Australia: Electoral Commission makes progress with 2018 modernisation project | Asha Barbaschow/ZDNet

The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) is heading a project to modernise its systems, having reached out to the market in 2018 for help on shaping the future of its IT backend. At the time, the AEC said the core software platforms in place had been in use for around 30 years, with its systems environment comprising of approximately 93 systems and supporting sub-systems. The commission has this week published a request for tender (RFT) for an enterprise architecture tool (EA tool), seeking help with the delivery of its modernisation project. The AEC normally operates out of 90 premises around Australia and has 780 staff. When an election is announced, that scales to more than 7,900 premises and approximately 90,000 staff. AEC offices are organised geographically, with a national office in Canberra, an office in each state, and divisional offices in or near each of the electoral divisions. The AEC currently has a small enterprise architecture practice team located within its Information and Communication Technology branch.

Russia: Moscow Said to Hire Kaspersky to Build Voting Blockchain With Bitfury Software | Anna Baydakova/CoinDesk

Voting and blockchain have been a controversial couple but Moscow appears determined to use the technology for a national referendum involving President Vladimir Putin. Russia will vote on changing its constitution, adopted in 1993, on July 1. The main issue to be decided is whether to allow Russia’s president to stay in power for more than the current limit of two consecutive six-year terms. Most of the nation will use traditional paper ballots, but residents of Moscow and the Nizhny Novgorod region will have the option of casting their votes electronically and, at least in the Muscovites’ case, having them recorded on a blockchain. According to an official page dedicated to electronic voting, Moscow’s Department of Information Technologies, which is working on the technical solution, plans to use Bitfury’s open-source enterprise blockchain, Exonum. “The blockchain technology is working in the Proof of Authority mode,” the page says in Russian. “A smart contract for the ballot ledger will be recording the votes in the system, and after the voting is complete it will decode them and publish them in the blockchain system.” The Department of Information Systems did not respond to CoinDesk’s request for comment by press time. Bitfury’s spokesperson declined to comment on the company’s involvement in the project.

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 swissinfo.ch 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.

National: Report details new cyber threats to elections from COVID-19 | Maggie Miller/The Hill

Election officials face a wide range of new cybersecurity threats stemming from voting changes spurred by the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report released Friday. The report, compiled by New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice, lays out threats such as attempts to target election officials working on unsecured networks at home, recovering from voter registration system outages and securing online ballot request systems. “Voters are already placing increased demands on online registration systems and mail ballot options,” the authors wrote in the report. “At the same time, the risk of cyberattacks from foreign state and nonstate actors alike remains.” Lawrence Norden, director of the Brennan Center’s Election Reform Program and a co-author of the report, told The Hill that election officials were already faced with cybersecurity threats, but they’re now also facing COVID-19 challenges. “Now that we are past the primaries in a lot of states, there is time to return our attention again to cybersecurity, and obviously the threat hasn’t gone away just because we are dealing with COVID-19 in the United States,” Norden said.

National: Amid Pandemic and Upheaval, New Cyber Risks to the Presidential Election | David E. Sanger, Nicole Perlroth and Matthew Rosenberg/The New York Times

With the general election less than 150 days away, there are rising concerns that the push for remote voting prompted by the pandemic could open new opportunities to hack the vote — for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, but also others hoping to disrupt, influence or profit from the election. President Trump has repeatedly said that mail-in ballots invite voter fraud and would benefit Democrats. It is a baseless claim: Mail-in voting has resulted in little fraud in the five states that have used it for years, and a recent study at Stanford University found that voting by mail did not advantage either party and might increase voter turnout for both parties. But there are different worries. The rush to accommodate remote voting is leading a small number of states to experiment with or expand online voting, an approach the Department of Homeland Security deemed “high risk” in a report last month. It has also put renewed focus on the assortment of online state voter registration systems, which were among the chief targets of Russian hackers in 2016. Their security is central to ensuring that, come November, voters actually receive their mail-in ballots or can gain access to online voting. While Russian hackers stopped short of manipulating voter data in 2016, American officials determined the effort was likely a dry run for future interference. To head off that threat, last summer the Department of Homeland Security hired the RAND Corporation to re-evaluate the nation’s election vulnerabilities, from poll booths to the voter registration systems. RAND’s findings only heightened the longstanding fears of government officials: State and local registration databases could be locked by hackers demanding ransomware or manipulated by outside actors.

