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Georgia: Lawsuit says new Georgia voting system should be stopped | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Voters who want paper ballots filled out by hand asked a federal judge late Friday to prevent Georgia from using the $107 million voting system the state just bought. The request comes a day after the judge ruled that voters must use some type of paper ballots next year, but her decision didn’t address the legality of the state’s new voting system.Election officials plan to replace Georgia’s 17-year-old electronic voting machines with a system that combines touchscreens with paper ballots. Voters will pick their candidates on a 21.5-inch tablet that’s connected to a ballot printer starting with the March 24 presidential primary.The lawsuit, filed by voters and election integrity advocates, alleges the new voting machines will remain vulnerable to hacking, malware, bugs and misconfiguration.But state election officials have said that paper ballots will ensure the accuracy of results during recounts and audits.In addition, the lawsuit said the printed ballots aren’t truly verifiable. Although voters will be able to review ballots before casting them, the ballots embed voters’ choices in bar codes that are only readable by scanning machines.“No elector can visually review and confirm whether the bar code accurately conveys their intended selections,” according to the amended complaint.

Full Article: Lawsuit says new Georgia voting system should be stopped..

National: America faces a voting security crisis in 2020. Here’s why – and what officials can do about it. | Emily Goldberg/Politico

Paperless voting machines are just waiting to be hacked in 2020. And “upgrading” to paper-based voting machines may sound like an oxymoron, but it’s something cybersecurity experts are urging election officials across the country to do. A POLITICO survey found that in 2018, hundreds of counties in 14 states used paperless voting machines — and almost half of the counties that responded to the survey said they don’t plan on changing that ahead of 2020. Security experts said paperless voting machines are vulnerable to hacking because they leave no paper trail and there’s no way to reliably audit the results when an error occurs. Thousands of Redditors joined us as cybersecurity reporter Eric Geller and voting security expert and University of Michigan professor J. Alex Halderman took on Reddit’s most pressing questions about the weaknesses in America’s election systems. We chatted about voting methods in various countries from the U.S. to India, how much the transition to paper ballots would cost, and even “Star Wars.”

Full Article: America faces a voting security crisis in 2020. Here’s why – and what officials can do about it. - POLITICO.

National: Most states still aren’t set to audit paper ballots in 2020 – Despite expert recommendations | Colin Lecher/The Verge

Despite some progress on voting security since 2016, most states in the US aren’t set to require an audit of paper ballots in the November 2020 election, according to a new report out this week from the Brennan Center for Justice. The report notes that experts and government officials have spent years recommending states adopt verifiable paper ballots for elections, but a handful still use electronic methods potentially vulnerable to cyberattacks. In 2016, 14 states used paperless machines, although the number today is 11, and the report estimates that no more than eight will use them in the 2020 election. But the report also found that most states won’t require an audit of those paper records, in which officials review randomly selected ballots — another step experts recommend. Today, only 22 states and the District of Columbia have voter-verifiable paper records and require an audit of those ballots before an election is certified. The number will increase to at least 24 states by the 2020 elections, according to the report. “However,” the report notes, “there is nothing stopping most of these remaining states from conducting such audits if they have the resources and will to do so.”

Full Article: Most states still aren’t set to audit paper ballots in 2020 - The Verge.

National: Russian hackers, town budgets, Windows updates: Officials grapple with realities of election security | Ben Popken and Kenzi Abou-Sabe/NBC

The nation’s highest agency dedicated to election administration convened a security summit on Thursday to figure out how to confront a problem: The majority of the country’s 10,000 voting jurisdictions still run outdated software. In July, Associated Press reported that many counties still use Windows 7, initially released in 2009, or even older software in their back office election management systems used by officials to administer elections, but not on the machines where voters cast their ballots. It’s so old that Microsoft announced last year it will soon stop supporting it — shipping free updates to bugs or fixing security issues. After 2020, updates will require a fee. But inside a 21-seat conference room in Silver Spring, the discussion of the Election Assistance Commission — which included state election directors, secretaries of state and representatives from the Department of Homeland Security, election system manufacturers and testing laboratories — the hastily organized meeting also touched on broader frustrations over challenges local election officials face in trying to secure their voting systems as well as inaction from politicians in Washington. “We are talking about local communities having trouble funding roads and water bills, and now we want them to take part in defense against foreign and state actors,” said Kentucky State Election Director Jared Dearing.

