National: House panel backs election security bill in wake of Russian interference in 2016 | Hailey Fuchs/The Washington Post

A House panel on Friday backed legislation to improve election security ahead of next year’s contests as Democrats press for shoring up the nation’s voting system after Russia interfered in the 2016 election. On a party-line vote of 6 to 3, the House Administration Committee endorsed the Securing America’s Federal Elections (SAFE) Act of 2019, whose provisions would include mandating paper ballots that could be verified, providing $600 million in grant money to update voting equipment and establishing cybersecurity requirements for elections. The full House is expected to consider the bill next week. However, the Senate is unlikely to act on the measure. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) opposes such a measure, casting the legislation as unnecessary while pointing to the millions of Americans who voted in the 2018 midterm elections. Nevertheless, Democrats are pressing ahead in the House.

National: Group sues for records on US election hacking vulnerability | Tom Davies/Associated Press

A voting security advocacy group is trying to force a leader of a state election officials association to release documents on whether she wrongly asserted that U.S. election systems are safe from hacking. The National Election Defense Coalition filed a lawsuit Thursday against Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson alleging she’s violated state law in denying public record requests since September for her communications about election security with the National Association of Secretaries of State. Lawson was the bipartisan association’s 2017-18 president and is currently co-chair of its cybersecurity committee. The coalition argues that Lawson’s public statements have downplayed the vulnerability of election systems. It pointed to her testimony for a 2017 U.S. Senate intelligence committee hearing on Russian interference in the 2016 election during which she said it was “very important to underscore that voting machines are not connected to the internet or networked in any way.”

National: GOP senators divided over approach to election security | Jordain Carney and Maggie Miller/The Hill

A renewed push to pass election security legislation ahead of the 2020 vote is putting a spotlight on divisions among key Republicans. GOP senators say they want to protect U.S. election infrastructure from a repeat of Russia’s 2016 meddling, but they are deeply split over how far the federal government should go to try to secure the ballot box and what, if any, new legislation that requires from Congress. On one side of the divide are Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.), who have backed passing additional legislation. On the other side are powerful figures including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Rules Committee Chairman Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), who have signaled election security bills are going nowhere anytime soon in the Senate. Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the No. 2 GOP senator, argued that while Republicans support secure elections, most of the caucus believes the issue has been handled by previous bills and state action.

National: Lawmakers spar at testy Mueller hearing | Morgan Chalfant/The Hill

A House Judiciary Committee hearing turned heated on Thursday as Republicans accused Democrats of wasting time examining special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian election interference, with one GOP lawmaker labeling the hearing a “farce.” Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) called the hearing to get expert testimony on the first volume of Mueller’s report, which describes Russia’s “sweeping and systematic” efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and catalogues well over 100 contacts between Moscow and members or associates of the Trump campaign. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) gave a sharp rebuke of the hearing during his questioning, suggesting Nadler was wasting time by inviting witnesses without any direct knowledge of the investigation. Gaetz asked Nadler whether he is going to subpoena Mueller, who has telegraphed a reluctance to testify publicly before Congress despite Democrats’ efforts to bring him in. “Chairman, are you going to subpoena Robert Mueller?” Gaetz asked. “I’m not going to answer that at this time,” Nadler replied.

Kansas: Former Johnson County Election Commissioner’s leadership of federal agency draws scrutiny | Jay Senter/Shawnee Mission Post

The former Johnson County Election Commissioner who left a string of financial and human resources scandals in his wake here after he accepted an appointment with the federal Election Assistance Commission is now drawing scrutiny for his direction of that agency. A lengthy investigative piece published by POLITICO this month details concerns with Brian Newby’s leadership of the EAC, which is charged with helping local voting operations across the country adhere to the requirements of the Help America Vote Act of 2002. According to the report, elections officials and federal employees have been disheartened by actions from Newby that have stymied efforts to address election security issues.

North Carolina: Bill to spare DRE voting machines advances | Taft Wireback/Greensboro News & Revord

State legislators approved a bill Wednesday that could delay an estimated $8 million expense for Guilford County by giving its voting machines a temporary reprieve. The state House voted unanimously for HB 19, which would open the door for Guilford, Forsyth, Alamance and other counties to keep using “Direct Record Electronic” voting machines through the next general election. The current deadline for using such machines is December, which Guilford election officials estimate could cost the county about $8 million in the midst of a lean budget year. The new measure does not name Guilford specifically — or any other county — but it gives local officials statewide the option of asking their county election staff to seek a reprieve from the state Board of Elections in Raleigh.

North Carolina: State wants to know who owns voting-machine makers | Emery P. Delesio/Associated Press

North Carolina won’t clear voting-machine makers to sell their systems to county elections boards until it learns more about who owns them, the state’s elections board chairman said Friday. The decision comes amid worries of foreign election interference that have grown since special counsel Robert Mueller’s April report into Russian efforts to sway the 2016 presidential election. Mueller’s report “essentially says everybody should be concerned about this and everybody should be looking harder at a lot of these things to make sure we’re protected as best we can be,” said Robert Cordle, the head of the state elections board. “It’s just a matter of doing our due diligence now to make sure there are no problems.” The state board is giving the three companies that have already passed several rounds of screening until June 21 to disclose anyone holding a 5 percent or greater interest in their company, their parent company or any subsidiaries.

