Pakistan: Media faces threats, abductions ahead of vote | Associated Press

When Pakistan’s military spokesman held a press conference earlier this month on emerging threats, Matiullah Jan, a journalist who has written critically of the judiciary and the military, was surprised to see his own picture flash on the screen. The spokesman, Gen. Asif Ghafoor, said Jan and a handful of other journalists and bloggers were anti-state and anti-military. Those are serious allegations in Pakistan, where the military has ruled, directly or indirectly, for most of the country’s history, and where rights groups say it is waging an unprecedented campaign of intimidation ahead of next month’s elections. “He wasn’t specific,” Jan said of the press conference. “But he tried to paint everyone on the so-called slide prepared by intelligence reports with a broad brush as being anti-state and anti-army. 

Zimbabwe: Opposition fears crackdown after election rally bombing | The Guardian

Opposition leaders in Zimbabwe fear the bombing of a ruling party election rally on Saturday will serve as a pretext for a wide-ranging crackdown by the government or the military in the southern African state. The attack at the White City stadium in Bulawayo apparently targeted the president, Emmerson Mnangagwa. At least 49 people, including both of Zimbabwe’s vice presidents, were injured by the explosion that occurred close to the VIP podium immediately after Mnangagwa finished his speech. Mnangagwa later called for peace, love and unity in Zimbabwe and pledged that the attack would not derail what has been a largely peaceful election campaign so far.

Maryland: State says nearly 19,000 could have difficulty voting in Tuesday’s primary due to computer glitch | The Washington Post

Nearly 19,000 Maryland voters will have to file provisional ballots if they want to participate in Tuesday’s primary, after the state Motor Vehicle Administration failed to transmit updated voter information to the State Board of Elections, officials said Sunday. The MVA and Board of Elections attributed the error to a programming glitch, and said it affects about 18,700 individuals who updated their addresses through the MVA’s website or self-service kiosks between April 22, 2017, and June 5, 2018. Officials said a “computer programming error” prevented the transmission of updated addresses and party affiliations to the Board of Elections in cases where voters changed their address but did not buy a driver’s license, vehicle registration or title, or identification card.

National: Several States Purchasing Insecure Electronic Voting Systems | National Memo

For the first time in a dozen years, states are looking at replacing their aging voting machines and related computer systems. But a survey of the early legislative debates surrounding this prospect suggests that some states are not heeding advice from federal officials, academics and other experts saying that ink-marked paper-ballot systems are the wisest foundation for the most secure and verifiable elections. This apparent dichotomy comes as states and the federal government have made an unprecedented effort to ramp up cyber-security precautions and training before 2018’s fall midterms, and as the voting machine industry is offering products that offer striking new options to make vote-counting more transparent and trustable. The open question is whether legislators and election officials are looking to embrace newer technology and verification protocols, or whether they are drawn to more opaque systems that they have grown familiar with—and which are commercially available. As always is the case with 3,069 counties running America’s elections, there is a range of inclinations on voting modernization.

National: Silence on Russian election meddling frustrates lawmakers | Politico

Robert Mueller and the nation’s top intelligence official say Russia is trying to interfere in the midterm elections — but Republican and Democratic lawmakers say the Trump administration is keeping them in the dark about whether the U.S. is ready. A half-dozen senior House and Senate lawmakers who spoke to POLITICO say they’re hearing only an alarming silence from the administration about what Moscow’s trolls and hackers are up to, less than five months before an election that could undo the Republican lock on Congress and derail President Donald Trump’s agenda.

Alabama: Seven Ways Alabama Has Made It Harder to Vote | The New York Times

Five years after the Supreme Court invalidated the Voting Rights Act’s requirement that certain states get federal approval to change their election laws, there are few places where the results are clearer than in Alabama, where the lawsuit began. Alabama has enacted a slew of restrictive laws and policies, many of whichdisproportionately affect African-Americans, Latinos and other marginalized groups. In this, it stands out only in degree, not in kind: All over the country, state legislators are making it harder to vote. State officials say the voting measures are intended to prevent election fraud. Here is the landscape of voting rights five years after the lawsuit, Shelby County v. Holder, through the lens of the state that started it. Within 24 hours of the Supreme Court’s ruling, Alabama announced that in 2014, it would start requiring photo identification to vote under a law passed in 2011 but stymied by the Voting Rights Act. The number of states with similar laws has since ballooned.

