California: Fate of Judge Persky, symbol within #MeToo movement, heads to voters | San Francisco Chronicle

No California judge has been recalled from office since 1932, when Los Angeles voters removed three Superior Court judges accused of taking kickbacks. None has been recalled because of an unpopular ruling since 1913, when San Franciscans ousted a judge who had set a low bail for a man charged with sexual assault. But history may not provide much shelter for Aaron Persky, a Santa Clara County Superior Court judge who faces a June 5 recall vote primarily because of a single decision: the six-month sentence he issued two years ago to former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner, convicted of attempted rape and two other felonies for sexually penetrating a drunk and unconscious woman outside a fraternity party in January 2015. Furor over the sentencing spread nationwide, fueled by a heart-wrenching courtroom statement from Turner’s victim and the widespread view that Persky, swayed by his own background as a former Stanford athlete, had let Turner off far too lightly.

Florida: Rick Scott, Cabinet defend felons’ rights restoration system in court | Tampa Bay Times

Gov. Rick Scott and Florida’s three elected Cabinet members Friday mounted a new legal defense of the state’s 150-year-old system for restoring the voting rights of convicted felons. In a filing with the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, the four Republican state officials said U.S. District Judge Mark Walker repeatedly “erred” and abused the court’s discretion when he struck down the system as unconstitutional in March. Walker had ordered the state to create a new clemency system for felons within 30 days, but on the night before the deadline, a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit stayed Walker’s order, which criticized the existing system for being arbitrary and for giving the governor too much power over every case.

Maryland: Gubernatorial candidate threatens legal action if new ballots not printed | WTOP

Maryland gubernatorial candidate Valerie Ervin is threatening legal action after state election officials announced they would not print new ballots reflecting her recent candidacy following the sudden death of her running mate. The state board of elections announced that it would not reprint ballots for the June 26 primary to reflect Ervin as a Democratic candidate for governor. She was previously running as lieutenant governor on the ticket with former gubernatorial candidate and Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, who died of a heart attack on May 10. Ervin’s campaign said in a news release Monday night that it had sent a letter to State Board of Elections Administrator Linda Lamone, threatening legal action if ballots are not reprinted, along with other suggestions on what election officials could do to better address the change in candidates.

New Jersey: Lawmakers Consider Switch To Paper Ballot System | WBGO

New Jersey lawmakers are considering whether the voting machines now used in the state should be replaced by a paper ballot system using electronic scanners. Princeton University computer science professor Andrew Appel says the voting machines are vulnerable to hacking. “So we should run our elections in a way that can detect and correct for computer hacking without having to put all our trust in computers. Therefore, we cannot use paperless touchscreen voting computers. They’re a fatally flawed technology.”

Ohio: Voting Equipment Money Inches Through Ohio Legislature | GovTech

A bill that would provide nearly $115 million to counties to help upgrade aging voting equipment, reimburse election boards for more recent machine purchases and set up a unified purchasing and leasing program through the Ohio Secretary of State passed a statehouse panel Wednesday. The measure approved by the House Finance Committee already passed the Ohio Senate. It is in limbo for when the full House will take up the issue. House members must first elect a new speaker for legislation to move forward. The Butler County Board of Elections has about 1,600 voting machines, but there are about 150 that are unusable, according to the elections office, and on average 50 voting machines need repairs after each election.

U.S. Territories: Appeal in voting rights case gets boost | Saipan Tribune

A petition to the U.S. Supreme Court seeking expanded voting rights in U.S. territories has received an important boost. Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands Bar Association, and leading voting rights scholars have each filed amicus briefs in support of Supreme Court review in Segovia v. United States. Last month, Luis Segovia, a veteran living in Guam, along with other former state residents living in Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, petitioned the Supreme Court to answer whether it is constitutional to deny absentee voting rights in these territories while allowing citizens living in other U.S. territories or even a foreign country to continue being able to vote for President and voting representation in Congress.

