National: New cybersecurity funding won’t make U.S. election technology less vulnerable | Axios

The recent $380 million of federal funding to replace paperless voting machinery and improve cybersecurity is desperately needed, but it is unlikely to ensure the long-term cybersecurity of U.S. election technology. The big picture: At best, the one-time spending will provide a catalyst for election organizations to gain basic cybersecurity competence. At worst, though, the money will be spent on discretionary purchases (e.g., digital pollbooks or new PC hardware) that only appear helpful and that, without proper security-centric integration, may increase the systems’ exposure to attacks.

National: Trump’s lack of cyber leader may make U.S. vulnerable | Politico

The absence of senior cybersecurity leaders in President Donald Trump’s administration may be leaving the United States more vulnerable to digital warfare and less prepared for attacks on election systems, according to lawmakers and experts worried about White House brain drain under national security adviser John Bolton. Both Republicans and Democrats are expressing concern that the White House is rudderless on cybersecurity at a time when hostile nations’ hackers are moving aggressively, inspiring fears about disruptive attacks on local governments, power plants, hospitals and other critical systems. POLITICO spoke with nearly two dozen cyber experts, lawmakers and former officials from the White House, the intelligence community and the departments of Justice, Homeland Security, Defense and State about Bolton’s decisions to oust the White House’s homeland security adviser and eliminate its cyber coordinator position. The overwhelming consensus is that Bolton’s moves are a major step backward for the increasingly critical and still-evolving world of cyber policy.

National: States Want Voters to Start Young | Associated Press

Since his 2012 election to the Washington state legislature, Rep. Steve Bergquist had been trying to persuade his colleagues to support a bill allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote — and requiring schools to help get them on the rolls, a move the Democratic lawmaker was sure would improve voter turnout among young people when they turned 18. There was opposition and concern: Was it an unfair burden on schools? Did it open the registration and voting process up to fraud? And wasn’t it already pretty easy to register in Washington, which has a “motor voter” law, as well as registration by mail and online? So Bergquist used his experience as a former high school social studies teacher to his advantage. 

Editorials: Voter registration is useless. So let’s get rid of it. | Knut Heidar/The Washington Post

The automatic right to vote should be the essence of democracy. But it doesn’t exist in the United States — unless you remember to register. The problem is that about one in five U.S. citizens are eligible to vote but not registered. This makes turnout at elections in the United States much lower than in western Europe, shutting out significant voices in the democratic process. This democratic deficit deprives the less resourceful part of the population of its most central political right. It affects political campaigns as well as the election results. Candidates formulate policies and compete for office on the basis of policies targeting only registered voters. The unregistered are secondary citizens and excluded from the national “we.” But there is an easy way to ensure voting rights: automatic voter registration.

Arizona: State Settles Suit Over Handling of Voter Registration | Associated Press

Arizona officials announced Monday a settled lawsuit that says thousands of residents are being disenfranchised by the way the state handled voter registration applications that don’t provide proof of citizenship. The suit filed by the League of United Latin American Citizens and Arizona Students’ Association against Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan and Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes. The lawsuit claimed the state’s voter registration process was unduly burdensome, as people who use a state-produced application and fail to provide proof could not vote in both state and federal elections.

California: Election Officials Enlist Data Scientists in Election Monitoring Bid | Bloomberg

Southern California officials are turning to data scientists for help spotting suspicious trends as voters head to the polls in primaries on Tuesday and cyber experts warn that Russia will seek to meddle in this year’s midterm elections. As part of a pilot project, the Orange County Registrar of Voters is shipping some of its data to researchers at the California Institute of Technology through a secure pipeline. They’re developing analytic tools that could help election officials review voting data for irregularities. California is one of eight states holding primaries Tuesday and Orange County alone has nearly 1.5 million registered voters. The aim of the California project is to help local officials pinpoint any “anomalies” in their data, providing “metric-based evaluations” on the integrity of elections, according to Michael Alvarez, a Caltech political science professor. The Caltech team will post its data analysis on an online dashboard.

