National: AI chatbots got questions about the 2024 election wrong 27% of the time, study finds | Aaron Franco and Morgan Radford/NBC

If you ask some of the most popular artificial intelligence-powered chatbots how many days are left until the November election, you might want to double check the answer. A study published by data analytics startup GroundTruthAI found that large language models including Google’s Gemini 1.0 Pro and OpenAI’s ChatGPT gave incorrect information 27% of the time when asked about voting and the 2024 election. Researchers sent 216 unique questions to Google’s Gemini 1.0 Pro and OpenAI’s GPT-3.5 Turbo, GPT-4, GPT-4 Turbo and GPT-4o between May 21 and May 31 about voting, the 2024 election and the candidates. Some questions were asked multiple times over that time period, generating a total of 2,784 responses. According to their analysis, Google’s Gemini 1.0 Pro initially responded with correct answers just 57% of the time. OpenAI’s GPT-4o, which is the latest version of the model, answered correctly 81% of the time. Read Article

National: Calls for hand-counted votes underline mistrust in election process | UPI

Ballot measures in three South Dakota counties failed on Tuesday that would move to counting votes on election night by hand. But the broader calls for such a change demonstrate the enduring effects of conspiracy theories about the 2020 election. The validity of election results, and more so the transparency around the process, remain in question for some, to the point that big changes have been proposed. Election night hand counts are one proposal that has gained some traction. There is a place for hand counting, even in larger jurisdictions, according to Pam Smith, president and CEO of Verified Voting — a nonpartisan organization that researches the impact technology has on the administration of elections. That role is often limited to taking a sample of ballots and checking them for accuracy with the tablature machines. These post-election audits were not as common in 2020 but they have been adopted by most states since. South Dakota is implementing post-election audits for the first time this year, starting with auditing Tuesday’s results in the coming week. “We’ve worked from the premise all along that there could be problems with the technology but you don’t just rely on it,” Smith said. “You perform checks. If you had a physical ballot that a person can check, that physical ballot can be used to confirm whether the equipment got the count right.” Read Article

National: Election workers worry that federal threats task force isn’t enough to keep them safe / Zachary Roth/NC Newsline

Aiming to send a message, the Biden administration recently spotlighted its indictments and convictions in cases involving threats to election officials or workers. But with no letup in reports of attacks, some elections professionals say federal law enforcement still isn’t doing enough to deter bad actors and ensure that those on the front lines of democracy are protected this fall. “Election officials by and large have no confidence that if something were to happen to them, there would be any consequences,” said Amy Cohen, the executive director of the National Association of State Election Directors. “It is very clear that we are not seeing a deterrent effect.” Read Article

National: Early controversies over election certification in battleground states raise concerns about presidential race | Nicholas Riccardi and Joey Cappelletti/Associated Press

In Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, two Republican members of a county canvassing board last month refused to sign off on the results of an election that led to the recall of three GOP members of the county commission. They did so only after state officials warned them it was their legal duty to record the final vote tally. In Georgia’s Fulton County, which includes the Democratic-voting city of Atlanta, a group run by members of former President Donald Trump’s administration last week sued so a Republican member of the local elections board could refuse to certify the results of the primary election. And in Arizona, GOP lawmakers sued to reverse the state’s top Democratic officials’ requirement that local boards automatically validate their election results. The past four years have been filled with battles over all sorts of election arcana, including one that had long been regarded as an administrative afterthought — little-known state and local boards certifying the results. With the presidential election looming in November, attorneys are gearing up for yet more fights over election certification, especially in the swing states where the victory margins are expected to be tight. Even if those efforts ultimately fail, election officials worry they’ll become a vehicle for promoting bogus election claims. Read Article

National: Spy agencies are ready to warn voters about foreign election interference — if it’s severe enough | Dan De Luce/NBC

U.S. intelligence agencies are closely tracking attempts by foreign adversaries to influence the 2024 election through “deepfakes” or other false information and are ready to alert the public if necessary, officials said Wednesday. A decision to notify the public about attempted election interference by foreign actors would be up to the leaders of the country’s intelligence agencies, including intelligence chief Avril Haines, officials from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, or ODNI, told reporters. The decision to issue a public warning would follow a review by digital forensic experts and intelligence analysts, the ODNI officials said. It would be based on an assessment of whether the disinformation was serious enough that it “could affect the election outcome,” an official said. Read Article

National: Use AI to fight AI-generated election threats, report recommends | |Edward Graham/Nextgov/FCW

