Iowa: DHS chief says offer to vet Iowa caucus app was declined | Maggie Miller/The Hill

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said Tuesday that an offer to vet the app used by the Iowa Democratic Party to tabulate votes during the Iowa caucuses was turned down. “Our Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has offered to test that app from a hacking perspective,” Wolf said during an appearance on Fox News’s “Fox & Friends.” Wolf said the offer was “declined” and noted that “we’re seeing a couple of issues with it.” “I would say right now, we don’t see any malicious cyber activity going on,” he added. The Iowa Democratic Party said Tuesday morning that the app used to tabulate votes as part of the first-in-the-nation caucuses, which CNN confirmed was built by the firm Shadow, had a “coding issue in the reporting system” that slowed down the reporting of vote totals.

Nevada: Democrats won’t use app that caused Iowa caucus fiasco | Adam Edelman/NBC

Nevada’s Democratic Party said Tuesday it will not use the trouble-plagued app that has contributed to ongoing delays in the reporting of results in the Iowa Democratic caucuses. Democrats in Nevada had planned to use the app for their caucus on Feb. 22. The same company developed the app for both states. But the state’s Democratic Party said Tuesday that it had previously created backup plans for its reporting systems and was in the process of “evaluating the best path forward.” “NV Dems can confidently say that what happened in the Iowa caucus last night will not happen in Nevada on February 22nd. We will not be employing the same app or vendor used in the Iowa caucus,” Nevada State Democratic Party Chair William McCurdy II said in a statement.

Nevada: Democrats won’t use app at center of Iowa delays | Chris Mills Rodrigo/The Hill

The Nevada Democratic Party on Tuesday announced that it will not use the election results app that has been blamed for the delay in results from the Iowa caucuses. “NV Dems can confidently say that what happened in the Iowa caucus last night will not happen in Nevada on February 22nd. We will not be employing the same app or vendor used in the Iowa caucus,” Nevada State Democratic Party Chairman William McCurdy said in a statement. “We had already developed a series of backups and redundant reporting systems, and are currently evaluating the best path forward.” The announcement comes after the results of the Iowa caucuses, which began on Monday at 8 p.m. EST, have yet to be released amid confusion over the app used to transmit results, triggering uproar from supporters and political pundits. The slow rollout has lead many to question Iowa’s first-in-the-nation status. Price told campaigns early Tuesday afternoon that presidential campaigns should expect that a “majority” of the caucus results will be released at 5 p.m. EST, a source on the call told The Hill.

New York: State senator calls for public hearing on ExpressVote XL voting machines | Cayla Harris/Times Union

As the state Board of Elections continues its certification process to adopt controversial touch-screen voting machines, the head of the Senate elections committee is urging the board’s commissioners to hit pause while lawmakers gather feedback about the new technology. The board is currently testing the “ExpressVote XL” voting system, designed by the Nebraska-based company Election Systems & Software, as part of a growing nationwide interest in ballot-marking devices — hybrid machines that allow voters to cast their ballots using a touch screen. The system spits out a paper record of the votes as a secondary measure to ensure an accurate count – but advocates have questioned the precision of the machines and whether they are vulnerable to hackers. In addition, the machines were at the center of a botched November election in Northampton County, Pennsylvania, where a judiciary race was undercounted by thousands of ballots. “Everything is always good until it’s not,” said state Sen. Zellnor Myrie, D-Brooklyn, who chairs the Senate Committee on Elections. “Everything is shiny and cutting-edge until it’s not.”

Ohio: State to ramp up election security with new federal funds | Maggie Miller/The Hill

Ohio is moving to implement a string of election security measures with new funding from Washington as the state races against the clock to guard against foreign hacking and disinformation campaigns. Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R), speaking on the sidelines of last week’s National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) meeting in Washington, said there has been a seismic shift at the state level following the 2016 Russian election interference.  “From what I’ve observed, there is definitely a pre-2016, post-2016 mentality,” said LaRose, who characterized the coordination between the federal government, states and county officials as improving “exponentially.” Congress appropriated $380 million in 2018 to help states boost their election security. That was followed by an additional $425 million in December.  “I don’t think you’re ever going to hear a secretary of State or any state official say, ‘Turn off the tap, we’ve got enough federal funding,’” LaRose said. “I’m a fiscal conservative and I believe that we should be smart with our taxpayers’ dollars, but the demand is huge.”

