National: How Eric Coomer Became the ‘Perfect Villain’ for Voting Conspiracists | Susan Dominus/The New York Times

It was already late on Nov. 9 when Eric Coomer, then the director of product strategy and security for Dominion Voting Systems, left his temporary office on Daley Plaza in Chicago and headed back to the hotel where he’d been staying for the previous few weeks. Both the plaza and the hotel had the eerie post-apocalyptic feel of urban life during the pandemic, compounding the sense of disorientation and apprehension he felt as he made his way up to his room. Earlier that evening, a colleague sent him a link to a video of Coomer speaking at a conference with a menacing comment below it. “Hi Eric! We know what you did,” the commenter wrote. That link eventually led Coomer to a second video, which he watched in his hotel room. What he saw, he quickly realized, was something that was likely to wreck his life, hurt his employer and possibly erode trust in the electoral process. Over the past decade, Coomer, 51, has helped make Dominion one of the largest providers of voting machines and software in the United States. He was a gifted programmer, known to be serious about his work but informal about almost everything else — prone to profanities, with a sense of humor that could have blunt force. Coomer, who traveled around the world for competitive endurance bike races, would have blended in on the campus of Google, just one in a crowd of nonconformist tech types. In the more corporate business of elections, he stood out for the full-sleeve tattoos on his arms (one of Francis Bacon’s “Screaming Popes,” some Picasso bulls) and the half-inch holes in his ears where he once wore what are known as plugs.

Full Article: How Eric Coomer Became the ‘Perfect Villain’ for Voting Conspiracists – The New York Times

Editorial: Trump is not the problem with American democracy, we are | Tom Nichols/USA Today

I’ve written about a lot of unpleasant, even frightening, subjects. For most of my career, I have been a specialist in national security affairs, a cheerless area of study. I’ve written about war, terrorism, and even about the possibility of nuclear apocalypse, a project that required staring at maps and charts of how entire cities would be turned into ash and left for eternity as desolated mass graveyards. And yet nothing was more difficult than writing about democracy in my own country. In the past, I brought – I hope – a scholarly and dispassionate eye to unpleasant subjects. Now, I was anguished. I was no longer writing about notional future wars or the faraway Russians. Now I was writing about my own people: my fellow citizens, my friends, my neighbors, my family. And I did not like what I saw. The people I have always counted on to be patriotic, sensible, and steady – like our ancestors had been under far more trying circumstances than our own – were now sirens of drama and complaint. Everything, they said, is as bad as it’s ever been. These, they were sure, are the worst times ever. We are all victims. Someone must pay. This is not the America in which I was raised. Something was wrong, and I wanted to know why millions of the citizens of my own nation – some of them near and dear to me – were now, astonishingly, embracing illiberalism and authoritarianism.

Full Article: Trump is not the problem with American democracy, we are: Tom Nichols

Arizona elections officials rip audit ahead of Cyber Ninjas report | Jen Fifield Ryan Randazzo/Arizona Republic

Two agencies that oversee Arizona elections went on the offensive Thursday to debunk and discredit the soon-to-be released results of the Senate’s unconventional and partisan review of Maricopa County’s 2020 general election. Two reports released by Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer, a Republican, and Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, highlighted the erroneous and insecure nature of the audit conducted by Senate contractors. They also reiterated the ways that the county and state verified the election was sound. The bipartisan effort to discredit the results from lead contractor Cyber Ninjas before they are released was not coordinated, Richer said. But both were seemingly aimed at the same purpose — getting ahead of misinformation or inaccuracies that may be in the Cyber Ninjas report. The Senate contractors are expected to deliver a final report to the Senate soon, with a spokesperson indicating that it could be as soon as Monday. Their review wrapped up last month, after starting in April. Richer said he suspected he and the Secretary of State released their reports on the same day because “we both heard over the weekend that ninjas would deliver on Friday and then figured, ‘Well shit, better hurry up,'” he said in a text message. Senate President Karen Fann did not have immediate comment on the reports. Representatives for Cyber Ninjas did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Full Article: 2 Arizona elections officials rip audit ahead of Cyber Ninjas report

Arizona judge gives Senate 2 weeks to release records | Ryan Randazzo/Arizona Republic

A judge on Wednesday ordered the Arizona Senate to turn over thousands of outstanding documents related to the Maricopa County election review by Aug. 31, even as the legal battle over some records held by the private contractor running the effort lingers. The Senate’s attorney, Kory Langhofer, said the Senate is preparing about 10,000 documents, including emails about the audit, to release in an online reading room where records from the audit are posted. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Michael Kemp ordered their release in two weeks. A nonprofit group called American Oversight sued the Senate for records from the audit, as did The Arizona Republic. Both cases are ongoing. The Senate has said it will produce records that are in its possession, but not records held by its contractor, Cyber Ninjas. American Oversight was founded in part by former Obama administration officials to investigate the Trump administration. The group first requested, then sued for, a variety of records, including communications between the Senate and Cyber Ninjas.

