National: Election Security Push Ahead Of 2020 Could Be Blunted By Wave Of Retirements | Pam Fessler/NPR

Between possible foreign interference, potentially record-high turnout, new voting equipment in many parts of the country and what could be a razor-close outcome, the 2020 election was already shaping up to be one of the most challenging elections to administer in U.S. history. On top of those challenges, a number of top election officials who oversaw voting in 2016 won’t be around next year. Some are retiring after long careers, but others are feeling the strain of an increasingly demanding and politicized job. Among those who’ve left are former Virginia Election Commissioner, Edgardo Cortes, now an election security adviser with the Brennan Center for Justice. He decided to move on last year when the governor he worked for was heading out of office. Cortes also had a new baby on the way and a three hour commute, and says he needed a break from his 24/7 job. “In Virginia in particular, there are elections going on every year, multiple times a year, so it was definitely a huge time commitment,” says Cortes. Running elections can be difficult work, with long hours, low pay and an electorate that isn’t always appreciative. Most officials say they love the work and believe they’re performing a key democratic function, but several high-profile election officials have recently announced that they’re leaving, in part to give their replacements time to prepare for 2020.

Full Article: Election Security Push Ahead Of 2020 Could Be Blunted By Wave Of Retirements : NPR.

National: As the 2020 US election nears, voter systems still vulnerable | Lydia Emmanouilidou/BBC

With a little less than a year to go before the 2020 US presidential election, security experts and lawmakers say progress has been made to guard against foreign interference. But they warn the country’s election infrastructure could be vulnerable to the types of hacking operations that took place in the lead-up to the 2016 election. One such attack was directed at the Illinois State Board of Elections, an agency that oversees and facilitates parts of election processes in the state, including a statewide voter registration system. “One of our IT people noticed that our [voter registration] system was running extremely slowly,” said Matt Dietrich, a spokesperson for the agency. “It had practically shut down.” The IT member inspected the system, and discovered that an intruder had exploited a vulnerability on the board’s online voter application, broken into the statewide voter registration database and gained access to voter information, including names, addresses and drivers’ license numbers. “It was terrifying. … We took the entire system down,” Mr Dietrich said. In the immediate aftermath of the incident – which took place in July 2016 – Mr Dietrich said the agency didn’t know who was behind the intrusion. But in July 2018, then-Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted 12 Russian military officers over alleged cyber operations to interfere with the 2016 US presidential election.

Full Article: As the 2020 US election nears, voter systems still vulnerable - BBC News.

National: Ahead of 2020, Democrats wrestle with how to disavow disinformation tactics | Stephen Montemayor/Minneapolis Star Tribune

Democratic Party leaders are engaged in an internal struggle over whether to explicitly disavow the use of disinformation tactics in the 2020 election. State party leaders, led by Minnesota DFL Chairman Ken Martin, have urged the Democratic National Committee to adopt such a pledge, but others are privately worried that it would put the party at a disadvantage against a president who has repeatedly trafficked in doctored videos and retweeted false stories since winning the presidency in 2016. Former Vice President Joe Biden is so far one of the only candidates to publicly sign a pledge not to use manipulated videos, content from fake social media accounts or other increasingly common disinformation tactics. Minnesota U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar has not signed a pledge, but she has personally vowed not to traffic in disinformation tactics. But the National Committee has refused to take action. The Republican National Committee also has declined to take a formal stance.

Full Article: Ahead of 2020, Dems wrestle with how to disavow disinformation tactics -

National: Russia’s 2016 Election Meddling Was a ‘Well-Choreographed Military Operation,’ Former FBI Counterintelligence Expert Says | David Brenna/Newsweek

former FBI expert in counterintelligence and cyberwarfare has warned that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election was not a one-off, and that Moscow’s dedicated network of operatives never stopped their malign activities after President Donald Trump’s victory. Robert Anderson worked for the FBI for 21 years, rising to oversee the bureau’s efforts to identify, track and disrupt foreign intelligence and cyberwarfare efforts—including those originating from Russia. In a 60 Minutes interview broadcast Sunday, Anderson told CBS News’ Bill Whitaker that Russia’s cyberwarfare arm remains a significant threat to the American political system. “The Russians never left,” Anderson said. “I can guarantee you in 2016 after this all hit the news, they never left. They didn’t stop doing what they’re doing.” Asked by Whitaker if 2016 could have been “a one-time thing,” Anderson bluntly replied, “No way. Russia doesn’t do it that way.”

