National: Judge signals interest in removing Mueller report redactions | Darren Samuelsohn/Politico

A federal judge signaled Monday he’s considering removing the Mueller report’s redactions. During more than two hours of oral arguments in Washington, District Judge Reggie Walton appeared on several occasions to side with attorneys for BuzzFeed and the nonprofit Electronic Privacy Information Center, which are seeking to remove the black bars covering nearly 1,000 items in former special counsel Robert Mueller’s final 448-page final report. Walton didn’t issue an opinion from the bench on the case, which centers on a pair of consolidated lawsuits filed against the Justice Department under the Freedom of Information Act. But the judge, an appointee of President George W. Bush, sounded increasingly skeptical of the government’s arguments pressing him to leave the redactions untouched. “That’s what open government is about,” Walton said during one exchange, citing the resolution of a 2008 sex crimes case against financier Jeffrey Epstein as an example of how obfuscating the reasons behind not prosecuting high-profile people generates public distrust in the country’s criminal justice system.

National: Bipartisan Agreement on Election Security—And a Partisan Fight Anyway | Scott R. Anderson, Eugenia Lostri, Quinta Jurecic, Margaret Taylor/Lawfare

The good news is that national security bipartisanship in Congress lives. The bad news is that the only place it lives is in the pages of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on Russian election interference. The report, released on July 25, offers a thorough—if often redacted—assessment of Russian threats against U.S. voting infrastructure in 2016. It paints an alarming picture of the scope and scale of Russia’s efforts and an equally alarming picture of the degree of vulnerability that persists in U.S. election systems heading into the 2020 election. While it describes no evidence of vote tallies being manipulated or votes being changed, it does describe how “Russian government-affiliated cyber actors conducted an unprecedented level of activity against state election infrastructure in the run-up to the 2016 U.S. elections.” The report is a serious work and reflects a level of bipartisan cooperation that is vanishingly rare in Washington these days. The committee and its staff should be commended for that. The problem is that while both sides appear to agree on the nature of the threat, Republicans and Democrats remain sharply divided over what, if anything, to do about it. And that division became painfully apparent the very day the committee released the report.

National: Former DHS, intelligence leaders launch group to protect presidential campaigns from foreign interference | Maggie Miller/The Hill

Two former Homeland Security secretaries, along with other former top intelligence officials, launched a non-profit group on Tuesday intended to protect presidential campaigns from foreign interference, such as cyber attacks, at no cost. The new U.S. CyberDome group’s Board of Advisors will be chaired by former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson, who served under former President Obama. Other members of the board will include former DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff, who served under President George W. Bush, former CIA Director Michael Morell, former Director of National Intelligence Lt. Gen. James Clapper, and Brig. Gen. Francis Taylor, the former DHS under secretary of Intelligence and Analysis. The former leaders put together the organization due to alarm over how exposed political campaigns were to cyber interference and the lack of protection available to campaigns and voters to protect against these threats. It will work with charities and other donors to provide funding for cyber protections for presidential campaigns.

National: Voting machines run on antiquated operating systems | Grant Gross/Washington Examiner

As the presidential election nears, lawmakers and security experts are raising questions about the security of electronic voting machines used in many parts of the country. The latest concerns focus on devices running Windows 7 and other older operating systems. The Associated Press reports that the “vast majority” of the nation’s 10,000 election jurisdictions use Windows 7 or older operating systems to create ballots, program voting machines, tally votes, and report counts. … Meanwhile, some election security experts say the use of old operating systems is only one concern of many. Electronic voting machines are vulnerable to security risks, claimed Marian Schneider, president of Verified Voting, a group pushing for paper audits of electronic voting machines.

“Software can present risks,” she said. “This is a software issue.”

Electronic voting machines should undergo regular security audits, suggested Jamie Cambell, a security consultant and founder of GoBestVPN, which is a site that reviews virtual private networks. Those security audits should be open-sourced so that multiple security experts can review them, he recommended.

“There are many things that can make electronic voting machines insecure,” Cambell added. “It’s not just the machines or operating systems. It can be the way that the machines store and transmit the data.”