California: In a handful of California counties, polling places are giving way to a sweeping new election system | Los Angeles Times

The neighborhood polling place, a staple of American elections, has disappeared as election day arrives in five California counties — the first sites to transition to a sweeping new system dependent on absentee ballots and a limited number of all-purpose voting centers. It is a major change, far beyond the tinkering in years past. And when it spreads to California’s most populous cities and communities in 2020, the new system probably will lead to a rethinking of what it means to conduct an election. “Forget everything you know about the voting process and create an all-new one,” said Alice Jarboe, Sacramento County’s interim registrar of voters.

Florida: After two months, Florida’s election security money is approved in one day | Tampa Bay Times

Well, that was fast. It took Gov. Rick Scott’s administration two months to formally apply for $19.2 million in election security money. It took the feds one day to approve the request. The U.S. Election Assistance Commission on Monday released a letter it sent to Sen. Marco Rubio that said the EAC “has reviewed Florida’s disbursement request and approved the request in one working day. We expect funds will be in Florida’s account this week.” … The money will be divided among the state and all 67 counties to improve security procedures to help detect threats to voting systems, such as the attempted phishing emails in at least five counties in 2016 that a federal agency said was the work of Russian hackers.

Editorials: A ticking clock on Virginia redistricting | Richmond Times Dispatch

The Virginia Supreme Court’s decision upholding 11 challenged legislative districts shows just how high a bar opponents of gerrymandering need to clear. The anti-gerrymandering group OneVirginia2021 brought the case, arguing that the 11 districts violated the state’s constitutional requirement that districts must be compact. It brought in experts who testified that the districts failed to meet various statistical tests for compactness. For instance, Michael McDonald argued that reducing the compactness of an ideally compact district by more than 50 percent in order to meet other considerations not required by the Virginia Constitution meant that those latter considerations predominated over compactness — and any such predomination was unconstitutional.

Wyoming: State gets half of needed funds for voting equipment | Cody Enterprise

Wyoming is about halfway there. In an omnibus appropriations bill passed by the U.S. Congress this spring, legislators designated $380 million in elections security grants to the states, and Wyoming will be getting a $3 million chunk of those funds. The grants require a 5 percent match from states, working out to $150,000 from Wyoming. A formula breaking down distribution by county has yet to be hashed out, but will likely factor in population and individual county needs. The funds will be provided through the Help America Vote Act of 2002, which last disbursed payments for upgrades nationally in 2010. The last time Wyoming saw any of that money was in 2005, however, when the current generation of machines were bought for the 2006 elections.

Canada: Why electronic voting in the Ontario election is a mistake |

A seismic shift will occur in Ontario politics on June 7 regardless of which party wins the election: electronic vote-counting machines will be used across the province for the first time. Machines will scan voters’ paper ballots and calculate the totals at each polling station that is equipped with them. Ninety per cent of the ballots will be counted this way. The rest will be counted by hand, as not all polling stations will have machines. When the polls close, offsite computers will add up the votes. On June 1, CBC News reported that the Progressive Conservatives, “wrote to Elections Ontario this week to flag several issues, including concerns about protection from hacking and the certification of the vote-counting machines.” Elections Ontario’s chief administrative officer, Deborah Danis, was quoted as responding, “There is no possibility that the counts could not be fully corroborated. I would actually argue that the introduction of technology increases our accuracy.” Unfortunately, this response from Elections Ontario falls far short. Here’s why.

Colombia: Presidential candidates want to see evidence of voter fraud | Colombia Report

Both candidates in Colombia’s presidential election race have asked the country’s chief prosecutor to reveal alleged evidence of voter fraud. Prosecutor General Nestor Humberto Martinez said Thursday this year’s elections saw widespread election fraud, but said he would not reveal evidence until after a new president is elected. The results of legislative elections in March and the first presidential election round last week have become controversial after claims that both votes saw widespread fraud. Martinez said he would not reveal evidence of “sicking” levels of fraud until after the elections “so they don’t say I am intervening in politics.” Martinez’ claim contradicted the country’s electoral authorities that have categorically denied fraud claims.