Arkansas: Voting machine upgrades cause issues between county, state | El Dorado News Times

Citing too many unanswered questions, the Union County Quorum Court voted 8-2 Thursday to table a discussion about the possibility of receiving new voting machines from the Arkansas Secretary of State’s office. The issue began earlier this year, when the state began to offer assistance to counties to purchase new voting machines. But in Union County, that offer has been rescinded more than once, leaving local officials unsure of how to proceed. Officials also voiced concerns with replacing equipment before the November election. Last month, Union County Judge Mike Loftin received a letter from Kelly Boyd, chief deputy Secretary of State, offering the county new voting machines for elections, for which the state would pay 50 percent of the costs. The letter stated that the total cost for the new machines for Union County would be around $440,000, using Election System & Software (ES&S).

Hawaii: Closed voting sites and early absentee ballots raise concerns in Puna | Star Advertiser

Political candidates running for office in areas heavily affected by Kilauea’s ongoing volcanic eruption on Hawaii island are complaining that the state Office of Elections is confusing voters and unnecessarily shutting down walk-in voting locations on the day of primary elections. Both Pahoa Community Center and Pahoa High and Intermediate School will be closed to voting Aug. 11 with no alternative walk-in location available. One County Council candidate is also concerned that plans to send absentee ballots to affected residents weeks ahead of schedule to compensate for the closures will give incumbents an unfair advantage. “They are basically pre-empting the election,” said Frederic Wirick, who is running for the Hawaii County Council District 5 seat, representing western Puna, against incumbent Jennifer Ruggles.

Louisiana: Delay to choose company to replace Louisiana voting machines | Associated Press

Louisiana will take longer than expected to pick the company to replace the state’s decade-old voting machines. In May, the Secretary of State’s Office said a winner bidder was expected to be chosen this month. But the agency said Thursday that timeline has been pushed back. No new date has been set for a selection. Three companies have put in bids for the work: Dominion Voting Systems, Election Systems and Software and Hart InterCivic.

Maryland: Panel to hold hearing on voter registration error | Associated Press

A Maryland Senate panel will hold a hearing next month into a Motor Vehicle Administration computer error that has resulted in about 18,761 people not being properly registered to vote in this week’s primary, a state senator said Sunday. State transportation and elections officials say no eligible voters will be denied the right to vote, though affected voters need to verify their voter registration information using the state elections board website, so they can use provisional ballots on Tuesday. Sen. Joan Carter Conway said the Senate Education Health and Environmental Affairs Committee will hold the hearing “to hold (Gov. Larry Hogan’s) team accountable for this mess, and to ensure it will not occur again on the eve of the general election.”

North Carolina: Republicans want lawmakers, not governor, to decide who oversees elections | News & Observer

Republicans want legislative leaders to appoint all members of the state elections board, a power now held by the governor. State House GOP leaders on Friday afternoon introduced a proposal to change the North Carolina Constitution to create an eight-member State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement with all members chosen by the House speaker and the Senate leader. Voters would have to agree in November to change the constitution if the proposal wins approval in the House and Senate. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and Republican legislators have been fighting over the makeup of the board since Cooper’s election in November 2016. In the waning weeks of the administration of Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, the Republican-led General Assembly put forward their first proposal to change the makeup of the elections and ethics boards.

Wisconsin: State, U.S. Department of Justice reach agreement ensuring electronic absentee ballots | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The State of Wisconsin will update its process of sending absentee ballots to overseas voters after reaching a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice Friday. Wisconsin law differentiated between voters who were overseas temporarily and permanently, a distinction that decided how an individual received their absentee ballot. The agreement makes sure that regardless of that distinction, individuals will receive their absentee ballot electronically — either by email or fax. Originally, voters defined as being overseas temporarily were manually mailed a ballot. 

