The Bolivian president, Evo Morales, is to call fresh elections after international monitors identified serious irregularities in the last vote and recommended a new ballot. The announcement comes after weeks of unrest over disputed election results, which escalated over the weekend as police forces joined anti-government protests, and the military said it would not “confront the people” who had taken to the streets. In a televised news conference on Sunday, Morales told journalists he had decided to call fresh elections to “to preserve the new Bolivia, life and democracy”. Morales, who has been Bolivia’s president for nearly 14 years, announced he would also replace members of the country’s election board. The body has been heavily criticised after an unexplained 24-hour halt in the vote count on 20 October, which showed a shift in favour of Morales when it resumed. The stoppage fed accusations of fraud and prompted an audit of the vote by the Organisation of American States. But Bolivia’s opposition leaders say the call for a fresh vote comes too late. Luis Fernando Camacho, a civic leader from the opposition stronghold Santa Cruz, said the OAS audit shows fraud and that Morales should resign.
A developing technology called blockchain has gotten attention from election officials, startups, and even Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang as a potential way to boost voter turnout and public trust in election results. I study blockchain technology and its potential use in fighting fraud, strengthening cybersecurity, and securing voting. I see promising signs that blockchain-based voting could make it more convenient for people to vote, thereby boosting voter turnout. And blockchain systems can be effective at strengthening the security of devices, networks, and critical systems such as electricity grids, as well as protecting personal privacy. The few small-scale tests run so far have identified problems and vulnerabilities in the digital systems and government administrative procedures that must be resolved before blockchain-based voting can be considered safe and trustworthy. Therefore I don’t see clear evidence that it can prevent, or even detect, election fraud.
National: Election security drill pits red-team hackers against DHS, FBI and police | Sean Lyngaas/CyberScoop
A year from the 2020 election, sophisticated exercises to help secure the vote are kicking into high gear. On Tuesday, executives from the Boston-based firm Cybereason will conduct a tabletop exercise testing the resolve of officials from the Department of Homeland Security, FBI, and the police department of Arlington County, Virginia, among other organizations. The fictional scenario will involve attackers from an unnamed foreign adversary laying siege to a key city in a U.S. swing state. Hacking, physical attacks and disinformation via social media will be on the table as the attackers seek to flip the vote to their preferred candidate — or sow enough doubt among voters to undermine the result. One of the objectives of the red team — technical specialists from Cybereason and other private organizations — is voter suppression. That is exactly what Russian operatives aimed to achieve in 2016 and what, according to U.S. officials, they could strive for again in 2020. What participants learn from Tuesday’s event can be worked into future election-security drills, which will only grow more frequent as the 2020 vote approaches.
National: Internet Voting Is Becoming A Reality In Some States, Despite Cyber Fears | Miles Parks/NPR
For decades, the cybersecurity community has had a consistent message: Mixing the Internet and voting is a horrendous idea. “I believe that’s about the worst thing you can do in terms of election security in America, short of putting American ballot boxes on a Moscow street,” howled Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., on the Senate floor this year. And yet, just a few years removed from Russia’s attack on democracy in the 2016 presidential election, and at a time of increased fear about election security, pockets of the U.S. are doing just that: experimenting with Internet voting as a means to increase turnout. Some experts are terrified. Others see the projects as necessary growth in an American voting system they call woefully stuck in a previous century. The number of people expected to vote this way in 2020 is still minuscule. But the company administering the system and advocates pushing for its use are open about wanting to fundamentally change the way Americans cast their ballots over the coming decade. The U.S. does not have a federalized election infrastructure. That means states and localities have the freedom to oversee voting how they see fit, with little oversight from the federal government. In some cases, that can lead to contradictory trends: At the same time some states implement same-day voter registration, others add more burdensome photo ID requirements. Voting technology is no different.
The fictional City of Adversaria was ground zero for an Election Day security training exercise pitting law enforcement officials attempting to maintain order during an election against “K-OS,” a mysterious cyber group aiming to disrupt and undermine voter confidence. The simulated battle was part of Operation Blackout, a tabletop exercise hosted by Cybereason Nov. 5 to test how federal officials might react to a dedicated attack on election day. The company invited officials from real federal agencies like FBI and the Department of Homeland Security to sit in on both the “Blue” team representing law enforcement and “Red” team representing K-OS, to learn how to better protect election infrastructure. Ari Schwartz, former senior director of cybersecurity at the National Security Council under President Barack Obama, helped adjudicate the exercise and told FCW afterwards that in a real election, much of the planning by defenders would be gamed out in the weeks and months leading up to election day, but that unforeseen attack vectors are always out there and can throw a wrench into the gears of the best laid plans.
