Europe: Cyber-Attacks a Growing Threat to Unprepared Balkan States | Milica Stojanovic, Bojan Stojkovski, Samir Kajosevic, Nermina Kuloglija and Fatjona Mejdini/Balkan Insight

It wasn’t voting irregularities or the counting of postal ballots that delayed the results of last year’s parliamentary election in North Macedonia, but an audacious denial-of-service, DDoS, attack on the website of the country’s election commission. Eight months on, however, the perpetrator or perpetrators behind the most serious cyber attack in the history of North…

Norway’s parliament hit by new hack attack | Reuters

Hackers have infiltrated the Norwegian Parliament’s computer systems and extracted data, officials said on Wednesday, just six months after a previous cyber attack was made public. The attack by unknown hackers was linked to a “vulnerability” in Microsoft’s Exchange software, the parliament said, adding that this was an “international problem”. The latest attack was more severe than last year’s, parliament President Tone Wilhelmsen Troen told a news conference. “This is an attack on our democracy,” she said. “The severity is underscored by the fact that this is happening in the run-up to a parliamentary election and as parliament is handling a pandemic.” An investigation of what information had been extracted was ongoing, she added. The previous attack, made public in September, was launched by Russia, Norwegian foreign minister Ine Eriksen Soereide said the following month, an accusation Moscow denies.

Full Article: Norway’s parliament hit by new hack attack | Reuters

National: Biden signs executive order promoting voting rights on 56th anniversary of ‘Bloody Sunday’ | Felicia Sonmez and  Amy Gardner/The Washington Post

President Biden on Sunday signed an executive order aimed at promoting voting rights amid a push by Republican-led state legislatures to roll back voting access in the wake of former president Donald Trump’s 2020 loss and his baseless effort to cast doubt on the integrity of U.S. elections. The order comes on the 56th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” the day that state troopers violently beat hundreds of marchers, including John Lewis, the late civil rights icon who served as a Democratic congressman from Georgia, on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala. “Today, on the anniversary of Bloody Sunday, I am signing an executive order to make it easier for eligible voters to register to vote and improve access to voting,” Biden said Sunday in a videotaped address to the Martin and Coretta Scott King Unity Breakfast. “Every eligible voter should be able to vote and have that vote counted. If you have the best ideas, you have nothing to hide. Let the people vote.” The order directs federal agencies to develop a strategic plan for promoting voter registration and participation, including potentially applying to be a state-designated voter registration agency and providing recommendations on leave for federal employees to vote or to serve as poll workers.

Full Article: Biden signs executive order promoting voting rights on 56th anniversary of ‘Bloody Sunday’ – The Washington Post

Voting Machine Hashcode Testing: Unsurprisingly insecure, and surprisingly insecure | Andrew Appel and Susan Greenhalgh/Freedom to Tinker

The accuracy of a voting machine is dependent on the software that runs it. If that software is corrupted or hacked, it can misreport the votes.  There is a common assumption that we can check the legitimacy of the software that is installed by checking a “hash code” and comparing it to the hash code of the authorized software.  In practice the scheme is supposed to work like this:  Software provided by the voting-machine vendor examines all the installed software in the voting machine, to make sure it’s the right stuff. There are some flaws in this concept:  it’s hard to find “all the installed software in the voting machine,” because modern computers have many layers underneath what you examine.  But mainly, if a hacker can corrupt the vote-tallying software, perhaps they can corrupt the hash-generating function as well, so that whenever you ask the checker “does the voting machine have the right software installed,” it will say, “Yes, boss.”  Or, if the hasher is designed not to say “yes” or “no,” but to report the hash of what’s installed, it can simply report the hash of what’s supposed to be there, not what’s actually there. For that reason, election security experts never put much reliance in this hash-code idea; instead they insist that you can’t fully trust what software is installed, so you must achieve election integrity by doing recounts or risk-limiting audits of the paper ballots. But you might have thought that the hash-code could at least help protect against accidental, nonmalicious errors in configuration.  You would be wrong.  It turns out that ES&S has bugs in their hash-code checker:  if the “reference hashcode” is completely missing, then it’ll say “yes, boss, everything is fine” instead of reporting an error.  It’s simultaneously shocking and unsurprising that ES&S’s hashcode checker could contain such a blunder and that it would go unnoticed by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s federal certification process. It’s unsurprising because testing naturally tends to focus on “does the system work right when used as intended?”  Using the system in unintended ways (which is what hackers would do) is not something anyone will notice.

