One of the many supposed truisms about politics is that you’re never supposed to look past the next election. Yet as this historic presidential race draws to a close, voting rights advocates are already ramping up efforts to expand the rolls in future elections through automatic voter registration. In the District of Columbia, the city council this week unanimously approved legislation allowing eligible citizens to register when they sign up for a driver’s license. In Nevada, organizers for a group led by Obama campaign veterans are gathering signatures to put a similar law on the ballot in 2018; they must submit the petition by Election Day this year. Voters in Alaska will decide a ballot measure next week that would automatically register nonvoters when they sign up to receive dividend payments from the state’s oil revenue fund. And in Illinois, Democrats in the state legislature are hoping to hold a vote in the weeks after November 8 to override Republican Governor Bruce Rauner’s veto of legislation enshrining automatic voter registration.
It’s 10 a.m. but the room is already warm with body heat and the smell of coffee. Behind the locked glass doors of a downtown Washington office, in a conference room outfitted with 20 phone lines, computer workstations and posters that try to make inspirational art out of single words such as “Dedication,” volunteers are fielding phone call after phone call. This is one of the front lines in one of the most contentious presidential elections in memory. It is one outpost of the Election Protection Coalition voter hotline, a volunteer-staffed nonpartisan network of organizations devoted to protecting the right to vote. The advocates behind the operation say they are worried that more than any presidential election in the past 50 years, the 2016 contest carries a pronounced risk for impropriety and mischief. They, too, like Donald Trump, worry that the election could be rigged. But not in the way the Republican nominee has insisted it will be — by “inner city” residents resorting to fraud to help elect Hillary Clinton. They are more concerned about a combination of ordinary and extraordinary voter confusion; a lack of pre-election federal oversight and the specter of in-person voter intimidation by Trump supporters.
With cybersecurity researchers raising the specter of a cyber attack on Election Day, state and local officials are doubling down on a different message: no matter what, the final vote will be legitimate. “If there’s one message we want be heard loud and clear, it’s that these elections will be fair,” Denise Merrill, the president of the National Association of Secretaries of State and the Secretary of State of Connecticut, told TIME. “It might take longer to count every vote, there might be more hurdles, but it’ll be fair.” In the event that hackers attack voting systems, state and local officials have paper-based back-up plans in place, she said. In the event that hackers shut down larger targets, like parts of the power grid, government buildings, electrical facilities, water systems, street lights, dams or bridges, all of which are now connected to the internet, state and local election officials can implement other contingency plans, election officials told TIME.
National: Threats Of Intimidation Of Minority Voters Leads Civil Rights Organization To Launch Reporting App | Forbes
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s rabble-rousing allegations of “large scale voter fraud” has incited his followers, including white nationalist and alt-right groups, to proclaim they would monitor polling places to prevent “rigged elections.” The fearmongering has raised concerns of voter suppression and intimidation, particularly in African-American and Latino communities that tend to lean more democratic. And in a numbers game, that is what the opposition is worried about. There is a record 27.3 million Hispanic eligible voters for the 2016 election, 44% of which are millennials with an average age of 19, according to Pew Research and Census data. While the voter growth among this ethnic group is mostly of U.S.-born Latino youth, there has also been a 26% increase in eligible voters who have become naturalized citizens since 2012.
National: There Are 868 Fewer Places to Vote in 2016 Because the Supreme Court Gutted the Voting Rights Act | The Nation
When Aracely Calderon, a naturalized US citizen from Guatemala, went to vote in downtown Phoenix just before the polls closed in Arizona’s March 22 presidential primary, there were more than 700 people in a line stretching four city blocks. She waited in line for five hours, becoming the last voter in the state to cast a ballot at 12:12 am. “I’m here to exercise my right to vote,” she said shortly before midnight, explaining why she stayed in line. Others left without voting because they didn’t have four or five hours to spare. The lines were so long because Republican election officials in Phoenix’s Maricopa County, the largest in the state, reduced the number of polling places by 70 percent from 2012 to 2016, from 200 to just 60—one polling place per 21,000 registered voters. Previously, Maricopa County would have needed federal approval to reduce the number of polling sites, because Arizona was one of 16 states where jurisdictions with a long history of discrimination had to submit their voting changes under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. This part of the VRA blocked 3,000 discriminatory voting changes from 1965 to 2013. That changed when the Supreme Court gutted the law in the June 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision.
