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National: F.B.I. Warns of Russian Interference in 2020 Race and Boosts Counterintelligence Operations | The New York Times

The F.B.I. director warned anew on Friday about Russia’s continued meddling in American elections, calling it a “significant counterintelligence threat.” The bureau has shifted additional agents and analysts to shore up defenses against foreign interference, according to a senior F.B.I. official. The Trump administration has come to see that Russia’s influence operations have morphed into a persistent threat. The F.B.I., the intelligence agencies and the Department of Homeland Security have made permanent the task forces they created to confront 2018 midterm election interference, senior American national security officials said. “We recognize that our adversaries are going to keep adapting and upping their game,” Christopher A. Wray, the F.B.I. director, said Friday in a speech in Washington, citing the presence of Russian intelligence officers in the United States and the Kremlin’s record of malign influence operations. “So we are very much viewing 2018 as just kind of a dress rehearsal for the big show in 2020,” he said in his remarks at the Council on Foreign Relations. Mr. Wray’s warnings came after the report by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, laid out in hundreds of pages of detail the interference and influence campaign carried out by Russian operatives in the 2016 election.

While American officials have promised to continue to try to counter, block and weaken the Russian intelligence operations, they have complained of a lack of high-level coordination. President Trump has little interest or patience for hearing about such warnings, officials have said.

Mr. Trump views any discussion of future Russian interference as effectively questioning the legitimacy of his 2016 victory, prompting senior officials to head off discussions with him. Earlier this year, the White House chief of staff told Kirstjen Nielsen, then the homeland security secretary, not to raise the threat of new forms of Russian interference with Mr. Trump, current and former senior administration officials have said.

But outside of meetings with Mr. Trump, intelligence officials have continued to raise alarms. Officials including both Mr. Wray and Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, have said Russia has aimed its influence campaigns at undermining faith in American democracy.

“What has pretty much continued unabated is the use of social media, fake news, propaganda, false personas, etc. to spin us up, pit us against each other, to sow divisiveness and discord, to undermine America’s faith in democracy,” Mr. Wray said on Friday. “That is not just an election-cycle threat. It is pretty much a 365-day-a-year threat.”

In response to growing threats from Russia and other adversaries, the F.B.I. recently moved nearly 40 agents and analysts to the counterintelligence division, the senior bureau official said in an interview this month. Many of the agents will work on the Foreign Influence Task Force, a group of cyber, counterintelligence and criminal experts. Officials have made that task force, initially formed on a temporary basis before the midterm elections, permanent.

The Department of Homeland Security made its midterm election task forces permanent, folding them into an election security initiative at their National Risk Management Center. And the National Security Agency and the United States Cyber Command have also expanded and made permanent their joint task force aimed at identifying, and stopping, Russian malign influence, officials said.

Intelligence officials have said Russia has kept up its interference operations since the 2016 election. They continued through the midterms and are likely to intensify during the next presidential campaign — albeit with new tactics.

Some intelligence officials believe Russia intends to raise questions in the aftermath of future elections about irregularities or purported fraud to undermine faith in the result. During the midterm elections, Cyber Command conducted an operation to temporarily take offline the most prominent Russian troll farm to keep its operatives from mounting a disinformation operation during voting or vote counting.

Mr. Trump’s continued hostility toward discussing Moscow’s malign influence campaigns, as well as his broader attitude toward Mr. Putin and Russia, puzzles many national security experts.

“The way Trump spoke about U.S. foreign policy, with a particular focus on Russia, NATO and some other cardinal aspects of U.S. foreign policy views were out of kilter with traditional, mainstream foreign policy thinking,” said Andrew S. Weiss, a Russia expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

During the 2016 campaign, Mr. Weiss said, Russia tried to explore what motivated Mr. Trump, to determine any advantages that Moscow could glean from his pro-Russia stance.

“What motivates Trump is still a mystery,” Mr. Weiss said. “Every time he talks about this is so out of sync with the way Republicans, or Democrats, talk.”

Mr. Trump often asserts his desire for a good, or improved, relationship with Russia as one of his foreign policy goals and has argued that Washington and Moscow could cooperate on a range of issues, such as counterterrorism.

At the same time, Trump administration officials have dismissed the notion that the government has taken a soft position on Moscow, noting continued support for American troops in Europe, the expulsion of Russian diplomats and continuing sanctions on Moscow.

