North America

Articles about voting issues in North America outside the United States.

Canada: Canada at risk from Russian, Chinese interference – security committee | David Ljunggren/Reuters

Canada’s democracy is at risk from interference by China and Russia, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government must do more to build up its defenses, a special security body said on Thursday. The national security and intelligence committee of Canadian parliamentarians, which was granted access to classified materials, said elected and public officials at all levels were being targeted. “The (main) perpetrators of foreign interference in Canada are the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation,” the committee said in an annual report. “States that conduct foreign interference activities pose a threat to Canada and predominantly threaten the fundamental building blocks of Canada’s democracy.” Canada has poor relations with both Moscow and Beijing. Ottawa imposed sanctions on many senior Russian officials after the annexation of Crimea and is entangled in a diplomatic and trade dispute with China. The report, parts of which were redacted for security reasons, said some countries targeted ethnic communities, sought to corrupt the political process and manipulate news media.

Full Article: Canada at risk from Russian, Chinese interference - security committee - Reuters.

Canada: Security issues stymie online voting | Constantine Passaris/Winnipeg Free Press

The recent Iowa caucuses debacle reminded me of two things. First, my about-face as a member of the New Brunswick Commission on Electoral Reform with respect to electronic voting. Second, further confirmation that the electronic infrastructure continues to be an impediment in advancing digital democracy. The 21st century has empowered humanity with electronic connectivity and digital dexterity. The information technology revolution has been a catalyst for the kind of transformation that happens at most once every century. Internetization, in the form of global outreach and electronic connectivity, has proven to be a game-changer for society. It has precipitated transformation on practically every aspect of human endeavour. The way we bank, travel, communicate, educate and entertain ourselves, to name but a few, have been profoundly and positively impacted by internetization.

Full Article: Security issues stymie online voting - Winnipeg Free Press.

Canada: Nova Scotia could see limited internet voting for military with proposed changes | Keith Doucette/The Canadian Press

Limited internet voting for the military and financial reimbursement for candidate expenses related to family care feature in a series of proposed changes to Nova Scotia’s Elections Act tabled Friday. Justice Minister Mark Furey said the changes would reduce barriers to running in elections and make voting easier for members of the military who are serving elsewhere in Canada or overseas. Under the changes, candidates would be reimbursed for extra expenses such as child and spousal care, elder care or care for a person with a disability. “Public service is foundational to our democracy, and my hope is that these changes will reduce barriers to running, especially for women who are primary care givers in so many elements of their family,” Furey said.

Full Article: (1) Nova Scotia could see limited internet voting for military with proposed changes - Halifax | Globalnews.ca.

Dominican Republic: Government officials ask OAS to investigate e-vote failure | Martín José Adames Alcántara/Associated Press

Officials in the Dominican Republic announced Friday that they have asked the Organization of American States to investigate the failure of an electronic voting system some believe was tampered with in an incident that sparked protests and delayed municipal elections. Government officials said they also requested that the local Justice Department suspend its investigation to allow international organizations to take over. “We must find a way to lend credibility to any investigation that is carried out to determine what happened and if there was any malicious action,” said Flavio Darío Espinal, the president’s legal adviser. The software glitch had forced the Dominican Republic to suspend municipal elections on Sunday, with voting halted after three hours when 50% of polling places using electronic ballot machines reported problems.

Full Article: Dominican government asks OAS to investigate e-vote failure.

