Arizona: Maricopa County Audit: election mishaps due to faulty equipment, no backup plan | Arizona Capitol Times

Malfunctioning voting equipment and the lack of a back-up plan led to 62 polling locations opening late for the Aug. 28 primary election, the Maricopa County auditors concluded. The Maricopa County Internal Audit Department conducted a review of the election-day mishaps and found they were tied to the county’s electronic voter check-in and ballot printing system, which was first used in the November 2017 municipal elections and the special election for Congressional District 8 in February. The review found that the county’s electronic voter check-in system, SiteBooks, which was used at all 463 polling locations and 40 vote centers, didn’t work at the polling locations that opened late. The Recorder’s Office denied many of the auditor’s findings, which were made public Sept. 21.

California: State Launches New Effort To Fight Election Disinformation | NPR

California election officials are launching a new effort to fight the kind of disinformation campaigns that plagued the 2016 elections — an effort that comes with thorny legal and political questions. The state’s new Office of Elections Cybersecurity will focus on combating social media campaigns that try to confuse voters or discourage them from casting ballots. During the 2016 election, in addition to hacking email accounts and attacking voting systems, Russian agents used social media to plant disinformation intended to drive down voter turnout.

Georgia: Can Georgia’s electronic voting machines be trusted? | Atlanta Journal Constitution

When Georgia voters cast their ballots this fall, some will wonder whether the state’s outdated touchscreen voting machines are safe and accurate. Election officials say voters have nothing to fear, but election integrity advocates say there’s good reason to worry. Electronic voting machines could be hacked if someone got around security measures. There’s no paper backup. And a state election computer exposed voting information online for months. Even a federal judge said this week that there’s a “mounting tide of evidence” the state’s digital voting system is at risk. Can Georgians trust their votes will be counted in the election for governor between Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp? Skeptics say they’ve lost faith in the system and in Kemp’s ability to oversee it while running for higher office. Kemp and election officials are trying to reassure voters that the election system hasn’t been compromised, and that voting is safe and accurate.

Georgia: Who’s going to pay for Georgia’s new voting technology? | Times Free Press

As Georgia leaders debate how to replace the state’s maligned voting system, local government officials have a simple request: Pick up the tab. In its list of legislative priorities released earlier this month, the Association County Commissioners of Georgia said the state government should fully fund any new voting technology. It also said the state should pay to train county employees to use the new system — whatever it turns out to be. State Rep. Barry Fleming, R-Harlem, said during a June meeting that a new voting system will cost “realistically” $30-$60 million. Todd Edwards, the association’s deputy legislative director, pointed out Friday that a Georgia law on the books requires the state to pay for voting equipment in all 159 counties. That doesn’t guarantee the law will be the same when the Legislature wraps up at end of March.

Missouri: Judge Orders Missouri Officials To Comply With Motor Voter Law | KCUR

A federal judge ordered Missouri officials to provide voter registration information to residents seeking to update their addresses at motor vehicle offices by mail or online. U.S. District Judge Brian Wimes found that their failure to do so violates the National Voter Registration Act, more commonly known as the federal motor voter law. Wimes ordered the action to be taken ahead of this November’s election. His order came in response to a lawsuit filed earlier this year by the League of Women Voters and the A. Philip Randolph Institute. The suit named Missouri Secretary of State John R. “Jay” Ashcroft and Joel Walters, director of the Missouri Department of Revenue. Ashcroft is the state’s chief election official responsible for enforcing the motor voter law. The Department of Revenue oversees the Driver License Bureau.

Montana: Secretary of State plans to replace voter registration system | Bozeman Daily Chronicle

Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton plans to replace the state’s voter registration system and pay for improvements to its election cyber security programs with a $3 million federal grant. The money is part of $380 million in grants President Donald Trump budgeted for election security across the nation against a backdrop of threats from Russia and others. Montana is putting up $150,000 as a 5 percent match for the grant. Stapleton outlined the plan in a letter to members of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, a group that administers the grants, sent out Wednesday. The state received the money, but the program required Stapleton provide details on how it would be spent.