The aftermath of the 2016 election and Russia’s attempts to influence the American government illustrates the dangers of a loose, ad hoc approach to foreign policy that Mr. Trump embraced during the transition and still favors to a degree, former national security officials said.

“If you can be led by the nose by foreign governments, that is the simplest definition of what a successful influence operation looks like,” Mr. Weiss said. “All sorts of leaders figure out there are ways to work with the Trump team that stressed informal channels, flattery and a freewheeling approach.”

Campaign officials with little security background looking to make impromptu deals are particularly vulnerable to Russian intelligence operations, said James M. Olson, a former chief of C.I.A.’s counterintelligence unit and the author of “To Catch a Spy.”

“They are dilettantes, no question about it. They have no intelligence or national security background, and they shouldn’t be playing in a game they don’t understand the rules of,” Mr. Olson said. “These people are jumping into deep water, and they don’t even know how to swim.”

What Russia has gained from its influence campaign remains subject to debate. The strong sanctions against Russia remain in place, toughened by congressional action. Funding for American military presence in Europe increased under the Trump administration. The United States has kept up its support for the Ukrainian government and has made no official move to recognize Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

But Mr. Trump’s skepticism of the value of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and his occasional wavering over the mutual defense pact have strengthened Mr. Putin’s hand in Eastern Europe.

Former officials and other experts agree with Mr. Wray’s assessment that Russian intelligence has also contributed to sowing chaos in political systems, undermining faith in democratic voting systems and potentially further polarizing already divided electorates.

“My hunch is Putin feels pretty good about how it’s going for him,” Mr. Olson said.

Full Article: F.B.I. Warns of Russian Interference in 2020 Race and Boosts Counterintelligence Operations – The New York Times.

Full Article: F.B.I. Warns of Russian Interference in 2020 Race and Boosts Counterintelligence Operations - The New York Times.

New York: Amid Public Outrage, New York City Board Of Elections Pulls Private Voter Records From Internet | CBS

After massive public backlash, and the possibility for legal backlash as well, the New York City Board of Elections has quickly wiped the public’s private information from the internet. Voter rolls listing full names, home addresses that included apartment numbers, and party affiliations for all 4.6 million registered voters in New York City were dumped on the BOE’s website. On Tuesday, the board suddenly decided to remove that information from its site after beginning the information dump in February. Executive director Michael Ryan spoke to CBS2’s Marcia Kramer about the privacy scandal and admitted the media firestorm was responsible for the decision to end the short-sighted plan. “Yes we heard it. Yes we took it down. Do I think if someone was really looking to find somebody they’d go to the ad list books at the Boards of Elections? No I don’t quite frankly,” Ryan said defiantly.

Full Article: Amid Public Outrage, NYC Board Of Elections Pulls Private Voter Records From Internet – CBS New York.

National: FBI chief: Russia upping meddling efforts ahead of 2020, midterms a ‘dress rehearsal’ | The Hill

FBI Director Christopher Wray said Friday that the 2018 midterm elections served as a “dress rehearsal” for Russia’s election interference efforts slated to be aimed at the 2020 presidential election. Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations, the FBI director said that Russian operatives and other foreign agents are “adapting” to the efforts the U.S. intelligence community is taking to secure America’s election systems. “Well, I think — on the one hand I think enormous strides have been made since 2016 by all the different federal agencies, state and local election officials, the social media companies, etc.,” Wray said. “But I think we recognize that our adversaries are going to keep adapting and upping their game. And so we’re very much viewing 2018 as just kind of a dress rehearsal for the big show in 2020,” he added. One area Wray pointed to where the FBI has seen improvement is in cooperation with social media companies such as Twitter and Facebook, where Russian election meddling was centered in 2016.

Full Article: FBI chief: Russia upping meddling efforts ahead of 2020, midterms a 'dress rehearsal' | TheHill.

National: As security officials prepare for Russian attack on 2020 presidential race, Trump and aides play down threat | The Washington Post

In recent months, U.S. national security officials have been preparing for Russian interference in the 2020 presidential race by tracking cyber threats, sharing intelligence about foreign disinformation efforts with social media companies and helping state election officials protect their systems against foreign manipulation. But these actions are strikingly at odds with statements from President Trump, who has rebuffed warnings from his senior aides about Russia and sought to play down that country’s potential to influence American politics. The president’s rhetoric and lack of focus on election security has made it tougher for government officials to implement a more comprehensive approach to preserving the integrity of the electoral process, current and former officials said. Officials insist that they have made progress since 2016 in hardening defenses. And top security officials, including the director of national intelligence, say the president has given them “full support” in their efforts to counter malign activities. But some analysts worry that by not sending a clear, public signal that he understands the threat foreign interference poses, Trump is inviting more of it. In the past week, Justice Department prosecutors indicated that Russia’s efforts to disrupt the 2016 election are part of a long-term strategy that the United States continues to confront. 

