Editorials: The U.S. still hasn’t done nearly enough to stop election interference | The Washington Post

It is obvious to all but the willfully ignorant that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election. What is less obvious is what this country is going to do about it. So far, the signs have pointed to: not nearly enough. A report from scholars at Stanford University offers one road map — and shows how the nation remains shockingly near the beginning of the road. The Stanford report includes 45 recommendations for protecting the U.S. democratic process. Some three years after Vladimir Putin’s government planted trolls and bots on social media sites to propagandize for Donald Trump, hacked into the emails of officials on Hillary Clinton’s campaign and probed election infrastructure for vulnerabilities, the president’s team has not pursued a single one of them. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) continues to block even the consideration of stand-alone legislation that would bolster election security.

Editorials: Mueller and the Russian threat | James W. Pardew/The Hill

Special Counsel Robert Mueller warned Americans about the critical threat of Russian attacks on U.S. democracy in his recent valedictory press conference. Mueller’s statement is the latest alert on the urgent requirement for a comprehensive and tough national security strategy to deter and respond to future assaults on the U.S. Constitution by foreign entities. Part One of Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election describes a brazen, wide-ranging attack by the Putin regime on the U.S. democratic system of government. Mueller found that Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. national election was sweeping and systematic. In part one, the report identified two major areas for Russian interference. The first was an aggressive social media campaign that favored presidential candidate Donald Trump and disparaged presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Mueller states that Russian operatives on social media controlled multiple Facebook groups and Instagram accounts that had hundreds of thousands of U.S. participants. Russian Twitter accounts separately had tens of thousands of followers, all favoring one candidate or sowing discord within American society.

Editorials: Knowing It’s Right: Limiting the Risk of Certifying Elections | Tammy Patrick/Democracy Fund

Every election we ask ourselves, what motivates voters to participate? Could it be the love of a charismatic candidate? The dislike of a less-than-desirable one? Passion for a specific ballot initiative? Do voters show up to the polls out of habit? The answer is as varied as the voting population, as is the reason voters do not participate. Research shows that while voters’ confidence in their own vote being counted accurately remains relatively constant, their belief that results at the national level are correct is in decline. As we work through reestablishing trust in our elections following Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s 22-month long investigation, the threat of interference in our elections by another nation-state remains. The American public wants to believe that when they vote it means something—we are teaching elections officials about a new way to audit our elections and check for the accuracy every voter deserves. As with most election administration processes, implementation success lies in preparation—and Risk Limiting Audits (RLAs), which some proponents often refer to as the “cheap and easy” method to check the accuracy of the results, are no exception.

Editorials: The Mueller Report Sounded the Alarm on Election Attacks. Will Congress Act? | The New York Times

Members of Congress have several major decisions to make after the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Whether to pursue an impeachment inquiry is the one that’s gotten the most attention — and reasonable people can disagree about that. But Mr. Mueller’s findings leave no room for debate about the need to address the legal and institutional deficiencies that allowed a foreign adversary to tamper with America’s democracy. From cyberattacks on state voter systems to disinformation campaigns waged on social media to the hacking of materials belonging to a major political party, Mr. Mueller made plain that the country’s electoral infrastructure remains vulnerable to attack. If the problems are left unaddressed, nothing will stop Russia or other actors from once again undermining free and fair elections in the United States — and they seem to be gearing up to try to do just that.

Editorials: Russia hacked us: We made it far too easy — and still do | Jeremy Epstein/The Hill

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recently made it official: when it comes to the security of America’s elections, we have seen the enemy… and it is us. Governor DeSantis forthrightly acknowledged that, according to the FBI, two Florida counties’ election systems were infected by malware in the 2016 elections. Reportedly, that malware was furtively installed on at least two county employees’ computers via a run-of-the-mill email “spearphishing” campaign. The malware installed then compromised county databases when those county employees used their computers to access their employers’ computer networks, allowing hackers to access vote and voter data stored elsewhere on those same networks. Fortunately, it appears that the malicious code was used “merely” to infect databases separate from voting machines themselves and other internal ballot-tallying systems.