Although hostile nation states and other nefarious actors are likely to use artificial intelligence to spread misinformation ahead of November’s elections, U.S. voting officials, companies and other groups can combat these lies by elevating factual information and even employing AI capabilities of their own, according to a series of mitigation strategies released Tuesday by the Aspen Institute’s Aspen Digital program. The organization identified three specific AI-powered threats that it said bad actors are likely to use this election season: hyperlocal voter suppression, language-based influence operations and deepfakes. To combat this possibility, Aspen Digital released three checklists that public and private groups can use to help voters better understand these threats and turn to trusted sources of information. Read Article

National: New research shows voters are confident about election systems in their states | M. Mindy Moretti/electionline

Earlier this year, Verified Voting worked with Lake Research Partners in an effort  to assess voter confidence ahead of the 2024 elections in different parts of the election system, focusing on election audits.  Additionally, they hoped to provide research-backed messaging recommendations that election officials and others can use to increase trust with the electorate and explore the perspectives of election officials surrounding audits and voter education so they can be supported in their work in the field. … The good news, voters are confident in the voting systems in their own states. Roughly three quarters of voters think the system of voting and elections works well and are confident in the accuracy of the election results in their states, including four in ten who believe it works very well. In fact, democracy/voting rights was a middle-tier issue for most demographic groups other  than for white older women. Read Article

National: Election officials in key battleground states say they’re prepared for threats to poll workers ahead of 2024 elections | Alexandra Marquez/Washington Post

A bipartisan panel of four secretaries of state from key battleground states on Thursday told NBC News’ “Meet the Press” that they’re prepared to execute a safe and secure presidential election, despite previous threats to election workers. “Should any of that ugliness that we all experienced in 2020 return,” Pennsylvania Secretary of the Commonwealth Al Schmidt said, a new election threat task force is prepared to respond quickly. Asked whether enough people have volunteered to be election workers in Georgia, where two 2020 poll workers were harassed and threatened for months after conspiracy theorists accused them of tampering with ballots, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger told moderator Kristen Welker, “We’re actually in pretty good shape. The counties have done a great job of recruitment.” Read Article

National: Prominent pollster spreads Dominion voting machine misinformation | Glenn Kessler/The Washington Post

With almost a half million followers on X, the pollster Rasmussen has a wide reach. Former president Donald Trump repeatedly cited its polls when he was president as it consistently showed a higher approval rating for him than other pollsters. Now Rasmussen’s social media account is fanning previously debunked claims that Dominion Voting Systems machines could somehow be manipulated via the internet. Rasmussen’s source is a former Michigan state senator who traffics in election conspiracy theories and is president of a self-described election integrity group called the Michigan Grassroots Alliance. That former lawmaker cited emails released by a far-right sheriff, who obtained them from an attorney involved in a lawsuit filed by Dominion, despite a protective order agreed to by the parties in the case. Read Article

National: Black Americans disproportionately encounter lies online, survey finds | Kari Paul/The Guardian

As US presidential elections approach, the vast majority of Americans are concerned about online misinformation and fear they do not have enough accurate information on candidates, especially local ones, a new poll has shown. While people across the political and racial spectrum reported being “very concerned” about the deliberate spread of online misinformation, the study found Black Americans are disproportionately encountering misinformation when seeking accurate news. The report, released on Thursday by the social media watchdog group Free Press, found half of respondents encounter misinformation when they go online, and that only 28% of Americans feel “very informed” about local elections. Read Article

National: Debunking misinformation failed. Welcome to ‘pre-bunking’ | Cat Zakrzewski, Joseph Menn, Naomi Nix and Will Oremus/The Washington Post

Election officials and researchers from Arizona to Taiwan are adopting a radical playbook to stop falsehoods about voting before they spread online, amid fears that traditional strategies to battle misinformation are insufficient in a perilous year for democracies around the world. Modeled after vaccines, these campaigns — dubbed “prebunking” — expose people to weakened doses of misinformation paired with explanations and are aimed at helping the public develop to recognize and fend off hoaxes in a heated election year. In the run-up to next month’s European Union election, for example, Google and partner organizations are >blanketing millions of voters with colorful cartoon ads on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram that teach common tactics used to propagate lies and rumors on social media or in email. Read Article

‘Uncharted terrain’: How officials, campaigners and fact-checkers tackle AI’s influence on elections around the world | Mark Scott/Politico