Editorials: Did Russian hackers make 2016 North Carolina voters disappear? Why won’t we stop this for 2020? | Will Bunch/Philadelphia Inquirer

As 2016′s do-or-die presidential election between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton drew near, many students at North Carolina Central University, a historically black institution in the city of Durham, couldn’t wait to cast their ballots, to Soar to the Polls, in the name of an early-voting rally staged by campus activists. “These Millennials are not alienated,” Jarvis Hall, an NCCC poli-sci professor, said when the rally was held late that October. “They are engaged, involved and concerned, and they want to draw attention to and take advantage of the early voting.” But those students who instead waited until the fateful Election Day of November 8, 2016, to vote at a campus polling place didn’t soar, but instead came in for a crash landing. Susan Greenhalgh, the executive director of an alliance called the National Election Defense Coalition, was manning a national voting hotline that morning and her phone was ablaze with calls from all over North Carolina and especially from Durham, a Democratic enclave in a purple battleground state.

Editorials: Ohioans must act to keep the 2020 elections secure against foreign interference | David Salvo/

In less than 17 months, Ohioans will go to the polls to vote in the 2020 presidential election. An all-important swing state, Ohio will once again be the focus of many presidential candidates, national and international reporters, campaign volunteers and political pundits. But Ohio will likely be a target of more nefarious actors, too. Authoritarian governments are still seeking to undermine Americans’ confidence in our elections. Yet, there are vulnerabilities we have yet to address as a nation, all with consequences for the health of our democracy. Ohioans already have experienced election interference from foreign actors. In 2016, Russian government trolls sought to influence Ohioans’ opinions on presidential candidates and key political and social issues. These trolls used numerous tactics, such as impersonating real Ohio media outlets that looked and sounded legitimate, but were actually fake. These falsified accounts gained thousands of followers on Twitter.

Europe: Election voting problems ‘were evident five years ago’ | Jennifer Rankin/The Guardian

Problems that denied EU citizens their vote in last month’s European elections were evident five years ago, according to a leaked letter from the European commission. Many EU nationals were unable to vote in the European elections on 23 May, through a series of bureaucratic muddles and mistakes that experts decried as a fiasco that a democracy should not tolerate. A letter sent on Friday to the constitution minister, Chloe Smith, shows that some of the chaos at polling stations was foreshadowed in previous European elections in 2014. “The commission notes that the difficulties encountered were largely recurrences of the incidents and deficiencies that had previously arisen during the 2014 elections and which the United Kingdom had undertaken to remedy in time,” states a copy of the letter seen by the Guardian.

Australia: Politicians need more public money to thwart election cyber attacks: ASPI | Julian Bajkowski /iTnews

The spectre of state-sponsored cyber interference in democratic elections across the world has been a staple example of why nations like Australia need top-notch digital defences. Especially since the Internet Research Agency’s free-for-all in the 2016 US poll coincided with the delivery of an unexpected Trump Tweetocracy, with the degree of Russia’s influence hotly contested ever since. Now, after a considerable amount of research helped along by the Australian Computer Society, the cyber security boffins at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute reckon they have reasonable solution to boost the defences of our political parties big and small: Give them more taxpayer’s money.

Canada: National security landscape will get a major overhaul this summer | Catharine Tunney/CBC

Canada’s national security architecture is about to undergo a major demolition and rebuild this summer, now that C-59 has received royal assent. The bill — which, after two years, passed through both houses of Parliament this week — gives Canada’s signals intelligence agency new powers, although most of its new authority will come into force down the road. Once the prime minister and cabinet issue an order, the Communications Security Establishment will be permitted under C-59 to launch cyberattacks (also called “active cyber operations”) for the first time in Canadian history. Such cyberattacks could be used to stop a terrorist’s cellphone from detonating a car bomb, for example, or to impede a terrorist’s ability to communicate with others by obstructing communication infrastructure, according to the Department of Public Safety.

India: Citizens launch campaign against use of electronic voting machines for elections | National Herald

The Election Commission had released several versions of the voter data and several have questioned if the EVMs were switched or manipulated. Jan Andolan in Delhi has launched a campaign, ‘EVM Virodhi Rashtriya Jan Andolan’ against the use of Electronic Voting Machines for elections in India. “We appeal to all political parties to urgently recognise the threats posed by the manipulations of EVM that compromise a free and fair election. We urge you to initiate immediate measures for public awareness regarding possible manipulation by EVM,” read the campaign statement. It asks political parties to recognise the threat to Indian democracy being posed by the use of EVMs. “The depth and scale of BJP victories in the Hindi heartland states and the total elimination of major opponents should raise alarm bells about the real possibility of EVM tampering,” says the campaigners. EVM tampering can manufacture a distorted political narrative, demoralise the opponents and derail united strategies.

Switzerland: Most Swiss expats to lose e-voting access in parliament elections | SWI

Swiss citizens overseas registered for e-voting in the cantons of Geneva, Bern, Aargau and Lucerne will not be able to vote electronically in the national parliament elections in October. The canton of Geneva has decided to accelerate the phasing out of the voting platform used by these cantons until now.  Geneva had earlier announced that it was shelving its CHVote platform (developed in 2003) due to cost reasons. However, it said that it would keep the platform going until February 2020.  But it has now decided to deactivate CHVote earlier than originally anticipated, leaving some users unable to vote electronically in the parliamentary elections in October. This decision was taken in agreement with the cantons of Bern, Aargau and Lucerne, which have been using CHVote since 2010.