National: How hackers could disrupt Election Day — and how the bad guys could be stopped | The Boston Globe

Election Day presents a tantalizing target for a malicious hacker. The complex, multifaceted US voting system is rife with technological weak spots, from problems with the electronic voting machines in use in some states to vulnerabilities in the websites government officials use to disseminate information. In an era where public trust in American institutions is at an ebb, and conspiracy theories threaten to metastasize online, public safety officials and cybersecurity experts say they have to be careful how they talk about the vulnerabilities. “If the people do not trust that it’s a fair system, then the whole thing is going to fall apart,” said Cris Thomas, a well-known hacker who often goes by the name “Space Rogue” and now works in security at IBM. … This November, 15 states — none of them in New England — will use at least some electronic voting machines that leave no paper trail, according to the Verified Voting Foundation.

National: Technology giants face big test in midterm elections | The Washington Post

With less than a month before the midterm elections, technology companies are fighting to prove they can adequately shore up their platforms and products against foreign influence. Their success may mean the difference between getting to police their own house and having lawmakers do it for them. Election Day could be a tipping point for Silicon Valley titans, who are increasingly in Washington’s harsh glare following revelations that disinformation campaigns linked to Russia were widely disseminated on their platforms ahead of the 2016 elections. Tech moguls like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey were dragged to Capitol Hill to give mea culpas for their past practices and publicly pledge to do better next time. The companies contend they have learned from their missteps during the 2016 election and are improving their election-integrity efforts as other elections have taken place around the world. They’ve promised to do more to identify and stamp out fake accounts, and they have increased transparency around political ads. Facebook opened a 20-person war room on its Menlo Park campus aimed at quashing disinformation and deleting fake accounts. 

National: DNC builds a tech team with deep bench in wake of 2016 hack | McClatchy

The digital operations team at the Democratic National Committee hit some dark days after Russian hackers mauled their networks in 2016, hijacking dozens of computers and pilfering tens of thousands of emails to hand over to WikiLeaks and onto the internet. Remnants of that digital bruising linger. “I feel like everyone’s still feeling, like, the PTSD from ’16,” said Raffi Krikorian, who now is the chief technology officer for a newly beefed-up unit of the Democratic National Committee, referring to post-traumatic stress disorder. The mood today of the DNC’s tech security team is one of cautious vigilance. The unit has grown in size and now employs cybersecurity experts who have come from some of the biggest Silicon Valley companies. Every day, the security team spots anomalies and strange behavior that could indicate a new cyberattack.

Florida: Florida Wrestles with Election Cybersecurity | American Prospect

Ever since the infamous election of 2000, Florida has been ground zero in the struggle to improve the technology and security of voting. Unfortunately, those critical issues have been conflated with deliberate political efforts to suppress voting and undermine confidence in voting systems, and 2018 is no exception. The reforms instituted since the 2000 debacle, such as early voting, served to make voting more convenient and restored confidence that all votes would be counted accurately. Even Republican Governor Rick Scott, no fan of convenience or expanding the franchise, finally went along with online voter registration last year. Thanks to the work of county election officials and civic reform groups, as well as good-faith efforts by Scott’s Republican predecessor, Charlie Crist, Florida had already made significant strides on election administration and had extended voting rights to certain disenfranchised former felons as well.

Massachusetts: Group raises questions about absentee ballot errors | Associated Press

A voting rights group on Monday called for a “full review” after finding several errors on absentee New Hampshire. But the secretary of state’s office said the group is wrong in one instance and that other issues are being addressed as part of the usual pre-election process. A small number of ballots are sent 45 days before the election to military members and others overseas. The New Hampshire Campaign for Voting Rights said Londonderry’s ballots listed a candidate under the wrong party, the Bedford ballot lists a candidate twice and another candidate was left off ballots for Auburn, Sandown and Chester. The group’s director, Liz Wester, called the errors “unacceptable.”

Michigan: 2-plus years later, lawsuit over ballot selfies not over | Daily Journal

Eager to snap and post an online photo of your Michigan ballot in the Nov. 6 election? Think again. A legal dispute over photos in polling places still hasn’t reached the finish line, more than two years later. A millennial voter from the Kalamazoo area, Joel Crookston, filed a lawsuit deep in the 2016 election season to try to stop Michigan’s ban on taking photos of marked ballots or publicly exposing them. A violation can disqualify a ballot. U.S. District Judge Janet Neff granted an injunction, clearing the way for so-called ballot selfies. But a higher court stepped in and said the sudden change just days before the Trump-Clinton election would be a “recipe for election-day confusion for voters and poll workers alike.”

North Carolina: Voter registration deadline extended for Hurricane Florence victims | WNCT

The voter registration deadline is extended for those impacted by Hurricane Florence. The extension is part of the Hurricane Florence Emergency Response Act. The deadline is now extended to 5 P.M. on October 15th. The change is for the 28 counties heavily impacted by the storm. In the East that includes: Lenoir, Pitt, Beaufort, Carteret, Craven, Duplin, Greene, Hyde, Jones, Onslow and Pamlico counties. In the remaining 72 counties, the deadlines remains Friday October 12th.