Canada: 2019 election wasn’t without hitches, but no cyber disruptions: report | Rachel Aiello/CTV News

Election Canada’s delivery of the 2019 federal election wasn’t without some hitches, but the integrity of the vote was maintained from a cybersecurity perspective, according to Elections Canada’s first report into the fall campaign. The report, tabled in the House of Commons on Tuesday, provides a general overview of how the election was delivered by the federal elections agency, and identified issues that will require further analysis in the coming months. Among the issues highlighted: the timing of the vote; the impact of weather in some ridings; and the staffing of polling places. Topline numbers show that, while turnout was slightly down, the 40-day campaign saw an increase in the number of candidates, registered third parties, participants in advance polls, and the overall price tag. Some 18.3 million Canadians cast ballots. That’s 67 per cent of registered voters, which was down marginally from the 68 per cent turnout in 2015. A total of 2,146 candidates ran for 21 different political parties, up from 1,792 MP-hopefuls in 2015; and the number of registered third parties increased from 115 to 147.

Full Article: 2019 election wasn't without hitches, but no cyber disruptions: report | CTV News.

Dominican Republic: Electronic glitch triggers Dominican Republic vote suspension | Ezequiel Abiu Lopez/Reuters

Dominican Republic’s nationwide municipal elections were suspended only four hours after voting began on Sunday due to a glitch in the electronic voting system, officials said. More than 7.4 million voters were due to vote to elect 3,849 positions in 158 municipalities across the Caribbean nation. The failure of the system is likely to raise concerns ahead of the May 17 presidential elections. Julio Cesar Castanos, president of Dominican Republic’s electoral body, said nearly half of the electronic devices did not work properly and many virtual ballot papers did not load, leaving citizens unable to cast their votes. “We are going to initiate a thorough investigation of what happened and why those ballot papers did not load correctly,” Castanos said in a press conference. The electronic system was used in 18 of the 158 municipalities and focused on cities and regions with high population density, accounting for 62.4% of the electorate. Paper ballots were due to be used elsewhere.

Full Article: Electronic glitch triggers Dominican Republic vote suspension - Reuters.

Dominican Republic: Voting Machine Failure Suspends Dominican Republic Elections | The St Kitts Nevis Observer

Dominican Republic’s nationwide municipal elections were suspended on Sunday due to a glitch in the electronic voting system, Central Electoral Board (JCE) announced, adding that they will convene a new date promptly. Following the suspension, four hours after they started, due to automated voting failures, the opposition party People’s Power (FP) said that the problem was provoked. “We are going to initiate a thorough investigation of what happened and why those ballot papers did not load correctly,” the President of the JCE Julio Cesar Castanos said in a press conference. The electronic system was used in 18 of the 158 municipalities and focused on cities and regions with high population density, accounting for 62.4 percent of the electorate. Paper ballots were due to be used elsewhere. The decision was made after members of the JCE met with the delegates of the political parties accredited to that institution, trying to find a solution to the long delays that have arisen at the beginning of the municipal election.

Full Article: Voting Machine Failure Suspends DR Elections - The St Kitts Nevis Observer.

Canada: Russian election-meddling in Canada linked to Arctic ambitions: report | Daily Stock Dish

A new University of Calgary study is predicting Russian interference in the federal election campaign to serve what it describes as the Kremlin‘s long-term interest of competing against Canada in the Arctic. The study‘s author, Sergey Sukhankin, said in an interview that Moscow‘s ability to inflict serious damage is relatively low because Canadian society is not as divided as countries targeted in past elections, including the United States presidential ballot and Britain‘s Brexit referendum in 2016, as well as various attacks on Ukraine and the Baltic states. “The Kremlin has a growing interest in dominating the Arctic, where it sees Russia as in competition with Canada. This means Canada can anticipate escalations in information warfare, particularly from hacktivists fomenting cyber-attacks,” writes Sukhankin, a senior fellow with the Jamestown Foundation, a U.S. think-tank, who is teaching at the University of Calgary. “Perceived as one of Russia‘s chief adversaries in the Arctic region, Canada is a prime target in the information wars, with Russia potentially even meddling in the October 2019 federal election. Ottawa should be ready for a new surge in cyberattacks, disinformation and propaganda levelled against Canada in the near future.”

Full Article: Russian election-meddling in Canada linked to Arctic ambitions: report | Daily Stock Dish.

