Lebanon: Hezbollah, Amal and allies claim Lebanon election sweep | Al Jazeera

Hezbollah and its political allies are the biggest winners in Lebanon’s first general election in nine years, an analysis of the preliminary results show. Hezbollah and Amal – dubbed the “Shia duo” by local news media – are predicted to have won 29 seats in Lebanon’s 128-seat parliament during Sunday’s vote, according to unofficial tallies cited by politicians and local media reports. More than 11 seats are predicted to have been won by other political parties aligned with the duo. The long-awaited elections were marked by a voter turnout of just under 50 percent, down from 54 percent in the last legislative election in 2009, Nouhad Machnouk, Lebanon’s interior minister, said on Monday.

Malaysia: Malaysia’s election is a strange brew of ‘fake news,’ Cambridge Analytica and a 92-year-old autocrat-turned-reformer | Los Angeles Times

With police investigating him under Malaysia’s new anti-“fake news” law, Mahathir Mohamad, the nearly 93-year-old former prime minister turned opposition frontman, says his country faces its dirtiest election on Wednesday. The governing coalition “will cheat like mad, they will steal votes, but still I think we can win,” Mahathir said in an interview with The Times, stepping off a makeshift stage and into a nearby BMW waiting to take him to yet another campaign rally. Defying his age, Mahathir had just wrapped up a half-hour stump speech in this farming area about a 20-mile drive from Aloh Setar, the capital of Kedah state, his home base. Kedah has typically been a government stronghold, although the green flags of Malaysia’s Islamist party also flutter along its roadsides. Mahathir wants to swing the state, and enough rural Muslim Malays across the country, to his four-party opposition grouping known as the Alliance of Hope.

Tunisia: Ennahda claims victory in landmark local elections | Reuters

Tunisia’s Islamist Ennahda party claimed victory late on Sunday in the country’s first free municipal elections, a key step in a democratic transition marred by economic disappointment. After polling stations closed at 6 p.m., top Ennahda official Lotfi Zitoun told Reuters the party was more than 5 percent ahead of its secularist rival, Nidaa Tounes, citing vote counts observed by the party. Ennahda and Nidaa Tounes are also coalition partners in the national government. They were expected to dominate the long-delayed polls, which will see officials elected in 350 municipalities for the first time since a 2011 uprising ended decades of authoritarian rule.

Venezuela: Soldiers Desert in Droves With Presidential Election Ahead | Bloomberg

Military officers are joining the exodus of Venezuelans to Colombia and Brazil, fleeing barracks and forcing President Nicolas Maduro’s government to call upon retirees and militia to fill the void. High desertion rates at bases in Caracas and the countryside are complicating security plans for the presidential election in 13 days, which by law require military custody of electoral materials and machinery at voting centers. “The number is unknown because it used to be published in the Official Gazette. Now, it is not,” said Rocio San Miguel, director of Control Ciudadano, a military watchdog group in Caracas. She said soldiers are fleeing for the same reason citizens are: “Wages are low, the quality of food and clothing isn’t good.”

Tennessee: A cyberattack knocked a Tennessee county’s election website offline during voting | TechCrunch

After a distributed denial-of-service attack knocked some servers offline during a local election in Tennessee this week, Knox County is working with an outside security contractor to investigate the cause. The attack took the Knox County Election Commission site displaying results of the county mayoral primary offline during Tuesday night voting. The county resorted to distributing printed results during the outage. “Tonight, Our web servers suffered a successful denial of service attack,” Knox County wrote on Twitter on Tuesday night. “Election results were not affected, as our election machines are never connected to the Internet.” The day after the incident, Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett reassured voters that the attack did not compromise the vote. Election systems that can go online are far less secure than systems that are not able to connect to the internet.

National: How U.S. Election Officials Are Trying To Head Off The Hackers | Fast Company

U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials now say it’s likely that in 2016, Russian hackers at least attempted to break into election systems in all 50 states. So far this year, there’s been no evidence of attempts of hacking election systems before the midterm congressional races, but federal, state, and local officials are still taking steps to keep any intruders at bay. Congress in March appropriated $380 million to help states beef up election security, and the DHS has been working with states to help them test and improve the security of their election systems. “The president has been clear, and the DHS and our interagency partners have been clear: We will not allow any foreign adversary to change the outcome of our elections,” Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen said at April’s RSA security conference in San Francisco. Hackers digitally flipping votes is the worst-case scenario, and it’s one that experts take seriously. Thirteen states use at least some voting machines that only record votes electronically with no paper backups, meaning a hack or even a malfunction could mean votes permanently altered or lost.