U.S. military hackers have penetrated Russia’s electric grid, telecommunications networks and the Kremlin’s command systems, making them vulnerable to attack by secret American cyber weapons should the U.S. deem it necessary, according to a senior intelligence official and top-secret documents reviewed by NBC News. American officials have long said publicly that Russia, China and other nations have probed and left hidden malware on parts of U.S critical infrastructure, “preparing the battlefield,” in military parlance, for cyber attacks that could turn out the lights or turn off the internet across major cities. It’s been widely assumed that the U.S. has done the same thing to its adversaries. The documents reviewed by NBC News — along with remarks by a senior U.S. intelligence official — confirm that, in the case of Russia.
After spending 2016 trying to outmaneuver each other and deliver the next big break, hundreds of newsrooms are now engaged in unprecedented reporting partnerships to uncover barriers to voting and debunk fake news that can cause chaos and confusion on Election Day. The biggest of the new alliances is Electionland, a project involving more than 400 newsrooms across the country casting aside competitiveness to share real-time data and tips on everything from reports about long lines and voter intimidation to hoax tweets suggesting stuffed ballot boxes. New York-based journalism non-profit ProPublica created the free service earlier this year by partnering up with national desks at USA Today and The New York Times, as well as scores of local news organizations including the Arizona Republic, Miami Herald and the Virginian-Pilot. Participating reporters and editors are all connected to an online smorgasbord of story leads and sources culled from social media, text messages and a national telephone helpline that the public is using to report voting problems. “It’s an entire national newsroom, essentially only looking at problems facing people who vote,” said Jessica Huseman, a ProPublica senior reporting fellow.
In a few hours’ time, western democracy – perhaps even world peace – will be at the mercy of vulnerable code in black boxes on dilapidated bare bones PCs with virtually zero endpoint security, otherwise known as e-voting machines. Security experts are warning that the combination of a highly polarised contest and obsolete information technology make domestic or foreign cyber attacks on tomorrow’s US presidential and other elections a near certainty. The warning comes from the US Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology, which in the second part of its devastating investigation “Hacking elections is easy” details specific weaknesses in the electronic voting systems widely installed with federal funding after 2002. “Electronic voting manufacturers operate without sufficient accountability, oversight, and governance. Rather than produce robust, secure systems, they distribute bare bones proprietary systems with less native security than a cheap cell phone.” According to the report, state voter registration systems have already been compromised at least twice.
National: Scary Dogs! Rigged Machines! Votes From the Grave! This Election, Paranoia Reigns | The New York Times
There was the myth of Trump supporters sending wild dogs to scare off black voters in Ohio. In Texas, some of the voting booths supposedly became possessed, switching ballots cast for Donald J. Trump to Hillary Clinton. And then there was the amateur genealogist said to be committing voter fraud by jotting down names found on gravestones. A week before Election Day, warnings of a rigged vote, amplified largely by Mr. Trump himself, have led to anxiety across the country about the integrity of the electoral process. In some instances, the concerns appear to be justified, but many have resulted from simple glitches or a heightened sense of suspicion. In any case, a year of extraordinary political polarization has left voters increasingly wary about their fellow citizens and the credibility of the country’s method for picking a president. “I think there’s definitely more paranoia this year,” said Pamela Smith, the president of Verified Voting, a nonpartisan group that promotes the integrity of elections. “There has been a lot of talk about election rigging. If you think an election is going to be rigged, then you look at everything through that filter.” Many of the rumors of rigged votes have taken on a life of their own on social media, where conspiracy theories flourish and accusations fly. The reports have left election officials and the local authorities scrambling to verify claims of mischief and, often, to offer reality checks.