West Virginia: Security dangers of online voting don’t deter West Virginia | The Fulcrum

West Virginia is looking to become the first state to allow disabled people to vote using their smartphones. Republican Gov. Jim Justice is expected to sign legislation, which breezed through the GOP-controlled Legislature last month, requiring all counties to provide an online balloting option to anyone who cannot use a regular voting machine because of physical disability. The new law puts West Virginia more firmly on one side of the ease-versus-security divide in the debate over modernizing voting systems. In the wake of hacking attempts by Russian operatives during the 2016 election, almost all the experts on ways to prevent such interference are opposed to online voting of any sort. At the same time, advocates are pushing hard for methods making voting plausible for the one in eight Americans with a disability. In 2018 West Virginia became the first state to create a mobile application for voting, but it was only available to members of the military stationed abroad. It was used by 147 West Virginians with homes in 24 countries to cast their midterm ballots for Congress and state offices.

Iowa: 2020’s first election security test: Iowa | Eric Geller/Politico

The Iowa caucuses on Monday night are practically as low-tech as elections come, involving the least-hackable voting process imaginable: People gathering in rooms and writing their choice on paper. But the first contest of the 2020 presidential race still represents a high-profile test of whether election officials, political parties and security experts are ready for another wave of cyberattacks, after Russian hackers revealed dangerous weaknesses in 2016. And despite assurances from both the Democratic and Republican parties that they’ve taken extensive steps to prepare, experts say attackers have plenty of opportunities to disrupt the democratic process.

National: Election officials confident about security days before first contests of 2020 | Joseph Marks/The Washington Post

Election officials are striking a confident tone about digital security at their final summit before caucus and primary season begins. But they’re also planning for the worst, war-gaming how to handle any major hacks from Russia or other adversaries. “We’re planning as if they’re coming back,” Chris Krebs, the Department of Homeland Security’s top cybersecurity official, said on the sidelines of the conference hosted by the National Association of Secretaries of State. “The playbook’s out there. It’s not just about Russia. It’s about anyone else that may want to get into this space.” Krebs led more than 200 officials through a series of worst-case scenarios during the conference, testing how they’d respond and work together during a cyberattack or misinformation campaign targeting a primary or general election. Among the participants were representatives from 44 states, 15 election vendors and 11 federal departments and agencies, a DHS spokeswoman said. The conclusion: Officials are far better prepared than in 2016 when Russian hackers probed election infrastructure across the nation and upended Hillary Clinton’s campaign by hacking and releasing emails and flooding disinformation onto social media.

National: As Iowa caucuses loom, states drill with feds to protect 2020 elections | Sean Lyngaas/CyberScoop

With the Iowa caucuses just days away, state election officials from around the country gathered this week in Washington, D.C., to drill for cyberattacks, study ransomware and learn how to work with ethical hackers. The level of collaboration was unthinkable four years ago, when Russia-backed hackers and trolls interfered to the electoral process. Then, it took many months for federal officials to notify states that their systems had been targeted, and states bristled at the Department of Homeland Security’s 2017 designation of election systems as critical infrastructure. Now, federal and state officials are mapping out how a foreign adversary might try to undermine the democratic process, and practicing how they would thwart those attacks. “We’re light years ahead today from where we were [in the aftermath of 2016]” Mac Warner, the secretary of state of West Virginia, said Thursday at the National Association of Secretaries of State conference. Warner said that shortly after the U.S. military killed a top Iranian general earlier this month, DHS officials held a call with states to explain the Iranian cyberthreat and what to watch for on their systems.

National: Behind the scenes, states race to shore up 2020 elections | Ben Popken/NBC

The officials in charge of running America’s elections in many states convened in the nation’s capitol this week to test and discuss their preparations for the 2020 U.S. presidential election. On their checklists: Everything. The National Association of Secretaries of State kicked off its biannual conference Thursday, a four-day event which this year has a heavy emphasis on election security. Each state has a chief elections officer and in 24, that’s the secretary of states. In others they may be responsible for only some parts of the electoral process. While praising the new information sharing network between state and federal authorities, officials who spoke with NBC News touched on a wide variety of challenges they continue to face, from disappointment with weak support by the executive branch to persistent concerns about disinformation. “We need to make sure that our operations are as resilient as possible, meaning that our hardware and software prevents attack, and measures are in place to survive an attack so that voters can trust the results of the election,” said Nellie Gorbea, the Rhode Island secretary of state.