Indonesia: Security officers claim ghosts haunt election material warehouse | The Star

Security personnel assigned to guard election material in Boyolali, Central Java, claimed that interference from ghostly beings was making their jobs scary. “Every night, we hear sounds of furniture being moved as well as people crying and laughing in the warehouse,” Boyolali Police officer Second Brig. Wahyu Setiawan said on Sunday. The suspicious sounds, he added, also came from outside the warehouse, which was built on a plot of land that used to be a public cemetery, as stated by local residents.

Iraq: Judges limit Iraq vote recount in new twist | AFP

Judges appointed by Iraq’s top court said Sunday they would limit a manual recount of votes in a May parliamentary poll to districts where results were contested, in a new twist to the country’s electoral saga. The recount, demanded by the supreme court, “concerns only polling centres where candidates filed complaints to the High Electoral Commission, or in cases of official reports of suspected fraud in Iraq or abroad,” the judges’ spokesman, Laith Hamza, said in a statement. The court ordered a recount on June 21, in line with a decision adopted by parliament in response to allegations of irregularities.

Mexico: Court Disqualifies 15 Election Candidates Who Pretended to be Trans to Meet Gender Quota | teleSUR

Mexico’s electoral court has decided to disqualify 15 local government candidates, who were pretending to traditional Muxes in Oaxaca, after ruling their attempted to use gender fluid characters to qualify under a gender quota rule amounted to fraud. “In order to avoid a fraud against the principle of gender parity, the court has decided to annul 15 of the 17 candidacies to the council in several municipalities of Oaxaca,” the court announced through an official statement. The ruling was issued after Muxe, Mexico’s third gender, organizations in Oaxaca reported that 17 male candidates from the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), the National Action Party (PAN), Citizen Movement, New Alliance, and the Democratic Revolutionary parties were pretending to be Muxes to meet a gender quota.

Moldova: Moldovans Protest Nullification Of Chisinau’s Mayoral Election Results | RFE/RL

Thousands of people demonstrated in Moldova’s capital, Chisinau, on June 24 to protest the nullification of mayoral election results that had shown a victory for a pro-Western candidate. Protesters carried Moldovan and European Union flags while marching through the streets of Chisinau, chanting: “Thieves!” and “They stole my vote!” The demonstration was organized after a Moldovan appeals court on June 21 upheld a lower court ruling issued two days earlier that invalidated the results of Chisinau’s mayoral election, citing violations by both candidates of the country’s campaign laws.

Turkey: Erdogan’s Election Win Gives Him Vastly Expanded Powers in Turkey | The New York Times

Turkish voters gave President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a decisive victory in national elections on Sunday, lengthening his 15-year grip on power and granting him vastly expanded authority over the legislature and judiciary. The election was the first to be held since Turkish voters narrowly approved a referendum last year to give the president — once a largely ceremonial role — sweeping executive powers. Mr. Erdogan will also have a pliant Parliament, with his conservative party and its allies having won about 53 percent of the vote in legislative elections on Sunday. Mr. Erdogan has overseen a crackdown on lawyers, judges, civil servants and journalists under a state of emergency declared after a failed coup two years ago. His critics had portrayed Sunday’s election as their last chance to prevent Turkey from becoming an authoritarian state.

National: Voting machine vendor ES&S treated election officials to trips to Vegas, elsewhere | McClatchy Washington Bureau

The nation’s largest voting equipment vendor has for at least nine years coaxed state and local elections officials to serve on an “advisory board” that gathers twice annually for company-sponsored conferences, including one last year at a ritzy Las Vegas resort hotel. The arrangement could compromise the integrity of the officials’ decisions — or at the very least, the optics of those decisions — at a time when they are faced with efforts by Russia and perhaps other nations to disrupt the upcoming mid-term elections, ethics and elections experts said. As many as a dozen election officials attended the March 2, 2017 Las Vegas meeting, with a number of them accepting airfare, lodging, meals and, according to one participant, a ticket to a show on the Strip from their voting systems vendor, Nebraska-based Election Systems and Software (ES&S). Two other panel members said their state election boards paid for their trips. The unusual practice, which has not previously been reported, offers a glimpse of one way in which a voting equipment manufacturer has sought to cement relationships with government officials, some of whom play roles in the award of millions of dollars in contracts.

