A federal judge ruled Monday that Georgia can continue using electronic voting machines in November’s election despite concerns they could be hacked. U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg denied a request for an injunction that would have forced the state’s 6.8 million voters to switch to hand-marked paper ballots. Totenberg made her decision in an ongoing lawsuit from voters and election integrity organizations who say Georgia’s direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting machines are untrustworthy and insecure. Georgia is one of five states that relies entirely on electronic voting machines without a verifiable paper backup. Her 46-page order Monday said she was concerned about “voter frustration and disaffection from the voting process” if she had prohibited electronic voting machines just weeks before the election. “There is nothing like bureaucratic confusion and long lines to sour a citizen,” Totenberg wrote.
In my community, we vote by filling in circles on a paper sheet that goes into a scanner — we have a paper trail. Can such a process still be hacked? Yes, though paperless voting machines can more easily be hacked. Professors Ronald Rivest of MIT and J. Alex Halderman of the University of Michigan explained on Sept. 13 in a session at EmTech MIT on how hackers can alter elections. According to Rivest, about 80% of voting jurisdictions in the U.S. have some sort of paper trail in the event of voting-machine hacks. If, however, you vote in Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana, New Jersey, South Carolina, or Nevada, there is no way to hand-count the votes should the need arise; votes are electronically recorded. The map below reveals that many other states use a mixture of paper and paperless voting systems.
From racial segregation to environmental destruction to voter suppression, the concepts of “federalism” and “states’ rights” have a long-running association with some of the worst outcomes of American conservatism. And we may soon add “endangering American democracy” to that list. These political philosophies are being invoked to sink a key election-security bill — at a time when midterm elections are being actively probed and prodded for weaknesses by potentially hostile nation-states. The Secure Elections Act (SEA), which seemed poised to become a rare bipartisan slam-dunk, may not even make it to a vote now that the bill has been pulled from committee, reportedly under order of the Trump White House.
When voters go to the polls in five states, a verified paper trail will not follow them. At a time of heightened concerns over election interference, election-security experts have called for that to change, suggesting paper results – visually confirmed by voters – would help state officials recover in the event of meddling or simple mistakes. “That presents a greater risk because there’s no way to detect if things have gone wrong,” said Marian Schneider, former deputy secretary of voting and administration in Pennsylvania and the president of the group Verified Voting. Paper ballots – or, at least, auditable paper trails, in which voters can see their choices recorded on a printed roll of paper – have been recommended by experts from Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to the Brennan Center for Justice’s Democracy Program to the Defending Digital Democracy Project at Harvard’s Belfer Center. A large swath of Americans, however, will vote without them.
Advocates for immigrants and voting rights filed a federal lawsuit Monday demanding information from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service. The groups believe that the Trump administration is engaged in deliberate foot-dragging to potentially slow new citizens from registering as Democrats. According to federal figures, 6.6 million people followed the process and became eligible to vote in the decade before 2012. Plaintiffs said the flow has since hit a roadblock. “They have at least doubled the amount of time it takes to become a citizen,” said Peter Schey, president of the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law.
National: Facebook pilots new political campaign security tools — just 50 days before Election Day | TechCrunch
Facebook has rolled out a “pilot” program of new security tools for political campaigns — just weeks before millions of Americans go to the polls for the midterm elections. The social networking giant said it’s targeting campaigns that “may be particularly vulnerable to targeting by hackers and foreign adversaries.” Once enrolled, Facebook said it’ll help campaigns adopt stronger security protections, “like two-factor authentication and monitor for potential hacking threats,” said Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, in a Monday blog post.
Delaware lawmakers on Monday approved a $13 million contract for Election Systems & Software to supply roughly 1,500 of its new ExpressVote XL voting machines, the state’s first new voting system in decades. But some watchdogs are questioning whether state officials chose the best equipment when they chose to purchase a new and largely unproven voting system. “They had it in their minds to choose this system regardless of the facts about it,” said Jennifer Hill, director of Common Cause Delaware. “This system is brand new so we don’t know what to expect.” Those claims did not dissuade lawmakers Monday from approving a $13 million contract to buy a fleet of new voting machines, along with new systems for registering voters, checking them in at their polling places and counting absentee ballots.
A federal judge ruled Monday that forcing Georgia to scrap its electronic voting machines in favor of paper ballots for the upcoming midterm elections is too risky, though she said she has grave concerns about the machines that experts have said are vulnerable to hacking. U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg’s ruling means the state won’t have to use paper ballots for this year’s midterm elections, including a high-profile gubernatorial contest between the state’s top elections official, Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp, and Democrat Stacey Abrams, a former state House minority leader who’s trying to become the country’s first black, female governor. Voting integrity advocates and Georgia voters sued state and county election officials, arguing the touchscreen voting machines Georgia has used since 2002 are vulnerable to hacking and provide no way to confirm that votes have been recorded correctly because there’s no paper trail.
It’s been a great summer for petition campaigns — most of them, that is. After hundreds of thousands of Michiganders signed petitions, ballots this fall will list three momentous questions — whether to legalize marijuana; whether to end gerrymandering with a nonpartisan method of carving political districts; and whether to expand voting rights in several ways that include allowing straight-party voting, again, as well as allowing “no-reason” absentee voting. To get on the November ballot, these big statewide campaigns had to leap numerous legal hurdles and turn in truckloads of signed petitions that were flyspecked by lawyers or trained volunteers. But some petition efforts didn’t go as well. In Oakland and Macomb counties, two local campaigns — one in Troy, another in Warren — used paid circulators to gather signatures and both ended with cries of “forgery!” That’s giving fuel to the fire of critics who say Michigan should tighten regulations on petition campaigns.