Full Article: Arizona audit: County judge gives Senate 2 weeks to release records

California recall reality: Newsom could be replaced by candidate with far fewer votes | Maura Dolan/Los Angeles Times

For weeks, legal scholars have debated whether the recall election of Gov. Gavin Newsom could be found unconstitutional if Newsom failed to realize a “no recall” majority of the ballots cast and was ousted by a candidate who received fewer votes than he did. Although it’s impossible to predict how courts will rule, many experts say the current recall process has long survived legal challenges, and probably would again, even if a fringe candidate won on Sept. 14 and became governor with a minority of overall votes. That view is based on court decisions on election law, especially rulings stemming from the recall election of Gov. Gray Davis, when voters removed Davis in 2003 and replaced him with Arnold Schwarzenegger, a popular actor who went on to win reelection. In that case, more people voted for Schwarzenegger than Davis so the candidate with the most votes won. Even so, California’s recall scheme permits a candidate with fewer votes to prevail over an incumbent, as was demonstrated by the state’s last successful recall of an elected legislator. In 2018, voters recalled Sen. Josh Newman (D-Fullerton). On the recall question, 41.9% voted to retain Newman. On the second ballot question, in which voters are asked to select a successor, a Republican won with only 33.8% of the vote. An incumbent who faces a recall is not permitted to be named as a successor candidate on the second part of the ballot. “Maybe I should have been reinstated,” joked Newman, after reading a recent essay by legal scholars who helped spark the current debate by arguing that California’s recall law violated the federal Constitution.

Full Article: Newsom could be replaced by recall pol with fewer votes – Los Angeles Times

Georgia investigation of Fulton elections criticized by voting groups | Mark Niesse/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 

Voting rights groups called an inquiry of Fulton County’s elections a “hostile takeover” that threatens democracy, saying Monday that they will fight attempts by Georgia’s government to replace the county’s elections board. The groups united near the Capitol after the State Election Board last week appointed a performance review panel to investigate problems in Fulton, the state’s most populous county and one that backed Democrat Joe Biden over Republican Donald Trump with 73% of the vote. Fulton’s elections were fraught with problems last year, such as long linesundelivered absentee ballots and conspiracy theories, but voting organizations say the county is being scapegoated by Georgia’s Republican majority. “We’re taking action to make sure that democracy is protected and that our right to vote is protected,” said Helen Butler, executive director for the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda, a civil rights organization. “We do not intend for our local boards of elections to be taken over in this process.” The organizations criticized the appointment of three white men — two Republicans and a Democrat — to investigate problems in a county that’s 62% nonwhite.

Full Article: Georgia investigation of Fulton elections criticized by voting groups

Michigan Bill Would Protect Election Workers from Threats | Samuel J. Robinson/MLive.com

A bill introduced by a Democratic Michigan House member aims to protect election workers from threats and intimidation. House Bill 5282, introduced by state Rep. Kara Hope, D- Holt, would make it illegal for individuals to harass election workers, punishing those who threaten or prevent workers from performing their duties with a misdemeanor charge with up to 90 days in jail, a $500 fine, or both. Hope said a chaotic scene at Detroit’s TCF Center while election workers counted absentee ballots cast during the 2020 general election last November prompted her to craft the legislation. “Since the 2020 election, poll workers have been the targets of severe harassment and intimidation,” Hope said. “Republican and Democratic election officials alike are being terrorized by conspiracy theorists insisting that the election was stolen despite all evidence to the contrary. “It seems to me like that type of behavior — being disruptive, the bullying, the intimidation — is encouraged by a certain segment of the far-right. You saw it at the TCF Center, you see it now at school board meetings.” Hope said she sees some groups continue to encourage dangerous behavior over legitimate political activity, like organizing or voting.

