New Jersey: There’s Money for Upgrading Election Security but Little for Vital Paper Trail | NJ Spotlight

Despite expert opinion that, without paper ballots, New Jersey’s election system is far from secure, state allots negligible amount to remedy that weakness. New Jersey plans to spend $10.2 million to enhance election security over the next several years, but will use only part of it to conduct a small pilot project involving what some experts say is the most important change the state needs to make: moving to a system of paper ballots. The Center for American Progress has rated New Jersey’s election system among the least secure in the nation, in large part because there is no way to independently audit ballot results should a hacker meddle with the programming of one or more election machines. Pending legislation (A-3991) calls for the state to upgrade its voting machines to ones that have a paper trail and county clerks agree that change is needed. New Jersey is only taking the smallest step in that direction.

North Carolina: In Rare Moment, GOP Sides With Democrats To Fight Elections Subpoena | WFAE

The North Carolina Board of Elections 9-0 vote last week to fight a wide-ranging subpoena from the U.S. Justice Department was a rare moment of bipartisanship in the state, with Republicans saying the federal government overreached in an apparent effort to fight voter fraud. The board’s four Republicans voted with the four Democratic members and one unaffiliated member. The U.S. Justice Department and Immigration and Customs Enforcement have asked for more than 20 million election documents and ballots, from 2010. The subpoena asked for about 2.3 million absentee ballots from the last five years. Absentee ballots – which were mostly cast during early voting – are traceable to the voter. That means the federal government could have determined how people voted.

Oklahoma: Phasing in online voter registration | Norman Transcript

For the first time, many Oklahoma voters will now be able to update some of their basic voter registration information online. The first phase of online voter registration, which was operational Monday, allows Oklahomans to update their address or party affiliation online, said Paul Ziriax, election board secretary, in a statement. Voters, however, must be…

Pennsylvania: Paper’s back as government officials, advocates check out new voting machines | The Morning Call

For three hours Tuesday morning, sales representatives with Election Systems and Software made their pitch in the Lehigh County Government Center, fielding questions about security, services and usability of their latest generation of voting machines. The Omaha, Neb., company is an industry leader in the tools of democracy, making about 55 percent of the machines used in U.S. elections, according to Willie Wesley, an ES&S representative. As part of a demonstration, he fed a stack of ballots into the DS850, a machine that can scan and tabulate 350 paper ballots a minute. The paper whizzed through the chute before being sorted into separate stacks.

Rhode Island: Electronic poll books rolling out in Rhode Island | WLNE

A big change is in store for many Rhode Island voters Wednesday as they check in at polling locations. The board of elections gave ABC6 News a demo of the new electronic poll books which will be rolled out. Basically, instead of those old binders with your name and address you’ll just have to present your photo identification. The information is then scanned into an iPad where they verify you’re the right person and in the right place. If you’re not in the right place, the device can text you the address of where you’re supposed to be. Officials say this new technology has been shown to cut down on wait times and increase data accuracy. “You’re information is going to be brought up extremely quickly so that poll workers don’t have to flip through hundreds of pages to try and find your name. It’s going to show up within seconds,” said Rob Rock, Director of Elections with the Secretary of State’s Office.

Bahrain: Parliamentary elections to be held on Nov. 24 | Reuters

Bahrain said on Monday it would hold a parliamentary election on Nov. 24, the state news agency BNA reported, the second ballot since 2011 when mostly Shi’ite protesters took to the streets demanding more democracy. The 2018 elections come at a sensitive time for the Gulf state as the public finances have been hit hard by a slump in oil prices, with Bahrain’s dinar plunging to its lowest in more than decade.

Brazil: Jailed presidential favourite Lula bows out of election | Telegraph

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the jailed former Brazilian president, stepped aside on Tuesday to allow his running mate to stand for the presidency in next month’s election, as Leftist candidates’ strong showing in a poll pulled markets lower. The politician, nicknamed “Lula”, had been the frontrunner despite serving a prison term for corruption and had already been banned by the courts from contesting elections in South America’s biggest economy. The switch was approved at a meeting of the Workers Party in the southern city of Curitiba – where Mr da Silva has been held since April – as a court-ordered deadline loomed for him to name a stand-in. “The decision has been made,” a party official told AFP.