Full Article: As security officials prepare for Russian attack on 2020 presidential race, Trump and aides play down threat - The Washington Post.

National: Menendez calls for $2.5B to help strengthen election systems | NJTV

Brandishing a copy of the Mueller Report, Sen. Bob Menendez emphasized its findings about election security during the last presidential campaign and election and proposed spending $2.5 billion over 10 years to make the system more resilient. “The Russian government carried out a sweeping and systematic attack on the 2016 election and the Trump campaign actively welcomed it. Second, the president repeatedly tried to undermine and obstruct the special counsel’s investigation into that interference,” Menendez said. Menendez argued that the obstruction continues. This weekend, in fact, President Donald Trump continued to assail the Mueller Report as a political hoax. “The radical, liberal Democrats put all their hopes behind their ‘collusion delusion’, which has now been totally exposed to the world as a complete and total fraud,” Trump said on April 27 in Wisconsin. Trump’s chief of staff Mick Mulvaney warned White House officials not to mention Russian election activity to the president, The New York Times reported, because Trump believes it delegitimizes his election victory. But Menendez says the U.S. election system remains vulnerable to future attacks — noting that Mueller’s report underscored previous intel that Russians hacked 21 state elections systems, not including New Jersey’s and installed malware at a voting technology company’s computer network. Sen. Marco Rubio told The New York Times that Russian hackers could have tampered with rolls of registered voters in one Florida county. The FBI fully expects renewed cyberattacks.

Full Article: Menendez calls for $2.5B to help strengthen election systems | Video | NJTV News.

National: U.S. Cyber Command has shifted its definition of success | CyberScoop

U.S. Cyber Command is shifting the way it measures success from solely military outcomes to how the command enables other government agencies to defend against foreign offensive cyber threats. Brig. Gen. Timothy Haugh, who is in charge of Cyber Command’s Cyber National Mission Force, said on Tuesday at an event hosted by the Atlantic Council that success is “not necessarily [about] the department’s outcome,” but is instead about “how can we enable our international partners [and] our domestic partners in industry to be able to defend those things that are critical to our nation’s success.” Haugh said Cyber Command is doing its job right if agencies are taking their own actions: State Department issuing démarches, Department of Homeland Security releasing alerts, and Treasury Department announcing sanctions “based off of information that is derived from our operations.” In the past, Haugh said he believes that these outcomes may not have been considered as wins. This shift in benchmarking comes amid newfound leeway at the Department of Defense to launch offensive cyber measures. Last year, President Donald Trump issued a revamp to the White House’s offensive cyber policy, which federal Chief Information Security Officer Grant Schneider last week deemed an “operational success.”

Full Article: U.S. Cyber Command has shifted its definition of success.

National: Graham challenges Kushner’s bid to downplay Russia interference | The Washington Post

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey O. Graham on Sunday pushed back against White House senior adviser Jared Kushner’s recent downplaying of Russian interference in the 2016 election, calling Moscow’s actions a “big deal” deserving of new sanctions immediately. Still, the South Carolina Republican insisted President Trump had done nothing wrong, citing special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s refusal to charge Trump with either conspiracy or obstruction of justice in the Russia probe. “I think the idea that this president obstructed justice is absurd,” Graham, a fierce Trump ally, said on CBS News’s “Face the Nation.” “I can’t think of one thing that President Trump did to stop Mueller from doing his job. . . . I’ve heard all I need to really know.” During the interview, however, Graham challenged the assertion by Trump’s son-in-law in a Time magazine interview on Tuesday that Russia’s bid to sway the 2016 election in Trump’s favor amounted to a “couple of Facebook ads” — and that Mueller’s investigation was more damaging to the country than the Russian effort. 

Full Article: Graham challenges Kushner’s bid to downplay Russia interference - The Washington Post.