Slovenia: Elections Tilt Another European Country to the Right | The New York Times

Voters in Slovenia gave victory to a populist party led by a firebrand former prime minister in parliamentary elections on Sunday that tilted another European country to the right. The Slovenian Democratic Party, led by the two-time former prime minister Janez Jansa, received nearly 25 percent of the vote, according to the country’s National Election Commission. “Those who cast their ballots for us have elected a party that will put Slovenia first,” Mr. Jansa told supporters at the party’s headquarters in Ljubljana after the result was announced.

Turkey: Electoral noose tightens in Turkey’s critical southeast | Al-Monitor

Pressure against Turkey’s largest pro-Kurdish bloc is nothing new. But with under three weeks left before the June 24 presidential and parliamentary polls, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) is being squeezed more tightly than ever. HDP officials charge that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is trying to prevent the HDP from winning the minimum 10% of the vote needed to take seats in the parliament so as to ensure its continued dominance of the legislative body. Under Turkey’s convoluted rules, the first runner-up in a given electoral district picks up a party’s seat if it fails to scale the national barrier and in the Kurdish-dominated southeast, that would likely be the AKP. An estimated 80 seats are at stake. 

Media Release: Toolkit Advises Advocates and Election Officials on How to Secure the Nation’s Voting Machines

A joint project from Verified Voting, the Brennan Center, Common Cause and the National Election Defense Coalition suggests ways states can use Congressional election security funds. Download the toolkit as a PDF. For additional media inquires, please contact A new toolkit designed for advocates and election officials offers suggestions for best practices for conducting…

National: Here’s the Email Russian Hackers Used to Try to Break Into State Voting Systems | The Intercept

Just days the 2016 presidential election, hackers identified by the National Security Agency as working for Russia attempted to breach American voting systems. Among their specific targets were the computers of state voting officials, which they had hoped to compromise with malware-laden emails, according to an intelligence report published previously by The Intercept. Now we know what those emails looked like. An image of the malicious email, provided to The Intercept in response to a public records request in North Carolina, reveals precisely how hackers, who the NSA believed were working for Russian military intelligence, impersonated a Florida-based e-voting vendor and attempted to trick its customers into opening malware-packed Microsoft Word files.

National: New website is Russian op designed to sway U.S. voters, experts say | McClatchy

A new Russian influence operation has surfaced that mirrors some of the activity of an internet firm that the FBI says was deeply involved in efforts to sway the 2016 U.S. elections, a cybersecurity firm says. A website called appeared on the internet May 17 and called on Americans to rally in front of the White House June 14 to celebrate President Donald Trump’s birthday, which is also Flag Day. FireEye, a Milpitas, Calif., cybersecurity company, said Thursday that USA Really is a Russian-operated website that carries content designed to foment racial division, harden feelings over immigration, gun control and police brutality, and undermine social cohesion. The website’s operators once worked out of the same office building in St. Petersburg, Russia, where the Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency had its headquarters, said Lee Foster, manager of information operations analysis for FireEye iSIGHT Intelligence.

National: FBI’s Aristedes Mahairas: These nations pose biggest cyber risk to US | Business Insider

An FBI agent has mapped out the nation states that pose the biggest cyber threat to the US. Business Insider spoke to Aristedes Mahairas, a special agent in charge of the New York FBI’s Special Operations/Cyber Division, about the cybersecurity landscape in America. He said the US is always alive to threats from cyber criminals, cyber terrorists, and renegade hacktivists, but nation states are at the “very top” of the threat list. Mahairas said there has been a “significant increase in state-sponsored computer intrusions” over the past 12 years as it has become a potent way of unsettling an adversary alongside traditional espionage.

