It’s not really all that hard to hack American democracy. That fact should be driven home by a recent article from The Intercept detailing the contents of a highly classified NSA report that found evidence of a massive Russian cyberattack on voting software and against over 100 election officials. While the NSA concluded the attack was carried out by the most sophisticated of hackers—the Russian military—their entry methods were relatively vanilla. They gained access to the credentials and documents of a voting system vendor via a spear-phishing attack, and then used those credentials and documents to launch a second spear-phishing attack on local elections officials, which if successful could have compromised election officials’ systems and whatever voter data they possessed.
In an era of deep partisan division, the Supreme Court could soon decide whether the drawing of electoral districts can be too political. A dispute over Wisconsin’s Republican-drawn boundaries for the state legislature offers Democrats some hope of cutting into GOP electoral majorities across the United States. Election law experts say the case is the best chance yet for the high court to put limits on what lawmakers may do to gain a partisan advantage in creating political district maps. The justices could say as early as Monday whether they will intervene. The Constitution requires states to redo their political maps to reflect population changes identified in the once-a-decade census. The issue of gerrymandering — creating districts that often are oddly shaped and with the aim of benefiting one party — is centuries old. The term comes from a Massachusetts state Senate district that resembled a salamander and was approved in 1812 by Massachusetts Gov. Elbridge Gerry.
A rival foreign power launched an aggressive cyberattack on the United States, interfering with the 2016 presidential election and leaving every indication that it’s coming back for more — but President Trump doesn’t seem to care. The unprecedented nature of Russia’s attack is getting lost in the swirling chaos of recent weeks, but it shouldn’t be. American intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia took direct aim at the integrity of American democracy, and yet after almost five months in office, the commander in chief appears unconcerned with that threat to our national security. The only aspect of the Russia story that attracts his attention is the threat it poses to the perceived legitimacy of his electoral win. If not for the continuing investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians — and whether Mr. Trump himself has obstructed that investigation — the president’s indifference would be front-page news. So let’s take a moment to recall the sheer scope and audacity of the Russian efforts.
Editorials: It’s now clear US voting is hackable. Here are 6 things we must do to prevent chaos. | Suzanne Mello-Stark/Vox
There’s never a good time, politically speaking, to raise questions about our voting system’s vulnerability to hackers. But we can no longer avoid the issue. Bloomberg News reported this week that the US government determined that Russian hackers penetrated the voting systems in 39 states in the weeks leading up to the November 2016 election. The hacks did not involve changing votes — typically they were forays into voter registration databases — but in at least one case, in Illinois, the hackers tried to delete voter data, Bloomberg reported. US officials complained to the Russians, who denied involvement, but President Obama decided not to alert the public, because he didn’t want people to lose faith in the system. To this day, President Trump’s aides suggest that Democrats who call for an investigation into Russian hacking are sore losers. But the evidence that Russia attempted to influence our 2016 election has become unignorable. In January 2017, the CIA, FBI, and NSA jointly released an assessment that Russia used cyber tools to influence American public opinion (specifically, to “denigrate Secretary Clinton”).
Voting Blogs: It is Time For Members of Congress to Step Up and Protect Our Election | Lawrence Norden/Brennan Center for Justice
On Monday night, the Intercept published a leaked National Security Agency report that recounts a Russian military intelligence cyberattack against a voter registration software company. According to the report, Russian government hackers appear to have used “data obtained from that operation to … launch a voter registration–themed spear-phishing campaign targeting U.S. local government organizations.” On one level, this story was not particularly surprising. Even before the Intercept article, we knew—based upon previous news reports, as well as a January report from American intelligence agencies—that hackers working on behalf of the Russian government were targeting state and local voter registration databases. And there is nothing in the NSA report or the Intercept piece that supports the idea that Russian hacks against election offices and registration system prevented anyone from voting or changed vote totals in any way. (It always bears repeating that the voter registration system and vote tallying systems are different. An attack against the registration system will not change vote totals on a voting machine.)
California: Secretary of state expresses ‘serious concern’ with NSA after hacking document leaked | Times Standard
After a leaked National Security Agency document alleged Russian operatives attempted to hack into a Florida voter polling software company used by Humboldt County in the 2016 presidential election, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla sent a letter to the federal agency Thursday questioning why the state was not notified earlier. “As the chief elections officer in the most populous state in the nation, I am seriously concerned about the NSA’s failure to provide timely and critical information to America’s elections officials,” Padilla wrote to NSA Director Admiral Michael Rogers. “… We must be prepared and remain vigilant. Proper preparation requires clear and consistent collaboration among federal, state, and local officials. The NSA cannot afford to sit on critical information that could be used to defend against cyber-attacks.”
Florida: Hackers attacked 4 Florida school districts, allegedly hoped to hack voting systems | Network World
We’ve heard a lot about Russians attackers attempting to hack the US election, but another hacking group also allegedly wanted to interfere with the election; they attempted to pivot from compromised school districts to state voting systems. The Miami Herald reported that MoRo, a group of hackers based in Morocco, penetrated “at least four Florida school district networks” and purportedly searched for a way “to slip into other sensitive government systems, including state voting systems.” According to United Data Technologies (UDT), the firm which investigated the breaches “incidents,” the hackers successfully phished people working in the school districts, tricking them into clicking on an image in email which allowed malware into the system. The article does note that the hackers also targeted an unnamed Florida city network with a similar attack.
