National: Russia Tried to Undermine Confidence in Voting Systems, Senators Say | The New York Times

Russia was preparing to undermine confidence in the United States’ voting process when its hackers surveilled around 20 state election systems in the run-up to the 2016 elections, the Senate Intelligence Committee concluded in a brief report released on Tuesday. But the committee said it saw no evidence that the Russians had ultimately changed vote tallies or voter registration information. In a few states, however, Russian hackers were “in a position to, at a minimum, alter or delete voter registration data,” the committee said. “These activities began at least as early as 2014, continued through Election Day 2016, and included traditional information-gathering efforts as well as operations likely aimed at preparing to discredit the integrity of the U.S. voting process and election results,” the senators wrote.

National: GOP Voter Suppression: A Bigger Problem Than Russian Meddling? | WhoWhatWhy

While Democrats, Republicans, and the intelligence community are all warning about potential Russian meddling in the November midterm elections, ordinary citizens face even greater obstacles to exercising their vote. WhoWhatWhy spoke to voting rights and election integrity experts about the broad range of threats to voting access. They noted that there are other serious election concerns that voters should worry about this fall — challenges to the integrity of the voting process that are not getting enough attention in the mainstream media. In 2016, Donald Trump campaigned with a warning that the vote might be rigged against him. After winning the election but not the popular vote, President Trump — to prove his (completely unsubstantiated) claim that “millions voted illegally” — established a commission to address alleged voter fraud. The commission was later disbanded after many states refused to turn over sensitive voter data and allegations surfaced that its true purpose may have been voter suppression.

Alaska: Election website was hacked on Election Day in 2016: report | CyberScoop

Hackers reportedly breached election systems in a third state, in addition to the already disclosed incidents involving Arizona and Illinois, during the 2016 campaign cycle. On Election Day 2016, a hacker successfully penetrated a server hosting Alaska’s main election website, the Anchorage Daily News reported on Monday night, citing documents obtained through a public records request. The breach is not connected to the previously reported hacking attempt made by Russia-linked hackers to access Alaska’s primary voter registration database. Alaska was one of 21 states that were previously informed by the Department of Homeland Security of similar Russian probing activity on their election systems. Security experts told ADN that, although the newly reported incident was a successful intrusion, the Alaska Division of Elections’ security measures appear to have prevented the attackers from changing content on the server.

Idaho: As midterm primary elections approach, cybersecurity is top of mind | KTVB

As midterm primary elections inch closer and closer, cybersecurity of election systems is top of mind across the nation. Seventeen states requested on-site risk assessments from the Department of Homeland Security to ensure elections are secure against cyber-tampering. Idaho was not one of those states but election officials say the Gem State is involved in informal conversations with both DHS and the FBI regarding election cybersecurity. That includes constant vulnerability scans. …  Just last week, election officials implemented several DHS processes and recommendations to keep state elections secure. But among Idaho’s high-tech security measures, the state’s best defense against a potential threat is much simpler.

Indiana: Ballot Scanner Mishap Looms Over Dearborn County Elections | Eagle 99.3

Dearborn County Clerk of Courts Gayle Pennington confirmed Tuesday night that most of the county’s ballot scanning machines were disabled by dead batteries on Primary Election Day. “We did our testing a few weeks ago. We sent our machines out (to polling places) over the weekend. Our inspectors had their (battery) packs. They went out and the batteries were dead in their packs,” Pennington told Eagle Country 99.3 following the final vote total. Only about 11 of the 45 machines at the 45 voting precincts throughout the county were operational Tuesday, the clerk added. The vendor for the county’s new ballot scanning machines – used for the first time in an election Tuesday – is Election Systems and Software. Regarding the batteries, Pennington said they were new in November 2017 and were supposed to have a five-year lifespan.

North Dakota: State agrees to settlement talks over voter ID laws | Associated Press

North Dakota agreed to hold settlement negotiations with a group of American Indians who sued over expanded voter ID laws after a federal judge admonished the state for exaggerating worries of voter fraud. U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles Miller on Monday scheduled the settlement talks proposed by the plaintiffs for May 29 in Bismarck. In a ruling last week, U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland criticized the state for raising a “litany of embellished concerns” about people taking advantage of his earlier ruling that expands the proof of identity Native Americans can use for North Dakota elections. Hovland had suggested the parties negotiate a settlement “so that all homeless persons, and all persons who live on Native American reservations in North Dakota, can have a meaningful opportunity to vote.”