West Virginia: Dark money tactics used in West Virginia’s primary could spread as midterm season heats up | CNN

A pair of mysterious pop-up super PACs, one with Republican roots and another tied to Democrats, spent more than $3 million in hopes of swaying West Virginia’s GOP Senate primary while keeping their donor lists hidden from voters until after the election. The groups arrived on the scene with blurry names, like “Mountain Families PAC,” but blunt intentions: to quietly use truckloads of outside money to feather their political beds ahead of the November general election. By the time their donors were revealed a few days ago, the primary felt like a distant memory. To do this, the PACs used legal tactics that were nonetheless designed to defy the spirit of current campaign finance law, campaign finance experts say.

Colombia: Rightwinger and former guerrilla head for presidential runoff | The Guardian

Colombians have failed to elect a president outright, setting the stage for a bitter runoff between two frontrunners from opposite ends of the political spectrum, while a peace process with leftist rebels hangs in the balance. Iván Duque, a hardline conservative who viscerally opposes the peace accord, took the largest share of the vote on Sunday with 39%, though fell short of the 50% required to win at the first round. Instead, he will face Gustavo Petro – a leftwinger and former mayor of Bogotá, who came second with 25% – in the second round on 17 June. Petro, himself once a guerrilla, was Colombia’s first progressive candidate in generations and had been expected to gain a larger share. But a third candidate, the more moderate Sergio Fajardo, appeared to siphon off Petro’s support, receiving 23%. It remains to be seen if Fajardo, a reformer and former mayor of Medellín, will back Petro in the second round.

India: Massive EVM Failure Affects Voting in Kairana, Leaders Demand Repolls | NewsClick

As Kairana Lok Sabha Constituency went to bypolls on Monday, the malfunctioning of the EVMs and VVPAT emerged to be the biggest story from the polling ground. The extent of EVMs malfunctioning grew severe as the day progressed. More than 200 EVMs and VVPATs from the polling booths of all the five assembly segments of the Lok Sabha were reportedly malfunctioning, which led to the Samajwadi Party (SP) and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) to raise allegations of “scientific rigging” in the byelection. Interestingly, even the BJP leadership raised the issue of EVM malfunctioning and urged the EC to conduct repolls at some booths. The RLD’s candidate in Kairana Tabassum Hasan, who got the support of Opposition parties, wrote to the chief election commissioner complaining about malfunctioning EVM and VVPATs in her constituency. She alleged that despite raising the issue at the state and national level, the local administration was not dealing with the issue. The voters were being deprived of their right and hence the Election Commission must urgently send engineers and technicians to repair the machines, she wrote. 

Iraq: MPs demand partial recount of election results | The National

The Iraqi parliament has urged an investigation into allegations of vote fraud in this month’s general election, passing a resolution seeking a partial recount. The non-binding resolution seeks to cancel ballots cast from overseas and within displacement camps inside the country and would require 10 per cent of all votes to be manually recounted. If cheating were discovered it could lead to a recount of all ballots nationwide. The move by MPs follows protests over alleged vote rigging on May 12. The proposed recount would be compared to electronic tallies, to address concerns that electronic voting machines had been hacked. “In case of discovery of fraud, then a recount would be carried out for all votes across the country,” Abdel Malik Al Husseini, spokesman for the speaker of parliament, told The National.

Italy: New elections loom in Italy amid calls for Mattarella to be impeached | The Guardian

A standoff over Italy’s future in the eurozone has forced the resignation of the populist prime minister-in-waiting, Giuseppe Conte, after the country’s president refused to accept Conte’s controversial choice for finance minister. Sergio Mattarella, the Italian president who was installed by a previous pro-EU government, refused to accept the nomination for finance minister of Paolo Savona, an 81-year-old former industry minister who has called Italy’s entry into the euro a “historic mistake”.  “I have given up my mandate to form the government of change,” Conte told reporters after leaving failed talks with Mattarella. Italy has been without a government since elections on 4 March ended in a hung parliament.

Paraguay: President leaves post early to take seat in Senate | Associated Press

Horacio Cartes resigned from the presidency of Paraguay on Monday — a long-expected step that paves the way for him to take a Senate seat. The recently approved Vice President Alicia Pucheta will take over as leader. The Senate now must vote on whether to accept the resignation, but approval seems likely. Cartes’ five-year term ends in August and Paraguay’s constitution says former presidents automatically become senators for life, with a voice but without a vote. But Cartes, 61, won a full Senate seat during last month’s elections, a post that would help him extend his political influence into the future, and the Supreme Court ruled that it was constitutional. He has to resign before his term ends so that he can be sworn in as senator for the coming sessions.