Arkansas: State, counties working to upgrade election gear | Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

The secretary of state’s office believes that just over two-thirds of the state’s counties will have new voting equipment by the time of the November general election. In one of the latest developments, the office has signed contracts with 10 counties to provide new voting equipment to them with the counties and the state splitting the tab, the chief deputy in the secretary of state’s office said Friday. Chief Deputy Kelly Boyd said he expects similar contracts to be signed with 11 other counties soon, and on top of that, 10 other counties are working with the office to finalize voting equipment requirements to clear the way for signing contracts. Twenty-one of the state’s 75 counties used the new voting equipment provided by Nebraska’s Election Systems & Software during the May 22 primaries, he said.

Editorials: California’s open primaries are a cautionary tale about political reform | Dan Balz/The Washington Post

At a time of broken politics and polarization, the impulse to seek out reforms to the political process is understandable. California, which will hold important primary elections on Tuesday, offers a cautionary tale about how good intentions alone are not enough. Eight years ago, California voters approved a ballot initiative establishing a new open primary system. The new system called for primary contests in which all candidates from all parties would be listed on the same ballot. The top two finishers, regardless of party, would advance to the November election. Then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) hailed the initiative’s passage as a vehicle that would change the political complexion of the state legislature and the congressional delegation. He and other proponents claimed that it would lead to the nomination and ultimately the election of candidates who were more moderate — center-left and center-right, rather than far left and far right.

Colorado: State’s 1 million-plus unaffiliated voters can participate for the first time in a primary election | The Denver Post

Colorado’s county clerks are gearing up to send out a record number of primary election ballots this week as the state’s unaffiliated voters — the largest voting bloc — get their first-ever chance to vote in a primary contest. But with that new opportunity for the more than 1.1 million active voters not tied to a political party — thanks to the 2016 passage of Proposition 108 — comes some new processes. And if they’re not careful, unaffiliated voters’ newfound ability to vote in a primary might not count.

Georgia: Lawsuit seeks to stop electronic voting | Atlanta Journal Constitution

Before this November’s election, a federal judge will have to decide whether Georgia’s electronic voting machines are too hackable to be used any longer. A lawsuit pending in federal court is trying to force the state government to immediately abandon its 16-year-old touchscreen machines and instead rely on paper ballots. The plaintiffs, a group of election integrity activists and voters, say the courts need to step in to safeguard democracy in Georgia. Legislation to replace the state’s electronic voting machines failed to pass at the Georgia Capitol this year, and tech experts have repeatedly shown how malware could change election results. But Georgia election officials say the state’s digital voting system is safe and accurate. Secretary of State Brian Kemp recently recertified the machines after tests showed they correctly reported election results.

Editorials: The Russians are coming for our elections, and Florida is still not ready to fight back | Miami Herald

The Russians are ready for the midterm elections. Are we? The August primaries loom, with the general election in November soon after. But the state is getting a late start in protecting its voting system from tampering. Though county elections supervisors across the state have been persistent in their pleas for state help, too many state leaders, from lawmakers to the secretary of state, either dragged their feet in, or rejected outright, taking steps to assure Floridians that they can vote with confidence and that the integrity of the election process is paramount. To his credit, Gov. Rick Scott has stepped up, demanding that the state request the $19.2 million in federal funds available to harden the state’s voting system. Congress included $380 million in its 2018 budget bill for the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to distribute to the states. President Trump signed the budget bill in March. Scott rightly overruled Secretary of State Ken Detzner and his oblivious announcement last month that Florida would not seek those much-needed funds.

Maine: Voters to field-test ranked-choice voting in June primaries | Portland Press Herald

Maine voters will finally get their chance to try out the hotly debated ranked-choice voting system when they head to the polls to select party nominees for governor, Congress and the Legislature on June 12. While they’re in the voting booth, Mainers will also face Question 1 on their ballots, asking them if they want to keep the first-in-the-nation ranked-choice system in place by rejecting a bill the Legislature passed to repeal it. The road to ranked-choice voting has been a twisting one ever since 52 percent of voters approved the system at the ballot box in November 2016. A series of legal challenges by opponents has been steadily beaten back by ranked-choice advocates, who say the new system will temper the partisan divide and foster the election of candidates from the political center.

