Pennsylvania: Governor vetoes bill to help counties pay for required upgrade of voting machines | Charles Thompson/PennLive

Gov. Tom Wolf has vetoed a bill that would have provided $90 million in state funding to Pennsylvania’s 67 counties to share the cost of a wholesale upgrade of voting machines in time for the 2020 presidential election. Wolf supported the funding measure, and said he remains committed to providing state funding to ease the estimated $150 million financial burden on county governments going forward. But he said he was vetoing the bill largely because of an attached provision that would have abolished the century-old practice of permitting voters to cast a ballot for every candidate from one party through a single button. He also cited his objections to language inserted in the bill that would impose legislative review on any future action by the Department of State – which oversees the administration of elections statewide – to decertify Pennsylvania’s voting machines en masse. Wolf said that provision would unnecessarily bind the hands of future governors who might need to act quickly in the event of election security issues. Doug Hill, executive director of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania, said that as a practical matter, he expects most counties to press forward with their plans to replace or upgrade their existing systems. “The hard part is we are obligated (by a legal settlement) to do it by next April,” Hill said, “and neither the proposed legislation or the veto changes that calendar for us.” Most counties, Hill added, are expected to have new machines in place by this fall.

National: Vulnerabilities in US Defense Could Lead to Major Breach in Two Years, Says Black Hat Survey | Luana Pascu/Security Boulevard

After Russians used techniques such as spearphishing emails and troll farms to inundate social media and influence the 2016 US election, concerns that the 2020 election is up for similar compromise are increasing. US intelligence and officials from the Democratic party are concerned that “Donald Trump and a powerful Senate ally are downplaying these concerns and not doing enough to thwart interfering,” according to The Guardian. “Russia would be remiss not to try again, given how successful they were in 2016,” said Steven Hall, former member of CIA Senior Intelligence Service. Upcoming US elections and critical infrastructure security were among heated discussion topics at Black Hat USA 2019. According to 40 percent of Black Hat USA’s 2019 survey respondents, “large nation-states” are the number one threat that US critical infrastructures will have to fight. When specifically asked about the US election, more than 60 percent expect Kremlin-supported hackers will compromise voting machines to influence the outcome. 77 percent expect a critical attack on US critical infrastructure to succeed in the next two years, up 10 percent since 2018. US elections and critical infrastructures face imminent compromise partially due to “a lack of coordination between US government entities and private industry” as well as a dearth of IT security professionals. These factors were named the most significant risks by 16 percent, and 15 percent of respondents, respectively.

Editorials: What’s really been done since the 2016 elections to make voting more secure? Almost nothing. | Paula Dockery/South Florida Sun-Sentinel

We know from the Mueller Report that Russia did interfere in our 2016 election and that those efforts continue today. We also know that attempts were made in at least two Florida counties to breach their voter rolls. Before this, officials in Florida had denied that breaches had occurred. We’re told by those briefed by the FBI the attempts to hack were unsuccessful and no votes or vote tallies were changed. But is that true? Is that really what the FBI said? Clearly, they don’t want citizens to lose faith in the integrity of our elections, but there are problems and we’re not getting straight answers. Those who were briefed signed nondisclosure forms to keep that information from us. What the hell is going on here? I don’t want to be an alarmist, but I’m skeptical about past elections and about the upcoming election in 2020. We know Russia has an interest in sowing chaos and dissension in our country. I suspect it is not alone. They hacked into systems to steal data and worked through the Internet—especially on social media—to influence and misinform during the 2016 campaign. But what about the election itself? Were votes changed or deleted? Were tallies adjusted?

