National: Minuscule number of potentially fraudulent ballots in states with universal mail voting undercuts Trump claims about election risks | Elise Viebeck/The Washington Post

As nearly every state expands its capacity for absentee voting this year, President Trump and his GOP allies have attacked the process as prone to rampant fraud. But a Washington Post analysis of data collected by three vote-by-mail states with help from the nonprofit Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) found that officials identified just 372 possible cases of double voting or voting on behalf of deceased people out of about 14.6 million votes cast by mail in the 2016 and 2018 general elections, or 0.0025 percent. The figure reflects cases referred to law enforcement agencies in five elections held in Colorado, Oregon and Washington, where all voters proactively receive ballots in the mail for every election. The minuscule rate of potentially fraudulent ballots in those states adds support to assertions by election officials nationwide that with the right safeguards, mail voting is a secure method for conducting elections this year amid the threat of the novel coronavirus — undercutting the president’s claims. Until now, the polarized debate about ballot fraud has largely featured individual anecdotes from around the country of attempts to vote illegally. The voting figures from the three states examined by The Post provide a robust data set to measure the prevalence of possible fraud.

National: Online Voting System Used in Florida and Elsewhere Has Severe Security Flaws, Researchers Find | Kim Zetter/OneZero

New research shows that an internet voting system being used in multiple states this year is vulnerable to hacking, and could allow attackers to alter votes without detection. On Sunday, researchers published a report that details how votes in OmniBallot, a system made by Seattle-based Democracy Live, could be manipulated by malware on the voter’s computer, insiders working for Democracy Live, or external hackers. OmniBallot is currently used in Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Ohio, Oregon, Washington, and West Virginia. Though online voting has typically been used by overseas military and civilian voters, it could expand to more voters in the future due to the pandemic. The researchers found that bad actors could gain access to ballots by compromising Democracy Live’s network or any of the third-party services and infrastructure that the system relies on, including Amazon, Google, and Cloudflare. “At worst, attackers could change election outcomes without detection, and even if there was no attack, officials would have no way to prove that the results were accurate,” the researchers, Michael Specter at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and J. Alex Halderman of the University of Michigan, write. “No available technology can adequately mitigate these risks, so we urge jurisdictions not to deploy OmniBallot’s online voting features.”

National: Study finds vulnerabilities in online voting tool used by several states | Maggie Miller/The Hill

Researchers with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of Michigan found multiple security vulnerabilities in an online voting tool being used by at least three states. The study evaluated Democracy Live’s OmniBallot, a program that Delaware, New Jersey and West Virginia are using to allow military personnel and voters with disabilities to cast ballots amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The company also has a contract with the Defense Department to provide ballots to military personnel overseas. According to the paper published Sunday, the system opens up the voting process to a range of vulnerabilities that could lead to election interference. “We conclude that using OmniBallot for electronic ballot return represents a severe risk to election security and could allow attackers to alter election results without detection,” the researchers wrote.

National: Hackers Are Already Screwing With the 2020 Election | Eric Lutz/Vanity Fair

Donald Trump has spent months promulgating bad-faith attacks on remote voting, masking his fears that high turnout could favor his Democratic opponent with unfounded claims that it would result in widespread fraud. “WE CAN NEVER LET THIS TRAGEDY BEFALL OUR NATION,” he tweeted of mail-in voting last month. But while the president’s attacks on proposals to ensure votes can be safely cast amid the coronavirus pandemic may be obvious lies, some remote voting measures have raised legitimate concerns about the risk of foreign interference. With COVID-19 almost certain to remain an enormous public health issue through election day in November, several states—including ones led by Republicans—have sought to expand access to mail-in voting. A handful are going even further, experimenting with or ramping up online voting. According to the New York Times, the latter is potentially vulnerable to hacking, with researchers warning that online voting could present opportunities for foreign manipulation. “Online voting raises such severe risks that, even in a time of unrest and pandemic, these jurisdictions are taking a major risk of undermining the legitimacy of their election results,” University of Michigan computer science professor J. Alex Halderman told the Times.

National: DARPA wants hackers to try to crack its new generation of super-secure hardware | Joseph Marks/The Washington Post

The Pentagon’s top research agency thinks it has developed a new generation of technology that will make voting machines, medical databases and other critical digital systems far more secure against hackers. Now, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which helped invent GPS and the Internet, is launching a contest for ethical hackers to try to break into that technology before it goes public. DARPA is offering the hackers cash prizes for any flaws they find using a program called a “bug bounty.” The new technology is based on re-engineering hardware, such as computer chips and circuits, so that the typical methods hackers use to undermine the software that runs on them become impossible. That’s far different from the standard approach to cybersecurity, in which tech companies release a never-ending stream of software patches every time bad guys discover a new bug.

