Middle East and North Africa

Articles about voting issues in the Middle East and North Africa.

Afghanistan: Authorities Investigating Fired Electoral Officials | RFE

Afghan authorities say they have launched an investigation into allegations that two election commissions misused their authority during last year’s general elections. The country’s Attorney General’s Office announced the investigation late on February 12, after all 12 members of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC) were dismissed for allegedly abusing their authority. The seven IEC officials and five IECC staff were also barred from leaving the country, the office said in a statement. The electoral officials were heavily criticized following the October parliamentary polls, which were marred by inefficiencies including absent electoral staff and missing voting materials. Final results for all 15 provinces are yet to be announced.

Full Article: Afghanistan Investigating Fired Electoral Officials.

Egypt: Egypt accelerates efforts to extend el-Sissi’s rule | Associated Press

Egypt’s parliament is accelerating the process of passing constitutional amendments that would allow President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to stay in office well beyond the end of his current term in 2022. Lawmakers will decide Wednesday on whether to send the amendments to the legislative committee, a vote that was initially scheduled for Feb. 17, parliament spokesman Ahmed Saad el-Din said late Sunday. The legislative committee will have 60 days to discuss the amendments before a final vote. If approved, the amendments would be put to a national referendum. The move to extend presidential terms comes amid concerns that Egypt is slipping back into authoritarianism eight years after a pro-democracy uprising ended Hosni Mubarak’s nearly three-decade rule.

Full Article: Egypt accelerates efforts to extend el-Sissi's rule | World | lancasteronline.com.

Israel: Elections exposed to cyber manipulations | Al-Monitor

In June 2017, the Knesset Science and Technology Committee devoted a hearing to the cyber threat against Israel’s elections. Experts assured lawmakers that ballots are not under threat because the Central Elections Committee has an independent, closed-circuit system that cannot be hacked. “We decided not to go over to computerized voting, mostly because of what happened in the US presidential election,” an Israeli source close to the elections committee told Al-Monitor. “We would rather count the votes [by hand] at a slower pace, and ascertain that there is no possible infiltration of a computerized system by external elements.”

Full Article: Israeli elections exposed to cyber manipulations.

Pakistan: New electronic ballot machine launched | The Express Tribune

With the use of electronic and biometric voting machines dismissed by the apex electoral body ahead of last year’s general elections on account of ‘technical difficulties’, another private company has sought to reignite the debate by introducing its prototype. The new electronic voting machine (EVM), developed by ElectronBallot, was unveiled in the federal capital on Monday. Rizwan Kamran, the chief executive officer of the company, introduced the machine as an alternative to conventional voting (paper ballot). He claimed that the machine can deliver final, verified and official results on the night of an election. Moreover, he said that the machine was capable of delivering results to a centralised location. “Digital elections do not mean they are safe,” he warned, adding that they could employ mathematical tools to make the electronic voting process more transparent.

Full Article: New electronic ballot machine launched | The Express Tribune.

Israel: Election law ‘screams out’ for update to thwart online abuse, judge warns | The Times of Israel

The chairman of the Central Elections Committee on Thursday appealed to the Israeli media to help protect the April 9 national elections from illicit foreign interference by, among other precautions, refusing to report news from anonymous sources. Supreme Court Judge Hanan Melcer said current election law, which does not extend to digital media the basic transparency requirements that have long been applied to traditional media, “screams out” to be updated. But in the absence of such a change, local media needed to take additional care, Melcer said, to prevent the spread of stories that were unsubstantiated and possibly malicious and false. (The ruling Likud party has to date been preventing the necessary unanimous agreement among existing Knesset parties to extend those requirements voluntarily.) Addressing a press conference at the Knesset called one day before the onset of the 60 day period during which, according to law, the media is banned from facilitating election propaganda, Melcer said journalists should employ their instincts and common sense when it came to any material, notably including survey results, that looked odd.

Full Article: Israel election law 'screams out' for update to thwart online abuse, judge warns | The Times of Israel.

