Kansas: State’s most populous county fumbles 2nd major election | Associated Press

Kansas’ most populous county left the rest of the state waiting nearly 13 hours until Wednesday morning for complete primary election results that proved to be pivotal in a high profile and close Republican race for governor — the second consecutive major election fumble by the affluent Kansas City-area county. “I’m embarrassed for our county,” Johnson County election commissioner Ronnie Metsker told The Kansas City Star . “It’s embarrassing for our office, it’s embarrassing for me, for our team and for the vendor.” In an odd twist, one of the candidates in the tight GOP race for governor, Secretary of State Kris Kobach, is also the statewide official responsible for elections. Under Kansas law, the secretary of state appoints the top elections officials in the four most populous counties, including Metsker in Johnson County. Kobach quickly came to his colleague’s defense and said the delays were not Metsker’s fault.

Kansas: Kobach plans to recuse self from Kansas vote count process | The Kansas City Star

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said in a cable news interview Thursday night that he plans to recuse himself from the vote tally process in the face of pressure from Gov. Jeff Colyer and mounting confusion over vote totals. Kobach said that he would recuse himself in an interview with CNN hours after Colyer had sent a letter demanding that Kobach refrain from instructing county election officials on the counting of ballots in the primary race for governor on a day when the vote total narrowed to roughly 100 votes as multiple counties reported that vote totals were incorrect.

Kansas: Colyer campaign claims voters ‘turned away’ on same day hundreds of new votes found | The Kansas City Star

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said in a cable news interview Thursday night that he plans to recuse himself from the vote tally process in the face of pressure from Gov. Jeff Colyer and mounting confusion over vote totals. Kobach said that he would recuse himself in an interview with CNN hours after Colyer had sent a letter demanding that Kobach refrain from instructing county election officials on the counting of ballots in the primary race for governor on a day when the vote total narrowed to roughly 100 votes as multiple counties reported that vote totals were incorrect. “I’ll be happy to recuse myself. But as I say, it really doesn’t make any difference. My office doesn’t count the votes. The counties do,” Kobach said in an interview with host Chris Cuomo. Colyer spokesman Kendall Marr told The Star that the governor had not been notified by Kobach or his office that he intended to recuse himself. He said Coyler’s team found out about it through news reports.

Louisiana: New voting machines may be headed to Louisiana | KADN

The Office of State Procurement on behalf of Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin has issued an intent to award the RFP for Acquisition of New Voting Equipment to Dominion Voting Systems, Inc..  The State of Louisiana intends to enter into a contract with Dominion for the replacement of all early voting and Election Day voting machines. “We are very excited about new voting technology in our state,” said Secretary of State Ardoin. “Considering voting machines are purchased every 15-20 years, we anticipated this process would be highly scrutinized and possibly contentious.  We appreciate the expert advice of the Office of State Procurement which has worked with my office to ensure the process has been fair and equitable for all bidders and we look forward to negotiating a final agreement with Dominion in the near future.”

Louisiana: Voting vendor chosen amid bid-rigging complaint | Associated Press

Louisiana’s pick to replace thousands of decade-old voting machines is the company that was the subject of bid-rigging complaints involving the secretary of state’s office. The state’s procurement office sent letters Thursday announcing Colorado-based Dominion Voting Systems is the winning bidder based on “price and other evaluation factors.” Negotiations are set to begin for a contract now estimated to be worth up to $95 million. Louisiana slowed work to replace the machines and overhauled the team evaluating vendor proposals, after competitor Election Systems and Software raised allegations the secretary of state’s office manipulated the selection process to award the deal to Dominion.

Maryland: Senators seek election probe to look at Russian’s ties to state contractor | Baltimore Sun

Less than three months before early voting begins, Maryland’s U.S. senators have joined the chorus of elected officials warning that the November elections could be threatened by a Russian oligarch’s stake in a firm that manages some of the state’s most critical electoral systems. Maryland has already endured one major election snag this year. Some 80,000 voters were told just before the June 26 primary to cast provisional ballots because their change-of-address requests were flubbed by a faulty computer program. Then FBI agents revealed last month that a contractor that manages many of Maryland’s election systems has ties to Vladimir Potanin, an oligarch close to Russian President Vladimir Putin. State officials launched a barrage of probes. On Tuesday Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen added to the list of inquiries by asking that a U.S. Treasury Department committee determine whether Potanin’s investment in the state contractor, ByteGrid, poses a national security threat.

