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Georgia: Voting irregularities raise more troubling questions about the state’s elections | Politico

Lawsuits, complaints about lax security and accusations of voter suppression marred Georgia’s election for governor in November. But the state’s race for lieutenant governor had its own trouble, Democrats and election security advocates say. The contest between Republican Geoff Duncan and Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico drew far less national attention than the marquee governor’s race in which GOP candidate Brian Kemp narrowly defeated Stacey Abrams. But plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the state say abnormalities in the lieutenant governor’s election raise questions about Duncan’s victory — and potentially about the outcome of other races on the ballot if the state’s electronic voting machines were to blame. In addition to the lawsuit, Amico asked the state to investigate irregularities in the election. The problem: Georgians cast nearly 4 million ballots on Election Day, but about 160,000 of them showed no vote cast in the lieutenant governor race, about 4.3 percent of ballots. To election experts, this so-called “undervote” rate — when a race is left blank — is evidence either that Georgia voters were unusually apathetic about their lieutenant governor, or that something went wrong.

Full Article: Georgia voting irregularities raise more troubling questions about the state’s elections - POLITICO.

National: Senate committee leaders worry no one’s in charge on cybersecurity | The Washington Post

Responsibility for the nation’s cybersecurity is spread piecemeal throughout the government without a single person or agency in charge. That creates dangerous gaps that U.S. adversaries could exploit to hack the government or critical infrastructure, two prominent Senate Republicans told me. Homeland Security Chairman Ron Johnson (Wis.) and Mike Rounds (S.D.), chair of the Armed Services Committee’s cyber panel, are mulling how they might create a centralized government authority for cybersecurity issues. The goal would be an office that could make sure the Homeland Security, Defense and Justice departments are effectively sharing information and working toward common goals, the senators said. For example, the Defense Department, which is authorized to conduct clandestine military activities in cyberspace, might not be as clued in as DHS is to how some of those activities could prompt retaliation against U.S. businesses. Rounds also noted that some parts of the government were concerned for several years that Chinese telecom giant Huawei could use its position inside global telecommunications infrastructure to spy on behalf of the Chinese government — but the U.S. did not act until recently.

Full Article: The Cybersecurity 202: Senate committee leaders worry no one’s in charge on cybersecurity - The Washington Post.

Editorials: The Myths of Voter ID | Ross Douthat/The New York Times

Usually when some sententious centrist talks about ending partisan polarization and just coming up with “solutions” based on “data” or “studies” or “expert consensus,” the appropriate response is to roll your eyes — the way people have been eye-rolling lately at Howard Schultz of Starbucks and his apparently substance-free vision for an independent presidential campaign. Usually where you find polarization, you also find some issue of great moment, some important conflict of interests or values, that can’t just be turned over to the smart people to solve because any “solution” would inevitably be a victory for one side and a defeat for the other. But there are occasional exceptions: Polarizing issues where you could essentially call a truce without anyone winning or losing, without it affecting the balance of power in America’s political debates and culture wars, without anything disappearing except a lot of nonsense, hysteria and panic.

Full Article: Opinion | The Myths of Voter ID - The New York Times.

Arkansas: House approves provisional ballot bill | Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Legislation regarding the procedure for casting provisional ballots passed the House on Monday, even after concerns were raised by some lawmakers as to what the law would do. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Harlan Breaux, R-Holiday Island, struggled to answer several questions posed by his colleagues. At one point, he attempted to leave the well of the House floor while being pressed for more details. Breaux was running Senate Bill 159, which is sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Bob Ballinger, R-Hindsville. The bill would eliminate the portion of state law that requires poll workers to remove the stubs from provisional ballots and to keep those stubs in a separate box. Provisional ballots are cast when poll workers challenge a voter’s eligibility, and the voter signs an affidavit that he is legally registered to vote. Election officials later check the validity of the voter’s claim.

Full Article: Arkansas House approves ballot-stub bill.

Colorado: Democrats push changes to presidential electors | Associated Press

Following Donald Trump’s 2016 victory over an opponent who won 3 million more votes, Colorado’s Democrat-controlled Legislature is fast-tracking legislation to join other states in picking the president based on the national popular vote. The House State, Veterans, & Military Affairs Committee sent the bill to the full House on a 6-3 party line vote late Tuesday. Republicans fiercely oppose the bill , which has cleared Colorado’s Senate. They argue it subverts an Electoral College that the Founding Fathers created to ensure smaller states don’t get trampled when it comes to choosing the president. Colorado would join 11 states and the District of Columbia in the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. The campaign was launched after Democrat Al Gore lost the 2000 election to Republican George W. Bush despite winning more votes.

