South Carolina: Doublecheck that ballot: Controversial voting machines make their primary debut in South Carolina | Eric Geller/Politico

While the paper-based machines are supposed to make the vote more resistant to digital tampering, they also introduce new uncertainty into an election already marked by widespread warnings that Russia is determined to interfere in yet another U.S. presidential race. Many South Carolina voters and precinct workers will be encountering the new machines for the first time — less than four weeks after the Democrats’ bungled Iowa caucus showed the pitfalls of introducing new technology into a high-stakes election. The technology behind the ballot-printing touchscreen machines has also raised hackles among cyber researchers, election security advocates and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. They say the machines may be more secure than the totally paperless systems still used in 11 states — but they’re not as safe as paper ballots that voters mark by hand. South Carolina lawmakers decided in June to buy a model called ExpressVote from the country’s largest election technology company, Election Systems & Software. Counties in at least seven states — Florida, Indiana, Kansas, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas — have also replaced their paperless machines with the ExpressVote since 2018, according to a POLITICO survey. Delaware bought another model from ES&S, called the ExpressVote XL, and Georgia has purchased similar machines from another manufacturer.

National: DHS Rolls Out ‘Tabletop in a Box’ Election Cybersecurity Tool | Phil Goldstein/StateTech Magazine

With the 2020 election primary season fully underway, state and local election officials are ramping up their cybersecurity efforts to counter malicious threats. They are also getting support from the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. Several weeks ago, CISA released a 58-page guide, its “Elections Cyber Tabletop Exercise Package,” which it calls a “tabletop in a box.” The guide is designed to allow state and local officials to conduct election security drills simulating phishing and ransomware attacks, corrupted voter registration information, disinformation campaigns and attacks on voting equipment. As StateScoop reports, such tabletop exercises, “are designed to give secretaries of state, election directors, IT leaders and other officials a war game-like environment simulating the threats posed by foreign governments and other adversaries that might try to disrupt a real election.” Tabletop exercises can be used to “enhance general awareness, validate plans and procedures, rehearse concepts, and/or assess the types of systems needed to guide the prevention of, protection from, mitigation of, response to, and recovery from a defined incident,” the guide states.

National: #RSAC: Election Security Beyond the Ballot Box | Sean Michael Kerner/Infosecurity Magazine

There has been a lot written in recent years about election security and ensuring the integrity of voting systems. While voting machines are important, so too are non-voting election technologies, which was the topic of a session at the RSA Conference in San Francisco. Aaron Wilson, Senior Director of Election Security at the Center for Internet Security (CIS), explained that non-voting election systems include things that support elections. Those systems include electronic poll books, election night reporting systems, voter registration systems, and electronic ballot delivery. “There is a lot to that attack surface, but there are not a lot of standards and regulations,” Wilson said. The Center for Internet Security has developed a guide to help secure those non-voting election systems that has 160 best practices to help reduce risk and improve confidence. The overall goal, according to Wilson, isn’t necessarily that every election official will do all the steps, but rather they will have a guide that provides questions to ask vendors and IT staff.

California: After glitch-marred opening day, Los Angeles County’s new Vote Centers are getting some foot traffic | Ryan Carter/Los Angeles Daily News

Those new L.A. County Vote Centers may have started with some stumbles that forced poll workers to turn some people away on opening day, but officials say voters are gradually finding their way to the new one-stop hubs, ushering in a new era of early balloting. Since they debuted on Saturday, Feb. 22, the new centers — 200 opened Saturday, 11 days before the election, and roughly 700 more will open on Saturday, Feb. 29 — have been visited by more than 21,000 voters, officials said. That includes 5,596 who voted on Saturday, and 4,092 who voted on Sunday.  The number rose to 6,372 voters who cast their votes on Tuesday, and officials were expecting comparable numbers on Wednesday.