Canada: Online voting in Northwest Territories election questioned as recounts set to take place | Hilary Bird/CBC

With two recounts set to take place in the next 10 days, one candidate in Tuesday’s Northwest Territories election says he has some concerns with how online votes will be recounted. Under the Elections and Plebiscite Act of the Northwest Territories, races that won with a margin of less than two per cent must have judicial recounts within 10 days of the official results being released. That means ballots cast in the Frame Lake and Yellowknife North ridings will all need to be recounted by a judge. Rylund Johnson won in Yellowknife North by just five votes over incumbent Cory Vanthuyne. Johnson got 501 votes; Vanthuyne received 496. In Yellowknife’s Frame Lake riding, incumbent Kevin O’Reilly won by a slim margin with 357 votes. The riding’s only other candidate, former minister Dave Ramsay, received 346 votes. Ramsay told CBC News Wednesday that he has already seen discrepancies between unofficial numbers reported by Elections NWT Tuesday evening and numbers reported Wednesday morning after returning officers double-checked the polls.

Full Article: Online voting in N.W.T. election questioned as recounts set to take place | CBC News.

Mexico: Mexicans living abroad could cast their vote online for the first time in 2021 | Alexandra Mendoza/The San Diego Union-Tribune

Mexicans living abroad could cast their vote online as soon as the 2021 midterm elections. For almost 15 years, voters wanting to participate in Mexican elections from outside the country voted by mail. The new process of voting online will have to go through several tests to make sure it is error free, according to Enrique Andrade, a counselor with Mexico’s National Electoral Institute (INE). “It’s not something simple,” he said during a recent visit to San Diego. “It’s going to depend a lot on the trust in the system”. In the 2018 elections, about 182,000 Mexicans registered to vote from abroad and 54 percent cast their ballots. In 2012, almost 60,000 Mexicans registered to vote, with 69 percent participating in the election. Last year was the third time that Mexicans were allowed to vote from abroad, but the first one in which they could apply for the credential to vote in the consulate.

Full Article: Mexicans living abroad could cast their vote online for the first time in 2021 - The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Canada: ‘It’ll be something new’: Canadian election interference likely in unexpected places | Penny Daflos/CTV

The upcoming Canadian election is the first test for new laws and social media policies, and while online activity suggests they’re being effective in curbing disinformation, experts are already warning that those seeking to manipulate the election or create chaos among voters have moved on to new tactics. Analysis from Twitter, Facebook and academics suggests that malicious, manufactured and “fake news” content is not as widespread as in previous years, largely due to efforts to zero in on and remove that kind of material as quickly as possible. SFU public communication professor Ahmed Al-Rawi is one of many academics across the country scrutinizing online activity for signs of foreign or domestic interference; he hasn’t found any. “I’ve downloaded over a million tweets and analyzed the ‘canpoli’ hashtag and I could not find any large activity of bots (automated re-tweeting accounts),” said Al-Rawi, who is continuing to assess those tweets throughout the campaign.

Full Article: 'It'll be something new': Canadian election interference likely in unexpected places | CTV News.

Canada: Russia could meddle in Canada’s election due to ‘growing interest’ in Arctic: report | Mike Blanchfield/The Canadian Press

A new University of Calgary study is predicting Russian interference in the federal election campaign to serve what it describes as the Kremlin’s long-term interest of competing against Canada in the Arctic. The study’s author, Sergey Sukhankin, said in an interview that Moscow’s ability to inflict serious damage is relatively low because Canadian society is not as divided as countries targeted in past elections, including the United States presidential ballot and Britain’s Brexit referendum in 2016, as well as various attacks on Ukraine and the Baltic states. “The Kremlin has a growing interest in dominating the Arctic, where it sees Russia as in competition with Canada. This means Canada can anticipate escalations in information warfare, particularly from hacktivists fomenting cyber-attacks,” writes Sukhankin, a senior fellow with the Jamestown Foundation, a U.S. think-tank, who is teaching at the University of Calgary.