Full Article: Colorado Democrats push changes to presidential electors | Myrtle Beach Sun News.

Florida: Key election officials have no previous election experience | Associated Press

Florida’s new secretary of state and two key election supervisors in some of the state’s most-populous counties have never run an election. The officials have taken over central roles for future elections, with no previous experience besides voting themselves. They include recently appointed Secretary of State Laurel Lee, Broward County Supervisor of Elections Peter Antonacci and Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Wendy Link. Broward and Palm Beach are the second- and third-largest counties in Florida by the number of registered voters, with a total of more than 2.1 million voters – and far more registered Democrats than Republicans. nGov. Ron DeSantis appointed Lee, 44, when former Secretary of State Michael Ertel resigned after a photo surfaced of him wearing blackface.

Full Article: Key election officials have no previous election experience | Myrtle Beach Sun News.

Idaho: Controversial redistricting bill pulled | Idaho Press

Amid a major spat between House Republicans and Democrats that threatened to slow the House’s business to a crawl for the rest of this year’s legislative session, a controversial redistricting bill was pulled from the House floor on Tuesday by unanimous consent. House Majority Leader Mike Moyle, R-Star, asked to send HJR 2 — the GOP redistricting bill that proposed amending Idaho’s Constitution to add a seventh member to the Redistricting Commission — back to the House State Affairs Committee. The bill would let the state’s top elected officials — all Republicans — pick that final tie-breaking commission member. “That resolution, when it came to the floor, caused a lot of concern from some of our members here on the floor,” Moyle said.

Full Article: Controversial redistricting bill pulled | Local News | idahopress.com.

Minnesota: Federal election security funding due for Minnesota hits snag in Legislature | Star Tribune

Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon is increasing pressure on legislators to help his office claim $6.6 million in federal dollars to increase election security. Minnesota was one of 21 states whose election systems were targeted by Russian hackers in 2016, but it is the only state to still not access federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) funding approved by Congress last year. After Capitol leaders initially pointed to the measure as a slam-dunk for early passage, it has yet to reach the desk of Democratic Gov. Tim Walz. A proposal in the GOP-controlled Senate would release just a fraction of the money right away, leaving most of the money subject to late-session budget debate. “This is cause for concern and something I think should inspire all of us to act quickly,” Simon told the Senate’s elections committee. Simon’s plea comes fresh off a recent visit to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security this month. “We need the full authorization immediately,” he said.

Full Article: Federal election security funding due for Minnesota hits snag in Legislature - StarTribune.com.

Ohio: Voter Registration Forms Sent To Thousands Of Recently Deleted Voters | WVXU

For the first time, the Secretary of State will send voter registration forms to hundreds of thousands of Ohioans who were removed from the voting rolls for not voting or updating their addresses with county boards of elections. And while it’s not expected many will be filled out and returned, one voting rights group says it’s a positive move. Secretary of State Frank LaRose said it’s likely the 270,000 people who are getting those registration forms are either dead or have moved. They have already gotten final notices from county boards of elections that they’re being taken off the rolls after six years of non-voting and not updating their addresses – a process that was upheld by the US Supreme Court last year, but one that LaRose wants to change.

Full Article: Voter Registration Forms Sent To Thousands Of Recently Deleted Voters | WVXU.

Pennsylvania: Days after city and state watchdogs criticize process, decision on Philadelphia’s new voting machines hits road bump | Philadelphia Inquirer

The Philadelphia city commissioners have postponed a vote scheduled for Wednesday on acquiring a new voting-machine system, delaying a process that has drawn criticism for its speed and lack of transparency. The commissioners were awaiting a confidential committee’s evaluation of bids to supply new systems — which are required — but had not received a final recommendation by late Tuesday, resulting in the delay. “The selection committee made its recommendations to the Procurement Department for additional negotiations of price and other terms,” the commissioners said in a statement Tuesday night. The city’s selection process has come under fire, with city and state officials joining activists in raising concerns about transparency and speed.

