National: Trump knocked by both parties as not doing securing US elections | Associated Press

As alarms blare about Russian interference in U.S. elections, the Trump administration is facing criticism that it has no clear national strategy to protect the country during the upcoming midterms and beyond. Both Republicans and Democrats have criticized the administration’s response as fragmented, without enough coordination across federal agencies. And with the midterms just three months away, critics are calling on President Donald Trump to take a stronger stand on an issue critical to American democracy. “There’s clearly not enough leadership from the top. This is a moment to move,” said Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen, head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. “I don’t think they are doing nearly enough.”

National: The DNC Enlists Kids in Its Fight Against Hackers | WIRED

Voting systems in the United States are so woefully hackable, even an 8-year-old could do it. At least, that’s the conceit of a competition cosponsored by the Democratic National Committee at next week’s Def Con hacker conference in Las Vegas. The contest will include children, ages 8 to 16, who will be tasked with penetrating replicas of the websites that secretaries of state across the country use to publish election results. They’ll vie for $2,500 in prize money, $500 of which will come from the DNC and be awarded to the child who comes up with the best defensive strategy for states around the country. The DNC’s chief technology officer, Raffi Krikorian, says he was inspired to team up with Def Con after scoping out an event at last year’s conference called Voting Village, where attendees—grown-ups this time—got to hack into various models of voting machines and find flaws. “We wanted to figure out how we could use this to our advantage,” Krikorian tells WIRED. “Let’s get those lessons back to secretaries of state.”

California: Prepare to Vote on Android Tablets | San Francisco Weekly

A potential new voting system may not guarantee San Franciscans night-of election results, but agonizing, eight-day waits for a new mayor are likely behind us. That scenario unfolded in June, mostly thanks to the sheer amount of mail-in ballots that streamed in days after the polls had closed. But this past week, voters and the San Francisco Department of Elections had the chance to engineer a smoother, less tedious process on several fronts. For future elections, Dominion Voting Systems has an alternative that will allow voters to select their choices on a huge Android tablet complete with ADA-friendly accessibility options, a language bar, a review page, and companion printer to track their choices on paper. To extend the ranked-choice voting confusion, voters can rank up to 10 candidates on the screen. “This system is much more versatile than the existing system,” says Larry Korb, a sales engineer for Dominion.

Colorado: Agreement reached over botched barcoding in Montrose County | Montrose Press

Montrose County will not be paying more than $23,000 in costs to the print vendor whose errors triggered a hand-count and delayed by a week primary election results, including those in a tight sheriff’s race. Print vendor Integrated Voting Systems, also known as Integrated Voting Solutions, made “numerous mistakes” in printing the ballots, as well as in stuffing envelopes and mailing them, which caused “significant and irreparable damage” to the primary election here, according to a settlement agreement the Montrose County Clerk and Recorder’s Office and IVS representatives inked on Tuesday. Under the agreement, the county is only paying about $3,400 in postage costs, which settles an entire bill that would have exceeded $26,000.

Illinois: Elections officials hear cybersecurity plan that doesn’t address aging election machines | MDJ Online

While the state elections board unveils details about its Cyber Navigator Program to help local election officials secure cyberspace, some county clerks are worried about the security of aging voting machines. The Illinois State Board of Elections held a public hearing Wednesday outlining its plan to offer up a central network for local elections officials for improved cybersecurity. The plan includes hiring 9 cyber navigators that will go around the state assessing vulnerabilities in the 108 different local election jurisdictions. While acknowledging some smaller jurisdictions can definitely use the help, Logan County Clerk Sally Turner said one of her chief concerns is voting machines. “It’s really getting old and if your county doesn’t have a lot of money, that makes it difficult to be able to go out and purchase election equipment and that’s something we’re all needing very quickly,” Turner said.

Kansas: Software glitch is confusing voters in election for governor | The Wichita Eagle

When you go to the polls to vote for governor between now and Tuesday, don’t be surprised if you don’t see every candidate that you’re expecting to see on your ballot. They’re all there, but you may have to look a little deeper than usual to find the candidate you want to vote for. Because of an unforeseen software glitch in Sedgwick County’s new voting machines, not all the candidates’ names appear on the first screen when the voting machine gets to the gubernatorial election. To see all the names, you have to touch “more” at the bottom of the screen, which opens another page with the rest of the candidates. So on the first screen page that comes up when you’re voting in the governor race, you might see, for example, Gov. Jeff Colyer’s name, but not his chief rival, Kris Kobach. Or you might see Kobach’s name but not Colyer’s. Or you might see both, or neither.