Editorials: There’s Bipartisan Support for Election Security. Mitch McConnell Won’t Let It Happen. | Lawrence Norden/Slate

Robert Mueller’s first public comments about the Russia investigation Wednesday had everyone from Fox News to the New York Times reporting that House Democrats would now feel increased pressure to begin an impeachment inquiry against the president. No doubt, the question of whether Donald Trump obstructed justice and should be subject to impeachment is of critical importance to Congress and the nation. But Robert Mueller also began and ended his comments with another issue that he said “deserves the attention of every American.” Namely, that a foreign government made multiple, systematic attempts to interfere in our elections. Congress is not doing enough to prevent it from happening again, despite ongoing attempts to sound the alarm by cybersecurity experts, intelligence agencies, and Robert Mueller himself. By the next presidential election, the Russians will have had four years to leverage the knowledge they gained in 2016. That could mean even more harm the next time around. That harm will no doubt include more disinformation on social media and potential attacks on our election infrastructure. And there is every reason to believe other nation-states will now get in on the game.

Editorials: What if 2020 election is disputed? | Edward Foley/The Hill

Speaker Nancy Pelosi was correct when she recently said that the best way to avoid a disputed election is for the result to be a blowout. But that is a hope, and we need a plan. If the midterm elections are any indication, the number of states with razor thin majorities is increasing. With partisan distrust on the rise, the result could be a constitutional standoff, a loss of democratic legitimacy for the outcome, and even violence stemming from anger. We need to agree in advance on procedures for resolving electoral disputes that determine the winner of the presidential election next year.

Editorials: Don’t nickel & dime Pennsylvania’s democracy | David Hickton/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

The front lines of today’s cyberwarfare battles are not just at Fort Meade. They are in Allegheny County’s Elections Division. And in Erie County. And Butler County. And Indiana County. And all across Pennsylvania. Our elections — and the integrity of your vote — are under threat from nation-state adversaries. As of today, Pennsylvania is not prepared to defend against what will almost certainly be unprecedented attacks in the next presidential election cycle. But there is still time to secure the 2020 election. The General Assembly, however, needs to help counties secure this most critical of battlegrounds. The Blue Ribbon Commission on Pennsylvania’s Election Security spent much of the past year studying current and future cyber-based threats to Pennsylvania’s elections. What we found was sobering. In the 2016 and 2018 elections, more than 80 percent of Pennsylvania voters were registered to vote in precincts that did not use paper-based voting systems, meaning that most of Pennsylvania’s counties would be unable to even detect the hack of a voting system, let alone recover from it.

Editorials: ImageCast Evolution voting machine: Mitigations, misleadings, and misunderstandings | Andrew Appel/Freedom to Tinker

Two months ago I wrote that the New York State Board of Elections was going to request a reexamination of the Dominion ImageCast Evolution voting machine, in light of a design flaw that I had previously described. The Dominion ICE is an optical-scan voting machine. Most voters are expected to feed in a hand-marked optical scan ballot; but the ICE also has an integrated ballot-marking device for use by those voters who wish to mark their ballot by machine. The problem is, if the ICE’s software were hacked, the hacked software could make the machine print additional (fraudulent votes) onto hand-marked paper ballots. This would defeat the purpose of voter-verifiable paper ballots, which are meant to serve as a safeguard against buggy or fraudulent software. The Board of Elections commissioned an additional report from SLI Compliance, which had done the first certification of this machine back in April 2018. SLI’s new report dated March 14, 2019 is quite naive: they ran tests on the machine and “at no point was the machine observed making unauthorized additions to the ballots.” Well indeed, if you test a machine that hasn’t (yet) been hacked, it won’t misbehave. (SLI’s report is pages 7-9 of the combined document.)