Florida: Voting access: Florida is ‘most secretive state’ on election security | Jeffrey Schweers/Tallahassee Democrat

Florida’s March 17 presidential primary will be a referendum on state and county elections officials’ efforts to build a wall to stop hacking attempts that are constantly bombarding the system. At a time when 59 percent of the public doesn’t trust the election process, state elections officials have thrown a veil of secrecy over that work, refusing to disclose details about the weaknesses detected in their systems and whether they’ve been fixed. Florida has doubled down on secrecy since federal officials reported at least four counties were hacked in 2016. The state forced all 67 elections supervisors to sign nondisclosure agreements before they could receive federal funding for elections security, be briefed about vulnerabilities found by cybersecurity experts or even hook up to the state’s voter registration system. “It just felt coerced,” said Polk County Supervisor of Elections Lori Edwards, a former member of the Legislature. “We have a broad public records law for a reason, so having to sign a nondisclosure agreement didn’t sit well with me … not only to receive funds, but information too.”

Georgia: Judge rules ballot secrecy can be protected on Georgia voting screens | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A South Georgia judge ruled Wednesday that elections can move forward on Georgia’s new voting computers, deciding against plaintiffs who said the large touchscreens failed to keep ballots secret. The ruling clears the way for voters to cast their ballots on the touchscreen-and-printer voting system when early voting for the presidential primary begins Monday.Sumter County Superior Court Chief Judge R. Rucker Smith denied an emergency motion to require paper ballots filled out by hand instead of by computer.Smith’s decision is a victory for election officials who argued that voter privacy can be protected by turning touchscreens around so that they face precinct walls instead of voters waiting in line.“You can protect the right of the secret ballot while using the ballot marking devices,” said Bryan Tyson, an attorney for the Sumter County elections board. “There’s no delay with the system. The judge got it right.” The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, led by the Coalition for Good Governance, said election officials must find a way to obey the Georgia Constitution’s requirement for a secret ballot.

Massachusetts: Election officials reported ‘outside activity’ to Homeland Security | WCBV

Ahead of Super Tuesday, Massachusetts’ top election official revealed he has referred at least one suspicious internet traffic incident to federal authorities. As Secretary of the Commonwealth, William Galvin oversees all elections, including the presidential primary, in which early voting is happening this week. Massachusetts uses paper ballots, but Galvin’s office maintains an extensive website full of related information. For example, voters can check their registration or look up their assigned polling place. Volunteers at the polling places use tablets to check voters in and verify party affiliation for the primary. Galvin stopped short of specifying whether the activity he reported was related to those resources, or something else, but did offer some insight into the steps his office takes to prevent intrusions.

Pennsylvania: $90M bond issue for voting machines clears state financing agency | Emily Previti/PA Post

State officials on Wednesday approved a proposed $90 million bond issuance to help cover costs for new voting machines across Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Economic Development Financing Authority’s unanimous vote moves the deal forward. The 10-year bonds haven’t been sold yet, though that’s expected to happen within the next few months, said Steve Drizos, director of PEDFA’s private financing center. Counties have until July 1 to submit applications for reimbursement for eligible costs. So far, counties have signaled they’ll seek reimbursement for about $136.5 million, combined, according to Deputy Secretary of State Jonathan Marks. That doesn’t include costs for additional machines, scanners or other equipment counties might have realized they need after they bought new election systems, or additional expenses made after the April 28 primary, when voting machines will debut in 22 counties. Some counties decided to buy more machines after experiencing long lines and other problems at the polls last November.

South Carolina: Election officials confident the primary will go smoothly. Here’s what they’re up against. | Joseph Marks/The Washington Post

South Carolina election officials are confident their first-in-the-South primary will go smoothly on Saturday — despite looming threats of Russian hacking, misinformation, or an Iowa caucus-style tech failure. “We feel as confident as election officials can feel on the eve of a statewide election with the eyes of the world upon us,” Chris Whitmire, the State Election Commission’s director of public information, told me. That may sound like tempting fate after Iowa’s technical debacle delayed results for days and undermined confidence in the vote, and Nevada’s caucus was dogged by security concerns. But Whitmire says the confidence is justified — largely because the primary is being run by professional election officials at the state and county level, unlike the caucuses that were run by those states’ Democratic parties. “After Iowa, there were a lot of questions about is that going to happen [here]? And, if not, why not? Well, we do this every week. It’s what we do,” he said.