Full Article: Days after city and state watchdogs criticize process, decision on Philly’s new voting machines hits road bump.

Pennsylvania: Philadelphia Ignores Cybersecurity and Disability Access in Voting System Selection | WhoWhatWhy

Philadelphia is about to replace its aging voting equipment. This would be good news, except that the city’s election commission has omitted cybersecurity and disability access as relevant considerations in its Request for Proposals (RFP) to prospective vendors. The three-member commission appears poised to select as Philadelphia’s primary voting system the ExpressVote XL ballot-marking device, which the state of Pennsylvania has panned — on the issue of disability access. Procuring such a system would fly in the face of the consensus opinion among independent cybersecurity election experts, who recommend hand-marked paper ballots (counted on scanners or by hand) for most voters, not ballot-marking devices.

Full Article: Philly Ignores Cybersecurity and Disability Access in Voting System Selection - WhoWhatWhy.

Virginia: Applicants of Virginia election security post had personal info exposed | WTOP

Virginia elections’ next chief information officer likely had their personal information exposed, after a job posting for the position included a username and password that could be used to view applicants’ resume and personal details. The Department of Elections told WTOP Tuesday afternoon it is “taking action” to address the issue, which allowed a reporter to see names, resumes, salary information, references, education history, home addresses, emails and phone numbers of 96 people who had applied to be head IT security for Virginia elections. By 5 p.m. Tuesday, the login credentials had been deactivated. The personal information of the applicants appeared to have been exposed since the application window ended more than a week ago, although it is unclear how many people may have accessed the data. Those who applied between Jan. 17 and Feb. 3 live and work across Virginia and the country. Several have military experience or have worked as government contractors, according to the resumes, cover letters and other information they provided on the state Department of Human Resource Management’s Recruitment Management System.

Full Article: Applicants of Virginia election security post had personal info exposed | WTOP.

Europe: EU elections 2019: How vulnerable are we to cyber meddling? | 150sec

“The online anarchy of election rules must end”: Věra Jourová, EU Commissioner for Justice, has good reasons to be nervous. From 23rd to 26th of May, all eyes will turn to Brussels as the next European elections will decide on the future trajectory almost half a billion EU citizens. But after the string of cyber attacks on elections from the USA to CEE countries Poland, Bulgaria, Latvia and the Czech Republic, it would be naive to assume that the EU elections would not be targeted. But is Brussels prepared? “With anti-Europeans on their way to winning more than one-third of seats in the next European Parliament, the stakes in the May 2019 election are unusually high”, warns a new report of the European Council of Foreign Relations published this month. The EU increasingly resembles a battleship drifting through a continent in crisis: Brexit looms over Europe, extreme right-wing and eurosceptic parties are mushrooming and political divisions seem to be digging its trenches deeper every week.

Full Article: EU elections 2019: How vulnerable are we to cyber meddling? - 150sec.

Egypt: Egypt accelerates efforts to extend el-Sissi’s rule | Associated Press

Egypt’s parliament is accelerating the process of passing constitutional amendments that would allow President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to stay in office well beyond the end of his current term in 2022. Lawmakers will decide Wednesday on whether to send the amendments to the legislative committee, a vote that was initially scheduled for Feb. 17, parliament spokesman Ahmed Saad el-Din said late Sunday. The legislative committee will have 60 days to discuss the amendments before a final vote. If approved, the amendments would be put to a national referendum. The move to extend presidential terms comes amid concerns that Egypt is slipping back into authoritarianism eight years after a pro-democracy uprising ended Hosni Mubarak’s nearly three-decade rule.

Full Article: Egypt accelerates efforts to extend el-Sissi's rule | World | lancasteronline.com.

Israel: Elections exposed to cyber manipulations | Al-Monitor

In June 2017, the Knesset Science and Technology Committee devoted a hearing to the cyber threat against Israel’s elections. Experts assured lawmakers that ballots are not under threat because the Central Elections Committee has an independent, closed-circuit system that cannot be hacked. “We decided not to go over to computerized voting, mostly because of what happened in the US presidential election,” an Israeli source close to the elections committee told Al-Monitor. “We would rather count the votes [by hand] at a slower pace, and ascertain that there is no possible infiltration of a computerized system by external elements.”