Full Article: Voting Machine Hashcode Testing: Unsurprisingly insecure, and surprisingly insecure

National: Voting Rights or the Filibuster? | David Leonhardt/The New York Times

It’s shaping up to be the most significant question about the new Democratic Senate: If forced to choose between the protection of voting rights and the protection of the filibuster, what will Democrats do? They are now almost certain to face that decision. Republican legislators in dozens of states are trying to make voting more difficult, mostly because they believe that lower voter turnout helps their party win elections. (They say it’s to stop voter fraud, but widespread fraud doesn’t exist.) The Supreme Court, with six Republican appointees among the nine justices, has generally allowed those restrictions to stand. “I don’t say this lightly,” Michael McDonald, a political scientist at the University of Florida, recently wrote. “We are witnessing the greatest roll back of voting rights in this country since the Jim Crow era.” The only meaningful way for Democrats to respond is through federal legislation, like the voting-rights bill that the House passed on Wednesday. Among other things, it would require states to register many eligible voters automatically; allow others to register on Election Day; hold at least 15 days of early voting; expand voting by mail; and allow people with completed criminal sentences to vote. The bill also requires more disclosure of campaign donations and restricts partisan gerrymandering. But the bill seems to have no chance of winning the 60 votes in the Senate needed to overcome a filibuster. The Senate is divided 50-50 between the two parties (including two independents, who usually vote with Democrats). The bill will pass only if all 50 Senate Democrats agree to scrap or alter the filibuster, as they have the power to do.

Full Article: Voting Rights or the Filibuster? – The New York Times

National: Taking names: Rep. Lofgren catalogs GOP colleagues’ election claims with a view toward discipline | Dareh Gregorian, Haley Talbot and Alex Moe/NBC

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., has released a detailed examination of the social media accounts of Republican House members who voted to overturn the 2020 election results to analyze what role they might have played in inciting the deadly violence at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. “Like former President [Donald] Trump, any elected member of Congress who aided and abetted the insurrection or incited the attack seriously threatened our democratic government,” Lofgren wrote in the prologue to her 1,939 page “social media review.” “They would have betrayed their oath of office and would be implicated in the same constitutional provision cited in the article of impeachment” against Trump following the Capitol riot, she continued. The congresswoman, who was one of the House managers in Trump’s first Senate impeachment trial last year, suggested that Congress could act against such members. That Constitution “prohibits any person who has previously taken an oath as a member of Congress to support the Constitution but subsequently engaged in insurrection or rebellion from serving in Congress,” she wrote, referring to a section of the 14th Amendment.

Full Article: Taking names: Dem Rep. Lofgren catalogs GOP colleagues’ election claims with a view toward discipline

National: More hackers jump to take advantage of a widespread Microsoft security flaw | Tonya Riley/The Washington Post

Government officials and cybersecurity experts are scrambling to stem the damage from a security flaw in Microsoft Exchange that has allowed hackers to infiltrate the servers of at least 30,000 U.S. organizations. The growing number of hackers taking advantage has just made that task much more difficult. Since Microsoft and cybersecurity firm Volexity first attributed the breach to Halfnium, a group of hackers they tied to China, cybersecurity researchers say there are more groups getting in on the action. “It’s a frenzy, says Steven Adair, president of Volexity, which first discovered the problem. Adair described the race to take advantage of the tens of thousands of servers that have not yet been secured as “a golden opportunity.”