Full Article: Russian hackers, town budgets, Windows updates: Officials grapple with realities of election security.

National: Election Security in 2020 Comes Down to Money, and States Aren’t Ready | Kartikay Mehrotra and Alyza Sebenius/Bloomberg

The front line to protect the integrity of the U.S. presidential election is in a Springfield strip mall, next to a Chuck E. Cheese’s restaurant. There, inside the Illinois Board of Elections headquarters, a couple dozen bureaucrats, programmers, and security experts are furiously working to prevent a replay of 2016, when Russian hackers breached the state’s voter registration rolls. For 2020, Illinois is deploying new U.S. government software to detect malicious intrusions and dispatching technology experts to help local election officials. Even the National Guard, which started its own cyber unit several years ago, is on speed dial for election night if technicians needed to be rushed to a faraway county. Still, Illinois officials are nervous. The cash-strapped state remains far short of the resources needed to combat an increasing number of nations committing geopolitical breaches. “We’re in an unusual time, and yes, there is concern about whether we have enough to go into 2020 totally prepared for what the Chinese, Russians, or North Koreans or any enemy of the United States may do to influence our elections,” says Governor J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat. “We’re securing our elections with state resources, but there is a federal need. This is a national crisis.”

Full Article: Election Security in 2020 Comes Down to Money, and States Aren't Ready - Bloomberg.

National: Only One Republican Supported That Divisive Election Security Bill. Here’s Why He Voted in Favor | Robert Hackett/Fortune

Last week we discussed election security. Let’s dig a little deeper into divisions provoked by one of the major pieces of proposed legislation, the Securing America’s Federal Elections Act. The bill has lately become a political flashpoint, blocked by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who ostensibly fears further federalizing elections more than he fears the subversion of American democracy through hacking, foreign interference, or other hi-jinx. The bill primarily aims to require states to use voting machines that are up-to-date, not Internet-connected, made in America, and produce paper-based, voter-verifiable ballots. These are all sensible criteria, and it’s hard to argue against their adoption. In addition, the bill would earmark federal funds to help states get the new gear in place by 2020—a more contentious component. (See also this Wall Street Journal editorial which lays out other gripes.) While the Democratic House passed the bill with 225 votes in June, only one Republican voted in favor: Representative Brain Mast of Florida. It’s worth noting that Mast is not Republican in name only, as an analysis by the data junkie blog FiveThirtyEight makes clear. As of the end of last year, Mast had voted in line with President Donald Trump’s policy initiatives 92.7% of the time.

Full Article: Only One Republican Supported That Divisive Election Security Bill. Here's Why He Voted in Favor | Fortune.

National: Windows 7 woes crash into 2020 election cycle | Derek B. Johnson/FCW

Thousands of jurisdictions are relying on a nearly obsolete operating system to run their election systems, and it’s not clear they will have the money or time to wean themselves off before the 2020 elections. At an Aug. 15 election security forum hosted by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), state officials, vendors and experts warned that a lack of money and resources as well as technical and logistical hurdles are preventing them from migrating their election systems from the Windows 7 operating system to Windows 10. Lousiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin illustrated the costs and complexities associated with replacing outdated operating systems on election equipment like voter registration systems, e-pollbooks and other software. He said Louisiana will have spent more than $250,000 to replace computers using Windows 7 in clerks of court and voter registration offices. An additional $2 million has been spent to temporarily lease voting machines that require Windows 10 while the state waits for a new batch to go through the procurement process. He estimated the cost of updating to Windows 10 to be around $670 per machine, not including the costs associated with testing, configuration and deployment.

