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Georgia (Sakartvelo): Presidential Election Heading To Runoffs, Initial Results Suggest | RFE/RL

Neither of the two front-runners in Georgia’s presidential election was likely to win enough votes to secure victory in the first round of voting, the first officials results show. The Central Election Commission (CEC) said that according to results from 14 percent of the polling stations, Salome Zurabishvili secured 40 percent of the vote and Grigol Vashadze won nearly 38 percent. Zurabishvili, a French-born former foreign minister, has the backing of the ruling Georgian Dream party. Vashadze, also an ex-foreign minister, is running for the opposition United National Movement (UNM). Their closest challenger, former parliament speaker Davit Bakradze, who was nominated by the opposition European Georgia party, was a distant third with 10.8 percent of the votes.

Full Article: Georgia Presidential Election Heading To Runoffs, Initial Results Suggest.

Malaysia: Jammer device allegedly used to sabotage PKR e-voting | The Star

A police report has been lodged by a Kuala Selangor PKR candidate after a jammer device was found allegedly used to sabotage the party polls. According to the report sighted by The Star, Kuala Selangor PKR Youth chief candidate R Sabahbathi said the device was found by district council workers at about 2pm on Sunday while they were cleaning up the Kuala Selangor Indoor Stadium where the election was supposed to take place. He said the device was allegedly placed on the floor at the spectators’ seats since 10.30am when polling just started. It had a metal casing with six antennas, and labels that read “4G” and “WiFi”. “All the Internet data cannot be used forcing eligible voters not to be able to cast their votes,” he said in the report, which was lodged at the Kuala Selangor police headquarters.

Full Article: Jammer device allegedly used to sabotage PKR e-voting - Nation | The Star Online.

Sweden: New Election Closer As Lofven Drops Bid to Form Government | VoA News

The leader of Sweden’s Social Democrats, Stefan Lofven, on Monday abandoned efforts to form a government, extending a political deadlock that has gripped the country since an inconclusive national election seven weeks ago. The failed attempt brought the prospect of a snap election closer, though the speaker of parliament said he would try to avoid that at all costs. The Sept. 9 vote gave the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats hold the balance of power, but neither Lofven’s center-left bloc nor the center-right group of parties has been willing to give them a say in policy due to their white supremacist roots. “In light of the responses I have had so far … the possibility does not exist for me to build a government that can be accepted by parliament,” Lofven told reporters.

Full Article: Sweden Closer to Election As Lofven Drops Bid to Form Government.

Media Release: Verified Voting Calls on Texas to Investigate Straight-Ticket Voting Issues; Voters Should Carefully Check Choices

Marian K. Schneider: “Verified Voting urges Secretary of State Rolando Pablos to move Texas toward reliable, verifiable voting systems that include a voter-marked paper ballot statewide.”

The following is a statement from Marian K. Schneider, president of Verified Voting, in response to reports that voters in six counties in Texas (Harris, Montgomery, Fort Bend, Travis, Tarrant, and McLennan) experienced straight-ticket voting issues using the Hart eSlate voting machines. At a minimum, 5.1 million Texas voters in six of the largest counties in Texas that use Hart eSlate voting machines may be affected by this issue. For additional media inquires, please contact aurora@newheightscommunications.com

“Verified Voting calls on Secretary of State Rolando Pablos to launch a broader and more robust statewide public information effort to advise voters to carefully check their choices as displayed before submitting them on direct recording electronic (DRE) voting machines manufactured by Hart InterCivic.

“Verified Voting appreciates that the Secretary of State issued an advisory warning voters to check their choices carefully before submitting the ballot. More work needs to be done to ensure that all voters in the affected counties are equipped to cast their votes as they intend.

“The reported problems underscore the design flaw in voting systems that do not incorporate a voter-marked paper ballot. Paper ballots that are retained can be later sampled to check if the software is correctly reporting the voters’ selections. Without such a safeguard, public confidence in elections diminishes. Verified Voting urges Secretary Pablos to move Texas toward reliable, verifiable voting systems that include a voter-marked paper ballot statewide.

“Verified Voting also calls on Secretary Pablos to investigate the reports of voting problems, determine the root cause of the issue and publicize the results of such an investigation. Voters should be instructed to report any problems to their local county board of elections or to the Secretary of State’s office or both. Doing so will allow officials to understand how widespread the issue is and assist in efforts to pinpoint the cause.

“Verified Voting also urges voters who experience problems to call the Election Protection hotline at 866-OUR VOTE / 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA.