Full Article: The Cybersecurity 202: More hackers jump to take advantage of a widespread Microsoft security flaw – The Washington Post

National: America’s Patchwork of Election Laws Under Scrutiny | Rob Garver/VoA News

The Democrat-led U.S. House of Representatives this week passed a bill that would greatly expand access to voting in federal elections. Even though Senate passage is highly unlikely, Democrats are underscoring their commitment to making voting easier at a time when Republicans seek to limit voting access in many states. The bill was labeled House Resolution 1 in order to signal its importance to Democrats’ agenda, and it passed with no Republican support. Also known as the For the People Act, it would force sweeping changes to state election laws, with the aim of making it easier for eligible voters to cast a ballot. Among other things, H.R. 1 would create an automatic voter registration system and limit the ability of state officials to purge voters from the system. It would also require states to make early voting available and block limits on mail-in voting. In addition, it would require that congressional districts be drawn by non-partisan commissions to prevent state legislatures from drawing districts that unfairly disadvantage one party, a practice known as gerrymandering. Beyond measures aimed specifically at access to the ballot, the bill would attempt to reduce the power of big-money donors to influence elections by requiring politically active organizations to disclose the sources of their funding and by creating a federal system of matching grants that would allow lawmakers to campaign without relying on high-dollar donations. It would also strengthen ethics enforcement and election oversight.

Full Article: America’s Patchwork of Election Laws Under Scrutiny | Voice of America – English

National: Federal officials scramble to assess widening Microsoft Exchange Server fallout | Sean Lyngaas/CyberScoop

The fallout from critical Microsoft software bugs exploited by suspected Chinese hackers deepened on Saturday as incident responders warned that state and local organizations across the U.S. could be exposed to the vulnerabilities. Federal officials rushed to get a better sense of the potential impact of the hacking amid multiple media reports that tens of thousands of organizations could be affected by vulnerabilities as other hacking groups, in addition to the alleged Chinese, moved to exploit bugs in widely used Microsoft technology. Officials at the Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity agency held phone briefings with state and local officials Friday and Saturday to assess the scope of the compromises, and the White House National Security Council urged vulnerable organizations to “take immediate measures” to determine if they were affected.  Two DHS officials said the agency was still gathering data on how many organizations might be breached. The malicious activity amounts to the second major set of cyber incidents facing the Biden administration, which is already coping with a suspected Russian hacking campaign that has exploited software made by federal contractor SolarWinds and other vendors.

Full Article: Federal officials scramble to assess widening Microsoft Exchange Server fallout

National: Supreme Court delivers final blow to Trump’s last election challenge | Chris Riotta/The Independent

The Supreme Court has tossed out former President Donald Trump’s last remaining challenge to the 2020 election after he lied about the results of the nationwide vote and urged states to wipe out thousands of ballots while promoting false claims of fraud. The court without comment rejected Mr Trump’s appeal, which challenged thousands of absentee ballots filed in Wisconsin, an election battleground that the former president lost by more than 20,000 votes.´It was the last of three petitions filed at the Supreme Court near the end of his presidency that the justices declined to take up. The court turned away Mr Trump’s other two appeals, including a second Wisconsin challenge and one relating to voting in Pennsylvania, another pivotal state he lost, last week. Lower courts previously had ruled against Mr Trump in those three cases. It already was clear that the high court, which includes three justices appointed by Mr Trump, had no intention to intervene in the cases and others filed by his allies because it did not act before Congress certified Mr Biden’s victory on January 6. 

Full Article: Supreme Court delivers final blow to Trump’s last election challenge | The Independent

National: New Executive Order Requires Pentagon to Track Military Absentee Ballots | Patricia Kime/

A new executive order signed by President Joe Biden and designed to expand voting rights requires the Pentagon to better track absentee and military ballots from overseas. Biden’s order, issued Sunday, comes as a voter rights and campaign finance bill passed the House last week in a 220-210 vote, with no support from Republicans. The legislation, H.R. 1, the “For The People Act,” faces obstacles in the Senate, where Republicans must join Democrats for legislation to be approved. Biden has urged the Senate to approve the legislation but used his authority as president to direct federal agencies to create strategies for promoting voter participation, including encouraging — via the agencies’ websites and social media accounts — people to register to vote. The order also calls for revamping the government’s voting information website,, within 200 days. For military personnel stationed around the world, the Defense Department will be required to work with the State Department, Military Postal Service Agency and the U.S. Postal Service to establish an “end-to-end tracking system” for all absentee ballots cast by military personnel and Americans living overseas.

