National: Russians Who Pose Election Threat Have Hacked Nuclear Plants and Power Grid | Nicole Perlroth/The New York Times

Cybersecurity officials watched with growing alarm in September as Russian state hackers started prowling around dozens of American state and local government computer systems just two months before the election. The act itself did not worry them so much — officials anticipated that the Russians who interfered in the 2016 election would be back — but the actor did. The group, known to researchers as “Dragonfly” or “Energetic Bear” for its hackings of the energy sector, was not involved in 2016 election hacking. But it has in the past five years breached the power grid, water treatment facilities and even nuclear power plants, including one in Kansas. It also hacked into Wi-Fi systems at San Francisco International Airport and at least two other West Coast airports in March in an apparent bid to find one unidentified traveler, a demonstration of the hackers’ power and resolve. September’s intrusions marked the first time that researchers caught the group, a unit of Russia’s Federal Security Service, or F.S.B., targeting states and counties. The timing of the attacks so close to the election and the potential for disruption set off concern inside private security firms, law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

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North Carolina GOP asks Supreme Court to roll back extra time for accepting mail-in ballots | Pete Williams/NBC

Republicans in the presidential battleground state of North Carolina asked the Supreme Court on Thursday to block lower court rulings that allowed six extra days to accept ballots sent by mail. The Trump campaign, the state and national Republican parties and Republican leaders of the state Legislature said decisions by North Carolina’s Board of Elections, upheld by federal courts, “pose an immediate threat to the integrity of the federal elections process.” The board changed the mail ballot deadline from Nov. 6, which the Legislature set in June, to Nov. 12. A federal district judge refused to block the change, and so did the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

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Nevada judge denies GOP request to halt mail ballot counting in Clark County | Rory Appleton/Las Vegas Review-Journal

A Carson City judge Friday denied to halt ballot counting in Clark County in response to a lawsuit filed by Republicans that contends the county has violated state election law.The Nevada Republican Party and President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign filed the lawsuit against Clark County Registrar Joe Gloria and Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske on Friday.The lawsuit asked a judge to stop the counting and verification of mail ballots until the case could be heard.But Attorney General Aaron Ford, whose office defends Cegavske in litigation, tweeted Friday afternoon that his office had “defeated President Trump’s and Nevada GOP’s request for a temporary restraining order to stop the counting of the ballots.”

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Texas order allowing counties to have multiple mail-in ballot drop off sites is upheld, but appeal will likely halt openings| Jolie McCullough/The Texas Tribune

A state appeals court has upheld a Travis County State district court order allowing Texas counties to have multiple drop-off locations for hand delivery of absentee ballots, undercutting Gov. Greg Abbott’s recent directive limiting counties to one drop-off site.But it remains unclear if the intermediate court’s decision will lead to the reopening of ballot drop-off locations that were shut down in Harris and Travis counties after Abbott’s order. Abbott and Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs planned to immediately appeal the ruling to the Texas Supreme Court to again block the order from taking effect, the attorney general’s office said.The lawsuit, filed in Travis County, is one of several state and federal court challenges to Abbott’s Oct. 1 order, which shut down three ballot drop-off locations in Travis County and 11 in Harris County and halted plans for more drop-offs in other counties. Last week, a federal appeals court upheld the Republican governor’s order under federal law, overturning a lower court’s ruling.

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Pennsylvania Supreme Court rules that counties cannot reject mail ballots because of mismatched signatures | Angela Couloumbis/The Philadelphia Inquirer

Counties cannot reject mail-in and absentee ballots if a voter’s signature on the outer envelope does not match what’s on file, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled Friday, making drawn-out challenges on Election Day less likely.In a 7-0 decision, the high court said there are no provisions in the state’s election code that specifically require counties to match voters’ signatures. And, the court noted, in writing the law, the legislature could have explicitly mandated signature matching but did not. “We decline to read a signature comparison requirement into the plain and unambiguous language of the election code,” the justices wrote in their decision.Friday’s ruling stemmed from a request earlier this month from Pennsylvania’s top election official, Kathy Boockvar, to bar county election officials from rejecting mail-in ballots solely on the basis of perceived differences in a voter’s signature. The decision is the latest in a crush of litigation in the weeks leading up to the Nov. 3 election, as Republicans and Democrats wage pitched battles over gray areas in Pennsylvania’s year-old law that greatly expanded the ability to vote by mail.

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International election observers in the U.S. consider this year the most challenging ever | Carol Morello/The Washington Post

As the eyes of the world focus on the U.S. election, teams of international observers are heading out across the United States amid concerns about the vote’s integrity.For the ninth time, observers affiliated with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) have come to the United States to watch over an election and recommend improvements, a mission little-noticed by most Americans.But the 2020 campaign is different.As fears rise about voter suppression, violence and a potentially contested outcome in the United States, the Europeans say they hope their efforts will help assure Americans the vote is legitimate.“This is one of the most important elections we have ever observed as the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly,” said Roberto Montella, secretary general of the group, which will dispatch 59 lawmakers and a staff of 16 to monitor voting in 10 states and the District of Columbia.

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