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YouTube expands voting information to help inform users
by Paul Hill
As we head towards the 2020 U.S. presidential election, YouTube has made improvements to give users authoritative voting information when they browse content relating to the 2020 presidential or federal Congressional candidates on YouTube. The panel will provide users with information on candidates in the search results.
In addition, if someone looks on YouTube to find out how to register to vote or how to vote, YouTube will provide additional information panels on these topics. The information will be available in both English and Spanish to reach the highest number of people.
In the run-up to voting day, YouTube and its other social media accounts will provide information on how to register, how to vote, and where to vote. Additionally, it’ll display information from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission about volunteering at the polls so you can get more involved.
As YouTube is a video platform with live streaming capabilities, you’ll be able to tune into live coverage from various sources during election events including the debates, election night coverage, and the inauguration. Going forward, YouTube is striving to be a reliable source of news and information and a place where healthy political discourse can take place.
Twitter begins U.S. voter registration campaign
by Paul Hill
Twitter has announced that it has formed a partnership with National Voter Registration Day to encourage more Americans to register for the upcoming presidential election. Users will be encouraged by various means on Twitter to register to vote or confirm their registration.
Users that are located in the United States will see a new prompt on their home timeline encouraging them to register to vote or confirm their registration using a service called TurboVote run by Democracy Works, a non-partisan and non-profit organization. This will help to ensure nobody who wants to vote gets turned away at the polling station.
Other measures being taken to encourage voting include:
A push alert being displayed that directs users to a page full of voter registration information. It will be available in more than 40 languages depending on each person’s app settings. A promoted campaign run by @TwitterGov will take over today’s U.S. Promoted Trend Spotlight with registration resources from TurboVote. A new Twitter hashtag emoji is being introduced with #NationalVoterRegistrationDay and #VoteReady is being introduced to “empower civic conversation” across the country. Going forward, Twitter says it will publish additional voting-related notices as the election gets closer. By ensuring people are registered to vote, the firm is helping to make sure that everyone in the country entitled to a vote gets their say.
Facebook to help scholars assess social media's impact on elections
by Paul Hill
As a result of the growing cognisance that Facebook holds sway over the way people vote on political matters, the firm has announced that it will be granting select scholars access to data in order to see exactly what effects social media has on voters.
Alongside Facebook, a commission of experts will be chosen with different political outlooks, expertise, life experiences, gender, ethnicity, and from a broad range of countries. Firstly, they’ll prioritise what they want the research to identify; secondly, they’ll work with Facebook to develop requests for research proposals in order to meet the research agenda; and thirdly, the body will manage a peer review process to select which scholars receive funding and get access to privacy-protected datasets in order to answer the agenda questions.
In the announcement, Facebook discussed how it would keep user data secure:
The research that the commission decides it wants to publish will be published without any interference, according to Facebook. The social media giant said it is committed to transparency around “the rationale for the structure and membership of the commission."
Facebook said the project will get financial backing from the likes of the John and Laura Arnold Foundation, Democracy Fund, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Charles Koch Foundation, the Omidyar Network, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
By Joshua Usen
Virginia plans to replace voting machines by November
by Usen Joshua O.
The State Elections Board of Virginia, on Friday the 8th of September, approved a plan to replace the direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting machines used currently in the state due to concerns about hacking in future elections. This was as a result of a memo issued by the Virginia State Department of Elections which recommended that the current DRE voting machines be decertified due to a lack of verifiable paper trails by which voting figures can be tallied against for confirmation.
The DRE voting machines use a touchscreen for selecting candidates which are consequently recorded electronically. Moreover, the memo included the mention of a review by the Virginia Information Technology Agency (VITA) which raised concerns because "in each of the systems, the potential for loss of vote is significant as none of the machines appear to produce paper audit trails during the voting process.” Nevertheless, authors of the memo noted that "concerns with DRE [voting machines] are not new", and pointed out previous DEFCON hacking conferences which involved the hacking of voting machines.
The memo which was sent to the State Election Board members by Edgardo Cortes, the Commissioner for the Department of Elections, officially recommends that:
The State of Virginia had previously passed a law which mandated that the touchscreen voting machines be decertified by 2020, but the memo which has been approved by the state board has moved forward the timetable to not more than 60 days from the memo release date. The new deadline being November 7th effectively puts Virginia on a fast track to decertify and replace the machines in the affected counties. Furthermore, the deadline is of political significance because, on that date, the State of Virginia will be holding the governorship election and various other elections around the state.
Edgardo Cortés confirmed to Politico that election boards of other states had been notified of its recommendations.
Source: Virginia Department of Elections via Engadget, Politico | Image via Reuters
Russian Cyber Hacks on U.S. Electoral System Far Wider Than Previously Known
Russia’s cyberattack on the U.S. electoral system before Donald Trump’s election was far more widespread than has been publicly revealed, including incursions into voter databases and software systems in almost twice as many states as previously reported.
In Illinois, investigators found evidence that cyber intruders tried to delete or alter voter data. The hackers accessed software designed to be used by poll workers on Election Day, and in at least one state accessed a campaign finance database. Details of the wave of attacks, in the summer and fall of 2016, were provided by three people with direct knowledge of the U.S. investigation into the matter. In all, the Russian hackers hit systems in a total of 39 states, one of them said.
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