California: Los Angeles County voters will use new ballot system for March 3 primary, despite lawsuit filed by Beverly Hills | Hayley Munguia/ Press Telegram

Los Angeles County voters have some big decisions to make March 3: Everything from city council seats to the state’s pick for the Democratic presidential nominee will be up for grabs. Even the state’s clout nationally could change, now that California’s election is on Super Tuesday. But in-person voters will also notice another change: Casting a ballot will be, for the most part, easier than ever before. Or at least that’s what officials have tried to achieve. A new touchscreen device will replace the old InkaVote system, which was essentially a paper ballot. The new technology includes the ability to display the ballot in 13 different languages — critical given the county’s diverse population — and adjust the text size and contrast. It also offers the option to use an audio headset and control pad for people who are visually impaired. Along with the new devices, L.A. County has switched from neighborhood polling places to vote centers, where any voter, regardless of his or her address, can cast a ballot. There will also be an 11-day window when people can vote, which begins Feb. 22 and ends on Election Day — and includes two weekends.

Georgia: Some issues reported on voting machines in election | Russ Bynum/Associated Press

Georgia has used a special state House election to work out some kinks with the state’s new voting machines. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger traveled to the southwest Georgia district, which includes parts of Colquitt, Decatur and Mitchell counties to observe as about 5,000 votes were tallied in Tuesday’s election. The Republican told news outlets that the state’s new ballot markers and counters performed well, saying voters experienced “just two minor issues.” But state Democrats and poll watchers said they observed more problems, including failures of ballot markers, ballot printers, scanners and a lack of voter privacy. The big test looming for the new equipment is the March 24 presidential primary. The $104 million system includes an electronic poll book to check voters in, a touchscreen computer to make selections, a printer that creates a paper ballot with a text summary of choices and a scanner that reads a code on each printout to tabulate the votes. The printed ballots are then stored inside each machine.

Illinois: State officials: Implemented solutions to cyber attacks will improve Illinois’ election security| Mike Kramer/Pekin Daily Times

The well-documented 2016 infiltration of Illinois’ Voter Registration System by Russian hackers demonstrated that election infrastructure in the United States has become a focal point for foreign cyber attacks. According to Tazewell County Clerk John Ackerman, Illinois election officials have responded to the intrusions by working to upgrade the state’s cyber defenses. The upgrades are designed to protect voters and their ballots leading up to this year’s general election. ″(Election security) isn’t an issue that’s being discussed endlessly with no solution in sight,” said Ackerman. “There is a solution that has been provided and will be implemented throughout the state of Illinois before the 2020 elections. Here in Tazewell County, the solution went online just last week and I believe neighboring counties are similarly online. Other parts of the state still aren’t, but the goal is they will be before the March primary.”

Iowa: Caucuses to Be Testing Ground for Efforts to Protect Voting From Hackers | Alexa Corse/Wall Street Journal

With Iowans kicking off voting in the 2020 presidential election season, the race is also on to protect the vote from cyberattacks and other intrusions. Precautions being taken to secure elections range from revamped electronic voting systems backed up by paper ballots to having cybersecurity experts on standby on voting days. Election officials from across the country gathering this weekend in Washington are discussing contingency planning and other safeguard measures for the 2020 voting season. Monday’s caucuses in Iowa and New Hampshire’s primary the following week present a test for the overhaul in voting security taken since 2016, when, U.S. intelligence agencies say, Russia deployed hackers and internet trolls to interfere in the presidential election. While those intelligence assessments say no votes were tampered with, the agencies warn that Russia, China, Iran and other foreign adversaries are seeking new ways to interfere. “We’re planning as if they’re coming back,” Chris Krebs, the top cybersecurity official at the Department of Homeland Security, said after meeting with election officials from across the country in Washington on Thursday. “It’s not just about Russia. It’s about anyone else that may want to get into this space.”

New York: ExpressVote XL May Be New York’s New Voting Machine. They Didn’t Work So Well in Pennsylvania. | Courtney Gross/Spectrum News

Head due west from New York City for about 70 miles and you’ll reach the seat of Northampton County, home to about 208,000 registered voters — voters who used this machine to cast their ballots for the first time last fall. It’s called the ExpressVote XL. As Lamont McClure, the county executive of Northampton County, explained, it didn’t go so well. “On some of the machines,” McClure said. “And remember this was a human error on ES&S’s part, they have taken full responsibility for that — they weren’t configured properly, so the screens were hyper-sensitive.” Thirty percent of the 320 machines here malfunctioned. “The box was down here in the right corner. So a lot of the Democrats, when they went to hit that box, down in the right corner, were right next to the Republican side. The Republican side was lighting up as a result,” said Amy Cozze, the chief registrar of Northampton County. The company that makes the machine, Election Systems and Software, or ES&S, called it human error. ES&S took responsibility. The machines, we’re told, are now fixed.