Full Article: Russia's 2016 Election Meddling Was a 'Well-Choreographed Military Operation,' Former FBI Counterintelligence Expert Says.

National: Senators advocate for increased election security funding in 2020 budget | Melina Druga/Homeland Preparedness News

A group of 39 Democratic senators recently sent a letter to the leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees urging the panels to better fund election security. The senators requested funding for election security grants and for the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) in the Fiscal Year 2020 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill. The EAC is an independent and bipartisan commission established in the Help America Vote Act that ensures elections across the country are secure, accurate, and accessible. It sets voting standards, certifies voting equipment, and conducts the Election Administration and Voting Survey. The senators urged the committees to fund the EAC fully. Currently, the House has appropriated roughly $16.2 million for the commission, and the Senate has appropriated nearly $12 million. The commission has half the staff it did when it was founded in 2010, and EAC’s budget for salaries and administration is $10 million less.

Full Article: Senators advocate for increased election security funding in 2020 budget - Homeland Preparedness News.

Editorials: More openness, less secrecy, on election security | Tampa Bay Times

State Sen. Annette Taddeo said on national television Sunday that she has been advised to stop talking about how Russian hackers released confidential information regarding her 2016 congressional campaign. That’s an issue from Washington to Tallahassee to county courthouses. Less than a year from the 2020 election, voters need more transparency, not more secrecy, about foreign interference in our democracy and what is being done at every level to combat it. There were few new revelations in the 60 Minutes report that featured Taddeo, a Miami Democrat who narrowly lost a primary race for Congress in 2016. But it provided a succinct, compelling narrative that reminded viewers how Russian interference in the elections stretched well beyond the race for president. The report also included a frank warning from a former FBI cyber-security expert that the Russians have not abandoned their efforts to influence U.S. elections and can be counted on to refine their methods for 2020.

Full Article: More openness, less secrecy, on election security | Editorial.

Kentucky: Misinformation Efforts Over Kentucky Vote Could Be Playbook for 2020 | Jessica Huseman/ProPublica

The right-wing radio personality took to Twitter not long after the polls had closed and it seemed the Democtratic candidate had prevailed in the excruciatingly close race for governor of Kentucky. “Today #ELECTIONFRAUD and what is going on in #kentucky is REAL,” the host of “Tore Says,” streamed on the Red State Talk Radio website, tweeted on Nov. 8. “How do I know? I am actually have EVIDENCE because me and my family are VICTIMS of it.” The personality, whose real name is Terpsichore Lindeman, alleged that somehow she and her husband had wound up as registered Democrats in Kentucky, which she saw as a sure sign that Andy Beshear, the Democratic attorney general ultimately declared the winner of the race for governor, had been manipulating the voter rolls. Lindeman said that she is not a Democrat, and that she had her name removed from the rolls when she and her husband left the state years ago. Indeed, she said her husband is not a U.S. citizen and should not have been on any voting roll.

Full Article: Misinformation Efforts Over Kentucky Vote Could Be Playbook for 2020 — ProPublica.

Ohio: State Takes Steps to Ensure Cyber Security at the Polls | Andrew Meyer/WKSU

We’re less than a year away from the 2020 presidential election, and concern about Russian interference in the 2016 election persists. Have states, including Ohio, done everything they need to ensure that the vote next time will be safe and secure? We spoke with Jen Miller, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio. She says the state is in pretty good shape, but there’s still work to be done. Miller says in terms of security, Ohio already has a pretty good system that’s “well ahead of other states.” Ohio’s voting machines are not hooked up to the internet, so they can’t be hacked. But Miller advises it’s important to be ready for what comes next. She points to Sec. of State Frank LaRose, who worked with the Ohio Senate to craft Senate Bill 52. Gov. Mike DeWine signed this cybersecurity into law. According to Miller, the law gives the secretary of state a seat on the Homeland Security Council. “Clearly, elections are critical infrastructure,” she said. The law also creates a cyber-information officer seat within the secretary of state’s office, and it would codify postelection audits, Miller said. On that last point, Miller says that’s something the League of Women Voters secured from a lawsuit following the 2004 election.