North Carolina: Bipartisan Furor as North Carolina Election Law Shrinks Early Voting Locations by Almost 20 Percent | ProPublica

In June, the North Carolina General Assembly passed legislation mandating that all early voting sites in the state remain open for uniform hours on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., a move supporters argued would reduce confusion and ultimately make early voting easier and more accessible. But with the start of early voting only weeks away, county election officials across the state — who previously had control over setting polling hours in their jurisdictions — say the new law has hamstrung their ability to best serve voters. Some officials in rural counties say they’ve had to shrink the number of early voting locations to accommodate the law’s longer hour requirements and stay within their budgets. A ProPublica analysis of polling locations shows that North Carolina’s 2018 midterm election will have nearly 20 percent fewer early voting locations than there were in 2014. Nearly half of North Carolina’s 100 counties are shutting down polling places, in part because of the new law. Poorer rural counties, often strapped for resources to begin with, are having a particularly difficult time adjusting to the new requirement.

South Carolina: Court ruling could change how South Carolina votes. Will it stop elections from being hacked? | The State

Duncan Buell paints a nightmare scenario of how South Carolina’s elections could be hacked. Someone armed with a smartphone, a palm pilot — even a personal electronic ballot purchased online, like the ones used by S.C. poll workers — could sign in to vote at a polling site and load a bit of malicious code onto one of the state’s touchscreen voting machines without anyone noticing. A voter carrying their own personal electronic ballot might stand out in the line to cast a ballot, said Buell, a computer science professor at Clemson University who consults on election technology. But, he added, “If it’s a day when it would not be unusual to be wearing a trench coat, someone could get it in, slot it and insert malware into the machine.” Buell is not the only one worried that South Carolina’s aging voting machines are vulnerable to outside interference in an election. Last week, a federal court in Georgia ruled against an effort to force the Peach State to switch to paper ballots in time for the Nov. 6 election.

West Virginia: State Supreme Court to hear arguments on election challenge | WV News

When Gov. Jim Justice recently appointed two of the most prominent Republicans in the state to fill vacancies on the Supreme Court of Appeals, he might not have expected such a heavy legal fight. But the temporary appointments, and the men hoping to win the seats in the November general election, are facing a legal battle that will kick off Monday morning — in the state’s Supreme Court. Currently, only two elected justices are actively serving on the Supreme Court. Those two are Justices Margaret Workman and Beth Walker, both of whom were impeached by delegates earlier this year. They are currently awaiting the Senate to try their impeachments, which will decide if they should be removed from office.

eSwatini: African Union calls for eSwatini to end ban on political parties | AFP

African Union election observers urged eSwatini on Saturday to lift a ban on political parties and allow candidates to campaign freely in the tiny country, which went to the polls this week. The AU statement came a day after parliamentary elections in landlocked eSwatini, which is ruled by an absolute monarch and was known as Swaziland until earlier this year. Candidates cannot be affiliated to any political group under the constitution which emphasises “individual merit” as the basis for selecting members of parliament and public officials.

Latvia: How to Russia-Proof an Election | Bloomberg

A nondescript office in Riga’s communist-era Institute of Mathematics and Computer Science may be Latvia’s last line of defense against threats to next month’s general election. There, the nation’s 29-strong CERT cyber-security group is bracing for its biggest test to date: repelling attempts by Russia to sway the voting process. Having studied meddling in the U.S. and fellow European Union members like Germany, the team is schooling state employees on suspicious emails and website links that could be phishing attempts, all the while receiving “threat feeds” from NATO and allied countries. Elsewhere, the government is working with Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. to stem the spread of fake news. Ballots at the Oct. 6 vote will be scanned electronically and can be counted by hand, should concerns arise at any precinct, adding an extra layer of security.

Malaysia: E-voting glitch causes fight, postponement in 8 Kedah PKR divisions | The Star

PKR’s electronic voting system is not going well in Kedah as the names of candidates and voters went missing in the voting app after the system hung, leading to a fight and the postponement of voting in eight divisions. It is learned that a voter in Merbok lost his cool after discovering that the names of certain candidates had gone missing from the e-ballots and alleged that this was an attempt at sabotage. A video of him wielding a stick and hitting someone has also gone viral on social media. The police reportedly arrested two men in connection with the fight. Kedah PKR chairman Dr Azman Ismail, who is Kuala Kedah MP, said voting in seven divisions had to be postponed because the voting stations could not connect to the Internet.

