Iowa: Press 1 for Harris. Press 2 for Biden …’Tele-voting’ comes to the presidential race | Alex Seitz-Wald/MBC

You can phone it in. For the first time, Democrats in Iowa and Nevada will be able to participate in their states’ crucial early presidential caucuses next year without actually having to show up. It’s a major change from election years past and one designed to make the Democratic caucuses more democratic and boost participation since not everyone has the time or ability to spend several hours of a specific evening attending an in-person caucus meeting. “This has been one of the challenges and criticisms that people have had of the Iowa caucuses since they were created,” Troy Price, the chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party, told NBC News. “So we’ve always been looking for ways to address this.” Both Iowa and Nevada will now allow any Democrat who wants to to use a telephone to dial into a “virtual caucus,” where they’ll rank a handful of their choices for the presidency. Iowa will offer Democrats six chances to “tele-caucus” in the days leading up to its Feb. 3 first-in-the-nation caucus. “We wanted a process that would continue to allow the precincts to remain the central tenant of our caucuses, while allowing some people who might not otherwise be able to to participate,” Price said.

Australia: Electoral systems evade cyber-attack during federal poll | Justin Hendry/iTnews

The Australian Electoral Commission has revealed the nation’s core electoral systems experienced no successful cyber-attacks during the 2019 federal election campaign. But the agency, which has been increasingly worried by the prospect of external interference, won’t say whether any attempts to compromise the systems were detected. In a bid to guard Australia’s systems against the threat of compromise, the AEC introduced monitoring through a dedicated security operations centre in the lead up to the May 18 ballot. It follows what the agency has described as a worsening cyber environment in the years since the July 2016 election through events like Russia’s alleged cyber interference in the 2016 US election. Many of these concerns stem from the ageing nature of the country’s system for election and roll management, which have been in place since the early 90s and are in dire need of replacement.

North Carolina: Board of Elections delays election machine vote | Will Doran/Raleigh News & Observer

North Carolina election officials cited lingering concerns over election hacking in explaining why they again delayed certifying new voting machines for the 2020 elections Monday. “Trust and confidence in the security of any voting system that we put in place in North Carolina is absolutely vital,” said Stella Anderson, the board member who proposed the delay Monday night. The five-member board has a majority of Democrats, but the vote was bipartisan — and not without controversy. Anderson and fellow Democrat Jeff Carmon voted with Republican member David Black to delay the decision. The board’s chairman, Democrat Bob Cordle, opposed the delay, as did Republican member Ken Raymond. Cordle and Raymond say the delay has them concerned about a time crunch. With Monday’s vote, a decision wouldn’t be made until at least mid-August, in order to provide the public ample notice of a new meeting. The voting machines used in about a third of North Carolina’s counties will be certified at the end of this year. Cordle and Raymond said any further delays will harm the counties that need to figure out which new machines they want to use in 2020.

National: States Rush to Make Voting Systems More Secure as New Threats Emerge | David E. Sanger, Reid J. Epstein and Michael Wines/The New York Times

Amid growing warnings about the security of American voting systems, many states are rushing to address vulnerabilities exposed by the 2016 election, even as intelligence officials worry they are fighting the last battle and are not sufficiently focused on a new generation of threats headed into 2020. Delaware has replaced its voting machines to assure paper backup that would provide a record in case of a breach. South Carolina’s State Election Commission said this month that it would introduce a paper-based voting system in January and planned to “build additional layers of security designed to harden the new system.” Yet Florida, home of the United States’ best-known presidential balloting problems, like hanging chads in 2000 and still mysterious Russian activity in 2016, once again seems far behind. And the fear among American intelligence officials is that the federal government and the 50 states may be making the classic mistake of believing their adversaries will use the same techniques again. “No one expects the Russians will use their old playbook” in the next election, said Suzanne Spaulding, who oversaw election security at the Department of Homeland Security during the Obama administration and is now looking at how Russia is expanding its targets to undermine confidence in the American judicial system.