Full Article: Ohio Takes Steps to Ensure Cyber Security at the Polls | WKSU.

Ohio: Election Day cyber attack attempt traced to Panama | Rick Rouan/The Columbus Dispatch

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose said that the “SQL injection” attack was detected by the state’s internal systems. He called the attack “relatively unsophisticated.” The Ohio Secretary of State’s office was the subject of a thwarted foreign cyber attack on Election Day. Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose said Tuesday that the so-called “SQL injection” attack was detected by the state’s internal systems. The attack was attempting to insert malicious code into his office’s website. The attempted hack originated in Panama and was traced to a Russian-owned company, he said, but was “relatively unsophisticated.” “Some of these unsophisticated attacks are ways that they probe for vulnerabilities. They are poking around for soft spots,” LaRose said, noting that the cyber attack was looking for vulnerabilities in his office’s website.

Full Article: Ohio Election Day cyber attack attempt traced to Panama | Rick Rouan/The Columbus Dispatch.

Pennsylvania: Philadelphia’s Voting Machines Challenged In Federal Court Ahead Of 2020 Presidential Election | Associated Press

A federal court was asked Tuesday to force Pennsylvania to rescind its certification of a voting machine newly purchased by Philadelphia and at least two other counties in the state ahead of 2020’s presidential election. The filing casts doubt onto how 17% of Pennsylvania’s registered voters will cast ballots in the April 28 primary election, as well as next November, when the state is expected to be one of the nation’s premier presidential battlegrounds. Court papers filed by former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and several supporters accuse Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration of violating their year-old agreement in Philadelphia’s federal court by certifying the ExpressVote XL touchscreen system made by Omaha, Nebraska-based Election Systems & Software. The plaintiffs say certifying the system violates their agreement, in part because the machine does not meet the agreement’s requirements “that every Pennsylvania voter in 2020 uses a voter-verifiable paper ballot.” For one, the ExpressVote XL counts votes by counting machine-printed bar codes on paper, a format that is neither readable nor verifiable by an individual voter, they wrote in court papers.

Full Article: Philadelphia’s Voting Machines Challenged In Federal Court Ahead Of 2020 Presidential Election – CBS Philly.

Texas: Report finds 20% of Texas counties are following best website security practices | Wes Rapaport/Nexstar

With a big election year coming up, one Texas group says improvements to election security are still needed. A new survey from the League of Women Voters of Texas found 20% of Texas county election websites are following best security practices. The review looked at nine points of criteria:
Website security: counties earned points for having secure websites, including “.gov” domains and “https” URLs.
Mobile friendly: each website was tested for its compatibility with mobile devices.
Accessibility: the sites were judged on keywords like “election” or “voting” on the home page.
Election information: reviewers looked at ease of accessible voter and election information like detailed contact information for county election offices, dates and hours for early voting and Election Day, registration information, polling locations, and personnel, sample ballots, election results and candidate filing.
Help for special categories of voters: the survey reviewed how much information was provided for military and overseas voters, students, and voters with special needs

Full Article: Report finds 20% of Texas counties are following best website security practices |

Texas: Midland ISD canvassing bond election | Victor Blanco, Tatum Guinn, Rachel Ripp/KWES

It’s officially in the books: the Midland school board finalized the bond election recount results Tuesday. Everything from here forward will be dealt with by Midland County. This despite a more than 800 ballot discrepancy. People at today’s meeting asked the board to hold off on canvassing the recount until the county gets to the bottom of what happened. “It’s disappointing in that there’s so many questions left unanswered. That’s the part that really I’m having trouble with,” Matt Galindo said. “To know that there’s a discrepancy in the amount of votes. I’m disappointed, worried and now have a lack of trust.” Midland ISD school board president Rick Davis took the opportunity to explain in detail how the recount process worked Friday. The process included nine teams of three – one representative from each side of the issue and an at-large member were on each team.

