In a wide-ranging set of indictments handed down on July 13, 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) charged 12 Russian intelligence officers with brazenly attacking U.S. election infrastructure during the 2016 presidential election. On that same day, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats sounded the alarm that Russia is continuing its cyberattacks on the United States, ominously stating that “the warning lights are blinking red again,” just as they were before the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Coats went on to say that the nation’s election systems and other digital infrastructure are “literally under attack.” Yet, in the face of overwhelming evidence, for more than a year-and-a-half, President Donald Trump has cast doubt on these consistent warnings. It now is incumbent on Congress, key members of the administration, state and local officials, and other stakeholders to take aggressive steps within their respective purviews to secure our election infrastructure.Full Article: Time Running Out to Secure Against 2018 Election Cyberattacks.
The Senate could be headed for a showdown this week over funding for state election security. Democrats are pushing for a floor vote on an amendment that would set aside an additional $250 million in grants for states to upgrade their voting systems and make other improvements. But they face firm opposition from Republicans, who say the initial round of funding Congress provided states earlier this year is sufficient. A similar amendment was rejected by the House two weeks ago in a party-line vote. Election security funding is fast emerging as a political hill Democrats are willing to die on. Although the amendment is unlikely to pass in the GOP-controlled Senate, Democrats can use it to hammer President Trump at a time when the White House is frantically trying to patch up the damage from his recent flip-flopping on the threat from Russia. Democrats are also hoping that a floor fight over the merits of grant money could make Republicans look like they’re standing in the way of resources state officials say they need to protect the vote. Whether that will help Democrats come November is unclear, but public polling has showed strong majorities of Americans want to see more action from the administration on election security.Full Article: The Cybersecurity 202: The fight over election security comes to the Senate floor - The Washington Post.
A citizenship question on the 2020 census has already drawn challenges from states that fear an undercount of immigrants and a loss of federal funds. But demographers say there could be even deeper consequences: The question could generate the data necessary to redefine how political power is apportioned in America. Republicans officials, red states and conservatives behind a series of recent court cases have argued that districts historically allotted based on total population unfairly favor states and big cities with more undocumented immigrants, tilting power from states like Louisiana and Montana to California and New York. Congressional seats and state legislative districts should equally represent citizens or eligible voters, they say, not everyone.Full Article: A Census Question That Could Change How Power Is Divided in America - The New York Times.
National: How the Russian government used disinformation and cyber warfare in 2016 election – an ethical hacker explains | phys.org
The Soviet Union and now Russia under Vladimir Putin have waged a political power struggle against the West for nearly a century. Spreading false and distorted information – called “dezinformatsiya” after the Russian word for “disinformation” – is an age-old strategy for coordinated and sustained influence campaigns that have interrupted the possibility of level-headed political discourse. Emerging reports that Russian hackers targeted a Democratic senator’s 2018 reelection campaign suggest that what happened in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election may be set to recur. As an ethical hacker, security researcher and data analyst, I have seen firsthand how disinformation is becoming the new focus of cyberattacks. In a recent talk, I suggested that cyberwarfare is no longer just about the technical details of computer ports and protocols. Rather, disinformation and social media are rapidly becoming the best hacking tools. With social media, anyone – even Russian intelligence officers and professional trolls – can widely publish misleading content. As legendary hacker Kevin Mitnick put it, “it’s easier to manipulate people rather than technology.”Full Article: How the Russian government used disinformation and cyber warfare in 2016 election – an ethical hacker explains.
Last year, Defcon’s Voting Village made headlines for uncovering massive security issues in America’s electronic voting machines. Unsurprisingly, voting-machine makers are working to prevent a repeat performance at this year’s show. According to Voting Village organizers, they’re having a tough time getting their hands on machines for white-hat hackers to test at the next Defcon event in Las Vegas (held in August). That’s because voting-machine makers are scrambling to get the machines off eBay and keep them out of the hands of the “good guy” hackers. Village co-organizer Harri Hursti told attendees at the Shmoocon hacking conference this month they were having a hard time preparing for this year’s show, in part because voting machine manufacturers sent threatening letters to eBay resellers. The intimidating missives told auctioneers that selling the machines is illegal — which is false.Full Article: Voting-machine makers are already worried about Defcon.