National: Administration officials say election security is a ‘top priority’ ahead of 2020 | Tal Axelrod/The Hill
Several administration officials Tuesday released a joint statement assuring the public that they are prioritizing election security less than a year away from the 2020 presidential race. Attorney General William Barr, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, outgoing acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan, acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire, FBI Director Christopher Wray and others said they have increased the level of federal support to state and local election officials and are prioritizing the sharing of threat intelligence to improve election security. “In an unprecedented level of coordination, the U.S. government is working with all 50 states and U.S. territories, local officials, and private sector partners to identify threats, broadly share information, and protect the democratic process. We remain firm in our commitment to quickly share timely and actionable information, provide support and services, and to defend against any threats to our democracy,” they said in a joint statement.
Editorials: Empower the FEC to Fight Election Crime – A depleted commission faces threats from Russia and beyond | Bloomberg
Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas, two Soviet-born associates of Rudolph Giuliani, are charged with funneling $325,000 in foreign money into a super-PAC supporting President Donald Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign. Their indictment should serve as a warning about the threat of foreign manipulation of U.S. elections. It also proves the need for a functioning Federal Election Commission. After a resignation in August, the six-seat commission is down to only three members. The commission needs four for a quorum, and requires a quorum to authorize investigations by its office of general counsel. So FEC lawyers can work on cases previously authorized, but they can’t investigate new ones until the president nominates, and the Senate confirms, at least one new commissioner. Trump has nominated Texas lawyer James “Trey” Trainor III — but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has fast-tracked dozens of federal court nominees, has dragged his feet on this one, failing to schedule a hearing or a vote. McConnell’s antipathy to campaign regulation appears to be trumping his duty to voters.
Georgia: Problem with new election equipment delays voting in Georgia counties | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A glitch with Georgia’s new voter check-in computers caused delays in most of the six counties testing it, causing some precincts to stay open late to accommodate voters who left without casting their ballots. The problem occurred in at least four of the six counties where the new voting system was being tested Tuesday before it’s rolled out statewide to 7.4 million registered voters during the March 24 presidential primary. Most Georgia voters were still using the state’s 17-year-old voting technology Tuesday. Poll workers weren’t able to create voter access cards on new voting check-in computers manufactured by KnowInk. Those cards activate touchscreen voting machines so that they display the ballot associated with the jurisdictions where voters are registered. In Decatur County, near the Florida border, some voters waited 45 minutes for the problem to be fixed. Decatur election officials decided to keep precincts open an hour later, until 8 p.m. “Let’s get these kinks resolved now, before March 24,” said Carol Heard, chief elections officer for Decatur County. “My hair was red before today. Now it’s gray.” The same issue also occurred in Bartow, Carroll, Paulding and Lowndes counties. Catoosa County had no problems.
Indiana: Machines reportedly switching votes plagues Indiana county for second straight election | Owen Daugherty/The Hill
Voting machines reportedly switching people’s choices have troubled a county in Indiana for the second consecutive election. Tippecanoe County experienced issues with machines switching people’s selections on Election Day on Tuesday at multiple locations, according to the Lafayette Post & Courier. Tippecanoe County Clerk Julie Roush was notified by a voter who called in saying their selection on a voting machine at a local polling location would be changed by the machine, which would mark an “X” for someone other than the candidate the voter wanted. Roush said she checked the calibration on three different voting machines after receiving a call. Robert Kurtz, a resident of West Lafayette who went to vote Tuesday, recorded a video of a touch screen on a voting machine that would not record the proper selection. “When I touched a square next to a candidate’s name, the machine selected the square for the candidate above,” Kurtz told the new outlet. “If I touched the square for the candidate at the top of the list, nothing happened.”
Indiana: New voting machines cause some snags, delays in St. Joseph County elections | Caleb Bauer/South Bend Tribune
The implementation of new voting machines for Tuesday’s election came with hiccups and technical issues in St. Joseph County. Early results showed the wrong number of precincts reporting, technical malfunctions on the iPads used to scan voter IDs caused delays, many poll workers were unfamiliar with the new voting machines, and votes for a write-in candidate in South Bend were not immediately tallied. Still, members of the county Election Board were adamant that the problems didn’t impact vote counts. Rita Glenn, the county clerk and an election board member, said plans are already being put in place to provide more training for poll workers for future elections and to rectify the software issues that surfaced Tuesday. “We need to do a little bit more thorough training and get more people involved,” Glenn said. “Next year will be a bigger election, so we’re going to make sure we’re addressing issues ahead of time.” For about 20 minutes on Tuesday night, the election board’s YouTube live stream of results, which The Tribune and other local media use to release information to the public, showed incorrect tallies of the number of precincts reporting.