Michigan: Judge says GOP’s straight ticket voting ban discriminated against African Americans | The Detroit Free Press

A federal judge approved a permanent injunction Wednesday against the state eliminating straight-ticket voting in Michigan even though the Republican-controlled Legislature passed a bill in 2015 that would do exactly that.

When Michigan Republicans passed the bill eliminating straight ticket voting, they “intentionally discriminated against African-Americans in violation of the Equal Protection Clause,” U.S. District Judge Gershwin Drain wrote in his decision. “The Court finds that eliminating the Democratic Party’s success with straight-ticket voters — success especially driven by African-Americans residing in communities with high voting-age African-American populations — was a motivating consideration in the Michigan Legislature’s enactment of PA 268. The goal of ending the Democratic Party’s success with straight-ticket voters, therefore, was achieved at the expense of African-Americans’ access to the ballot.”

North Carolina: Worried about the security of your vote? New technology may help ease your mind | News & Observer

You’ve researched the candidates and made your decisions. You head to your polling place, fill out your ballot, and put it in the scanner. But as it gets sucked into the machine, what’s happening to it? If you use a touch-screen voting machine, or assistive technology, what happens when you submit your vote and it flies off into the ether? The latest generation of machines offer more assurance that your vote counts. In what is likely to be the largest overhaul of North Carolina’s voting technology in a decade, counties across the state are preparing to comply with a statewide requirement to phase out voting machines that don’t mark a physical paper ballot by Sept. 1, 2019. Lawmakers and activists say those devices, known as direct-recording electronic voting machines, do not produce a sufficient record. The requirement is one of the surviving provisions of North Carolina’s controversial 2013 voter ID law.

Ohio: Purged voters can cast ballots in U.S. House special election | The Columbus Dispatch

Ohioans who have been purged from state voting rolls since 2011 will be allowed to cast provisional ballots in Tuesday’s special U.S. House election between Republican Troy Balderson and Democrat Danny O’Connor. Secretary of State Jon Husted instructed county boards of elections on Tuesday to accept the ballots of those purged for failing to vote during a six-year span and failing to respond to notices asking them to verify their status. Their votes will be counted after the election once their purging from voting rolls and other information is confirmed. Husted’s office could not estimate how many purged voters could cast ballots on Tuesday. The directive was the result of a federal court order following mediation with plaintiffs and after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in their suit, according to Husted’s memo to county election officials. The plaintiffs reversed course after an earlier agreement and asked that those purged be allowed to vote on Aug. 7. The court agreed.

Congo: Electronic voting machines worry security experts | TNW

The technology company, Miru Systems Co., have growing concerns about the South Korean manufactured electronic voting machines in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s upcoming 2018 general elections. Apart from their vulnerability to hacking, there is a possibility that the QR codes used by the electronic voting machines could compromise voter and ballot secrecy. Since the first time that the DRC’s Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) proposed the use of electronic voting machines for the 2018 general elections, civil society organizations, and pro-democracy movements based in the DRC and around the world have been crying foul. Technical experts and security researchers identified significant similarities between the electronic voting technology currently proposed for implementation in Congo and models previously planned – and ultimately declined – for use in Argentina’s 2017 national elections.

India: After US, Indian elections may be the next target of Russia: Oxford Professor | Economic Times

After allegedly ‘meddling’ with the 2016 US Presidential Election, Russian hackers may soon make their way to the upcoming general elections in India, an Oxford University internet studies professor says. Philip N. Howard, a professor of Internet studies at the Oxford Internet institute, made the statement during a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee on foreign Influence on Social media platforms. Howard believes that media in countries like India and Brazil will be targeted to interfere in the election process. “I would say that the greater concern would be amongst the media institutions in our democratic allies. I believe that the Russians have moved from targeting us, in particular, to Brazil and India; other enormous democracies that will be running elections in the next few years,” Howard said. “The United States actually has the most professionalised media in the world. It’s learned certainly to evaluate their sources and no longer report tweets as is given,” Howard said.

Mali: Election heads to run-off between President Keita and rival Cisse | Reuters

Mali’s presidential election will go to a run-off poll after President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita failed to get enough votes to win a second term in office outright, according to preliminary figures provided by the government. Keita won 41.4 percent of the vote in the mostly desert West African country, while rival Soumaila Cisse won 17.8 percent, the Ministry of Territorial Administration said on Thursday, four days after an election marred by accusations of fraud and attacks by suspected militants that prevented thousands from voting. With neither candidate obtaining the 50 percent required to win outright, the two will meet in a runoff vote later this month. Turnout was just over 43 percent, in line with a historical average that is the lowest in West Africa.