National: Trump meets with Cabinet officials on election security | The Hill

President Trump met with members of his administration, including leaders of the FBI and Department of Homeland Security, on Thursday to discuss election security, the White House said Friday. The meeting comes amid widespread concerns over the possibility of foreign interference in future elections, including this year’s midterms, following Russia’s hacking and disinformation effort against the 2016 vote. The Russian effort included the targeting of digital state election systems. Trump met Thursday with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and FBI Director Christopher Wray to discuss election security, “including enhanced protections against malign foreign influence,” the White House said in a statement early Friday.

Alaska: State considers measures to switch to mail voting | Peninsula Clarion

Alaska is looking into conducting more of its elections by mail, though it may not completely convert right away. Interest at the state and local government levels increased after the Municipality of Anchorage saw a massive jump in its voter turnout during its April 3 election, which was conducted entirely by mail. However, the cost also reportedly increased, in part due to the printing and mailing of ballots. The Alaska Division of Elections and the Election Policy Work Group plan to meet May 8 and 9 in Anchorage to discuss four possible new vendors for the state’s ballot systems, all of which would involve a hybrid vote-by-mail system, according to a press release issued Thursday.

Arkansas: Vote changes keeping Northwest Arkansas election officials on their toes | Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Unopposed candidates won’t appear on the ballot for the first time, but school board candidates will join primary and judicial ones when voters head to the polls beginning Monday. And this time, voters need to bring a photo ID. Election officials do what they can to inform the electorate and keep the process simple. Washington County’s election commissioners sat around a table Wednesday trying to figure out which set of documents they would post at poll sites on Monday. Each set outlined different protocols for poll workers and voters depending on what happened with a lawsuit challenging the state’s voter ID law. The law was in limbo after a circuit judge deemed it unconstitutional April 26. The state wanted the Arkansas Supreme Court to halt the judge’s order blocking the law’s enforcement.

Delaware: Democrats push same-day voter registration | Delaware State News

Democratic lawmakers last week introduced legislation that would make Delaware the 19th state with same-day voter registration. Under the bill, Delawareans could sign up to vote and cast a ballot on the same day. “Our goal as a society should be to encourage more people to be part of the electoral process, not less,” main sponsor House Majority Whip John Viola, D-Newark, said in a statement. “Right now, we have an arbitrary deadline to register to vote of three weeks before an election. “Some people, often young people or those who just moved to the state, don’t think to register to vote until it’s right before the election, and by then it’s too late. Election Day registration has been around for decades and is proven to safely and effectively increase voter turnout, so it’s time for Delaware to take this step forward.”

Indiana: Lawsuit challenging Indiana law that forces voting precinct consolidation in Lake County could soon be dismissed | Post-Tribune

A lawsuit over a state law forcing the consolidation of small voting precincts in Lake County could soon be dismissed, an official said Friday. Lawyers representing the Indiana State Conference of the NAACP and a group of Lake County voters asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit that said the forced consolidation of voting precincts could hamper Lake County residents’ rights. Jim Wieser, chairman of the Lake Democratic Central Committee, said there is no plan showing how precincts would be consolidated, so attorneys thought it would be best to dismiss the litigation until a proposal is put together. “Without a plan, it’s hard to argue in a court of law,” Wieser said.

Iowa: Secretary of State Launches Cybersecurity Partnership | Iowa Public Radio

The state’s top elections official says the state’s voting systems are buffeted by cyber attacks. Now Iowa’s secretary of state is launching a new partnership to try and insulate the department. According to Secretary of State Paul Pate, Iowa’s elections website and voter databases are hit by hundreds of thousands of threats on a daily basis. He said the majority of attacks are U.S.-based bots trying to steal personal information for financial gain. But so far Iowa’s voting systems have not been compromised, Pate said. “I’ve assured Iowans and I’ll assure them again today that our system is intact, that it has not been hacked. There are no foreign countries manipulating your votes or accessing your voting information,” he said.

Maine: Republican Leaders Challenge Ranked Voting at Convention | Associated Press

Maine Republicans on Friday mounted the latest legal challenge against a new ranked voting method set for the June primary. The lawsuit targeting ranked-choice voting in federal court presented another 11th-hour legal challenge to the voting system. The lawsuit is against Democratic Secretary of State Matt Dunlap and asks a federal judge to prevent the use of ranked choice voting to decide Republican winners in the June primary. The party argues that requiring ranked-choice voting for Republican candidates violates the party’s First Amendment rights. “Because parties are collections of individuals, parties have rights,” said lawyer Josh Dunlap, who is representing the GOP. He is no relation to the secretary of state.