Full Article: Michigan Bill Would Protect Election Workers from Threats

New Hampshire Ballot Law Commission endorses Windham election audit report, says discrepancy was due to ‘unique set of circumstances’ | John DiStaso/WMUR

The state Ballot Law Commission on Monday endorsed the findings of a team of experts that conducted a forensic audit of the results of the November 2020 state representatives’ election in Windham. The BLC, a panel established by statute to address election disputes and controversies, noted that the auditors found the 300-vote discrepancy between the Election Day totals and the recount totals was caused by improperly machine-folded ballots. The panel noted that the auditors found no evidence that the AccuVote counting machines used in Windham or elsewhere in the state “showed any indication of malfunctioning during the election.” “It is apparent from testimony and the audit report that the AccuVote machines in the town and statewide appear to operate properly, are capable of performing the task for which they have been certified, and there is no specific or widespread malfunctioning of the machines,” the commission wrote in a report. “The machines appear to be capable of continuing to perform properly. “The Commission finds that the discrepancies in Windham in November, 2020 were the result of a unique set of circumstances, not the result of malfunctioning of the ballot-counting devices, and are not likely to reoccur.” The BLC’s report – along with a separate report due by the Attorney General’s Office and Secretary of State William Gardner – were mandated by the state law passed early this year that created the audit process following wide discrepancies between the Election Day tally of the state representatives’ race and a hand recount.

Full Article: Ballot Law Commission endorses Windham election audit report, says discrepancy was due to ‘unique set of circumstances’

New Jersey: Ocean County Republicans and Democrats fight over voting machines | Erik Larsen/Asbury Park Press

Ocean County will spend $2.75 million on equipment needed to meet the requirements of the state’s new in-person early voting law that goes into effect for the first time in the general election this fall. Between Oct. 23 and Halloween night, the county’s voters will be able to choose among 10 polling places throughout Ocean County — regardless of what town they live in — to cast an early vote in this year’s elections for governor, Legislature, county commission, municipal office, as well as for their local and regional school boards. Of course, voters who value tradition over convenience can still cast their ballot on Election Day itself — which falls on Nov. 2 this year — at their regular local polling place on the county’s existing voting machines, just as they always did before the COVID-19 pandemic. The county Board of Commissioners unanimously authorized a spending ordinance for the new early voting machines at its Wednesday meeting — bonding $2.6 million of the amount — with the money to be reimbursed by the state of New Jersey at a future date. The choice of voting equipment to be purchased has been the subject of some controversy, with county Democrats and Republicans divided on the matter along partisan lines at the otherwise bipartisan Ocean County Board of Elections.

Full Article: Ocean County NJ Republicans and Democrats fight over voting machines

Ohio: Dominion dismissed from Stark County voting machine lawsuit | Jake Zuckerman/Ohio Capital Journal

A Stark County judge dismissed Dominion Voter Systems on Friday as party to a lawsuit filed by a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit seeking to reverse the county’s procurement of the company’s machines. The lawsuit, filed in May by Look Ahead America LLC, steers clear of any explicit allegation that Dominion voting machines were used to defraud the 2020 presidential election. However, Look Ahead founder Matt Braynard has been touring the county in recent months offering supporting testimony, to no avail, in various forums perpetuating a lie spread by President Donald Trump and his allies that the 2020 election was somehow rigged. Look Ahead accused the Stark County Board of Elections of violating open meetings laws as it considered its eventual recommendation that the County Commission (which was also dismissed from the lawsuit Friday) buy new machines from Dominion. In a ruling on a separate lawsuit in May, the Ohio Supreme Court ordered the county commission to heed the board of election’s recommendation. Look Ahead America’s lawsuit sought to block the county from purchasing the machines and stop Dominion from providing them.

Full Article: Dominion dismissed from Stark County voting machine lawsuit – Ohio Capital Journal

Pennsylvania hearings in election ‘investigation’ to begin, senator says | Marc Levy/Associated Press

The top Republican in Pennsylvania’s Senate said Monday that hearings will begin this week as he committed to carrying out a “full forensic investigation” of the state’s 2020 presidential election. Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, R-Centre, said he has communicated with former President Donald Trump, whose baseless claims about election fraud have propelled loyalists to pursue audits, reviews or other examinations of ballots and voting machines in battleground states where Democrat Joe Biden defeated him. “I think he’s comfortable with where we’re heading and so we’re going to continue that work,” Corman said on the conservative Wendy Bell Radio program streamed online Monday. Amid clashes over how to conduct it and how to pay for it, Corman on Friday removed the rank-and-file state senator who had been the figurehead in the push for an Arizona-style audit of Pennsylvania’s 2020 presidential election. Sen. Cris Dush, tapped to replace Sen. Doug Mastriano, will begin holding hearings this week, Corman said. Dush and Mastriano both traveled to Phoenix in June to see the audit there up close.