Full Article: Russia could meddle in Canada’s election due to ‘growing interest’ in Arctic: report | Globalnews.ca.

Canada: Unlike U.S., Canada plans coordinated attack on foreign election interference | Alexander Panetta and Mark Scott/Politico

Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election rattled America’s next-door neighbor so badly that Canada spent the last three years developing the most detailed plan anywhere in the Western world to combat foreign meddling in its upcoming election. But with the country’s national campaign to begin in a matter of weeks, one question remains: Will the efforts pay off? Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government passed new transparency rules last year for online political ads that run on platforms including Facebook and Twitter — further than what’s required in the U.S. It ordered the country’s usually tight-lipped intelligence services to go public about foreign threats. Canada also housed a G-7 project to share the latest intelligence between allies about possible foreign disinformation and created a non-partisan group to warn political parties and the public about outside interference. “The way the Canadians have responded to the problem of technology and democracy is much more impressive than what we’ve seen in Washington,” said Ben Scott, a former Hillary Clinton official, now based in Toronto, who has tracked disinformation campaigns in elections across the West. “Pound for pound, Canada is way ahead of the U.S. in terms of policy development on these issues.”

Full Article: Unlike U.S., Canada plans coordinated attack on foreign election interference - POLITICO.

Canada: 19 million Canadians have had their data breached in eight months | Francesca Fionda/CTV News

An estimated 19 million Canadians have been affected by data breaches between November 2018 and June 2019, according to numbers obtained by “Attention Control with Kevin Newman,” a new podcast that launched Monday. The numbers come from 446 breaches that were reported to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC). Victims of these kinds of data breaches are vulnerable to identity theft, financial crime, even violence in some cases. The new reporting laws that require businesses to report breaches where there could be a real risk of significant harm to the OPC and the people affected came into effect last November. Between then and June 2019, the OPC received 446 breach reports, nearly six times the number of reports received during the same time period under the previous voluntary reporting system.

Full Article: 19 million Canadians have had their data breached in eight months | CTV News.

Canada: Cyber-risk ramps up during elections | Allan Bonner and Brennen Schmidt/Winnipeg Free Press

It’s almost federal election time — that means many Canadian voters will be trying to guess whether political parties will do what they say they will if elected. That’s a difficult guess. But what about judging a political party’s credibility on a policy issue by seeing whether it practises what it preaches? Here’s an easy example: cybersecurity is in the news. It’s in the budget, too. A while ago, the federal government devoted hundreds of millions of dollars to the threat. And every day there’s news from the U.S. about past and present meddling in the political process. There are also serious worries about future elections, and even the need for paper ballots to ensure the meddling isn’t in cyberspace or a cloud somewhere. Fans of detective novels and movies enjoy the denouement at the end when the culprit is exposed.

Full Article: Cyber-risk ramps up during elections - Winnipeg Free Press.

Canada: Federal election panel may have tough call | Jim Vibert/The Chronicle Herald

Should malign actors – foreign, domestic, or indeterminate – mess with Canada’s election this fall, a gathering of five senior federal bureaucrats will decide whether the action constitutes a threat to our otherwise “free and fair” election. If it does, they’ll let us know. There’s nothing wrong with this, unless the process is as cumbersome as the label pinned on it. In that case, the Critical Election Incident Public Protocol, or CEIPP (seep?), would alert us to election skullduggery sometime after the next Parliament is sworn in. The five members of the CEIPP panel are the clerk of the Privy Council, the prime minister’s national security and intelligence adviser, and the deputy ministers of Justice, Public Safety, and Foreign Affairs. This high-powered group will draw information from Canada’s intelligence agencies who are, we’re told, hard at work defending us from unseen malevolence, and spying on environmental activists. Actually, we weren’t told that bit about spying on environmentalists. We learned that this week after a federal court unsealed a raft of documents that showed the Canadian Security Intelligence Service traded intel about environmentalists with oil companies. That has little to do with free and fair elections, but it raises troubling questions about the power imbalance that makes a mockery of democracy itself. But I digress.

