Come in and sit down at Anita Parsa’s kitchen table. Help yourself to the chocolate chip cookies and she’ll get you an iced tea. Might as well make yourself comfortable. Because for the next hour, she’s going to school you on a massive voter-tracking program run by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. “I like to figure out puzzles,” Parsa says. “I like to crack things, and that’s what this is all about.” This particular puzzle was Kobach’s Interstate Crosscheck system, which holds voter registration data for 25 states. A list of more than 85 million voters, it purports to catch election fraud by weeding out double voting. Crosscheck reportedly provided the numbers behind President Donald Trump’s baseless claim, after the 2016 election, that he would have won the popular vote “if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally” – an assertion that Kobach had helped fuel. After his inauguration, when Trump appointed Kobach, with Vice President Mike Pence, to lead his now-defunct Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, Kobach attempted to take the Crosscheck model national. His idea was to get federal jury-service data to identify duplicate voter registrations, according to public documents.
The voter information for approximately 35 million US citizens is being peddled on a popular hacking forum, two threat intelligence firms have discovered. “To our knowledge this represents the first reference on the criminal underground of actors selling or distributing lists of 2018 voter registration data,” said researchers from Anomali Labs and Intel471, the two companies who spotted the forum ad. The two companies said they’ve reviewed a sample of the database records and determined the data to be valid with a “high degree of confidence.” Researchers say the data contains details such as full name, phone numbers, physical addresses, voting history, and other voting-related information. It is worth noting that some states consider this data public and offer it for download for free, but not all states have this policy.
With 5,307 election officials deployed to the 865 polling stations, the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) is ready to conduct the general elections, according to the state of readiness report from the commission. Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) and Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) would contest the election. The officials on duty exclude the security personnel and ECB’s regular staff who are fully involved on election duty. The report states that of the 865 polling stations that would cater to the 47 constituencies, 674 polling stations would be staffed by a presiding officer and three polling officers besides the security personnel, while 191 polling stations that cater to less than 250 voters would be managed by three polling officials with a polling officer acting as the presiding officer.
The Department of Homeland Security says it’s working to identify who — or what — is behind an increasing number of attempted cyber attacks on U.S. election databases ahead of next month’s midterms. “We are aware of a growing volume of cyber activity targeting election infrastructure in 2018,” the department’s Cyber Mission Center said in an intelligence assessment issued last week and obtained by NBC News. “Numerous actors are regularly targeting election infrastructure, likely for different purposes, including to cause disruptive effects, steal sensitive data, and undermine confidence in the election.” The assessment said the federal government does not know who is behind the attacks, but it said all potential intrusions were either prevented or mitigated.
National: U.S. Still Hasn’t Finalized Election Security Plans—and the Midterms Are Weeks Away | Daily Beast
The midterms are less than a month away. But working groups inside the intelligence community charged with overseeing election security are still trying to finalize plans for countering foreign interference in the 2018 elections, three senior officials involved with the efforts told The Daily Beast. The issue came up in a meeting this month that included current senior intelligence officials and former officials who were asked to attend and provide advice. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency were pinpointed as two of the departments that had made the most progress. The Department of Homeland Security, however, is lagging behind, according to officials inside the meeting.
To hear Alex Halderman tell it, hacking the vote is easy. The University of Michigan professor is on a crusade to demonstrate how vulnerable American voting machines are, and some of his arguments are quite compelling. He has rigged mock elections. He has testified to the machines’ vulnerabilities in Congress and in court. He has even managed to turn a commonly used voting machine into an iteration of the classic arcade game Pac-Man. “They’re just computers at the end of the day,” said Halderman, who told the Senate Intelligence Committee last year that states should move back to paper ballots. “Often with voting machines, when you open it up, it’s not that different from a desktop PC or mobile device. The only difference is that it’s going to be 10 years out of date, or sometimes 20 years.”
Voting rights violations are emerging across several states with less than a month before the conclusion of midterm elections in the United States. As a result of discriminatory election laws and procedures, representation and policy making power could be distorted in favor of powerful, entrenched interests, against the will of a majority of the electorate. The threat of such democratic dysfunction illustrates the need for meaningful electoral reform and the protection of voting rights for all citizens. Early voting is underway in seventeen states, including at least two states where voting rights have already become a flashpoint in pivotal elections. In North Dakota, Senator Heidi Heitkamp and challenger Kevin Cramer is in a race that Cook Political Report rates as a “toss up.” The election could determine control over the US Senate—but the Supreme Court of the United States just refused to block the state’s discriminatory practice of requiring voter identification from a residential street address.