Ohio: Local counties meet deadline for security rules | Chris Stewart/Dayton Daily News

Area elections officials say they met a Friday deadline to comply with a 34-point security checklist mandated by Ohio’s secretary of state to defend against attacks on election infrastructure. “We’re not going to wash our hands and say we are done with cyber security,” said Jan Kelly, director of the Montgomery County Board of Elections. “This is ongoing. This is what it’s going to be in the future.” The checklist included high priority items that boards of elections hadn’t addressed from one issued in 2018. The new directive included testing systems for the latest vulnerabilities and adding security upgrades, putting elections personnel through background checks, and installing cyber-attack detection and tracking hardware. The changes provide a standard of election security others hope to emulate, said Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose. “There’s a reason other states are looking to Ohio,” he said. “We’ve challenged our counties to make significant and challenging improvements well before voters begin casting their ballots; setting up the security redundancies necessary to achieve a successful election.”

Pennsylvania: Sweeping changes to Pennsylvania election law could make early voting a norm | Deb Erdley/Tribune-Review

The heat is on — and it’s getting hotter for election officials across Pennsylvania as the April 28 presidential primary approaches. A new state election law that allows, among other things, no-excuse mail-in balloting 50 days before an election, coupled with the introduction of new voting machines in 22 counties, including Allegheny and Westmoreland, could prove the perfect storm this spring. In letters posted Friday, a coalition of civil rights and voting integrity groups voiced concerns that some Pennsylvania voters could be disenfranchised if county election officials don’t act quickly to comply with provisions of the new law.

West Virginia: State plans to make smartphone voting available to disabled people for 2020 election | Kevin Collier/NBC

West Virginia is moving to become the first state to allow people with disabilities to use technology that would allow them to vote with their smartphones in the 2020 election. Gov. Jim Justice, a Republican, plans to sign a bill by early next week that will require all counties to provide some form of online ballot-marking device to every voter with physical disabilities, according to West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner. Warner, the state’s chief election official, said that he would most likely provide counties with the smartphone app Voatz or a similar app, making the choice easy for cash-strapped counties. But cybersecurity experts have long railed against apps like Voatz, saying that any kind of online voting unnecessarily increases security risks. “Mobile voting systems completely run counter to the overwhelming consensus of every expert in the field,” said Matt Blaze, a computer scientist at Georgetown University and a seasoned election security researcher. “This is incredibly unwise.”

Philippines: Comelec to test 4 suppliers’ mobile app voting system | Philippine Star

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is seriously looking into activating a mobile app voting system in the May 2022 elections, with four suppliers ready to showcase their computer program’s capability. Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon, who is pushing for these new modes of casting votes in the national and local elections, over the weekend said it pays to see what new technologies in the market can offer. “Four suppliers of mobile app voting program/system offered to conduct a test run for the Comelec,” Guanzon posted on Twitter. She declined to provide other details on the proposed system, saying it is still premature, but assured the public of transparency when this mobile app enabling Filipinos to vote electronically is tested.

Iowa: Delayed Iowa Caucus Results Lead to Confusion | The New York Times

Troy Price, the chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party, said shortly after 1:00 a.m. Central time that he expected to have caucus results to report “later today” after party officials had manually tallied the data. On a brief conference call with reporters, Mr. Price stressed that the caucus results were being delayed because of problems reporting delegate totals from the more than 1,600 precincts, not because the system had been hacked. “This is taking longer than expected,” he said. “The system is in place to make sure we can report results with full confidence.” Several hours after the caucuses ended, the state party still has not publicly reported any results. Mr. Price did not take questions, and the call ended after he finished reading his statement.

Verified Voting Blog: Verified Voting Says Situation with Iowa Caucuses Reveals Risks Associated with Technology

View the statement here: Verified Voting Statement on Iowa Caucuses The following is a statement from Marian K. Schneider, president of Verified Voting following the delay of the results from the Iowa caucuses. For additional media inquiries, please contact “The situation with Iowa’s caucus reveals the risks associated with technology, in this case with a mobile app, but…

Verified Voting Blog: Verified Voting Says Situation with Iowa Caucuses Reveals Risks Associated with Technology

View the statement here: Verified Voting Statement on Iowa Caucuses The following is a statement from Marian K. Schneider, president of Verified Voting following the delay of the results from the Iowa caucuses. For additional media inquiries, please contact “The situation with Iowa’s caucus reveals the risks associated with technology, in this case with a mobile app, but…