Zimbabwe: Cyber crooks hack Zimbabwe’s official poll site | CAJ News

Cybercriminals have hacked into the website of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) in the latest crisis to batter elections held in the country earlier this week. A day after soldiers killed at least three people in post-election violence in the capital Harare, ZEC confirmed it had to take its website ( down after it was hacked into. “Our website was hacked and we had to take it down minutes after discovering it was compromised,” said Qhubani Moyo, the ZEC spokesperson. He announced the hacking to media in Harare on Thursday.

National: Senate Republicans block additional funding for election security | FCW

Senate Republicans successfully beat back another attempt by Democrats to extend hundreds of millions of dollars in grant funding to assist states and localities looking to upgrade the security of their election systems. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) introduced an amendment to “minibus” appropriations legislation that would have allocated $250 million in federal funding to replace outdated and insecure voting machines, provide security training for election workers, upgrade voter registration software and fund other state and local initiatives related to election security. Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), one of the original co-sponsors of the Secure Elections Act that initially proposed grant funding to states, took to the floor to oppose the amendment. Lankford said he was opposing the measure because Congress voted in favor of giving $380 million to states earlier this year.

National: As midterm elections approach, a growing concern that the nation is not protected from Russian interference | The Washington Post

Two years after Russia interfered in the American presidential campaign, the nation has done little to protect itself against a renewed effort to influence voters in the coming congressional midterm elections, according to lawmakers and independent analysts. They say that voting systems are more secure against hackers, thanks to action at the federal and state levels — and that the Russians have not targeted those systems to the degree they did in 2016. But Russian efforts to manipulate U.S. voters through misleading social media postings are likely to have grown more sophisticated and harder to detect, and there is not a sufficiently strong government strategy to combat information warfare against the United States, outside experts said. Despite Facebook’s revelation this week that it had closed down 32 phony pages and profiles that were part of a coordinated campaign, technology companies in general have struggled to curb the flow of disinformation and hacking and have received little guidance from the U.S. government on how to do so.

National: On the Ballot in Some States Ahead of 2020: The Right to Vote | Wall Street Journal

Voters will get the chance this fall to expand or limit access to the polls in a wave of ballot initiatives ahead of the 2020 presidential election. Seven states have ballot measures this year involving election rules, such as ID requirements and easier registration, the National Conference of State Legislatures said. Maine voters already approved a measure, and Michigan could join the fray if a campaign clears a signature hurdle. Together, that equals the number of similar ballot measures from 2014 and 2016 combined, according to NCSL. “This entire decade has been roiling with concerns on both sides—integrity and access—to voting rights,” said Wendy Underhill, director of elections and redistricting at NCSL.

National: Senate rejects additional election security spending even as experts warn of growing foreign threat | ABC

Even as experts on cybersecurity and foreign interference told lawmakers Wednesday that the threat from Russia and other states seeking to influence American democracy is getting worse, the Senate failed to approve $250 million for state election security in the coming fiscal year. The specialists were testifying about the threat specifically as it relates to social media, but they were arguing that the U.S. government needs to mount a more aggressive and comprehensive approach to counter threats from foreign governments’ efforts to undermine U.S. institutions including elections. “As we focus on the past, we are missing what is happening and what will happen again,” Laura Rosenberger, director of the Alliance for Securing Democracy and a fellow at the German Marshall Fund, told the Senate Intelligence Committee.

National: The Government Needs Better Data to Stop Election Meddling | Nextgov

Online platforms need to be more transparent with government to help fight increasingly sophisticated online misinformation campaigns led by Russia and other adversaries, social media experts and internet analysts told lawmakers on Wednesday. Government leaders must also make it clear to adversaries there will be consequences if they attempt to disrupt elections, they said. Nearly two years after officials first uncovered Russia’s attempts to meddle in the U.S. election, the conversation on Capitol Hill is shifting away from what happened in 2016 to how to stop similar campaigns in the years ahead. In their testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, witnesses said Russian attempts to influence American politics continue even today and the government has a responsibility to lessen the impact of information warfare on society. They said that role could include alerting the public when influence attempts are uncovered, deterring foreign leaders from engaging in such campaigns and identifying potential threats in new technologies like artificial intelligence before bad actors can exploit them. 

National: Campaigns Grapple With Cybersecurity as Russian Threat Looms | Roll Call

Amid increased warnings of Russian interference in the midterm elections — and evidence that hackers are targeting candidates — congressional campaigns are trying to balance cybersecurity with the demands of competitive contests. That’s especially difficult for small House campaigns. But experts warn that such campaigns, particularly in competitive races, are prime targets for hackers and foreign adversaries. Take Minnesota’s 8th District, one of 10 Toss-up House contests according to Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales, where two Democrats have noticed Russian interest in the open-seat race. Traffic originating from Russia started increasing on Joe Radinovich’s campaign website around the time the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party was conducting its endorsement process in the 8th District in northeastern Minnesota.

