State election officials said they haven’t received as much federal funding as they need to secure their election systems even after U.S. intelligence officials concluded that Russia meddled in the 2016 election and the federal government called on states to step up efforts to prevent hacking. Officials from Minnesota and Vermont asked lawmakers for more money at a hearing Wednesday by the Senate Rules and Administration Committee in Washington. “Our upgrades to equipment and cybersecurity will be an ongoing challenge for many states; the federal funding received will, regrettably, be insufficient to do all we want, or need,” said Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos, who is president-elect of the National Association of Secretaries of State.
The initially turbulent relationship between federal agencies and state and local election officials in the wake of the 2016 election season has cleared to some extent as the groups work together ahead of upcoming elections, federal and state government officials told a Senate panel on election security. States are using up a pool of federal money to bolster their election systems, and the Department of Homeland Security is honing its threat sharing data to better fit the needs of states, the officials said at a June 20 Senate Rules and Administration Committee hearing on election cybersecurity. “As of this week, 38 states have requested $250 million” of the $380 million appropriation in the 2018 omnibus spending bill, panel Chairman Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said. He added that $150 million has already been distributed.
National: Obama cybersecurity czar: Russian hackers likely scanned election systems in all 50 states | USA Today
Russian hackers likely scanned the election systems of all 50 states for vulnerabilities in 2016 — not just the 21 states confirmed as targets by homeland security officials last year, the cybersecurity czar for former President Barack Obama told a Senate panel Wednesday. “I think it is highly likely,” Michael Daniel replied in answer to a question from Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, about whether Russian cyber actors at least scanned the election systems of every state. “It is more likely that we hadn’t detected it than that it didn’t occur.” States have been scrambling to improve their cyber security after Homeland Security officials revealed last year that Russian hackers tried to breach election systems in at least 21 states in 2016. Although no actual votes were changed, hackers broke into Illinois’ voter registration database.
National: State Election Officials Didn’t Know About Russian Hacking Threat Until They Read It in the News, Emails Show | HuffPost
Voters across the country were shocked to learn last year, through the disclosure of a top-secret NSA document, details of an intricate plot by Russian military hackers to infiltrate American electoral systems. New emails obtained by The Intercept through public records requests illustrate the disturbing extent to which potential targets of the attack were caught unaware, having apparently remained in the dark alongside the voting public. On June 5, 2017, The Intercept published a top-secret National Security Agency assessment that detailed and diagramed a Russian governmental plot to breach VR Systems, an e-voting vendor that makes poll book software used by several pivotal electoral battleground states, such as North Carolina and Virginia. The report attributed the scheme to the Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate, or GRU. GRU’s plan, the NSA claimed, was to roll any success with VR Systems into a subsequent email attack against state voting officials across the country.
Sen. Sherrod Brown has reacted to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision supporting the Ohio secretary of state’s policy of purging inactive voters from the rolls with a bill aimed at stopping the practice. Brown, D-Ohio, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., announced Wednesday they are introducing a bill to amend the National Voter Registration Act to clarify that a state may not use someone’s failure to vote or respond to a state notice as a reason to remove them from active voter rolls. The bill is a direct reaction the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute case, in which the high court ruled that states may remove registered voters from rolls if they do not vote in multiple federal elections or if they don’t return a mailed address confirmation form. Brown is a former Ohio secretary of state, while Klobuchar is the top Democrat on the Senate Rules Committee, which has oversight jurisdiction over federal elections.
When Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft testified Wednesday in Washington about the security of America’s election systems, he made an astonishing and troubling statement. “The evidence indicates,” he said, “that voter fraud is an exponentially greater threat than hacking of election equipment.” What? Attempts to hack into America’s election systems are well-documented. The fact that they haven’t broadly succeeded, as far as we know, doesn’t mean they aren’t an imminent threat. “It’s disappointing to see this discredited fiction repeated by an election official,” said Lawrence Norden, deputy director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center in New York. Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon, testifying at the same hearing, was clear. “Election security in general, and cybersecurity in particular, is the most significant threat to the integrity of our election system,” he said. He’s right.
Los Angeles County has engaged information technology leader IBM Security Services to conduct an independent review and evaluation of the systems and procedures used in the production and printing of voter rosters for the June 5 Statewide Direct Primary Election. IBM will work with the county’s Chief Information Officer and Auditor-Controller to determine the root cause of the printing error and make recommendations for corrective action. “Our priority is ensuring a thorough and impartial review that is conducted to the highest professional standards,” said Chief Executive Officer Sachi A. Hamai. “Working with IBM Security Services, we are confident we will get the critical information needed to prevent this from happening again.”
Delaware: Delaware may award voting machine contract before releasing bid info | Delaware First Media
The Delaware Office of Management and Budget has requested $10 million for new state voting machines. But the state has not released any bid information on the vendors competing for the contract. OMB previously said it would keep the info private until it awarded the contract. Common Cause Delaware decried the lack in transparency and the Delaware Attorney General sided with them last month, saying OMB has to release the bid rankings.
After two days of confusion — with some but not all county election officials enforcing a Kansas voting restriction struck down by a federal judge Monday — the Kansas Secretary of State’s office instructed local officials Wednesday that proof-of-citizenship was not required to register to vote. The instructions marked the end — or at least a pause — in a years-long saga of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach fighting tooth and nail to keep his signature voter restriction alive, despite multiple court rulings against it. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson issued her order Monday, after a seven-day trial in March, declaring the proof-of-citizenship requirement a violation of both the National Voter Registration Act as well as the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.