Florida: Russian Hackers Were ‘In a Position’ to Alter Florida Voter Rolls, Rubio Confirms | The New York Times

It was the day before the 2016 presidential election, and at the Volusia County elections office, near Florida’s Space Coast, workers were so busy that they had fallen behind on their correspondence. Lisa Lewis, the supervisor of elections, stumbled on an important email sent to her and three others in the office, by then a week old, that appeared to be from VR Systems, the vendor that sells electronic voter list equipment to nearly every county in the state. “Please take a look at the instructions for our modernised products,” it said, using British spelling and offering an attachment. Something about the email seemed off. “It was from Gmail,” Ms. Lewis said. “They don’t have Gmail.” Ms. Lewis, it turned out, was right to be suspicious. Though it had VR Systems’ distinctive logo, with a red V and a blue R, the email contained a malicious Trojan virus, and it originated not from the elections vendor but from the Russian military intelligence unit known as the G.R.U. The email had been sent to 120 elections email accounts across Florida. Also buried in Ms. Lewis’s inbox was a warning from VR’s chief operating officer, flagging the dangerous spearphishing attempt and warning all his customers not to click on it. But, it now appears, someone did. Slipped into the long-anticipated special counsel report on Russian interference in the 2016 election last week was a single sentence that caused a stir throughout the state and raised new questions about the vulnerability of the nation’s electoral systems.

Full Article: Russian Hackers Were ‘In a Position’ to Alter Florida Voter Rolls, Rubio Confirms - The New York Times.

Georgia: Challenge to Georgia election system faces first court test | Associated Press

A sweeping lawsuit challenging the way Georgia elections are run is being put to an initial test as a federal judge considers a request by state election officials to toss it out. The lawsuit was filed weeks after Republican Brian Kemp narrowly beat Democrat Stacey Abrams in a governor’s race that focused national scrutiny on Georgia’s outdated voting machines and on allegations of voter suppression by Kemp, who was the state’s top election official during the race. Kemp has adamantly denied allegations of wrongdoing. He signed legislation earlier this month that includes specifications for a new voting system , which the current secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, says he’ll implement in time for the 2020 election cycle. The lawsuit accuses the secretary of state and election board members of mismanaging the 2018 election in ways that deprived some citizens, particularly low-income people and minorities, of their constitutional right to vote. It seeks substantial reforms and asks that Georgia be required to get a federal judge’s approval before changing voting rules.

Full Article: Challenge to Georgia election system faces first court test :: WRAL.com.

Minnesota: Senators skip cybersecurity hearing | Minnesota Lawyer

Election cybersecurity, once described as one of the lightest legislative lifts of 2019, has devolved into a stubborn controversy that some Democrats worry foreshadows turbulence ahead as this year’s Capitol session enters the home stretch. It boils down to a simple unanswered question: How much of $6.6 million in Help America Vote Act funds, which the federal government granted Minnesota last year, should go to Secretary of State Steve Simon to shore up the state’s election cyber-defenses? The two chambers have quite different answers. On Feb. 21, the DFL-led House voted 105-23 to approve House File 14, with many Republicans joining the Democrats. That bill appropriates the full $6.6 million. On Feb. 28, the Senate voted 35-32 along party lines to give Simon access to only $1.5 million of the grant — the same amount included in last year’s vetoed Omnibus Prime supplemental finance bill. The discrepancy sent the HF14 to a joint House-Senate conference committee to iron out the differences. On Tuesday, for the second time since March 21, Senate Republicans — led by conference committee co-chair Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake — skipped a HAVA hearing. The meeting went ahead anyway. Democrats — including three Senate DFLers who aren’t conferees — heard testimony from Simon and former Cook County, Ill., election director Noah Praetz. But with no Senate Republicans on hand to continue negotiations or vote on a compromise, the issue remains unresolved.

Full Article: Senators skip cybersecurity hearing – Minnesota Lawyer.

New York: Public Records: Personal Information on New York City Voters Is Now Available for All to See | The New York Times

Are you registered to vote in New York City? If so, then anyone can find out your party affiliation, full name and home address down to the apartment number — all with a few mouse clicks. The city’s Board of Elections recently posted its voter enrollment lists to its website, a massive upload of thousands of pages, covered in tiny all-caps letters, that offer a district-by-district breakdown of voters sorted by party and street name — one line for each of the 4.6 million active registered voters. City officials said that the information was already public record, and that a new forum did not change its availability. But the move raised alarms among privacy advocates and some election experts, who said the ease of access could play into the hands of mail scammers, internet trolls and domestic violence perpetrators. It even drew oblique criticism from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, whose office emphasized the need for digital privacy. “The New York City Board of Elections’ decision was theirs to make, but we believe sensitive voter information should always be protected,” Caitlin Girouard, a spokeswoman for Mr. Cuomo, said in a statement. She added, “When it comes to the current administration, we need to be extra vigilant to ensure New Yorkers’ information isn’t being used for politically motivated ill will.”