Iraq: Campaigning kicks off for Kurdistan Region parliament election | Rudaw

Campaigning kicked off just after midnight on Tuesday in the Kurdistan Region parliament election campaign slated for September 30. Over 700 candidates are vying for spots in the 111-seat chamber where 11 seats are reserved for Turkmen and Christian minorities and 30 percent must be filled by women. The campaign had a hesitant start, delayed by a week amid reports that some parties wanted to postpone the vote that is already taking place 11 months late. Some candidates delayed creating campaign materials, fearing the process may be put off again. European allies told Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani they are “happy” the election is going ahead as scheduled.

Libya: Prime Minister says conditions for elections not yet ripe | Reuters

Conditions in Libya are too unstable to hold elections, Prime Minister Fayez Seraj was cited as saying on Wednesday, casting doubts on a French-led push for a vote in December which aims to end years of turmoil and unify the North African country. French President Emmanuel Macron hosted a conference in May where rival Libyan factions agreed to work with the United Nations for a national election by Dec. 10. Libya splintered following the 2011 NATO-backed revolt that toppled Muammar Gaddafi, and since 2014 has been divided between competing political and military groups based in Tripoli and the east. “You can not vote with instability in the streets … it is necessary that everyone accepts the result of the ballot. We need shared rules,” Seraj, who leads the U.N.-brokered transitional government based in Tripoli, said in an interview with Italian daily Corriere della Sera.

Sweden: Overseas votes could swing Sweden election result | EUObserver

Social Democrat prime minister Stefan Lofven pledged on Sunday evening to remain prime minister of Sweden, with the general elections giving his centre-left bloc 144 seats in the Swedish parliament, the Riksdag – one more mandate than the centre-right opposition alliance’s 143 seats. The result is however so tight, with just some 30,000 votes separating the two blocs, that it may take until Wednesday (12 September) when the last votes cast by Swedes abroad have been counted and the result finally checked before the final result is known. The Social Democrats remained the biggest party with 28.4 percent of the votes, according to figures released on Monday morning. It gives the party 101 seats in the parliament, a record low result. The party had 113 seats after the 2014 elections.

Zimbabwe: MDC’s Chamisa plans ‘inauguration’ despite election loss | AFP

Nelson Chamisa claimed he was born to be a leader of the country of Zimbabwe and the people gave him the mandate to lead them. Leader of the MDC-alliance Nelson Chamisa may have been unable to win either the election or a case at the country’s constitutional court that sought to show his rival’s victory to be illegitimate, but that isn’t stopping his followers from holding an “inauguration”. Zimbabwe’s main opposition party plans to hold the mock inauguration to name its Chamisa as the country’s president this weekend, highlighting its claims the July 30 election was rigged.

Georgia: Hearing set to consider switching Georgia to paper ballots | Atlanta Journal Constitution

A federal judge could rule Wednesday on a far-reaching request to switch Georgia from electronic to paper ballots just eight weeks before November’s election. Changing the state’s voting system on short notice would be a dramatic change, but concerned voters and election integrity groups say it would eliminate the possibility the state’s touchscreen machines, which lack a verifiable paper backup, could be hacked. They’ll be in court Wednesday to ask U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg for an injunction prohibiting election officials from using the state’s 27,000 direct-recording electronic voting units, or DREs. Instead, voters would use pens to fill in paper ballots by hand. Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, the defendant in the case, strongly opposes a quick move away from the voting system in place since 2002. He said electronic voting machines are secure and that a rushed transition to paper would result in a less trustworthy election system. But Donna Curling, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, said Georgia’s electronic voting machines are inherently unsafe. If voting machines were penetrated by hackers, malicious code could rig elections, she said.