Full Article: New Executive Order Requires Pentagon to Track Military Absentee Ballots |

Editorial: There Are Two Competing Narratives About The 2020 Election | Steve Schneider/Democracy Chronicles

There are two competing narratives about the 2020 election — it was rigged and it was the most secure election ever. Both can’t be correct unless all of our presidential elections have been rigged to varying degrees. This reality tells me that one of the two assertions is closer to the truth than the other but still misses the mark. So I set out to fill in the gap. I went online to do some reading. I also contacted a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that is at the forefront of creating a modern, more secure voting machine system to replace obsolete software dating back to the time Bill Clinton was president. We need more information, I think, because many Americans, for reasons sound and not-so-sound, doubt the credibility of vote counts and election results. To start with, I wanted to learn the meaning of the phrase “the most secure election in American history”. A founder and Chief Operating Officer of OSET Institute gave me a detailed answer in an email. Gregory Miller helped start OSET in November 2006 to create an open-source voting machine system that manufacturers and voting jurisdictions can use to replace obsolete digital machines across the country. I am reprinting his answer in full because it clarifies what the government meant when it said the 2020 election was the most secure in American history. I have put in bold portions of the statement that seem significant and new to me.

Full Article: There Are Two Competing Narratives About The 2020 Election

Editorial: Why Judges, Not Lawmakers, Should Rule on Disputed Elections | Kevin Johnson/Governing

Disregard for the judgments of courts is a sure sign that democracy is in trouble. Donald Trump’s machinations after the Nov. 3 election centered, fundamentally, on overturning the many court rulings rejecting his claims of fraud. Channeling fomented partisan anger, Trump and his allies sought to replace the verdict of the judiciary with populist resolutions in Congress and state legislatures. Before our democracy is so tested by fire again, we must reinforce the primacy of the judiciary as the institution best positioned to judge contested elections. That requires pushing back on proposals to increase state legislatures’ role in such disputes and amending the federal Electoral Count Act to remove congressional discretion in the counting of presidential electoral votes. Judicial supervision of contested elections has become the norm in most democracies around the world. An outlier in this area as in so many, the U.S. allows a considerable role for legislatures. The Constitution, for example, makes the House and Senate “the Judge of the Elections … of its own Members.” North Carolina provides for its Legislature to intervene in a contested presidential election to name electors if disputes are unresolved within 35 days of the vote. Georgia’s GOP has proposed similar ideas, and Arizona’s Legislature is considering a bill giving itself even greater control over contested presidential elections.

Full Article: Why Judges, Not Lawmakers, Should Rule on Disputed Elections

Editorial: What Went Right in the 2020 Election | Shira Ovide/The New York Times

A lot went wrong after the 2020 election in the United States. But here’s one thing that went right during it: A risk everyone worried about — foreign election interference — mostly failed. That showed what is possible when government officials and technology companies are laser focused on a problem, effectively coordinate and learn from their past mistakes. But the false narrative that the election was stolen, culminating in a mob attack on the U.S. Capitol, also pointed to the limits of those efforts. The Russians or the Chinese didn’t delegitimize our election. We did it to ourselves. Today, I want to explore the glass half-full view. The largely averted threat of foreign election meddling was a success that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Full Article: What Went Right in the 2020 Election – The New York Times

Arizona Senate moves to restrict early voting | Howard Fischer/Arizona Capitol Times

Republican senators are moving on two fronts to erect new hurdles in the path of those who want to vote early. On a party-line vote, GOP senators on Monday decided to scrap existing laws which determine the validity of early ballots based solely on county election workers matching their signatures on the envelopes with what’s on file. Instead, they would need to provide an affidavit with their date of birth and the number of a state driver’s license, identification card or tribal enrollment card. No such identification? Voters would have to send a copy of any other federal state or locally issued ID card. And if they don’t have that? The proposal by Sen. J.D. Mesnard, R-Chandler, gets more complicated. First, there’s the need for someone’s voter registration number. “Raise your hand if you know your voter registration number,” said Sen. Sean Bowie, D-Tempe. But that isn’t enough. Then they have to enclose an actual physical copy of something with their actual address like a utility bill, vehicle registration form, property tax statement or a bank statement dated within the past 90 days. Monday’s vote on SB1713 is just part of the GOP plan to make it more difficult to cast an early ballot.