Facebook Inc will ban false information about voting requirements and fact-check fake reports of violence or long lines at polling stations ahead of next month’s U.S. midterm elections, company executives told Reuters, the latest effort to reduce voter manipulation on its service. The world’s largest online social network, with 1.5 billion daily users, has stopped short of banning all false or misleading posts, something that Facebook has shied away from as it would likely increase its expenses and leave it open to charges of censorship. The latest move addresses a sensitive area for the company, which has come under fire for its lax approach to fake news reports and disinformation campaigns, which many believe affected the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, won by Donald Trump.
Editorials: Bill to reform government, elections should be the top item on the agenda in 2019 | Tiffany Muller/The Hill
Americans don’t believe that their government works for them. And they’re right. They also know that all of the money spent in politics affects every decision made in Washington – and it’s not to the benefit of everyday, working families. Instead, mega donors and special interests have access and influence to lawmakers, members of the administration, and other decision makers that the rest of us don’t. At best, there’s an uneven playing field stacked in favor of the biggest donors. At worst, this corrupt pay to play system means that politicians are doing the bidding for the individual and corporate special interests who fund and support their campaigns at the expense of the American people.
Nearly one in 10 vote-by-mail ballots have been rejected by Gwinnett County election officials, alarming voting rights groups. Gwinnett is throwing out far more absentee ballots than any other county in Georgia, according to records from the Secretary of State’s Office. Ballots were discarded because of allegedly mismatched signatures, incomplete forms or missing residential addresses. The county rejected 390 absentee ballots through Sunday, which represents 8.5 percent of all mailed ballots received in Gwinnett so far, according to state figures. Across Georgia, less than 2 percent of absentee ballots have been rejected. Gwinnett accounts for about 37 percent of all rejected ballots in Georgia.
Georgia: Fulton County has technology problems on first day of early voting | Atlanta Journal-Constitution
On the first day of early voting in Georgia, election precincts in Fulton County encountered technology issues that created long lines. A spokesperson for the county, April Majors, said the issue was with the machine used by poll workers to verify voter registration. Because the machine wasn’t working, poll workers had to verify voters’ information manually, which took much more time than the machine would have. In an emailed statement at 12:40 p.m., the county’s department of registration and elections said, “Fulton County’s early voting polling locations at libraries are experiencing network technical issues. Unfortunately, they are unable to quickly verify voter’s registrations.” They county followed up with another emailed statement about an hour later, saying all early voting locations were back to “normal operations.”
Indiana: If you’re an Indiana voter, you may have been purged… and this website will help you find out | Salon
If you’re an Indiana voter, you may have been removed from the voting rolls of your state and don’t even know it. In order to find out whether you were stripped of your constitutional right to vote, there is a website you can check out here. “You put in your first name and last name, we send you back your full address. If that’s you, you go right to the Indiana Secretary of State’s office by — I hope you can register online, I believe you can — and reregister online. You have today to do it. That’s it,” Greg Palast, a reporter for prestigious outlets ranging from Rolling Stone and The Guardian to BBC Newsnight, told Salon. So what happened? Apparently, Palast’s reporting unearthed the fact that 469,000 voters in Indiana had been removed from the voting rolls — and at least 20,000 of them lost their right to vote because a court order was blatantly violated.
Students, public officials and action groups are asking Iowa State to make voting easier for students as Iowa’s new voter ID laws will be in partial effect for 2018’s midterm election. The law, signed in 2017 by former Gov. Terry Branstad and championed by Secretary of State Paul Pate, adds a requirement for voters to present a valid form of identification in order to ensure their eligibility, amongst other regulations, but some say this could pose a threat to the integrity of the system it was designed to protect. However, most of the law’s provisions won’t be in effect for this election, due to an injunction filed by Taylor Blair, president of Iowa State’s College Democrats, alongside the League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa.
Missouri: St. Louis Democrats urge Attorney General to drop voter photo ID appeal | St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis area Democrats are using an appeal of a court ruling against Missouri’s voter photo identification law as a rallying cry in the state’s competitive race for U.S. Senate. U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay, D-University City, joined Democratic members of the Missouri General Assembly Monday to demand that Attorney General Josh Hawley drop his defense of the law. A Cole County judge last week declared unconstitutional the sworn statement voters who used non-photo identification like a utility bill had to sign to cast a ballot. “Instead of stepping up to protect the voting rights of these Missourians who are most at risk of being disenfranchised, our AG, Josh Hawley, is appealing Judge [Richard]Callahan’s ruling in order to suppress the vote of minorities, the disabled and the rural poor who are most likely to vote for his opponent,” Clay said.