Full Article: Public Records: Personal Information on New York City Voters Is Now Available for All to See - The New York Times.

North Carolina: Deferment on voting machines sought | Morganton News Herald

Things seem to be up in the air on new voting machines in Burke County, as well as other places in the state, that are required by state law. A resolution the Burke County Board of Elections passed earlier this month is asking the state General Assembly to delay requiring the voting machines used here to be decertified and new equipment to be purchased. Burke County currently uses touch-screen voting machines (direct-recording electronic voting machines) that have a paper trail. Current state law requires 22 counties, including Burke, to have their DRE voting systems decertified, which would force those counties to buy new voting equipment that use paper ballots. The law sets a deadline of Dec. 1, 2019, to decertify the type of voting equipment that Burke County uses, the resolution says. The local elections board resolution, dated April 9 and signed by all five Burke County elections board members, is requesting the state legislature vote to support deferring the decertification of its election voting machines until 2022. N.C. House Rep. Julia Howard, (R-District 77), introduced House Bill 851 on April 16 that would delay decertification until Dec. 1, 2021. The proposed bill was referred to the House committee on elections and ethics law on April 18. If it is approved in that committee, it will move to the rules, calendar and operations of the House. A similar bill — House Bill 502 — was introduced in the state House of Representatives on March 27 but it would only be for Alamance and Guilford counties. That local bill was referred on April 1 to the same committee as House Bill 851.

Full Article: Deferment on voting machines sought | News | morganton.com.

Australia: Federal election 2019: why can’t we just vote online? | Crikey

Every time election season comes around, the same question crops up again and again: why can’t we just vote online? We can shop, order takeaway and request an Uber from our phones; why can’t we vote over the internet as well? The main reason: maintaining the security and integrity of elections is actually a lot more complicated than it seems. But let’s take a closer look. While we can secure things like online banking to a reasonable degree, our elections are based on the principle of anonymity and this makes it far more challenging to protect them. Our online banking systems permanently record how much people spend and where, so that we can verify whether our balances are correct. But a record of each person’s vote would be extremely limiting to democracy because it would open up the door to peer pressure and coercion. This could stop people from truly expressing their democratic will. The need to keep elections anonymous brings up some major problems: without records, how can we ensure that the final vote tally is an accurate representation of what the people want? How do we know that the result hasn’t been meddled with by a political party or a foreign power? In paper-based voting systems, we rely on simplicity and having observers from each side at every step of the process. This has been relatively effective at preventing large-scale compromises and errors. When we use electronic and internet-based voting systems, we can’t see what’s actually going on inside the computers and servers, and the vast majority of the electorate doesn’t have the specific knowledge to understand the technical processes that underlie these systems. Electronic and internet-based systems also open up the possibility for widespread election tampering that could slip by undetected, corrupting the entire system. This isn’t feasible in a paper-based election because it would require collusion between far too many people, which would surely be discovered.

Full Article: Federal election 2019: why can't we just vote online? - Crikey.

Canada: Liberals, Conservatives and NDP endorse global pledge against fraudulent campaign tactics | The Globe and Mail

Canada’s three main parties are signing on to a global pledge against the use of fake news and digital dirty tricks in advance of the October federal election campaign. A former head of NATO met with MPs and government officials on Monday on Parliament Hill to gather signatures for an “election integrity” pledge that started in the European Union and is now being promoted in Canada and the United States. Signatories agree to reject the increasingly sophisticated tools that can be used to mislead voters during an election. That list includes “deep fakes,” an artificial-intelligence technology based on doctoring video and audio in ways that produce believable, yet fake, clips of politicians appearing to say something that they never did. In an interview with The Globe and Mail, former NATO secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen said it is only a matter of time before voters are faced with fraudulent videos that are nearly impossible to distinguish from reality. “In a couple of years, you’ll have a perfect technology where you’re not able to identify with your own eyes and ears who is the fake and who is the true edition of a political leader,” he said. “You can imagine if a deep-fake video, for instance, is published a couple of days before an important election [what] damaging effect it could have.”

