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National: Election Hacking: Security Upgrades Are Too Little, Too Late for 2018 Midterms, and Race is Already on for 2020, Experts Say | Newsweek

Election experts, cybersecurity experts and those who are overseeing the upcoming midterms have one thing to say about stopping Russian interference in American elections: Forget 2018. It’s too late. Focus on 2020. Before President Donald Trump had even been sworn into office, intelligence agencies revealed that cyberattacks spanning across 21 states had been conducted under the direct order of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The FBI, CIA and National Security Agency’s report concluded that “Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.”  Despite this, lawmakers and federal officials took months, sometimes longer, to take action, with the result that most federal assistance arrived too late to protect the midterm elections.  Read More

National: White House agrees to destroy documents collected by Kobach-led commission | Lawrence Journal-World

A public interest watchdog group said Thursday that the Trump administration has complied with an agreement to destroy sensitive voter registration information that was collected by a now-defunct advisory commission on which Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach served as vice chair. The action came in response to two lawsuits, both of which have now been dismissed, in which separate groups sought to block the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity from obtaining or keeping those records. “President Trump’s now-disbanded voter fraud Commission was flawed from the start,” Paul Seamus Ryan, vice president for policy and litigation at the Washington-based group Common Cause, said in a statement. “Common Cause and its 1.2 million members celebrate the end of this litigation and the destruction of the commission’s illegally collected voter data.” Common Cause was the lead plaintiff in one of the lawsuits. The other suit was led by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, or EPIC, which agreed to dismiss its suit last week. Read More

National: Does the CFAA apply to voting machine hacks? | FCW

For decades, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act served as the U.S. government’s most powerful tool to prosecute hackers. Over the years, virtually every high-profile cybercrime case in which federal prosecutors brought forth charges – from Aaron Swartz and Marcus Hutchins to Russian and Iranian -backed hacking groups – has used the CFAA as its cornerstone statute. As the U.S. heads into the 2018 mid-term elections, the government is facing intense political pressure to harden the security around election systems, while the Trump administration has also come under fire for not doing enough to draw bright lines around election infrastructure and signal to foreign nations that interference will come with great consequences. Read More

National: Justice Department Warns It Might Not Be Able to Prosecute Voting Machine Hackers | Motherboard

After more than a decade of headlines about the vulnerability of US voting machines to hacking, it turns out the federal government says it may not be able to prosecute election hacking under the federal law that currently governs computer intrusions. Per a Justice Department report issued in July from the Attorney General’s Cyber Digital Task Force, electronic voting machines may not qualify as “protected computers” under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the 1986 law that prohibits unauthorized access to protected computers and networks or access that exceeds authorization (such as an insider breach). The report says the law generally only prohibits against hacking computers “that are connected to the Internet (or that meet other narrow criteria for protection)” and notes that voting machines generally do not meet this criteria “as they are typically kept off the Internet.” Consequently, “should hacking of a voting machine occur, the government would not, in many conceivable circumstances, be able to use the CFAA to prosecute the hackers.” Read More

Editorials: Passing the Secure Elections Act is the best way to shore up our democracy | Ben Parker/The Hill

It’s likely too late to save the midterms. Without a miracle, the weaknesses and vulnerabilities in some states’ voting systems can’t be hardened against foreign cyber threats. But, at least, the damage that can be inflicted in November is limited to just a few states and localities. The looming crisis is in 2020. If, in mid-November two years hence, officials announce that foreign hackers infiltrated elections systems and the vote totals can’t be independently verified, we could face the biggest democratic crisis since 1876. Luckily, there is a bipartisan solution slowly working its way through Congress. Congress has received a lot of criticism of late for its inability to craft and pass productive legislation that does anything besides spend money (and even that it can barely do sometimes). The Secure Elections Act is a welcome exception to that rule. The bill has co-sponsors from across the partisan spectrum, from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on the right to Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) on the left. It makes sense that a group of people who rely on elections for their jobs and their legitimacy wouldn’t want a hacker in Moscow or Beijing having more of a say than their constituents. Read More

Arizona: Hackers? No, human error plagues Arizona primary voting | Associated Press

For all the worries about Russian hackers and other cyber-vandals, voting problems this week in Arizona served as a reminder that one of the biggest threats to fair elections is plain old human error. That appeared to be the case during Tuesday’s primary, when dozens of polling places in the state’s most populous county opened late because the voter verification machinery had not been set up. The Maricopa County recorder, the official in charge of running elections in and around Phoenix, said the contractor hired to connect the tablet-like devices didn’t send enough workers to complete the job on time. The contractor insisted it dispatched more people than the county requested. Read More

Arizona: Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes defends his office | Arizona Republic

Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes rode into office in 2016 in the wake of a “presidential preference” election that went terribly wrong, with people standing in line for too long at too few polling places. So when 62 of the County’s 503 polling places failed to open on time Tuesday morning, it begged comparison. Fontes, a Democrat, claims it is not the same at all. The company hired to set up the voting equipment, he said, did not send the number of technicians the county had contracted for, and so he had to “up-train” county employees to plug in wires and get the equipment ready for election day. The company said it did its job, and the problems were on the county end.  Read More

Georgia: Voting companies demo paper ballots for Georgia | Atlanta Journal Constitution

Six election companies offered a first look Thursday at voting systems they’re trying to sell to Georgia, all of which have some sort of paper ballot combined with tabulation computers. All but one of the companies pitched touchscreen machines, similar to those currently in use, that print ballots as a backup to help ensure accurate results. The remaining company proposed hand-marked paper ballots, where voters would fill in bubbles next to their choices and then feed those ballots into scanning machines. Georgia’s elected officials are considering switching from the state’s 16-year-old electronic voting machines to a more secure system. Critics of the state’s current direct-recording electronic voting system say they’re concerned it could be hacked without any backstop. Read More

Editorials: Paper Trail: Indiana vote security must include non-digital record | The Journal Gazette

Voters on both sides of the political aisle are approaching the Nov. 6 general election with concern – and for good reason. No less than the secretary of homeland security has confirmed the government has “seen a willingness and a capability on the part of the Russians” to hack into our election infrastructure, including voter rolls and voting machines. Congress made $380 million available to help states guard against cyberattacks, but Indiana’s $7.5 million share isn’t enough to provide the security Hoosiers deserve. Secretary of State Connie Lawson announced Indiana will use its federal funds to enhance election security but said those enhancements don’t include voting machines statewide capable of producing a voter-verifiable paper trail.  “The Secretary of State’s office will coordinate and plan with the Indiana General Assembly for future replacement of voting equipment since the required budget to replace direct-recording electronic voting machines without a voter-verified paper trail requires a larger amount than the available 2018 HAVA Elections Security Grant Funds,” Lawson wrote in a letter to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. Read More

Michigan: Republicans Can Intervene in Michigan Redistricting Case | Courthouse News

Eight Republican congressmen from Michigan can intervene in a gerrymandering lawsuit filed by a women’s group and Democratic voters, a Sixth Circuit panel ruled Thursday. A district court panel had previously denied the lawmakers’ motion, citing a “significant likelihood of undue delay and prejudice.” The lawsuit, filed in December 2017 by the League of Women Voters and 11 Democratic voters against Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, claimed Republican lawmakers unconstitutionally altered the state’s election map after the 2010 census. Read More