Kentucky: A Bevin-Beshear recount? Here’s what could happen in the Kentucky governor’s race | Joe Sonka/Louisville Courier Journal
To cap off one of the wildest finishes to a gubernatorial election in Kentucky history, Democratic candidate Andy Beshear declared victory to supporters Tuesday night, moments after Republican incumbent Matt Bevin told supporters that he will not concede the race. “This is a close, close race,” said Bevin, who trailed Beshear by 5,189 votes with 100% of precincts reporting across the state. “We are not conceding this race by any stretch.” Later that night, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes told CNN her office had called the race for Beshear, as they do not believe the difference in the vote can be made up by Bevin. As if matters couldn’t get more complicated, Republican Senate President Robert Stivers then told reporters that a joint session of the Kentucky General Assembly may eventually decide the winner, citing a provision in the state constitution that hasn’t been used in 120 years. So … what now?
Kentucky: Republican lawmakers: Bevin can’t turn election dispute into ‘fishing expedition’ | Joe Sonka Louisville Courier Journal
Republicans in Kentucky’s legislature have expressed skepticism about Gov. Matt Bevin’s dispute with Tuesday night’s election results, saying the governor should back up his claims of “irregularities” and not drag the outcome beyond next week’s recanvass. “If there is evidence of fraud or illegalities, as was alluded to last night, Governor Bevin should state his claim immediately and let the evidence be reviewed,” Rep. Jason Nemes, R-Louisville, wrote in a Facebook post on Wednesday. “But this is not an opportunity for a fishing expedition or a chance to overturn the election result.” With the Kentucky secretary of state’s results showing he finished 5,189 votes behind Democrat Andy Beshear, his bitter political rival, Bevin requested a recanvass Wednesday. The recanvass involves each county’s election board counting absentee votes and checking printouts to make sure the vote totals they transmitted to the State Board of Elections on Tuesday were correct. It will take place on the morning of Nov. 14. Bevin told a crowd of supporters in Louisville on Tuesday night after the votes were counted that he would not concede to Beshear, referring to unspecified voting “irregularities.” Minutes later, Republican Senate President Robert Stivers suggested that under state law, Bevin could formally contest the election by calling a special session of the Kentucky General Assembly.
Will the Kentucky Legislature assist Matt Bevin in stealing the governor’s race from Democrat Andy Beshear, who appeared to have won Tuesday’s election by about 5,000 votes? Ordinarily, I would consider the possibility preposterous. We do not live in ordinary times, though, and on Wednesday Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers raised the prospect that his institution, not the voters, could determine the outcome of the race. If Stivers and Republican Kentucky legislators were to make such a hardball move without good evidence that there were major problems with the vote count, the election would likely end up in federal court, where it is anyone’s guess what would happen. Either way, that we’re even discussing this potentiality one year before Donald Trump—who has repeatedly challenged the vote totals in his 2016 election victory—is set to face reelection is a wrenching sign for our already-damaged democracy.
Louisiana: Cyberattack on St. James Parish government didn’t stop early voting nor affect schools | David J. Mitchell/The Advocate
A cyberattack that forced the shutdown of St. James Parish government’s computer network did not interrupt early voting for runoff elections Nov. 16 or affect the public schools, according to state and parish school officials. “There was no stop in voting, just a change of the means,” Tyler Brey, spokesman for the Louisiana Secretary of State’s office, said Thursday. Workers in the parish’s Registrar of Voters offices had to switch from electronic voting machines to scanned paper ballots for several hours earlier this week while the state took its own system offline as a security precaution. Brey said voting continued Thursday on standard electronic machines and is expected to do so until early voting ends Saturday. In addition to the statewide runoffs for governor and secretary of state, voters in some parts of St. James will be deciding on two Parish Council seats: District 4 in the Convent area and District 5 in western St. James. Parish officials said Wednesday a phishing attack that state investigators believe originated in Russia hit the parish’s computer network.