Full Article: Senate moves to restrict early voting – Arizona Capitol Times

Georgia Republicans Take Aim at Role of Black Churches in Elections | Nick Corasaniti and Jim Rutenberg/The New York Times

Sundays are always special at the St. Philip Monumental A.M.E. church. But in October, the pews are often more packed, the sermon a bit more urgent and the congregation more animated, and eager for what will follow: piling into church vans and buses — though some prefer to walk — and heading to the polls. Voting after Sunday church services, known colloquially as “souls to the polls,” is a tradition in Black communities across the country, and Pastor Bernard Clarke, a minister since 1991, has marshaled the effort at St. Philip for five years. His sermons on those Sundays, he said, deliver a message of fellowship, responsibility and reverence. “It is an opportunity for us to show our voting rights privilege as well as to fulfill what we know that people have died for, and people have fought for,” Mr. Clarke said. Now, Georgia Republicans are proposing new restrictions on weekend voting that could severely curtail one of the Black church’s central roles in civic engagement and elections. Stung by losses in the presidential race and two Senate contests, the state party is moving quickly to push through these limits and a raft of other measures aimed directly at suppressing the Black turnout that helped Democrats prevail in the critical battleground state. “The only reason you have these bills is because they lost,” said Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, who oversees all 534 A.M.E. churches in Georgia. “What makes it even more troubling than that is there is no other way you can describe this other than racism, and we just need to call it what it is.’’

Full Article: In Georgia, Republicans Take Aim at Role of Black Churches in Elections – The New York Times

Georgia Senate votes to eliminate no-excuse absentee voting | Mark Niesse and David Wickert/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Georgia Senate passed a bill Monday to roll back no-excuse absentee voting and require more voter ID, which would create new obstacles for voters after Republicans lost elections for president and the U.S. Senate. The legislation would reduce the availability of absentee voting, restricting it to those who are at least 65 years old, have a physical disability or are out of town. In addition, Georgians would need to provide a driver’s license number, state ID number or other identification. The Senate approved the bill on a party-line 29-20 vote, a one-vote majority of the chamber’s 56 senators required by the Georgia Constitution for legislation to pass. Democrats unified against the voting limitations over three hours of passionate debate, saying the restrictions would especially harm Black voters after struggles for ballot access during the civil rights movement. Four Republican senators excused themselves, along with Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, the Senate’s presiding officer who opposed the bill but doesn’t get a vote. The bill now advances to the state House of Representatives.

Full Article: Restrictions on absentee voting pass Georgia Senate

Iowa Governor signs law shortening early voting, hours on Election Day | Stephen Gruber-Miller/Des Moines Register

Four months after Iowans voted in record numbers, Gov. Kim Reynolds has signed legislation cutting the state’s early voting period and closing the polls an hour earlier on Election Day. The Iowa Legislature approved the measure and sent it to Reynolds’ desk late last month. Every Republican present for debate in the House and Senate voted for the legislation. Every Democrat voted against it. Reynolds, a Republican, signed the law Tuesday. Iowa is among a national wave of Republican-led states whose leaders have expressed concerns about the integrity of the 2020 elections, taking the lead from former President Donald Trump, who falsely claimed the election was stolen from him. States such as Florida and Georgia have undertaken high-profile efforts to limit absentee voting after the practice surged in 2020. While there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in Iowa or nationally, Republicans have described the state’s legislation as an election integrity measure and said it will bring uniformity across Iowa’s 99 counties. Democrats say the law will suppress votes and does nothing to improve election security. 

Full Article: Gov. Reynolds signs law shortening early voting, hours on Election Day

Kentucky Election Reform Effort Gets Bipartisan Backing | Ryland Barton/NPR

In states like Georgia and Arizona, there are fierce partisan battles going on right now over voting proposals. But in Kentucky’s Republican-led legislature, a bill to boost voter access and election security has gotten widespread support from both parties. The legislation is now at the Senate, after passing the House 93-4 late last month. The proposal would preserve some of the policies Kentucky implemented last year to ensure voter access during the coronavirus pandemic, including a short period during which people can vote early, and allowing people to “cure” mail-in ballots that were improperly signed. But it also includes election integrity measures typically favored by Republicans, like a ban on so-called ballot harvesting and making it easier to remove people who have moved out of Kentucky from the state’s voter rolls.