Full Article: Hearings in election ‘investigation’ to begin, senator says

Pennsylvania county sues over decertified voting system | Associated Press

A sparsely populated county in southern Pennsylvania is suing over last month’s decertification of its voting machines, and asking a statewide court to reverse the order by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s top elections official. In the suit filed Wednesday in Commonwealth Court, Fulton County said it had complied with the guidance in force at the time for the inspection of voting machines by third-party vendors. The lawsuit also said Acting Secretary of State Veronica Degraffenreid should have re-examined the machines before decertifying them and given Fulton County an administrative opportunity to appeal her July 20 decision before it took effect.

Full Article: Pennsylvania county sues over decertified voting system

Texas Fight Over Voting Rights Nears End as Democrats Return 7 J. David Goodman and David Montgomery/The New York Times

A 38-day walkout by Democrats in the Texas House of Representatives effectively ended on Thursday as three previously absent members arrived in the Capitol, clearing the way for Republicans to establish a quorum and pass restrictive voting rules. Despite efforts by Democrats to maintain a solid block even as most returned from Washington this month, the three representatives from Houston decided to return together, an apparent effort to deflect any criticism from their colleagues or liberal activists. The House adjourned until 4 p.m. Monday without any votes, but hearings were expected to take place over the weekend. The passage of sweeping voting restrictions — to undo last year’s expansion of ballot access during the coronavirus pandemic in places like Houston and empower partisan poll watchers — appeared quite likely in the coming days. “We took the fight for voting rights to Washington, D.C.,” the three Democratic legislators, Garnet Coleman, Ana Hernandez and Armando Walle, said in a joint statement, adding, “Now we continue the fight on the House floor.” The three arrived in the Capitol as a group, with Mr. Walle pushing Mr. Coleman, who has severe diabetes and underwent a lower leg amputation this spring, in a wheelchair. “It is time to move past these partisan legislative calls and to come together to help our state mitigate the effects of the current Covid-19 surge,” they said in their statement.

Full Article: Fight Over Voting Rights in Texas Nears End as Democrats Return – The New York Times

Wisconsin Assembly Speaker meets with Trump on election review two months after the former president trashed him | Patrick Marley/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said he spent Saturday briefing Donald Trump on his efforts to review Wisconsin’s presidential election — two months after the former president said Vos and other Republican leaders weren’t doing enough on that front. Vos, of Rochester, said he was invited to travel by private plane with Trump to his rally in Alabama. In a statement, Vos said he provided Trump with “details about our robust efforts in Wisconsin to restore full integrity and trust in elections.” The talk with Trump comes at a politically difficult time for Vos, who faces conflicting pressures over how to review an election that both election officials and courts have determined Joe Biden narrowly won. Just before Wisconsin’s annual Republican convention in June, Trump issued a statement accusing Vos and other GOP leaders of “working hard to cover up election corruption.” “Don’t fall for their lies! These REPUBLICAN ‘leaders’ need to step up and support the people who elected them by providing them a full forensic investigation. If they don’t, I have little doubt that they will be primaried and quickly run out of office,” Trump said in his statement. Vos responded by saying Trump was misinformed. He announced at the convention he had hired former state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman at taxpayer expense to oversee a review of the election.

Full Article: Robin Vos spends day with Trump talking Wisconsin election review

New Jersey county set to ignore advice on voting machines | Jeff Pillets/NJ Spotlight News

Against the best advice of its own technical and ballot security experts, Ocean County this week is expected to award a $2.6 million contract for new voting machines to Toronto-based Dominion Voting Systems. Public documents reviewed by New Jersey Spotlight News show that staff professionals working for the county Board of Elections raised a series of red flags during a public meeting of the board in late June, warning against the Dominion purchase. The experts, who had spent more than a year studying the purchase and evaluating competing brands of voting machines, said the Dominion models would be less secure, harder to use for most voters and more prone to mechanical breakdown. Staffers also said it would be harder to train poll workers on the Dominion system than on their major competitor’s machines. The June meeting ended with a 2-1 vote by election board members in favor of buying machines from Election Systems & Software, the Omaha-based company that has been favored by most New Jersey counties now retooling essential voting hardware.

