National: Internet voting Is happening now and it could destroy our elections | Rachel Goodman and J. Alex Halderman/Slate

Russian hackers will try to disrupt American voting systems during the 2020 election cycle, as they did in 2016. This time, they’ll be joined by hackers from all over the world, including some within the United States. What unites them all is an eagerness to undermine free and fair elections, the most basic mechanism of American democracy. There are some hard questions about what to do about all this, but one piece is surprisingly straightforward: We need to keep voting systems as far away from the internet as possible. There’s a growing and clear consensus on this point. Federal guidelines for new voting machines might soon prohibit voting systems from connecting to the internet and even using Bluetooth. At the same time, though, voter turnout in this country remains abysmal. Allowing people to vote on their phones seems intuitively like it could help, especially for young people who vote at especially low rates. It could also be helpful for some military and overseas voters, as well as some voters with disabilities, who face challenges getting a physical ballot cast, returned, and counted. So why not try it? Well, put mildly, security vulnerabilities introduced by internet voting could destroy elections.

National: U.S. election security czar says attempts to hack the 2020 election will be more sophisticated | Ken Dilanian/NBC

The U.S. government is geared up as never before to combat foreign election interference, but there are limits to what American intelligence agencies can do, even as determined adversaries build on their 2016 playbook, the nation’s election security czar said Tuesday. In prepared remarks before an elections group, and in an exclusive interview afterward with NBC News, Shelby Pierson, the election security threats executive at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said a number of adversaries may be poised to attempt election interference. “The threats as we go into 2020 are more sophisticated,” she said. “This is not a Russia-only problem. Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, non-state hacktivists all have opportunity, means and potentially motive to come after the United States in the 2020 election to accomplish their goals.” Pierson spoke at an election summit sponsored by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, an independent, bipartisan agency that certifies voting systems and serves as a national clearinghouse of information on election administration.

National: State election officials will get fresh intelligence briefing after Iran tensions | Sean Lyngaas/CyberScoop

In the wake of the U.S.-Iran standoff and just weeks before the first Democratic primary, the intelligence community’s lead official for election security will brief state officials on the top cyberthreats to the U.S. electoral process. Shelby Pierson, the intelligence community’s election threats executive, said that the briefing this Thursday will cover the full gamut of digital threats to U.S. elections, including those emanating from Iran. Asked if Iran is more likely to interfere in the 2020 election after the U.S. military killed Tehran’s top general earlier this month, Pierson told reporters Tuesday that “it certainly is something that we’re prepared for.” “As our adversaries look to the political climate … it wouldn’t surprise me at all that this is part of the calculus,” she added.

National: Democrats sound election security alarm after Russia’s Burisma hack | Maggie Miller/The Hill

Congressional Democrats are raising fresh concerns about 2020 election security following a report this week that Russian military officers hacked Burisma Holdings, the Ukrainian gas company at the center of President Trump’s impeachment. Several Democratic lawmakers are viewing the incident, reported by The New York Times on Monday night, as the first major sign that Moscow is gearing up for a repeat of its 2016 election interference. They cited what they call similarities between the Burisma attack and the Democratic National Committee hack four years ago. Sen. Gary Peters (Mich.), the top Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said the hack confirmed that Russia will be back to interfere in U.S. elections this year. “The Russians are actively engaged in hacking all sorts of sites and businesses, and I am sure there was a political motivation behind it. We know the Russians are going to be actively involved in trying to cause problems in the 2020 election, and this is just a further confirmation of their active involvement in American politics,” Peters told The Hill.

National: Paperless voting machines pose risk to US’s election infrastructure | Ash-har Quraishi/Scripps Media

Could foreign parts in voting machines be putting the U.S. election at risk for hacking? It’s a question that lawmakers have been exploring as they seek answers from top bosses at three major voting manufacturers. Tom Burt, the President and CEO OF Election Systems & Software, appeared confident as he testified before the House Administration Committee last week. “We’ve seen no evidence that our voting systems have been tampered with in any way,” said Burt. The companies that make vote tabulation systems say they welcome federal oversight of election infrastructure and need help securing their supply chains, especially for voting machine parts made in foreign countries. “Several of those components, to our knowledge, there is no option for manufacturing those in the United States,” explained Dominion Voting Systems CEO John Poulos. Cyber and national security experts say antiquated and paperless voting machines pose the most significant risk to the U.S.’s election infrastructure.

National: Election officials are watching how their states respond to cyberattacks | Benjamin Freed/StateScoop

State election officials said Tuesday that they’ve been watching how their state governments have responded to incidents like ransomware attacks as lessons on what they would do if the voter registration databases, vote-total reporting systems and other components of election infrastructure that they manage were targeted. Though the ransomware incidents that have spread through state and local governments across the United States have largely spared election systems from the worst, debilitating effects, the Department of Homeland Security last year said that local officials could be targeted by viruses that lock them out of voter rolls unless they pay a financial demand. And at a conference in Washington hosted by the Election Assistance Commission, state officials said they are paying attention to ransomware wave.