Ohio: Voters pass redistricting reform initiative | The Hill

Ohio voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure that will reform the state’s redistricting process, creating a mandate for bipartisanship in the decennial remapping process. With about half the votes counted a few hours after polls closed, about three quarters of Ohio voters backed the initiative, State Issue One. The ballot measure asked voters whether they wanted to amend the state constitution to require bipartisan support when drawing new congressional district lines. Any new maps would require three-fifths support in the state House and Senate, including support from at least half the members of the minority party. If Republicans and Democrats in the legislature cannot agree on a map, a seven-member bipartisan commission would be assigned to draw new maps. Those maps would have to be approved with at least two votes from the minority party. If the bipartisan commission fails, the legislature would be allowed to try to draw 10-year maps that earn support from one-third of the minority party or a four-year map with only majority support. 

Ohio: Ohio State study: ‘Fake news’ probably helped flip Obama voters to Trump in 2016 | The Columbus Dispatch

A year and a half later, analysts and academics still have reached no real consensus on how Donald Trump pulled off his victory in the 2016 presidential election. But three Ohio State University researchers have a new — and controversial — study showing that a key portion of the Republican’s voters were highly susceptible to the influence of fake news. Paul Beck, a longtime OSU political science professor, said the deep dive after the election focused on voters who supported Barack Obama in 2012 but not fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016. About 77 percent of Obama voters stuck with Clinton, so if she had gotten only a relative handful more, she would be president. “The real key in 2016 is ‘What happened to the Obama voters?’” Beck said. The “fake news” accounts used by the OSU researchers were not from any major networks or newspapers, but rather a trio of false statements widely shared by individuals or groups on social media and through some broadcast outlets.

Oklahoma: Photo ID law gets backing of state Supreme Court | Associated Press

The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Tuesday backed a state requirement that voters provide a photo ID at the polls, the latest decision in a nationwide battle between voting rights advocates who say the laws are aimed at suppressing turnout and conservatives who say the protections are needed to prevent voter fraud. The court upheld a lower court ruling 8 to 0 with one justice recusing. “The Oklahoma Voter ID Act is a reasonable procedural regulation to ensure that voters meet identity and residency qualifications and does not cause an undue burden,” according to the 8-0 ruling, with one justice recusing, which upholds a lower court ruling in the lawsuit.

Armenia: Armenia contemplates the unlikely: a nonviolent revolution on the cusp of victory | Los Angeles Times

For weeks, Armenians attempted the unthinkable — to bring down their government through peaceful mass protests. On Monday night, they returned to the capital’s central Republic Square, this time to celebrate their impending victory. “I’m so proud to be Armenian now,” said Satenik Gevorgyan, 28. “This is the kind of change we’ve been waiting for all our lives.” Armenia’s parliament is expected to elect opposition leader Nikol Pashinian as prime minister Tuesday, nearly a month after the 42-year-old led hundreds of thousands of Armenians in a civil disobedience movement. The nonviolent demonstrations began in April and at times paralyzed the capital, Yerevan, with road blockages, labor strikes and street dance parties.

Australia: Dual citizenship crisis: four MPs resign after court rules Katy Gallagher ineligible | The Guardian

A high court decision ruling Labor senator Katy Gallagher ineligible to sit in parliament has triggered four MPs – including three Labor MPs – to resign over dual citizenship issues. In a litmus test for both Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten the four MPs will now fight to retain their seats in a “super Saturday” string of byelections in states that will be crucial to the next federal election including Queensland and Western Australia. While the Turnbull government dials up its rhetoric on Shorten’s failure to force his MPs to resign sooner, Shorten has attempted to frame the looming contests – to be held as early as June – as a chance to cast judgment on the Coalition’s big business tax cuts.