Full Article: NJ county set to ignore advice on voting machines | NJ Spotlight News

Experts: False claims on voting machines obscure real flaws | Kate Brumback/Associated Press

The aftermath of the 2020 election put an intense spotlight on voting machines as supporters of former President Donald Trump claimed victory was stolen from him. While the theories were unproven — and many outlandish and blatantly false — election security experts say there are real concerns that need to be addressed. In Georgia, for example, election security expert J. Alex Halderman says he’s identified “multiple severe security flaws” in the state’s touchscreen voting machines, according to a sworn declaration in a court case. Halderman told The Associated Press in a phone interview that while he’s seen no evidence the vulnerabilities were exploited to change the outcome of the 2020 election, “there remain serious risks that policymakers and the public need to be aware of” that should be addressed immediately to protect future elections. Trump loyalists — pushing the slogan “Stop the Steal” — held rallies, posted on social media and filed lawsuits in key states, often with false claims about Dominion Voting Systems voting machines. Almost all of the legal challenges casting doubt on the outcome of the election have been dismissed or withdrawn and many claims of fraud debunked. State and federal election officials have said there’s no evidence of widespread fraud. And Dominion has fought back forcefully, filing defamation lawsuits against high-profile Trump allies. As an election security researcher, it’s been frustrating to watch the proliferation of misinformation, said Matt Blaze, a professor of computer science and law at Georgetown University. For years, he said, concerns raised by election security experts were dismissed as unimportant. “All of a sudden, people are going the other way, saying the existence of a flaw not only is something that should be fixed, it means the election was actually stolen,” he said. “That’s not true either.”

 

Full Article: Experts: False claims on voting machines obscure real flaws

Colorado Republican official accused after voting system passwords are leaked to right-wing site | Kim Bellware/The Washington Post

A bizarre security breach of a rural Colorado county’s voting system has in a matter of days escalated into a criminal probe of the clerk’s office, a ban on the county’s existing election equipment, and heightened partisan divides over election-fraud claims. Footage that showed passwords related to the county’s voting systems was surreptitiously recorded during a May security update and published last week on a far-right blog, Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold (D) said Thursday. Griswold determined Mesa County cannot use its existing equipment for its November election. Griswold alleged Mesa County Clerk Tina M. Peters (R) allowed the breach. A spokesperson for Mesa County confirmed a criminal probe headed by the 21st Judicial District Attorney’s Office was underway but said it was still in the early stages. During a Thursday news conference, Griswold said Peters falsely passed off a man as a county employee and misled her office about his background check status. Days before the breach, she said Peters directed her staff to turn off the video surveillance of the voting machines, which she said has remained off until just recently.

Full Article: Colorado official Tina M. Peters accused after voting system passwords leaked to GatewayPundit – The Washington Post

‘We are in harm’s way’: Election officials fear for their personal safety amid torrent of false claims about voting | Tom Hamburger, Rosalind S. Helderman and Amy Gardner/The Washington Post

In preparation for a vote on local tax assessments last week in Houghton County, Mich., county clerk Jennifer Kelly took extraordinary precautions, asking election staff in this remote northern Michigan community to record the serial numbers of voting machines, document the unbroken seals on tabulators and note in writing that no one had tampered with the equipment. In the southeastern part of the state, Michael Siegrist, clerk of Canton Township, followed similar steps, even organizing public seminars to explain how ballots are counted. Despite their efforts, they said they could not fend off an ongoing torrent of false claims and suspicions about voting procedures that have ballooned since President Donald Trump began his relentless attacks on the integrity of the 2020 election last year. “People still complained about our Dominion voting machines, about the need for more audits, and most of all they complained about the use of Sharpies,” Siegrist said, referring to the widely used pen, which has become the focus of a conspiracy theory gripping Trump supporters in Arizona and other states.

Full Article: ‘We are in harm’s way’: Election officials fear for their personal safety amid torrent of false claims about voting – The Washington Post

National: Election officials face complex challenges looking to 2022 | Christina A. Cassidy/Associated Press

State election officials say they are confronting a myriad of challenges heading into the 2022 midterm elections, from threats of foreign interference and ransomware to changes of election laws and concerns of physical safety — all while still dealing with a wave of misinformation and disinformation surrounding last year’s presidential election. The nation’s secretaries of state have been meeting with the goal of building relationships across states, sharing best practices and hearing from experts. The long list of challenges, outlined in various panel discussions over their association’s four-day conference, might seem daunting but election officials said preparations have already begun. “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,” said Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, a Republican. “For us to be able to get together and talk with one another, compare notes, even commiserate on a human level a little bit about some of the drama over the last year and a half is a good experience. It’s a useful thing, and we learn a lot from each other.” Heading into the 2020 presidential election, the focus for election officials was shoring up cybersecurity around the nation’s voting systems after Russia four years earlier had probed for vulnerabilities and, in a small number of cases, breached voter registration systems. Then the pandemic happened, and state election officials had to scramble to ensure they could handle an onslaught of mail ballots from voters wary of crowded polling places while also dealing with shortages of poll workers and other staff triggered by the coronavirus.