Georgia: In Georgia, New Election Technology and Old Security Concerns | Timothy Pratt/Undark

Earlier this year, Georgia’s Secure, Accessible, and Fair Elections Commission held a public meeting at the state capitol to answer a pressing question: What should Georgia do to replace its aging, touchscreen voting machines, as well as other parts of its election system? In the preceding years, security vulnerabilities in the state’s election system had been repeatedly exposed: by Russian operatives, friendly hackers, and even a Georgia voter who, just days ahead of the 2018 midterms, revealed that anyone could go online and gain access to the state’s voter registration database. Computer scientists and elections experts from around the country had weighed in during the seven months of the commission’s deliberations on the issue. They submitted letters and provided testimony, sharing the latest research and clarifying technical concepts tied to holding safe, reliable elections. Their contributions were underscored by commission member Wenke Lee, co-director of Georgia Tech’s Institute for Information Security and Privacy, and the group’s only computer scientist. Despite this, the commission ultimately did not recommend measures backed by Lee and his colleaguesat places like Stanford, Yale, Princeton, MIT, and Google — including the recommendation that the state return to a system of paper ballots filled out by hand, combined with what scientists call risk-limiting audits. Instead, the commission recommended buying a system that included another, more expensivetouchscreen voting machine that prints a paper ballot. Months later, Lee was at a loss to explain: “I don’t understand why they still don’t understand,” he said.

Nebraska: Elections official reveals Nebraska bought more cyber intrusion-detection technology | David Earl/KETV

A measure that would provide states with short-term cash to shore up their elections security infrastructure has stalled in the U.S. Senate. Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) killed the measure, according to reporting by The Hill, to buy time to work on a counter proposal to the bill Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) tried to force legislators to debate. Requiring a paper record of cast ballots is among the measures Klobuchar wants, including hundreds of millions of dollars in grants to states to increase their cyber defenses. “This is a race that doesn’t have a finish line,” said Wayne Bena, Nebraska’s deputy secretary of state for elections in an exclusive KETV NewsWatch 7 interview. “We have a big election coming in 2020, but we also have one in ’22, ’24, ’26.” Bena argues Congress needs to find a lasting, long-term model to help states with their critical elections infrastructure. “Money is important,” he said. “But what I think is more important is the sustainability of that funding.”

New York: The Shocking Final Count: What Happened in the Queens District Attorney Race | Vivian Wang/The New York Times

The polls had closed. Most of the votes had been tallied. Tiffany Cabán, the public defender and democratic socialist whose insurgent candidacy for Queens district attorney galvanized political observers nationwide, had declared victory. And then, late Wednesday, a twist: A count of paper ballots that had not been totaled on primary night pushed Melinda Katz — the Queens borough president and establishment favorite — ahead, by the barely there margin of 20 votes. The news thrust the borough, as well as the broader New York political world, into chaos. It threw a major victory for the left wing of the Democratic Party into doubt, and it inspired immediate recriminations about traditional party forces. But the race isn’t over yet, as the vote now goes to a manual recount, automatically triggered by the tiny margin. Ms. Cabán’s team has promised to fight for every vote, in what could turn into a protracted, expensive legal battle. Here’s what you need to know.

Nevada: Iowa, Nevada to Launch Caucus Voting by Phone for 2020 | Michelle L. Price and Thomas Beaumont/Associated Press

Democrats in the early presidential contest states of Iowa and Nevada will be able to cast their votes over the telephone instead of showing up at their states’ traditional neighborhood caucus meetings next February, according to plans unveiled by the state parties. The tele-caucus systems, the result of a mandate from the Democratic National Committee, are aimed at opening the local-level political gatherings to more people, especially evening shift-workers and people with disabilities, whom critics of the caucuses have long said are blocked from the process. The changes are expected to boost voter participation across the board, presenting a new opportunity for the Democratic Party’s 2020 candidates to drive up support in the crucial early voting states. “This is a no-excuse option” for participation, said Shelby Wiltz, the Nevada Democrats’ caucus director. Party officials don’t have an estimate of how many voters will take advantage of the call-in option. But in Iowa, some recent polls show as many as 20% of Democrats will participate virtually. In Nevada, most voters tend to cast ballots early during regular elections, and party officials expect many will take advantage of the early presidential vote. While rolling out a new voting system holds the promise of more voter participation, it also comes with potential risk for confusion or technical troubles. But the party is moving forward to try and address long-standing criticism that the caucuses are exclusionary and favor some candidates over others.