National: States need more money to secure the vote. Congress is unlikely to send it by November. | The Washington Post

Election officials from states spanning New England and the Midwest visited Capitol Hill yesterday with a clear message: Send us more money to help secure the vote. Yet lawmakers are acknowledging that states probably won’t get more federal funding for election security upgrades anytime soon — which does not bode well for states seeking to upgrade to their systems before an anticipated surge of cyberattacks surrounding the midterm elections. It also could hinder states trying to carefully plan longer-term improvements they hope to make for the next political cycle. The Secure Elections Act is the main bill senators are pushing to help states respond to the mounting threats. But at this point, senators “will not use this bill to send additional funding to states,” said a Republican Senate aide who spoke on the condition of anonymity so as not to disrupt deliberations about the bill. 

National: Senate election security bill picks up momentum after stalling | Politico

Things are looking up again for the Secure Elections Act (S. 2261), the legislation on its namesake subject that has the broadest support in the Senate. Lawmakers left it on the cutting room floor as a potential amendment to a defense policy bill earlier this week. But Senate Rules Chairman Roy Blunt said Wednesday at a hearing on election security that it’s “a bill we will take up at some point.” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, one of the chief sponsors of the bill and the top Democrat on the Rules panel, told MC that Blunt informed her it would come up sometime after another election security hearing tentatively scheduled for this month or next.

National: State elections officials stress the importance of paper trails | StateScoop

Having verifiable paper trails for votes has proven to be a useful tactic, officials from three states told senators Wednesday, but they said states still have a long way to go in securing elections. Secretaries of State Steve Simon of Minnesota, Jay Ashcroft of Missouri and Jim Condos of Vermont testified before the Senate Rules and Administration Committee about their security precautions going into this November’s midterm elections, and to lobby for more federal support for upgrading voting equipment and cybersecurity practices. States across the country have been scrambling to batten down how they conduct elections in the wake of intelligence officials’ reports that hackers linked to the Russian government attempted to penetrate the voting systems in 21 states during the 2016 presidential election. But states that are moving toward more paper trails of ballots and stronger security around voter files are going in the right direction, the secretaries of state said. “It’s very hard to hack paper,” Simon said.

National: Officials at Odds Over Real, Perceived Threats to State Voting Systems | Government Technology

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said Wednesday that the United States is in “a much better place” than it was in 2016 in defending against cyberattacks on election systems, but a hearing he convened on that threat devolved into fiery exchanges over voter fraud between Democratic senators and Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft. The Republican Ashcroft set off Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Tom Udall, D-N.M., and Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., when he declared that election fraud was “exponentially” a bigger threat than attempts to hack U.S. election infrastructures by Russians or any other bad actors.

Delaware: Same-day registration and early voting pass House | Delaware State News

The Delaware House of Representatives on Thursday approved two bills that would expand voting rights by allowing early voting and same-day registration. Both bills passed solely on Democratic support. They now go to the Senate. House Bill 400, which passed 22-18 with one absent, would allow an individual to register to vote on Election Day at a polling place. A person would be required to provide identification or another document displaying his or her name and address, such as a utility bill, paycheck, bank statement or government document. Approved by a 25-15 margin, with one member absent, House Bill 90 would let Delawareans cast ballots in elections for state, county and Wilmington offices “at least” 10 days before the actual date.

Florida: Court urged to reject state rights restoration process | Associated Press

With arguments at a federal appeals court little more than a month away, attorneys for nine felons filed a 72-page brief Thursday urging the judges to find that Florida’s system of restoring felons’ voting rights is unconstitutional. The brief asked the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold a ruling by U.S. District Judge Mark Walker that struck down the system. Arguments are scheduled July 25 at the appeals court in Atlanta. The restoration of felon rights has long been a controversial legal and political issue in Florida, and Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi changed the system after they took office in 2011 to effectively make restoration harder. Scott, Bondi, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and state Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis serve as the state’s clemency board and make decisions about restoration.