Editorials: Russia Attacks America’s Election System. Trump Shrugs. | The New York Times

With fewer than 100 days to go until the midterms, the evidence continues to pile up that America’s electoral system remains a hot target for hackers, most notably agents of the Russian government. Last Thursday, Senator Claire McCaskill, the Missouri Democrat up for re-election this year, confirmed that she was one of two or possibly three congressional candidates whose computer networks had been unsuccessfully targeted by the Russians last year. The phishing attack, which occurred last August, was thwarted by Microsoft, which subsequently alerted her to the attempt. “While this attack was not successful, it is outrageous that they think they can get away with this,” said Ms. McCaskill in a statement. Three days later, Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a New Hampshire Democrat, acknowledged that, in an unrelated episode, her office also had been a target of multiple spear-phishing attacks, the origins of which have yet to be officially determined. The effort bears similarities to Russia’s handiwork, but the matter is still under investigation. Ms. Shaheen said she had been told that this problem “is widespread, with political parties across the country, as well as with members of the Senate.” (Ms. Shaheen, a staunch critic of President Vladimir Putin of Russia, also received a phone call in November from someone impersonating a Latvian official and hoping to gain inside information on American sanctions against Russia. 

California: Incompatible file formats led Los Angeles County to drop 118,000 voters in California primary | StateScoop

Multiple factors contributed to Los Angeles County eliminating more than 118,000 registered voters from the rolls during the June 5 California primary election, according to a report published Wednesday. The document, prepared by IBM Security Services, explains that software incompatibilities and clashing file formats between the state’s official voter list and the county’s system led to the voters being dropped from the roster. At the time, county officials attributed the cut names to a printing error. The affected voters accounted for about 2.3 percent of the county’s registered voters, and were spread across about one-third of the sprawling county’s precincts. The most populous in the United States, the county spans from the city of Los Angeles to the edge of the Mojave Desert, and boasts more than 5.1 million registered voters, more than one-quarter of California’s statewide total. People who showed up to vote but were told their names were not on the rolls were still allowed to cast provisional ballots.

Kansas: Judge orders Kobach to pay more than $26,000 for contempt | Associated Press

A federal judge imposed on Wednesday more than $26,000 in sanctions against Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach as punishment for his “contemptuous behavior” during a voting rights case that challenged the state’s proof-of-citizenship registration law. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson found Kobach in contempt in April stemming from a 2016 preliminary injunction. The decision handed down Wednesday specified the amount of attorney fees and expenses awarded after considering arguments from the parties. Robinson ruled in June that Kansas cannot require documentary proof of U.S. citizenship to register to vote, finding such laws violate the constitutional right to vote. That decision struck down the Kansas proof-of-citizenship registration law and made permanent the earlier injunction that had temporarily blocked it.

Kansas: Kris Kobach’s Lucrative Trail of Courtroom Defeats | ProPublica & The Kansas City Star

Kris Kobach likes to tout his work for Valley Park, Missouri. He has boasted on cable TV about crafting and defending the town’s hardline anti-immigration ordinance. He discussed his “victory” there at length on his old radio show. He still lists it on his resume. But “victory” isn’t the word most Valley Park residents would use to describe the results of Kobach’s work. With his help, the town of 7,000 passed an ordinance in 2006 that punished employers for hiring illegal immigrants and landlords for renting to them. But after two years of litigation and nearly $300,000 in expenses, the ordinance was largely gutted. Now, it is illegal only to “knowingly” hire illegal immigrants there — something that was already illegal under federal law. The town’s attorney can’t recall a single case brought under the ordinance. “Ambulance chasing” is how Grant Young, a former mayor of Valley Park, describes Kobach’s role. Young characterized Kobach’s attitude as, “Let’s find a town that’s got some issues or pretends to have some issues, let’s drum up an immigration problem and maybe I can advance my political position, my political thinking and maybe make some money at the same time.”

Michigan: Federal judge blocks Michigan ban on ‘straight-ticket’ voting | Reuters

A federal judge on Wednesday ruled Michigan cannot ban “straight-ticket” voting, allowing voters to choose all a party’s candidates with just one bubble on a ballot, saying the law prohibiting the practice was racially discriminatory. The ruling permanently blocks what U.S. District Judge Gershwin Drain called a politically motivated move by the Republican-controlled state legislature in a state that backed President Donald Trump in 2016 after twice choosing Democratic former President Barack Obama. The ban did not affect the November 2016 election as a temporary order had blocked the state from enforcing it. Drain cited research finding African-American voters are more likely than voters of other races to cast a straight-ticket ballot and are more likely to vote Democratic than Republican.