Honorable Members of the Commission: I serve as Senior Advisor to Verified Voting, a national non-partisan non-profit educational and advocacy organization committed to safeguarding elections in the digital age. Verified Voting advocates for the responsible use of emerging technologies to ensure that Americans can be confident their votes will be cast as intended and counted as cast. We promote auditable, accessible and resilient voting for all eligible citizens. I previously served as President of Verified Voting for more than a decade. I have provided information and testimony on voting technology and policy issues at federal and state levels, including to the US House of Representatives Committee on House Administration, and earlier this year at the Joint Hearing of Assembly Elections and Redistricting and Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committees, on Cybersecurity and California’s Elections.1
I have curated an extensive information resource on election equipment and regulations nationwide, and co-authored several key works on election security policy, including Principles & Best Practices for Post Election Audits2 and the introductory chapter of Confirming Elections: Creating Confidence and Integrity through Election Auditing.3 I participate in the Future of California Elections, a collaboration between election officials, civil rights organizations and election reform advocates to examine and address the unique challenges facing the State of California’s election system.[4. Futureofcaelections.org] I also serve on the Los Angeles County Voting Systems for All People (VSAP) Technical Advisory Committee.4
In my capacity at Verified Voting I have worked with advocates, election officials and lawmakers from all across the country. In my view, the states that do the best on metrics relating to voting system security are often the ones that continue to look for and embrace opportunities to improve. As security threats do not stand still, neither can those whose work it is to safeguard our elections and consequently our democracy. I applaud the Little Hoover Commission for taking up this crucial topic of investigation, and am pleased to participate in and contribute to that effort.
Election security is not an on-off switch, where a thing either is secure or it is not. Rather it involves incrementing layers of effort, analysis, systems and procedures, all created or conducted by people, all while balancing costs and priorities. Such incremental measures harden a system, making it more secure than before and solving for problems when they occur. Perfect security is not attainable, but diligence in the pursuit of secure elections is.
Editorials: Replace Georgia’s risky touchscreen voting machines | Richard DeMillo/Atlanta Journal Constitution
s the 2016 cyber-attacks on U.S. elections continue unabated this election year, most everyone agrees that Georgia’s aging, insecure voting machines must be replaced with a new system to increase public confidence. Georgia legislators tried this spring to authorize purchase of a new system, but the flawed legislation failed. That’s a good thing. It would have made the situation worse, not better. In the wake of this failure, Secretary of State Brian Kemp formed a blue-ribbon Commission on Secure, Accessible and Fair Elections (SAFE) to study the options for Georgia’s next voting system. In short, the Secretary set up a way for Georgia to dig itself out of its election integrity hole and leapfrog to the front of the pack nationwide. At SAFE’s first meeting, Mr. Kemp sabotaged his own commission. The laudable goal of that meeting was to describe Georgia’s current system. Briefing slides are available online. Not apparent in the published material is a disturbing pattern of giving SAFE false and misleading information. If not corrected, the Commission’s recommendations will be as flawed as other efforts to fix the current system. Here are five egregious examples of such misinformation.Full Article: Opinion: Replace Ga.’s risky touchscreen voting machines.
The Legislature on Monday sent to Gov. Charlie Baker a bill that would institute automatic voter registration in Massachusetts. Under the bill, an eligible voter who applies for a license or identification card at the Registry of Motor Vehicles or completes a transaction at MassHealth or the Health Connector would be automatically registered to vote. “We think it is one of the strongest automatic voter registration bills in the country,” said Pam Wilmot, executive director of Common Cause Massachusetts. “If signed by the governor, it will make voting more accurate, secure and participatory.”Full Article: Legislature sends automatic voter registration bill to Gov. Charlie Baker's desk | masslive.com.