National: Has Congress already missed its chance to strengthen election security ahead of 2020? | Bryan Lowry/The Kansas City Star

Congress may have already missed its window to shore up state election systems against foreign cyber-attacks ahead of the 2020 election. Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony this week on his investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election has reignited calls for the passage of a bipartisan election security bill. But Republican Senate leaders have balked at approving any such measure prior to 2020. GOP leadership said Mueller’s testimony did little to persuade them of the need for legislation. Moreover, one of the only GOP lawmakers pushing election security reforms on Capitol Hill said states have effectively run out of time to implement changes ahead of the next presidential election. Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma, told reporters Thursday that Congress should shift its focus to the 2022 mid-term election. “I’ve had folks say we need to hurry and get money out the door so they can buy new systems, that’s not going to happen for 2020. There’s no way to do it for 2020 because you can’t buy the equipment, get it in, test it, evaluate it, train your volunteers on it when the first primary is six months away,” Lankford said. “The discussion now is not about 2020. That’s already resolved. They’re not going to add new stuff unless it’s already currently in the pipeline. It’s really 2022 at this point.”

National: State election offices made for an easy target for Russian hackers | Andrew Eversden/Fifth Domain

In the months before the 2016 presidential election, one U.S. state received a notification from a federally-backed cybersecurity group, warning about suspicious cyber activity directed at its networks. The state IT officials did not share the alert with other state government leaders and as late at January 2018, the same officials reported nothing “irregular, inconsistent, or suspicious” took place before the vote. In fact, GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency, had scanned one of the state’s “election-related” domains, according to a new Senate report. In another state, leaders did not turn over to the Senate which of its systems had been targeted by Russians. Officials told Senate investigators they hadn’t seen evidence of scanning or attacks on its election infrastructure. Instead, they told the committee that they had seen a “probing” of its state systems. Again, DHS told the committee that GRU had scanned the state’s Secretary of State website. And in a third state, officials told Senate investigators they had not noticed a connection between their systems and the IP addresses listed in a warning from the federal government. And again, DHS told the committee that GRU scanned the state’s government domain.

National: Bring Back Paper Ballots: Senate Intelligence Committee report shows how electronic voting systems are inherently vulnerable to hackers. | Fred Kaplan/Slate

Just hours after Senate Republicans blocked a vote on a bill to make elections less vulnerable to cyberattacks, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a 67-page report, concluding that, leading up to the 2016 election, Russians hacked voting machines and registration rolls in all 50 states, and they are likely still doing so. The heavily redacted document, based on a two-year investigation, found no evidence that the hackers altered votes or vote tallies, though it says they could have if they’d wanted to. However, three former senior U.S. intelligence officials with backgrounds in cybersecurity told me that the absence of evidence isn’t the same as the evidence of an absence. One of them said, “I doubt very much that any changes would be detectable. Certainly, the hackers would be able to cover any tracks. The Russians aren’t stupid.” Hacking individual voting machines would be an inefficient way to throw an election. But J. Alex Halderman, a computer scientist who has tested vulnerabilities for more than a decade, testified to the Senate committee that he and his team “created attacks that can spread from machine to machine, like a computer virus, and silently change election outcomes.” They studied touch-screen and optical-scan systems, and “in every single case,” he said, “we found ways for attackers to sabotage machines and steal votes.”

National: Myriad election systems complicate efforts to stop hackers | Christina A. Cassidy and Colleen Long/Associated Press

A new Senate report on Russian interference in U.S. elections highlighted one of the biggest challenges to preventing foreign meddling: the limited powers and ability of the federal government to protect elections run by state and local officials. That has given fuel to those who argue that a larger federal role is needed. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence issued the first part of its report into Russian interference in the 2016 election on Thursday, noting that Russian agents “exploited the seams” between federal government expertise and ill-equipped state and local election officials. The report also emphasized repeatedly that elections are controlled by states, not the federal government. It called for the reinforcement of state oversight of elections — a view blasted as inadequate by Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat on the committee. He called on Congress to establish mandatory cybersecurity requirements across the country. “We would not ask a local sheriff to go to war against the missiles, planes and tanks of the Russian Army,” Wyden wrote. “We shouldn’t ask a county election IT employee to fight a war against the full capabilities and vast resources of Russia’s cyber army. That approach failed in 2016 and it will fail again.”