Editorials: Everyone has a stake in a secure federal elections in 2020 | Ben Hovland/The Kansas City Star

The 2018 midterm election cycle was one of the most closely scrutinized in recent memory. Election officials across the country took potential threats seriously and, in the run-up to Election Day, doubled down on efforts to secure election systems and educate voters to ensure confidence in the process as a whole. Their hard work paid off. There were no cybersecurity compromises of election infrastructure, and data from the U.S. Census Bureau indicates the 2018 midterms saw the highest voter turnout in four decades, including here in Missouri, where more than 58% of voters cast a ballot. This is an example of the nation’s election system working as it should: with high public interest and civic engagement, and election officials focused on election security, accessibility and accuracy. We can learn many lessons from both the 2016 and 2018 federal elections, but chief among them is that our election system has integrity. And we all have a role in ensuring it remains secure.

Editorials: Russia’s attacks on our democratic systems call for diverse countermeasures | Bruce Schneier/The Hill

What do attacks on the integrity of our voting systems, the census and the judiciary all have in common? They’re all intended to reduce our faith in systems necessary for our democracy to function, and they’re also targets of Russian propaganda efforts. To understand how these efforts can effectively undermine a democracy, it helps to think of a government as an information system. In this conceptualization, there are two types of knowledge that governments use to function. The first is what we call common political knowledge, which consists of the political information we all agree on. This includes things such as how the government works, how leaders are elected, and the laws that the courts uphold. This is contrasted with contested political knowledge, which are the things we disagree on: what the correct level of taxation should be, in what ways government should get involved in social issues, and so on. Both are essential in a democracy, because we draw upon our disagreements to solve problems. Different political groups work to advance their own agendas, and the inevitable compromises between those groups advance laws and policies. Uncertainty over who will be in power in the long term incents everyone to keep the whole system running. But for any of this to work, we need the shared knowledge of the rules by which society operates. We all have to agree on the rules for elections, the authority of regulatory agencies, and even what the dominant political parties are and what they stand for. When what previously has been common political knowledge becomes contested political knowledge, democracy itself is in jeopardy.

Editorials: Minnesotans last to agree on election security | The News Leaders

Minnesota usually shows up near the top, if not No. 1, in rankings of the states. But on the urgent issue of election security, Minnesota is dead last. Despite pledges of bipartisanship for this legislative session, Democrats and Republicans are deadlocked over how to spend a potential $6 million to improve election security. Minnesota is the only state that has yet to touch its share of the $380 million federal appropriations. Senators and representatives should agree to a plan from Secretary of State Steve Simon to use the money to upgrade the state’s 15-year-old voter system. “Election security shouldn’t be a partisan issue or a bargaining chip,” Gov. Tim Walz said. “It’s time we join every other state in the nation and protect our elections.” The Democrat-controlled house passed Simon’s plan while the Republican-led Senate only wants to spend $1.5 million. Both houses have appointed members to a conference committee to resolve the issue.

Editorials: Securing Electoral Infrastructure: How Alert is India’s Election Chowkidaar | Varsha Rao/MediaNama

With the publication of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s much-awaited report on Russian interference in the United States Presidential Elections of 2016, the threat of hacking and misinformation campaigns to influence elections is taking centre-stage yet again. Closer to home, the discussion has become more pertinent than ever before. In a democratic process of gigantic proportions, 900 million Indians across 543 constituencies are expected to cast their vote in 7 phases to elect a Government for the next five years. The gravity and significance of the ongoing General Elections to the Lok Sabha thus begs the question – how susceptible is the world’s largest democracy to cyber interference? Interfering in an election in the digital age involves a two-pronged attack – firstly, by influencing the political inclination of the electorate via misinformation campaigns on social media platforms, and secondly, by manipulating the electoral infrastructure itself. This article will focus on the latter, more specifically, the infrastructure and processes administered by the Election Commission of India. Unfettered access to voter registration databases arms malicious actors with the ability to alter or delete the information of registered voters, thereby impacting who casts a vote on polling day. Voter information can be deleted from the electoral rolls to accomplish en-masse voter suppression and disenfranchisement along communal and religious lines in an already polarized voting environment. The connectivity of voter databases to various networks for real-time inputs and updates make them highly susceptible to cyberattacks.