Full Article: Liberals, Conservatives and NDP endorse global pledge against fraudulent campaign tactics - The Globe and Mail.

India: Opposition parties take electronic voting machine woes to Election Commission | The Hindu

Opposition parties on Saturday approached the Election Commission alleging the display of party name only under the BJP symbol on EVMs during a mock poll in West Bengal’s Barrackpore constituency. However the poll panel has maintained that the same insignia was used for the party in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. A delegation comprising senior Congress leaders Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Ahmed Patel and Trinamool Congress’ Dinesh Trivedi and Derek O’Brien met Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and demanded that either all such EVMs be removed from the remaining phases of elections or the names of other parties be added too. The EVMs display the party symbols, name of the candidates and their photographs. “On EVMs, the letters ‘BJP’ are visible under the party’s symbol. No other party’s name is there. Either remove all machines which mention the BJP clearly or all other parties’ name should be added in all such machines. Till then the use of these machines has to be stopped,” Mr. Singhvi told reporters after meeting the CEC.

Full Article: Opposition parties take EVM woes to Election Commission - The Hindu.

Nigeria: Electronic Transmission Of Election Result Illegal | Leadership Newspaper

Until the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill is passed into law any election result that is electronically transmitted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is illegal, a cross section of Nigerian lawyers has said.

In their contributions to the raging controversy over INEC’s purported transmission of the results of the 2019 presidential election, the lawyers told LEADERSHIP Weekend that it amounts to illegality for the commission or its officers to have transmitted the said results when the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2018, has not been signed into law.

They argued that Section 52 (2) of the operating Electoral Act 2010 prohibits the use of electronic voting machine in Nigeria, including the transmission of the results electronically.

In the same vein, the legal luminaries said that Section 65 of the same Electoral Act 2010 stipulates that election results shall be transmitted manually by INEC presiding officers and that this law which governed the conduct of the 2019 elections has not been repealed.

The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are into a fierce verbal war over the purported existence of a server where INEC allegedly stored the results of the February 23 presidential poll won by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Among the eminent lawyers, who commented on the matter yesterday, were Chief Mike Ahamba (SAN), Alasa Ismaila, Muktar Abanika, Dr. Kayode Ajulon, and Ismail Alahusa.

They asserted that said since the Electoral Bill which mandates the immediate transmission of voting results from polling units to collation centres has not come to effect, the so-called transmitted result is invalid and any reliance on it is null and void.

The lawyers drew attention to the 2015 INEC’s Directives, Guidelines and Manuals which provided for the use of smart card reader while Section 49 of the Electoral Act provided for the use of voter cards instead. According to them, petitioners in previous elections who placed reliance on INEC guidelines by alleging substantial non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act because the smart card reader was not used in the accreditation process and that the election results should be set aside on the basis of the failure to use the smart card reader failed at the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court, the lawyers said held for instance in Wike Ezenwo Nyesom vs Dakuku Adol Peterside and Others that INEC’s directives on the use of the smart card reader has not invalidated the use of the manual accreditation process, even if it was fraught with fraud. According to Ahamba,

‘’it is left to the tribunal to determine whether INEC actually gave orders to the presiding officers to transmit the election result electronically to the collation centre or the commission’s server or not. ‘

’The tribunal will determine precisely after it has listened to all sides and gone through all the available evidence adduced by parties to the suit. But it is trite law that if INEC gave unlawful instruction, the result so transmitted is unlawful and invalid,’’ he said. In his views, Ismaila who practices law in Katsina and Abuja said:

‘’It is immaterial whether the presiding officer was instructed to transmit the election results electronically or not. We must determine whether such was governed by the new INEC Guidelines and Manual for the conduct of the 2019 general elections. Even then at his level, he cannot claim ignorance that the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill which would have authorised it is yet to be signed to law. ‘

’The Supreme Court judgement in Edward Nkwegu Okereke vs Nweze David Umahi and Wike Ezenwo Nyesom vs Dakuku Adol Peterside and others are enough lessons not to do things outside the law. The apex court held in Wike’s case for example that the introduction of the card reader is certainly a welcome development in the electoral process.

Although it is meant to improve on the credibility of those accredited to vote so as to check the incidence of rigging, it is yet to be made part of the Electoral Act. To Abanika,‘’Section 52 (2) of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended which is still in operation prohibits the use of electronic voting machine for the time being in Nigeria, including the transmission of the electronic results.