Elections officials say they are taking steps to ensure the security of voting Tuesday in the sixth congressional district race. It’s gotten national attention, and it was the apparent motive behind a dozen threatening letters discovered Thursday. The threats appeared in the mailboxes of residents living near Republican congressional candidate Karen Handel, and the candidate herself. They also appeared in the mailrooms of two media outlets – WXIA and WAGA-TV. They all contained computer-printed rants against Handel and President Donald Trump. And some contained a powder identified in some of the notes as anthrax – but which authorities believe was actually baking soda.
North Carolina: Elections board without members until Governor makes appointments – but he’s suing | News & Observer
The board that oversees elections and government ethics in North Carolina has no members because Gov. Roy Cooper hasn’t appointed anyone as he continues his court challenge against the law merging the two boards. On Friday, the N.C. Court of Appeals rejected Cooper’s latest request to put on hold the law creating the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement. That law was passed in a December special session of the legislature and revised in April in response to court rulings. Cooper’s lawsuit argues the change in the elections board violates the constitutional separation of powers.
Texas: Report: State’s voter ID law caused confusion during 2016 presidential election | San Antonio Express-News
Hundreds were delayed from voting and others nearly turned away entirely during the presidential election because of confusion over current state voter ID laws, including in Bexar County, a new report from a voting rights advocacy group shows. It’s just one of numerous problems Texas voters — particularly minority groups — faced during the 2016 election cycle, according to a report by the Texas Civil Rights Project. “Unfortunately, throughout the state, voters faced numerous obstacles that complicated the process,” said Beth Stevens, voting rights director at the Texas Civil Rights Project, which released the report Thursday. “Through our Election Protection Coalition, we heard directly from thousands of voters about the barriers they faced in our electoral system.”
For Lee Ann Kinkade, of Staunton, going to vote on Election Day is magical, she says. She’s filled with “bipartisan patriotism” on these days, excited to participate in the nation’s democratic process. But as Kinkade, who’s disabled, headed into Gypsy Hill Park Gym on Tuesday to vote in the governor primaries, she instead said she felt “dehumanized” by the treatment she received from one of the poll workers. With her disability, her hands shake and she isn’t able to fill in the bubbles on the paper ballots, she said. There’s assistive equipment for this though that makes it possible for disabled voters to make their election selections while keeping their ballots confidential.
Wisconsin: In gerrymandering case, Wisconsin awaits word from high court on map that entrenched GOP’s legislative power | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
The U.S. Supreme Court could announce as soon as Monday how it’s handling a landmark legal fight over Wisconsin’s gerrymandered political map, which has helped lock in legislative majorities for the GOP since it took power in 2011. The key legal question: Can a set of political districts be so stacked toward one party that it violates the Constitution? Until the court speaks, that is unsettled law. But while the law is uncertain, the politics are quite clear. Legislative boundaries like Wisconsin’s present a stark civics question: How meaningful are elections when control of the legislature in a competitive state is largely predetermined by the way the districts are drawn?
Canada: Cyberthreat to Canadian elections increasing amid lingering concerns about Russia, spy agency warns | National Post
Canada’s electronic spy agency says the threat of cyberattacks on the country’s electoral process is increasing and steps must be taken to counter it. The warning is contained in a new report released Friday by the Communications Security Establishment amid lingering questions and concerns about the role Russia may have played in the last U.S. presidential election. The agency says so-called “hacktivists” and cybercriminals did launch low-level attacks during Canada’s last election in 2015, but those attacks had no discernible impact. At the same time, there were no indications that foreign countries tried to influence the election through cyberattacks or other online methods.
France: Macron’s Party and Allies Win Majority in French Parliamentary Elections | The New York Times
President Emmanuel Macron of France won a crucial stamp of approval on Sunday as voters gave him and his allies a decisive majority in parliamentary elections, but a record-low turnout cast a shadow over his victory, pointing to the hurdles he will face as he seeks to revive the country’s economy and confidence. When the votes were counted, Mr. Macron’s party, La République en Marche (the Republic on the Move) and its allies had won 350 seats in the 577-member National Assembly, the lower house of Parliament. Mr. Macron, a relative political newcomer who was elected on May 7, had called for a strong mandate to advance his legislative agenda, including plans to loosen France’s restrictive labor laws. Voters swept in many first-time candidates, including some of Arab or African ancestry, and elected more than 200 women, a record in France’s modern history.
Speaking to FrontPageAfrica Saturday, Mr. Ngafuan, now a supporter of Vice President Joseph Boakai said, NEC handling of the process is giving him jitters. “Quite frankly, I am afraid. From what I’ve heard from Chairman Jerome Korkoya, I think we all, political actors and journalists need to sound the alarm and call a state of emergency around this issue because elections are won or lost based on the credibility of the voter roll.” NEC commenced the Exhibition of the Provisional Voter Roll on June 12, 2017 and ended on June 17 at all 2080 Exhibition Centers (formerly Voter Registration Centers) across the country. The exercise is a cardinal electoral date as per Article 9.2 of the Voter Registration Regulations and in keeping with section 3.6 of the New Elections Law of Liberia.
Nigeria: Electoral Commission Explains Why It Rejects Solar-Powered E-Voting Machine | Information Nigeria
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has rejected the solar-powered electronic voting machine made by the National Agency of Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), after the INEC chairman, Prof. Yakubu Mahmoud. According to sources at the meeting, held behind closed doors, expressed fears that the machine could fail in the middle of the exercise and cause problems, leading to litigation against the commission.The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has rejected the solar-powered electronic voting machine made by the National Agency of Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), after the INEC chairman, Prof. Yakubu Mahmoud, according to sources at the meeting, held behind closed doors, expressed fears that the machine could fail in the middle of the exercise and cause problems, leading to litigation against the commission.