Nevada: State takes measures to ensure election security | Las Vegas Review-Journal

Allegations that Russian hacking, fake news and voter fraud influenced the 2016 election have made election security and integrity a paramount national issue. And with early voting for Nevada’s midterm primary kicking off in less than three weeks, that issue hasn’t been lost on election officials. “Voters should absolutely have confidence in the system in place,” said Wayne Thorley, deputy secretary of state for elections in Nevada. “They should have confidence that when they go and cast a ballot that it will be recorded correctly and that their vote counts.”

North Carolina: As a guard against hackers, Wake County will stop using modems to transmit election results | News & Observer

Waiting is agony on election nights for voters eager to see who won, and now people in Wake and a few other counties who are used to speedy reporting of local results are going to have to sit longer in suspense. The State Board of Elections told Wake, Harnett and three small elections offices in western North Carolina to stop using modems to transmit vote totals from their tabulators into the state system after the polls close. In an a atmosphere of heightened election security, modems have been identified as potential hacker targets.

Pennsylvania: Election Cybersecurity Commission Takes Shape | GovTech

A newly formed commission convened to study Pennsylvania’s election cyber­security aims to reduce vulnerability of the state’s polls in time for the next presidential contest. David Hickton, a former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania and the head of University of Pittsburgh’s Institute for Cyber Law, Policy and Security, and Grove City College President Paul McNulty will lead the Blue Ribbon Commission on Pennsylvania’s Election Security. “Every part of our government and every part of what we stand for is premised upon free and fair elections and the public’s belief and confidence in our electoral system,” Hickton said. “Our systems are vulnerable.” … McNulty said the commission will focus attention on the security of the state’s vote and the recommendations could serve as models for other states.

Pennsylvania: New voting machines will be costly, but necessary | TribLIVE

There’s no doubt there will be howls of discontent when Westmoreland County has to pay for new voting machines. Especially seeing that about one in five eligible adults aren’t registered to vote, and it’s a big turnout when 60 percent of those registered voters show up on Election Day. But it’s a move that,expensive or not, must be done. Ensuring fair elections is the cornerstone of American democracy — something that citizens of many parts of the world yearn for. State election officials have ordered every county to start using voting machines that provide a verifiable paper trail of the votes cast by the 2020 elections.

Puerto Rico: U.S. House committee chair supports Puerto Rico statehood | Reuters

U.S. House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop said on Friday he supports the government of Puerto Rico’s efforts to introduce bipartisan legislation in Congress to grant full statehood to the U.S. commonwealth territory. “I am supportive of statehood. I think it is a solution that is long overdue,” Bishop, a Republican from Utah, said during a visit to the island that was broadcast over the internet. Puerto Rico is still in the throes of recovering from September’s devastating spate of hurricanes that killed dozens and completely knocked out power, deepening the economic woes for the island’s 3.4 million U.S. citizens. Many of them have decamped for the mainland United States in search of jobs and social services.

Cambodia: Prime Minister Threatens Legal Action Over Call For Election Boycott | RFA

Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday slammed a call by a former leader of the now-dissolved opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) for voters to boycott the country’s upcoming general ballot, saying that it was a violation of electoral law. Earlier, former CNRP President Sam Rainsy, who is living in self-imposed exile to avoid a string of convictions widely seen as politically motivated, reiterated a call he made last week, urging Cambodia’s voters to boycott the July 29 elections if the party is not allowed to participate. In a four-minute video posted on his Facebook page on Friday, Sam Rainsy said that the CNRP, which was dissolved by the Supreme Court in November for its alleged role in a plot to topple Hun Sen’s government, is the only party fighting for democratic change in Cambodia, and that CNRP supporters and activists should stay away from the polls to refrain from legitimizing the election.

Lebanon: Low turnout worries politicians as Lebanon voting ends | The Guardian

Lebanon’s first national elections in nine years were marked by a tepid turnout Sunday, reflecting voter frustration over endemic corruption and a stagnant economy. Politicians had urged citizens to vote, and security forces struggled to maintain order as fights broke out in and around polling stations. President Michel Aoun broadcast an appeal to voters to participate in a televised address an hour before polls closed in the evening. “If you want change, you should exercise your right” to vote, he said in a message published on Twitter at the same time.

Malaysia: This Country’s Election Shows The Complicated Role Twitter Plays In Democracy | HuffPost

When the date of the general election was revealed, the outcry was swift. Tradition in Malaysia is for elections to be held over the weekend, giving the many people who have migrated to the big cities time to return to their towns and villages to vote. But on the morning of April 10, Malaysia’s Election Commission announced voting would take place on May 9 ― a weekday. The last time it was scheduled midweek was the country’s first election in 1959. For a population that has grown frustrated by high-level corruption scandals, the rising cost of living, and what many see as a lack of accountability from the world’s longest-ruling coalition led by Prime Minister Najib Razak, the announcement was a tipping point.