When it comes to artificial intelligence’s role in elections, it’s easy to get lost in a sea of buzzwords, tech industry jargon and murky political activity. AI-generated deepfakes. Large language models. Recommendation algorithms powering social media. But behind the rise of this emerging technology lies a sea of election officials, civil society groups and fact-checking organizations from Peru to the Philippines — all trying to corral potential abuses of AI while, at the same time, attempting to harness the technology to improve how elections operate worldwide. It’s not an easy task. Ever-changing technical advances, limited budgets and breathtaking hysteria around what AI can supposedly do have created endless difficulties for those on the front line of protecting global elections from AI-fueled disinformation. Read Article

National: AI could offer ‘enhanced opportunities’ to interfere in 2024 election, DHS warns | Sean Lyngaas/CNN

Artificial intelligence tools for creating fake video, audio and other content will likely give foreign operatives and domestic extremists “enhanced opportunities for interference” as the 2024 US election cycle progresses, the Department of Homeland Security said in a recent bulletin distributed to state and local officials. A variety of “threat actors” will likely try to use generative AI — or AI that creates fake content — to influence or “sow discord” during the US election cycle, says the May 17 bulletin, which was produced by the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis. While a “large-scale attack on the election is less likely” because of the “higher risk of detection and the decentralized and diverse nature of the voting system,” the bulletin says, “threat actors might still attempt to conduct limited operations leading to disruptions in key election battleground areas.” Read Article

National: Election deniers moving closer to GOP mainstream as Trump allies fill Congress, report shows | Nicholas Riccardi and Lisa Mascaro/Associated Press

In the hours after the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, Ohio’s then-Republican senator, Rob Portman, voted to accept President Joe Biden’s win over the defeated former president, Donald Trump, despite Trump’s false allegations that Biden only won because of fraud. But as Trump charges toward his rematch with Biden in 2024, Portman has been replaced by Sen. JD Vance, a potential vice presidential pick who has echoed Trump’s false claims of fraud and said he’ll accept the results this fall only “if it’s a free and fair election.” South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, other possible VP picks, also declined to object to Biden’s victory over Trump, but have been less committal this year. Rubio said recently if “things are wrong” with November’s election, Republicans won’t stand by and accept the outcome. Read Article

National: Smartmatic alleges Newsmax has deleted evidence in lawsuit over false vote-rigging claims | Sarah Fitzpatrick/NBC

Smartmatic alleges that Newsmax has destroyed evidence in the voting machine company’s lawsuit against the right-wing news channel over false claims that Smartmatic helped “rig” the 2020 election, according to court documents made public this week. Lawyers for Florida-based Smartmatic allege that Newsmax engaged in a “cover-up” by destroying texts and emails of key executives that would demonstrate the network’s knowledge that voting fraud claims being pushed by former President Donald Trump and his allies were untrue. Smartmatic says the deletions occurred after Newsmax had received notice to preserve evidence for the pending suit. Read Article

National: New Effort Aims to Improve Election Tech Vulnerability Tests | Jule Pattison-Gordon/Government Technology

A new program is trying to get election system companies to collaborate with security researchers on better vulnerability testing. In September, the Information Technology-Information Sharing and Analysis Center (IT-ISAC) convened interested security researchers and voting system companies for a three-day forum. The event aimed to build trust among participants, and it included a day and a half during which researchers tested not-yet-deployed election technologies from participating companies, the IT-ISAC announced in a new report. Election Systems & Software, Hart InterCivic and Unisyn Voting Solutions all provided their choice of equipment, such as electronic pollbooks, digital ballot scanners and ballot marking devices. Some providers gave researchers credentials so they could mimic insider compromise. Read Article

National: Nearly 80 officials overseeing elections in 7 swing states doubt 2020 results | Madeleine May and Caitlin Huey-Burns/CBS

A new CBS News investigation found there are nearly 80 officials working in election oversight positions across seven battleground states, including Nevada, who don’t believe the 2020 election results, refused to certify the election, publicly supported the actions taken on Jan. 6, 2021 in the U.S. Capitol riots or have pushed election conspiracies.  Washoe County, Nevada, is a battleground county in a critical battleground state and may hold the keys to congressional contests, and potentially the presidency. But in this cycle, one of the most consequential races in the state is that of county commissioner. That commissioner would wield the swing vote on a panel that — among other responsibilities — oversees elections in Washoe. Members appoint the county’s top election official, set the budget for elections and ultimately certify statewide election results. Read Article

National: Physical threats are biggest risk facing the 2024 election | Derek B. Johnson/CyberScoop