Massachusetts: Automatic Voter Registration In Massachusetts To Begin By 2020, Galvin Says | WBUR

Massachusetts on Thursday became the 14th state in the country to adopt an automatic voter registration system, according to Secretary of State William Galvin and advocates who backed the measure. Galvin announced that Gov. Charlie Baker signed into law a bill that would automatically register eligible voters when they interact with the Registry of Motor Vehicles and MassHealth, unless they opt out. Galvin said he was “excited to begin preparations today” and expected to have the necessary systems in place on Jan. 1, 2020, “just in time for the next Presidential Primaries.”

Ohio: Franklin County finds hundreds of uncounted votes in already too-close-to-call special election | The Hill

Ohio election officials on Wednesday found 588 previously uncounted votes in its hotly contested special election for the state’s 12th Congressional District. Officials found the votes in a Columbus suburb, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer, netting Democratic candidate Danny O’Connor 190 more votes and narrowing his race against Republican Troy Balderson to 1,564 votes. “The votes from a portion of one voting location had not been processed into the tabulation system,” the Franklin County Board of Elections said in a news release obtained by the paper. Balderson, who was backed by President Trump and Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) during his campaign, claimed a narrow victory on Tuesday night for the district which Trump won and which has been held by a Republican since 1983.

Ohio: This is why election ballots go missing | USA Today

The “missing ballots” in Ohio’s special election have caused a stir – but analysts said they really aren’t a mystery and often pop up in elections across the country. Under the rush of election nights, voting precinct officials nationwide often misplace ballots or send them to the wrong office. And those ballots are just as often discovered via audits or recounts, analysts said. “It’s not unusual,” said Fred Wertheimer, founder and president of Democracy 21, a watchdog organization based in Washington, D.C. “It’s one of the reasons people do recounts in close races.” Post-election audits also yield uncounted votes, as happened this week in the special election for Ohio’s 12th congressional district.

U.S. Territories: Presidential voting rights for veterans on Guam, territories sought | Pacific Daily News

Gov. Eddie Calvo seeks President Donald Trump’s support for veterans on Guam and other territories by granting them the right to vote for president. American citizens on Guam, the CNMI, Puerto Rico, American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands are not allowed to vote for the American president. The governor said it’s a “tragic irony” that so many from Guam laid down their lives and thousands more fought and bled on foreign shores in the service of America’s most cherished ideal of defending democracy, yet they cannot vote for their commander-in-chief, the American president. “American veterans residing in Guam and other U.S. territories have served tirelessly for generations now, advocating with force of arms to protect our rights. Whose voices are raised for their rights?” Calvo said in an Aug. 8 letter to Trump. Copies of the letter were also addressed to members of Trump’s administration and members of Congress.

Verified Voting in the News: Why security experts hate that “blockchain voting” will be used in the midterm elections | MIT Technology Review

Voting in West Virginia just got a lot more high-tech—and experts focused on election security aren’t happy about it. This fall, the state will become the first in the US to allow some voters to submit their federal general election ballots using a smartphone app, part of a pilot project primarily involving members of the military serving overseas. The decision seems to fly in the face of years of dire warnings about the risks of online voting issued by cybersecurity researchers and advocacy groups focused on election integrity. But even more surprising is how West Virginia officials say they plan to address those risks: by using a blockchain. The project has drawn harsh criticism from election security experts, who argue that as designed, the system does little to fix the problems inherent in online voting. We first heard of the West Virginia pilot in May, when the state tested a mobile app, developed by a startup called Voatz, during primary elections. The test was limited to overseas voters registered in two counties. Now, citing third-party audits of those results, officials plan to offer the option to overseas voters from the whole state. Their argument is that a more convenient and secure way to vote online will increase turnout—and that a blockchain, which can be used to create records that are extremely difficult to tamper with, can protect the process against meddling.