Maldives: Long lines, fainting and shoving: Maldives voting proves slow-going | Maldives Independent

People reported waiting up to six hours to cast their vote in the Maldives presidential election Sunday, as long lines persisted at polling stations more than halfway through the day. There are about 262,000 eligible voters. Elections Commission member Ahmed Akram told the Maldives Independent that turnout had reached 38 percent by noon. Polls close in less than an hour, but queues stretched outside most schools where polling stations were set up in the capital. In Kuala Lumpur people fainted while waiting, leaving others in the queue to manage the line and arrange for drinking water. Queues were said to extend from the 10th floor to the ground floor. There are almost 1,900 people registered to vote in Kuala Lumpur, but only one ballot box.

United Kingdom: Opposition leader will back second Brexit vote if party wants it | Reuters

British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn said on Sunday he would back a second Brexit referendum if his Labour Party votes to pursue the move, heaping pressure on Prime Minister Theresa May, whose plans for a divorce deal with the EU have hit an impasse. Corbyn, a veteran eurosceptic, has resisted growing demands to back a new “People’s Vote” on the decision to quit the European Union, keen to keep those party members on board who voted in favour of Brexit at a 2016 referendum. But the political landscape has changed since May’s plans for Brexit — the biggest shift in British policy for more than four decades — were resoundingly rebuffed by the EU on Thursday, with any outcome of the negotiations more uncertain than ever.

National: Hacks, Security Gaps And Oligarchs: The Business Of Voting Comes Under Scrutiny | NPR

It’s been a tough couple of years for the business of voting. There’s the state that discovered a Russian oligarch now finances the company that hosts its voting data. Then there’s the company that manufactures and services voter registration software in eight states that found itself hacked by Russian operatives leading up to the 2016 presidential election. And then there’s the largest voting machine company in the country, which initially denied and then admitted it had installed software on its systems considered by experts to be extremely vulnerable to hacking. Private companies play a crucial role in elections, from printing and designing ballots, to manufacturing voting machines, to hosting results websites. The industry exists because the local and state governments who run elections don’t have the resources or expertise to maintain all aspects of an election themselves.

National: Election Security Can Be as Simple as Preserving Paper | Inside Science

Joseph Stalin, no friend of free elections, is credited with saying it was not the people who cast the votes that decide elections. It’s the people who count them. Since the 2016 presidential election, considerable thought — but not much money — has gone into seeing if he’s wrong. According to an expert interviewed by NPR, it would cost at most $400 million to make states with vulnerable systems more secure, but a bill to do that died in Congress last month. There have been some changes in voting procedures, but whether the changes will be enough to block foreign and domestic interference with the upcoming midterm elections is simply unknown.

National: America’s unfair voting laws | The Economist

It its latest report on minority voting rights in America, published this month, the bipartisan United States Commission on Civil Rights reports that a range of restrictive voting measures have been enacted by states in recent years. They range from laws demanding that voters produce specific forms of identification to reductions in the number of locations where people can cast their ballot. These laws have a disproportionate effect on the ability of minority groups to exercise their voting rights. And thanks to a 2013 Supreme Court decision that weakens federal authority to restrict such laws, they are remaining on the books. The 1965 Voting Rights Act and its extensions helped dismantle generations of rules and regulations that had disenfranchised minority voters—and in particular black Americans. One of the act’s major provisions mandated that jurisdictions with a history of voter rights discrimination, including Texas, North Carolina, and seven other states, had to “pre-clear” new voting requirements. This involved persuading the federal government or a three-judge panel that the requirements would not be discriminatory in impact.  But in 2013, the Supreme Court struck down the pre-clearance process.

National: Inside Facebook’s Election ‘War Room’ | The New York Times

Sandwiched between Building 20 and Building 21 in the heart of Facebook’s campus, an approximately 25-foot-by-35-foot conference room is under construction. Thick cords of blue wiring hang from the ceiling, ready to be attached to window-size computer monitors on 16 desks. On one wall, a half-dozen televisions will be tuned to CNN, MSNBC, Fox News and other major networks. A small paper sign with orange lettering taped to the glass door describes what’s being built: “War Room.” Although it is not much to look at now, as of next week the space will be Facebook’s headquarters for safeguarding elections. More than 300 people across the company are working on the initiative, but the War Room will house a team of about 20 focused on rooting out disinformation, monitoring false news and deleting fake accounts that may be trying to influence voters before elections in the United States, Brazil and other countries.