National: Mitch McConnell Received Donations from Voting Machine Lobbyists Before Blocking Election Security Bills | Nicole Goodkind/Newsweek

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell squashed two bills intended to ensure voting security on Thursday, just one day after former special counsel Robert Mueller warned that Russians were attempting to sabotage the 2020 presidential elections “as we sit here.” McConnell said he wouldn’t allow a vote on the bills because they were “so partisan,” but, as previously reported, earlier this year McConnell received a slew of donations from four of the top voting machine lobbyists in the country. “Clearly this request is not a serious effort to make a law. Clearly something so partisan that it only received one single solitary Republican vote in the House is not going to travel through the Senate by unanimous consent,” said McConnell on the Senate floor. The plans would likely burden the two largest electronic voting machine vendors in the United States, Election Systems & Software and Dominion Voting Systems, with new regulations and financial burdens.

Editorials: What Will It Take for Congress to Protect America’s Elections? | The New York Times

Testifying before Congress this week about his investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 elections, Robert Mueller, the former special counsel, seemed eager — desperate, even — to drive home one message: foreign adversaries are intent on undermining American democracy, and the United States is still vulnerable to them. Even as Mr. Mueller declined to elaborate on most of his findings, he was unequivocal in warning that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential race, that it aims to do so again — “They’re doing it as we sit here,” he said — and that “many more countries” are developing similar capabilities. Declaring foreign interference “among the most serious” challenges to American democracy, he urged those with “responsibility in this area” to act “swiftly.” Mr. Mueller is right to be worried. While progress has been made in safeguarding the nation’s electoral system, partisan bickering has impeded Congress from enacting a range of important reforms, from improving coordination between state and federal authorities to upgrading election infrastructure to closing loopholes in campaign finance laws. As is often the case, the legislative bottleneck is in the Republican-controlled Senate, but both parties have done their part to politicize the issue.

Editorials: Count every vote and count them all by hand | Tim Canova/South Florida Sun-Sentinel

The Florida advisory committee of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights held a public hearing last week on voter disenfranchisement in downtown Fort Lauderdale. I was privileged to speak on the issues surrounding my two campaigns against Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz in Florida’s 23rd Congressional District. First, voter disenfranchisement is a serious issue. Too many…

Florida: Senate intelligence report adds to confusion over Russian elections hacking in Florida | David Smiley and Alex Daugherty/Miami Herald

Three months after Florida’s state government was blindsided by the release of previously classified information that two local elections offices were hacked ahead of the 2016 presidential elections, Gov. Ron DeSantis and members of Congress have been caught off-guard once again by a newly released intelligence report on Russian elections interference. On Thursday, the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released a heavily redacted 67-page report that appears to include new information about efforts by Russian hackers to probe and target elections networks in Florida — including the FBI’s suspicions in 2018 that, in fact, four county elections systems had been hacked rather than two. The report, which mentions that hackers may have carried out cyber reconnaissance missions across all 50 states, details attempts by the Russian intelligence GRU syndicate to probe elections systems in Illinois and 20 other unnamed states. It specifically discusses those efforts in Illinois and an unnamed “State 2,” where details about meetings and cybersecurity efforts appear to mostly jibe with what’s previously been disclosed about the election system hacking attempts in Florida. But the report does not definitively name Florida. And nearly 24 hours after the release of the report, with the Senate Intelligence Committee apparently unwilling or unable to provide more information, Florida’s politicians and elections officials remained stuck in yet another guessing game about Russian hacking and the security of Florida’s elections networks.