Iraq: Election Results Unchanged After Recount on Fraud Allegations | Wall Street Journal

Iraq’s top election body said Thursday a manual recount of votes from the parliamentary election in May showed almost no difference from the initial tally, clearing the way for political parties to form a government. Fewer than a dozen members of parliament out of 329 lost their seats in the recount, according to Iraq’s electoral commission. The ballots were recounted after widespread allegations of fraud in the election in which populist anti-U.S. cleric Moqtada al-Sadr won a surprise victory. Those allegations paralyzed Iraq’s politics and increased popular anger, and the recount result is unlikely to restore confidence in the democratic process.

Ivory Coast: Governing coalition in Ivory Coast buckles as election nears | AFP

An alliance between two parties that has governed Ivory Coast since 2010 broke down on Thursday, two months ahead of elections. The Ivory Coast Democratic Party (PDCI) announced it was “withdrawing” from an initiative by President Alassane Ouattara to create a joint party with his own organisation, the Rally of the Republicans (RDR). It added that it would contest municipal and regional elections in October “under its own banner”. The PDCI and RDR have been in an electoral alliance since 2005 — a partnership that brought Ouattara to power after elections in 2010 and enabled his re-election in 2015.

Japan: Government panel proposes allowing Japanese expats to vote online using My Number ID cards | The Japan Times

A government panel said Friday it would be feasible to introduce an online voting system for Japanese expatriates to participate in national elections. Technical hurdles concerning voter identification could be overcome with the use of My Number ID cards, according to a report compiled by the internal affairs ministry panel. The ministry plans to conduct an online voting test in fiscal 2019 and request funds for the trial under the government’s budget for the year, which runs from April next year, ministry officials said. It hopes to revise the public offices election law in fiscal 2020 at the earliest so that the internet voting system can be introduced for Japanese people living abroad, they said.

Mali: Sunday’s election runoff goes ahead despite fraud claims | The Guardian

Malians are preparing to vote in a runoff election that will go ahead on Sunday despite widespread allegations of fraud in the first round. The current president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, won 41% of the vote in the first round on 29 July, with Soumaila Cissé a distant second with 18%. The pool of candidates has now been reduced from 24 to two, and it is the first time an incumbent president of Mali has ever had to face a runoff. Around 250,000 people, 3% of the electorate, were unable to vote because of insecurity in central and northern Mali, and Cissé has accused Keita of stuffing ballot boxes there.

Zimbabwe: Opposition’s Democratic Hopes Dashed as Ruling Party Returns to Mugabe Mode After Disputed Election | The Intercept

Instead of jubilation, a silence fell upon Harare late last week. Final results in Zimbabwe’s contested general election had just been announced, purporting to hand a narrow 50.8 percent victory to former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, an ally of longtime ruler Robert Mugabe, who was recently deposed after decades in power. In claiming his win, Mnangagwa, who is in the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, embraced the results as free and fair. Nelson Chamisa, the 40-year-old opposition candidate, and his Movement for Democratic Change Alliance claimed the election was rigged in favor of Mnangagwa. A preliminary statement by the European Union Election Observation Mission to Zimbabwe painted the election campaign as peaceful, with “political freedoms” generally respected, but went on to accuse the state of the same anti-democratic tactics that have marred prior contests. Mnangagwa became the interim president after Mugabe’s presidency came to an end last November in a chaotic series of events that resulted in a military coup.

Georgia: Activists collect tales of voting problems in Georgia primary | McClatchy

It appeared, according to the Georgia Secretary of State’s website, that Habersham County’s Mud Creek precinct in northeastern Georgia had 276 registered voters ahead of the state’s primary elections in May. Some 670 ballots were cast, according to the Georgia secretary of state’s office, indicating a 243 percent turnout. But on Tuesday at 10 a.m., the number of registered voters on the secretary of state’s website was changed for Mud Creek to 3,704 registered voters, reflecting a more likely turnout of about 18 percent. The odd turnout figures last Friday were filed as part of a federal lawsuit against the state by election security activists that included a number of sworn statements and exhibits from activists and voters who experienced a series of bizarre and confusing issues at the state’s polling places. That confusion comes amid swelling public concern for the security of Georgia’s voting systems. Georgia is one of four states that uses voting machines statewide that produce no paper record for voters to verify, making them difficult to audit, experts say.