Venezuela: EU wants new Venezuela election, prepares more sanctions | Associated Press

European leaders on Monday called for a new presidential election in Venezuela, saying they will “swiftly” levy a new round of sanctions targeting those close to President Nicolas Maduro. Despite widespread calls for a return to democratic rule, Venezuela’s election showed the country was further straying from constitutional order, the European Union’s foreign ministers said. The threat from the EU’s foreign ministers drew backlash from Maduro, who said that and any more sanctions will only further hurt Venezuelans. “This is the European Union that arrogantly wants to put its nose in Venezuela’s business,” Maduro said. “Enough of this old colonialism.”

National: Election officials need more than just paper-based ballots to secure votes | StateScoop

Many experts on election security say the key to more secure ballots is to move away from electronic voting machines toward models that produce paper records of votes. But it takes more than just that, a former federal cybersecurity strategist said Wednesday at a conference for city and county officials. Mike Garcia, now a consultant with the Center for Internet Security, told the group of about 40 that attempts to undermine the U.S. electoral process are going to target more than just ballot boxes. “Voting machines aren’t the only place you can undermine the election process,” Garcia said at the Public Technology Institute event in Washington. “Adversaries are going to find weaknesses anywhere.”

National: Federal Election Commission Can’t Decide If Russian Interference Violated Law | NPR

As tech companies and government agencies prepare to defend against possible Russian interference in the midterm elections, the Federal Election Commission has a different response: too soon. The four commissioners on Thursday deadlocked, again, on proposals to consider new rules, for example, for foreign-influenced U.S. corporations and for politically active entities that don’t disclose their donors. “We have reason to think there are foreign actors who are looking for every single avenue to try and influence our elections,” said Commissioner Ellen Weintraub, a Democrat who offered two proposals for new regulations. Both proposals failed on partisan 2-2 votes.

National: The FBI is trying to thwart a massive Russia-linked hacking campaign | The Washington Post

U.S. law enforcement is trying to seize control of a network of hundreds of thousands of wireless routers and other devices infected by malicious software and under the control of a Russian hacking group that typically targets government, military and security organizations. In a statement issued late Wednesday, the Justice Department said the FBI had received a court order to seize a domain at the core of the massive botnet, which would allow the government to protect victims by redirecting the malware to an FBI-controlled server. The DOJ attributed the hacking campaign to the group known as Sofacy, also known as Fancy Bear. While the statement did not explicitly name Russia, Fancy Bear is the Russian military-linked group that breached the Democratic National Committee in the presidential election.

Editorials: Russia will try again this fall. Congress doesn’t seem to care. | Karen Tumulty/The Washington Post

When top intelligence officials went to Capitol Hill one morning this week to give House members a classified briefing on the security of the upcoming elections, only 40 or so bothered to show up. In other words, 9 out of 10 lawmakers thought they had better things to do than listen to an assessment of threats to the integrity of a closely contested midterm that is less than six months away. “Well, it was at 8 o’clock,” Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Tex.) said.

Florida: Is Florida’s elections system safe from a cyber-attack? | Tampa Bay Times

The people who run Florida’s elections used to fret about having enough poll workers and voting machines. Now they talk about incident response teams and threat detectors. They buy expensive sensors that can detect malicious intruders bent on creating havoc. They field sales pitches from election vendors selling cyber-insurance. It may be a matter of time before elections workers have to pass a Level 2 criminal background check — just to be on the safe side. Absentee ballots are important, but so are “hacktivists,” computer hackers on a social or political mission. “A cyber attack is like a hurricane,” said Klint Walker, a U.S. Department of Homeland Security cyber expert. “It’s always brewing out there.”

Florida: Sixteen states apply for election security money. Florida? Not yet. | Tampa Bay Times

Sixteen states have formally applied for federal money to improve their election security in advance of the 2018 vote. Florida is not yet one of them. The state’s chief elections officer, Secretary of State Ken Detzner, says: “We’ve been working on it daily.” The state hasn’t specifically said why up until this week it hasn’t sought the money. Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday ordered Detzner to seek Florida’s $19 million share of a $380 million fund, part of a spending bill that President Donald J. Trump signed in March. Scott also directed Detzner to hire five cyber-security experts.