Editorials: Mitch McConnell Mislabeled Election Security as a ‘Wish List of the Left.’ Period. | Ali Javery & Edgardo Cortés/Rewire.News

In the height of one of the most politicized times in U.S. history, election security is an issue that should not be partisan. But that’s how U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)—who continues to block election security efforts from a vote—framed the issue in a recent speech from the Senate floor. “Make no mistake—many of the proposals labeled by Democrats to be election security are measures, in fact, for election reform that are part of the wish list of the left,” McConnell said. Eligible voters already face hurdles to making their voices heard at the ballot box, including outdated voter rolls and difficultly accessing the polls. The added fear of foreign interference and tampering in our elections only add to the fear that Americans feel about voting. In an effort to ease that anxiety, states across the country have implemented election security reforms through bipartisan efforts. We’ve seen several prominent Republicans support or sign into law voting reforms that provide greater election security within their states. In the past five years alone, elected officials from states like Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, and Alaska have supported legislation or ballot measures to push automatic voter registration, among other voting reforms.

Georgia: Georgia awards voting contract before testing finished | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia’s new voting machines haven’t yet passed state tests of their accuracy, reliability and security, a required step before they can be used in elections. The testing of Dominion Voting System’s equipment is expected to be completed soon, said Georgia Secretary of State spokeswoman Tess Hammock on Monday. Dominion’s voting system, which combines touchscreen voting machines and paper ballots, already received federal certification in January.Until the state’s own tests are completed, it’s unknown whether there are any potential problems with Georgia’s new voting system that need to be corrected.Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced last week that Dominion won a $107 million contract to provide voting equipment to the state’s 7 million registered voters. State rules require voting systems to complete testing and be certified by the secretary of state before they can be put into service.

Montana: After elections administrators voice concern, new voter system won’t roll out until 2021 | Holly K. Michels/The Missoulian

The secretary of state is backing away from plans to implement a new election system for Montana before 2020 after elections administrators around the state raised concerns about the aggressive timeline. In a July 24 letter to the head of the Montana Association of Clerks and Recorders, Secretary of State Corey Stapleton wrote that “it does not appear to me that we will be able to implement a new voter registration system this year.” County elections administrators had previously told Stapleton they had “grave concerns” over a plan to replace the existing MontanaVotes system with a new ElectMT system before 2020, as reported by the Montana Free Press. The 2020 elections are expected to see the highest voter turnout in Montana history — it’s a presidential election year, with two federal offices and all the statewide elected officials up for election, plus other state-level, legislative and local races, and ballot initiatives. “The whole association is extremely excited with the decision to wait and not roll it out in the 2020 election,” said Montana Association of Clerks and Recorders President Stephanie Verhasselt, who is the Richland County clerk and recorder. “We do believe when the new system comes out, once we get it working and everyone trained, I think it will have a lot of features we like.”

Nevada: Cybersecurity experts from around the world descend on Las Vegas for Black Hat 2019 | KVVU

Cellphones, cars, even your refrigerator. They’re all “smart.” But so are some criminals who want to hack into those smart systems. That’s why cybersecurity experts from around the world are in Las Vegas this week. They’re not here to hack your phone or your credit card (hopefully). They’re learning how to stop the bad guys. “It’s become summer camp for hackers in the desert,” said Black Hat General Manager Steve Wylie. For the 23rd year, camp is in session. With new technology comes new vulnerabilities. “There’s tremendous value from understanding how a bad guy might get in. So if we can reverse engineer that and understand how to better protect ourselves and our systems,” said Wylie. Voting machines could be very vulnerable during the 2020 election. Black Hat surveyed cybersecurity experts from around the world. They said there’s a 60% chance the 2020 presidential election will be hacked. “That’s alarming because this is coming from the very people who are protecting those systems in our organizations,” said Wylie.