National: Michael McCaul presses Senate to pass critical bipartisan cyber and election security legislation | Washington Times

Warning of continuing threats to U.S. interests across cyberspace, House Homeland Security Chairman Rep. Michael McCaul on Wednesday again urged the Senate to pass legislation intended to rename and reorganize the Department of Homeland Security’s primary cyber protection wing. The proposal, which the House passed in December, would streamline DHS’s primary operation currently overseeing the defense of federal networks and U.S. critical infrastructure from cyber threats, known as the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD). The bill creates a stand-alone organization for that mission with a more logical name, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

National: Trump team isn’t doing enough to deter Russian cyberattacks, according to our panel of security experts | The Washington Post

The White House insists that it’s mounting a robust response to digital offensives against election systems and other critical infrastructure. We asked The Network, a panel of more than 100 cybersecurity leaders from government, academia and the private sector, to share their opinions in our ongoing, informal survey. (You can see the full list of experts here. Some were granted anonymity in exchange for their participation.) Our survey revealed broad doubts among experts about the country’s deterrence strategy, after President Trump chose not to back the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusions that Moscow directed the cyberattacks aimed at disrupting the 2016 presidential election at a July press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Editorials: Intentionally deceiving voters should be a crime | Sean Morales-Doyle & Sidni Frederick/The Hill

Democrats in the House and Senate recently introduced the Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act, a bill that would prohibit the spread of false election information that’s specifically meant to prevent voters from casting ballots. (Full disclosure: Our organization, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, helped draft earlier versions of this legislation.) The bills’ introduction came in a week that has seen an attempted hack of the emails of three 2018 Senate campaigns and revealed a trove of fake Facebook pages and accounts likely meant to stir chaos as we approach midterms – reminders that the integrity of our elections is increasingly fragile in the digital age.

California: A Fight Over Voter Rights in California | Wall Street Journal

Santa Monica, Calif., with a “well-being index” to gauge the happiness of its residents and a fleet of city buses powered by natural gas, often lives up to its reputation as a wealthy, liberal enclave on California’s coast. But this month, a trial in a Los Angeles courtroom has put the seaside city on the same side as a conservative legal activist who is challenging the state’s voting-rights law. The fight revolves around the city’s at-large election system for its seven City Council seats. Instead of winning office by capturing the majority in any particular district, council members are elected citywide.

Florida: Bill Nelson: The Russians have penetrated some Florida voter registration systems | Tampa Bay Times

Russian operatives have “penetrated” some of Florida’s voter registration systems ahead of the 2018 midterms, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said Wednesday, adding new urgency to concerns about hacking. bThe state, however, said it has received “zero information” supporting his claim. “They have already penetrated certain counties in the state and they now have free rein to move about,” Nelson told the Tampa Bay Times before a campaign event in Tampa. He said something similar a day earlier in Tallahassee but declined to elaborate. “That’s classified,” the Democrat said Tuesday. He is facing a re-election challenge in November from Gov. Rick Scott, whose administration said it has no knowledge of the allegations made by Nelson.

Georgia: State defends voting system despite 243-percent turnout in one precinct | Ars Technica

With worn-out clichés about the dead voting, Chicago used to be the poster child for voter fraud. But if any state is a poster child for terrible election practices, it is surely Georgia. Bold claims demand bold evidence, and unfortunately there’s plenty; on Monday, McClatchy reported a string of irregularities from the state’s primary election in May, including one precinct with a 243-percent turnout. McClatchy’s data comes from a federal lawsuit filed against the state. In addition to the problem in Habersham County’s Mud Creek precinct, where it appeared that 276 registered voters managed to cast 670 ballots, the piece describes numerous other issues with both voter registration and electronic voting machines. (In fact it was later corrected to show 3,704 registered voters in the precinct.)

Georgia: Could Georgia Have Paper Ballots By November? Look To Virginia | WABE

A federal judge wants to know what it would take to shift Georgia to a paper ballot voting system in the three months before the November election. A former Virginia election official says it’s possible. On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg ordered the Georgia secretary of state’s office, among others, to look into the “concrete realities” of moving to a paper ballot election in a time crunch. The move is in response to a lawsuit, filed in July by a group of election integrity activists, meant to stop Georgia from using electronic voting machines that have no paper backup. Liz Howard, a former deputy commissioner with Virginia’s Department of Elections, said that state pulled off very quick transitions across dozens of counties, twice. “We have hands on experience with ‘this is doable,’ how it’s doable, the partners that we worked with and working with local election officials while they’re making the transition,” Howard said.

