President Trump has empaneled a commission to investigate voter fraud. The real fraud is the commission itself. The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity is to be led by Vice President Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Mr. Kobach, a Republican, is a longtime champion of voter suppression laws who seconded as “absolutely correct” the president’s fabricated assertion that Hillary Clinton’s victory in the popular vote, which she won by nearly 3 million ballots, was a result of “millions of people who voted illegally.” Mr. Kobach is notorious for erecting impediments to the ballot box — specifically, ones that would disproportionately discourage and deter minority and other Democratic-leaning voters. His presence as the commission’s vice chair — Mr. Pence’s other responsibilities make it likely that Mr. Kobach will be the panel’s driving force — makes a farce of the idea that the commission’s work will be dispassionate, fair and clear-eyed.
The Voting News
Georgia: As millions pour into Georgia’s congressional runoff, the voting machinery is among the worst in America | Salon
There are so many disturbing aspects to the special election happening in Georgia’s sixth congressional district, it’s hard to know where to begin. For starters, the election runs on Microsoft Server 2000. That is not a typo. “That’s a crap system,” said Douglas Jones, a computer science professor at the University of Iowa in a phone interview; adding that the database in use, Microsoft Access is a “toy database” that should never be used for industrial applications. Fulton County Elections Director Richard Barron acknowledged in testimony on the troubled first round of the election, that the system is “inflexible.” But delving into his testimony further, and speaking to both local and national computer experts it’s evident that the results of the first round of the election on April 18th are legitimately suspect and that no election running on this type of computer system can be verified as accurate.
North Carolina: Supreme Court won’t save North Carolina voting restrictions, GOP leaders say they will try again with new law | News & Observer
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to consider reinstating key provisions of North Carolina’s 2013 elections law overhaul, which includes a voter ID requirement and other restrictions on voting. Within hours of the release of the order, N.C. Republican Party leaders were calling for a new law that would incorporate some of the same ideas in a manner that they thought could withstand judicial review. The Supreme Court ruling gave few details about why the justices left a lower-court decision in place that struck down the restrictions, stating they “target African Americans with almost surgical precision.”
Utah: Legislators lobbing threats at Herbert in the fight over a special election to replace Chaffetz | UtahPolicy
Within the bounds of Utah Republican congenial politics, what’s happening now on Capitol Hill between GOP Gov. Gary Herbert and Republicans lawmakers is about as bad as it’s been in recent years. Wednesday, members of the House GOP caucus basically threatened to sue Herbert before the state Supreme Court over whether he will call them into a special session to decide how a replacement for U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz will be picked. Meanwhile, House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, told an open caucus meeting that Chaffetz’s resignation could come as soon as next week, but surely before the end of June.
The Legislature’s budget committee on Tuesday approved state funding for five of six Elections Commission staff positions that have been supported by federal grant that’s set to run out, dismissing Gov. Scott Walker’s recommendation to cut all six of them. The governor argued that the commission can handle its workload without the positions that had been supported by the federal Help America Vote Act passed in 2002. But state and local elections officials disagreed, arguing that the jobs were critically important to ensuring that Wisconsin’s elections are properly run.
India: Electronic Voting Machine row: Why Election Commission is not going back to ballot paper for polls | India Today
Since 2000 the country has witnessed 107 Assembly elections and three Lok Sabha polls (2004, 2009, and 2014) where EVMs were used to cast and record votes in all the constituencies and at all the poll booths. The parliamentary polls of 2004 were the first general elections to be fully conducted through electronic voting machines (EVMs). The incumbent government lost power. Before that the Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Puducherry and West Bengal in 2001 were completely conducted using EVMs. During the first two Lok Sabha elections in 1952 and 1957, and simultaneous Assembly polls, each candidate was allotted a separate ballot box. The poll symbol of the candidate or his party was pasted on the respective ballot boxes.