Egypt: Egyptians split as lawmakers pave way for Sisi to be ‘president for life’ | Al-Monitor

Egyptian lawmakers have proposed changes to Egypt’s constitution, including amendments to expand the military’s powers and to allow President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to remain in office following the end of his second term, and potentially until 2034. The amendments have sparked controversy in the country, drawing mixed reactions from members of parliament, analysts and activists. The suggested alteration to Article 140 of the constitution would extend presidential terms from four to six years, and changes to Article 200 would allow the military to ensure “that the principles of the June 30 Revolution are observed,” which means preventing Islamists from ever rising to power. The amendments are being packaged with progressive changes, to make them more palatable to the public.

Full Article: Egyptians split as lawmakers pave way for Sisi to be 'president for life'.

Israel: Facebook Introduces Election Protection Features to Israel’s Central Elections Committee | CTech

Two months ahead of Israel’s general election, Facebook’s global politics and government outreach director Katie Harbath met Sunday with Israel’s Central Elections Committee, the committee announced Monday. The meeting took place following correspondence between the committee and Facebook concerning the ways in which the social media company is planning to increase transparency ahead of the Israeli election process. In the meeting, Facebook representatives reiterated the company’s plans to launch special features in Israel in March, including the association of political ads with the advertising page, and the launch of a political ad archive. Facebook will also prevent users from posting political ads from outside the country.

Full Article: Facebook Introduces Election Protection Features to Israel’s Central Elections Committee - CTech.

Israel: Israel seeks to beat election cyber bots | AFP

Amy Spiro is one of many Israeli journalists who recently received a direct message on her Twitter account linking to a sensational news story. The sender, using the Jewish-sounding name “Bina Melamed”, directed her to a fake story falsely alleging former Israeli defence minister Avigdor Lieberman was a Russian spy. “I just ignored it until I saw a lot of other people were talking about it,” said Spiro, who works for the Jerusalem Post. She avoided falling victim to the ruse, but four Israeli journalists — hoodwinked by the article appearing on a rogue but convincing duplicate of Harvard University’s website — spread the story, before it was exposed.

Full Article: Israel seeks to beat election cyber bots.

Israel: Coalition of diplomats, programmers working to beat election cyber bots | The Times of Israel

Numerous Israeli journalists recently received direct messages on their Twitter accounts linking to a sensational news story. The sender, using the Jewish-sounding name “Bina Melamed,” directed them to a fake story falsely alleging former Israeli defense minister Avigdor Lieberman was a Russian spy. Four Israeli journalists — hoodwinked by the article appearing on a rogue but convincing duplicate of Harvard University’s website — spread the story, before it was exposed. Bina Melamed, which turned out to be a fake account operating from Turkey, has become a cause celebre of attempts to propagate fake news in Israel through bots. And cases of cyber sabotage are rising, ahead of April elections.

Full Article: Coalition of Israeli diplomats, programmers working to beat election cyber bots | The Times of Israel.

Libya: U.N. may push back Libya election conference | Reuters

The United Nations is likely to delay a conference intended to prepare Libya for elections this year until there is more support from rival leaders, sources familiar with the plans said. The national meeting is central to a U.N. and Western roadmap for a vote in Libya as a way out of its eight-year war since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi. But big players and their allied armed groups wield considerable power under the status quo, and there is mistrust between rival governments and parliaments. Libya splintered following the NATO-backed revolt against Gaddafi and has since 2014 been divided between competing political and armed groups based in Tripoli and the east. More delay in the U.N.-sponsored conference, where Libyans from all walks of society are supposed to decide details of their elections such as the presidential or parliamentary system, would also probably push back an actual vote.

Full Article: Exclusive: U.N. may push back Libya election conference | Reuters.