He said: ‘’Section 65 of the same Electoral Act 2010 that dictates that the election results shall be transmitted manually by the presiding officer, yet that law which governed the conduct of the 2019 elections has not been repealed.” The Electoral Bill which mandates the immediate transmission of voting results from polling units to collation centres is not yet operational, and as such, the transmitted result is invalid and any reliance place on it is null and void,’’ the lawyers maintained. Dr. Ajulo, who is the founder of Egalitarian Mission in Africa, said that the PDP candidate (Alhaji Atiku Abubakar) has embarked on a fruitless venture with the results he claimed he got from INEC server. Ajulo asserted that the result is not admissible in law, adding that ‘’if President Muhammadu Buhari had signed the amended Electoral Act, which included electronic transmission of results, Atiku would have had a valid case against INEC, but as it is, he cannot even tender the results at the tribunal.” A Kaduna-based lawyer, Ismail Alahusa, agreed with the submissions of Ajulo. He said that electronic transmission of result is not recognised by the Electoral Act and, therefore, the result Atiku claims he got from INEC server is “just a piece of paper.” ‘’He can’t use it at the tribunal because the law does not even recognize the transmission of result electronically. I want to believe that Atiku was not properly advised before approaching the tribunal to challenge the results of the election,” he said. But Akinwumi Adisa, a civil rights activist said that Buhari refused to sign the amended Electoral Act Bill into law because of the fraud the APC and INEC perpetrated during the election. He said: ‘’To every sane Nigerian, the last election is the worst in the history of polls in Nigeria. For every Nigerian that is seeking the good of this country, the last election was a sham and should be condemned by all. ‘’As for the result Atiku claimed he got from INEC server, even if it is not admissible in law, the whole world would be made to know the daylight robbery committed during the last election.’’ A Lagos-based lawyer, Emmanuel Majebi said: “It would not have been possible to transmit the results even if INEC had wanted to do so initially because there are areas that have no network and there are areas where the card readers did not work or were not used. “The figures Atiku brought is very bogus. The combined votes for him and Buhari  is more than the total accredited voters, no other candidates got a vote, no cancellation and no voided votes, that in itself has knocked out his INEC server’s claim. I will not want to say much on the issue because it is in court but I will say the electronic transmission of election results was an ideal that wasn’t possible. “It was not backed by law. It was to be a parallel process but it didn’t work or INEC probably heard that some people had planned to compromise it and abandoned it without announcement. Transmission to the server of the number of accredited voters, does not translate to the number of votes cast! Another Lagos-based lawyer Jude Omeire said: “I believe we should not be jumping the gun and we should allow the tribunal to determine the merits and demerits of the petition and the defence. I believe that the law empowered INEC to set guidelines for the conduct of the elections but the question is, can INEC guidelines override the constitution and the Electoral Act? “It is the responsibility of the tribunal to scrutinise the submitted data, and if needs be as to its source and genuineness,” he said.

Full Article: Electronic Transmission Of Election Result Illegal – Lawyers — Leadership Newspaper.

Full Article: Electronic Transmission Of Election Result Illegal – Lawyers — Leadership Newspaper.

Philippines: Voting machines to service more voters in 2019 polls | Rappler

Each vote-counting machine (VCM) will service more voters in the May 13 polls, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said Friday, April 26. The maximum number of voters that can use each VCM is now 1,000. In the 2016 elections, the maximum was 800 voters per VCM. In a DZMM interview, Comelec Spokesman James Jimenez explained that the number of registered voters has risen to 61 million this year from 54 million in 2016. Jimenez said the number of VCMs in the Comelec’s custody, however, stayed at 92,000. “Unfortunately hindi sumabay ang bilang ng makina natin. Ang bilang ng makina natin, ganoon pa rin. So ang ginawa ng Comelec, tinaasan ‘yung dami ng taong gagamit ng bawat makina,” Jimenez said. (Unfortunately, the number of machines was not able to keep up. The number of machines stayed the same. So the Comelec increased the number of people who will use each machine.)

Full Article: Voting machines to service more voters in 2019 polls.