Kansas: No law stops Kobach from overseeing recount in his own race | The Kansas City Star

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said Wednesday that he has no plans to recuse himself from a recount process in the race for governor because any counting of ballots would take place at the county level. “The recount thing is done on a county level, so the secretary of state does not actually participate directly in the recount,” Kobach said at a campaign event in Topeka after initial results showed him winning by fewer than 200 votes. “The secretary of state’s office merely serves as a coordinating entity overseeing it all but not actually counting the votes,” Kobach said, contending that his role puts him at arm’s length from the actual recount. No law requires Kobach to recuse himself, but legal and political experts said that he should do so to maintain trust in the election. Kobach, the state’s top election official, led Gov. Jeff Colyer in the Republican primary by a mere 191 votes Wednesday morning after each of the state’s 105 counties had posted election returns after technical difficulties in Johnson County delayed results on election night.

North Carolina: Judge voids part of North Carolina election law | Associated Press

A federal judge invalidated part of North Carolina elections law that allows one voter to challenge another’s residency, a provision that activist groups used to scrub thousands of names from rolls ahead of the 2016 elections. U.S. District Judge Loretta Biggs said in an order signed Wednesday that the residency challenges are pre-empted by the 1993 federal “motor voter” law aimed at expanding voting opportunities. The National Voter Registration Act “encourages the participation of qualified voters in federal elections by mandating certain procedures designed to reduce the risk that a voter’s registration might be erroneously canceled. Defendants’ conduct contravened these procedures,” Biggs wrote.

North Carolina: Roy Cooper sued election board. Instead of fighting, the board’s lawyer took his side | News & Observer

wo constitutional amendments planned for the fall ballot. Rather than fighting Cooper, the state lawyer representing the elections board has jumped in on Cooper’s side. The state Republican Party is calling out state Attorney General Josh Stein, a Democrat, for supporting the Democratic governor’s position on the lawsuit without getting election board members’ approval. “It is highly unusual for an attorney to make a decision of this magnitude without a formal request or vote from his client board,” the state GOP said in a statement. “It is illegal for any member of the board to take a public stance on a ballot question.” In an email, a spokeswoman for Stein said the office is confident it is properly representing the board. “Our office has consulted closely with the State Board about this case and will continue to do so,” spokeswoman Laura Brewer said in an email. “Attorney client privilege prevents me from sharing the substance of those conversations. We are confident our clients are aware of and support the action we are taking in this litigation.”

Oklahoma: With electronic voting under scrutiny, paper remains king in Oklahoma | Norman Transcript

From a national point of view, voting seems kind of scary at the moment. One story after another is surfacing about vulnerabilities in electronic voting systems. A quick internet search would likely bring up how it is possible to hack into some of them remotely, exposing Americans’ fundamental freedom to vote and leaving their political future up for grabs. But anyone who casts a ballot in Oklahoma can rest easy. Yes, it has those electronic machines that take ballots and count them digitally, but those are not the ones being talked about when it comes to hackers or vote manipulators.

Pennsylvania: Absentee-ballot problem: Votes come in late because of tight deadlines | Philadelphia Inquirer

Every vote counts. But the reality in Pennsylvania is that not every vote is counted. In fact, if past patterns hold, more than 2,000 absentee ballots cast by Pennsylvanians this November won’t be tallied — and the voters won’t know it. The problem is the deadlines, election officials say: Outdated election laws set timelines that are too compressed. Would-be voters who wait until the end — and of course, people do — have almost no chance of getting their votes counted if they use standard mail service. Just three days separate the deadlines for requesting a mailed absentee ballot and for returning it to county officials. “We’re in the 21st century and we’re relying on a 19th-century system,” said David Thornburgh, head of the Philadelphia-based good-government group Committee of 70. “It’s just absurd in 2018 to be basically back in the Pony Express era.”