National: US election integrity depends on security-challenged firms | Associated Press

It was the kind of security lapse that gives election officials nightmares. In 2017, a private contractor left data on Chicago’s 1.8 million registered voters — including addresses, birth dates and partial Social Security numbers — publicly exposed for months on an Amazon cloud server. Later, at a tense hearing , Chicago’s Board of Elections dressed down the top three executives of Election Systems & Software, the nation’s dominant supplier of election equipment and services. The three shifted uneasily on folding chairs as board members grilled them about what went wrong. ES&S CEO Tom Burt apologized and repeatedly stressed that there was no evidence hackers downloaded the data. The Chicago lapse provided a rare moment of public accountability for the closely held businesses that have come to serve as front-line guardians of U.S. election security. A trio of companies — ES&S of Omaha, Nebraska; Dominion Voting Systems of Denver and Hart InterCivic of Austin, Texas — sell and service more than 90 percent of the machinery on which votes are cast and results tabulated. Experts say they have long skimped on security in favor of convenience, making it more difficult to detect intrusions such as occurred in Russia’s 2016 election meddling. The businesses also face no significant federal oversight and operate under a shroud of financial and operational secrecy despite their pivotal role underpinning American democracy.

Full Article: US election integrity depends on security-challenged firms.

National: DHS ‘more prepared’ than ever to secure midterm elections, Nielsen says | Politico

The Department of Homeland Security is “more prepared than we’ve ever been” to ensure the security of the Nov. 6 midterm elections, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said Sunday. “The goal here … is absolutely to assure Americans that their votes will count and their votes will be counted correctly,” Nielsen told “Fox News Sunday.” “We are constantly monitoring, constantly working with them, sharing information.” Among other measures , Nielsen said, her department will be establishing a “virtual situation room.” “We will be setting up a virtual situation rom on Election Day so we can very quickly support any incident response that’s needed and so we can share any information,” Nielsen said.

Full Article: DHS 'more prepared' than ever to secure midterm elections, Nielsen says - POLITICO.

National: Under Attack: How Election Hacking Threatens the Midterms | PCMagazine

In March, officials from 38 states packed into a conference hall in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for a two-day election simulation exercise that was run like a war game. More than 120 state and local election officials, communications directors, IT managers, and secretaries of state ran drills simulating security catastrophes that could happen on the worst Election Day imaginable. The tabletop exercise began each simulation months before the Nov. 6 midterm elections, accelerating the timeline until states were countering attacks in real time as voters went to the polls. Organized by the Defending Digital Democracy (D3P) project at Harvard, a bipartisan effort to protect democratic processes from cyber and information attacks, the drills forced participants to respond to one nightmare scenario after another—voting machine and voter database hacks, distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks taking down websites, leaked misinformation about candidates, fake polling information disseminated to suppress votes, and social media campaigns coordinated by nation-state attackers to sow distrust.

Full Article: Under Attack: How Election Hacking Threatens the Midterms - PCMag UK.

National: Researcher finds trove of political fundraising, old voter data on open internet | CyberScoop

A consulting firm that works with Democratic campaigns unknowingly left sensitive fundraiser information and credentials to old voter record databases open on the internet, according to a report published on Wednesday. Cybersecurity company Hacken says it discovered an unprotected network-attached storage (NAS) device managed by Rice Consulting, a Maryland firm that provides fundraising and mass communication to Democratic clients. Authentication was reportedly disabled on the NAS, and Hacken says that it was indexed by Shodan, an Internet-of-Things search engine. With its contents publicly accessible, the NAS revealed details about Rice Consulting’s clients as well as details about “thousands of fundraisers,” Hacken says. Those details include names, phone numbers, emails, addresses and companies. There were apparently also contracts, meeting notes, desktop backups and employee details. Rice Consulting did not respond to an email request for comment on the Hacken report. When CyberScoop called the firm, the person who answered said “There’s no one here who can tell you anything,” and hung up.

Full Article: Researcher finds trove of political fundraising, old voter data on open internet.

Editorials: The case for white hat hacking of our election software | Chris Wysopal/The Hill

Congress did not pass the bipartisan Secure Elections Act. This means in the two years since Russian interference disrupted our election systems, we have failed to improve security around the technologies that support our election processes. Legislating a fix to the problem is proving futile. It’s time to ask ourselves – as citizens, elected leaders, technologists and those interested in protecting our democracy – what else we can do to improve election security. A recent report delivered to Capitol Hill found that “election machines used in more than half of U.S. states carry a flaw disclosed more than a decade ago that makes them vulnerable to a cyberattack,” according The Wall Street Journal. Shouldn’t we view our elections through the lens not just of security, but safety? Think about it this way: we have the NTSB for travel, the FDA for food, OSHA for workplace safety. We would scarcely accept 50 percent of cars on the road to be faulty or 50 percent of food on grocery store shelves to be tainted.

Full Article: The case for white hat hacking of our election software | TheHill.