National: Election tech vendors say they’re securing their systems. Does anyone believe them? | CyberScoop

The last few years have been an awakening for Election Systems & Software. Before 2016, very few people were publicly pressing the company to change the way it handled its cybersecurity practices. Now, the nation’s leading manufacturer of election technology has become a lightning rod for critics. Security experts say the small number of companies that dominate the nation’s election technology market, including ES&S, have failed to acknowledge and remedy vulnerabilities that lie in systems used to hold elections across the country. Once left to obscurity, the entire ecosystem has been called into question since the Russian government was found to have interfered with the 2016 presidential campaign. While there has never been any evidence to suggest that any voting machines were compromised, the Department of Homeland Security and FBI recently issued a memo that all 50 states were at least targeted by Russian intelligence. The peak of the criticism came after the Voting Village exhibition at the 2018 DEF CON security conference, where amateur hackers unearthed a bevy of flaws in the company’s tech. In a number of publications — including CyberScoop — ES&S disputed the notion that it didn’t take cybersecurity seriously, arguing its own due diligence was enough to satisfy any security worries. It didn’t help the Omaha, Nebraska-based company’s case when the Voting Village committee issued a report in September that found decades-old vulnerabilities in an ES&S ballot tabulator that has been used in elections in more than half of the states. In light of these issues, some of the election tech manufacturers are trying to change course, and ES&S is the most public about its efforts. With the country gearing up for the 2020 presidential election, the company has revamped its security testing procedures, putting together a plan to let penetration testers from both the public and private sector evaluate the safety of its systems. Furthermore, ES&S and its competitors are communicating in an unprecedented way about committing to a certain level of standards that can lift the entire industry to a better security baseline.

Full Article: Election tech vendors say they're securing their systems. Does anyone believe them?.

National: DHS is pushing cybersecurity support to presidential campaigns | The Washington Post

The Department of Homeland Security is offering to help test and improve the cybersecurity of Democratic presidential campaigns — and this time, these services are getting a lot of interest. “We haven’t had anyone decline to have a call with us or not be excited about the resources we’re offering or the support or services,” DHS senior adviser on election security Matt Masterson said of offers to the crowded field of 2020 candidates, during a panel discussion at the Atlantic Council’s International Conference on Cyber Engagement. That’s a far better reception than ahead of the 2018 midterms, when state election officials broadly rejected DHS’s offer to help with their cybersecurity early in the Trump administration. Despite the Russian hacking and influence operation that upended the presidential election, state officials were concerned DHS aid could lead to a federal takeover of election administration and were angered by the department’s slow pace sharing information about Russia’s 2016 hacking attempts. It was well into 2017 before some states changed their tune and began working with DHS on girding their election systems against hacking from Russia and elsewhere in the midterm elections. Now, the acceptance of free help from DHS is a sign the campaigns and states are getting on the same page as the federal government about the need for security to protect both voter information and the integrity of the vote.

Full Article: The Cybersecurity 202: DHS is pushing cybersecurity support to presidential campaigns - The Washington Post.

National: Trump, GOP Won’t Act on Election Interference Warnings | RealClearPolitics

Foreign powers and domestic disruptors are already interfering in next year’s presidential and congressional elections and this week we learned what the likely response of the Trump re-election campaign will be: bring it on. Two prominent Trump associates — Rudy Giuliani and Jared Kushner — both dismissed the impact of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, essentially telling those currently seeking to sow disinformation, “Come on in, fellas, no big deal.” What Special Counsel Robert Mueller characterized in his findings as a “sweeping and systematic” effort by the Russian government to interfere, and help elect Trump, was “a couple Facebook ads,” Kushner said Tuesday, adding that the investigation itself — into a foreign attack on this nation’s electoral process — had done more damage to democracy. To Rudy, “there’s nothing wrong” with accepting help from a hostile foreign power. Some characterized Kushner’s comments as unpatriotic, even treasonous. What they were, at best, was irresponsible. They were also false. According to the Mueller Report, by Election Day the Russian government was spending more than $1 million per month on its campaign and, by Facebook’s account, reaching one-third of the U.S. population. The very hour that Kushner spoke at the Time 100 Summit, NBC was reporting that Twitter had removed 5,000 accounts of bots attacking the Mueller investigation as the “Russiagate hoax.” They weren’t Russian bots but ones connected to a pro-Saudi social media operation that formerly went under the name Arabian Veritas, which had claimed to be “an initiative that aims to spread the truth about Saudi Arabia and the Middle East through social engagement.”

Full Article: Trump, GOP Won't Act on Election Interference Warnings | RealClearPolitics.