The U.S. government believes hackers from Russia or elsewhere may try to undermine next week’s presidential election and is mounting an unprecedented effort to counter their cyber meddling, American officials told NBC News. The effort is being coordinated by the White House and the Department of Homeland Security, but reaches across the government to include the CIA, the National Security Agency and other elements of the Defense Department, current and former officials say. Russia has been warned that any effort to manipulate the actual voting or vote counting would be viewed as a serious breach, intelligence officials say. “The Russians are in an offensive mode and [the U.S. is] working on strategies to respond to that, and at the highest levels,” said Michael McFaul, the U.S. ambassador to Russia from 2012 to 2014. Officials are alert for any attempts to create Election Day chaos, and say steps are being taken to prepare for worst-case scenarios, including a cyber-attack that shuts down part of the power grid or the internet. But what is more likely, multiple U.S. officials say, is a lower-level effort by hackers from Russia or elsewhere to peddle misinformation by manipulating Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms.
Tens of thousands of military and overseas Americans casting ballots online this fall face a high risk of being hacked, threatening to cause chaos around Election Day if their votes get manipulated or they transmit viruses to state and local election offices. More than 30 states — including battlegrounds such as Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada and North Carolina — allow various methods of online voting for citizens living outside the U.S. While state officials insist their ballots will be counted without any serious problems, ample warnings are nonetheless being sounded from the left, right and even inside the federal government that internet votes can’t be securely transmitted in today’s everything-is-hackable environment. “It’s not something you would do with your Social Security number. You shouldn’t do it with your ballot,” warned Susannah Goodman, director of voting integrity at Common Cause. It’s a point of pride for many states that Americans abroad and overseas troops can even cast a ballot online using the latest in technology, giving these voters a say on their next commander in chief even if they’re stationed in a remote or even hostile location, like Afghanistan or Iraq.
In theory, using the internet or e-mail to vote for the U.S. president sounds like a good idea. It would be easier than rushing to the nearest polling station before or after work, and it might pull in notoriously apathetic younger voters already living most of their lives via screens. But in reality these online channels have proved to be terribly insecure, plagued by cyber attacks and malicious software able to penetrate supposedly well-protected financial, medical and even military systems. Such security concerns are the most frequent and convincing arguments against online voting—there is no way to fully secure e-voting systems from cyber attack. Online voting systems are also expensive and often require voters to waive their right to a secret ballot. Still, at least 31 states and the District of Columbia do let military and expatriate voters use the internet to submit marked ballots via e-mailed attachments, fax software or a Web portal according to Verified Voting, a nonprofit organization that studies the security of electronic voting systems. Twenty-one of those states and D.C. let voters e-mail or fax in their ballots, and another five states allow some people to cast their votes via special Web sites. “You can make voting more secret with a Web site because there is no e-mail address to trace a vote back to but the information about a person’s vote and their voter ID number are still out there on a server,” says Jeremy Epstein, a senior computer scientist at nonprofit research organization SRI International.
The peaceful transition of power every four or eight years is one of the hallmarks of American democracy. To make that transition happen, it’s up to the country’s population to partake in its democratic privilege and vote for the next president of the United States. Each presidential election brings many questions to voters, beyond which candidate shares their beliefs and principles. For some, it could be their first time voting. For others, questions could range from where the voting stations are located and if they are registered to vote. To help the American public answer these questions is the nonpartisan, nonprofit Election Protection, a nationwide organization staffed mostly by volunteers at inbound call centers that answer thousands of phone calls during the election cycle at its 866-OUR-VOTE number, as well as Spanish- and Asian-speaking lines. While calls vary in quantity throughout the year, Election Protection has to handle a huge spike leading up to a presidential election. The nonprofit is already seeing an uptick, with daily calls reaching the thousands, and it is expecting up to 100,000 calls nationwide the day before and day of the Nov. 8 vote. To combat the influx, Election Protection relies on call center technology to help answer and route the flood of calls.
