National: Trump refuses to back down on suggestion of election delay | Quint Forgey, Zach Montellaro and Caitlin Oprysko/Politico

President Donald Trump on Thursday refused to back down from his suggestion earlier in the day that the November general election be postponed, repeating unsubstantiated predictions of widespread voter fraud amid the coronavirus pandemic and saying that large numbers of mail-in ballots might mean “you never even know who won the election.” The president’s extraordinary proposal, which he is not constitutionally empowered to enforce, represented his first attempt at floating a suspension of the election less than 100 days away. “With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history,” Trump wrote on Twitter in the morning. “It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???” Hours later, he appeared to launch a partial clean-up of the suggestion after it was roundly rejected by members of his own party. “Glad I was able to get the very dishonest LameStream Media to finally start talking about the RISKS to our Democracy from dangerous Universal Mail-In-Voting” Trump said Thursday afternoon, reiterating that he “totally” supports absentee voting. The president added that in his view it was imperative to find out who won the election on election night, “not days, months, or even years later,” as some election experts have indeed warned that a drastic surge in mail-in ballots might mean a close race isn’t called on the evening of Nov. 3.

National: Trump floats idea of delaying the November election, a power granted to Congress, as he ramps up attacks on voting by mail | Amy Gardner and John Wagner/The Washington Post

President Trump drew immediate rebukes from Republicans and Democrats alike on Thursday after floating the prospect of delaying the November election and claiming without evidence that widespread mail balloting would be a “catastrophic disaster” leading to fraudulent results. “With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history,” Trump tweeted. “It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???” Trump gave no indication that he will push for the date change — or that he thinks he has the power to do so. The U.S. Constitution gives the power to regulate the “time, place and manner” of general elections to the U.S. House and Senate, with Congress also empowered to alter the rules. States control the dates of primary elections. Nowhere is the president granted such power. In addition, the Constitution spells out a hard end to a president’s and vice president’s terms on Jan. 20 in the year following a presidential election. “The President has no power to change the date of the election,” said Richard L. Hasen, a law professor at the University of California at Irvine. “This is yet another statement by the President which undermines voter confidence and that seeks without evidence to undermine the legitimacy of voting by mail.” Democrats and Republicans alike quickly condemned the president’s tweet, many expressing alarm at the president’s apparent disregard for the limits of his power.

National: Trump floats idea of election delay, a virtual impossibility | Zeke Miller and Colleen Long/Associated Press

President Donald Trump, lagging in the polls and grappling with deepening economic and public health crises, on Thursday floated the startling idea of delaying the Nov. 3 presidential election. His campaign to sow doubt about the election’s outcome drew immediate pushback from Democrats and Republicans alike in a nation that has held itself up as a beacon to the world for its history of peaceful transfer of power. Trump suggested the delay as he pushed unsubstantiated allegations that increased mail-in voting due to the coronavirus pandemic would result in fraud. But shifting Election Day is virtually impossible and the very idea represented another bracing attempt by Trump to undermine confidence in the American political system. The date of the presidential election — the Tuesday after the first Monday in November in every fourth year — is enshrined in federal law and would require an act of Congress to change. Top Republicans in Congress quickly rebuffed Trump’s suggestion. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the election date is set in stone and House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy said the election “should go forward” as planned. Regardless, the Constitution makes no provisions for a delay in the end of Trump’s term — noon on Jan. 20, 2021.

National: GOP Leaders Rebuff Trump’s Suggestion of Delaying Election | Tarini Parti and Alex Leary/Wall Street Journal

President Trump floated the idea of delaying the November presidential election for the first time in a tweet Thursday until a time when “people can properly, securely and safely vote,” prompting top Republicans and Democrats in Congress to swiftly dismiss the idea. A record number of Americans are expected to vote by mail in the November election because of the coronavirus pandemic, but Mr. Trump said Thursday that an election that allowed universal mail-in voting would lead to inaccurate and fraudulent results and would be “a great embarrassment” for the country. The date of the election can only be changed by Congress, and lawmakers from both parties—including some of the president’s closest allies—said changing the date wasn’t an option. “We’ll cope with whatever the situation is and have the election on Nov. 3 as already scheduled,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said in an interview with WNKY TV in Bowling Green, Ky. Election Day in the U.S. was fixed as the first Tuesday after Nov. 1 by an act of Congress in 1845 and would require new legislation for it to be delayed. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) responded to Mr. Trump’s tweet Thursday with a tweet quoting an excerpt from Article II, Section I of the Constitution stating that the authority to set election dates is held by Congress. Sens. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) and Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) also rejected moving the election date.

National: Trump can’t delay the election. But his tweet is terrifying | Erwin Chemerinsky/Los Angeles Times

Once again, President Trump has shown his ignorance of the Constitution and federal law in raising the question on Twitter of whether the November presidential election should be delayed. To be clear, President Trump has absolutely no legal authority to do this. The date for the election is set by federal statute and can be changed only by Congress. But that didn’t stop Trump from tweeting on Thursday morning, “With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???” The president, who is significantly down in the polls, clearly does not want the election to be held in November, and it’s hard not to interpret his tweet as a blatant, if desperate, attempt to stay in office past the end of his term. Thankfully, the Constitution gives him no way to do this. The Constitution explicitly gives to Congress the power to set the date for national elections. For the first half-century of American history, each state set its own election date and balloting for the presidential election stretched out over six months.