Full Article: Windows 7 woes crash into 2020 election cycle -- FCW.

Editorials: There’s no excuse for failing to secure election systems from Russian meddling | St. Louis Post-Dispatch

More than a dozen states are still using electronic ballot systems that leave no paper trail — an invitation to Russia and anyone else who wants to hack into and disrupt America’s next national election. This gaping security hole is being blamed on lack of money in state and local budgets, and a lack of urgency among some Republican officials. Both reasons are unacceptable. Americans may be divided about the veracity of some aspects of the report and testimony from special counsel Robert Mueller, but those who think that renders debatable his conclusions about Russian election interference are simply not paying attention. Mueller’s unambiguous warning that Russia hacked into the election systems of all 50 states in 2016 and is planning to do so again next year has been confirmed on both sides of the aisle. U.S. intelligence agencies have long insisted it happened and will happen again. Even the Republican-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee reached the same conclusion in a recent report. “Russian activities demand renewed attention to vulnerabilities in U.S. voting infrastructure,” the report found. “In 2016, cybersecurity for electoral infrastructure at the state and local level was sorely lacking. … Aging voting equipment, particularly voting machines that had no paper record of votes, were vulnerable to exploitation by a committed adversary.”

Full Article: Editorial: There's no excuse for failing to secure election systems from Russian meddling | Editorial | stltoday.com.

Georgia: Judge blasts Georgia officials’ handling of election system | Kate Brumback/Associated Press

Georgia election officials have for years ignored, downplayed and failed to address serious problems with the state’s election management system and voting machines, a federal judge said in a scathing order this week. U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg said those problems place a burden on citizens’ rights to cast a vote and have it reliably counted. She called Georgia’s voting system “antiquated, seriously flawed, and vulnerable to failure, breach, contamination, and attack.” Despite those findings, Totenberg ruled Thursday that Georgia voters will use that same election system this fall because of concerns about the state’s capacity to make an interim switch while also implementing a new system. Plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging Georgia’s system had asked Totenberg to order an immediate switch to hand-marked paper ballots for special and municipal elections this fall. But she declined, citing worries about the state’s capacity to manage an interim switch while also implementing a new system that is supposed to be in place for the March 24 presidential primaries. ″(T)he totality of evidence in this case reveals that the Secretary of State’s efforts in monitoring the security of its voting systems have been lax at best — a clear indication that Georgia’s computerized election system is vulnerable in actual use,” Totenberg wrote in a 153-page ruling that devotes considerable space to chronicling those shortcomings.

Full Article: Judge blasts Georgia officials' handling of election system.

Pennsylvania: Most Pennsylvania counties pick paper ballots | John Finnerty/CHNI

Counties buying voting machines that allow voters to fill out paper ballots are paying half what counties buying tablet-based voting technology are paying, according to an analysis released Thursday by the University of Pittsburgh. Researchers examined the costs paid by 31 counties for voting machines, as counties across the state move to replace their election equipment before the 2020 presidential election. In total, the counties are calculated to spend $69 million on those systems. The state has told the counties to replace their voting machines with new equipment that provide a paper record of votes cast before the 2020 presidential election. That move was prompted by a settlement to a lawsuit filed by former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein after the 2016 election.

Full Article: Most Pa. counties pick paper ballots | News | sharonherald.com.

Wisconsin: Election security threats and the proposed solution | WXOW

Outdated Windows systems could impact election security in Wisconsin. Officials say the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) has started a pilot program to address concerns. The proposal, prepared by Election Security Lead Tony Bridges, cites concerns over aging computer systems. He states, “the strength or weakness of any one work station could affect the security of the entire state’s elections infrastructure.” Bridge then explained at least a handful of computers that access WisVote no longer receive security updates; that includes Windows XP which hasn’t been updated since 2014. WEC won’t specify which users are vulnerable due to privacy concerns. “We always want to be careful when we’re talking about elections security,” said WEC PIO Reid Magney. “We don’t want to divulge where there might be vulnerabilities in the system.”