Voting Blogs: Ten ways to make voting machines cheat with plausible deniability | Andrew Appel/Freedom to Tinker

Voting machines can be hacked; risk-limiting audits of paper ballots can detect incorrect outcomes, whether from hacked voting machines or programming inaccuracies; recounts of paper ballots can correct those outcomes; but some methods for producing paper ballots are more auditable and recountable than others.

A now-standard principle of computer-counted public elections is, use a voter-verified paper ballot, so that in case the voting machine cheats in counting the votes, the human doing an audit or recount can see the paper that the voter marked.  Why would the voting machine cheat?  Well, they’re computers, and any computer may have security vulnerabilities that permits an attacker to modify or replace its software.  We must presume that any voting machine might, at any time, be under the complete control of an attacker, an election thief.

Full Article: Ten ways to make voting machines cheat with plausible deniability.

Georgia: Judge orders officials to stop tossing absentee ballots over signatures | The Washington Post

A federal judge on Wednesday ordered Georgia election officials to stop summarily tossing absentee ballots because of mismatched signatures, delivering a crucial win to voting-rights advocates — and to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams — less than two weeks before Election Day. The ruling resulted from two lawsuits filed earlier this month after election officials in a single Atlanta suburb, Gwinnett County, rejected hundreds of absentee ballots with signature discrepancies, missing addresses or incorrect birth years. The plaintiffs, including the ACLU, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the Coalition for Good Governance, argued that allowing nonexpert election officials to judge the validity of signatures without giving voters the chance to contest the decisions amounted to unconstitutional voter suppression.

Full Article: Judge orders Ga. officials to stop tossing absentee ballots over signatures - The Washington Post.

Georgia: Strict laws lead to large purge of voters | Atlanta Journal-Constitution

One evening in July 2017, computers at the Georgia Secretary of State’s office were set to a monumental task. Through the night, they would sift through a list of 6.6 million registered voters, seeking out those who didn’t belong.
By dawn, more than 500,000 people were registered no more. This purge, according to election-law experts, may represent the largest mass disenfranchisement in U.S. history. It also underscores how Georgia – where people once died for the right to vote – has systematically enacted some of the strictest voting laws in the nation over the past two decades. While officials say the laws are aimed at preventing election fraud, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights says no state has done more than Georgia in recent years to make voting difficult, especially for minorities. These efforts went relatively unnoticed before this year’s campaign for governor. That has changed amid what appears to be a historically tight race and, perhaps more important, claims that Republicans are engaging in voter suppression.

Full Article: Georgia voters purge may be largest in U.S. history.

Indiana: Early voters complain faulty machines switch votes | Journal & Courier

After waiting a half-hour in line Saturday afternoon on the first of eight days of early voting at the Pay Less Super Market in West Lafayette, Sundeep Rao couldn’t figure out why every time he touched the screen for a candidate labeled “D” for Democrat, an X went into the box next to one with an “R” for Republican. Rao, an information technology director from West Lafayette, was familiar enough with older touch screen technology to back out of the incorrect choice, only to find that it took two or three tries to uncheck one box and position his finger in such a way to make his choice the right way. He said he hadn’t experienced that problem in previous elections, but once he figured out the pattern, he made his way through the ballot. A few voting booths over, he heard Robin Pickett, his wife, muttering under her breath about having the same problem.

Full Article: Early voters complain faulty machines switch votes at WL Pay Less site.

Michigan: State to test out risk-limiting election audits | WILX

The State of Michigan will be running a pilot program auditing election results after the general election on November 6. Michigan will be part of a pilot program that will verify that voting equipment and election officials performed properly. “With this pilot of risk-liming audits, Michigan further bolsters its reputation as a national leader in election security and integrity,” Secretary of State Ruth Johnson said. “With our new election equipment and secure voter file, and now with our pilot of risk-limiting audits, we are well ahead of other states in strengthening election integrity.” Three cities in Michigan will participate in the pilot program, Rochester Hills, Kalamazoo and Lansing. “I thank the clerks in Kalamazoo, Lansing and Rochester Hills for stepping up and being willing to pioneer how these audits could work in Michigan,” Johnson said. “Their participation shows how much election officials across Michigan take election protection seriously and are working to further strengthen voting security and integrity.”

Kansas: Dodge City polling place move ignites voter access fears | The Wichita Eagle

After the ACLU objected to Dodge City’s single, out-of-town polling place, the local official in charge of elections forwarded to the state an ACLU letter asking her to publicize a voter help line. “LOL,” she wrote in an email to Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office. As Election Day approaches, concerns are being raised in Kansas over voting rights and access to the polls. The movement and elimination of some polling places is sparking fears that casting a ballot may be more difficult for some this year. Nowhere are worries greater than in Dodge City, where residents must leave town if they want to vote on Election Day. The city has drawn national scrutiny over voting rights since Ford County Clerk Debbie Cox — citing construction — moved its only polling location to a building south of the city limits. The site can’t be reached by sidewalks and is separated from much of the city by train tracks. Sixty percent of the town’s residents are Hispanic. “I don’t hate Debbie Cox. I don’t want anything against her. I just want her to do her job properly” and promote voter turnout, said Alejandro Rangel, who plans to cast the first ballot of his life on Nov. 6 after turning 18 on Oct. 29. Cox said she moved the polling location out of a concern for safety. And she said she didn’t mean anything when she wrote “LOL.”