Ah yes, the alt-right trolls, back at it again with their meme warfare. Not content with destroying the GOP and the beloved Internet frog Pepe, these tee-hee-we’re-into-Trump-and-white-supremacy “pranksters” have been making fake Hillary Clinton ads again — this time, about being able to vote via text message. Except, unlike last week’s fake Hillary Clinton ads and the associated hashtag #DraftOurDaughters, these photoshopped images, that began circulating the evening of November 1st, may have been illegal. The very least, a violation of Twitter’s TOS on deceptive content and impersonation. Cohorts of the troll that originally spread the fake ads, the now suspended “Ricky Vaughn” whose former Twitter bio described himself as a “hero of the racist alt-right” and a “known white supremacist” (oh wow so trollsy), say the photoshopped images are just intended to be a joke, a parody.
The FBI and U.S. intelligence agencies are examining faked documents aimed at discrediting the Hillary Clinton campaign as part of a broader investigation into what U.S. officials believe has been an attempt by Russia to disrupt the presidential election, people with knowledge of the matter said. U.S. Senator Tom Carper, a Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security Committee, has referred one of the documents to the FBI for investigation on the grounds that his name and stationery were forged to appear authentic, some of the sources who had knowledge of that discussion said. In the letter identified as fake, Carper is quoted as writing to Clinton, “We will not let you lose this election,” a person who saw the document told Reuters. The fake Carper letter, which was described to Reuters, is one of several documents presented to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Justice for review in recent weeks, the sources said. A spokeswoman for Carper declined to comment.
Thirty-two states — a figure that has been steadily rising — now have some form of voter ID laws, based on a count by the National Conference of State Legislatures. The number of states with the strictest laws is rising as well: Voters in seven states will be required to show photo identification in order to cast their ballots this year. In 2012, only four states required it. A 2002 federal law set minimum requirements for federal elections, including identity verification for all new voters. The law leaves room for states to enact their own stricter ones. “There has been movement toward more voter ID laws, and toward stricter voter ID laws,” said Wendy Underhill, program director for elections and redistricting at the National Conference of State Legislatures. Several of these laws have been challenged in court. In July, a federal appeals court found that the Texas voter ID law discriminated against blacks and Latinos and ordered the state to assist people who did not have one of the seven valid forms of identification. A North Carolina law, which was set to take effect this year, was struck down along with several other voting procedures.
President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia dismisses the idea that he has the power to interfere with Tuesday’s election. “Does anyone seriously think that Russia can affect the choice of the American people?” he asked during a foreign policy conference last week in the resort city of Sochi. “What, is America a banana republic? America’s a great power. Correct me if I’m wrong.” America’s top intelligence officials say he is highly unlikely to be able to alter the results. But they expect Russian hackers, or others, to try to disrupt the process — perhaps to help Donald J. Trump, but more likely to simply undercut what Mr. Putin views as America’s holier-than-thou attitudes about its democratic procedures. The Obama administration has concluded that much of the email hacking that has roiled the campaign was almost certainly approved by the Russian leadership. More recent activity — including the probing of registration rolls in several states — might be the work of independent Russian hackers, it says. While no one knows what to expect before the polls close, a tight race is more susceptible to mischief. So government agencies and commercial enterprises, including some hired by state election boards facing a determined cyberthreat for the first time, are on high alert. But they are not exactly sure what to look for. Russian hackers? Other attackers? Malware that harnesses devices to strike election infrastructure? More email revelations?