Full Article: Election security threats and the proposed solution - WXOW.

Belarus: Belarus to use semitransparent ballot boxes, e-voting | BelTA

Belarus plans to use semitransparent ballot boxes and electronic voting in the future, Chairperson of the Central Election Commission (CEC) of Belarus Lidia Yermoshina said in an interview to the STV channel, BelTA has learned. “We are gradually introducing different standards. Some things we have not introduced yet are no longer used in other countries. For example, we have always been pressurized to use transparent ballot boxes everywhere. I can say that this is no longer in fashion. Moreover, it contradicts the international standards. Transparent ballot boxes do not secure the secret expression of voters’ will. Today’s trend is to use semitransparent boxes and apply e-voting. I believe we will be introducing this in the future,” Lidia Yermoshina said. Speaking about the rotation of the parliament, the CEC chair said that the head of state insists on some one third of MPs to stay for the second term. At the same time, the term of office for every MP should not exceed two terms in a row. “We support and select future candidates taking into consideration all the proportions,” she stressed.

Full Article: Belarus to use semitransparent ballot boxes, e-voting.

Russia: Blockchain Voting System in Moscow Municipal Elections Vulnerable to Hacking: Research Report | Trevor Holman/CryptoNewsZ

A recent research report by a French cryptographer demonstrates that a blockchain voting framework utilized in Moscow’s municipal elections is susceptible to hacking. The researcher at the French government research establishment CNRS, Pierrick Gaudry, have examined the open code of the e-voting platform dependent on Ethereum in his paper. Gaudry inferred that the encryption plan utilized by a portion of the code is “totally insecure.” The research report titled, “Breaking the encryption scheme of the Moscow internet voting system” by Pierrick Gaudry, a researcher from CNRS, French governmental scientific institution had examined the encryption plan used to verify the open code of the Moscow city government’s Ethereum-based platform for e-voting. Gaudry concluded that the encryption scheme utilized by a portion of the code is entirely insecure by clarifying –

We will show in this note that the encryption scheme used in this part of the code is completely insecure. It can be broken in about 20 minutes using a standard personal computer and using only free software that is publicly available. More precisely, it is possible to compute the private keys from the public keys. Once these are known, any encrypted data can be decrypted as quickly as they are created.

Full Article: Blockchain Voting System in Moscow Municipal Elections Vulnerable to Hacking: Research Report - CryptoNewsZ.

United Kingdom: Subcontractor’s track record under spotlight as London Mayoral e-counting costs spiral | Kat Hall/The Register

Concerns have been raised over a key supplier of an e-counting system for the London Mayoral elections in 2020. The contract, split between Canadaian integrator CGI and Venezuelan-owned Smartmatic, will cost nearly £9m – more than double the procurement cost of £4.1m for the system at the last election in 2016. During a July hearing about the 2020 elections at the London Assembly Oversight Committee, members heard that Smartmatic, which builds and sells electronic voting tech, had worked on the Scottish elections. However, the London Assembly has since confirmed to The Register that Smartmatic was not involved. The company was also recently blamed for a number of technical glitches in the Philippine elections. The London Assembly was told costs had increased because the new vote-counting system offered better functionality than the previous procurement.

Full Article: Subcontractor's track record under spotlight as London Mayoral e-counting costs spiral • The Register.

Pennsylvania: ‘It’s disappointing’ Elections Board reaffirms $29M voting machine contract over objections, violations | Michael D’Onofrio/ Philadelphia Tribune

Objections from an official and activists did not prevent Philadelphia City Commissioners on Thursday from reaffirming a $29 million city contract with a voting system vendor that violated anti-pay-to-play laws.