Kansas: Security Concerns Stall Kris Kobach’s Controversial Voter Tracking Program in Kansas | KMUW

A massive voter-tracking program run by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach — which purports to help states keep voter rolls accurate — has halted operations over concerns about its own accuracy and security. The Interstate Crosscheck system, which Kobach’s office promised would be working ahead of the 2018 elections, has been sidelined while the U.S. Department of Homeland Security conducts a security assessment following the unintended release of hundreds of voters’ private information. Each year, the Crosscheck program compares voter registration lists from more than two dozen states, searching for duplicate names. The stated goal is to prevent people from voting in more than one state and eliminate voter fraud — although being registered to vote in two states is not illegal. Crosscheck then sends a list of duplicate names to each participating state, the first step in a long process of voter list maintenance.

North Carolina: Thwarted before, GOP wants photo ID mandate | Associated Press

North Carolina legislative Republicans on Thursday advanced their goal of permanently requiring voters to show photo identification — a proposal previously thwarted this decade by veto and federal judges who declared a similar mandate racially discriminatory. Legislation to allow the state’s voters to decide whether to place a photo identification directive in their state’s constitution cleared a General Assembly committee on party lines. By taking the route of enshrining it the North Carolina Constitution, Republicans believe the idea would get permanent legal backing while putting an idea popular with their base on the November ballots in what’s expected to be a challenging political campaign for them. The bill’s next stop is the House floor in the final days of this year’s legislative session.

North Carolina: Voter ID constitutional amendment advances in House | News & Observer

A controversial change proposed for the state constitution gained momentum Thursday as Republican legislators demonstrated their continued commitment to requiring voters show photo identification at the polls. Voters in November would be asked if photo ID for in-person voting should be a constitutional requirement. Legislators would have the power to make the rules, which they could do any time after the election. As they voted to move the proposal to a vote of the full House, Republicans in a House committee knocked down two Democratic proposals, one of which was to wait until next year to write the photo ID rules. Democrats hope to win enough seats in the November election to eliminate Republicans’ supermajorities in next year’s session.

Pennsylvania: Top Republicans appeal gerrymandering case to U.S. Supreme Court | Philadelphia Inquirer

Pennsylvania’s top two Republican lawmakers filed an appeal Thursday with the U.S. Supreme Court challenging a ruling that the state’s congressional boundaries constituted a partisan gerrymander and ordered them redrawn. Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R., Jefferson) and House Speaker Mike Turzai (R., Allegheny), who twice were rebuffed by the court in seeking emergency requests to stop the redrawing of the maps pending appeal, now are asking the nation’s highest court to take up the case itself and rule on its merits. Their request comes as a deadline looms for passing legislation to change the way the state draws its election lines in time for the next re-mapping in 2021.

Congo: Voting machines raise worries in Congo ahead of elections | Associated Press

Congo’s government is moving forward with plans to use electronic voting machines in this year’s highly anticipated presidential election despite warnings from watchdog groups that transparency and credibility could suffer. The vast, mineral-rich nation is under pressure to ensure a fair election in December amid concerns that President Joseph Kabila, in office since 2001, will try to run again or hold on to power. He has remained after his mandate ended in late 2016 as the election has been delayed. While Kabila cannot legally stand for a third term, the opposition worries he will. Already the election delays have been met with deadly protests. As candidates face an August deadline to declare, the voting machines have become a focus of growing concern that the vote could be manipulated.

Iraq: Iraq set for election recount to salvage tainted result | Associated Press

Iraq’s Supreme Court on Thursday endorsed a manual recount of all ballots from last month’s national elections, but rejected the invalidation of ballots from abroad and from voters displaced by recent conflict. Authorities have been struggling to address allegations raised by underperforming parties that the May vote was marred by fraud. The court ruling concerned a law passed by parliament that mandated a full, manual recount of the vote, and ordered other measures that President Fuad Masum and the national elections commission described as political interference. Two-thirds of parliament’s current members lost their seats in the May polls, or did not stand for re-election. A warehouse storing ballots from eastern Baghdad was burned down days after the parliament filed the legislation. Outgoing parliament Speaker Salim al-Jabouri called it arson and said the fire was set to cover up fraud.