Go online and you can buy a USB memory stick, or thumb drive, for 10 bucks or less. Even a premium, high-speed 128-gigabyte device can be had for less than $50 and delivered to the door overnight. It appears, though, that a small, relatively inexpensive, device caused big problems for the Secretary of State’s Office. Last week, Maine voters went to the polls to select gubernatorial and other candidates in Democratic and Republican primary elections and to decide whether to continue ranked choice voting (RCV) in national elections and party primaries. As of Wednesday morning, Democrats were still waiting to find out who their candidate for governor would be come November and who would challenge Rep. Bruce Poliquin in the general election to represent Maine’s Second Congressional District.
On Tuesday, completion of the preliminary RCV tally that would answer those questions was delayed. Earlier in the day, technical problems forced Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap to send staff detectives to retrieve paper ballots from two Hancock County municipalities, Ellsworth and Orland, as well as from Gray, Lewiston and Westbrook. The reason was that digital images of some scanned ballots could not be read by the tabulation computers at the Secretary of State’s Office, so the original paper ballots had to be recovered and rescanned.
Nevada: Human error, tech problems cause of double voting in primary election | Las Vegas Review-Journal
Clark County Registrar of Voters Joe Gloria said Wednesday that a combination of human error and technical problems allowed up to 43 voters to cast ballots twice in the primary election. During a County Commission meeting to certify election results, Gloria said he is unsure why some voters believed their first attempt to vote was unsuccessful. But he explained that volunteer poll workers during early voting and on Election Day did not confirm whether those voters’ ballots had been properly submitted before they were allowed to re-vote. “Had that been done, we probably would have avoided this whole situation,” he said, adding that it is his department’s responsibility to properly train poll workers.
North Carolina: Senate overrides Cooper vetoes of judicial district, election bills | Winston-Salem Chronicle
Republican legislators are moving to try to override Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s vetoes, this time on legislation redrawing judicial districts in some of North Carolina’s counties and election security. The North Carolina Senate on Tuesday, June 19, voted to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s vetoes of two bills – Senate Bill 486, which tightens election security measures to protect against the threat of outside influence, and Senate Bill 757, which makes changes to judicial districts in four counties. House Republicans would vote either Wednesday or today. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s vetoes of two bills adds more uncertainty to already unusual state elections this fall for judges and in races where new political parties want to field candidates. Cooper announced late Friday – less than three hours before a 10-day state constitutional deadline – his decision to block a pair of measures.
Congo: New Voting System Vulnerabilities in Congo | Joseph Lorenzo Hall/Center for Democracy & TechnologyCenter for Democracy & Technology
Reading headlines, it might surprise some that the United States is not the only country with serious voting technology challenges. In fact, recent years have seen issues in India, Africa, and Latin America; technical experts have examined some of those systems and found them lacking. Today, I’m pleased to report that The Sentry – an NGO that works to prevent genocide and mass atrocities in Africa – released a detailed analysis (full report PDF) of the new system slated for use in the upcoming elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The Sentry worked with Argentinian security researchers Javier Smaldone (@mis2centavos) and Alfredo Ortega (@ortegaalfredo) and myself to examine what little public information is available about this system. The verdict is not good.
Iraq’s top court upheld on Thursday a law mandating a nationwide recount of votes in a May parliamentary election but ruled that the cancellation of overseas, displaced, and Peshmerga ballots was unconstitutional. Iraq, OPEC’s second largest oil producer, faces political uncertainty after the election, which was marred by a historically low turnout and allegations of fraud. Parliament, which had mandated the recount after a government report found serious violations had taken place, had also canceled some results such as overseas and displaced votes by amending the election law this month. The verdict from the Supreme Federal Court confirms the recount process, which was opposed by the elections commission and some parties who made significant gains in the election.
Rival politicians in Moldova have expressed anger and confusion after a court on Tuesday ruled that the result of the June 3 elections for the mayor of the capital Chisinau was invalid. The court had not published the reason for the ruling by the time of publication. Electoral law in Moldova says election results may only be declared invalid if there is proof that they were tampered with by one or more candidates. Andrei Nastase, candidate for the Pro-European Dignity and Truth Platform, PPDA, won the second run-off election for the mayoralty on June 3, beating the candidate of the pro-Russian Socialist Party, Ion Ceban.
Turkey: Election watchdog removes key ballot security measure ahead of critical polls | Stockholm Center for Freedom
With four days to go until snap elections on June 24, Turkey’s Supreme Election Board (YSK) has decided to remove a requirement that ballots be stamped by polling station officials in order to be considered valid and counted, according to a report by the Cumhuriyet daily. The YSK wrote in a recent circular that envelopes required the official stamp to be considered valid except in cases where there was no stamp from polling station officials but that the YSK emblem, watermark and stamps from the district electoral board were visible. According to a report by online news outlet Ahval, Twitter user Mahir Durmaz explained that the ballot box officials’ stamps were key to the security of the vote.
All along Istanbul’s boulevards, the face of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan looms large. For 16 years he has ruled over his country, victorious in election after election, vowing every time that Turkey is on the path to reclaiming its status as a great power in the Middle East and beyond. Turkey’s largest city is home to a variety of grandiose projects that channel this vision. In October, the government is scheduled to complete work on Istanbul’s third airport, which will serve 90 million passengers a year. A project to bypass the Bosphorus with new 28-mile (45km) waterway linking the Sea of Marmara to the Black Sea – a project first proposed in the 16th century – will cost billions of dollars. Turkey is less than a week away from arguably its most important elections in modern history. The victor in the presidential race will assume an office with extraordinary powers, which were narrowly approved in a referendum last year, and rule until 2023 – the centennial of the republic’s founding from the ashes of the Ottoman empire.