National: What election security funding means for state and local CIOs | GCN

For years, cybersecurity was considered an issue for IT teams and was often not prioritized when creating and executing policy. However, recent events have demonstrated the many ways that cyberattacks can impact a country’s critical infrastructure, bringing essential operations to a halt and even endangering citizens. These attacks have come in the form of ransomware at schools and hospitals, data breaches at major financial institutions and large-scale distributed denial-of-service attacks that have knocked organizations of all types offline. As a result, politicians and government bodies have come to recognize the critical importance of cybersecurity in protecting national infrastructure. As digital transformation increases technology use across public infrastructure, the attack surface continues to grow. Government CIOs and IT teams are working to deploy security measures that enable transformation, rather than slow it down. For instance, Fortinet’s latest Global Threat Landscape Report found that government agencies use, on average, 255 different applications a day on their networks.

National: Better cooperation between states and U.S. can help safeguard midterm elections, officials say | St. Louis Post-Dispatch

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen during a visit to the St. Louis area on Monday pledged the government’s assistance to states battling threats to election security, calling interference with elections one of the “principal national security threats.” Nielsen was a guest speaker at a two-day seminar on election security that began Monday at the headquarters of World Wide Technology in West Port Plaza. The event, hosted by Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, was also attended by 10 other secretaries of state on Monday, and more were expected Tuesday. Nielsen has recently spoken about a growing need for cybersecurity in elections, reversing the course of an administration that has been criticized for not doing enough.

National: For Older Voters, Getting The Right ID Can Be Especially Tough | NPR

Nearly three dozen states require voters to show identification at the polls. And almost half of those states want photo IDs. But there are millions of eligible voters who don’t have them. A 2012 survey estimated that 7 percent of American adults lack a government-issued photo ID. While some organizations have sued to overturn these laws, a nonprofit organization called Spread The Vote has taken a different tack: It helps people without IDs get them. And people over 50 years of age have presented some of their biggest challenges. On a recent Tuesday morning in Austell, Ga., 53-year-old Pamela Moon tried to get a replacement for an ID she had lost. She worked with a Spread The Vote volunteer at the Sweetwater Mission. The group sends volunteers to the mission every other Tuesday, so that people who come for food and clothes can get help obtaining a Georgia ID at the same time.

National: Report: Blockchain tech is not ready to be used for voting | CryptoNewsReview

Blockchain technology is unsuitable for use in voting systems until they are verified as secure, a scientific report has warned. The study, from the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, concludes that internet-based voting systems are not ready for current use, although they “may seem promising” for use in the future. “Insecure internet voting is possible now, but the risks currently associated with internet voting are more significant than the benefits,” the report reads. “Secure internet voting will likely not be feasible in the near future.

National: State Supreme Courts Increasingly Face Partisan Impeachment Threats | Governing

Attacks on judicial independence are becoming more frequent and more partisan. The current effort to impeach the entire West Virginia Supreme Court, while not unprecedented, is taking place against a backdrop of political attacks against judges elsewhere. “There’s a kind of a war going on between the legislatures and the courts,” says Chris Bonneau, a political scientist at the University of Pittsburgh. “Absolutely, we’re seeing a new environment.” The West Virginia House last month voted to impeach all the sitting justices on the state Supreme Court. The state Senate is set to begin its impeachment trial Tuesday. There were legitimate reasons for legislators to go after justices, or at least some of them.

National: How can election groups get out the vote when just half of Americans say process is ‘fair and open’? | USA Today

Helen Butler carefully avoids mentioning Russian hacking or other threats to election systems when she tries to register voters in Georgia. She doesn’t want to scare off people already doubting their vote will count. “I’m concerned about anything that would dissuade voters from participating,” said Butler, executive director of the Georgia Coalition for the Peoples Agenda.  As midterms approach, Butler, election officials and others face the challenge of persuading  wary voters to go to the polls.  They’re right to be concerned. Only about half of American voters believe the nation’s elections are “fair and open,” according to a recent University of Virginia Center for Politics/Ipsos poll. And only 15 percent of those voters “strongly agree” with that.

