National: Big Tech Companies Meeting With U.S. Officials on 2020 Election Security | Mike Isaac and Davey Alba/The New York Times

Facebook, Google, Twitter and Microsoft met with government officials in Silicon Valley on Wednesday to discuss and coordinate on how best to help secure the 2020 American election, kicking off what is likely to be a marathon effort to prevent the kind of foreign interference that roiled the 2016 election. The daylong meeting, held at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., included security teams from the tech companies, as well as members of the F.B.I., the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security. The agenda was to build up discussions and strategic collaboration ahead of the November 2020 state, federal and presidential elections, according to Facebook. Tech company representatives and government officials talked about potential threats, as well as how to better share information and detect threats, the social network said. Chief executives from the companies did not attend, said a person briefed on the meeting, who declined to be identified for confidentiality reasons.

National: DNC move against phone-in caucuses pits cybersecurity vs. voter participation | Joseph Marks/The Washington Post

The Democratic National Committee’s decision to recommend scrapping phone-in virtual caucuses in Iowa and Nevada is pitting security hawks, who say those systems are ripe for hacking, against Democratic activists who want to increase voter participation. The DNC announcement on Friday comes after a test of the phone-in systems showed they were vulnerable to hacking, as my colleagues Isaac Stanley-Becker and Michael Scherer reported. That confirmed the suspicions of cybersecurity experts who have long argued there’s no way to ensure the authenticity of votes that aren’t cast in person — including votes cast by email, websites or mobile phones. But it was a blow to activists who want to make it easier for people to participate in the democratic process — and who say lengthy in-person caucuses exclude people who work long hours or are caring for young children. Iowa and Nevada developed their phone-in systems after the DNC urged caucus states in 2018 to either switch to primaries — which are speedier  — or make it easier for people to participate remotely. The Iowa system would have allowed voters to register for a unique PIN number and use that PIN when they called in to vote for a candidate, my colleagues reported. The DNC move also sparked the ire of some 2020 presidential hopefuls.

Iowa: A Virtual Iowa Caucus Would Have Been A Hacking Nightmare | Maggie Koerth-Baker/FiveThirtyEight

When the Democratic National Committee put the kibosh on plans for virtual caucuses in Iowa and Nevada, they may have pissed off the people who saw the event as a chance to give more people the opportunity to vote. But at least the DNC made the cybersecurity community happy. “It was absolutely the right decision,” said Herb Lin, senior research scholar at Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation. Lin and other experts praised the DNC for deciding the risks of a virtual caucus outweighed the benefits of making the time-consuming and byzantine caucus system more accessible. Yes, that has thrown state parties into a bit of chaos as they scramble to come up with new plans by a Sept. 13 deadline. But, Lin and others told me, there’s no getting around the fact that a virtual caucus would be massively hackable — easy to steal, and even easier to simply disrupt. If anything, they said, they wished more political leaders would take the same stance against such schemes, both in the U.S. and abroad.

Pennsylvania: Election security advocates criticize Pennsylvania Department of State over re-examination of voting machines | Ed Mahon and Emily Previti/PA Post

Election security advocates are criticizing the Pennsylvania Department of State over the way it re-examined an electronic voting machine from a leading election technology company. “We are profoundly disappointed that the Secretary’s office has conducted this re-examination in secret, without transparency or public engagement, which we believe to be in contravention of the requirements of the Commonwealth and the provisions of the Stein settlement,” Susan Greenhalgh, vice-president of programs for the National Election Defense Coalition, said in a news release. “We are examining our options for further action.” Several other groups, including Protect Our Vote Philly and the Pennsylvania-based Citizens for Better Elections, joined in criticizing the state department. In July, Greenhalgh and other election security advocates submitted a petition to the Department of State, requesting a re-examination of the ES&S ExpressVote XL electronic voting machine. The petition included 200 signatures from voters across the state. “They’ve never refused to let the public come in and observe these systems,” said petitioner and VotePA founder Mary Beth Kuznik. “It’s distressing.”

Russia: Anger over alleged Moscow election tampering spurs protest | Nataliya Vasilyeva/Associated Press

Thousands of people marched across central Moscow on Saturday to protest the exclusion of some city council candidates from the Russian capital’s local election, but did not result in riot police making mass arrests and giving beatings like at earlier demonstrations. Opposition-led protests erupted in Moscow this summer after election officials barred more than a dozen opposition and independent candidates from running in the Sept. 8 election for the Moscow city legislature. Some marchers on Saturday held placards demanding freedom for political prisoners: 14 people arrested in earlier protests face charges that could send them to prison for up to eight years. The only police seen along the route to Pushkin Square were traffic officers, a contrast to the previous unsanctioned demonstrations where phalanxes of helmeted, truncheon-wielding riot police confronted demonstrators. At earlier protests, authorities did not allow key opposition figures to get anywhere near the places they were held. Individuals were detained outside their homes and sent them to jail for calling for an unpermitted protest. This time, the protest leaders attended the gathering unhindered.