Maryland: Ervin gets party’s backing on ballot | The Baltimore Sun

Maryland Democratic gubernatorial candidate Valerie Ervin received a boost Thursday in her attempt to get her name onto the June primary ballot when the state Democratic Party publicly supported the effort. “The Democratic Party believes that Maryland law requires the Maryland Board of Elections to do everything in its power to list all eligible gubernatorial candidates and to conduct a smooth election process for all voters,” party Chairwoman Kathleen Matthews said in a statement Thursday. “Voters deserve nothing less.” And an attorney for Ervin and her running mate, Marisol Johnson, appeared before the Maryland State Board of Elections in Annapolis to press the campaign’s case for new ballots.

New Jersey: State should adopt paper-based voting machines, experts say |

It was a discomforting moment last week when a Princeton University computer science professor, in a series of PowerPoint slides, showed lawmakers how he had hacked the type of electronic voting machine most New Jersey counties use to conduct their elections. More jarring still, the professor, Andrew W. Appel, explained that if he manipulated a machine actually in use, election officials would be hard-pressed to detect it because the devices don’t leave a paper trail that can be checked against the electronic tally. “They’re a fatally flawed technology,” said Appel, who was previously involved in a lawsuit that sought to end the use of the machines. “Pretty much everyone knows this now.”

Virginia: Fairfax County registrar fired days before midterm primary | WTOP

Less than two weeks before Virginia’s midterm primaries, the electoral board in the state’s most populous jurisdiction has fired its general registrar. The Fairfax County Electoral Board formally fired Cameron Sasnett Friday evening. He had been appointed in October 2015 and had 13 months remaining in his statutory four-year term. “Enough things came to our attention and kind of came to a head to the point where we felt we needed to let him go, and you can imagine, especially less than two weeks from an election, this is not a good time to do something like this. But we felt like we needed to do this,” Electoral Board Chairman Steve Hunt said.

International: Election Systems Worldwide Targeted as Threats, FireEye Study Finds | CBR

Election systems across the world are vulnerable to attack by malicious cyber actors, cyber intelligence company FireEye warned in a new report released today. The report comes weeks after the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) warned that some areas of the British electoral system were also vulnerable to cyber attack, despite the country’s heavily paper-based ballot system. “There are central vote tabulating machines that may be connected to an Intranet or the public Internet. It may be possible for remote adversaries to attack those machines”, FireEye said. It admitted, however, that it has not observed attacks against elections infrastructure, and that the US’s decentralised and unstandardised voting system, “a nation-wide coordinated attack on voting machines would require high technical sophistication, lengthy planning, and extensive resources.”

Botswana: Voting machines imported from India cause furore in Botswana | The Economic Times

You may have thought that the EVM (Electronic Voting Machine) saga was behind us — not yet. Heated political debates have erupted in the southern African country of Botswana over using EVMs imported from India. The ruling party, Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), passed some amendments to the electoral laws which allowed the use of EVMs. The opposition party, Botswana Congress Party (BCP), has moved court against BDP claiming that the EVMs were imported to get a favourable result for BDP. The BDP has asked for a deposition from the Election Commission of India (ECI) even though the Botswana Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) agreed that the EVMs would speed up the electoral process.

Canada: Progressive Conservatives flag concerns about Ontario’s new voting machines | CBC

The Progressive Conservative party is raising concerns about new voting technology that will be used to cast and count ballots in Ontario’s provincial election, CBC News has learned. The June 7 vote will be the first general election in Ontario to use the electronic voting machines. The technology includes devices than scan voter cards and tabulate marked ballots. The provincial agency overseeing the vote worked frequently with all the major parties over the past three years to test and demonstrate the reliability and security of the new technology. However, since Doug Ford won the PC leadership in March, the party has contacted Elections Ontario multiple times with questions and concerns. The PC party lawyer, Arthur Hamilton, wrote to Elections Ontario this week to flag several issues, including concerns about protection from hacking and the certification of the vote-counting machines.