Full Article: Election officials face complex challenges looking to 2022

National: New intel reports indicate fresh efforts by Russia to interfere in 2022 election | Katie Bo Williams, Natasha Bertrand and Alex Marquardt/CNN

The Biden administration is receiving regular intelligence reports indicating Russian efforts to interfere in US elections are evolving and ongoing, current and former officials say, and in fact, never stopped, despite President Joe Biden’s warnings to Russian President Vladimir Putin over the summer and a new round of sanctions imposed in the spring. Biden made deliberate mention of Russia’s operations two weeks ago when he revealed in public remarks to the intelligence community that that he had received fresh intelligence about “what Russia’s doing already about the 2022 election and misinformation” in his daily intelligence briefing that day. “It’s a pure violation of our sovereignty,” Biden said at the time. One of the people familiar with the matter confirmed that there have been recent intelligence reports about what the Russians are up to, particularly their efforts to sow disinformation on social media and weaponize US media outlets for propaganda purposes. There are some indications that Moscow is now attempting to capitalize on the debate raging inside the US over vaccines and masking, other sources told CNN.

Full Article: New intel reports indicate fresh efforts by Russia to interfere in 2022 election – CNNPolitics

National: Senate Democrats unveil bill to protect election officials, prevent election subversion | Celine Castronuovo/The Hill

A group of Democratic lawmakers led by Senate Rules Committee Chairwoman Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) unveiled legislation Thursday aiming to combat efforts to undermine election results and install new protections for election workers, who have received a rise in violent threats since the 2020 election. The bill, titled the Protecting Election Administration from Interference Act, would extend existing prohibitions on threats to election officials to include individuals involved in ballot-counting, canvassing and certifying election results. The legislation also calls for strengthened protections for federal election records and election systems to “stop election officials or others from endangering the preservation and security of cast ballots,” and allowing the Justice Department to bring lawsuits to enforce compliance with election records requirements.

Full Article: Senate Democrats unveil bill to protect election officials, prevent election subversion | TheHill

National: It’s still practically impossible to secure your computer (or voting machine) against attackers who have 30 minutes of access | Andrew Appel/Freedom to Tinker

It has been understood for decades that it’s practically impossible to secure your computer (or computer-based device such as a voting machine) from attackers who have physical access. The basic principle is that someone with physical access doesn’t have to log in using the password, they can just unscrew your hard drive (or SSD, or other memory) and read the data, or overwrite it with modified data, modified application software, or modified operating system. This is an example of an “Evil Maid” attack, in the sense that if you leave your laptop alone in your hotel room while you’re out, the cleaning staff could, in principle, borrow your laptop for half an hour and perform such attacks. Other “Evil Maid” attacks may not require unscrewing anything, just plug into the USB port, for example. … More than twenty years ago, computer companies started implementing protections against these attacks. Full-disk encryption means that the data on the disk isn’t readable without the encryption key. (But that key must be present somewhere in your computer, so that it can access the data!) Trusted platform modules (TPM) encapsulate the encryption key, so attackers (even Evil Maids) can’t get the key. So in principle, the attacker can’t “hack” the computer by installing unauthorized software on the disk. (TPMs can serve other functions as well, such as “attestation of the boot process,” but here I’m focusing on their use in protecting whole-disk encryption keys.) So it’s worth asking, “how well do these protections work?” If you’re running a sophisticated company and you hire a well-informed and competent CIO to implement best practices, can you equip all your employees with laptops that resist evil-maid attacks? And the answer is: It’s still really hard to secure your computers against determined attackers.

Full Article: It’s still practically impossible to secure your computer (or voting machine) against attackers who have 30 minutes of access

Editorial: Trump is planning a much more respectable coup next time | Richard L. Hasen/Slate

 

Full Article: Trump is planning a much more respectable coup next time.