South Carolina: Primary Voters Will Use Brand New Machines | Pam Fessler/NPR

When primary voters go to the polls in South Carolina on Saturday, they’ll be the first in the nation to use all-new voting equipment. It’s one of about a dozen states replacing all or most of their voting machines this year, in part due to security concerns after Russian interference in the 2016 election. South Carolina officials are eager to emphasize the reliability of their state’s equipment following the Iowa caucus debacle, where a flawed app delayed the reporting of accurate results for weeks. The state’s old voting machines relied on touchscreen technology that didn’t leave a paper trail that could be audited after the election. The new machines will mark a paper ballot with a barcode and the selected candidate’s names. The ballots then get inserted into a scanner for counting. Chris Whitmire of the state’s Election Commission showed voters earlier this week how to use the new equipment, part of an effort to educate them about changes to the voting process ahead of the primary. “When we say we have a paper record of the voters’ voted ballot at the end of the day, they like that and that makes them feel more confident in the integrity of the election and about the security of the election and it does us, too,” said Whitmire.

Tennessee: Out with the old, in with the new: decisions are being made about new voting machines for Shelby County | Mike Matthews/Local Memphis

Of course, by now, you know Tuesday is SuperTuesday – a big election day. And you’re going to be using the same old voting machines we’veused for the last 10 or 15 years or so. But changes are a coming. At the Shelby County Elections Warehouse, the Diebold votingmachines are lined up, as if ready to be shot at sunrise. That’s what some folks think should happen to them. During a news conference last fall, former Memphis StateRepresentative Mike Kernell said, “These machines are very old. They(Shelby County Election Commissioners) admit it – they’re old. All over thecountry these machines aren’t working well.” Shelby County Commissioner Van Turner was once the head of thelocal Democratic Party, and heard complaint after complaint about them.

Wisconsin: Election officials warn 6 communities of outdated systems | Patrick Marley/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Warning of the risk of hacking, Wisconsin election officials voted Thursday to publicly scold six communities if they do not quickly upgrade outdated computer systems. The state Elections Commission last year made more than $1 million available to clerks to update their computers, but not all of them took advantage of the funds. The commission has identified 10 computers in six communities that aren’t up to date, making them more susceptible to cyberattacks. The commissioners have declined to name those communities, but with their 5-0 vote Thursday that could change. The commissioners said they would tell the communities to upgrade their systems or be publicly outed. The commission will make federal funds available to them to help pay for the upgrades, which are expected to cost a few thousand dollars.

Canada: Security issues stymie online voting | Constantine Passaris/Winnipeg Free Press

The recent Iowa caucuses debacle reminded me of two things. First, my about-face as a member of the New Brunswick Commission on Electoral Reform with respect to electronic voting. Second, further confirmation that the electronic infrastructure continues to be an impediment in advancing digital democracy. The 21st century has empowered humanity with electronic connectivity and digital dexterity. The information technology revolution has been a catalyst for the kind of transformation that happens at most once every century. Internetization, in the form of global outreach and electronic connectivity, has proven to be a game-changer for society. It has precipitated transformation on practically every aspect of human endeavour. The way we bank, travel, communicate, educate and entertain ourselves, to name but a few, have been profoundly and positively impacted by internetization.

Russia: Kaspersky wants you to vote on its machines | Robert Stevens/Decrypt

Now now, settle down; just because Kaspersky is a Russian company with (ALLEGED) ties to its government, that doesn’t mean that the new blockchain-based voting system, developed by Polys, a Russian company that came out of Kaspersky’s innovation lab, is trying to manipulate elections.  All Polys wants from you is to cast your anonymous vote on your country’s next leader through its blockchain-based voting machines. The system’s secure, it claims, because it decentralizes vote information on several blockchain nodes. Vote organisers can choose the computers on which they store this data from trusted organizations. And to use the machines, voters must prove their identities by submitting various documents, which nets them a unique and private QR code.