DEFCON, the world’s longest running and largest underground hacking conference, has announced that the subject of this summer’s meeting will be voting machines. Hackers will attempt to compromise voting machines from a variety of perspectives: remote attacks, hardware and software vulnerabilities and potentials available to insiders with physical access to the equipment.
The Atlantic posted an extensive article on risk-limiting audits, which offer a simple low-tech way of verifying the accuracy of software-generated vote counts. In a risk-limiting audit a random sample of ballots is chosen and then hand-counted. That sample, plus a little applied math, can tell us whether the machines picked the right winner. Since risk-limiting audits verify elections while minimizing the number of audited ballots, they are both inexpensive and speedy. They largely eliminate the need for emergency recruitment of recount workers and can be conducted before the election must be certified by law.
Barbara Simons penned an oped in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune calling for the elimination of all internet voting and paperless voting machines. Simons notes that “[d]espite a decade of warnings from computer security experts, 33 states allow internet voting for some or all voters, and a quarter of our country still votes on computerized, paperless voting machines that cannot be recounted and for which there have been demonstrated hacks.”
The Supreme Court struck down two North Carolina congressional districts, ruling that lawmakers had violated the Constitution by relying too heavily on race in drawing them. The court rejected arguments from state lawmakers that their purpose in drawing the maps was not racial discrimination but partisan advantage. Richard Hasen notes that two footnotes in Justice Kagan’s opinion provide a useful tool for voting rights advocates and may limit legislators’ attempts to hide behind claims of partisan motivation to protect themselves from racial gerrymandering claims.
A lawsuit filed in Fulton County Superior Court, argues that Georgia’s voting infrastructure is too old, unreliable and vulnerable to be used without a forensic review of its operating systems. The suit notes that most recently Fulton experienced a technical problem April 18 that delayed reporting of election results because of what officials called a “rare error” involving a voting memory card that didn’t properly upload its tallies.
Ina unanimous decision Maine’s high court ruled that the state’s ranked-choice voting system is unconstitutional, throwing the voter-approved law into jeopardy ahead of the 2018 election when it was supposed to be implemented. After the court decision the state legislature approved the introduction of two competing bills that address ranked-choice voting – one would repeal the first-in-the-nation voting law and the other would put a ballot question to voters on whether to change the state’s constitution to make it legal statewide.
Under legislation approved Tuesday by the Michigan State Senate, fees for long-shot election recounts would double. The move was prompted by the partially successful effort of Green Party nominee Jill Stein for a manual recount of last November’s election. Responding to court rulings that current voter id requirements discriminate against black and Latino voters, the Texas House approved legislation to overhaul the law.
Wisconsin’s attorney general on Monday asked the US Supreme Court to block a ruling that would force lawmakers to draw new legislative maps by November 1, contending legislators should not have to draw new lines unless the Supreme Court agrees with the three-judge panel that the existing maps are unconstitutional.
The Maltese government claims that it has come under attack from a Russian-backed campaign to undermine it, amid worsening relations with the Kremlin. Since Malta assumed the presidency of Europe’s Council of Ministers in January, the government’s IT systems have seen a rise in phishing, DDoS and malware attacks.
Nepal’s Maoist Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal resigned, paving the way for Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba to form the next government as per their agreement last year. Results of the first local elections in 20 years held on May 14 have still not been announced. The second vote is scheduled for June 14, but analysts question whether a new government will be able to pass the constitutional amendments in time or have enough time to prepare for second round elections.