The three-member commission voted 2-0-1 to continue a city contract with Election System & Software (ES&S) to supply new voting machines for the November election. Commissioner Anthony Clark, a Democrat, abstained from the vote.

Commissioners ignored requests by City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart to refrain from making a decision until her office completed an investigation into the procurement process for the new machines.

Rhynhart revealed this week that the Omaha-based company did not report donations and communications by its lobbyists in the run-up to winning the contract in February.

Rhynhart, a Democrat, said her investigation will wrap up in the coming weeks.

“It’s disappointing, but it’s not over,” she said.

While activists repeatedly shouted, Common Pleas Court Judge Giovanni Campbell, chairman of the commission, said it was the “right decision for Philadelphia” for ES&S to keep the contract.

“I do not believe this process should be overturned or restarted because of the issues that took place before the board” voted today, Campbell said during the meeting inside Room 246 in City Hall. He declined to comment further after the meeting.

City Commissioner Vincent Furlong, another judge, also voted to maintain the contract.

The city will slap ES&S with a $2.9 million fine over the violations, or 10% percent of the contract.

The city continues to withhold payment to ES&S during Rhynhart’s ongoing investigation.

The investigation

Rhynhart’s investigation so far has shown that ES&S used a lobbyist and engaged in lobbying activities in 2017 and 2018.

The lobbying activities included direct communication with then-City Commissioner Alan Schmidt.

ES&S also failed to disclose campaign contributions by consultants to Schmidt and then-City Commissioner Chairwoman Lisa Deeley.

Registered lobbying firms Duane Morris and Triad Strategies, who lobbied for ES&S, contributed $1,000 and $250, respectively, to a political action committee supporting Schmidt, Rhynhart found. Triad Strategies also made a $500 donation to a political action committee supporting Deeley.

Deeley, a Democrat, and Schmidt, a Republican, voted to award ES&S the contract to provide the new voting system, and KNOWiNK LLC to provide electronic poll books. City Commissioner Anthony Clark, a Democrat, did not cast a vote.

Both Deeley and Schmidt stepped down as city commissioners while they run for re-election. Clark is not running for another term and remains a city commissioner.

Campbell and Vincent Furlong, another judge, were appointed to fill the seats vacated by Deeley and Schmidt.

ES&S’s disclosure violations were unintentional and stemmed from a misunderstanding of the mandated disclosure requirements, said Alan Kessler, an attorney for Duane Morris, which was one of the two lobbying firms for ES&S who violated the city’s anti-pay-to-play laws.

Kessler, who noted another bidder for the voting system contract made similar violations, said the contacts and political contributions from ES&S lobbyists were still disclosed with the city, even though they were not noted in the company’s mandatory disclosure form for the bid.

“It is a classic case of no harm, no foul,” he said.

Activists and residents opposed to ES&S’s contract for the new voting system said the procurement process was tainted and lacked transparency, and claimed the machines were vulnerable to hacking.

“The reason that we have the disclosure laws is so we can reveal conflicts of interest and we can be aware of those or disqualify people from participating if they have conflicts,” said Kevin Skoglund of the nonpartisan organization Citizens for Better Elections.

A double standard?

Rhynhart laid out her findings in a letter this week to Campbell and others; she cited a city Law Department determination that the company’s violations warranted the contact was voidable.

The violations by ES&S were comparable to the issues that led the Kenney administration to disqualify the minority-owned company U.S. Facilities from bidding on a $17 million contract this year, Rhynhart noted in her letter.

U.S. Facilities, a subsidiary of PRWT Services, failed to disclose political campaign contributions totaling less than $500.

“The Kenney administration, at the time, stated that the value of the contribution is not relevant and that the City had little discretion to overlook these kinds of violations,” Rhynhart wrote.

The city’s anti-pay-to-play law disqualifies bidders from competing on contracts if their violations are discovered before a contract is awarded.