Michigan: Redistricting group has signatures, still fighting to make ballot | The Detroit News

A group trying change the way Michigan draws political boundaries rallied Thursday at the Capitol and urged state officials to put the proposal on the November ballot despite a legal challenge. The Michigan Bureau of Elections said Tuesday that Voters Not Politicians turned in an estimated 394,092 signatures, more than the 315,654 required, for a ballot initiative to create an independent redistricting commission that would redo congressional and legislative maps every ten years instead of lawmakers. The Board of State Canvassers was set to consider certification Thursday but on Wednesday cancelled the meeting, citing ongoing litigation. Organizers and volunteers came to the Capitol anyway.

New Hampshire: Bill on power to delay town elections fails; secretary of state candidates react | Concord Monitor

Keep your fingers crossed for good weather next March – the New Hampshire Legislature has failed to resolve the issue of who has the authority to postpone local elections. Though state law requires towns to hold annual elections the second Tuesday in March, nearly 80 communities rescheduled their 2017 elections when a storm dumped more than a foot of snow across much of the state. That sparked widespread confusion about who has the authority to reschedule elections. But before lawmakers could agree, another storm hit this year. The Senate later passed a bill, Senate Bill 438, to give the secretary of state the final say, while the House gave authority to town moderators. A committee of conference recommended a slightly modified version of the Senate bill, but the House rejected it Wednesday.

New Jersey: Poor Security of New Jersey Election System and Russian Hackers Prompt Move to Revamp | NJ Spotlight

Voting in New Jersey would go retro, using paper, pens and scanning machines, under legislation designed to increase the security of the ballot in the state. Not everyone who testified at the Assembly’s first hearing Wednesday on a new bill (A3991), called the New Jersey Elections Security Act could agree on what voting machines would be best. But all did agree that the state needs new voting machines with a paper trail to allow audits of election results to ensure their accuracy. “We must have an assurance that our votes are accurate and legitimate,” said Assemblyman Vincent Mazzeo (D-Atlantic), both chair of the committee and co-sponsor of the bill. “Where is our democracy without our votes being valid?”

Wisconsin: Elections Commission Outlines Security Spending Plan | Associated Press

Wisconsin Elections Commission staff plan to hire a half-dozen new employees and upgrade software to bolster election security. The commission received a $7 million federal grant in March to upgrade security after Russian actors tried to access a state Department of Workforce Development system before the 2016 election. Staff told the commission Thursday that the Department of Administration has approved hiring six new four-year security positions, including an information technology project manager, an elections security trainer and a voting systems specialist.

Europe: Russian Election Interference: Europe’s Counter to Fake News and Cyber Attacks | Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

In 2016, Moscow brought a threat that has long plagued many Central and Eastern European capitals to the heart of Washington, DC. Russia hacked the U.S. Democratic National Committee’s system and subsequently released the confidential material to the public in a clear attempt to influence the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.1 The cyber attack was paired with a disinformation campaign whose scope and reach is still being assessed more than a year later. The administration of then president Barack Obama was certainly concerned about potential hacking—especially given the malware attack during Ukraine’s 2014 presidential election—but all evidence to date suggests that the Russian government achieved significant success without actually hacking election infrastructure. The U.S. government was essentially caught off guard.

Barbados: Barbados’s mucky election – Polluted politics | The Economist

Puddles of sewage dapple the potholed road into Hastings, a tourist hub on Barbados’s southern coast. Tanker lorries parked by the roadside suck up stinking waste. The liquid forming one large pool at nearby Accra beach is not seawater. The governments of the United States, Britain, Canada and Germany recently warned tourists about raw sewage. Hotels complain of cancelled bookings, and a few businesses have shut. The stench comes at an inconvenient time for Barbados’s prime minister, Freundel Stuart, who faces an election on May 24th. If the opinion polls are correct, his Democratic Labour Party (DLP), which has governed for ten years, will be thrashed by the opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP). The parties do not disagree much on ideas or policies, so they fight each other with accusations of corruption and incompetence. The sewage crisis has given Mia Mottley, the opposition leader, plenty of muck to fling.