Canada: Liberals nominate Stephane Perreault as next chief electoral officer | CBC

Stéphane Perrault has been nominated by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as Canada’s next chief electoral officer. But New Democrats are demanding to know why the government put forward a different nominee just three weeks ago. Marc Mayrand, the previous chief electoral officer, announced in June 2016 that he intended to resign at the end of that year. Perreault, Mayrand’s deputy, has been serving as the acting chief electoral officer since Mayrand’s departure. “I am pleased to announce the nomination of Stéphane Perrault as Canada’s new Chief Electoral Officer,” Trudeau said in a statement. “His experience leading the agency for the last year and a half and administering many by-elections across the country make Mr. Perrault an excellent choice to head Elections Canada.”

Lebanon: Hezbollah makes strong showing in Lebanon elections | The Guardian

Hezbollah has gained political ground in Lebanon and consolidated Iran’s influence on the fragile state’s affairs after winning, along with its allies, a small majority in national elections. The Shia militia-cum-political bloc’s gains came at the expense of the Sunni prime minister, Saad Hariri, whose authority was weakened by a relatively poor showing in stronghold areas. Many of Hariri’s traditional supporters appear to have stayed at home on Sunday for the first parliamentary vote in nine years. His patron, Saudi Arabia, cut Hariri adrift in November and remained disengaged in the lead-up to the vote. It offered no immediate reaction to the result. Hariri’s bloc, the Future Movement, lost one-third of its seats, and he blamed a “scheme” to “eliminate” it from the political process when speaking on Monday.

Malaysia: Politicians claim phones hacked; probe shows spam calls from unknown bot attack | The Straits Times

Malaysian politicians on Wednesday (May 9) say their mobile phones have been hacked and are being spammed by calls allegedly originating from the United States. “BN leaders’ handphones have been under technical attack since morning,” said Barisan Nasional (BN) Strategic Communications director Datuk Seri Rahman Dahlan. “Calls from overseas keep coming in every few seconds! To…

Tunisia: Independent candidates get most votes in Tunisia’s municipal election | Reuters

Independent candidates in Tunisia’s first free municipal election gained more votes than major parties Ennahda and Nidaa Tounes, officials said on Tuesday citing preliminary results. Sunday’s election is seen as key to a democratic transition and a chance to establish decentralization and local governance. Tunisia is hailed as the Arab Spring’s only democratic success because protests toppled autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011 without triggering major violence. But enthusiasm for democratic change has turned to anger over low living standards amid an economy that is struggling. Some Tunisians have crossed by sea to Europe illegally in search of work while others have turned to militant Islam.

National: Hack-Resistant Vote Machines Missing as States Gird for ’18 Vote | Bloomberg

Past piles of hay outside the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg, vendors in a meeting hall hawked their latest secure voting technology. Local officials and activists tapped sleek Android screens in a mock election and saw the results documented on printouts. Yet none of the state-of-the-art equipment displayed will be used for the battleground state’s May 15 primary. That’s despite fears of hacking spawned by Russian meddling in the national election two years ago and the narrow margin of victory in key recent contests from Alabama to Pennsylvania. There’s too little time and money, officials say. U.S. election season is well underway, with Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio and West Virginia all holding primaries on Tuesday. Control of Congress in November’s midterm election may hinge on voters in Pennsylvania, a closely divided state that helped President Donald Trump clinch his 2016 victory. But like several other states, there’s a gaping hole in Pennsylvania’s machinery of democracy: It has some of the oldest, least secure voting technology in the country.

National: Cambridge Analytica: how did it turn clicks into votes? | The Guardian

How do 87m records scraped from Facebook become an advertising campaign that could help swing an election? What does gathering that much data actually involve? And what does that data tell us about ourselves? The Cambridge Analytica scandal has raised question after question, but for many, the technological USP of the company, which announced last week that it was closing its operations, remains a mystery. For those 87 million people probably wondering what was actually done with their data, I went back to Christopher Wylie, the ex-Cambridge Analytica employee who blew the whistle on the company’s problematic operations in the Observer. According to Wylie, all you need to know is a little bit about data science, a little bit about bored rich women, and a little bit about human psychology…

Alaska: Hackers broke partway into Alaska’s election system in 2016 | Anchorage Daily News

A hacker gained unauthorized access in 2016 to the server that hosts Alaska’s public elections website, according to documents released by Gov. Bill Walker’s administration. The documents, obtained by the Anchorage Daily News through a public records request, outline an incident that drew the attention of federal law enforcement but had not been publicly revealed by Alaska election officials. The documents show that Alaska’s elections, like other states’ around the country, face threats from hackers seeking to undermine American democratic institutions. But technology experts both inside and outside state government said that no damage was done — and that the attack actually highlights the resilience of Alaska’s multi-layered cyber-defenses.