National: COVID-19 Adds to US Election Security Challenges: Report | Ishita Chigilli Palli/GovInfo Security

The global COVID-19 pandemic has created a new series of cybersecurity challenges for election officials across the U.S., including concerns about the security of mail-in ballots and whether attackers will target vulnerable networks for those local election workers still working remotely, according to a new report. The Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan law and public policy institute connected to New York University Law School, released a report on Friday urging Congress to provide states with the required resources to ensure more secure election process. “Effective digital resiliency plans can ensure that operations continue and eligible citizens are able to exercise their right to vote even in the face of cyberattacks or technical malfunctions,” according to the report.

National: Chinese and Iranian APT Groups Targeted US Presidential Campaigns | Kelly Sheridan/Dark Reading

Google’s Threat Analysis Group (TAG) recently saw a China-linked cyberattack group targeting Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign staff, and an Iran-linked attack group targeting Donald Trump’s campaign staff. Both incidents involved phishing; neither one indicated a compromise. TAG director Shane Huntley posted a tweet about the findings late last week. Both campaigns were notified of the attempts and informed federal law enforcement, he wrote. This isn’t the first time that attackers have attempted to infiltrate the Trump campaign: Last year, Microsoft found a group seemingly linked to the Iranian government targeted Trump’s 2020 reelection efforts. Because this year’s elections are only a few months away, this discovery isn’t surprising. If the Trump and Biden campaigns represent the major political parties on November 3, there will be more intelligence value placed on their communications, says Charles Ragland, security engineer at Digital Shadows.

National: As states explore online voting, new report warns of ‘severe risk’ | Susan Miller/GCN

As states look for alternatives to in-person voting in the event the coronavirus flares again in the fall, researchers at MIT released a report on the security of OmniBallot, an internet voting and ballot delivery system that been used by the military and overseas and disabled voters in approximately 600 jurisdictions. The platform was developed by Democracy Live, a company providing cloud-based voting technologies, that describes its OmniBallot Online product as an electronic, fully accessible ballot solution for vote-by-mail and absentee voters as well as for those covered by the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act. Qualified voters can use the service to print their ballots, fill them out and mail them or deliver them in person. An online ballot marking version is used by disabled voters who use it to electronically select candidates, print the completed ballot and then mail it in or deliver it. This year, however, three states are allowing some voters to use the web application to return their ballots online, MIT researchers said.

National: Rights Groups Say Age-Based Laws on Absentee Voting Are Unconstitutional | Travis Bubenik/Courthouse News

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to prompt concerns about the safety of in-person voting, a coalition of voting rights groups argues in a new report that Texas, South Carolina and multiple other U.S. states are violating the U.S. Constitution by only letting older citizens vote by mail. In the report released Thursday, the Voting Rights Project at the University of California Los Angeles, the National Vote at Home Institute and other groups claim that placing age restrictions on absentee voting violates the 26th Amendment, which guarantees Americans the right to vote at the age of 18. “These laws use age to create two classes of voters – one with easier access to the ballot box than the other – and work to abridge the voting rights of younger voters,” the groups behind the report said in a statement. The coalition is pushing for “immediate litigation” against states with age restrictions on absentee voting.

National: U.S. states see major challenge in delivering record mail ballots in November | Jason Lange/Reuters

With a health crisis expected to drive a surge in mail voting in November, U.S. election officials face a major challenge: Ensure tens of millions of ballots can reach voters in time to be cast, and are returned in time to be counted. Recent presidential nomination contests and other elections held in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic – a warm-up for the Nov. 3 general election if COVID-19 remains a threat – showed some states have been overwhelmed by the sudden rush to vote by mail. Nearly half of U.S. states allow voters to request absentee ballots less than a week before their elections. Even under normal circumstances, that often is too little lead time to guarantee voters will receive their ballots and have sufficient time to return them, election experts and state officials say. In Ohio, for example, whose nearly all-mail election on April 28 was marred by ballot delivery delays, Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose has asked state lawmakers to change the deadline for voters to request a mail ballot to one week before an election, up from three days currently. “It is not logistically possible” for all voters asking for ballots at the last minute to get them in time to return them by mail, LaRose told Reuters. “That relies on a lot of luck.”