2024 could turn out to be the year in which artificial intelligence upends the U.S. election, but at America’s largest cybersecurity conference, federal officials charged with protecting the vote said they are most concerned with a far more analog threat: physical violence directed at election administrators.  While many election officials are concerned about issues of disinformation — both AI-generated and not — physical security threats on or around Election Day to polling places, ballot counting centers and locations where equipment is stored are top of mind. “That’s where we’ve concentrated a lot of our efforts this year,” Brandon Wales, executive director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, told reporters at the RSA Conference. U.S. election officials are already facing a tsunami of physical threats, harassment, doxing and swatting attacks — in which police are called to a person’s residence on phony pretenses — and the risk of violence is only exacerbated by persistent and false online narratives that American elections are in one way or another rigged, experts caution. Read Article

National: These federal grants can help ease multiplying election threats | Chris Teale/Route Fifty

A ransomware attack on Coffee County, Georgia’s voter registration system highlighted the vulnerabilities faced by election offices ahead of the presidential election. Although the Georgia Registered Voter Information System remains uncompromised, the incident underscores the need for robust cybersecurity measures, especially as threats target more than just voting infrastructure. Reports from cybersecurity firms, such as Mandiant, stress the importance of hardening systems against attacks despite the chronic underfunding of election services. While some federal funds and grants are available, the high turnover of election officials hampers awareness and access to these resources. To address these challenges, election offices must be strategic in securing funding and support to enhance their cybersecurity and physical security capabilities. Read Article

National: Justice Department to seek tougher sentences for AI-fueled election crimes | Sean Lyngaas/CNN

Federal prosecutors will pursue tougher sentences in cases in which artificial intelligence is used to commit an election-related crime, including threatening violence against election workers and voter suppression, Deputy US Attorney General Lisa Monaco said Monday. The Justice Department policy change is an effort to keep pace with a chaotic information environment ahead of the 2024 presidential election, as AI tools have made it much easier to mimic politicians’ voices and likenesses to spread false information. The new policy applies to cases in which AI makes the election-related crime “more dangerous and more impactful,” Monaco said. Read Article

National: Lawmakers fret over who will report foreign election interference  | Derek B. Johnson/CyberScoop

When the U.S. government has credible evidence of a foreign nation interfering in an American election, who is responsible for sounding the alarm and what processes are in place to ensure it’s done in a responsible, nonpartisan manner? That question was top of mind for Senators on both sides of the aisle at a Wednesday hearing, when they sharply questioned Biden administration officials about their plans for notifying the public about a foreign power meddling in U.S. politics. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., the ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, noted that when a hurricane is headed toward the United States, the National Hurricane Center takes the lead to issue warnings “and people — Republicans, Democrats no matter who you’re going to vote for — are going to take the appropriate steps.” How that notification process works for foreign interference efforts is less clear, and the potential for political blowback in the heat of a national election is vast. Read Article

National: Lawmakers want EAC to develop guidance on AI’s risk to elections | Edward Graham/Nextgov/FCW

Bipartisan legislation introduced by a quartet of House lawmakers would push the nation’s top election administration agency to develop voluntary guidelines that address the potential impact of artificial intelligence technologies on the voting process. The bill would require that the Election Assistance Commission release public recommendations around the use of AI tools on the administration of elections. According to the proposal, the EAC’s voluntary guidelines should address “the risks and benefits” of AI on election administration; the cybersecurity risks of these technologies; how AI-generated and shared content can affect the sharing of accurate election information; and how AI-generated disinformation can undermine trust in the voting process. Read Article

National: Now armed with AI, America’s adversaries will try to influence election, security officials warn | David Klepper and Eric Tucker/Associated Press

America’s foreign adversaries will again seek to influence the upcoming U.S. elections, top security officials warned members of the Senate Wednesday, harnessing the latest innovations in artificial intelligence to spread online disinformation, mislead voters and undermine trust in democracy. But the U.S. has greatly improved its ability to safeguard election security and identify and combat foreign disinformation campaigns since 2016, when Russia sought to influence the election, U.S. Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee. Read Article

National: Homeland Security ramping up ‘with intensity’ to respond to election threats | Josh Meyer/USA Today

The Department of Homeland Security is preparing for a potentially unprecedented array of election threats, including meddling by foreign governments, bomb threats, intimidation at the polls and the intentional spreading of disinformation to confuse voters. “We are dealing with it with intensity,” Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said. “The right to vote and the integrity of the right to vote − and therefore of the election itself − is a fundamental element of our democracy. “This is a nonpartisan effort,” he stressed. “And, in fact, all our efforts across this department are nonpartisan.” Read Article

National: A group of Republicans has united to defend the legitimacy of US elections and those who run them | Christina A. Cassidy/Associated Press