Texas: With Various Threats, How Secure Is the 2018 Vote? | Government Technology

Across the country, voter registration deadlines began this week. Texas has already seen an all-time high of registrations ahead of Tuesday’s deadline to register. That’s despite the fact that the state announced recently that thousands of voters who registered online through may not have officially registered. This is because Texas does not offer online voter registration. So when all those potential voters show up to vote in November, how confident can they be that their vote will count? Short answer: Very. Long answer: While experts feel the voting process itself is secure, they have concerns about the protection of voter rights, accessibility of the vote and the risk for misinformation, particularly from foreign sources looking to sway election results, which they say has not been adequately addressed.

Verified Voting in the News: State moves forward with first mobile voting app, despite fears from security experts | TechRepublic

During the 2018 midterms, deployed military personnel from West Virginia will be the first in the nation to vote in a federal election on their smartphones using a blockchain-based app—despite numerous concerns from cybersecurity experts. Concern over voting security in the midterm elections is rising, after the Department of Homeland Security detected Russian hackers targeting voter registration databases in at least 21 states in 2016. While most of the systems were not breached, and there is no evidence that Russian agents were able to manipulate voter data or election results, it’s likely that the cybercriminals were scanning them for vulnerabilities to potentially exploit in the future, the department said. … Cybersecurity experts are less confident in the safety and viability of a system like Voatz. “This is the last thing that people need to be thinking about when it comes to voting right now,” said Joseph Lorenzo Hall, chief technologist at the nonpartisan Center for Democracy and Technology. “There are so many more boring pieces of low-hanging fruit, like two-factor authentication, password management, and defending against phishing attacks. But that’s unfortunately not as exciting to most people as the blockchain voting stuff.”

Belgium: Belgium to polling officials: Please don’t accidentally delete all the votes | TNW

When you think of potential threats to electoral integrity, your mind conjures up all sorts of images. You start to imagine shadowy state actors toiling away from seedy basements in Moscow, or anarchic young hacktivists doing it for the lulz. In Belgium, they’ve got another potential foe to contend with: the actual polling agents themselves. It turns out that Belgium’s voting machines store a record of each vote on a USB stick. This drive uses a Linux-compatible filesystem — presumably because that’s what the voting machines themselves run. What happens when you shove one of the sticks into a computer running Windows? Well, the machine won’t recognize the stick and will tell you to format it with a compatible filesystem, like FAT32. And what happens when you do that? Well, you delete all the votes, that’s what.

Cameroon: Polls close, vote counting begins in key election | ABC

Polls closed in Cameroon Sunday evening and vote counting began in an election that will likely see Africa’s oldest leader win another term amid fighting and threats from separatists that prevented residents in English-speaking regions from voting. President Paul Biya, in office since 1982, vows to end a crisis that has killed more than 400 people in the Central African nation’s Southwest and Northwest territories in more than a year. The fractured opposition has been unable to rally behind a strong challenger to the 85-year-old leader. Voting ended around 6 p.m. local time and results are expected within two weeks. “I am satisfied after performing my civic duty and particularly satisfied that the election is taking place in calm and serenity and without fighting,” said Biya after voting. “I hope that the calm will continue after results are proclaimed.” Main opposition Social Democratic Front party candidate Joshua Osih voted in Douala and called for transparency in vote counting.

Congo: UN Security Council asks DRC to examine voting machine use | Associated Press

The United Nations Security Council has called on the Democratic Republic of Congo’s electoral commission to open dialogue on the use of voting machines for December elections. French Ambassador Francois Delattre, who co-headed a delegation with ambassadors from Bolivia and Equatorial Guinea, said on Sunday the security council wants the commission to consider a “broad consensus”. Voting machine use has been disputed by some presidential candidates and opposition leaders.

Latvia: Russia launched cyber-attacks against Latvia, claims security service | LSM.LV

Latvia’s state security service the Constitution Protection Bureau (SAB) said October 8 that Russia has in the past launched several cyber-attacks against Latvia. In a rare statement posted to its website, SAB said that like the Netherlands – which recently went public with claims it had been subjected to cyber-attacks from the Russian Federation – Latvia too had been targeted several times, naming Russia’s GRU military intelligence service specifically as the perpetrator. “The cyber attacks in Latvia were carried out by the GRU for espionage purposes, and the most frequent attacks were directed against state institutions, including the foreign and defense sectors. Rarely, attacks were targeted at private companies, including the media. The essence of cyber-attacks carried out by GRU is to enter an information system, operate in it unnoticed, and obtain long-term data from the system – for example, regular access to e-mail correspondence and documents processed at the workstation,” SAB said.

Mozambique: Local elections to test peace progress | AFP

Mozambique holds local elections on Wednesday in a vote that could test progress in the country’s peace talks after the ruling Frelimo party was accused of violence and intimidation during the campaign. The main opposition Renamo party, which has maintained an armed wing since the end of the country’s civil war, is running in the municipal polls for the first time in 10 years. Renamo fought a brutal 16-year civil war against the Marxist-inspired Frelimo government that devastated the economy and left one million people dead. When the war ended in 1992, the group soon began participating in elections. In 2013, a wave of fresh violence erupted between Renamo rebels and government troops, raising fears of a return to civil war. But three years later, the party declared a truce and opened fresh peace talks with the government.