Full Article: Israeli elections exposed to cyber manipulations.

Pakistan: New electronic ballot machine launched | The Express Tribune

With the use of electronic and biometric voting machines dismissed by the apex electoral body ahead of last year’s general elections on account of ‘technical difficulties’, another private company has sought to reignite the debate by introducing its prototype. The new electronic voting machine (EVM), developed by ElectronBallot, was unveiled in the federal capital on Monday. Rizwan Kamran, the chief executive officer of the company, introduced the machine as an alternative to conventional voting (paper ballot). He claimed that the machine can deliver final, verified and official results on the night of an election. Moreover, he said that the machine was capable of delivering results to a centralised location. “Digital elections do not mean they are safe,” he warned, adding that they could employ mathematical tools to make the electronic voting process more transparent.

Full Article: New electronic ballot machine launched | The Express Tribune.

Russia: What Happens If Russia Cuts Itself Off From the Internet | WIRED

The world’s internet infrastructure has no central authority. To keep it working, everyone needs to rely on everyone else. As a result, the global patchwork of undersea cables, satellites, and other technologies that connect the world often ignores the national borders on a map. To stay online, many countries must rely on equipment outside their own confines and control. Nation-states periodically attempt to exert greater authority over their own portions of the internet, which can lead to shutdowns. Last month, for example, the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo turned off its internet during a highly contested presidential election. Now Russia, too, wants to test whether it can disconnect itself from the rest of the world, local media reported last week. But Russia is much larger than the DRC, and it has significantly more sophisticated infrastructure. Cutting itself off would be an onerous task that could have myriad unintended consequences. If anything, the whole project illustrates just how entangled—and strong—the global internet has become. “What we have seen so far is that it tends to be much harder to turn off the internet, once you built a resilient internet infrastructure, than you’d think,” says Andrew Sullivan, CEO of Internet Society, a nonprofit that promotes the open development of the internet.

Full Article: What Happens If Russia Cuts Itself Off From the Internet | WIRED.

Spain: Prime Minister to announce snap election soon after budget vote: sources | Reuters

Spain’s minority Socialist government plans to announce an early general election after its expected defeat in a budget vote on Wednesday following its refusal to negotiate Catalan self-determination, political sources said on Tuesday. Two small Catalan pro-independence parties, on whose votes the government has been relying to pass legislation, have so far maintained their blanket rejection of the budget. They said they were open to negotiate until the budget vote if the government promised them a dialogue on the right to self-determination, but that right is prohibited by the Spanish constitution.

Full Article: Spanish PM to announce snap election soon after budget vote: sources | Reuters.

Pennsylvania: Controversy swirls around new Philadelphia city voting system | WHYY

Philadelphia’s three city commissioners, who run local elections, may announce the selection of a new voting system as soon as Wednesday, and it may leave some disappointed. “We’re worried the city commissioners are going to pick a voting system that is not only very expensive, but not a good system for security,” said Rich Garella of the group Citizens for Better Elections. “It has poor access for disabled people. It’s a bad choice.” The state is requiring all counties to get new voting machines this year that generate paper ballot backups. City commissioners are mum about what kind of voting system they might recommend at their Wednesday meeting, but Garella and State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said the city’s selection process seems tilted toward a particular system and a single vendor. … That vendor is Omaha-based Election Systems & Software, known as ES&S, the largest manufacturer of voting systems in the country. The ES&S Express Vote XL system is the only one sold in the U.S. that shows voters all candidates for all races on one electronic screen.

Full Article: Controversy swirls around new Philadelphia city voting system : Politics & Policy : WHYY.

National: Where cybersecurity legislation ‘goes to die’ in Congress | Politico

Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson leads the committee with broad oversight over the nation’s most important cybersecurity issues, including protecting consumers and U.S. elections from hackers. But he’s also a major reason little legislation on these topics ever passes, according to lobbyists, cybersecurity policy experts, lawmakers and congressional aides from both parties who spoke with POLITICO. Johnson or members of his staff have derailed many of the most significant cybersecurity-related bills in the past four years, including legislation to secure elections, study whether the growing use of encrypted apps hampers law enforcement, and hold companies accountable for the proliferation of insecure connected devices, people who track the legislation told POLITICO.

Full Article: Where cybersecurity legislation 'goes to die' in Congress - POLITICO.