North America

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

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. Read More

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. Read More

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. Read More

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. Read More

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.” Read More

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. Read More

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. Read More

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. Read More

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. Read More

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. Read More

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.” Read More

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. Read More

Canada: Northwest Territories to be 1st province or territory to use online voting in general election | Hilary Bird/CBC News

In a move to increase voter turnout, the Northwest Territories will soon become the first jurisdiction in Canada to use online voting in a provincial or territorial election. Polls will open on Oct. 1 to elect 19 members to the N.W.T. Legislative Assembly, but people can vote in advance polls as early as Sept. 6. Voters can use a new website called Electorhood to access the Simply Voting online system to cast their ballots. Using the site, eligible voters can vote online from Sept. 6 up until the end of election day on Oct. 1 as long as they’ve registered for the absentee ballot beforehand. “I know elections isn’t very sexy for a lot of people but they don’t realize that they have a Cadillac of a system,” said Nicole Latour, chief electoral officer of the N.W.T. Latour said she’s optimistic the new website and online voting system will encourage more young people to log on and cast their ballots. Read More

Canada: Federal political parties receiving classified security briefings on potential campaign threats | Bill Curry and Janice Dickson/The Globe and Mail

Federal political parties are now receiving classified security briefings about potential foreign interference in the October election campaign, but Canadian intelligence officials say no specific threat has so far been identified. The private briefings for political parties by security officials are one element of a plan announced in January that included the creation of a Security and Intelligence Threats to Elections Task Force. The task force is chaired by the Communications Security Establishment (CSE), a signals intelligence agency, and includes the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the RCMP and Global Affairs Canada. The briefings are limited to a handful of political party representatives who hold a valid Canadian government security clearance. The briefings occur in a secure facility and no documents can be removed from the briefing room. CSE has issued two reports warning that it is “very likely” that Canadian voters will encounter foreign cyber interference ahead of, and during, the 2019 general election. In a statement released Wednesday evening, CSE said that remains its position. Read More

Canada: Spy Agency Says Voters Are Being Targeted By Foreign Influence Campaigns | BuzzFeed and the Toronto Star

Canada’s intelligence community has identified foreign actors attempting to directly influence the upcoming federal election campaign, a Toronto Star and BuzzFeed News investigation has learned. The Communications Security Establishment (CSE), the country’s cyber defence agency, has briefed senior political staff of one federal party about “covert and overt” attempts to influence the Oct. 21 federal election. Canada’s domestic spy agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), also said Tuesday that “threat actors” are trying to influence Canadian citizens, although the agency tied it to an attack on “democratic institutions” rather than the election specifically. The agencies would not reveal the exact nature of the attempts to influence but said the scope of “foreign interference activities can be broad,” including state-sponsored or influenced media, hacking, and traditional spy operations. “Threat actors are seeking to influence the Canadian public and interfere with Canada’s democratic institutions and processes,” wrote Tahera Mufti, a spokesperson for CSIS, in an emailed statement. Read More

Canada: National security landscape will get a major overhaul this summer | Catharine Tunney/CBC

Canada’s national security architecture is about to undergo a major demolition and rebuild this summer, now that C-59 has received royal assent. The bill — which, after two years, passed through both houses of Parliament this week — gives Canada’s signals intelligence agency new powers, although most of its new authority will come into force down the road. Once the prime minister and cabinet issue an order, the Communications Security Establishment will be permitted under C-59 to launch cyberattacks (also called “active cyber operations”) for the first time in Canadian history. Such cyberattacks could be used to stop a terrorist’s cellphone from detonating a car bomb, for example, or to impede a terrorist’s ability to communicate with others by obstructing communication infrastructure, according to the Department of Public Safety. Read More

Canada: In new guide, spy agency warns campaign teams ‘more likely’ targets of cyber attacks | Rachel Aiello/CTV News

If you are working on a political campaign, are a candidate, or political volunteer, you are poised to be a prime target for attempted foreign interference and cyber attacks in the coming federal election. That’s the message from the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) in a newly released cyber guide for political campaigns. It’s the first time a guide like this has been created by the federal electronic spy agency, and comes after the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security issued reports in 2017 and 2019 warning that foreign interference in the fall federal campaign is “very likely” and that political campaigns are one of the higher-risk entities vulnerable to these attempts to meddle in the outcome of the election. The 2019 report found that politicians, their parties, and their staff are targets for more advanced cyber attacks such as obtaining private information for the purpose of blackmail, or accessing campaign databases. Read More

Canada: Canada elections chief says hackers aim to keep people from voting | Steve Scherer/Reuters

Hackers seeking to interfere in Canada’s federal election this October want to undermine trust in voting and the democratic process rather than manipulate the result, says Canada’s chief electoral officer. Citing episodes of foreign interference in democratic elections in the United States in 2016 and the UK’s Brexit vote, Stephane Perrault said in an interview that Canada now is “quite alert” to the threat and has prepared extensively. “If there is an interest in interfering, it’s most likely to be to deflate the interest in voting, undermine democracy, and undermine trust in the election rather than undermine the particular results,” Perrault said in his office on Wednesday. Last month, Canadian security sources said they were concerned about the potential weakness in political parties’ cyber networks, particularly from the thousands of volunteers. Read More

Canada: Elections Canada to monitor misinformation about voting on social media | The Globe and Mail

Canada’s Chief Electoral Officer says Elections Canada will deploy teams to monitor social media for misinformation about the electoral process during this fall’s election. Stéphane Perrault told the Senate finance committee Tuesday morning that it is not Elections Canada’s role to monitor truth on the internet, but it does have a responsibility to ensure that information about the voting process is accurate. “We will have a dedicated team both to monitor and a team to respond to any inaccurate information, whether it’s disinformation or misinformation,” Mr. Perrault said. “We are acquiring tools to monitor social media in multiple languages and we’ll use key words and try to identify any information that relates to the electoral process. And if there is misinformation, we will quickly respond to that – that’s a key aspect of our role during this election.” In response to questions from senators about ways to crack down on misinformation, Mr. Perrault reiterated that Elections Canada’s focus will be on any misinformation relating to the voting process. But he did say that in the lead-up to the campaign, Elections Canada will launch a public-awareness initiative on social-media literacy to encourage people to determine the source of the information they’re receiving. Read More

Canada: Liberals, Conservatives and NDP endorse global pledge against fraudulent campaign tactics | The Globe and Mail

Canada’s three main parties are signing on to a global pledge against the use of fake news and digital dirty tricks in advance of the October federal election campaign. A former head of NATO met with MPs and government officials on Monday on Parliament Hill to gather signatures for an “election integrity” pledge that started in the European Union and is now being promoted in Canada and the United States. Signatories agree to reject the increasingly sophisticated tools that can be used to mislead voters during an election. That list includes “deep fakes,” an artificial-intelligence technology based on doctoring video and audio in ways that produce believable, yet fake, clips of politicians appearing to say something that they never did. In an interview with The Globe and Mail, former NATO secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen said it is only a matter of time before voters are faced with fraudulent videos that are nearly impossible to distinguish from reality. “In a couple of years, you’ll have a perfect technology where you’re not able to identify with your own eyes and ears who is the fake and who is the true edition of a political leader,” he said. “You can imagine if a deep-fake video, for instance, is published a couple of days before an important election [what] damaging effect it could have.” Read More