National: Remember the Age of Paper Ballots? It’s Back | Wall Street Journal

In an era rife with concerns about cybersecurity, election officials are increasingly turning to a decidedly low-tech solution: paper. While security advocates have long considered use of paper a best practice for election integrity, the pace of its adoption has accelerated in the wake of Russian meddling in the U.S. election in 2016. City and county governments around the country and a handful oif states, so far, have moved to replace electronic voting methods with paper ballots or to adopt electronic voting machines that generate paper receipts. Virginia last year, just two months before its state election, phased out all its old electronic touch-screen machines after a demonstration at a hacking conference spotlighted vulnerabvilities in its electronic voting machines. Voters across the state cast paper ballots on election day. In Kentucky and Pennsylvania, meanwhile, state officials have ordered that all new voting equipment have a paper trail.

Colombia: Colombians hope for change in the first post-war presidential election | The Economist

Every afternoon in Samaná, a small coffee-growing town in the Colombian Andes, prosperous townspeople mount Paso Fino horses to ride from bar to bar, where they down shots of aguardiente, Colombia’s most popular tipple. Their tongues loosened by the anise-flavoured drink, they become garrulous on the subject of the country’s presidential election, the first round of which is scheduled for May 27th. Álvaro Uribe, a right-wing former president, “is a horseman just like us”, declares Brayan López, a horse-dealer. He, and almost everyone else in Samaná, it seems, will vote for Iván Duque, Mr Uribe’s protégé, who is leading in the polls. As president from 2002 to 2010, Mr Uribe sent the army to expel from the area around Samaná the 47th Front, a unit of the FARC, a guerrilla group that had fought the state since 1964. The front’s leader, Elda Neyis Mosquera, known as “la negra Karina”, was one of the FARC’s few female commanders and is thought to have been one of its bloodiest. She turned herself in and is now, by Mr López’s account, an uribista. In all, some 220,000 people died in the war and perhaps 7m were displaced.

Iraq: Iraq orders probe after voting machines fail hacking test | AFP

Iraqi authorities have launched an inquiry into this month’s parliamentary elections after intelligence services found that the voting machines used were vulnerable to hacking. The May 12 poll delivered a shock win for populist cleric Moqtada Sadr, who faces a huge task to form a governing coalition despite winning the most seats in parliament. But with the results yet to be ratified by Iraq’s Supreme Court, a government official told parliament on Thursday that intelligence services had conducted tests which showed it was possible to hack voting machines and manipulate the results.

Iraq: Many legislators call for canceling election results | Al-Monitor

On May 21, a group of Iraqi parliament members submitted a request to the speaker to cancel the results of the May 12 parliamentary elections. The group also called for dissolving the Independent High Electoral Commission, discontinuing electronic voting and reinstating manual voting and sorting, with many legislators saying the elections were sabotaged. The next day, six Kurdish parties of the Iraqi Kurdistan region threatened to boycott the political process if their demand to cancel the results in Iraqi Kurdistan and other contested areas is not met. However, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), the two main political parties that came in first and second in the provinces of the region, did not join in on the complaints. On May 18, the Independent High Electoral Commission announced the results of the elections. It also said that ballots cast in 103 polling stations in five provinces — Baghdad, Anbar, Salahuddin, Ninevah and Kirkuk — had been annulled because of sabotage and suspicions of fraud. However, the commission did not say whether the cancellation of those ballots actually changed the results. 

Ireland: Ireland votes in once-in-a-generation abortion referendum | Reuters

Ireland began voting on Friday in an abortion referendum that could be a milestone on a path of change in a country that, only two decades ago, was one of Europe’s most socially conservative. Polls suggest Irish voters are set to overturn one of the world’s strictest bans on terminations. Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, in favour of change, has called the referendum a “once-in-a-generation” chance. Voters in the once deeply Catholic nation will be asked if they wish to scrap a prohibition that was enshrined in the constitution by referendum 35 year ago, and partly lifted in 2013 only for cases where the mother’s life is in danger.