Editorials: Foreign operatives are trying to divide America. Let’s not do their work for them. | The Washington Post

“Kirkpatrick for Congress,” read the top of the page in a big, bold, red-and-blue font. “Donate,” read a similarly styled button at its bottom. But the website, which appeared ahead of the 2014 midterms, was not designed to support Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick of Arizona. It was manufactured by the National Republican Congressional Committee to oppose her. The Federal Election Commission voted last week not to act on the five-year-old discovery that the NRCC had created more than 30 websites that looked at first blush like the pages of Democratic candidates but were really stuffed full of information attacking them. The pages, which led at least one unsuspecting American to donate mistakenly to the NRCC, appeared during the 2014 midterms — but the scandal feels distressingly current. Disinformation has become a defining factor in U.S. elections, though the field of play has evolved beyond just sleazy websites to include hack-and-leaks, troll farms, bots and doctored media. To counter the tide, national party organizations must act against deceptive tactics, not participate in them.

Editorials: The Trump Campaign Conspired With the Russians. Mueller Proved It. | Jed Handelsman Shugerman/The New York Times

In his first letter after receiving the Mueller report, Attorney General William Barr accurately quoted it as saying that “the investigation did not establish” that the Trump campaign “conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” But the opposite is also true: The Mueller report does establish that, in fact, members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities. How is this possible? It’s the difference between the report’s criminal prosecution standard of proof “beyond a reasonable doubt” and a lower standard — the preponderance standard of “more likely than not” — relevant for counterintelligence and general parlance about facts, and closer to the proper standard for impeachment. There is confusion about the Mueller report’s fact-finding because he used the wrong coordination standard, obstruction probably obscured the evidence of crimes, and the summary was unclear about evidentiary standards. The report’s very high standard for legal conclusions for criminal charges was explicitly proof “beyond a reasonable doubt.” So the report did not establish crimes beyond a reasonable doubt. But it did show a preponderance of conspiracy and coordination. The Mueller report is best understood as two reports, and not just in its organization of one volume on Russia and one on obstruction. Each volume is one report on facts, and another on applying criminal law to those facts. When the report explains its prosecution decisions and interprets the legal questions of conspiracy and coordination, it repeatedly clarifies that its standard is “whether admissible evidence would probably be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction.”

Editorials: The 2020 Election Is Going to Make 2016 Look Like a Student Council Election | Matt Lewis/Daily Beast

It’s time we face facts about 2020. It will be so dirty, brimming with disinformation, and packed with hackers that it’ll make 2016 look like a student council election. On Sunday, Rudy Giuliani went on CNN’s State of the Union and declared, “There’s nothing wrong with taking information from Russians.” “You’re assuming that the giving of information is a campaign contribution,” Rudy averred to CNN’s Jake Tapper. “Read the report carefully. The report says we can’t conclude that because the law is pretty much against that. People get information from this person, that person.” Talk about defining deviancy down. Of course, Rudy’s interpretation is open to debate. My read of the Mueller report suggests that opposition research may constitute a “thing of value,” which is tantamount to a contribution. The question, though, is whether anyone on Trump’s team “knowingly and willfully” violated the law. Intent is hard to prove. But let’s assume that Rudy is correct about the legality (he’s a lawyer—I’m not). As the president’s personal attorney, his words have weight. And taking Rudy at his word, why wouldn’t a 2020 campaign be willing to avail itself of information from Russia, Turkey, or China? And why wouldn’t Russia, Turkey, or China oblige?