Georgia: Election officials accused of destroying evidence in voting machine lawsuit | CNN

In a federal court filing, lawyers representing election integrity advocates accuse Georgia election officials of destroying evidence that was “ground zero for establishing hacking, unauthorized access, and potential of manipulation of election results.” The brief, filed by the Coalition for Good Governance, argues that state officials “almost immediately” began destroying evidence after a 2017 lawsuit alleged Georgia’s voting machines were outdated and vulnerable to hacking. “The evidence strongly suggests that the State’s amateurish protection of critical election infrastructure placed Georgia’s election system at risk, and the State Defendants now appear to be desperate to cover-up the effects of their misfeasance — to the point of destroying evidence,” the lawsuit reads. Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger rebuffed the accusations in a statement — pointing to a US Senate Intelligence Committee report, which concluded that no machines were manipulated and no votes were changed.

Georgia: Judge could order Georgia to make interim voting system fix | Kate Brumback/Associated Press

Georgia allowed its election system to grow “way too old and archaic” and now has a deep hole to dig out of to ensure that the constitutional right to vote is protected, according to U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg. Now Totenberg is in the difficult position of having to decide whether the state, which plans to implement a new voting system statewide next year, must immediately abandon its outdated voting machines in favor of an interim solution for special and municipal elections to be held this fall. Election integrity advocates and individual voters sued Georgia election officials in 2017 alleging that the touchscreen voting machines the state has used since 2002 are unsecure and vulnerable to hacking. They’ve asked Totenberg to order the state to immediately switch to hand-marked paper ballots. But lawyers for state election officials and for Fulton County, the state’s most populous county that includes most of Atlanta, argued that the state is in the process of implementing a new system, and it would be too costly, burdensome and chaotic to use an interim system for elections this fall and then switch to the new permanent system next year.

Minnesota: New info about election hacks raises the alarm in Minnesota | Stephen Montemayor/Minneapolis Star Tribune

New revelations that all 50 states had their voting systems targeted by Russians in 2016 and that more foreign actors are waging online disinformation campaigns are adding fresh urgency to state efforts to safeguard the 2020 vote. “The stakes are very high and I feel that every day,” said Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon, who met last week with state officials tasked with reviewing election security strategies before absentee primary voting starts in January. “No secretary of state can guarantee success. What we can guarantee is that we will try to minimize risks. But we’re in a fight here apparently with nation states.” Special Counsel Robert Mueller warned Congress last week that Russia’s “sweeping and systematic” campaign to disrupt the 2016 election was not a mere one-off attempt: “They’re doing it as we sit here, and they expect to do it during the next campaign.” Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee concluded that Russia went after voting systems in all 50 states in 2016. Federal law enforcement and intelligence assessments previously disclosed that 21 states, including Minnesota, had been targeted. Though no votes were determined to have been affected, the committee’s report surmised that Moscow may have tried to probe vulnerabilities in state systems to exploit later or try to undermine confidence in the election.

North Carolina: Elections board hears concerns about voting systems | Dan Kane/Raleigh News & Observer

After a three-hour hearing that included representatives of three voting system vendors demonstrating their wares to State Board of Elections members, the board Sunday night chose to wait a day before deciding which ones to certify for counties across the state to use. Board chairman Bob Cordle said after a nearly hour-long closed session that waiting a day would allow Ken Raymond of Winston-Salem, the one member of the five-person board who was unable to attend Sunday, to vote. The board will reconvene at 7 p.m. Monday. “We just think it’s better to have all five of us here,” Cordle said. The meeting was held on the evening before the annual North Carolina elections conference, which runs Monday and Tuesday at the hotel. Board spokesman Pat Gannon said roughly 700 elections officials from across the state are expected to attend.