Editorial: It is time for Congress to act again to protect the right to vote | Merrick B. Garland/The Washington Post

Our society is shaped not only by the rights it declares but also by its willingness to protect and enforce those rights. Nowhere is this clearer than in the area of voting rights. Fifty-six years ago Friday, the Voting Rights Act became law. At the signing ceremony, President Lyndon B. Johnson rightly called it “one of the most monumental laws in the entire history of American freedom.” Prior attempts to protect voting rights informed his assessment. The 15th Amendment promised that no American citizen would be denied the right to vote on account of race. Yet for nearly a century following the amendment’s ratification, the right to vote remained illusory for far too many. The Civil Rights Act of 1957 marked Congress’s first major civil rights legislation since Reconstruction. That law authorized the attorney general to sue to enjoin racially discriminatory denials of the right to vote. Although the Justice Department immediately put the law to use, it quickly learned that bringing case-by-case challenges was no match for systematic voter suppression. Things would not have changed without the civil rights movement’s persistent call to action. By the time a 25-year-old John Lewis was beaten on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., the Justice Department had been embroiled in voting rights litigation against the surrounding county for four years. Although the county had approximately 15,000 Black citizens of voting age, the number of Black registered voters had only risen from 156 to 383 during those years.

Full Article: Opinion | Merrick Garland: It is time for Congress to act again to protect the right to vote – The Washington Post

Arizona: Cyber Ninjas leader ignored records contradicting his false claim | Jeremy Duda and Garrett Archer/Arizona Mirror

Speaking before several thousand supporters at a “Rally to Protect Our Elections” in downtown Phoenix, former President Donald Trump recited a litany of alleged findings from the Arizona Senate’s self-styled election audit, including a debunked claim that 74,000 mail-in ballots were counted despite no record of them being sent to voters. “There’s no record of them being sent, but they were counted. So, nobody knows where the hell are they?” Trump told the crowd at Arizona Federal Theatre on July 24. The former president didn’t realize it, but Trump personally found a voter who had cast one of those ballots. Later in his speech, he asked each of the Republican gubernatorial candidates who had spoken earlier in the day to stand up and be recognized. Among those candidates was state Treasurer Kimberly Yee, who was one of the 74,000 voters. She was, in fact, very real, and had cast a perfectly legal ballot. According to Maricopa County’s files, Yee cast her ballot in-person at an early voting center on Oct. 28. Trump’s claim stemmed from a statement made by Doug Logan, the leader of the election review team, that 74,243 mail-in ballots were counted that had “no clear record of them being sent.” Right-wing pundits and supporters of the so-called audit, including those funding it, seized on the number and dubbed those people “phantom voters” who stole the election from Trump.

 

Source: Cyber Ninjas leader ignored records contradicting his false claim

Colorado: Decertified election equipment could prove costly to Mesa County | Charles Ashby/Grand Junction Sentinel

Mesa County isn’t just on the hook for replacing all of its expensive election equipment, but also for up to $170,000 in money the Clerk’s Office received in COVID-19 aid, according to the Secretary of State’s Office. In the wake of Thursday’s announcement from Secretary of State Jena Griswold to decertify the county’s election equipment because of a security breach that Griswold said Clerk Tina Peters had aided, the county may have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to replace that equipment. Some of the money from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Stability Act, known as the CARES Act, approved by Congress and signed by then-President Donald Trump in March 2020 went to purchasing some of the now-decertified election equipment. And some of that equipment is brand new. A year ago this month, the Mesa County Board of Commissioners approved three grant applications that Peters and her Elections Division had applied for: $70,000 for six electronic ballot marking tablets from Dominion Voting Systems and ballot drop boxes, $69,996 for 22 additional Dominion voting tablets, and $10,000 for a new drop box and security equipment in Palisade. All of that equipment came from CARES Act funding, and all of the requests came from Peters, who now is publicly challenging whether Dominion voting equipment is reliable. Because that equipment was paid for through grants provided by Griswold’s office, some of it may have to be paid back to the state, and the county will have to use its own money to replace them.