Full Article: Kentucky Election Reform Effort Gets Bipartisan Backing : NPR

How Louisiana’s bid for new voting machines fell apart amid baseless fraud allegations | Sam Karlin/The Advocate

Louisiana’s top elections official, Kyle Ardoin, has known for years the state needed to replace its fleet of aging voting machines. After a previous effort to do so in 2018 was rejected, he officially began the quest again in January, seeking a vendor for the potentially $100 million contract. But the new effort coincided with a wave of baseless allegations against one of the three bidders, Dominion Voting Systems, that took hold in right-wing media in the wake of Donald Trump’s election loss in November. At the same time, the two other companies seeking the work halted the process by filing official protests of the plan. And Republican state lawmakers, many of whom were inundated with calls from constituents demanding the state not hire Dominion, slowed the process down, seeking more oversight and public hearings on the contract. As pressure mounted, Ardoin faced the prospect of failing to get approval from the legislative budget committee whose OK he needed. Last week, he abandoned the effort.

Full Article: How Louisiana’s bid for new voting machines fell apart amid baseless fraud allegations | Elections |

Michigan: Antrim County clerk says political operatives ‘strong-armed’ way to Dominion machines | Zachary Halaschak/Washington Examiner

Antrim County officials say operatives who claimed they were tied to Rudy Giuliani, the ex-personal attorney to former President Donald Trump, pushed local clerks to let them examine election data in the early days of a lawsuit focused on voting machines. Sheryl Guy, who is the Antrim County clerk, said Allied Security Operations Group, a Dallas-based cybersecurity firm that conducted what it called a “forensic audit” of Dominion Voting Systems machines in the small country, visited the day after Thanksgiving and began a blitz of calls to the clerks of villages and townships in an attempt to examine election data. Included in the group, which flew into the northern Michigan county in a chartered jet on Nov. 27, was Washington, D.C.-based lobbyist Katherine Friess. Local officials said Friess “bragged” at the time about having dinner with Trump and Giuliani, who was his personal attorney at the time, the night before they arrived in Michigan, according to reporting from the Traverse City Record-Eagle. The team was able to gain access to the Central Lake Township office, where it was shown “two separate paper totals tape” from a precinct tabulator, according to court filings. The team also visited offices in the Village of Mancelona and in Star Township, which have populations of about 1,350 and 925, respectively.

Full Article: Antrim County clerk says political operatives ‘strong-armed’ way to Dominion machines

Michigan: Charter jets, dinners with Trump: New details surface in Antrim County election lawsuit | Mardi Link/Traverse City Record-Eagle

Political operatives working on behalf of a man who filed an election lawsuit against Antrim County, identified themselves to township officials as representing Rudy Giuliani’s legal team, and accessed official election data in at least one township, according to local officials. Court filings in Michigan and Arizona state the operatives who identified themselves as a forensics team from Dallas-based Allied Security Operations Group, visited the Central Lake Township office on Nov. 27 at 10:30 a.m. and were shown “two separate paper totals tape” from a precinct tabulator, which they later analyzed and compared. “They made calls to township people on Thanksgiving Day to set all this up, they were strong-arming local clerks to get in and see those machines,” said Antrim County Clerk Sheryl Guy, of the visitors. “Some clerks said no or didn’t answer their phones,” Guy said. “And as soon as we could, we sent out an email telling the clerks not to let them in. Then we learn after the fact, they’d already been in three different locations.” The group also visited offices in Star Township and the Village of Mancelona, officials confirmed. Among those arriving Nov. 27 by chartered jet, was attorney Katherine Friess, a Washington, D.C. lobbyist with past ties to Roger Stone and Paul Manafort, who local officials said “bragged” about dining with President Donald Trump and Giuliani the evening prior to her arrival. Guy, a Republican, said she thought Friess shared the information about having dinner with Trump and Giuliani, in an effort to try and impress local officials.