Full Article: Dodge City polling place move ignites voter access fears | The Wichita Eagle.

Kansas: Texts to voters purportedly from Trump roil Kansas election | Associated Press

Kansas election officials are reviewing text messages claiming to be from President Donald Trump and telling residents that their early votes hadn’t been recorded, as Democratic leaders were quick Thursday to worry that they were part of efforts to “steal” a close governor’s race. State Elections Director Bryan Caskey said the Kansas secretary of state’s office received 50 or 60 calls about the texts Wednesday, mostly from the northeastern part of the state. Caskey said the office is trying to determine whether the texts broke a law before determining what to do next. One text says “Your absentee ballot is ready. Remember to vote for Pres. Trump’s allies.” A follow-up text says, “This is President Trump. Your early vote has NOT been RECORDED on Kansas’s roster.” It urges the voter to confirm his or her polling place.

Full Article: Texts to voters purportedly from Trump roil Kansas election.

North Carolina: Candidate, campaign manager accused of trying to intimidate voters | News & Observer

A voter said Rep. Chris Malone asked her whether she was preparing to vote twice while she waited at an early-voting site this week, in an attempt to intimidate her. Another woman said she overheard a man connected to the Malone campaign ask much the same question of a voter on the first day of early voting last week. She did not know the man’s name but forwarded to the investigative news organization ProPublica a picture of Dennis Berwyn, Malone’s campaign manager, taken at the early-voting location that day. The News & Observer learned about the accusations through the Electionland project, a collaboration of newsrooms around the country tracking voting problems. Berwyn adamantly denied that he asked anyone if they were voting twice. “That is not something that would ever come out of my mouth,” he said.

Full Article: NC candidate, campaign manager accused of trying to intimidate voters | News & Observer.

North Dakota: Tribes scramble to meet voter ID requirements in North Dakota | CBS

Locating a house isn’t easy on the isolated and impoverished Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation in northern North Dakota, and that’s making it more difficult for residents and their counterparts on other reservations in the state to vote this election. To cast a ballot, they need identification with a provable street address — something that isn’t important to the 19,000 people who live on the remote 72-square-mile block of land where most streets have no signs. In their culture, they’ve never needed them. Tribal activist Wes Davis, 37, an official at the local community college and a lifelong reservation resident, describes where he lives this way — to the west of a gas station on the east side of town, behind the high school and across the road from another store.

Full Article: Tribes scramble to meet voter ID requirements in North Dakota - CBS News.

Tennessee: Federal court dismisses challenge aimed at voting machines | The Daily Memphian

An effort to have the federal Department of Homeland Security conduct a cyber-security threat assessment of Shelby County’s touchscreen voting machines and a have a special master review the county’s voting system has been denied in Memphis Federal Court. The temporary restraining order seeking those measures was sought by the group Shelby Advocates for Valid Elections – or SAVE – before the Oct. 17 start of early voting in advance of the Nov. 6 election day. The request was part of a larger lawsuit still pending before U.S. District Judge Thomas L. Parker that seeks to bar the use of the touchscreen voting machines after the November election. “Although the law recognizes the voters’ rights can be impaired any number of ways, to be actionable under due process, the system must be fundamentally unfair,” Parker wrote in the Oct. 24 ruling, adding SAVE has not shown that.

Full Article: Federal court dismisses challenge aimed at voting machines - The Daily Memphian.

Texas: Company blames Texas voters’ problems on user error, saying its machines don’t flip straight-ticket ballots | Dallas Morning News

Some voters have said their straight-ticket ballots have switched to candidates in the opposite party, but the company that makes the machines said they don’t do that and have been used in the last nine election cycles without any problems. Several voters have complained to Texas election officials that their votes for Rep. Beto O’Rourke switched to Sen. Ted Cruz, or vice versa, on Hart InterCivic’s eSlate machine. Houston resident Mickey Blake told KTRK-TV (Channel 13) that she voted straight-ticket Democrat, but on the final review screen, she noticed all Democratic candidates were selected except for O’Rourke. Cordell Hosea of Fort Bend County told the station that the same thing happened to him. But Hart, which is based in Austin, blamed the problems on user error.

Full Article: Company blames Texas voters' problems on user error, saying its machines don't flip straight-ticket ballots | 2018 Elections | Dallas News.