The hackers settled in, arranged their laptops on a small table and got right to work. The clock was ticking. They began by carefully combing through the online voting system’s code, rapping at their keyboards and exchanging a pitter-patter of techie jargon. They toggled between screens. One displayed the unblemished interface that prospective voters would see. The other was black, threaded with lines of code: a sketch of their half-drafted attack. The first few hours were full of dead ends: a rejected ballot; an unexpected security fix, made in real time by election officials to thwart their efforts. Had they been found out? Suddenly, one of the four hackers paused midscroll. He’d found a seemingly trivial mistake, the code equivalent of an unlocked window. “Let’s steal things! Yes, let’s steal,” one of them said, tugging at his mop of dark hair. “Let’s get their ballot public key – GPG export or Base64 out to a file.” University of Michigan computer science professor Alex Halderman and his team of graduate students demonstrated in 2010 that it’s possible for a few hackers to quickly manipulate online voting systems. This was not a war room in Russia, where hackers allegedly have worked to infiltrate email servers to disrupt this year’s election. It was the office of Alex Halderman, a computer science professor at the University of Michigan. The hackers were graduate students, proving a point about Washington, D.C.’s fledgling voting system: that internet voting is vulnerable, a hunk of cybersecurity Swiss cheese. It was Sept. 29, 2010, just a few weeks before the city’s system was to be launched.
Online voting is sometimes heralded as a solution to all our election headaches. Proponents claim it eliminates hassle, provides better verification for voters and auditors, and may even increase voter turnout. In reality, it’s not a panacea, and certainly not ready for use in U.S. elections. Recent events have illustrated the complex problem of voting in the presence of a state-level attacker, and online voting will make U.S. elections more vulnerable to foreign interference. In just the past year, we have seen Russian hackers exfiltrate information from the Democratic National Committee and probe voter databases for vulnerabilities, prompting the U.S. government to formally accuse Russia of hacking. In light of those events, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security may soon classify voting systems as critical infrastructure, underscoring the significant cybersecurity risks facing American elections. Internet voting would paint an even more attractive target on the ballot box for Russian adversaries with a record of attempting to disrupt elections through online attacks.
Neo-Nazi leader Andrew Anglin plans to muster thousands of poll watchers across all 50 states. His partners at the alt-right website “the Right Stuff” are touting plans to set up hidden cameras at polling places in Philadelphia and hand out liquor and marijuana in the city’s “ghetto” on Election Day to induce residents to stay home. The National Socialist Movement, various factions of the Ku Klux Klan and the white nationalist American Freedom Party all are deploying members to watch polls, either “informally” or, they say, through the Trump campaign. The Oath Keepers, a group of former law enforcement and military members that often shows up in public heavily armed, is advising members to go undercover and conduct “intelligence-gathering” at polling places, and Donald Trump ally Roger Stone is organizing his own exit polling, aiming to monitor thousands of precincts across the country.
For Donald Trump, questioning whether the campaign will be “rigged” has become a campaign stump mantra. For Republican National Committee lawyers, it’s become a different kind of worry. Trump has repeatedly invited his followers to watch polling areas. “Go down to certain areas and watch and study and make sure other people don’t come in and vote five times,” he said at a rally in Pennsylvania this summer. Now, a federal judge wants to hear more. A hearing is scheduled for Friday in New Jersey, and the RNC has been directed to provide information detailing “any efforts regarding poll watching or poll observation.” The RNC is forbidden from engaging in any ballot security activities that might deter qualified voters from voting because of a decades old consent decree that has been modified over the years and is set to expire at the end of 2017.
National: Democrats Sue Trump for Voter Intimidation in Pennsylvania, Nevada, Ohio, and Arizona | The Atlantic
The lawsuits are piling up. Over the last two weeks, the Democratic and Republican parties have filed half a dozen warring complaints about poll monitoring. Democrats allege Republicans are coordinating widespread voter-intimidation efforts. Republicans in at least one state have argued that poll watching should be expanded, not limited. All sides are seeking emergency relief, calling on judges to consider their cases in the next seven days before the election. While both parties fight for their lives life in states like New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania, they’re now having to battle each other in court as well. On their face, these cases may seem like a form of legal subterfuge—attempts to distract the other party and float damaging allegations days before the election. The cases focus on just a few hundred volunteers in a handful of states: The Arizona Democratic Party said 93 people are signed up to conduct “exit polling” with Stop the Steal, a voter-fraud-related super PAC, and the Ohio Democratic Party said “dozens” have volunteered for the same effort in their state.