Lawrence County government officials plan to buy new voting machines before the 2019 elections season. That will give the county some assurance that the system works before the next presidential election in 2020. But the price tag that comes with mandated machines with a paper trail is one that the taxpayers locally may have to eat, unless the state and federal governments come through with funding to back up their mandate. Ed Allison, county director of elections and voting, estimated that the cost for Lawrence County to meet the mandates with a new voting system could range between $750,000 to $1.5 million. Statewide, the cost is expected to be about $150 million for all 67 counties to comply, he said.Full Article: Taxpayers could foot bill for mandated voting machines | News | ncnewsonline.com.
Texas election officials have been removing more people from the state’s voter rolls ever since the Supreme Court struck down a part of the Voting Rights Act in 2013, according to a new report from the Brennan Center for Justice. The group says the court’s decision to specifically strike down one provision of the law led to the rise in voter purges. The preclearance provision, also known as Section 5, required several states – including Texas – to get an OK from the federal government before enacting voting laws, changing election procedures or taking people off voter rolls. States purge their voter rolls periodically to remove people who have died or committed a felony.Full Article: With Less Federal Supervision, Texas Drops More People From Voter Rolls | KUT.
Visiting Wisconsin on June 28, President Donald Trump tweeted “Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with meddling in our Election!” It was not the first time the president cast doubt on Russian interference in the 2016 election, contradicting conclusions of the FBI, CIA and National Security Agency, as well as reports by bipartisan committees in both chambers of Congress. But Russians have been testing the vulnerability of elections in Wisconsin and other states for years, and top U.S. intelligence officials have warned the 2018 midterm elections are a potential target of Russian cyber attacks and disinformation. A key swing state, Wisconsin was the scene of Russian measures in 2016 that utilized social media and also probed the websites of government agencies.Full Article: Wisconsin election voting systems still vulnerable to hacking.
Cambodians went to the polls last weekend, but it was a sham of an election, dominated by Hun Sen, the country’s aging autocrat. With the opposition party banned and soldiers at polling booths to ensure the outcome went only one way, no credible organization signed off on the election’s validity—but quite a few fake organizations did. Election observation in authoritarian regimes is a relatively new phenomenon. Beginning in the late 1980s, the number of elections monitored by intergovernmental organizations, nongovernmental organizations, and sovereign states increased substantially. This brought increased criticism of the behavior of authoritarian regimes, which signaled their compliance to the norm of external observation in exchange for certain benefits, such as legitimacy, foreign direct investment, and membership in international organizations. This gave democracy promotion actors, which coordinated a majority of election-monitoring missions, newfound leverage over the behavior of authoritarian regimes. In the last decade, however, dictators have fought back.Full Article: Fake Monitors Endorse Cambodia’s Sham Election – Foreign Policy.
Counting was under way on Monday in Mali following a key presidential election that saw balloting halted at hundreds of polling stations because of violence in restive regions of the poor Sahel country. Despite the violence, candidates and authorities praised Sunday’s first round of voting, relieved that the violence – which included the torching of polling stations and assaults on electoral officials – caused no casualties. Security was a central issue during the campaign, in which 73-year-old President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita is seeking re-election with the international community hoping the poll will strengthen a 2015 peace accord.Full Article: Counting under way after Mali's violence-marred poll | News24.
Britain on Friday said it shared concern expressed by international observer missions over reports of pressure on the media in Pakistan and the number of parties with links to proscribed groups who preach violence and intolerance during the Wednesday elections in the country. Noting that Jinnah’s vision of a tolerant, pluralist Pakistan remained central to a stable and cohesive Pakistani society, foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt said the election marked an “unprecedented second successive transfer of power from one full-term civilian government to another”.Full Article: Pakistan election: UK shares concern of observer missions | world news | Hindustan Times.