A federal judge formally dismissed the lawsuit challenging the Texas voter ID law Monday, the final step in a yearslong fight that will allow the state to enforce a weakened version of the 2011 statute. At the urging of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of Corpus Christi issued a two-sentence order dismissing the case in light of April’s decision by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld the law. Lawyers for the minority voters, Democratic politicians and civil rights groups that challenged the law had argued that Paxton’s request for a dismissal was an unnecessary step because there was nothing left to decide — except for assessing legal fees and costs — after the 5th Circuit Court’s decision.
Texas: One Republican Official Challenged Thousands Of Voter Registrations In His County. It Could Happen Elsewhere. | HuffPost
In late July, Alan Vera, the chair of the Harris County Republican Party’s Ballot Security Committee, put on a patriotic necktie, walked into the voter registration office in Houston and challenged the registrations of some 4,000 voters — there were duplicates — in his county. A few weeks later, Lynn Lane, the official photographer for the Houston Grand Opera, noticed a letter he’d sorted for recycling. The county voting registrar, the letter said, had received information that his current address was different than the one on his registration record, and he had 30 days to respond. When Lane checked his voter registration status online, he said, it was already listed as suspended. But Lane — an active voter and a Democrat — has lived in the same location for five years, he told HuffPost.
Wisconsin: How Hackers Could Attack Wisconsin’s Elections And What State Officials Are Doing About It | Wisconsin Public Radio
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: State tries to avoid voter data breach that happened in Illinois | Milwaukee Journal Sentinal
Wisconsin officials say they have taken multiple steps in recent months to guard against the type of attack that Russian hackers unleashed on Illinois when they allegedly stole data from hundreds of thousands of Illinois voters before the 2016 election. But the August rollout of vote tallying through the WisVote system — in which clerks inadvertently reported duplicate votes in nine counties — shows more work needs to be done. In 2016, cyber actors gained access to 200,000 voter records in Illinois, according to an April report from FireEye, a California-based cybersecurity firm.
Bhutan’s prime minister conceded defeat on Sunday (Sept 16), after the ruling party was knocked out in the first round of the small Himalayan nation’s third-ever election. Harvard-educated Tshering Tobgay was seeking a second term in the poll but fell short of two rival parties, who will contest a runoff on Oct 18. Election officials said that the Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) party, which won Bhutan’s first-ever election when the kingdom transitioned to democracy in 2008, attracted nearly 93,000 votes, narrowly beating the Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) party. “I congratulate DNT and DPT and their candidates (on) their outstanding performance,” Mr Tobgay posted on Twitter.
The man leading Brazil’s presidential election polls says he is worried that fraud could cost him victory in October, raising questions about whether he would accept defeat. Far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro made a Facebook live posting Sunday saying he sees a risk that fraud might give the election to Fernando Haddad, who has replaced jailed former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on the left-leaning Workers Party ticket. Da Silva led in polls before being disqualified due to a corruption conviction. “The great concern is not to lose the vote, it is to lose by fraud. That possibility of fraud in the runoff, maybe even in the first vote, is concrete,” Bolsonaro said in his first address to supporters from a hospital where he is recovering from a Sept. 6 stabbing attack.
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis accused Russia on Monday of attempting to influence the outcome of a referendum in Macedonia on changing the country’s name that would open the way for it to join NATO and the European Union. Speaking after talks in Skopje with Macedonia’s leaders, Mattis also said the United States was looking to expand cybersecurity cooperation with the small Balkan country. Macedonians will vote on Sept. 30 on a deal reached in June with neighboring Greece that would change the country’s name to the Republic of Northern Macedonia. Athens insisted on the change in return for lifting its opposition to Skopje joining NATO and the EU.
A lack of interest of Pakistanis living aboard flagrantly evident as deadline for registration of Internet voting has been ended today. Out of above five hundred thousand Pakistanis residing overseas, only seven thousand and four hundred registered themselves for internet voting which is not an encouraging trend for the present PTI led government which worked hard to give the expats the right to vote. Five hundred and twenty thousand overseas Pakistanis showed an unexpected and strange attitude towards the lack of interest in the electoral and political system of Pakistan. Only seven thousand and four hundred Pakistanis living and settled in foreign countries – being registered to the internet voting for the by elections scheduled to be held in October 2018 – can take part in the voting process now. According to the election commission sources, two hundred thousand individuals have visited the internet voting website.
Russia: ‘Miraculous’ election win for Kremlin-backed candidate causes protests in Russia’s far-east | The Independent
Even by Russian election standards – the kind that has given us 146 per cent voter turnouts – this was a magical turnaround. With 95 per cent of the votes counted in the gubernatorial elections in Russia’s far east Primorsky Krai, the Kremlin’s United Russia candidate, Andrei Tarasenko, was a full five points behind his challenger, Communist Andrei Ishchenko. But in a sensational final sprint, Mr Tarasenko added an improbable 13,000 votes, equating to nearly 100 per cent of the vote in the last 1 per cent of precincts. Even more miraculous was the fact his challenger Mr Ishchenko lost five votes in the process. Just days earlier, Mr Tarasenko received a personal endorsement from President Vladimir Putin. “I know you have a run-off coming up. I think everything is going to be fine,” Mr Putin said.