However, if the contract has already been awarded when the violations are discovered, the city “has the discretion to void the contract or maintain it,” according to a letter City Solicitor Marcel Pratt sent to the city commissioners this week.

In this instance, Pratt wrote, the “decision rests with the Board of Elections because the Board has the responsibility and sole authority to select the voting machines that are used for elections in Philadelphia.”

Pratt, in his letter, said ES&S would not have been disqualified from bidding on the contract if the company had made the disclosures on its application.

Mustafa Rashed, a spokesman for U.S. Facilities, declined to comment on Wednesday before the vote and could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday.

Machines are on their way

ES&S is expected to deliver the final 500 ExpressVote XL voting machines to the city this week, bringing the total to 3,700.

The city Board of Elections has held more than 200 public demonstrations of the new machines and trained more than 2,500 poll workers in anticipation to use the new system in the November election.

Gov. Tom Wolf mandated all counties select new, certified voting machines by the end of this year.

The new voting systems must be put into place by the 2020 general election to comply with the governor’s order to provide a paper record of votes cast. Philadelphia officials want to have the voting machines in place by the general election this year so their first use is not during a presidential election.

Pennsylvania was one of 21 states targeted ahead of the 2016 election by Russian government operatives.

Full Article: ‘It’s disappointing’ Elections Board reaffirms $29M voting machine contract over objections, violations | News | phillytrib.com.

Full Article: 'It’s disappointing' Elections Board reaffirms $29M voting machine contract over objections, violations | News | phillytrib.com.

National: Election officials want security money, flexible standards | Dean DeChiaro/Roll Call

State officials from Louisiana and Connecticut on Thursday asked for more money and clear standards from the federal government to help secure voting systems before the 2020 elections. But the officials, Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin and Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill, stressed the differences between their election systems and asked for leeway from the federal government in deciding how to spend any future funding. “The cultures are different and the voters have different expectations,” Ardoin told commissioners from the federal Election Assistance Commission, or EAC, at a public forum. Both states received federal funds to upgrade cyber and physical security of their voting systems after Congress approved $380 million for election security in 2018. They spent their share of those funds differently. Connecticut has put much of its funding toward training, Merrill said, while Louisiana is scrambling to upgrade systems running Windows 7 to Windows 10 before Microsoft stops offering support for the older operating system in January. Ginny Badanes, the director of Microsoft’s Defending Democracy Program, which is working to help both states and companies that build voting machines and software to prepare for the switch in operating systems, said the company “will do whatever it takes to make sure these customers have access to updates that are straightforward and affordable.” Both the state officials and private sector witnesses urged the commission to adopt and publish standards that would set the best practices for election security.

Full Article: Election officials want security money, flexible standards.

National: States Struggle to Update Election Systems Ahead of 2020 | Alyza Sebenius and Kartikay Mehrotra/Bloomberg

U.S. states operating outdated and insecure voting machines face major hurdles in protecting them in time for the 2020 presidential election, officials said at a meeting of elections experts. Budgets are strained, decision-making authority is diffuse and standards put in place years ago haven’t kept up with today’s cyberthreats, according to testimony Thursday to the Election Assistance Commission in Silver Spring, Maryland. The Senate Intelligence Committee reported last month that Russia engaged in “extensive” efforts to manipulate elections systems throughout the U.S. from 2014 through “at least 2017.” The Brennan Center for Justice reported Thursday that states will have to spend more than $2 billion to protect their election systems in the next five years, including replacing outdated machines or purchasing the software improvements necessary to help harden existing equipment against hackers. Updating software is a “regular and important part” of cybersecurity, the Center for Democracy & Technology warned in a statement. But even when a software patch is available, states can’t compel “severely under-resourced” local elections officials to buy and implement the improvement, said Jared Dearing, executive director of the Kentucky State Board of Elections. On top of those hurdles, Dearing said, the process of certifying elections equipment to federal standards leaves machines in “a time capsule of when that system was developed.”