Full Article: Charter jets, dinners with Trump: New details surface in Antrim County election lawsuit | Local News |

New Hampshire: Republican voting bills draw opposition from college students during committee hearings | John DiStaso/WMUR

College students charged Monday that their right to vote in New Hampshire is again under attack through the latest group of bills that Republicans say are aimed an ensuring the integrity of the state’s elections. With the validity of the November election nationally having come under criticism by former President Donald Trump and many of his supporters, Republicans in the Granite State are reigniting efforts to ensure what they say is election integrity. The House Election Law Committee, now with a Republican majority, took several hours of testimony Monday on bills that the sponsors said would ensure that people voting in New Hampshire are residents of New Hampshire but opponents said were partisan attempts to disenfranchise voters, particularly college students. The committee also voted along partisan lines recommending the full House kill Democratic-sponsored bills to allow the permanent use of “no-excuse,” universal absentee voting in future New Hampshire elections. Details on these and other committee votes appear at the end of this report. The committee took testimony on House Bill 362, which would repeal the use of a student’s address at an educational institution as his or her place of domicile for voting purposes. Current law allows a student to claim domicile in the New Hampshire city or town in which he or she lives while attending the institution.

Full Article: Republican voting bills draw opposition from college students during committee hearings

Ohio: Stark County commissioners to decide Dominion Voting machine purchase | Robert Wang/The Canton Repository

Stark County commissioners expect to make a decision by March 15 on whether to approve buying Dominion voting machines for the general election in November, said Commissioner Bill Smith. A vote could take place on Wednesday at the three-member board’s weekly teleconference meeting, he said. It would be up to Stark County Administrator Brant Luther by Tuesday whether to put the item on the Wednesday agenda. Smith said he has not yet decided if he’ll vote to approve the purchase. Commissioners have met a few times in closed-door sessions to discuss the purchase of public property and met with the county’s attorneys to discuss possible imminent court action. Smith declined to confirm if they discussed the voting machines purchase in executive session. On Dec. 9, the Stark County Board of Elections, made up of two Republicans and two Democrats, voted unanimously to buy 1,450 Dominion ImageCast touchscreen voting machines as part of a $6.45 million order from Dominion Voting Systems. The state would cover $3.27 million of the cost. Dominion has offered to extend a $1.71 million trade-in credit on old voting machines, leaving the county’s share around $1.5 million. Dominion’s competitor Elections Systems and Software was offering to sell touchscreen voting machines that would cost the county more than double, or $3.5 million. However, then-President Donald Trump and his allies have alleged without credible evidence that the Dominion voting machines were hacked or counted votes inaccurately and contributed to him losing the election.

Full Article: Stark County commissioners to decide Dominion Voting machine purchase

Texas Republican Lawmakers File 7 ‘Election Integrity’ Bills That Could Limit Voter Access | Andrew Schneider/Houston Public Media

Republican lawmakers have filed seven bills that would change voting access in Texas, including a law to limit the hours counties can keep ballot locations open during the state’s early voting period. State Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, who authored the bills, argued they’re necessary to force local governments to comply with the Texas Elections Code. “The seven bills themselves really represent my ideas to make sure that we have integrity in the voter roll as well as in the election system,” Bettencourt said. One of the proposed laws filed Friday, SB 1115, would require all counties to observe the same early voting hours and days, prohibiting counties from expanding their hours as Harris County did last fall with the state’s first-ever 24-hour voting sites. “In Harris County’s case,” Bettencourt said, “you have code that allows people to have very extended hours in early voting, but not on Election Day. When you look out in some of the counties surrounding Harris County, they don’t even go to 7 p.m. So, I think that the concept here is to have a standard 12-hour voting day, regardless of whether it’s early voting or Election Day.” Another measure, SB 1111, would requires the voter to provide documentation that the voter lives at the address where they are registered when they receive a confirmation request from the registrar. Bettencourt said this is specifically aimed at barring people from registering using a private P.O. box.

Full Article: Republican Lawmakers File 7 ‘Election Integrity’ Bills That Could Limit Voter Access – Houston Public Media

Wisconsin: Supreme Court declines to hear last active lawsuit to overturn presidential election | Molly Beck/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The U.S. Supreme Court quietly put an end to the 2020 election on Monday — four months after polls closed — by declining to hear a lawsuit brought by former President Donald Trump to throw out thousands of ballots and let the Legislature pick the winner of the state’s 10 electoral votes. It was the last active legal challenge from Trump or his supporters to change the outcome of Wisconsin’s election. “This is the inevitable end to the ignominious litigation assault on Wisconsin’s November 2020 election,” Jeff Mandell, an attorney representing Gov. Tony Evers in one of the lawsuits, said Monday. “It was clear from the outset that these efforts to overturn the will of the voters never had any merit.” A spokeswoman for the Republican Party of Wisconsin deferred comment to the Trump campaign, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.  Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul credited attorneys at the state Department of Justice who “successfully protected Wisconsinites’ votes.” Evers and state election officials still face a class-action lawsuit seeking billions in damages filed in Colorado against social media companies, a voting machine company and officials in swing states. The legal challenge turned away by justices on Monday was first filed in federal court in the weeks following the Nov. 3 election when Trump and his allies were bombarding state and federal judges across the country with lawsuits seeking to change the outcome of the presidential contest.