Civil rights groups are expressing outrage over a recent Supreme Court ruling that could make it harder for Native Americans in North Dakota to cast their votes in the upcoming midterm elections. Last week, the Supreme Court ruled against overturning North Dakota’s controversial voter ID law which requires voters to present identification that verifies a current residential street address. Proponents of the law say it will help prevent voter fraud. Opponents say it will prevent many Native Americans from voting. “Addressing on reservations and in rural Native American communities is spotty,” Jacqueline D. De Leon, a member of the Isleta Pueblo in New Mexico and an attorney for the Native American Rights Fund (NARF), told VOA in August.
Pennsylvania: Officials work to correct a statewide election glitch ahead of voting in November | Your Erie
There are just three weeks to go until voters here in Pennsylvania head to the polls. But, one of the big concerns heading into Election Day is whether or not your vote is secure. On Monday, the House State Government Committee met to discuss lingering issues with the state’s election system, Committee Chair Daryl Metcalf raising concerns about non-citizens being able to vote after the Department of State found that thousands of potential non-citizens were registered due to a technical glitch. Metcalfe says, “All of the talk about Russia’s interference with our elections. There’s real interference with our elections by foreign nationals in the state of Pennsylvania. And those foreign nationals are here legally, but registering illegally.”
The House State Government Committee held a hearing Monday to discuss lingering issues with Pennsylvania’s election system. Committee chair Daryl Metcalfe raised concerns about non-citizens being able to vote after the Department of State found that thousands of potential non-citizens… were registered due to a technical glitch. “All of the talk about Russia’s interference with our elections. there’s real interference with our elections by foreign nationals in the state of Pennsylvania and those foreign nationals are here legally, but registering illegally,” Metcalfe said.
A two-day conference on election interference begins in Brussels today. The event will gather leading experts and political figures from around the world to discuss questions relating to election security. The conference will also focus on how to tackle the associated challenges, particularly in view of the upcoming 2019 European Parliament elections. “We have to recognize that these elections have not happened since 2014, which in many ways was a simpler time,” Liisa Past, from the McCain Institute, told Good Morning Europe.
From a university student to a middle-aged housewife, Afghans planning to vote in the October 20 parliamentary election say they are willing to risk their lives for democracy. Nearly nine million people have registered to vote, but far fewer are expected to turn out on polling day due to threats of violence and expectations for massive fraud. Six people across the war-torn country explain why their vote matters.
– Omaid, the artist – Out with the old and in with the new is Omaid Sharifi’s hope for the legislative election. The 32-year-old artist, who is voting for the first time, wants to see a new generation of politicians take their seats in the next parliament. Sharifi, co-founder of Kabul-based street art collective ArtLords, was inspired to vote by the large cohort of young, educated candidates among the more than 2,500 contesting the ballot. I am concerned (about security) but I think this is the price of democracy we have to pay,” he said.
Germany: Bavarian election: Voters deal blow to Merkel’s allies, projected results show | The Washington Post
Voters in the southern German heartland of Bavaria dealt a stinging blow Sunday to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative allies, humbling a party that has governed for decades while boosting either political flank in an election defined by polarized opinions about immigration. The dramatic loss of support for the Christian Social Union (CSU), sister party to Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), scrambled politics in a region that has been one of the most politically stable in Europe. Votes for the Bavarian state parliament have rarely been competitive in modern lifetimes, with the CSU crafting a “laptops to lederhosen” approach that coupled its support for high-tech industry with its embrace of traditional culture. For decades, the CSU came as close as Western Europe gets to a state party.
Mozambique’s Renamo opposition on Saturday accused the government of falsifying local election results in several areas, warning that such a move could prompt it to abandon peace talks. The country went to the polls on October 10 in a key test for the ongoing peace talks between the ruling Frelimo party and Renamo – negotiations which began in 2016 to end three years of violence between government troops and Renamo rebels. “We do not want war but we also do not accept any attempt to change the popular will,” Renamo’s acting leader Ossufo Momade told reporters. Although the official results have not yet been published, Renamo says the party had been cheated of victory in one major city and three other towns, accusing election officials of tampering with the results.