Editorials: Election security in North Caroliba | Wilkes Journal Patriot

Well before most people seriously imagined the Russians might attempt to interfere with U.S. elections, the N.C. General Assembly passed a law requiring that all voting machines used in the 2020 election and beyond generate a paper record showing how votes were cast. The legislature took this action in 2013 because it recognized security weaknesses in touchscreen voting machines, which provide no paper record of how ballots were cast. This makes the touchscreen systems more vulnerable to outside interference than voting systems with paper ballots. Now, here we are in the summer of 2019 and about one-third of North Carolina’s counties still have these touchscreen-only voting systems that don’t meet the paper ballot requirement enacted in 2013. Mecklenburg and Guilford, two of the state’s most heavily populated counties, are among those still using the touchscreen systems that don’t meet requirements of the law.

Pennsylvania: Lebanon County Commissioners approve USB backup drives for new voting machines | Marylouise Sholly/LebTown

Lebanon County Commissioners approved a request earlier this week by the county’s Director of Elections, Michael Anderson, to purchase 72 USB “thumb drives” as extra security for the scanning devices in the new voting machines to be used during the next election. Thumb drives are devices that can upload and download information from a computer. In July, the county received 100 Express Vote ballot marking devices and 72 DS 200 scanner/tabulators along with election management systems that had been purchased earlier in the year from Election Systems & Software. Total purchase price was $704,932, Anderson said. The first use of these new voting machines will be the elections of Nov. 5, 2019.

Rhode Island: State Rebuilding Central Voter Registration System Ahead of 2020 | GoLocalProv

Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea joined GoLocalProv News Editor Kate Nagle on LIVE where she spoke to the office overseeing the rebuilding of the central voter registration system this year — and why she fears early voting not passing the General Assembly this year will have consequences in 2020. “We are in the process of making sure that our hardware an internet structures are secure — so Stonewall Solutions, I’m proud to say a Rhode Island company from Pawtucket — just won the RFP for rebuilding our central voter registration system, so we are secure to modern-day standards,” said Gorbea. “It was a great program back in 2003 when we first built it but now you know it needs to be upgraded.”

Ukraine: Zelensky’s team working on internet voting in Ukraine | Unian

The team of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is working on a project that will allow Ukrainians to vote online during elections. “We have already ‘The Vote’ project,” Zelensky’s advisor Mykhailo Fedorov said in an interview to According to him, at the first stage, the platform will be used for surveys, thanks to which the president, prime minister and others will learn the real opinion of the population. The identification system in this project is implemented through Mobile ID, electronic signature, BankID. Fedorov assures Ukrainians will be able to vote online in elections in 2024.

National: 5 big takeaways from Politico’s national survey of election offices | Eric Geller/Politico

Paperless voting machines are a glaring weakness in U.S. election infrastructure. They are dangerous, experts say, because they lack paper voting records, making them vulnerable to malfunctions or intrusions that could undetectably change votes. With top U.S. intelligence officials predicting the return of Russian hackers in 2020, cybersecurity experts have urged state and local governments to replace their paperless machines as soon as possible. Since March, POLITICO has been tracking their progress. The nationwide picture is mixed: Some states and counties are moving quickly to buy paper-based machines and others are doing nothing at all. Here are the five big takeaways from POLITICO’s nationwide survey:

1) Many counties don’t have enough money to upgrade

In hundreds of small counties, election officials can’t afford to buy new voting machines, however insecure their current systems are. Between schools, infrastructure, police, environmental protection and emergency services, counties have enough on their plate without having to worry about their voting machines.

The fact that these machines are used so infrequently is another reason they often slip down the list of counties’ spending priorities. It’s hard to justify buying new voting machines when there are overcrowded schools or crumbling hospitals. “It is a huge expense for small rural counties,” said Cheri Hawkins, the clerk in Shackelford, Texas. “I would love to be able to update!”