Malaysia: Why every vote is not equal in Malaysia polls | Associated Press

Malaysia’s opposition parties have never come close to winning a majority of seats in a national election, even in 2013 when their total vote exceeded the ruling coalition. That year, the ruling National Front won 47 percent of votes but 60 percent of the seats in Parliament. The party has advantages in this election too. Opposition parties and activists have long complained they’re unable to compete on equal terms. Here are some reasons why: Not every vote is equal. Multi-ethnic urban seats, which lean toward the opposition, generally have much higher numbers of voters than those dominated by rural majority Malays, who traditionally support the National Front. That means it takes fewer votes to elect a government lawmaker than it does to elect an opposition lawmaker. Tindak, a group lobbying for reform of the electoral system, says one third of voters decide half of the seats. These distortions are particularly evident in the thinly populated states of Sabah and Sarawak on the island of Borneo, which together elect a quarter of seats in Parliament.

Mexico: As presidential election nears, the dirt flies on social media  | Dallas Morning News

No, President Trump didn’t write a personal letter to Mexico’s leading presidential candidate, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, inquiring about the Mexican presidential plane. Nor did presidential candidate Ricardo Anaya offer to help Trump build a border wall. And Pope Francis hasn’t come out against López Obrador, a Christian. Mexico’s presidential campaign, already dirty, has had its share of fake news headlines. And the campaign is expected to get messier. The election is less than two months away on July 1st, when voters will pick candidates in 3,400 local, state and federal races — with the six-year presidential term being the biggest prize.

Tunisia: Citizens vote in first free municipal elections | AFP

Tunisia’s first free municipal elections got under way Sunday as voters expressed frustration at the slow pace of change since the 2011 revolution in the cradle of the Arab Spring. The election has been touted as another milestone on the road to democracy in the North African country, which has been praised for its transition from decades of dictatorship. But Tunisia has struggled with persistent political, security and economic problems as well as corruption since the revolution, and observers expected a low turnout for Sunday’s poll. … Tunisia is grappling with economic challenges including an inflation rate which stands at around eight percent and an unemployment rate of more than 15 percent. The country was hit by a wave of protest at the start of the year over a new austerity budget introduced by the government.

The Voting News Weekly: The Voting News Weekly for April 30 – May 6 2018

CSO posted an extensive investigation that asked the question “Online voting is impossible to secure. So why are some governments using it?” The article features University of Melbourne researcher and Verified Voting Advisory Board member Vanessa Teague.

AdAge reported that at CampaignTech East, a two-day conference in Washington, D.C., the consensus among technology professional was that “tech-enabled shenanigans—whether masterminded by Vladimir Putin and friends or other bad hombres—are only going to further infect the U.S. political system.”

In a Salon oped, Aaron Sankin asked why so many states continue to send sensitive voter data through Crosscheck, a system with serious cybersecurity vulnerabilities that has the potential of opening up millions of American citizens to identity theft.

By a 6-1 vote, the Arkansas’ Supreme Court put on hold a lower court decision that had blocked implementation of the state’s voter identification law and declared the measure unconstitutional.

The Coalition for Good Governance is asking a district court for a preliminary injunction to stop Secretary of State Brian Kemp from using Georgia’s current Diebold AccuVote TSX voting system in the November elections. The complaint asserted that there is an “incompatibility between the functioning of the current electronic voting system and the voters’ right to cast a secret ballot and have that vote accurately counted.”

A New York appeals court has ruled that scanned images of election ballots are subject to the state’s Freedom of Information Law. In making the ruling, the court analyzed the impact of the state’s optical scan voting system and determined that the images generated by the scanners contain no information that would reveal the voter’s identity.

In an oped in the Philadelphia Inquirer, David Hickton & Paul McNulty call on members of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Pennsylvania’s Election Security “to make an honest assessment of Pennsylvania’s election security architecture, to diagnose and discuss its strengths and weaknesses, and to plan for a better, more secure future.”

Officials in Knox County Tennessee is dealing with the aftermath of a cyberattack, with the county’s mayor is calling for an investigation. As polls were closing for the colunty’s primary races for the mayoral election, the county’s website displaying the results crashed. The page was down for about an hour starting around 8 p.m. before officials were able to restore it.