Full Article: States Struggle to Update Election Systems Ahead of 2020 - Bloomberg.

National: Hackers can easily break into voting machines used across the U.S.; play Doom, Nirvana | Igor Derysh/Salon

Voting machines used in states across the United States were easily penetrated by hackers at the Def Con conference in Las Vegas on Friday. Participants at Def Con, a large annual hacker conference, were asked to try their skills on voting machines to help expose weaknesses that could be used by hostile actors. A video published by CNN shows a hacker break into a Diebold machine, which is used in 18 different states, in a matter of minutes, using no special tools, to gain administrator-level access. Hackers also quickly discovered that many of the voting machines had internet connections, which could allow hackers to break into machines remotely, the Washington Post reported. Motherboard recently reported that election security experts found that election systems used in 10 different states have connected to the internet over the last year, despite assurances from voting machine vendors that they are never connected to the internet and therefore cannot be hacked. The websites where states post election results are even more susceptible. The event had 40 child hackers between the ages of 6 and 17 attempt to break into a mock version of the sites. Most were able to alter vote tallies and even change the candidates’ names to things like “Bob Da Builder,” CNNreported. “Unfortunately, it’s so easy to hack the websites that report election results that we couldn’t do it in this room because [adult hackers] would find it boring,” event organizer Jake Braun told CNN.

Full Article: Hackers can easily break into voting machines used across the U.S.; play Doom, Nirvana | Salon.com.

National: Election Assistance Commission Urged to Finalize 2020 Security Standards | Jack Rodgers/Courthouse News

During a forum on election security Thursday, Connecticut’s secretary of state urged a federal agency in charge of the process to act quickly in issuing new security standards for voting systems so states can update software in time for the 2020 election. The U.S. Election Assistance Commission hosted three panels of witnesses, all of whom testified on ways to improve the security of the nation’s election systems during a three-hour forum in Washington, D.C. Last year, Congress appropriated $380 million under the Help America Vote Act, which makes funds available for states to update election security measures and voter registration methods. However, the federal funds, coupled with a state-required match, were not enough to completely update voting equipment across the country. During Thursday’s first panel, the secretaries of state for Connecticut and Louisiana, Denise Merrill and Kyle Ardoin, respectively, both spoke to the benefits of this funding. Merrill said that with the $5 million in HAVA funds appropriated to her state last year, Connecticut had implemented a virtual system that allows those in election advisory roles to view every desktop used for counting and reporting votes in the state. In most of the state’s 169 towns, methods of recording votes differ depending on the area, Merrill said, also noting that some towns don’t use computers.

Full Article: Election Agency Urged to Finalize 2020 Security Standards.

National: States and localities are on the front lines of fighting cyber-crimes in elections | Elaine Kamarck/Brookings

When it comes to fighting illegal intrusions into American elections, the states and localities are where the rubber meets the road—that is where American elections are administered. This authority is grounded in more than tradition; it derives from Article I, Section 4 of the Constitution. That section notes that while Congress has the authority to intervene in the setting of elections, election administration is largely a function of state and local government. Given this situation, election law and practice vary considerably from state to state, which leads to a number of ramifications. On the one hand, this decentralization makes it hard for a single cyberattack to take down the entire American election system. But having a fragmented system poses some disadvantages as well. Some states and localities are simply better equipped to protect against cyber intrusions than others, and an adversary seeking to sow doubt and confusion about the integrity of an election needs to compromise only a few parts of the entire system in order to undermine public confidence. The vulnerabilities in election administration exist at every step of the process, from the registration of voters, to the recruitment of poll workers for election day, to the books of registered voters at polling places, to the devices that capture and tally the vote, to the transmission of that data to a central place on election night and to the ability to execute an accurate recount. Every state and locality wants to run a fair election but they are limited by inadequate funding, the absence of trained personnel, and outdated technology.

Full Article: States and localities are on the front lines of fighting cyber-crimes in elections.