Pennsylvania: Northampton County voting machines record questionable results | Emily Opilo & Tom Shortell/The Morning Call
Northampton County officials are rescanning ballots cast countywide after questionable results were reported by newly implemented voting machines Tuesday, prompting the head of the county Republican party to demand a recount. Calling the situation “unfortunate,” Northampton County officials issued a statement shortly before midnight acknowledging a problem with counting votes in some county precincts. Voters reported irregularities throughout the day while voting on the machines, and state officials were contacted, the county officials said. The state instructed the county to use paper ballots, not the machine counts, to tabulate its votes. “ES&S has assured the county and the Pennsylvania Department of State that it is assessing and diagnosing what caused the issues with the machines,” the news release stated. Red flags with the results were apparent as even the earliest returns rolled in. Democrat Abe Kassis initially had zero recorded votes with multiple precincts reporting. Lee Snover, head of the Northampton County Republican Party, quickly called for a recount of the paper ballots in at least the judicial contest, saying “I need to win this race.” “We have a hanging chad moment here in Northampton County,” she said, referring to voting machine issues that caused the infamous recount of contested ballots in Florida during the 2000 presidential election.
Pennsylvania: Key to uncovering Northampton County’s voting machine failure could be weeks away | Tom Shortell/The Morning Call
Northampton County officials still could not explain Thursday what went wrong with their new voting machines in Tuesday’s election, and an answer may be out of reach for weeks. Northampton County Executive Lamont McClure said officials with Election Systems & Software, the company that sold the county the voting machines this year, have not determined why votes could not be digitally counted after polls closed. Votes appeared to be severely undercounted in races where candidates were cross-filed, he said. Until the election results are certified by the state in about 20 days, the machines will be impounded and inaccessible to anyone, McClure said. That means technicians will not be able to dive into the machines’ guts to find what caused thousands of votes for specific candidates to disappear from the digital count. “That is something that is unacceptable and ES&S needs to fix that, and they need to fix that before the next election,” McClure said. Despite the issues, he said he believes the county can rely on the machines’ paper ballots. Those paper ballots allowed the county to count votes by Wednesday morning, including those that disappeared in the digital count.
Jerry Brenchley has lived in West Manheim Township, York County, since 1984. Before that, he lived in Los Angeles. The 72-year-old voted in every election in both areas because his grandparents told him that’s the only way to make sure his voice is heard. Brenchley’s voice isn’t going to be heard in this election because, for the first time, he didn’t vote. He and his wife tried, he said. They stood in line at St. David’s Evangelical Lutheran Church for nearly an hour and still hadn’t reached the registration table to get a ballot. “There were five or six ladies handing out ballots,” Brenchley said. “And one came out and said, ‘I’m sorry, they just sent us one machine.’ People were walking out. “This stinks, I mean it really stinks.” Brenchley isn’t alone in his complaints. Voters around York County were voicing concerns about the new paper ballot system. They are worried about this year’s election, but Tuesday’s long lines and voting difficulties have them more concerned about next year’s presidential election. “We waited 2½ hours to vote in 2016,” Valerie Herman said Tuesday. “If things don’t change for next year, we’ll have to camp out.”
Texas: Travis County Election Results “Significantly” Delayed After Recounts Were Required | Spectrum News
Election results are in but in Travis County, there were “significant” delays compared to previous elections. Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir says the delays were not only caused by new voting machines but a statutory requirement to recount some ballots. This is the first time Travis County voters used new machines that utilize paper ballots. At the polls, voters were given a paper “receipt” that inserted into a ballot marker. There they made their selections on a computer which are then printed on the paper. Voters were able to make sure their selections were accurate before having the paper scanned by the ballot box. The papers were then stored in a locked storage box at the bottom of the device in case there was a need for a recount, and recounts were required. DeBeauvoir’s office says the Texas Election Code requires polling places to recount ballots where the number of people who check in, and the number of votes counted, don’t add up. In Travis County, votes from 15 polling locations had to be recounted. That pushed back when the final unofficial results were released: 3:45 a.m. on Wednesday.
West Virginia: ES&S software upgrade allow judicial races to move higher up on ballots | Phil Kabler/Charleston Gazette-Mail
A software upgrade that will allow voting systems used in 33 West Virginia counties to rearrange the ballot order to comply with a new law moving nonpartisan judicial elections higher up on May primary election ballots was approved Tuesday by the State Election Commission. The updated version of the ExpressVote System, produced by Elections Systems and Software, will allow county clerks to customize ballots, necessary under legislation passed by the Legislature in March changing the ballot location for nonpartisan judicial elections. Under the new law, beginning with the May 2020 primary election, judicial elections will appear on the ballot after national, state and legislative races, and ahead of county offices and other nonpartisan races. The change was prompted by concern from some legislators that, on long primary ballots, some voters might be failing to vote in judicial elections, which, in 2016 and 2018, were at the foot of the ballot, and frequently were on the back of a two-sided ballot.