Voting Blogs: CEIR voter registration database security report: Survey finds most states adopted best cybersecurity practices since ‘16 | electionlineWeekly

The Center for Election Innovation and Research (CEIR) has released a new report based on a survey of 26 states conducted between June and July of 2018 to assess the current state of security around voter registration databases (VRDBs). The survey results, released ahead of National Voter Registration Day, show that immense progress has been made in securing voter registration databases since 2016, though significant room for improvement remains for states to strengthen their defenses against hacking attempts. Voter registration databases have been a central focus of conversations around election security since the 2016 presidential election when several voter registration databases were scanned and at least one infiltrated by Russian operatives.

Arkansas: Voter ID law before the Arkansas Supreme Court | Arkansas Times

The Arkansas Supreme Court heard oral arguments today on the state’s appeal of a ruling invalidating the voter ID law passed in 2017. Judge Alice Gray enjoined the law as an unconstitutional addition of a restriction on voting, but the Supreme Court earlier stayed that order and the law was put in place in primary voting. Jeff Priebe, attorney for the plaintiff, Barry Haas, in a public interest lawsuit, argued that the 2017 law was an attempt to circumvent a similar law passed in 2014 that was struck down by the Arkansas Supreme Court. A change was made that allowed voters who didn’t have an ID to cast a provisional ballot and sign an affidavit and the vote is supposed to be counted unless other problems are found.

California: Democrat hit with DDoS attacks during failed primary bid: report | The Hill

The campaign website of a Democratic congressional candidate in California was taken down by cyberattacks several times during the primary election season, according to cybersecurity experts. Rolling Stone reported on Thursday that cybersecurity experts who reviewed forensic server data and emails concluded that the website for Bryan Caforio, who finished third in the June primary, was hit with distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks while he was campaigning. The attacks, which amount to artificially heavy website traffic that forces hosting companies to shut down or slow website services, were not advanced enough to access any data on the campaign site, but they succeeded in blocking access to four times before the primary, including during a crucial debate and in the week before the election.

California: State Launches New Effort To Fight Election Disinformation | Capitol Radio

California election officials are launching a new effort to fight the kind of disinformation campaigns that plagued the 2016 elections — an effort that comes with thorny legal and political questions. The state’s new Office of Election Cybersecurity will focus on social media efforts to discourage or confuse voters into not casting a ballot. During the 2016 election, in addition to hacking email accounts and attacking voting systems, Russian agents used social media also planted disinformation intended to drive down voter turnout.

Georgia: Election Officials to Appeal Paper Ballot Ruling to 11th Circuit | Courthouse News

Georgia election officials  are appealing a federal judge’s decision to allow voters to continue a challenge to the state’s practice of relying solely on electronic voting machines in its elections. Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp filed a notice of appeal Tuesday evening after U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg ruled the Coalition for Good Governance had validly stated a claim that the machines used in the state’s election are vulnerable to hacking. The group, representing voters across the state, had hoped Totenberg  would issue a preliminary injunction and order the state to use paper ballots during the November midterm election. Totenberg declined to do so due to the lack of time to get the new system in place before November 6.

Georgia: Federal Judge Blasts Georgia’s ‘Dated, Vulnerable’ Voting System | Nextgov

Georgia won’t be required to make a last-minute switch to paper ballots for the November midterm elections, but a federal judge still sent a strong message to election officials that she saw significant flaws with the state’s “dated, vulnerable” voting system. U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg on Monday denied a motion by a group of voters seeking to force Secretary of State Brian Kemp and county election offices to stop using direct recording electronic voting machines, or DREs, for anyone other than people with disabilities in 2018. DREs use reprogrammable, removable memory cards vulnerable to hackers and don’t produce an independent paper audit trail. In her order, Totenberg noted that during recent testimony she heard from both county and state officials that the logistics of moving to a paper ballot with early voting coming next month would create chaos for voters. But the judge also emphasized that she “advises the Defendants that further delay is not tolerable in their confronting of and tackling the challenges before the State’s election balloting system.”