North Carolina: Arrested, Jailed and Charged With a Felony. For Voting. | The New York Times

Keith Sellars and his daughters were driving home from dinner at a Mexican restaurant last December when he was pulled over for running a red light. The officer ran a background check and came back with bad news for Mr. Sellars. There was a warrant out for his arrest. As his girls cried in the back seat, Mr. Sellars was handcuffed and taken to jail. His crime: Illegal voting. “I didn’t know,” said Mr. Sellars, who spent the night in jail before his family paid his $2,500 bond. “I thought I was practicing my right.” Mr. Sellars, 44, is one of a dozen people in Alamance County in North Carolina who have been charged with voting illegally in the 2016 presidential election. All were on probation or parole for felony convictions, which in North Carolina and many other states disqualifies a person from voting. If convicted, they face up to two years in prison.

Cambodia: The trouble with turnout at Cambodia’s election | Asia Times

On the streets of Phnom Penh, everyone is asking the same question: did you or didn’t you vote? But the answer is obvious. Those who voted in Sunday’s problematic general election sport dark brown ink stains on their index fingers. Those with ‘clean fingers’, by contrast, appear to have backed exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy’s call for an election boycott. Cambodia’s July 29 elections were fought not along conventional party lines, but around the single issue of turnout. At least 25 countries have made use of semi-permanent election ink, ostensibly to curtail fraudulent voting. The ink is supposed to stop people from voting more than once. In Cambodia, election ink has assumed a new significance: its purpose was to maximize voter turnout, by putting pressure on citizens to participate in an election that many of them viewed as farcical.

Mali: Candidates in Mali poll to contest ‘irregular’ results | AFP

A majority of the contenders to become Mali’s next president said on Wednesday they will not accept election results “marred by irregularities” ahead of an official verdict expected on Friday. Major opposition figures, such as former finance minister Soumaila Cisse — seen as the president’s biggest threat in the poll, which was held Sunday — and businessman Aliou Diallo, signed the joint declaration. “We will not accept results marred by irregularities,” the group’s statement, read out by candidate Modibo Kone, said. “We do not want to delegitimise the entirety of the process but there needs to be a minimum of credibility,” Soumaila Cisse’s campaign director, Tiebile Drame, told AFP.

Nigeria: Vote-buying as the game changer in Nigeria’s democracy | The Guardian Nigeria

The game has changed. The days are gone where rampant and widespread ballot-box snatching, political thuggery, and falsification of figures at collation centres define election rigging in Nigeria.Today, vote-buying is the name of the game and just as an election observer and monitoring group, Yiaga Africa, has described, vote-buying is the new way of election rigging by politicians in the country. Projector Director of Yiaga Africa, Cynthia Mbamalu, said in Osogbo yesterday at a Media Round Table Discussion tagged ‘Watching The Vote’ ahead of the September 22 governorship election in Osun State.Mbamalu said vote-buying was becoming a threat to Nigerian electoral process, adding that all hands must be on deck to put an end to the menace. “Nowadays, the more money you give, the more votes you get and this is becoming a problem and a challenge to our electoral process.”

Pakistan: Presidential election could be delayed up to September | PTI

Electing a successor to Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain could be delayed up to September as the electoral college, which has to choose the next head of state, is yet to be constituted after the July 25 general elections, according to media reports. President Hussain’s five-year term is set to expire on September 9. According to the Constitution, the presidential election must be held at least a month prior to the expiry of the incumbent’s term, which in this case would be August 8, DawnNewsTV reported. With just over a month to go until the expiry of the President’s tenure, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) expects the next presidential election to face delays, it quoted a source from the poll body as saying.

United Kingdom: Voter ID: our first results suggest local election pilot was unnecessary and ineffective | The Conversation

The 2018 local elections in England were surrounded by a fierce debate over a pilot requiring voters to present ID at polling stations. The government had argued that a clampdown on security was needed, because it was concerned about ongoing electoral fraud in polling stations. It’s important to have neutral evidence to judge these claims. We think our findings from the largest ever survey on electoral integrity at UK polling stations can help to achieve this. Following up on a 2015 survey, we conducted a survey of the staff managing polling stations across England, issuing ballot papers and sealing up ballot boxes at the 2018 local elections. We asked if they had suspicions that electoral fraud was taking place and whether party agents were acting within electoral law. We also asked if voters were turned away. The survey was circulated in 42 local authorities that were not piloting voter ID and there were 2,274 responses.