 

Full Article: Decertified election equipment could prove costly to county | Western Colorado | gjsentinel.com

Georgia; Cybersecurity concerns raised over ballot marking devices | Doug Richards/11alive

A new court brief is sounding an alarm from cybersecurity experts about Georgia’s voting system. It suggests that cities like Atlanta use hand-marked paper ballots in elections this fall instead of the Dominion voting machines purchased by the state in 2019. This critique is separate and distinct from the unsubstantiated complaints that claimed election fraud in November. The concerns posed by cybersecurity experts say Georgia is asking for trouble by continuing to use the state’s voting machines. “I’m one of the cybersecurity professionals that think the more computers we have in the (election) system, the more vulnerable it is,” said Dr. Rich DeMillo, the founder of Georgia Tech’s new College of Cybersecurity. DeMillo says the state’s voting system can be hacked through networks or by infecting a machine or a printer in a voting booth. Another computer hacking expert, J. Alex Halderman, wrote a court brief detailing how he experimentally hacked a few of Georgia’s voting machines with the blessing of a federal judge. The court sealed the report to avoid tipping off real hackers how to do it. “My report demonstrates that Georgia’s (ballot marking devices) can be manipulated so that both the barcodes and the printed (ballot) text indicate the same fraudulent selections. No audit or recount can catch such fraud because all records of the voter’s intent would be wrong,” Halderman explained in a brief referencing the report.

 

Full Article: Cybersecurity concerns raised over Georgia voting system | 11alive.com

Georgia: Good Luck to the Judge Who Sealed a Ballot Machine Vulnerability Report | Dell Cameron/Gizmodo

Facing a quintessential damned-if-I-do-damned-if-I-don’t scenario, a federal judge in Georgia has sealed a 25,000-word report said to outline vulnerabilities in the state’s ballot-marking machines. The decision was seemingly made out of fear that the contents would add fuel to rampant conspiracy theories surrounding the 2020 election; a topic which is not even broached by its author. The Daily Beast, reporting the judge’s decision early Friday, said the report by J. Alex Halderman, a computer science professor at the University of Michigan, outlines specific vulnerabilities that, to quote the professor, “allow attackers to change votes despite the state’s purported defenses.” In a signed declaration, Halderman said he’d discovered “multiple severe security flaws” that could be exploited using malware, either with temporary physical access to the machine or by injecting it remotely via election management systems. Halderman writes: “I explain in detail how such malware, once installed, could alter voters’ votes while subverting all the procedural protections practiced by the State, including accepted testing, hash validation, logic and accuracy testing, external firmware validation, and risk-limiting audits (RLAs). Finally, I describe working proof-of-concept malware that I am prepared to demonstrate in court.”

Full Article: Judge Seals Ballot Machine Vulnerability Report in Georgia, Uh Oh

Idaho Governor’s new Cybersecurity Task Force targets election integrity and security | Tristan Lewis|KTVB

After previously indicating that cybersecurity is one of his top priorities at the State of the State address, Idaho Governor Brad Little is making some action. On Thursday, Little announced the formation of a new task force to advance cybersecurity initiatives in Idaho. “We’ll need increased resources, partnerships and active collaboration between a broad range of organizations to successfully protect from ever-growing cybersecurity threats, and I’m confident my Cybersecurity Task Force is up to the task,” Gov. Little said in a press release. Improvements to business, government and personal cybersecurity defense are just some of the goals for the 19-person task force. They will figure out cybersecurity assets, resources, and public-private partnerships across Idaho. Among boosting cybersecurity altogether around the Gem State, election integrity and security are at the top of the list for the team. “I’m also asking the task force to find new ways to protect Idaho’s election infrastructure because fair and free elections are a hallmark of Idaho’s proud representative democracy and the expectation of every Idahoan,” Little said.

 

Full Article: Idaho Gov. Little’s new Cybersecurity Task Force targets election integrity and security | ktvb.com

Maryland Elections Board, Blind Advocates Reach Agreement on Efforts to Improve Ballot Privacy for Voters with Disabilities | Danielle E. Gaines/Maryland Matters

The Maryland State Board of Elections has settled a longstanding dispute over ballot-marking devices that disability advocates say forced them to cast a segregated ballot. The terms of the settlement were publicly announced Tuesday by the National Federation of the Blind, which filed a lawsuit over ballot privacy in August 2019. At issue are the state’s ballot-marking devices, which allow voters who are blind or have other disabilities to use headphones, magnification, touchscreens and other features to independently cast ballots. But the machines also produce a ballot printout that’s a different size and shape than the paper ballots cast by a vast majority of Maryland voters. In recent elections, many precincts in the state saw only one single ballot cast using a marking device – making the voter’s identity and candidate choices entirely obvious and violating the right to a private ballot, advocates argued.

Full Article: Maryland Elections Board, Blind Advocates Reach Agreement on Efforts to Improve Ballot Privacy for Voters with Disabilities – Maryland Matters