National: Russian Election Hacking Could Be Much Worse in 2020 | Jonathan Chait/New York Magazine

What if Trump fails to win the Electoral College in 2020? Would he refuse to accept the results of an election? The first thing to remember is that he already has. Back when Hillary Clinton was viewed as 2016’s likely victor, one widely expressed fear was that Donald Trump would not abide by the outcome, threatening the tradition of peaceful transfer of power that has survived more than two centuries. What happened instead was something nobody anticipated: Trump won — and still refused to accept the election results. He has never stopped insisting that the national vote, which his opponent carried by nearly 3 million ballots, was stolen. He has periodically charged that millions of undocumented immigrants cast votes for Clinton and that this fraud was carried out, for some reason, in California, rather than in states where it might have had some bearing on the outcome. In a recent address to the Turning Point USA Teen Summit, Trump went further. “Don’t kid yourself, those numbers in California and numerous other states, they’re rigged,” he said to applause. “You got people voting that shouldn’t be voting. They vote many times, not just twice, not just three times. They vote — it’s like a circle. They come back; they put a new hat on. They come back; they put a new shirt. And in many cases, they don’t even do that. You know what’s going on. It’s a rigged deal.”

National: EAC plans Windows 7 confab | Tim Starks/Politico

The EAC will convene state and local election supervisors, federal officials and cyber experts to discuss the ramifications of Microsoft sunsetting support for Windows 7, which is still used in many voting systems. “It is essential that the election community and the EAC have a full appreciation not only for the scope of this specific software issue, but also the issues of patching and internet connectivity more broadly,” EAC Chairwoman Christy McCormick told Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) in a July 26 letter. Wyden had asked how the EAC was handling the issue, including whether it would decertify machines running Windows 7 before the Jan. 15, 2020, sunset. McCormick didn’t answer that question but noted that decertification “has wide-reaching consequences” and that the EAC has an established policy for when to initiate it. Election Systems & Software, one of the companies still selling Windows 7-based voting systems, has submitted new technology for certification that runs on Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016, McCormick told Wyden. “The test plan has been approved by the EAC,” she wrote, “and testing is underway.” Based on the EAC’s conversations with vendors, she said, “we are confident that they are working to address” the Windows 7 issue. The vendors “are in direct contact with Microsoft,” she added, and “have received commitments from Microsoft regarding software support.” She did not say whether Microsoft had promised free updates for these products; the company plans to charge everyone else for continued Windows 7 support.

National: DARPA wants help cracking the election security problem | Kelsey D. Atherton/Fifth Domain

If election security is an engineering problem, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is heading to the right place to solve it. The Pentagon’s blue skies projects agency is taking its System Security Integrated Through Hardware and Firmware (SSITH) to the 2019 DEF CON hacking conference to demonstrate its capabilities before the dark lords and apprentices of the underground community. SSITH will be on display as part of the conference’s Voting Village, where researchers will explore what can and cannot be done to interfere with voting machines and, by extension, elections. “We expect the voting booth demonstrator to provide tools, concepts and ideas that the election enterprise can use to increase security; however, our true aim is to improve security for all electronic systems. This includes election equipment, but also defense systems, commercial devices and beyond,” said Dr. Linton Salmon, the program manager leading SSITH, in a release from DARPA. DARPA sees securing faith in the literal machinery of elections as a national security issue. To prove that faith in the security systems is warranted, they have prepped the “SSITH voting system demonstrator,” with processors mounted on programmable arrays and installed in a ballot box. To get to the system, hackers can enter via either an Ethernet port or a USB port, loading software to try and get past the system’s hardware gatekeeping and security functions.

National: Experts’ Views On NSA Launching New Cyber-Security Directorate | Sophanith Song/The Organization for World Peace

The National Security Agency (NSA) has announced its intention to create “cybersecurity directorate” in order to defend against foreign cyber interference. The cyber defense arm launch date is currently set to be this fall.  According to the NSA, Anne Neuberger, who is currently the Director’s Senior Advisor, will be leading the Cybersecurity Directorate. The advisor also used to serve as NSA assistant deputy director of operations, chief risk officer and head of the NSA/US Cybercom Election Security Small Group that involved in working to prevent foreign interference with 2018 US midterm elections. The launch of this initiative was believed to be motivated by the upcoming 2020 general election. The NSA continued by stating that this approach to this cybersecurity objective will prepare the NSA in a suitable state to corporate with a key partner across the United States government such as the US Cyber Command, Department of Homeland Security and Federal Bureau of Investigation. The initiative will also prepare the NSA to easily share information with the customer with equipped security measure against malicious attacks. According to the Wall Street Journal, the NSA recently concur with a “broader fusion” of intelligence agency’s offensive and defensive portfolio.