National: Republicans Make Moves To Crush Gerrymandering Reform | TPM

With anti-gerrymandering efforts gaining steam, Republicans in some states are mobilizing to protect their ability to continue rigging election maps. In late April, a Republican group backed by the Michigan Chamber of Commerce sued to keep a popular redistricting reform measure off the state’s November ballot. Arizona’s GOP-controlled legislature last week narrowly failed to pass a bill that would have given the party much more control over the map-drawing process. And Pennsylvania Republicans, who recently mulled impeaching a group of state judges who struck down their gerrymander, this week gutted reform legislation.

Arkansas: 3 judge panel assigned to redistricting suit | Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

A three-judge panel was appointed last week in the Eastern District of Arkansas to preside over a lawsuit challenging the way Arkansas lawmakers enacted a legislative redistricting plan in 2011. In the suit, Julius J. Larry III, a retired civil-rights attorney in Houston, Texas, who became the publisher of the weekly Little Rock Sun black newspaper in 2013, contends that the boundaries of the 1st Congressional District were set to intentionally dilute black voting strength, in violation of the Voting Rights Act. U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker, to whom the case was assigned, on April 23 dismissed a second claim in which Larry said the state gerrymandered the boundaries in violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, saying that because he lives in Little Rock, in the 2nd Congressional District, he lacked standing to pursue that claim.

Colorado: Anti-Gerrymandering Effort Sails Through The Colorado Capitol On Its Way To The Ballot | CPR

In an otherwise divisive close to the 2018 legislative session, Colorado lawmakers have found broad agreement on at least one issue. They want out of the redistricting business. A bipartisan reform effort is flying through the assembly to ask voters to overhaul how the state decides legislative and congressional boundaries. The package would also outlaw gerrymandering in the state constitution and give new power to unaffiliated voters. The plan has already won unanimous approval in the state Senate and in two House committees. If it passes the full House, as expected, two initiatives would be added to this November’s statewide ballot.

Georgia: National, Local Legal Eagles Face Off in Electronic Voting Lawsuit | Daily Report

Some big legal guns are squaring off in a federal lawsuit challenging Georgia’s use of all-electronic voting systems. A major national law firm has deployed attorneys to represent plaintiffs in the suit on a pro bono basis, going up against a more locally based defense team that includes Georgia’s former governor. John Carlin, former assistant U.S. attorney general in charge of the National Security Division, and his partner in the Washington, D.C., office of AmLaw 35 national law firm Morrison & Foerster, David Cross, are representing three Georgia voters who claim their fundamental constitutional right to vote is endangered by the systems. On the other side, representing the State Election Board, its members and Secretary of State Brian Kemp are John Frank Salter Jr. and former Gov. Roy Barnes of the Barnes Law Group. Prior to serving as DOJ’s highest-ranking national security lawyer, MoFo’s Carlin served as chief of staff and senior counsel to former FBI director Robert Mueller III. In that role, he helped lead the agency’s evolution to meet growing and changing national security threats, including cyber threats, according to his firm bio.

Iowa: Secretary of State Launches Voting Cybersecurity Working Group | The Gazette

Iowa’s top elections official will form a new working group with the goal of bolstering the cybersecurity around Iowa voting. “With the past presidential election, with the dialogue that came out of that, we’ve had to be much more aggressive (on cybersecurity), but also to share more with you of what we’re doing so the voters have the full confidence in our elections system,” Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate said during a Friday news conference during a training session for county auditors at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library in Cedar Rapids. Concern about the security of the nation’s elections has hit a peak since 2016 due to investigations into Russian attempts to affect the 2016 presidential election.