Editorials: Whether our elections were hacked or not, New Jersey needs new voting machines, politician says | Brendan W. Gill/nj.com

As the election year of 2020 approaches, it is clear that technology has changed the world we live in. The overwhelming majority of the changes have been beneficial, but we must always remember that as time and technology progress, we must adapt accordingly. In the days, months, and years following our most recent presidential election, all of us have been bombarded with allegations and news coverage about the possibility that our elections were manipulated. I am compelled to express, emphatically, that protecting the accuracy and veracity of our election results is the most important issue that we need to address to protect our democracy. To that end, I wholeheartedly support Essex County purchasing voting machines that will employ the use of optical scanners and hand-written ballots. My decision to support the purchase and implementation of these voting machines is not driven by the results of the previous presidential election, or any election. There have been many occasions in which an entire segment of a given electorate has been disappointed with the outcome at the polls. However, we can all agree that the integrity of our voting process must be protected.

Editorials: It’s up to Congress to prevent Russian interference from happening again | The Washington Post

Whether President Trump obstructed justice is a crucial question, the answer to which special counsel Robert S. Mueller III implied but did not state clearly. What is crystal clear in his 448-page report is a conclusion that Mr. Trump, charged with making the highest-level national security decisions, has routinely denied: “The Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion.” One reaction from Congress must be to weigh the evidence of obstruction. The other must be to ensure that Russia — and any other hostile actor — does not succeed in interfering again. Mr. Mueller, confirming the long-standing conclusions of the U.S. intelligence community, found that the Kremlin ran a social media campaign that evolved from a program “to provoke and amplify political and social discord in the United States” and “to sow discord in the U.S. political system through what it termed ‘information warfare’” into one “that favored presidential candidate Donald J. Trump and disparaged presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.” Meanwhile, Russian military intelligence hacked the Democratic National Committee’s servers and the Clinton campaign, then released damaging material at strategic times. It remains outrageous that Mr. Trump, having benefited from the Kremlin’s meddling, continually plays down Russia’s election-year activities — and, indeed, has pursued a closer relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin — even while the leaders he picked to run the U.S. intelligence community repeat that Russia is culpable and likely to try again.

Editorials: Russia’s next election hack | Alan Berger/The Boston Globe

It is hardly surprising that coverage of the Mueller report centers on the domestic political effects of the special counsel’s findings. But we Americans would be making a serious mistake if we overlook the international repercussions of a Kremlin influence operation that historians may recognize as Vladimir Putin’s American putsch. It may be that Putin’s troll farms did not need the polling data that Trump backers provided. The hackers employed by Russia’s military intelligence service might have had their own means of determining how to target Bernie Sanders supporters who could be persuaded to stay home or vote for Jill Stein; black voters who could be reminded about Hillary Clinton’s allusions to “super predators”;’ or industrial workers in Michigan, Wisconsin, and western Pennsylvania who voted twice for Barack Obama but were persuaded to vote for Donald Trump to protect their jobs from an imaginary tidal wave of immigrants. However much these operational details might bedevil investigators and the American public, the crucial lesson for autocrats and spy chiefs around the world is that a cheap hacking operation by Putin’s hired temps could shape the political destiny of the most powerful country in the world. And if Trump could be elevated to the White House by Putin’s spooks, maybe he could be replaced by a candidate who would be even more convenient — for Russia and for select friends of the Kremlin.

