The Voting News Weekly: The Voting News Weekly for April 9-15 2018

Colorado and Texas carried out tests this week to see how election officials respond when cyberattacks hit. The program, running for the sixth time, involves three days of simulations. Seven states are taking part, according to Jeanette Manfra, assistant secretary of Homeland Security.

The US Copyright Office held a hearing on expanding the exemptions to Section 1201 of the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to allow “white hat” hacking of voting systems. Such exemptions allow hackers the ability to research the security of consumer devices, such as cell phones, tablets, smart appliances, connected cars and medical devices. At the hearing, security experts and voting system vendors voiced their disagreements about the value of expanding those exemptions to a broader array of technology, including voting machines, to allow researchers the ability to test for vulnerabilities and report them without fear of legal retribution.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg faced two days of grilling on Capitol Hill, facing sharp questions about the tech giant’s ability to track its users’ movements, shopping habits and browsing histories. Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, reading questions from her constituents at a hearing of the House energy and commerce committee, asked Zuckerberg whether his data was “included in the data sold to the malicious third parties”. After a brief hesitation, the Facebook CEO replied: “Yes.”

At Medium, Kai Stinchcombe questioned the ultimate value of blockchain technology, including it’s purported potential use in internet voting systems. “Keep your voting records in a tamper-proof repository not owned by anyone” sounds right” , Stincombe observes, “yet is your Afghan villager going to download the blockchain from a broadcast node and decrypt the Merkle root from his Linux command line to independently verify that his vote has been counted?”

After legislative efforts to replace Georgia’s aging touchscreen voting machines stalled, Secretary of State Brian Kemp announced the formation of a bipartisan commission of lawmakers, political party leaders, election officials and voters to recommend a new voting system for the state. The group will review options for the state’s voting system, including voter marked paper ballot systems and DREs with a voter-verified paper trail. A primarily paper-based system would cost $35 million or more, while a touchscreen-and-paper system could cost well over $100 million.

A series of legal challenges and disputes in the state legislature over the implementation of ranked choice voting have clouded preparations for Maine’s June 12 primaries. The primary will be the first statewide elections in the nation to use the system, which was approved by voters in a 2016 referendum. In a last minute legal effort by state senators to delay implementation, the state’s supreme court justices seemed skeptical about arguments against implementation.

The Ohio Senate voted 32-1 to provide $114.5 million for the replacement of voting machines across the state. Counties will choose from a list of certified voting equipment. They initially would get a payment of between $205,000 and $406,000 to help with start-up costs. The rest of the money would be given to counties on a per-voter basis. And $10 million would be set aside to pay counties that have bought new voting machines since 2014.

Pennsylvania’s Department of State has announced that all counties will be required to have a voting system that creates a paper trail for each individual ballot that is cast before the 2020 elections. The state will receive $14.2 million from the federal government in newly appropriated HAVA funds, and the Secretary of State is relying on the state legislature to provide further financial help to the counties.

It is the first election since joining NATO, Montenegrins voted in a presidential election Sunday that is expected to be won by former Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic. The election is a test for Djukanovic, who favors European integration over closer ties to its traditional ally, Moscow.

IT experts in Pakistan raised objections over an e-voting software prepared by National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) to enable overseas Pakistanis to cast their votes in the forthcoming elections.

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