Kansas: ACLU seeks $51K for fight with Kobach that led to contempt finding | Topeka Capital-Journal

The American Civil Liberties Union is asking for more than $50,000 in compensation for hours spent fighting Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach over issues that led to his contempt of court finding. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson ordered Kobach’s office to pay for attorney fees and expenses when she ruled last month that Kobach ignored her orders after she blocked enforcement of the state’s voter registration law. Kobach has filed a notice with the court saying he intends to appeal her decision. Kobach failed to follow through on a promise to Robinson that counties would send postcards notifying people they could vote, even if they failed to show proof of citizenship when they registered. He continued to fight the notion that postcards were necessary until the day of his contempt hearing, which followed a trial in which he struggled to prove claims of widespread voter fraud.

Louisiana: Appellate court asked to reconsider legality of 1976 Louisiana felon voting law | The Advocate

A state appeals court in Baton Rouge is being asked to reconsider the constitutionality of a more than four-decade-old Louisiana law that prohibits felons on probation and parole from voting. State District Judge Tim Kelley, of Baton Rouge, upheld the 1976 law in March of last year, saying he agreed with the plaintiffs who challenged its legality but could not bend the law. The plaintiffs — a group called Voice of the Experienced, or VOTE, and several felons — say the law prevents more than 70,000 felons on probation and parole in Louisiana from voting.

Maine: GOP Brings Federal Challenge to Ranked-Choice Voting | Courthouse News

A month after Maine’s highest court upheld the election-law shift, state Republicans brought a federal complaint Friday that casts the country’s first ranked-choice voting system as unconstitutional. Also known as instant-runoff voting, the system by which voters rank candidates by preference, rather than casting a ballot for them, was voted into law via ballot initiative in November 2016. Maine’s Republican Party tapped attorneys at Pierce Atwood for their court challenge to the so-called RCV Act on Friday. With election primaries scheduled for June 12, the party says it has a constitutional right to determine how nominees are selected, and that instant-runoff voting would frustrate this aim.

New Hampshire: Attorney General: Send voter suit over Election Day registration to state Supreme Court | Union Leader

The attorney general wants the state Supreme Court to take over the lawsuit filed by the state Democratic Party and the N.H. League of Women Voters over a new election law, Senate Bill 3, which establishes requirements for Election Day voter registration. The key issue is an April decision by Superior Court Judge Charles Temple ordering the state to turn over its voter registration database to the plaintiffs, who say they need the data to make their case. “The court exceeded its authority in ordering the release of the (database), and has put in jeopardy the privacy rights of over a million active and inactive New Hampshire registered voters,” according to the motion filed by Associate Attorney General Anne Edwards, representing the state in support of the law.

West Virginia: How West Virginia Is Trying to Build Hacker-Proof Voting | The New York Times

The next election in the Mountaineer State was still weeks away. But 5,000 miles from West Virginia’s capital city, in a suburb northwest of Moscow, someone was already scouting for ways to get into the state’s election computer network this spring. That someone’s IP address, a designation as a “malicious host,” even a tiny Russian flag — it was all there on a computer display in an office just across the Kanawha River from the state’s gold-domed capitol. And he had company. “See, right here, a Canadian IP address is trying to go into online voter registration,” said the West Virginia Air National Guard sergeant who was tracking the would-be intruders, pointing at the screen. “Here’s someone from Great Britain trying to do the same. China is trying to get into the home page — trying to, but they’re getting blocked.”

Canada: British Columbia’s Chief Electoral Officer suggests pre-registering 16-year-olds | Vancouver Sun

A report from the province’s Chief Electoral Officer is calling for 16- and 17-year-olds to be given the right to pre-register to vote, while also pitching a digitization of the voting process. The teens still wouldn’t be eligible to vote until they are 18, but they would be allowed to have their names added automatically to the voters list when they turn 18. Creating a system where voters can vote at any polling station and all votes are counted on election night is also proposed (PDF). The report suggests service to voters would be improved while making for more efficient staffing and close to real-time disclosure of voter participation data.