Editorials: I counted votes. Here’s what I learned | Joel Carmek/Jerusalem Post

After years of active interest in politics – particularly the mechanics of political systems in Israel and other countries – I decided to see for myself what an election looks like from behind the scenes. Instead of campaigning for my preferred party (with which I’m constantly disappointed), I applied to the Central Elections Committee to become a mazkir va’adat kalpi, the secretary of a local election committee, the person who hands you your envelope. It’s actually more complex than it sounds. Trusted with the oversight of the entire election process for one polling station, the secretary ensures that everything is set up correctly, that the voting is carried out according to the rules, and that votes are properly counted and reported to the regional committee as soon as possible. It was an exhausting, but exhilarating experience. Here are some of my main takeaways. 1. There were many opportunities to cheat the system. Although the careful selection process is designed to weed out people who applied for the job in order to take advantage of their position, and while rules are in place to guarantee the integrity of the elections, the system is still far from watertight. There were several opportunities for me, or others, to stuff the ballot box with hundreds of ptakim (voting slips) of our own choice, and the system still relies heavily on trust. For example, even setting aside a scenario whereby one of the people involved in the counting process had bribed everyone else in the room (there were five of us) to turn a blind eye to misconduct, I could easily have changed the results on the vote tally on my way to the regional headquarters where I reported my station’s results.

Editorials: Cybersecurity doesn’t stop at the federal level — our states need help | John DeSimone/The Hill

This week, Congress reintroduced the State Cyber Resiliency Act, which encourages state and local governments to strengthen their defenses against cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities. The bill, originally introduced in 2017, would create and authorize the Department of Homeland Security to run a grant program for states to develop, revise or implement cyber resiliency measures — including efforts to detect, protect, respond to, and recover from cyber threats. This legislation is good news for local government leaders, businesses and civilians who have been victims of ransomware and other forms of cyberattacks targeted at major cities. Local governments are an attractive target for malicious actors, including the massive cyberattack on the city of Atlanta last year and the recent ransomware attack in Albany, NY. As attacks increase in frequency and sophistication, increased funding at the local level is needed for cyber training and enhancing recruitment and retention efforts, ultimately helping ensure public safety. Just because a cyberattack is focused on one city — or even smaller, one sector of infrastructure within a city — does not mean the consequences are minor. In the example of the SamSam ransomware attack in Atlanta, the more than week-long event caused major disruption in five of the city’s 13 local government departments and ultimately cost the city $17 million. Impacting citizens, the system shutdown crippled the court system, limited vital communications involving critical infrastructure requests and forced the Atlanta Police Department to file paper reports. Empowering officials at the state and local level to easily detect and deter such preventable breaches like ransomware could save millions of dollars in damages. 

Editorials: More secure voting with a paper trail on its way to Pennsylvania | Jonathan M. Marks/Bucks County Courier Times

Pennsylvania voters can expect some important improvements at their polling place in the next year. More secure voting systems that produce a paper record are on the way. The paper record allows voters to verify their choices before casting the ballot. The systems also will make it easier for people with disabilities to vote without assistance and for officials to conduct better post-election audits. At least 25 percent of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties have already selected new voting systems that meet Pennsylvania’s enhanced standards for security, accessibility and auditing. Other counties are in various stages of deciding which certified system will best serve the needs of their voters. Susquehanna County led the way and installed new voting machines in time for last November’s election. Pennsylvania’s most populous county — Philadelphia — selected their new system recently with plans to implement it in time for this November’s election. We know we have little choice but to modernize our election infrastructure. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Senate and House intelligence committees are urging states to upgrade their voting systems. There is nearly universal agreement among national security and election experts that all voters should be casting their ballots on new paper-based systems. Most other states have already made the vital switch to paper ballots.

Editorials: A storm of misinformation is coming. The Canadian federal election could be at risk | Eric Jardine/The Globe and Mail

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland made headlines recently when she proclaimed that foreign interference in Canada’s coming federal election was “very likely,” and that there had “probably already been efforts by malign foreign actors to disrupt our democracy.” Ms. Freeland is not wrong, nor is she being alarmist. If Canada’s election avoids the meddling and campaigns of disinformation experienced by the United States in the 2016 presidential election and Britain during the Brexit campaign, it will be because we have a small population and are of marginal power in comparison to the United States and Britain – not because we are special or somehow immune. Indeed, to think that there is something unique about Canada or Canadians that would make us more resilient to disruptive foreign influence operations would be a grave mistake. Canadians are just as prone as our U.S. and British friends to being swayed by malicious interference and the poisoning of our democratic processes by disinformation. The lessons of other Western countries loom large. While perhaps narrowly correct to say that Russia preferred Donald Trump to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, the real objectives of these operations are often not as clear-cut as trying to elect a particular person or secure a specific referendum outcome.