Israel: Twitter suspends accounts spreading fake news to Israelis ahead of election | Haaretz

Twitter suspended 61 accounts linked to foreign fake news manipulation campaigns aimed at the Israeli public, ahead of the April 9 election. The move brings to 343 the number of accounts suspended by Twitter since election was announced last month, Elad Ratson of Israel’s Foreign Affairs Ministry tweeted on Monday. Ratson is the ministry’s director of research and development. The new group of 61 accounts had a total of more than 28,000 followers, and most of them were in English. Meanwhile, Facebook announced in a statement on Monday that it would launch in various countries, including Israel, “additional tools to help prevent foreign interference and make political and issue advertising on Facebook more transparent.” Advertisers will need to be authorized to purchase political ads; Facebook will give people more information about ads related to politics and issues; and it will create a publicly searchable library of these ads for up to seven years, the statement said.

Full Article: Twitter suspends accounts spreading fake news to Israelis ahead of election - Israel News - Haaretz.com.

Israel: Experts call for international cooperation against election cyber attacks | Jerusalem Post

Governments around the world must join forces to detect the sources of foreign cyberattacks aimed at impacting elections and prevent such intervention in the future, Israel Democracy Institute and Hebrew University researchers said Sunday. They spoke after Russian cyberattacks reportedly impacted elections in the US, France and Germany and in the British referendum on exiting the European Union. The researchers from IDI and the Law and Cyber Program at the Federman Center for Cyber Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem spoke at IDI on the subject of cyberattacks and foreign intervention in the April 9 election. They issued recommendations for implementing policies and regulating the chain of command between law enforcement agencies on this issue. The ability of hackers to attack has improved, and it is easier than ever for them to obtain their tools, which makes them even more dangerous,” said former Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) technological division head Ron Shamir.

Full Article: Experts call for international cooperation against election cyber attacks - Israel News - Jerusalem Post.

Turkey: Questions over ‘voter aged 165’ and other irregularities | BBC

Political parties in Turkey are crying foul after thousands of unlikely voters appeared on the electoral roll. Among the oddities are many first-time voters over 100 years old – and one aged 165. Opposition parties also said they had discovered more than 1,000 voters registered at a single apartment. The discovery comes ahead of local elections in March, in which President Erdogan’s AK Party may face its toughest political challenge in years. Turkey has faced economic stagnation in recent months, and the value of its currency is significantly lower than it was a year ago. That has led to speculation that the dominant AKP could lose several key cities, including the capital, Ankara. Opposition parties now say that voter lists are being manipulated.

Full Article: Turkey elections: Questions over 'voter aged 165' and other irregularities - BBC News.

Israel: With elections approaching, is Israel prepared for foreign cyber threat? | JNS

As Israeli elections approach, the country’s cyber-security watchdogs are warning about attempts by foreign actors to disrupt and manipulate this essential democratic process. The issue came to the fore earlier in January, when the head of the Shin Bet domestic intelligence agency, Nadav Argaman, reportedly told a closed-door conference that a “foreign state is planning to intervene in the elections. I don’t know at this stage in favor of whom or at whose detriment,” the intelligence chief said, adding, “I know what I’m talking about.” Thought Argaman did not mention it by name, Russia responded days later through a Kremlin spokesman, who stated that Moscow does not intervene in the elections of other countries and even advised others to refrain “from reading the Israeli media.”

Full Article: With elections approaching, is Israel prepared for foreign cyber threat? | JNS.org.

Algeria: Algeria to hold presidential election on April 18 | Al Jazeera

Algeria is set to hold the presidential election on April 18, the North African country’s presidency announced. It is unclear whether Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Algeria’s frail 81-year-old president who has been in power since 1999, will stand for a fifth consecutive term. Djamel Ould Abbes, the former chief of the ruling National Liberation Front (FLN), was sacked in November, a month after he announced that Bouteflika would be the party’s candidate in the presidential poll. “Bouteflika… is the candidate of the FLN for the presidential election,” Ould Abbes was quoted as saying following a meeting with legislators from the party last year.

Full Article: Algeria to hold presidential election on April 18 | News | Al Jazeera.