Full Article: Supreme Court declines to hear last active lawsuit to overturn Wisconsin’s presidential election

Canada: Western University expert warns municipalities against using online voting | Megan Stacey/The London Free Press

Online voting in municipal elections is “basically the Wild West,” rife with security and legal risks for cities, a Western University researcher warns. Almost half of Ontario municipalities offered voters the chance to cast their ballots online in the 2018 election, though it’s not been an option in London. “If municipalities use online voting, they are exposing themselves to cyber, legal and reputational risks,” said Aleksander Essex, a Western computer engineering professor and privacy expert. And it could come back to bite taxpayers, he stressed. “We expect there are going to be lawsuits. In fact, there already has been,” Essex said. “We have identified the risks, and we are encouraging (municipalities) to not use this technology until some standards can be developed.” All small municipalities in the London region offered voters the chance to cast ballots online in 2018, and Sarnia council voted last month to use internet-only voting in the next election in 2022.

Full Article: Western expert warns municipalities against using online voting | The Stratford Beacon Herald

Germany: Cyber threat looms large over election | Janosch Delcker/Deutsche Welle

When Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) met online to elect a new party leadership in January, hackers carried out a series of massive attacks aimed at throwing the summit into chaos. The attacks picked up speed every time delegates were about to vote. According to CDU spokespeople, the assailants, operating mostly from abroad, bombarded the party’s website with internet traffic to overwhelm its server. At some point, they succeeded. The site collapsed and the livestream of the event cut out. In the end, the CDU managed to push the intruders out: The party’s technical staff got the website back up by blocking access from outside Germany and specific locations inside the country. Meanwhile, undeterred by the attacks, delegates elected a new party leader through a voting system hosted on a separate server — a safeguard that had been set up to fend off cyberintruders. Yet the thwarted attack illustrates the threat of online meddling that looms over Germany’s upcoming election campaign. As Europe’s largest economy heads into a string of regional votes that will culminate in a federal election in September, security experts and lawmakers have warned in various interviews that digital risks are on the rise.

Full Article: Cyber threat looms large over German election | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 06.03.2021

National: Targeting State Restrictions, House Passes Landmark Voting Rights Expansion | Nicholas Fandos/The New York Times

House Democrats pushed through a sweeping expansion of federal voting rights on Wednesday over unified Republican opposition, opening a new front in a raging national debate about elections aimed at countering G.O.P. attempts to clamp down on ballot access. The bill, adopted 220 to 210 mostly along party lines, would constitute the most significant enhancement of federal voting protections since the 1960s if it became law. It aims to impose new national requirements weakening restrictive state voter ID laws, mandate automatic voter registration, expand early and mail-in voting, make it harder to purge voter rolls and restore voting rights to former felons — changes that studies suggest would increase voter participation, especially by racial minorities. The vote was the latest bid by Democrats to beat back Republican efforts in statehouses across the country to enact new barriers to voting that would consolidate power for the Republican Party amid false claims of rampant election fraud heralded by former President Donald J. Trump and many of his allies in Congress. But the measure, which is supported by President Biden, appears to be doomed for now in the Senate, where Republican opposition would make it all but impossible to draw the 60 votes needed to advance. Democratic leaders have vowed to put it up for a vote anyway, and progressives were already plotting to use Republican obstruction of the bill to build their case for jettisoning the legislative filibuster in the months ahead. “Everything is at stake. We must win this race, this fight,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, said as Democrats rallied on the Capitol steps before the vote. “At the same time as we are gathering here to honor our democracy, across the country over 200 bills are being put together, provisions are being put forward to suppress the vote.”

Full Article: House Passes Landmark Voting Rights Bill – The New York Times