Editorials: Good, bad and ambiguous in Georgia’s new voting system | Wenke Lee/Atlanta Journal Constitution

Although I’m pleased the Georgia General Assembly acted quickly this session to address flaws in our current voting equipment, I remain concerned that, overall, our state has chosen the less-secure, more-cumbersome, costly option and that too many details — essential for election security and voter confidence — are still undefined. First, let’s review what’s right about HB 316 and what Georgia gained. It requires: pre-certification election audits to validate initial outcomes; “voting in absolute secrecy;” that voting equipment produce a paper record in a format readable by humans, and that equipment will “mark correctly and accurately.” I’m also pleased that voter education is part of this bill, in the albeit very modest stipulation that poll workers post signs reminding voters to read, review, and verify paper printouts before casting their final votes. What’s bad about HB 316 is what it could have accomplished but did not: human-readable, hand-marked paper ballots — by far the most cost-effective and cybersecure method of voting. Instead, it establishes a system where electronic ballot markers (EBMs) are used to generate a paper receipt of voter selections — rather than a hand, holding a pen to paper. Overwhelmingly, citizens, computer scientists, cybersecurity experts, and nonpartisan groups recommended and requested hand-marked paper ballots in Georgia over any other method. I am baffled as to why state lawmakers repeatedly ignored such an overwhelming cry.

Editorials: Georgia’s voting system must be secure, accessible, auditable | David Becker and Michelle Bishop/Atlanta Journal Constitution

Russia attacked our election infrastructure and spread disinformation in the 2016 election, and continues to interfere in our elections. While there remains zero evidence that any votes in any election have been changed, Russia achieved its goal of dividing this country and reducing Americans’ confidence in their democracy. Russia’s efforts are likely to continue through 2020, and it is critical now more than ever that we come together to secure our democratic systems, upgrade outdated voting technology, and improve auditing ballots post-election, to ensure that every eligible American is able to cast their ballots accurately and with confidence. There is a consensus among the intelligence community and cybersecurity experts that human-readable paper ballots, which can be audited by comparing them to the official tally of votes, are necessary to secure our elections. As a result, states such as Georgia are responding — moving toward paper-based voting systems for 2020 and planning for more robust audits to ensure the count is accurate, regardless of foreign interference.There are basically two types of voting systems that accommodate paper ballots. The most common are hand-marked ballots, where the voter fills in a bubble or connects an arrow. These ballots are then fed into a scanner that is programmed to read those handmade marks as votes in particular races, and those votes are tabulated to determine the winner. These systems have some advantages – they are considered cheaper by some (at first, though the costs of printing ballots adds up over time, and the cost benefits, if any, shrink), and voters are familiar with them.

Editorials: Canada’s federal election could be under attack. Are we prepared? | Wesley Wark/The Globe and Mail

Canadians have witnessed a steady drumbeat of stern warnings about likely foreign interference in the coming federal election. The Minister for Democratic Institutions, Karina Gould, sounded the latest alarm in a news conference Monday, in which she delivered the latest report on election threats authored by the government’s cybersecurity agency, the Communications Security Establishment (CSE), which laid out the potential for a sophisticated, co-ordinated and determined effort by foreign state actors to maliciously interfere in the upcoming election. “Nothing is more important to this government than protecting our democracy and ensuring that our next election is fair, free and secure,” Ms. Gould said. Her concern around the Canadian federal election is based on the rising tempo of foreign interference in elections globally, and of technological change that has made cyber meddling easier and cheaper. CSE argues that for foreign adversaries, the potential benefits of cyber electoral interference – which can range from sowing confusion and loss of faith in politics, to trying to steer an election – far outweigh the costs. The threat was basically non-existent in the 2015 federal election, and the true scale of the threat to the 2019 election and our ability to meet it remain to be seen. But there have been some positive developments around our readiness. There’s more public attention than ever on the issue, and intelligence capabilities to detect and assess threats have been increased substantially. A system to alert the public has been created, based on an intelligence fusion centre and a senior panel of government officials who can independently ring the alarm bells.