Tulsi Gurung, 35, woke up at dawn on May 13 to board a bus at Kathmandu’s Naya Bus Park with his wife, Ri Maya Gurung, 32, and their daughter Rebika Gurung, 4. The bus park was crowded despite the early hour; passengers awaiting departure loitered with glasses of tea and hawkers announced bottled water and pustakari, a Nepali sweet, for sale. Tulsi and his family had come to catch a bus to their village of Laprak in Gorkha District, just kilometers from the epicenter of the April 2015 earthquake that killed nearly 9,000 people and left over 750,000 families homeless. Tulsi, a trekking guide, had recently completed a climb of Tukche Peak in the Annapurna region of the country. Ri Maya usually stays in the village, where she lives in a temporary shelter with the children and farms potatoes and buckwheat, but she had brought Rebika to the capital city several days earlier to treat an eye infection. The family was in a hurry to return home to vote in local elections — the country’s first since 1997. For many Nepalis, the election represents their first chance to choose local representatives responsible for governance and development, and to influence the ongoing earthquake recovery process.
It was a few days after the start of the new millennium, and the U.S. Embassy in Moscow was holding a reception at Spaso House, for decades the elegant residence of the American ambassador. Russia’s tumultuous Boris Yeltsin era had come to an abrupt, shocking end on New Year’s Day, when the Russian president who had brought down the Soviet Union and turned his country into a chaotic, fledgling democracy announced his resignation. His successor was the man he had named his prime minister just four months earlier, a man barely known to most Russians, let alone to the outside world: former KGB officer Vladimir Putin. As Jim Collins, a soft-spoken career diplomat who was then the U.S. ambassador to Russia, made the rounds at that reception, querying guests as to what they thought of the dramatic shift atop the Kremlin, the overwhelming sentiment was relief. The Yeltsin era, which had begun with so much promise, had turned into a shambolic, deeply corrupt dystopia.
Michael Flynn and other advisers to Donald Trump’s campaign were in contact with Russian officials and others with Kremlin ties in at least 18 calls and emails during the last seven months of the 2016 presidential race, current and former U.S. officials familiar with the exchanges told Reuters. The previously undisclosed interactions form part of the record now being reviewed by FBI and congressional investigators probing Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election and contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russia. Six of the previously undisclosed contacts described to Reuters were phone calls between Sergei Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the United States, and Trump advisers, including Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser, three current and former officials said.
National: US spies caught Russian officers bragging about causing chaos in the election 6 months before the vote | Time
On March 2, a disturbing report hit the desks of U.S. counterintelligence officials in Washington. For months, American spy hunters had scrambled to uncover details of Russia’s influence operation against the 2016 presidential election. In offices in both D.C. and suburban Virginia, they had created massive wall charts to track the different players in Russia’s multi-pronged scheme. But the report in early March was something new. It described how Russia had already moved on from the rudimentary email hacks against politicians it had used in 2016. Now the Russians were running a more sophisticated hack on Twitter. The report said the Russians had sent expertly tailored messages carrying malware to more than 10,000 Twitter users in the Defense Department. Depending on the interests of the targets, the messages offered links to stories on recent sporting events or the Oscars, which had taken place the previous weekend. When clicked, the links took users to a Russian-controlled server that downloaded a program allowing Moscow’s hackers to take control of the victim’s phone or computer–and Twitter account.
Like many a good spy tale, the story of how the U.S. learned its democracy could be hacked started with loose lips. In May 2016, a Russian military intelligence officer bragged to a colleague that his organization, known as the GRU, was getting ready to pay Clinton back for what President Vladimir Putin believed was an influence operation she had run against him five years earlier as Secretary of State. The GRU, he said, was going to cause chaos in the upcoming U.S. election.
What the officer didn’t know, senior intelligence officials tell TIME, was that U.S. spies were listening. They wrote up the conversation and sent it back to analysts at headquarters, who turned it from raw intelligence into an official report and circulated it. But if the officer’s boast seems like a red flag now, at the time U.S. officials didn’t know what to make of it. “We didn’t really understand the context of it until much later,” says the senior intelligence official. Investigators now realize that the officer’s boast was the first indication U.S. spies had from their sources that Russia wasn’t just hacking email accounts to collect intelligence but was also considering interfering in the vote. Like much of America, many in the U.S. government hadn’t imagined the kind of influence operation that Russia was preparing to unleash on the 2016 election. Fewer still realized it had been five years in the making.
Full Article: Inside Russia’s Social Media War on America | TIME.