South Carolina: Election commission: ‘Taking all reasonable measures to secure our state’s election infrastructure’ | Jacob Reynolds/WLTX

This week, the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released a report on Russian interference in the 2016 U-S election. The report says in part, “Intelligence developed later in 2018 bolstered Mr. Daniel’s assessment that all 50 states were targeted.” Other portions of the report also state that Russian IP addresses and actors are believed to have researched or visited election websites and databases in all 50 states. So we asked the South Carolina Election Commission for a response. “The state Election Commission understands that what we do as a state agency to secure South Carolina’s election infrastructure has an impact on national security. Whether we were targeted or not doesn’t change what we do. We take election security seriously whether we’re targeted or not. So, we’re taking all reasonable measures to secure our state’s election infrastructure,” said spokesman Chris Whitmire.

India: Electronic voting machine ‘tampering’: activists send legal notice to foreign microchips makers | Shoumojit Banerjee/The Hindu

Amid apprehensions about the credibility of electronic voting machines (EVMs), Pune-based civic activist Maruti Bhapkar has issued legal notice through noted lawyer and rights activist Asim Sarode to the Arizona-based Microchip Technology Inc. and Renesas Electronics headquartered in Tokyo on the alleged EVM manipulation in the recent general election. The activists contend that as the firms were engaged in making microchips for the EVMs used in the election, it makes them suspects in any alleged electoral fraud that may have been committed. In the interests of transparency and clarity, Mr. Bhapkar and Mr. Sarode say, they have demanded that the firms publicly disclose copies of their agreements or contracts made with the Election Commission of India (ECI). “Through activists working in this field, we have come to know of four major foreign companies – two U.S.-based, one Canadian and one Japanese – that make the microchips for the EVMs used in the Lok Sabha election. As of now, we have sent legal notice to two of these reputed firms,” Mr. Sarode told The Hindu.

Philippines: Smartmatic presents alternative digital poll system | Roderick Abad/Business Mirror

Following the success of the recent 2019 midterm elections, Smartmatic has vowed to keep on providing a secure voting technology and transparent poll process to the Philippines as the government looks for an alternative Automated Election System (AES). “Smartmatic has been a leader in providing an efficient, secure and transparent automated election system in many counties and in the Philippines. We want to continue this and strengthen our partnership with the government in providing a secure, faster and credible election system,” said Ramaakanth Sake, president of Smartmatic Asia Pacific. The company participated in the AES Technology Fair of the Department of Information and Communications Technology on July 15. The event had different local and global providers presenting their concept or prototype of an alternative AES that could be utilized for the 2022 national and local elections. Smartmatic showcased its latest direct recording electronic voting machines, which use a touch screen to eliminate the need for paper ballots and lessen the possibility of read errors. Per the elections technology firm, the touch screen would need a voter’s fingerprint prior to its perusal.

Russia: More than 1,000 people detained in Moscow amid clashes over city council election, monitor says | Anton Troianovski and Siobhán O’Grady/The Washington Post

Russian police in riot gear detained more than 1,000 protesters Saturday at a demonstration against the exclusion of opposition politicians from the ballot for an upcoming city council election, a monitoring group said, marking another flare of anti-government defiance a week after Moscow’s largest opposition rally in years. Police said around 3,500 people gathered near City Hall for the unauthorized protest organized by prominent opposition figure Alexei Navalny. Earlier this week, a Russian court sentenced Navalny to 30 days in jail for calling for the demonstration. A handful of other prominent opposition politicians also were arrested before the rally took place. OVD-Info, a monitoring group that tracks political arrests in Russia, said more than 1,000 people were detained during police sweeps Saturday. State-run news agencies, including Tass, also reported more than 1,000 detentions, citing police. In previous mass detentions, many people were released after being held for several hours. The Moscow police had earlier said they had made 295 arrests, the Associated Press reported, but did not offer a final number. Police also stormed a TV studio belonging to Navalny that was live-streaming the protests on YouTube, and arrested Vladimir Milono, who was in charge of the program. Navalny previously ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Moscow in 2013.