National: Congress’ fight over election security bills | Mary Clare Jalonick/Associated Press

While House Democrats are haggling over whether to consider impeachment of President Donald Trump, Senate Democrats are focusing on a different angle in former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report — securing future elections from foreign interference. Democrats have tried to pass several election security bills in recent weeks only to have them blocked by Republicans, who say they are partisan or unnecessary. The federal government has stepped up its efforts to secure elections since Russians intervened in the 2016 presidential election, but Democrats say much more is needed, given ongoing threats from Russia and other countries. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has seethed in response to criticism over the issue, including some Democrats’ new moniker for him: “Moscow Mitch.” In an angry floor speech on Monday, he noted that Congress has already passed some bills on the subject, including ones that give money to the states to try to fix security problems. McConnell also left the door open to additional action, saying “I’m sure all of us will be open to discussing further steps.” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer predicted that Democrats’ “relentless pushing” will work. “We’re forcing his hand,” Schumer said. The top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, said Thursday that he’s “much more optimistic than even 10 days ago” that the Senate will ultimately pass something on election security. Warner said he believes that in his home state, at least, the issue “has broken through” with voters more than other aspects of Mueller’s probe. But action will have to wait until at least September, with senators having scattered from Washington for the summer recess.

Arkansas: Official doubtful on state election aid | Dale Ellis/Arkansas Democrat & Gazette

The announcement of money from the state for counties to purchase new voting equipment has left a Jefferson County election commissioner less than enthusiastic. Jefferson County Election Commissioner Stu Soffer says the county has no money to meet the matching requirement. “We do not see a light at the end of the tunnel on new voting equipment,” Soffer said. On Thursday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced that $8.24 million had been provided to the secretary of state’s office to allow counties to improve voting equipment, programming and maintenance. A day earlier, during a meeting at the Arkansas Association of Counties, Kurt Naumann, director of administration and legislative affairs in the secretary of state’s office, told several dozen county officials that the office expected to receive these funds in mid-August from the state Department of Finance and Administration.

Connecticut: More money needed to improve Connecticut election security | Ana Radelat/CTMirror

Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill and many of her peers across the nation are dismayed that Congress will break for summer recess without doing more to prevent foreign interference in U.S. elections. “We were quite shocked when we heard Congress would not go forward with any assistance,” she said. Merrill and other state election officials have been making the case for months that the nation’s electoral system needs to bolster its defenses against hacking and meddling in other ways, including disinformation campaigns on social media, by Russia or other foreign powers. They have been joined in their calls for increased protections by congressional Democrats. Those calls grew louder after last week’s testimony by special counsel Robert Mueller, who told lawmakers on the House Intelligence Committee that the Russians and others were meddling in U.S. elections “as we sit here.” Despite the growing concerns, there’s been little action by Congress on the issue, mainly because the Senate does not want to consider any voting security bills. The issue flared up last week after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., blocked bills aimed at protecting the electoral system, a move that prompted detractors to dub him “Moscow Mitch.”

Illinois: 3 years after Russian hackers tapped Illinois voter database, officials spending millions to safeguard 2020 election | Rick Pearson/Chicago Tribune

Three years after Illinois’ voter registration database was infiltrated by Russian hackers, Illinois and local officials are spending millions to upgrade the cyber defenses protecting voters and their ballots leading up to the 2020 election. “It’s gone from being among the concerns to the paramount concern,” said Jim Allen, spokesman for the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners. “Now, every election official across the country is engaged in some level of a security program.” Efforts to prevent foreign hacking range from hiring internet security specialists to, in the case of Chicago and Cook County, making plans to buy new polling machines. The June 2016 breach of the state’s voter database remains the warning sign for election system vulnerability, with national security experts now saying all 50 states had been targeted for Russian intrusion. At least 21 states reported being contacted by addresses associated with Russia, largely by scanning public websites, but Illinois’ data breach was the most significant.