Full Article: Midland ISD canvassing bond election |

Namibia: Court throws out case against electronic voting machines | Tim Cocks/Reuters

A Namibian court dismissed a case on Monday aimed at preventing the use of electronic voting machines in its presidential election, which opponents of President Hage Geingob fear could be used to rig the result. Namibians will elect a president on Wednesday, with Geingob expected to be win with a reduced margin owing to voter anger over the worst economic crisis since independence from apartheid South Africa three decades ago. The use of voting machines has been controversial both within and outside Africa. Critics say they make it easier to fiddle the result than traditional pen and paper ballots. However, Magistrate Uaatjo Uanivi ruled that the tribunal has no jurisdiction to forbid the electoral commission from using them. Opposition leader McHenry Venaani told reporters he was disappointed with the ruling. “EVMs (electronic voting machines) in their current form do not address the question of transparency of the vote and I thought the court would put more effort into addressing (that) … question,” he said.

Full Article: Namibian court throws out case against voting machines - Reuters.

Verified Voting Blog: The Role of Risk-Limiting Audits in Evidence-Based Elections

In the aftermath of the 2016 election cycle, interest in securing American elections from tampering or hacking has intensified. Given that 99% of our votes are counted by computers, and that computers are used in every aspect of the electoral process, election security is a top priority. For over a decade, Verified Voting has advocated for the widespread adoption of post-election risk-limiting audits (RLAs) alongside other best practices to facilitate a trustworthy and auditable record of votes cast.

A post-election risk-limiting audit (RLA) is one of the pillars of cyber security. In this day and age of nation state attacks on our election systems, it is very important for election systems to be resilient and provide a way for jurisdictions to identify problems and to recover from them. Security experts agree that the best method is voter-marked paper ballots (which voters choose to mark by hand or with a ballot marking device), having a deliberate and intentional step for voters to verify their ballot selections, providing a strong chain of custody of the ballots, and checking that the computers counted them correctly (RLAs).

Evidence-Based Election Ecosystem

Risk-limiting audits are one piece of the larger ecosystem of evidence-based elections that depend upon a trustworthy record to give confidence to election outcomes. There are some things that risk-limiting audits do not do. They do not tell us whether the voting system has been hacked. They do not and cannot determine whether voters actually verified their ballots. But they can detect and correct tabulation errors that could alter election outcomes — or provide strong evidence that a full hand count would yield the same outcomes.  

National: Swing states adopt audit tool to safeguard voter ballots ahead of 2020 election | One America News Network

A leg of the Department of Homeland Security recently announced its soon to be partnership with election officials and non-profit VotingWorks that would audit votes in 2020. Ballot box officers say the purpose is to prevent possible hacks and watch for faulty voting machines. Battleground states, such as Pennsylvania and Ohio, have already embraced a voter monitoring tool known as Arlo. Four other states have reportedly adopted the tool as well. The VotingWorks sponsored tool is free for state and local election leaders, and would double-check all votes cast. Arlo is a web-based app that uses a security method called “risk-limiting audit.” During this process, a small percentage of the paper ballots are taken at random to check if they match what the machines recorded. Although the method is simple, many places don’t use them reportedly because many states use direct electronic voting machines, which eradicates all paper trails.

Full Article: Swing states adopt audit tool to safeguard voter ballots ahead of 2020 election | One America News Network.

California: It May Take a Month to Name California’s Winner on Super Tuesday | Emily Glazer/Wall Street Journal

California’s decision to move up its 2020 primary to Super Tuesday in early March from June will make the nation’s most populous state one of the most important in deciding the Democratic presidential candidate. But changes to the voting process could mean the final results won’t be known for weeks. If the allocation of California’s 494 Democratic delegates—by far the most of any state—isn’t finalized until early April, that could affect the candidates’ viability, campaigning and fundraising momentum in the meantime. It also could influence voter support in other states. California Secretary of State Alex Padilla earlier this year decertified most voting systems in the state’s 58 counties, giving them until February 2020 to install more advanced and secure technology. Many counties are still testing the new or updated devices, while also preparing for state-mandated election changes, including allowing in-person voting 10 days before Election Day and broadening the number of people who can vote by mail, a procedure that now will be available to about half the state’s population. The changes also allow same-day voter registration at every polling location. They also add, for the first time for a presidential election, the ability for voters to submit missing signatures on vote-by-mail ballots no later than two days prior to the certification of the election, which could vary by county. County elections officials will still have up to 30 days after Election Day to complete vote counting, auditing and certification. “I’m telling people it’s no longer Election Day, it’s election month,” said Neal Kelley, the registrar of voters in Orange County.