Florida: Ballot measure looks to restore felon voting rights | Fox News

More than 1.5 million Florida residents are barred from voting in state elections for the rest of their lives, because of a tough law that permanently revokes voting rights for anyone convicted of a felony. But a measure on the November ballot could change that, allowing those who have served their time to cast votes as soon as the 2020 elections. The “Voting Restoration Amendment,” also called Amendment 4, was approved to be on the ballot back in January after gathering the requisite 766,200 signatures and would automatically restore voting rights to felons – murderers and sex offenders not included – who have done prison time, completed parole or probation and paid any restitution. Florida’s ballot measure is part of a broader move over the last few decades to restore voting rights to felons, but is the first to put it to voters to decide.

Indiana: Counties Urged To Switch To Voting Machines With Paper Trails Before November Elections | WBIW

Two-thirds of Indiana counties use electronic voting machines which do not leave a paper record. Democrats want to replace them before the November election. Computer researchers led by IU president Michael McRobbie urged states to insist on voting machines with paper trails by 2020, and preferably this year. State Democratic Chairman John Zody says Virginia replaced machines on short notice last year and says it’s important enough to be worth the $25 million dollar expense.

Kansas: State board rejects challenge to Kobach’s bid for governor | The Washington Post

An all-Republican state board on Monday rejected a liberal Kansas activist’s challenge to Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s listing as the GOP nominee for governor on the November ballot after he argued that hundreds of legal votes were not counted in the primary election. The State Objections Board concluded that Davis Hammet, of Topeka, could not show that Kobach’s narrow victory over Gov. Jeff Colyer in the GOP primary could be overturned by the issues Hammet raised. It also rejected Hammet’s argument that Kobach’s chief deputy should not have been involved in reviewing the challenge. Kobach defeated Colyer by 343 votes out of more than 317,000 cast. Colyer’s supporters initially raised some of the same questions Hammet did in his objection, but the governor conceded the race a week after the primary. “It is not merely that an objection has been made for one of the appropriate grounds. You also must present evidence that this election would be overturned,” said Assistant Secretary of State Eric Rucker, who presided over the board’s meeting.

New Jersey: Democrats’ bill pushes Murphy to move faster on new voting machines | NJ101.5

Legislation introduced by Statehouse Democrats setting a requirement for how much in federal election security funds must be used for new voting machines would put the minimum at nearly twice as much as Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration is planning. Sen. Shirley Turner, D-Mercer, said she has heard from constituents who want to ensure elections are protected from errors or manipulation. She is among the sponsors of a bill requiring New Jersey to use at least half of any federal election funds it gets for safer voting systems. Turner was surprised that the state plans to spend $2.5 million of the nearly $9.8 million in Help America Vote Act funds it will soon receive on voting machines, with nearly three-quarters of the funds directed to other priorities.

North Carolina: DMV also gets subpoena for voter documents | Associated Press

Federal investigators seeking a massive number of voting records from North Carolina election officials also want voter registration documents from the state Division of Motor Vehicles. A DMV spokesman confirmed Monday that the agency had received a subpoena recently from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Raleigh. Prosecutors want voter registration applications since 2010 that meet at least one of the several criteria, including applications from foreign-born applicants and from non-U.S. citizens “completed in a language other than English,” according to a copy of the subpoena. The state elections board is already fighting to block federal subpoenas sent to it and 44 county elections boards, calling them overly broad and unreasonable. The state board estimated those requests for ballots, poll books, absentee ballot requests, registration applications and other documents would cover more than 20 million records.

North Dakota: Appeals Court Hearing Arguments on Voter ID | Associated Press

North Dakota is asking a federal appeals court to overturn a ruling that found problems with how the state’s voter identification laws affect Native Americans. The state is arguing the case Monday in the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland in April agreed to expand the proof of identity Native Americans can use for North Dakota elections. The judge also ordered eliminating a requirement that those documents include residential street addresses, which sometimes aren’t assigned on American Indian reservations.

