware of the issue said on Friday that all obsolete machines –that are older than 15 years—are sent back to the manufacturers where these are destroyed as per protocol in the presence of EC officials. “A decision was taken in 2010 that all machines that are discontinued will not be lent out to anyone; because when the machines were given earlier, the users did not stick to the necessary protocol for use. When glitches occurred thereafter, there was confusion and the EC ended up getting blamed, so a decision was taken that all EVMs that are discontinued after 15 years of use will be destroyed,” an official requesting anonymity said. The EC’s clarification comes in the wake of allegations that the machines used during the Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) elections, the results of which were announced on Thursday, were faulty.
As the deadline extended by the Election Commission of Pakistan for overseas Pakistanis to register as voters for I-voting in the upcoming by-election scheduled for October 14 expires today (Monday), only 6,319 expatriates have registered as voters in 37 constituencies. A day earlier, the ECP extended the deadline for registration of overseas Pakistanis till 9 am on Monday to register as many voters as possible. The commission had asked the overseas Pakistanis to take advantage of the extended time and ensure their registration so that they could vote in the upcoming by-election.
Logan Lamb, a cybersecurity sleuth, thought he was conducting an innocuous Google search to pull up information on Georgia’s centralized system for conducting elections. He was taken aback when the query turned up a file with a list of voters and then alarmed when a subsequent simple data pull retrieved the birth dates, drivers’ license numbers and partial Social Security numbers of more than 6 million voters, as well as county election supervisors’ passwords for use on Election Day. He also discovered the server had a software flaw that an attacker could exploit to take control of the machine. The unsecured server that Lamb exposed in August 2016 is part of an election system — the only one in the country that is centrally run and relies upon computerized touch-screen machines for its voters — that is now at the heart of a legal and political battle with national security implications. On one side are activists who have sued the state to switch to paper ballots in the November midterm elections to guard against the potential threat of Russian hacking or other foreign interference. On the other is Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who has declared the electronic system secure and contends that moving to paper ballots with less than two months to Election Day will spawn chaos and could undermine confidence among Georgia’s 6.8 million voters.
Sweden’s election authority completed its final count on on Sunday morning without any significant changes to the preliminary result. Anna Nyqvist, head of the Swedish Election Authority, told the TT newswire that the allocation of seats would remain unchanged, with 144 seats to the red-green bloc, 143 to the centre-right Alliance parties, and 62 seats to the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats. “For the election authority, it’s now all about getting ready a protocol and documents for members of parliament so that the parliament is ready to start work when it opens,” she said. “There’s a real shortage of time for the parliament to get everything in place before the opening.” Prime Minister Stefan Löfven used the final tally to once again argue that as the largest party leading the largest parliamentary bloc, the Social Democrats should lead Sweden’s next government.
Parliament has thrown out attempts to stall the permanent introduction of electronic voting – a decision welcomed by the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA). Two proposals by representatives of right and leftwing parties cited data security concerns, including cyberattacks, and were aimed at effectively blocking plans by the government to conclude more than 15 years of trials and enshrine e-voting in law as a third option – besides going to the polls and the postal vote. The House of Representatives earlier this week rejected the proposals by parliamentarians of the Swiss People’s Party and the Greens, thereby refusing to draft a bill for discussion.
Syrians in government-controlled areas cast their ballots on Sunday in the first local elections there since 2011, when the country’s ill-fated uprising erupted against President Bashar al-Assad’s rule. Seven years since the last vote, the conflict has killed more than 360,000 people, forced millions more to flee, and left the economy in tatters. Now, Syrian troops are back in control of around two-thirds of the country after a string of victories, most recently around Damascus and in southern Syria. More than 6,550 voting centres opened at 7:00 am (0400 GMT) across government-held parts of the country, state media reported.