Last month, an election in Turkey kept President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his coalition in power. But experts are puzzled by the results — and caution that the election was not free and fair. Videos of ballot stuffing — mostly in eastern Turkey — in favor of pro-Erdogan parties went viral after they were posted online on election day. And both partisan and nonpartisan reports showed that allegations of electoral irregularity came primarily from eastern Turkey. An opposition-written report stated that 68 percent of the election day violations took place in the east — areas where Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) experienced significant gains. A report published by an independent fact-checking organization largely supports these claims.Full Article: Why the results of Turkey’s election are surprising - The Washington Post.
Counting has begun in Zimbabwe’s first election since the removal of Robert Mugabe, with the result determining the former British colony’s future for decades. Millions of people voted peacefully across the county on Monday and turnout appeared extremely high, with long lines of voters forming outside polling stations across the country when they opened at 7am (0600 BST). By early afternoon, polling officials in the capital, Harare, and surrounding towns were reporting that between 75% and 85% of registered voters had cast their ballots. Full results are not due until much later in the week, and possibly as late as the weekend. Speaking as he queued at a primary school on the outskirts of Harare – an opposition stronghold – Tinashe Musuwo, 20, said: “I am very optimistic this morning. Things will get better now.”Full Article: Zimbabwe election: counting begins in first post-Mugabe poll | World news | The Guardian.
National: Russians Are Targeting Private Election Companies, Too — And States Aren’t Doing Much About It | FiveThirtyEight
The American election system is a textbook example of federalism at work. States administer elections, and the federal government doesn’t have much say in how they do it. While this decentralized system has its benefits, it also means that there’s no across-the-board standard for election system cybersecurity practices. This lack of standardization has become all the more apparent over the past two years: Hackers probed 21 state systems during the lead-up to the 2016 election and gained access to one. But the federal government and states don’t appear to have made great strides to ensure that this doesn’t happen again. To do so, they’d need to deal with not only their own cybersecurity deficits but also those of the private companies that help states administer elections.Full Article: Russians Are Targeting Private Election Companies, Too — And States Aren’t Doing Much About It | FiveThirtyEight.
After nearly two years of calling Russian election interference a hoax and its investigation a witch hunt, President Donald Trump on Friday presided over the first National Security Council meeting devoted to defending American democracy from foreign manipulation. “The President has made it clear that his administration will not tolerate foreign interference in our elections from any nation state or other malicious actors,” the White House said in a statement afterward. But current and former officials tell NBC News that 19 months into his presidency, there is no coherent Trump administration strategy to combat foreign election interference — and no single person or agency in charge.Full Article: Trump admin has no central strategy for election security, and no one's in charge.
When Russian hackers targeted the staff of Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., they took aim at maybe the most vulnerable sector of U.S. elections: campaigns. McCaskill’s Senate staff received fake emails, as first reported by The Daily Beast, in an apparent attempt by Russia’s GRU intelligence agency to gain access to passwords. McCaskill released a statement confirming the attack but said there is no indication the attack was successful. “Russia continues to engage in cyber warfare against our democracy. I will continue to speak out and press to hold them accountable,” McCaskill said. “I will not be intimidated. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, Putin is a thug and a bully.”Full Article: Russian Hackers Targeted The Most Vulnerable Part Of U.S. Elections. Again. : NPR.
Amid ongoing concern over continued efforts by Russian hackers to infiltrate U.S. election systems, Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire says that her office has been the subject of at least one phishing attack targeting email accounts and social media profiles. Shaheen’s experience comes after fellow Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri said that Russian hackers tried unsuccessfully to infiltrate her office’s computer network. Shaheen worries that the issue is more widespread than many think. “There has been one situation that we have turned over to authorities to look into, and we’re hearing that this is widespread, with political parties across the country, as well as with members of the Senate,” Shaheen told “Face the Nation” on Sunday.Full Article: Jeanne Shaheen: Senators targeted in "widespread" hacking attempts by Russia – Video from Face the Nation with Margaret Brennan today - CBS News.