It was Election Day last November, and one of Georgia’s top election officials saw that reports of a voting machine problem in an eastern Pennsylvania county were gaining traction online. So Gabriel Sterling, a Republican who had defended the 2020 election in Georgia amid an onslaught of threats, posted a message to his nearly 71,000 followers on the social platform X explaining what had happened and saying that all votes would be counted correctly. He faced immediate criticism from one commenter about why he was weighing in on another state’s election while other responses reiterated false claims about widespread fraud in the 2020 presidential election. Read Article

National: ‘Terrifying’: Democrats say they have plans to keep electors safe from political violence | Phillip M. Bailey and Erin Mansfield USA Today

During the 2020 electoral process, Democratic elector Khary Penebaker faced daunting security measures as he cast his ceremonial vote for Joe Biden in Wisconsin. Amid heightened concerns of political violence and intimidation, Penebaker, along with other electors, was compelled to assemble at an undisclosed location, escorted by law enforcement through tunnels to access a closed-off room in the statehouse. The experience left Penebaker, a Black Democrat who ran for Congress in 2016, deeply unsettled, evoking comparisons to the courage of civil rights activists. The safety of electors like Penebaker has become a focal point for Democrats, scholars, and election watchdogs, particularly following instances of violence during the electoral process, such as the events of January 6, 2021. As concerns persist about the security of electors, state Democratic officials have initiated discussions and plans to safeguard their safety in anticipation of the 2024 election. Read Article

National: CISA, FBI resuming talks with social media firms over disinformation removal, Senate Intel chair says | David DiMolfetta/Nextgov/FCW

Federal agencies have resumed discussions with social media companies regarding the removal of disinformation on their platforms ahead of the November presidential election, marking a significant shift after months of halted communications due to a pending First Amendment case in the Supreme Court. Senator Mark Warner revealed that talks resumed amidst the Supreme Court hearing arguments in Murthy v. Missouri, a case prompted by allegations of federal agencies pressuring platforms to remove content related to vaccine safety and the 2020 presidential election. The Supreme Court is anticipated to rule on whether agencies can engage with social media firms regarding potential disinformation. Warner highlighted concerns about election interference and emphasized the need for the Biden administration to take a stronger stance against nation-state entities attempting to meddle in the U.S. election process. Read Article

National: FBI warns that foreign adversaries could use AI to spread disinformation about US elections | Eric Tucker/Associated Press

The FBI is concerned that foreign adversaries could deploy artificial intelligence as a means to interfere in American elections and spread disinformation, a senior official said Thursday, describing the technology as an area “that’s probably going to see growth over the coming years.” The threat is more than theoretical given the prevalence of AI deepfakes and robocalls and the way such technology has already surfaced in politics. The official noted an episode in Slovakia early this year in which audio clips resembling the voice of the liberal party chief — purportedly capturing him talking about hiking beer prices and rigging the vote — were shared widely on social media just days before parliamentary elections. The clips were deepfakes. Read Article

Election officials beef up security as new survey shows nearly 4 in 10 grapple with threats and harassment | Fredreka Schouten/CNN

When officials in Durham, North Carolina, open their new $24 million elections operations center later this year, it will include a feature not in the original plan: a separate mail-room exhaust system to guard against dangerous particles spreading through the building. The design change came after a spate of suspicious letters – some laced with fentanyl – landed at election offices around the country last year, said Derek Bowens, who has served as Durham County’s elections director since 2017. The letters, which were sent to election offices from Georgia to Washington state, set off fresh security concerns for a workforce battered by unprecedented threats and harassment. Durham didn’t receive any of those letters, but “we were terrified” that the county – a Democratic bastion in a swing state – would be targeted, Bowens said. “There was mass concern.” Read Article

National: As Trump airs his election doubts, many supporters say they won’t accept a Biden win in 2024 | Alex Tabet, Jillian Frankel, Emma Barnett, Nnamdi Egwuonwu and Jake Traylor/NBC

More than six months out from the presidential election, many Republican voters harbor deep doubts not only about whether President Joe Biden is fit for a second term — but also about whether he can even win re-election fair and square. “I think that the powers that be on the Democratic side have figured out a way to circumvent democracy,” said Darlene Anastas, 69, of Middleborough, Massachusetts. Poll after poll has found that a large proportion of the Republican electorate believes the only reasons Joe Biden is president are voter fraud and Democratic dirty tricks, buying into former President Donald Trump’s baseless claims about the 2020 election. Trump continues to stoke those fires on the campaign trail. Read Article