Pennsylvania: Voting machines bill vetoed in fight over election changes | Marc Levy/Associated Press

Pennsylvania’s governor vetoed legislation Friday that carried $90 million to help counties in the state buy new voting machines before the 2020 presidential election, but the bill also ordered changes to election laws that the Democrat said wouldn’t help improve voting security or access. In a statement, Gov. Tom Wolf said he remained committed to helping counties pay for voting machines, but he did not say how he might come up with the money without approval from the Republican-controlled Legislature. Wolf began pressing counties last year to replace their voting machines after federal authorities warned Pennsylvania and at least 20 other states that Russian hackers targeted them during 2016’s presidential election. More than half of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties have moved to replace their voting systems to the kind that Wolf wanted: systems that include voter-verifiable paper backups that are widely embraced by election integrity advocates and computer scientists. Wolf’s administration has warned lawmakers that failing to replace its roughly 25,000 voting machines by next year’s election could leave Pennsylvania as the only state without voter-verifiable paper systems, and certainly the only presidential swing state in that position. “National security and cybersecurity experts, including the Trump administration, are urging Pennsylvania and other states to have new voting systems with advanced security and a paper trail,” Wolf said in the statement.

Washington: Problems with State’s new $9.5M voter-registration system leave officials racing to get ballots printed, mailed | Joseph O’Sullivan/The Seattle Times

County officials across Washington are racing to enter a backlog of voter-registration data into a new statewide elections system in time to get ballots printed and mailed by mid-July, for the Aug. 6 primary. That backlog — information such as new registrations and changes of address for more than 16,000 voters in King County alone — comes after voter databases shuttered for about a month while the state transitioned to the new VoteWA system. The software program is intended as a statewide voter-information database to replace the less centralized systems currently used among Washington’s 39 counties, which administer elections. VoteWA allows election administrators to see voter changes made across the state in real-time, which will help implement Washington’s new same-day voter-registration law. That law is now in effect for the Aug. 6 primary. But now, as election workers try to make up for lost time, they are finding the VoteWA system slowing to a crawl — and sometimes entirely shut down. On June 28, state officials had to take VoteWA, which now handles all Washington voter data, offline for the whole day, a Friday, and into the weekend. The situation prompted King County Elections Director Julie Wise to send home eight temporary elections workers who had shown up that Friday to help enter voter data. VoteWA — which has drawn scrutiny from Wise and some other elections officials after problems were discovered during testing last month — was down again Wednesday for a shorter period of time, according to auditors in Clark and Mason counties.

Africa: Libya Uncovers Alleged Russian Plot to Meddle in African Votes | Samer Al-Atrush, Ilya Arkhipov, and Henry Meyer/Bloomberg

Libyan security forces have arrested two men accused of working for a Russian troll farm seeking to influence elections in the oil exporter and other African countries. A letter from the state prosecutor of the internationally-backed Tripoli government to a Libyan security chief said the men were involved in “securing a meeting” with Saif al-Islam al-Qaddafi, the fugitive son of the ousted dictator and a potential presidential candidate who enjoys the backing of some officials in Moscow. Russia’s foreign ministry said it was aware of the reports and was seeking to verify them. “We haven’t received an official notification from the Libyan side regarding this matter,” the foreign ministry’s press service said. Laptops and memory sticks found with the suspects showed that they worked for an outfit identified as Fabrika Trollei, Russian for Troll Factory, that “specializes in influencing elections that are to be held in several African states” including Libya, the letter, stamped by the attorney general’s office and obtained by Bloomberg, stated. Two Libyan government officials with direct knowledge of the matter confirmed the authenticity of the document. Fabrika Trollei was the moniker given to a network of media and political outfits connected to Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, who’s been accused by the U.S. of funding and organizing operations to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. Prigozhin has been in contact with representatives of Saif al-Islam over his future political role, according to three people familiar with the situation.

Europe: Europe Built a System to Fight Russian Meddling. It’s Struggling. | Matt Apuzzo/The New York Times

The European Union launched an ambitious effort earlier this year to combat election interference: an early-warning system that would sound alarms about Russian propaganda. Despite high expectations, however, records show that the system has become a repository for a mishmash of information, produced no alerts and is already at risk of becoming defunct. Indeed, even before the European Parliament elections this spring, an inside joke was circulating in Brussels about the Rapid Alert System: It’s not rapid. There are no alerts. And there’s no system. Europe’s early struggles offer lessons for other nations, including the United States, where intelligence officials expect Russia to try to interfere in next year’s presidential election. In many ways, the European Union has been more aggressive than Washington in demanding changes from social media companies and seeking novel ways to fight disinformation. But doing so has pushed the bloc into thorny areas where free speech, propaganda and national politics intersect. Efforts to identify and counter disinformation have proven not only deeply complicated, but also politically charged. The new Rapid Alert System — a highly touted network to notify governments about Russian efforts before they metastasized as they did during the 2016 American elections — is just the latest example.