Full Article: It May Take a Month to Name California’s Winner on Super Tuesday - WSJ.

Editorials: Florida must do better than ‘Trust us’ to instill confidence in 2020 elections | The Palm Beach Post

The 2020 elections are just around the corner, and government officials responsible for ensuring the upcoming vote occurs without a hitch are asking a lot from the public — trust. Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee said late last month that the state’s voting systems are adequately prepared for electronic attacks — a pressing concern since the specter of Russian hacking haunted the last presidential election. Securing Florida’s voting systems is long overdue. Unfortunately, Lee undermined her message by refusing to provide any details that might convince the public that these latest efforts to stem cyber-attacks on Florida’s elections systems would work. “The Department of State stands here in 2019 with an incredible amount of information we never previously had,” said Lee, who is Florida’s top elections official, without a word of specifics about that incredible amount of information. “I believe that should inspire a level of confidence that we have access to far more information than we had at any prior point.” Not really. Ever since the Mueller report on the 2016 presidential election determined that hacking efforts by Russian intelligence were successful in “at least one” Florida county, Floridians wanted to know where they’re vulnerable. Compounding the anxiety, Gov. Ron DeSantis said in May that he learned from the FBI that Russians hacked two counties — their voter-information files, not systems involved in vote tallying. But state officials, saying they’ve been muzzled by federal investigators, still refuse to say which counties were hacked in 2016. And although they just conducted a review of state and county election systems, they won’t say what kind of security weaknesses were uncovered — if any. Nor will they promise to tell us about any future breaches.

Full Article: Editorial: Florida must do better than ‘Trust us’ to instill confidence in 2020 elections - Opinion - The Palm Beach Post - West Palm Beach, FL.

Georgia: Secretary of State seeks election audit rules | Doug Richards/WXIA

Georgia’s Secretary of State wants new rules to govern the timing and location of post-election audits. This comes after critics said an audit of the recent November election was done in virtual secrecy. The November elections, a handful of locations, were the first-ever in Georgia done with new voting machines purchased from Dominion Systems by the state of Georgia. The new machines are expected to roll out statewide in time for the March presidential primary. Aside from the audit controversy, critics said a pattern has emerged in recent weeks that shows the secretary of state’s office initiating political battles with its critics. Thursday, a roomful of volunteers at Ebenezer Baptist Church had created a phone bank to contact voters they say were at risk of getting purged from voter rolls.

Full Article: Secretary of State seeks election audit rules |

Indiana: Vanderburgh County will counter voters who refuse to use machines | Thomas B. Langhorne/Evansville Courier & Press

Suspicious voters who refuse to use voting machines at polling places will have no other option if Vanderburgh County’s chief elections officer has her way. County Clerk Carla Hayden said she will seek changes to Indiana law in the wake of a city election that saw three voters at Plaza Park School request — and receive — paper provisional ballots simply because they refused to use machines. The ballots ultimately were counted by election board members who said the voters were eligible. In at least one case, poll worker Don Gibbs said, a voter at Plaza Park explained he is suspicious about voting machines. “He said he just didn’t trust the machines. I didn’t ask why,” said Gibbs, the highest-ranking poll worker at Plaza Park. After calling the Vanderburgh County Election Office for guidance, Gibbs gave the three voters — he said they weren’t together — paper provisional ballots. By law, provisional ballots are sealed in security envelopes, kept apart from other ballots and acted upon later. Provisional ballots are the only paper ballots available at polling places in Vanderburgh County. Machines, not paper, are the county’s method of voting on election day.

Full Article: Vanderburgh will counter voters who refuse to use machines.