Verified Voting Blog: Verified Voting Decries Efforts to Ramp Up Internet Voting; New Report from MIT and Univ. of Michigan Confirms Risks

The following is a statement from Marian K. Schneider, president of Verified Voting about the new report from MIT and the University of Michigan, “Security Analysis of the Democracy Live Online Voting System”. For additional media inquiries, please contact Aurora Matthews, aurora@newheightscommunications.com    June 8, 2020 – “Computer scientists agree that electronic transmission of voted…

National: GOP recruits army of poll watchers to fight voter fraud no one can prove exists | Jane C. Timm/NBC

Republicans are recruiting an estimated 50,000 volunteers to act as “poll watchers” in November, part of a multimillion-dollar effort to police who votes and how. That effort, coordinated by the Republican National Committee and President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign, includes a $20 million fund for legal battles as well as the GOP’s first national poll-patrol operation in nearly 40 years. While poll watching is an ordinary part of elections — both parties do it — voting rights advocates worry that such a moneyed, large-scale offensive by the Republicans will intimidate and target minority voters who tend to vote Democratic and chill turnout in a pivotal contest already upended by the coronavirus pandemic. Some states allow poll monitors to challenge a voter’s eligibility, requiring that person’s ballot undergo additional vetting to be counted. In Michigan, for example, a challenged voter will be removed from line and questioned about their citizenship, age, residency and date of voter registration if, according to election rules, a vote challenger has “good reason” to believe they are not eligible. They are required to take an oath attesting that their answers are true and are given a special ballot.

National: How to Protect Your Vote – a technical report on Democracy Live OmniBallot | Michael A. Specter and J. Alex Halderman/Internet Policy Research Initiative at MIT

See the full technical report on OmniBallot here

Today, MIT and University of Michigan researchers released a report on the security of OmniBallot, an Internet voting and ballot delivery system produced by Democracy Live. This system has been deployed in Delaware, West Virginia, and other jurisdictions. Our goal is to provide election officials and citizens the information they need to ensure that elections are conducted securely. Based on our findings, we have specific recommendations for both governments and individual voters.

National: Attempted hacks of Trump and Biden campaigns reveal a race to disrupt the 2020 general election | Joseph Marks/The Washington Post

It’s official: The race to hack the 2020 general election is in full swing. Iran tried to hack into Gmail accounts used by President Trump’s reelection campaign staff, the leader of Google’s threat-hunting team revealed in a tweet. China, meanwhile, tried to hack staff for former vice president Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Shane Huntley said. The hackers didn’t successfully breach those accounts. But these nation state-backed hacking campaigns are likely to be the just the beginning of a general election campaign that will be ripe for disruption by U.S. adversaries. “It’s no surprise the Chinese and Iranian governments are trying to compromise our 2020 presidential campaigns through cyberattacks. Their goal is simple: suck up information about our candidates’ campaigns and then create conflict and chaos in our election,” Matt Rhoades, who managed Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign and helped launch a bipartisan group aimed at preventing election hacking, told me. Officials with the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. intelligence have been warning for years that Russia and other nations will try to use hacking and disinformation to undermine the 2020 contest in a replay of operations from the last presidential race, which leaked reams of embarrassing information about Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in an effort to help Donald Trump.

National: George Floyd protests created surge in voter registrations, groups say | Brian Schwartz/CNBC

Voter registrations, volunteer activity and donations for groups linked to Democratic causes are surging in the midst of protests following the death of George Floyd, according to voting advocacy groups. This surge in registrations could end up being one of the factors that helps tip the election between apparent Democratic nominee Joe Biden and President Donald Trump. The efforts are by groups including Latino voter registration organizations, Rock the Vote and one co-chaired by former first lady Michelle Obama. Latino voter registration groups in recent weeks have noticed an uptick in their communities mobilization to vote, particularly from younger voters. The leaders of these organizations said that many are registering after nationwide outrage directed at police brutality and the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, which has left over 100,000 dead and tens of millions jobless in the United States. Unemployment rates for Hispanic and black workers remained high at 17.6% and 16.8%, respectively, even after the nation added 2.5 million jobs last month.

National: Turnout surges after states expand mail-in voting | Max Greenwood/The Hill

States that moved to rapidly expand mail-in balloting amid the coronavirus pandemic are seeing some of their highest levels of voter turnout in years, even as President Trump looks to clamp down on such efforts. In at least four of the eight states that held primaries on Tuesday, turnout surpassed 2016 levels, with most of the votes being cast via mail, according to an analysis of election returns by The Hill. Each of those states took steps earlier this year to send absentee ballot applications to all of their registered voters. In Iowa, for instance, total turnout reached 24 percent, up from about 15 percent in the state’s 2016 primaries and its highest ever turnout for a primary. But more strikingly, of the roughly 524,000 votes cast, some 411,000 of them came from absentee ballots – a nearly 1,000 percent increase over 2016 levels. The high turnout could encourage more states to take similar steps ahead of the November general elections. Trump has resisted such efforts, even threatening last month to hold up federal funding to Michigan and Nevada over state election officials’ decisions to send mail-in ballot applications to registered voters.