Guatemala: Over 23,000 extra votes nulled and void in Guatemala elections | MENAFN

Three weeks after the Guatemalan presidential election, and subsequent to difficulties associated with the transmission of the results by computer systems, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) cannot explain why 23,000 extra votes were originally counted and how the voters were registered. The finding was made after comparing candidates’ official figures with the ones that appear on the TSE website. The TSE confirmed two weeks ago that its system had made an error in the vote-counting process. Nine political parties have had more than 2,000 votes each subtracted from their totals as the TSE numbers continue to reveal inconsistencies. Javier Zepeda, executive director of the Chamber of Industry, explained previously that ‘… one should not take for speculation or misrepresent what was a calculation error with a fraud.’ The electoral body has denied any kind of fraud several times, and its director, Gustavo Castillo, previously explained the agency’s own software was to blame. Castillo said the error was human and that some party numbers on ballots weren’t clear or legible, so data was registered incorrectly.

India: Supreme Court refuses to entertain plea questioning electronic voting machine use in elections | ANI

The Supreme Court on Friday refused to entertain a plea which questioned the use of electronic voting machines (EVM) in polls and sought the cancellation of recently concluded Lok Sabha elections. A Bench headed by Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman heard the public interest litigation (PIL) filed by advocate Manohar Lal Sharma challenging the use of EVMs in polls. “What are you asking for Mr Sharma? You want us to set aside the entire Lok Sabha elections?” said Justice Nariman refusing to interfere with the petition, terming it “devoid of merits”.

Namibia: Electronic voting machines to be tested in public | Sakeus Iikela/The Namibian

The Electoral Commission of Namibia will hold a public event where technicians will test the electronic voting machines (EVMs) for possible defects. ECN chairperson Notemba Tjipueja told a media event in Windhoek yesterday that the commission has received numerous requests from political parties and a parliamentary standing committee to investigate whether the EVMs can be hacked. She said the public testing of the EVMs will be held on 18 July 2019, and the commission will use information technology (IT) students from the Namibia University of Science and Technology to test the machines. The ECN boss said political parties will also be allowed to bring their own technicians to confirm “any allegations they might have with regards to the EVMs”.

Oman: Electronic voting system to be used for the first time in Shura elections | Times Of Oman

For the first time in the Sultanate, an electronic voting system will be used for elections to the Shura. The system, called ‘Sawtak’, translates to ‘your voice’ and consists of a touch screen, in which the procedures and steps of the election are explained so that the voter can easily choose the candidate. The design of the system is suited to various categories of voters, including the elderly and disabled people, the Ministry of Interior said. A statement online said, “In light of the Ministry of Interior’s keenness to use the latest modern technology in the electoral process, which makes it easier for voters to cast their votes, the elections of this period will witness electronic voting at all polling stations for the first time.” The Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Interior, Chairman of the Main Committee of the Shura Council Elections for the ninth term, signed a contract with the Industrial Management and Contracting Technology Company (AMTAC)to design, supply and install the electronic voting system for the ninth period elections.

Switzerland: No e-vote option for the Swiss parliamentary election | SWI

Swiss Post has suspended its e-voting system effectively spelling the end of the online trials with the current technology for the October parliamentary elections. The state-owned company said it took the decision after the government announced last week  that it will drop plans to introduce e-voting as an official voting channel for the time being. However, Swiss Post pledged to develop a new, updated version with universal verifiability available from 2020, according to statementexternal link on Friday. The current system of Swiss Post has been in use in four cantons on a trial basis, notably the registered expat Swiss community living around the world. Last month, a rival system developed by canton Geneva and used by three other cantons, was also withdrawn with immediate effect. The moves come amid increasing opposition against e-voting for data security reasons.