Maryland: National Federation of the Blind sues State Board of Elections over ballot privacy | Danielle E. Gaines/WTOP

A group of Maryland voters is suing the state of Maryland, alleging that state policies require them to cast a segregated ballot. The National Federation of the Blind, its Maryland affiliate and three blind registered Maryland voters — Marie Cobb, Ruth Sager and Joel Zimba — filed a lawsuit against the Maryland State Board of Elections in U.S. District Court on Thursday. The lawsuit alleges the elections board is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and other laws by maintaining a segregated system of voting that denies blind voters their right to a secret ballot and an equal voting experience. At issue are the state’s policies for using ExpressVote ballot-marking devices – which can allow voters who are blind or have motor disabilities to use headphones, magnification, touchscreens and other features to independently cast ballots. The machines do not record votes directly but mark a paper ballot that is printed and scanned. ExpressVote paper ballots are a different size and shape than paper ballots filled out by hand, making those votes cast by Marylanders with disabilities immediately identifiable, advocates say.

Editorials: North Carolina should require that all voting machines produce a clear ballot | Raleigh News & Observer

t seems obvious that when North Carolina voters cast their vote they should see a paper ballot showing their selections. But one-third of North Carolina counties — including Mecklenburg, but not any in the Triangle — are still using touchscreen voting machines that leave the recorded vote unclear to the voter and vulnerable to outside manipulation. The General Assembly recognized those weaknesses in 2013 when it passed a law that will require all voting machines used in the 2020 election and beyond to generate a paper ballot. But this being North Carolina and the subject being voting, this basic safeguard is turning into a dispute. For counties that still want to use touchscreen technology, the board must certify which voting machines counties can purchase that will meet the paper ballot requirement. The five-member State Board of Elections is temporarily split between two Republicans and two Democrats because of last week’s resignation by former Board Chairman Bob Cordle, a Democrat. The two Republican members want to approve a touchscreen machine that generates a paper ballot that accompanies each selected candidate’s name with a bar code that is read by an electronic tabulator. The two Democrats want all voting machines to generate a paper ballot with “human-readable marks,” such as a filled-in bubble. The board will vote on the requirements at its next meeting on Aug. 23.

Tennessee: State hits roadblock requiring paper trail voting | Kimberlee Kruesi/Associated Press

As advocates push nationally for states to increase voting security, Tennessee election officials who are trying to win approval for voting machines that produce a paper record have hit a roadblock. A proposal by the state Election Commission for all future voting machines to be capable of producing some sort of paper trail was halted when a surprise legal opinion emerged from the GOP-controlled Legislature’s legal team. The opinion, written on behalf of state Republican Sen. Ken Yager, contests the commission’s process on how it certifies voting machines. Fallout from the opinion has once again tempered attempts to make sweeping changes to Tennessee’s voting systems, which Republican leaders have resisted: They point not only to the importance of allowing local experts decide what is best but also to the significant expense of replacing voting machines statewide. “When it comes to elections, we need to do it the right way or we’ll be buying ourselves a lot of headaches,” Yager said in a Friday phone interview. Democrats have voiced concerns about the lack of paper trail requirements, as have cybersecurity experts, who have criticized Tennessee as one of 12 states that does not require electronic voting machines to print out hand-marked paper ballots. That can leave election results vulnerable to untraceable manipulation by hackers.

Texas: How an election security push is running aground in Texas | Eric Geller/Politico

Election officials across the country are spending millions of dollars to replace their insecure voting machines ahead of the 2020 election. But America’s patchwork voting system is a long way from being secure. To understand why, take a look at Texas. More than a quarter of the state’s 254 counties are sticking with paperless voting machines that cybersecurity experts and intelligence officials have condemned as vulnerable to hacking, according to an extensive, first-of-its-kind POLITICO survey of state and local election offices. At least 14 of them are even buying new paperless machines as they replace devices that nearing 20 years old. In the nation’s second-largest state, the forces impeding the effort to secure the machinery of democracy are the same ones stalling this push for paper ballots nationwide. They include a lack of money, an absence of leadership from above, and a shortage of basic cybersecurity knowledge among the local election officials who make the technology decisions in much of the country.