Full Article: JIM VIBERT: Federal election panel may have tough call | Local-Perspectives | Opinion | The Chronicle Herald.

Canada: ‘Terrible idea’: Online security experts warn against online voting in N.W.T. elections | Hilary Bird/CBC News

Security experts have a message for election officials in the Northwest Territories: don’t use online voting. Officials recently announced online voting will be used for the first time in a provincial or territorial election when residents go to the polls on Oct. 1. Voters will be able to cast their ballots online using the Montreal-based Simply Voting platform. It’s an idea that has garnered a lot of public excitement, as well as criticism. “It’s really sexy. It gets you in the papers, it gets you on CBC,” says government transparency advocate and OpenNWT founder David Wasylciw. “But there’s a lot more issues when you talk to computer security people. Every single one of them says it’s a terrible idea. Everybody who does computer work says it’s a terrible idea.” Security experts say that while hacking from foreign actors is a threat, what people in the territory should be most concerned about is ballot transparency. Wasylciw says this apparent lack of transparency can be exacerbated in a place like the N.W.T., where many ridings have only a couple hundred voters, and outcomes can come down to a few dozen votes. “[With paper elections] a candidate can scrutinize the votes and they can count them and double check them. With an online system, none of that’s even an option. All you get is a spreadsheet.” Aleksander Essex, a professor of computer science at Western University in London, Ont., who studies online voting, agrees. He says the biggest issue with the technology is there is no assurance that the recorded votes are actually what voters chose.

Full Article: 'Terrible idea': Online security experts warn against online voting in N.W.T. elections | CBC News.

Canada: No direct threats to the election yet – but foreign actors are getting ready to meddle: officials | Catharine Tunney/CBC

Canadian security agencies haven’t seen any direct threats to the 2019 election so far, but a government official says hostile foreign actors are positioning themselves already to insert themselves into the campaign. A handful of senior officials spoke to reporters on the condition of anonymity Tuesday to offer an update on how they’ll alert the public to any serious attempts to interfere with the October election. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the Communications Security Establishment and the RCMP are monitoring foreign threat activity in Canada and around the world — which is not unusual, said one official. “At this time, we haven’t seen direct threats to the 2019 general election,” the official said. CSIS continues to observe hostile foreign actors “taking steps to position themselves to clandestinely influence, promote or discredit certain messages, candidates or groups during the campaign,” the official added.

Full Article: No direct threats to the election yet - but foreign actors are getting ready to meddle: officials | CBC News.

Canada: Anti-election-meddling panel would prefer to keep quiet | Carl Meyer/National Observer

Canada’s anti-election-meddling panel will look into domestic threats as well as foreign interference during this fall’s campaign. But the government officials tasked with probing attempts to subvert Canada’s free and fair elections will require all members of the panel to sign off before informing the public of an incident. That’s because the panel sees its power to go public as a last resort, and would prefer that journalists and civil society organizations keep citizens informed through debunking conspiracy theories or exposing fake social media accounts before disinformation spreads too far. Federal government officials speaking on background revealed these and other details of Canada’s Critical Election Incident Public Protocol in a briefing Tuesday. The briefing was related to a cabinet directive that was published July 9, and first announced by Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould. “Canada’s democratic institutions have to be prepared to face incidents similar to those we have seen in other elections around the world,” Gould said in a statement. “This, combined with the various measures announced earlier this year, will allow us to uphold the trust and confidence that Canadians have in their democracy.”

Full Article: Canada's anti-election-meddling panel would prefer to keep quiet | National Observer.

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.

Full Article: Over 23,000 extra votes nulled and void in Guatemala elections | MENAFN.COM.