Editorials: New Pennsylvania voting security measures could disenfranchise voters with disabilities | Imani Barbarin and Gabe Labella/Philadelphia Inquirer

Imagine getting up early on election day having done your homework on the issues, educated yourself on candidates’ positions, and chosen whom to vote for, only to find poll workers who do not know how to turn on, set up, or assist you in using the voting machine. That is exactly the type of story we at Disability Rights Pennsylvania heard, along with a host of others, during the last presidential election in 2016 when we ran a hotline for disabled voters. During the 2016 election, less than 20 percent of polling places were accessible to people with disabilities. Some voting systems rarely had instructions included, others lacked tactile buttons for people with low vision, and for some systems, the voters could not verify that the ballot reflected their choices. For these reasons, voter turnout for people with disabilities remains under 50 percent. According to the American Association of People With Disabilities, 16 million of the eligible 35 million voters with disabilities cast a ballot in the 2016 election. With election security on the minds of legislators, there is fear that changes to polling technology will only further disenfranchise citizens with disabilities in the coming election. Pennsylvania Bills S.B. 411-419 have been introduced in the House and Senate to update and reform the election system. This comes as counties and the disabled across the state test new voting systems that create a paper trail through different formats.

Editorials: Fixing US Elections Is Easier—and Harder—Than You’d Think | Max Eddy/PCMag

When I flew out to San Francisco for the RSA Convention (RSAC) in early March, I planned to attend all the election security talks I could fit into my schedule. It’s an obvious choice. While the 2018 midterms concluded without much controversy, we’re still fighting over the 2016 presidential election, and we’re halfway to the next one. That’s in addition to the US system of casting and counting votes being, at best, a barely functional shambles. I expected the usual doom-and-gloom about election security, with researchers bemoaning the sorry state of voting machines in the US. I was even looking forward to it, because you have to be a little masochistic to be in this industry. There was a bit of the usual misery, but I wasn’t prepared for a double whammy of optimism and despair. I left convinced that we’ve actually sorted out the most pressing of the technological problems with voting. What has us stumped is the other stuff. And that’s a lot of stuff.

Editorials: Texas Bill promises better election security. Let’s be sure to get it right. | Dan Wallach/Austin American-Statesman

Election security experts in Texas and nationwide have been pushing for the use of paper ballots in elections to defend against cyber attacks and bolster public confidence in election results. The Texas Legislature has finally taken notice. This week, the Senate heard testimony on Sen. Bryan Hughes’s election security bill, which would require a paper record of every vote and implement post-election audits of every election. This change is long overdue—but the details matter. As a cybersecurity and elections security expert, I know those details well. In fact, my colleagues from across Texas are joining me in pushing for an even stronger bill. Legislators must recognize that paper ballots are the means to a much more important end: ensuring the final results are correct, even when sophisticated adversaries try to interfere. This requires implementing “risk limiting” post-election audits, where auditors randomly sample paper ballots to make sure they match up with the digital records. Discussion about “paper trails” and “voter-verified paper audit trails” can seem complicated. Unfortunately, not all paper trails are created equal. When it comes to elections, “paper” can mean three things: paper ballots filled out (“marked”) by hand, paper ballots marked by a machine (a “ballot-marking device”), or a paper receipt of some kind printed by an electronic voting machine. What makes a good paper ballot? It must be human-readable (not a bar code or other non-English symbols) and auditable (by human auditors, not just machine scanners). Voters must be able detect errors on machine-marked paper ballots and have opportunity to correct them (e.g., “spoil” the ballot and start over), as they can with hand-marked ballots.