Georgia: Absentee voting embraced equally by voters of both parties | Mark NiesseGreg Bluestein/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

No matter their political party, Georgia voters quickly adapted to voting by mail in a primary election hindered by the coronavirus pandemic. Over 1.2 million people have already voted — about three-quarters of them on absentee ballots — according to state elections data after early voting ended Friday. Voters were closely split between Democrats and Republicans heading into election day on Tuesday.Georgians embraced voting from home, avoiding human contact at polling places. A record 943,000 voters had returned their absentee ballots through Sunday, a 2,500% increase compared with absentee-by-mail voting in the 2016 presidential primary.But the coronavirus brought problems to both in-person and absentee voting. Voters waited in line for hours Friday because of social distancing requirements, and voters were also slowed by a long ballot of candidates for president, Congress, the courts and other offices. In Fulton County, some voters reported they never received their absentee ballots after requesting them weeks beforehand. The secretary of state’s office opened an investigation into Fulton, and the voting rights group Fair Fight Action said it might go to court to ensure votes are counted.

Iowa: County auditor, local political and advocacy groups express concern over Senate bill that curbs absentee ballot, emergency powers – News | Robbie Sequeira/The Ames Tribune

The campaign by Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate to encourage voters to shift to absentee voting in response to the COVID-19 pandemic paid off during last week’s elections when the state set a record for primary turnout. Statewide, turnout was 24% for the June 2 voting. In Story County, it was 22%, also a record, with a total of 13,936 ballots cast. But it’s unclear whether the widespread mail-in balloting will be repeated in November. A state Senate bill authored and advanced by majority Republicans would prevent the secretary of state from repeating his pre-primary mailing of absentee ballot requests to every registered voter in the state. Instead, his office would only be permitted to mail ballot request forms to people who ask for them in writing. The bill also would limit the emergency powers of local election officials during the pandemic. including restricting the power of county auditors to reduce polling location by more than 35 percent during an emergency situation.

Maryland: Some of Baltimore ballots left to be counted could be time-consuming as workers create forms to scan | Emily Opilo/Baltimore Sun

Of the approximately 12,000 ballots left to be counted as of 10 a.m. Monday, about 5,000 were ballots sent to voters by email, according to Armstead Jones, director of Baltimore’s Board of Elections. That means the votes must be manually copied onto ballots that can run through ballot scanners. The work of duplication is tedious. Elections staffers work in teams, the first person calling out the votes on the original ballot as a second person fills in bubbles on a fresh copy. The teams then swap roles, with the second person reading aloud from the new ballot, while the first person checks the original responses. Days ago, staff started using the same process to correct a ballot error that affected voters in City Council District 1. While ballots cast by those voters were the right size for the scanner, they were missing a line of type. That caused the information to be out of alignment with what the scanner was reading. Employees manually copied the information from the problem ballots to new ones to create ballots the scanner would read correctly. Last week, that process took a pair of workers 2½ minutes per ballot. About 15 teams started the process Monday of recreating the emailed ballots, Jones told the Baltimore Board of Elections members during a special meeting.

Nevada: Officials see better-than-expected turnout ahead of Nevada’s first mail-in primary election | James DeHaven/Reno Gazette Journal

After months of partisan mudslinging, and no shortage of lawsuits, Nevada’s first vote-by-mail primary will go ahead as planned on Tuesday — the last day voters can send in or drop off ballots with county elections officials. Almost 343,000 Silver State residents, around 21 percent of the state’s active voters, have already mailed in their picks for dozens of federal, state and local offices. Early turnout has been slightly higher in Washoe County, where more than 64,000 residents either mailed in a ballot or turned up at one of the “extremely limited” in-person polling places state officials have kept open during the coronavirus outbreak. County Registrar of Voters Deanna Spikula doesn’t expect those numbers to change much after polls close on Tuesday, but said she was pleasantly surprised to see interest in the election exceed the 20 percent turnout normally seen in primaries.

North Dakota: Voter participation could hit all-time high among statewide June elections | David Olson/Grand Forks Herald

The Tuesday, June 9 election in North Dakota could historically rank among the top June elections when it comes to voter participation, county and state election officials said Monday. Tuesday’s vote — which is being conducted solely with mail-in ballots — is a primary election for state races and a general election when it comes to things like city and school board races. As of Monday afternoon, about 37,000 ballots had been mailed to Cass County voters and, of those, about 23,000 had been completed and returned to Cass County election officials. That put the voting on pace to surpass the 23,950 ballots cast during a June election in 2006, which stands as a high-water mark for June elections, according to DeAnn Buckhouse, election coordinator for Cass County. It is the first time Cass County has used mail-only voting. To be eligible for counting, Buckhouse said completed ballots returned by mail must be postmarked no later than June 8.