National: Millions of Americans have been purged from voter rolls – and may not even realize it | Natasha Bach/Fortune

Millions of Americans have been purged from the voter rolls in recent years, as state governments seek to remove the names of individuals who have died, relocated, or have otherwise become ineligible to vote. But such purges have been widely criticized due to instances in which states have relied on bad information, unregistering eligible voters who are often unaware until they attempt to cast their ballots on Election Day. “The most important thing people get wrong is they forget that purges are a necessary and important part of administering our elections,” Myrna Pérez, director of the Brennan Center’s Voting Rights and Elections Program, told Fortune. “We all benefit when our rolls are clean, and sometimes we forget that purges—when done properly—are a good thing.” But large-scale systematic purges that remove hundreds of thousands of names at a time are more likely to round up individuals who should not be removed from the rolls.

California: Beverly Hills City Council Might Sue Over Los Angeles County’s New Voting Machine Design | Libby Denkman/LAist

The Beverly Hills City Council has voted to move ahead with a possible lawsuit against election officials responsible for the new Los Angeles County voting equipment which will debut in the March 3 primary. The new machines are digital, and there are concerns that voters will vote without seeing all the candidates. Already there are huge changes in store for Angelenos voting in-person when vote centers start opening Feb. 22 — from where and when to vote to a new, high-tech way to cast a ballot. Electronic ballot marking devices developed by Los Angeles County will be the default option in all 1,000 new vote centers, replacing the familiar old InkaVote System. The new devices include touch screens to mark voter selections, which are then printed onto a paper ballot that will be collected and tallied by election officials. Now, with voting fast approaching, local governments and campaigns are familiarizing themselves with the new system. And many don’t like what they see.

Verified Voting Blog: Verified Voting Comments on proposed amendments to Georgia State Election Board rules

Download as PDF Verified Voting welcomes the opportunity to comment on the proposed amendments to Georgia’s State Election Board rules published on December 19, 2019. These amendments are wide-ranging, and we recognize that substantial work has gone into drafting them. Our comments focus on certain aspects especially relevant to cybersecurity and election verification. We substantially…

Iowa: Despite Election Security Fears, Iowa Caucuses Will Use New Smartphone App | Kate Payne, Miles Parks/NPR

Iowa’s Democratic Party plans to use a new internet-connected smartphone app to help calculate and transmit results during the state’s caucuses next month, Iowa Public Radio and NPR have confirmed. Party leaders say they decided to opt for that strategy fully aware of three years’ worth of warnings about Russia’s attack on the 2016 election, in which cyberattacks played a central role. Iowa’s complicated caucus process is set to take place Feb. 3 in gymnasiums, churches, rec centers, and other meeting places across the state. As opposed to a primary in which voters cast ballots in the same way they would for a general election, Iowa’s caucuses are social affairs; caucus-goers gather in person and pledge their support for a candidate by physically “standing in their corner” in designated parts of a room.

Kansas: State won’t be ready to implement vote center law for 2020 elections | Tim Carpenter /The Topeka Capital-Journal

Secretary of State Scott Schwab predicted Tuesday regulations necessary to implement a state law allowing Kansans to vote at the polling station of their choice won’t be completed in time for the August or November elections in 2020. Schwab told members of the Senate’s election committee that technical considerations, including cellphone coverage problems, in the state’s 105 counties made the process of drafting rules complex. The program won’t be finalized until 2021, he said. The voting reform bill signed last year by Gov. Laura Kelly was inspired by a proposal from Sedgwick County officials. “They are not going to be ready by this year simply because we don’t want to screw up,” the secretary of state said. “If we rushed it through for this year, I promise you there would be a lot of mistakes.”

New York: Lawmakers call on Board of Elections to vote ‘no’ on new machines | Denis Slattery/New York Daily News

A coalition of advocates and lawmakers are calling on the state Board of Elections to reject controversial new touchscreen voting machines they say aren’t compatible with the city’s soon-to-take-effect ranked choice system. Opponents say the problem-plagued ES&S ExpressVote XL voting machines, which the state will be testing on Tuesday as part of its certification process, pose too many problems and could present major issues as the city prepares for ranked voting in 2021. “What we’re hoping is that the Board will realize that there are significant issues with this machine and require the vendor to answer questions particularly regarding its capability to run a ranked choice voting election,” Susan Lerner, the executive director of good government group Common Cause, told the Daily News. City voters approved a ballot initiative last November giving the green light to ranked choice in upcoming elections, allowing voters to literally rank their top picks for a given position in order of preference.

Pennsylvania: Some voting security groups want Northampton County voting machines gone after November malfunction | Bo Koltnow/WFMZ

“They are insecure and administration panels are easily opened and tampered with.” Attorney Leslie Grossberg is talking about the ExpressVoteXL voting machines. The machines used in Northampton County malfunctioned last November causing a paper ballot recount. Grossberg’s clients, voting security groups, recently filed an injunction with the Court of Common Pleas to block the XL in 2020. The groups cite immediate and irreparable harm to the election. “Decertification of the ExpressXL is the goal,” Grossberg said. In December the machines, also used in Philadelphia, received a vote of no-confidence from the Northampton County Election Commission Board.  A state hearing is set that could decide to keep or toss the XL.