Israel: Likud refuses to back rules to block online voter manipulation in elections | The Times of Israel

Days after it was revealed that the Shin Bet security agency has intelligence proving that a foreign country intends to influence the April election via online meddling, the Likud party said on Tuesday that it would block proposed measures to prevent such voter manipulation and similar attempts by Israeli internet operatives. Responding to a plea from the Central Elections Committee chairman, Supreme Court Judge Hanan Melcer, Likud party pushed back against all efforts to apply at least basic transparency standards on online campaigning. That rejection, charged an Israeli expert on internet legislation and election manipulation, appears to signal that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s party plans to make use of dubious methods that gained prominence in the 2016 US presidential elections.

Full Article: Likud refuses to back rules to block online voter manipulation in elections | The Times of Israel.

Libya: Elections should be held even if draft constitution rejected-parliament chief | Reuters

Libya should press ahead with national elections even if voters reject a draft constitution in a planned referendum, the head of the country’s internationally recognised parliament said. The comments by Aguila Saleh could help assuage U.N. and Western concerns that the House of Representatives (HoR) might try to undermine efforts to organise elections to help end the years-long conflict in Libya. The United Nations and Western powers hope Libya will hold its national elections by June after holding a referendum on a constitutional framework to chart a way out of the conflict, which stems from the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Full Article: Libya should hold elections even if draft constitution rejected-parliament chief | Reuters.

Israel: Months before Shin Bet warning, Israeli cyber chief cautioned of election interferene | Haaretz

Israel’s National Cyber Directorate warned that cyber attacks could influence the outcome of the upcoming Israeli election last October, nearly three months prior to a similar statement made by the head of the Shin Bet security service. The threat is the stream of assaults on state facilities, Yigal Unna said at a conference on high tech at the Sha’arei Mishpat Academic Center of Law and Science in Hod Hasharon, which was also attended by Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Israel Defense Forces’ outgoing Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot.

Full Article: Months before Shin Bet warning, Israeli cyber chief cautioned of election interference - Israel Election 2019 - Haaretz.com.

Israel: Tel Aviv Spy Agency Claims Russia Trying To Interfere In Coming Israeli Elections | Eurasia Review

Despite Russia’s denial of any involvement in the upcoming Israeli elections, with a senior Moscow official saying that people should not read the Israeli media, intelligence sources in Tel Aviv announced there were several indications for such intervention, adding that Israel’s cyber army fended off several attacks. Director of the Shin Bet domestic security service Nadav Argaman discussed the issue, saying security forces were concerned about foreign interference that could affect the Knesset elections’ outcome. Speaking at a Friends of Tel Aviv University conference, Argaman said that a foreign country intended to launch cyber attacks in order to influence Israel’s general elections. The issue is considered an internal matter, however, several journalists attending the conference reported the news, which prompted the military censorship to issue an order banning the publication of Argaman’s statement. The military gag was later lifted when reporters threatened of filing a lawsuit, though the naming of the country in question is still prohibited.

Full Article: Tel Aviv Spy Agency Claims Russia Trying To Interfere In Coming Israeli Elections – Eurasia Review.

Israel: Admitting flaws, election committee ‘devising plan’ to thwart foreign meddling | The Times of Israel

Israel’s Central Elections Committee said Wednesday that it is devising a detailed plan of action to thwart attempts by foreign countries to meddle in the April 9 Knesset elections, following a reported alert from the head of the Shin Bet security agency that such attempts are being made by a country that cannot be named by orders from the military censor. “Together with security bodies, we learned what happened in other countries and we are devising a plan of action,” the body in charge of organizing the national ballot said in a statement. The statement came a day after reports that Shin Bet chief Nadav Argamon had warned a foreign state “intends to intervene” through cyberattacks in Israel’s elections. The name of the state was gagged by the military censor.

Full Article: Admitting flaws, election committee 'devising plan' to thwart foreign meddling | The Times of Israel.