At the end of 2017, the Republican National Committee is slated to be freed from decades-old federal court oversight that limits the party’s activities when it comes to “ballot security.” In other words, after nine presidential elections, the national Republican Party is set to have more freedom to engage in poll monitoring activities without an automatic court bar on any voter fraud-related efforts at polling places. But Democrats are now arguing in federal court that Donald Trump’s “rigged election” claims and his efforts to send “watchers” to polling places mean the Republican National Committee can’t be trusted with that power. The Republican Party’s lawyers responded on Monday by attempting to distance the party from Trump’s campaign. On Friday, a federal judge in New Jersey will hold a hearing on the request by the Democratic National Committee to hold the RNC in contempt and extend the order that restrict’s the party’s activities — for the next two presidential elections.
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are arming up for a possible post-Election Day battle. Clinton is assembling a voter protection program that has drawn thousands of lawyers agreeing to lend their time and expertise in battleground states, though the campaign isn’t saying exactly how many or where. It is readying election observers in Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Hampshire, Iowa, Nevada and Arizona to assess any concerns — including the potential for voter intimidation — and to verify normal procedures. The Republican National Lawyers Association, which trains attorneys in battleground states and in local jurisdictions where races are expected to be close, aims to assemble 1,000 lawyers ready to monitor polls and possibly challenge election results across the country. Hedge fund manager Robert Mercer, one of Trump’s biggest backers, has sunk $500,000 into the group, its biggest donation in at least four presidential elections, Internal Revenue Service filings show. “We are fighting for open, fair and honest elections,” the association’s executive director, Michael Thielen, said in an e-mail.
Imagine an election when you could vote for anyone you wanted. In parts of America, you can – simply by writing a name on the ballot paper. But if millions of disillusioned people voted for someone like Donald Trump’s running mate Mike Pence, could he actually become president? It’s a quirk of the American election system. Voters are allowed to “write in” candidates who aren’t officially running for the top job when they go to the polls. They simply write the name on the ballot. Mickey Mouse is a US favourite. Donald Duck often pops up in Scandinavia. God and Me are other perennial picks. Every year there are more serious protest votes. The name of a vice-presidential nominee, or an independent, for example. But it’s rare for senators or congressmen to shun their party’s presidential nominee and write in a totally different candidate. The 1932 New York mayoral race was perhaps the first election where Mickey Mouse appeared This year, at least three Republicans have said they will write in the name of Mr Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, after a 2005 video tape in which the Republican candidate made obscene remarks about women emerged.
National: Will a major cyberattack strike the internet on US election day? | International Business Times
As the US presidential election approaches, and in the wake of numerous leaks and hacks this year, many people are openly talking about the likelihood of the process being disrupted by a major cyberattack that could influence the results – Silicon Valley included. Adam D’Angelo, former chief technology officer at Facebook and founder of Quora, took to social media to voice his concerns. “Good chance of major internet attack 8 Nov,” he tweeted. “Many groups have the ability and incentive. [Google] Maps outage alone could easily skew the election.” Referencing the massive US internet outages caused by the internet of things (IoT) enhanced Mirai botnet that recently took down a slew of websites via a DNS cyberattack, D’Angelo added: “Last Friday’s attack should be enough evidence.” In response to the tweet, which was circulated hundreds of times, Dustin Moskovitz, the co-founder of Facebook who has donated millions of dollars to the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, said: “Is there anything to be done about it?”