Editorials: Pennsylvania’s Mail-In Primary Pains | Wall Street Journal

Pennsylvania last year passed legislation to allow mail-in voting, and the June 2 primaries were the first test of this new system. Nearly a week later, voters still don’t know the victors for some races, and don’t be surprised if some candidates challenge the results in court. Behold the messiness of mail-in voting—and brace for November. The vote-by-mail law passed before the coronavirus hit, but the pandemic prompted many to ditch the ballot box for the mailbox. Pennsylvania saw some 1.8 million applications for absentee and mail-in ballots, up from some 108,000 in 2016. In some counties, mail-in ballots must be opened by hand before they can be counted. That meant some delays were inevitable, even if Election Day went as planned. It did not. Protests broke out across Pennsylvania in the days leading up to the primary. In Pittsburgh police cruisers were set on fire over the weekend, and in Philadelphia police arrested more than 250 people on June 1 and the morning of June 2. Citing the unrest, Gov. Tom Wolf issued an executive order extending the mail-in deadline.

Texas: Voters will decide for themselves if they need mail-in ballots for July runoffs | Taylor Goldenstein/Houston Chronicle

As Democrats and civil rights groups sue to expand mail-in voting during the pandemic, a recent decision by the Texas Supreme Court has left it up to voters to decide for themselves whether they qualify for vote-by-mail. In its decision in late May, the highest civil court in the state ruled that lack of immunity to COVID-19 alone does not constitute a disability that would allow those under 65 years old to vote by mail rather than at the polls, under the Texas election codes. But it added — which legal experts say is crucial — that a voter can take the possibility of being infected into consideration along with his or her “health” and “health history” to determine whether he or she needs to vote by mail under the ‘disability’ provisions in the law. “I think really the story here is that it’s going to be up to individual voters to decide whether they fit this definition or not,” said Joseph Fishkin, a University of Texas professor who studies election law and has closely followed the cases. So while the court battle continues with Democrats on one side, and on the other side Republican state leaders who argue that an expansion of mail-in voting would encourage more voter fraud, it will be up to elections officials across the state to set the tone for mail-in voting.

Wisconsin: After Milwaukee had just 5 voting sites in April election, officials recruiting more poll workers so it won’t happen in November | Alison Dirr/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Milwaukee election officials hope to be able to open all 180 polling sites in November’s presidential election — if conditions with the coronavirus pandemic allow. A second surge in coronavirus cases and a level of public fear that drives people away from working the polls — as happened in the April 7 election — would seriously hamper that effort, outgoing Milwaukee Election Commission Executive Director Neil Albrecht told members of the Common Council on Monday. Unlike the April 7 election, when the city was losing election workers by the day, Albrecht said, the city has more time ahead of the November election to recruit people to work the polls. He’s optimistic that will put the city in a better position. “The contingency plan is we may need to consolidate sites again, but … certainly nothing close to five” election centers, which the city experienced in April, he said. Those five centers, down from its usual 180 voting sites, forced residents to stand in line for hours in the midst of the pandemic to cast their ballots.

Switzerland: Swiss Post set to relaunch its e-voting system, purchases Scytl | Sonia Fenazzi/SwissInfo

The controversial issue of e-voting is back: Swiss Post, which had halted the development of a project in July 2019, has bought a Spanish-owned system and plans to propose a platform ready for testing by 2021. The purchase was reported on May 17 by the SonntagsBlick newspaper, who wrote that the deal between Swiss Post and Spanish firm Scytl had been settled for an unspecified amount. The deal follows the bankruptcy of the Spanish company, with whom Swiss Post had been working on a system until flaws discovered last year sparked a political debate, which ended in the government dropping e-voting plans for the time being. Swiss Post spokesperson Oliver Flüeler confirmed to that last summer, despite the opposition, his company decided to continue developing a system on its own, and “after several months of negotiations” it secured the rights to the source code from Scytl. The aim is now to propose an e-vote system by 2021 that “takes into account various federal particularities” and “responds even better to the high and specific requirements of a Swiss electronic voting system”, Flüeler said.