Iraq plans to use a new electronic system in next month’s national elections that the election commission maintains will limit fraud and allow for the announcement of results within hours of polls closing. But officials in Kurdistan were quick to point out the new vulnerabilities posed by software based vote counting. “This technology can be used in the interest of one party or more. There is a possibility that some people would devote the votes from one party to another when they electronically send it to the main server in Baghdad because those who are on the server are not neutral or independent people. Thus, the result of the elections can be changed easily,” said the head of the Kurdistan Election Commission.

A trial of voter ID has seen people in England turned away from polling booths for the first time for not carrying the necessary documents, with other issues reported including abuse of voting staff and some confusion over what evidence needed to be shown.

International: Online voting is impossible to secure. So why are some governments using it? | CSO

Dr. Vanessa Teague is one frustrated cryptographer. A researcher at the University of Melbourne in Australia, Teague has twice demonstrated massive security flaws in the online voting systems used in state elections in Australia — including one of the largest deployments of online voting ever, the 2015 New South Wales (NSW) state election, with 280,000 votes cast online. The response? Official complaints about her efforts to university administrators, and a determination by state election officials to keep using online voting, despite ample empirical proof, she says, that these systems are not secure.

National: From Russia with fear: New Tech is going to make fake news look quaint | Ad Age

If you’re a politically inclined technologist, this is your moment. There have never been more rewarding career opportunities for your wonky, nerdy kind. Unless someone wants to hire you to figure out what to do about Russia. That job would suck, because it seems like nobody has any idea how to do it. The consensus last week at CampaignTech East, a two-day conference in Washington, D.C., put on by the trade publication Campaigns & Elections, was that tech-enabled shenanigans—whether masterminded by Vladimir Putin and friends or other bad hombres—are only going to further infect the U.S. political system. Everybody at CampaignTech seemed wracked by the worst-case scenarios that have happened already and are yet to happen. Half a dozen panels and presentations dealt with the specter explicitly—e.g., “Social Disinformation and Cyber Interference in the 2018 Midterms.” And sessions not directly focused on the threat still had a tendency, at one point or another, to circle back to the topic.

Editorials: Crosscheck is ineffective and insecure. But states aren’t withdrawing | Aaron Sankin/Salon

At least eight states have stopped using Kansas’ anti-voter fraud program because of its ineffectiveness, but put citizens’ personal data at risk by not formally withdrawing. The Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program was supposed to help states scrub ineligible voters, but many states have for years found the program’s data to be inaccurate and burdensome to verify. Rather than immediately cancelling the free program, these states continued to send sensitive voter information — in one case, for nearly a full decade — through a system with serious cybersecurity vulnerabilities. Sending data through this insecure system had the potential of opening up millions of American citizens to identity theft. Based on interviews with state election officials and communications obtained through public record requests, the following states have sent voter registration data to Crosscheck without using the analysis received in return to clean their voter lists: South Carolina, Kentucky, West Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina, Nevada, Louisiana and Colorado. None of the states listed have submitted voter data into the Crosscheck program since these cybersecurity vulnerabilities were made public late last year.

Arkansas: Justices halt voter-ID ruling; voters must prove identities at polls this month | Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

The Arkansas Supreme Court on Wednesday cleared election officials to enforce the state’s controversial voter-ID law in this month’s primary and judicial elections. Only last week, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Alice Gray declared the 2017 law unconstitutional, but the high court, in a one-page order, halted Gray’s injunction. Since August last year, the law — Act 633 of 2017 — has required voters to show government-issued identification to poll workers to ensure their votes are counted. Secretary of State Mark Martin appealed Gray’s ruling, asking the state’s high court to stay the circuit judge’s decision until after the May 22 election, when the matter can be fully heard. Chief Justice John Dan Kemp would’ve denied Martin’s request, the court’s order notes. Early voting for the May 22 primary begins Monday.

Georgia: Nonprofit Sues Georgia, Seeking to Prevent Voting on All-Electric Systems in November | GovTech

Georgia’s Secretary of State office is facing a lawsuit over its use of an all-electronic voting system with no paper ballot verification backups, one of five states that currently use such a system. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia is holding proceedings for Donna Curling v. Brian Kemp. Plaintiff attorney David Cross said his clients are asking the judge for a preliminary injunction to stop Secretary of State Brian Kemp from using Georgia’s current all-electronic voting system in the November elections. The lawsuit stems from the alleged 2016 discovery of cybersecurity vulnerabilities in Georgia’s Direct Recording Equipment (DRE) voting system. The plaintiffs claim that the Secretary of State’s ignored repeated warnings from cybersecurity experts and told them, in essence, to go away, according to a copy of the amended complaint. The complaint asserted that there is an “incompatibility between the functioning of the current electronic voting system and the voters’ right to cast a secret ballot and have that vote accurately counted.”