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National: DHS official says ‘trust’ with states prevents sharing cyber threats to election with Congress | InsideCyberSecurity

The Department of Homeland Security’s Christopher Krebs told House lawmakers that a “trust” relationship with state officials has prevented the department from sharing specific details about cyber threats to the 2016 presidential election with Congress. Krebs said “we don’t have statutory authority to compel” states to report cyber incidents to the federal government, while expressing concern that the level of trust needed to get states to share with DHS could be undermined by passing along that information to lawmakers. Krebs, who is the senior official performing the duties of the DHS under secretary for the National Protection and Programs Directorate, testified Wednesday at a joint hearing by the House Oversight and Government Reform information technology and intergovernmental affairs subcommittees on the “cybersecurity of voting machines.” Read More

National: Vote-Hacking Fears Help State Officials Get Security Clearances | Bloomberg

Three months before some U.S. states host primary elections, the Department of Homeland Security has begun offering security clearances to state officials to more easily share classified information as the threat of cyberattacks looms over next year’s polls. The federal government is “clear-eyed” that threats to election systems remain an ongoing concern after Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, according to Chris Krebs, the DHS senior official performing the duties of under secretary for the National Protection and Programs Directorate. We’re offering security clearances initially to senior election officials, and we’re also exploring additional clearances to other state officials,” Krebs told a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee hearing on Wednesday. “These relationships are built and sustained on trust. Breaking that trust will have far-ranging consequences in our ability to collaboratively counter this growing threat.” Read More

National: Privacy advocates cite Russian hacking in court arguments over election data security | InsideCyberSecurity

Lawyers for the Electronic Privacy Information Center told circuit judges last week that attacks on the nation’s election system by Russia underscore the risks to voter data being collected by a presidential commission, in a case that could determine the federal government’s role in securing voter rolls managed by the states. “This data, voter data, is the most sensitive data in our form of government. And we know on record it was also the target of a foreign adversary during the 2016 election,” Marc Rotenberg, president and executive director at EPIC, told a panel of judges at the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on Nov. 21. EPIC, a nonprofit advocate of online privacy and digital rights, is asking federal courts to block the presidentially appointed commission from collecting the voter data. His comments are a reference to the intelligence community’s conclusion that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election, which has prompted a number of congressional investigations that could lead to legislation setting new security requirements for voter data. Read More

Alabama: Roy Moore Criticizes Effort To Make Sure All Eligible Voters Can Vote In Alabama | HuffPost

Roy Moore, the Republican nominee for an Alabama U.S. Senate seat, accused Democrats on Tuesday of attempting to register felons in order to sway the special election to his Democratic opponent. What he failed to acknowledge is that the new voters are all people who have done their time or are in the process of paying their debt to society, and now have had their right to vote restored by the Alabama Legislature. At the turn of the 20th century, Alabama passed a law blocking anyone convicted of a crime of moral turpitude from casting a ballot, a measure that was used largely to keep African-Americans off the voting rolls. After the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the lawin 1985, the state narrowed its scope to felonies of moral turpitude and reinserted it in the state constitution. Read More

California: Latino groups join voting rights lawsuit | The San Diego Union-Tribune

A number of civil rights organizations and activists are asking to join the opposition to a federal lawsuit that challenges the constitutionality of the California Voting Rights Act. The groups, which include the oldest and strongest Hispanic rights organizations in the country, want to side with the California Attorney General’s office in opposition to the lawsuit. Filed on behalf of former Poway Mayor Don Higginson with representation and funding from the conservative Virginia-based The Project on Fair Representation, the lawsuit claims the voting rights act violates the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by denying all citizens the right to choose who they want to represent them. Read More

Verified Voting Blog: Testimony of Verified Voting to the Georgia House of Representatives House Science and Technology Committee

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Georgia’s voting machines need an update. The lifespan of voting machines has been estimated at 10-15 years.1 Purchased in 2002 Georgia’s voting machines are at the outside of that estimate. As voting systems age they are more susceptible to error, malfunction or security threats potentially losing or miscounting votes.

Georgia is one of only a handful of States that is still casting votes on entirely electronic voting systems, known as Direct Record Electronics (DREs). These machines record votes only in digital form; if the digital records are corrupted, either by benign error or malicious attack, there are no backup records and no way to know whether votes have been corrupted. When Georgia purchased these machines in 2002, the national trend was toward paperless touchscreen voting machines. Since then, however, most states moved away from paperless voting systems, driven by mounting research establishing these machines’ security flaws and some high profile and costly machine failures.2 Most of the nation has adopted voting systems that rely on a voter-marked paper ballot, an election safeguard recognized as essential by election officials and computer security experts alike.

A paper ballot provides a durable, physical record that is out of reach of a cyber attack and cannot be lost by a digital malfunction or programming error. Paper ballots can be used in a recount or to perform a post-election audit or check on the election results to help ensure the election outcome is correct. Today roughly 70% of voters in our nation mark a paper ballot which is counted by an electronic scanner. Read More

Editorials: Florida should not deny ex-felons, including veterans, the right to vote | Col. Mike Pheneger/Miami Herald

More than 1.2 million Floridians are barred from voting because of a prior felony conviction — even though they have completed their sentences. That includes thousands of military veterans who have served our country. Each year about 60,000 Floridians finish their prison sentences or probation. In recent years, about 6 percent (approximately 3,600) were veterans. In the past, the percentage was higher — 8 percent in 2007; 11 percent in 1997. In 1978, in the wake of the Vietnam War, the national figure was 24 percent. Read More

Mississippi: Lawmaker hopes to increase low voter turnout | MSNewsNow

Hinds County voters returned to the polls Tuesday in the special election runoff for county attorney, but election officials reported extremely low turnout, which isn’t uncommon for runoffs. One lawmaker hopes bills he is introducing will increase the numbers casting their ballots. Throughout much of the day, Tuesday poll workers sat waiting for voters. At Precinct 14, Fondren Presbyterian Church, only eight people had voted by 11:30 in the special runoff is for county attorney. According to Hinds County election officials, just  6.8% of registered voters cast their ballot in the November 7 election. There are more than 150,800 registered voters in the county. Read More

Nevada: After losing control a year ago, Nevada GOP is trying to flip state senate through unexplained recall process | The Washington Post

Republicans here in the suburban desert have begun recall campaigns against three Democratic state senators without giving an official cause, raising concerns nationally that they are using recalls to give the GOP the power to redraw legislative district lines after the 2020 elections. The recall campaigns, which are being challenged in court beginning Wednesday, target state senators who represent politically divided middle-class neighborhoods. The coordinated efforts began less than a year after the senators won election to four-year terms and rely on a Nevada law that allows voters to recall state officials without stating a reason. The campaign has drawn allegations from Democrats — and at least one high-ranking Republican, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval — that a provision designed to help voters hold elected officials accountable is being used to advance partisan goals. If successful, the test here could provide a model for other states that also allow recalls without any allegations of malfeasance. Read More

New Hampshire: Critics Say Residency Bill Targets Student Voters | Valley News

Hanover-area officials are sounding the alarm over a bill they say would discourage New Hampshire college students from out of state from voting here. The Senate bill, which would require voters to seek residency in order to vote, would place unnecessary hurdles between students and the ballot box, according to opponents. But supporters counter that if passed, the law would clarify state election laws, and do a better job of vetting who is allowed onto the voter rolls. “I’m continually disappointed and frustrated, of course, by what I see as a nasty attempt to suppress voting, especially of college students,” said state Sen. Martha Hennessey, D-Hanover, on Wednesday. Read More