Virginia: Review finds elections agency had culture of ‘open support for one party over the other’ | Richmond Times-Dispatch

A legislative review of Virginia’s Department of Elections has found that the agency had an “environment of open support for one party over the other” under leadership appointed by then-Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat. Staff from the General Assembly’s Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission presented their findings Monday in a 75-page report that pointed to the perception of political bias and a faulty IT system as two key issues state lawmakers may want to address. Jamie Bitz, a chief legislative analyst for JLARC, said interviews with local voter registrars and state elections staffers showed there was “a perception of political bias that was reflected in decisions about certain policies and certain agency operations.”

Armenia: Armenia To Hold First Major Election Since Power Change | RFE/RL

Yerevan’s municipal election campaign formally kicked off on September 10, with 12 political parties and alliances taking part. The September 23 elections will be the first major election in Armenia since opposition lawmaker Nikol Pashinian became prime minister after leading a wave of antigovernment protests in May. Voters in the Armenian capital will elect the 65 members of the Council of Elders under a proportional representation system. The council will later elect a new mayor of Yerevan. Under Armenian election law, any political party or bloc winning more than 40 percent of the votes will have the top candidate on its list automatically elected mayor.

Congo: The U.S. is warning Congo that using electronic voting machines could backfire | The Washington Post

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has a warning for another country preparing for a presidential election: Use electronic voting machines at your own risk. At a U.N. Security Council meeting in New York late last month, Haley called on Congo to abandon its plan to use the machines for the first time in favor of paper ballots — what she called a “trusted, tested, transparent and easy-to-use voting method.” And earlier this year, she said: “These elections must be held by paper ballots so there is no question by the Congolese people about the results. The U.S. has no appetite to support an electronic voting system.” But the U.S. is still working to secure its own election infrastructure from the threat of foreign interference and cyberattacks — and though security experts and top federal officials here have also called on states to use machines with paper trails, it’s an uphill battle. 

Singapore: Electronic voter registration on the cards for next General Election | TODAYonline

The Elections Department (ELD) plans to introduce electronic voter registration at the next General Election (GE), with a tender to procure the necessary equipment set to be called later this year. This comes after the Government previously announced plans to pilot e-registration at a few constituencies during the Presidential Election last September. But the effort did not materialise as there was no contest. Responding to TODAY’s queries, an ELD spokesperson said on Tuesday (Sept 11): “If all goes according to plan, we intend to implement this across all polling stations at the next GE.”

Sweden: Sweden faces political deadlock as far right makes gains | AFP

Sweden headed for a hung parliament after an election on Sunday that saw support for the nationalist Sweden Democrats surge as one of Europe’s most liberal nations turned right amid fears over immigration. Far-right parties have made spectacular gains throughout Europe in recent years as anxieties grow over national identity and the effects of globalisation and immigration following armed conflict in the Middle East and North Africa. In Sweden, an influx of 163,000 asylum seekers in 2015 – the most in Europe in relation to the country’s population of 10 million – has polarised voters and fractured the long-standing political consensus.

National: This fall you may be voting with obsolete voting machines and ancient software | NBC

The state of Illinois has improved its cyber defenses since hackers broke into its voter database in 2016 — but the actual machines that will record votes in this fall’s midterms are another story. Most of the state’s voting machines need to be replaced, says Steve Sandvoss, executive director of the Illinois State Board of Elections. How many? “It depends on which counties you ask,” said Sandvoss, “but I would say 80, maybe 90 percent. That’s the figure I’m hearing.” Illinois is not alone. Despite compromises of election systems in seven states in 2016, NBC News has interviewed a wide variety of experts in the two years since that election who say a majority of both the nation’s voting machines and the PCs that tally the votes are just not reliable. Most of the nation’s voting machines, for example, are close to 15 years old.