The 2016 election season has been unique for reasons beyond the U.S. presidential candidates: For the first time, widespread reports of cyberattacks on voting systems and hacks of political organizations’ correspondence are disrupting — and influencing — the U.S. election process. … The problem is compounded by another sobering fact: The current U.S. voting infrastructure is a compilation of older, unsophisticated technology blended with newer digital electronics that often don’t work well together. This system requires patching — much like an operating system that constantly needs updating to prevent newly discovered vulnerabilities from being exploited. As a result, cybersecurity for our political process is not just about protecting our political representatives’ emails, but also about protecting the methods and machines we use to count the votes. The older the computer and operating system, the more vulnerable it is, and the same applies to voting machines. For instance, there is a voting machine in use in Louisiana, New Jersey, Virginia and Pennsylvania that has been in use since 1990 and hacked by a college professor — to draw attention to the device’s high vulnerability level — in seven minutes.
National: Was a server registered to the Trump Organization communicating with Russia’s Alfa Bank? | Slate
The greatest miracle of the internet is that it exists—the second greatest is that it persists. Every so often we’re reminded that bad actors wield great skill and have little conscience about the harm they inflict on the world’s digital nervous system. They invent viruses, botnets, and sundry species of malware. There’s good money to be made deflecting these incursions. But a small, tightly knit community of computer scientists who pursue such work—some at cybersecurity firms, some in academia, some with close ties to three-letter federal agencies—is also spurred by a sense of shared idealism and considers itself the benevolent posse that chases off the rogues and rogue states that try to purloin sensitive data and infect the internet with their bugs. “We’re the Union of Concerned Nerds,” in the wry formulation of the Indiana University computer scientist L. Jean Camp. In late spring, this community of malware hunters placed itself in a high state of alarm. Word arrived that Russian hackers had infiltrated the servers of the Democratic National Committee, an attack persuasively detailed by the respected cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike. The computer scientists posited a logical hypothesis, which they set out to rigorously test: If the Russians were worming their way into the DNC, they might very well be attacking other entities central to the presidential campaign, including Donald Trump’s many servers. “We wanted to help defend both campaigns, because we wanted to preserve the integrity of the election,” says one of the academics, who works at a university that asked him not to speak with reporters because of the sensitive nature of his work.
Joe Brookreson stands at the table, pensive, reading a cookbook, his wife looking over his shoulder. “I’m looking in that container?” asks Susan Brookreson. A ball of dough is rising in a bowl on the counter beside them. Joe is sharing the instructions for how to prepare wheat bread with his wife. “Oh, there are two rises,” Joe realizes. This means he may not be able to return home after casting his vote for president – his early vote, that is – in time to supervise the baking. “Doggone it.” Joe had planned to drive 15 minutes to Martinsburg, West Virginia, for early voting and then return home to bake the bread, but the extra leavening time is complicating his schedule. Susan reassures him: “Go. Your voting is more important.” November 8 is more than a week away, but around the United States, many people like Joe Brookreson are running to the polls to vote. Voting started as early as September 23 in some places, and is now permitted in 37 states and the District of Columbia. Each state establishes its own procedures and dates.
One question on many people’s minds is whether polling places will be disrupted on Election Day. There are concerns that vigilantes, armed with cameras and notebooks, will intimidate voters they suspect of committing fraud. Such groups insist they’ll follow the law, but civil rights groups are on alert just in case. There have already been some disturbing incidents. In Durham, N.C., a voter reported someone videotaping license plates outside an early-polling site. In West Palm Beach, Fla., a voter complained of being intimidated by a rowdy group of electioneers. A right-wing group called Oath Keepers has appealed to its members, mostly former military and police, to go undercover at polling sites and collect intelligence about possible fraud. In an online video, the group’s president, Stewart Rhodes, asked supporters “to go out as part of our call to action, to go and hunt down, look for vote fraud and voter intimidation and document it, to do the best we can to stop it this election.” There are other efforts as well. A Texas-based group called True the Vote has a smartphone app for people to document any incidents of voter fraud they see at the polls.