Washington: Key test for Washington state as Tuesday’s primary features new elections system, same-day registration | Joseph O’Sullivan/The Seattle Times

Substantial new changes to Washington’s elections system face a key test this week, as voters around the state cast ballots in Tuesday’s primary. Washington has adopted same-day voter registration, which allows eligible citizens to register and receive a ballot up until 8 p.m. Tuesday, the end of the election period. And elections officials are deploying a new, statewide voter-management system that has had a rocky rollout in some counties. Known as VoteWA, it is expected to make elections more secure, reduce the risk of fraud and give many counties an upgrade in their elections capabilities. At the root of the new system is a statewide voter database that is updated in real time. So if someone wants to register to vote in King County, for instance, elections workers should be able to immediately determine whether that person has already cast a ballot elsewhere in the state. The system’s data is also exported to create ballots, voter-registration cards and other materials provided to voters. The state’s actual vote-tabulation machines are separate from VoteWA and not connected to the internet, and thus not affected by any potential VoteWA issues.

Namibia: Electoral Commission Postpones Electronic Voting Machine Hacking Challenge | Informanté

The Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) has postponed the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) hacking challenge that was scheduled to take place later today. Vikitoria Hango, Corporate Communications Officer of the Electoral Commission of Namibia said the event is called off following a communication from majority of members of the Political Parties Liaison Committee (PLC) who requested the ECN to postpone the EVM hacking challenge date to allow political parties’ sufficient time to prepare for the session. Hango said the political parties have raised a number of concerns with regard to the credibility and integrity of the EVM both to the Commission and various communication platforms such as newspapers and social media. Political parties allege that the EVMs can be hacked to store results other than the choice of voters and that it can be tampered with to favour a particular candidate or political party by altering the results stored in the EVMs after the polls.

National: Inside the DEF CON hacker conference’s election security-focused Voting Village | Joe Uchill/Axios

The DEF CON hacker conference’s Voting Village event has become a testing ground for our national debate over voting security, referenced by Senate reports, several congressmen and even a presidential candidate (albeit incorrectly, see below). This year’s version, happening next week, comes with some upgrades. The big picture: Now in its third year, the event is traditionally one of the only places where many security researchers get a chance to audit the security of election systems.

Background: Voting Village burst onto the scene in 2017, when it took hackers only a matter of minutes to discover serious problems with machines. That was despite it being the first time many of the hackers had seen the systems.

National: Schumer predicts McConnell will take up election security | Burgess Everett/Politico

Mitch McConnell rarely budges in the face of political pressure. But Chuck Schumer thinks election security is an exception. The Senate minority leader predicted on Thursday that the majority leader will buckle and take up federal election security, a once-bipartisan issue. But though Democrats have continued their push in the House and Senate, McConnell (R-Ky.) has thus far resisted. “I predict that the pressure will continue to mount on Republican senators, especially Leader McConnell, and they will be forced to join us and take meaningful action on election security this fall,” Schumer said. “My prediction is our relentless push is going to produce results.” Though McConnell rarely rethinks opposition to legislation, he did allow criminal justice reform legislation on the Senate floor last year that he initially declined to take up. But that pressure came from President Donald Trump, not the party trying to oust him as majority leader.

National: DARPA to Bring its Smart Ballot Boxes to DEF CON for Hacking | Kelly Jackson Higgins/Dark Reading

US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) researchers will set up three new smart electronic ballot-box prototypes at DEF CON’s famed Voting Village next week in Las Vegas, but they won’t be challenging hackers at the convention to crack them: They’ll be helping them do so. “We are providing the source code specifications, tests, and actually even providing participants at DEF CON with an easy way of actually putting their own malicious software into [the devices],” explains Daniel Zimmerman, principal researcher with Galois, a DARPA contractor working on the project. “We’re not daring them but actually helping them break this.” DARPA’s smart ballot box is the Defense Department agency’s prototype, featuring a secure, open source hardware platform that could be used not only in voting platforms, but also in military systems. It’s part of a broader DARPA project called System Security Integrated Through Hardware and Firmware (SSITH), which is developing hardware security architectures and tools that are better protected from hardware vulnerabilities exploited in software. DARPA ultimately hopes to build secure chip-level processors that thwart hardware hacks as well as software-borne attacks.