Massachusetts: Hackers in Boston gamed out an election day nightmare – and won | Fifth Domain

The hackers leaned back in their chairs and scanned through options to disrupt election day as if they were reading from a menu of chaos. Fake bomb threats. Orchestrated traffic jams. A botnet of faux Twitter accounts to spread discord. In a simulated exercise put on by the Boston-based cybersecurity firm Cybereason Sept. 20, a team of seven hackers tried to outwit a group of current and former law enforcement officials from the Massachusetts area. In the end, the hackers did not need to be selective about their options. They decided to combine all of their ideas into a concoction of havoc to pick apart the simulated voting day.

North Carolina: Hurricane Florence could impact midterm elections in some North Carolina counties | The Daily Tar Heel

Even with Hurricane Florence over, North Carolina residents continue to feel its effects as many are still displaced or without power. These conditions not only impact the daily lives of residents but could also impact their ability to vote in the upcoming midterm elections.  Duke Energy released a statement on Sept. 19 that estimated 1.7 million customers lost power due to Hurricane Florence. Crews have restored power to 1.6 million customers, but that leaves 114,000 customers without power.  “Many of the remaining impacted customers are located in coastal and inland areas that experienced historic flooding, multiple road closures and significant structural damage,” the statement said.  Last week, Tideland EMC, which serves a portion of eastern North Carolina along the coast, reported that 77 percent of its customers were without power. Tideland has not yet released updated statistics. 

Wyoming: Mail-in ballot proposal for Wyoming clears major hurdle | Wyoming Tribune Eagle

In the future, Wyomingites could be filling out their ballots from the comfort of their own home. A proposed bill to allow counties to move to mail-in ballot elections cleared a major hurdle Wednesday, passing out of the Joint Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Interim Committee on an 11-2 vote. But whether or not it finds support in the full Legislature next session remains to be seen. The bill would give county clerks the option to switch over their elections to a mail-in ballot. Voters would receive a ballot at their residence and could drop it off or mail it back to the county clerk’s office, or drop it off at one of several secured ballot drop boxes across the county. The bill also mandates the county have one polling center open on the day of the election where voters could drop off a ballot or fill one out.

eSwatini: New name, same flaws in eSwatini election, say critics | AFP

Political parties cannot be involved, there are no campaign rallies and the king wields absolute power, choosing the prime minister and cabinet: a parliamentary election in eSwatini is a vote like no other. The country, landlocked between SA and Mozambique, suffers the highest HIV adult prevalence rate in the world at 27.2%. Opposition activists in the tiny Southern African country formerly known as Swaziland say Friday’s election is a mockery of democracy and reveals how its 1.3-million citizens have lived under a repressive regime. In addition to curbs on opposition parties, anti-government protests are all but banned. Undercurrents of dissent surfaced this week with trade union protests over low wages being broken up by riot police. At least 11 people were hurt on Tuesday, a trade union official told AFP.

Fiji: Roll will close same day Fiji election announced | Radio New Zealand

The Fiji Elections Office says the registration of voters will close on the day the writ of election is announced. The FBC reported more than 600,000 Fijians have registered for the 2018 General Election as of the first of August this year. The date the 2018 General Election will be held has still not yet been announced. The Elections office Communications Director, Edwin Nand said the writ could be announced at any time and it’s important for eligible Fijians to take the opportunity to register now.

Maldives: Voters fear fraud as high-stakes election looms | Al Jazeera

The usual din of fishmongers’ cries on the Maldivian capital’s waterfront was drowned out by loud boos on Tuesday when a truck carrying flag-waving activists campaigning to re-elect President Abdulla Yameen lumbered past them. It’s a sight that has become common in Male’s busy market, where a web of pink and yellow campaign banners hangs between every lamppost and from every fishing boat’s mast. Earlier this week, Yameen’s spokesman was booed out of the area by opposition supporters angry over corruption and human rights abuses in this popular Indian Ocean honeymoon destination. Yameen, 59, is standing for a second five-year term in polls on Sunday, promising “transformative economic development”, including jobs and housing for the Maldives’ large youth population.