National: ‘We will not allow you’: Governors slam Trump for floating delay of presidential election | Joey Garrison/USA Today

Democratic and Republican governors Thursday swiftly denounced President Donald Trump’s suggestion the November presidential election be delayed, defending the legitimacy of voting by mail and assuring voters the election will take place Nov. 3. The blowback from the state level added to the chorus of bipartisan criticism nationally that followed Trump’s tweet in which he warned mail-in voting would lead to the most “INACCURATE AND FRAUDULENT Election in history” before posing the question: “Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???” Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, fired back at the president in a series of tweets: “@realDonaldTrump, Illinois will hold our election as required by law on November 3rd.” Pritzker called the right to vote “essential,” adding that’s why he signed a law to expand vote-by-mail and make elections in Illinois safer during the coronavirus pandemic.  “The President cannot move an election,” Pritzker said. “We will not allow you to undermine the foundations of our democracy. Everyone: keep November 3 on your calendar.”

National: Study finds election officials vulnerable to cyberattacks | Maggie Miller/The Hill

Election administrators across the country are vulnerable to cyberattacks that originate through malicious phishing emails, a report released Monday found. The report, compiled by cybersecurity group Area 1 Security, found that over 50 percent of election administrators have “only rudimentary or non-standard technologies” to protect against malicious emails from cyber criminals, with less than 30 percent using basic security controls to halt phishing emails. The study also found that around 5 percent of election administrators use personal emails, which are seen as less secure than government emails, and some election administrators use a custom email infrastructure known to have been targeted by Russian military hackers during prior elections. Email phishing is a key way hackers infiltrate networks, with hackers attempting to trick individuals into clicking on malicious links or attachments or providing sensitive information in other ways that allows the hacker to access a network. Area 1 Security noted that 90 percent of cyberattacks begin with a phishing email.

National: Senate GOP Coronavirus Package Omits Additional Elections Funding | Alexa Corse and Lindsay Wise/Wall Street Journal

Senate Republicans didn’t include any new funding to help states and local governments to administer elections in their latest coronavirus aid package, setting up a fight over the issue in coming negotiations with Democrats. House Democrats in May proposed sending $3.6 billion to state and local officials to help them hold elections during the pandemic, which has prompted many areas to expand vote-by-mail options and invest in protective equipment for poll workers. Democrats also called for a nationwide vote-by-mail option and a guarantee of 15 days of early voting, among other requirements. Republicans point out that they have already given $400 million to help overcome coronavirus-related election challenges in the Cares Act, which passed in March, and that they are opposed to mandating new voting procedures. “We’ve already appropriated an awful lot of money for election assistance,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday. “What we’re not going to do is federalize the American election system, which is basically conducted in every single state in very different ways.”

National: Senate GOP Coronavirus Package Omits Additional Elections Funding | Alexa Corse and Lindsay Wise/Wall Street Journal

Senate Republicans didn’t include any new funding to help states and local governments to administer elections in their latest coronavirus aid package, setting up a fight over the issue in coming negotiations with Democrats. House Democrats in May proposed sending $3.6 billion to state and local officials to help them hold elections during the pandemic, which has prompted many areas to expand vote-by-mail options and invest in protective equipment for poll workers. Democrats also called for a nationwide vote-by-mail option and a guarantee of 15 days of early voting, among other requirements. Republicans point out that they have already given $400 million to help overcome coronavirus-related election challenges in the Cares Act, which passed in March, and that they are opposed to mandating new voting procedures. “We’ve already appropriated an awful lot of money for election assistance,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday. “What we’re not going to do is federalize the American election system, which is basically conducted in every single state in very different ways.”

National: Donald Trump calls for delay to US presidential election | Suzanne Lynch/The Irish Times

US president Donald Trump has suggested that November’s presidential election should be delayed, citing unsubstantiated concerns about postal voting. With just over three months to the election, Mr Trump tweeted on Thursday: “With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRADULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???” The date of the US election is set in statute. The election must take place every four years on “the Tuesday next after the first Monday in the month of November.” Additionally, the US Constitution gives Congress – and not the president – power to regulate elections. The election must take place every four years on “the Tuesday next after the first Monday in the month of November”.

National: Donald Trump calls for delay to US presidential election | Suzanne Lynch/The Irish Times

US president Donald Trump has suggested that November’s presidential election should be delayed, citing unsubstantiated concerns about postal voting. With just over three months to the election, Mr Trump tweeted on Thursday: “With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRADULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???” The date of the US election is set in statute. The election must take place every four years on “the Tuesday next after the first Monday in the month of November.” Additionally, the US Constitution gives Congress – and not the president – power to regulate elections. The election must take place every four years on “the Tuesday next after the first Monday in the month of November”.

National: Ransomware continues to be election-security fear for local officials | Benjamin Freed/StateScoop

The 2020 presidential election has already been upended by a disastrous pandemic that’s forced states to re-evaluate the methods by which people will vote this year. But election administrators, especially at the local level, must still contented with digital threats, like ransomware attacks, that could potentially disrupt voting infrastructure and create chaos on or after Nov. 3, county officials were warned last week during a webinar. The hourlong event, hosted by the National Association of Counties, laid out what a ransomware attack could do to a county’s ability to safely and accurately carry out an election. Ryan Macias, a former technology specialist with the federal Election Assistance Commission who is now an election security consultant to the Department of Homeland Security, laid out a pair of unsettling scenarios. “Picture it being National Voter Registration Day, Sept. 22, and your entire voter registration database is locked up,” he said. “Picture [on Nov. 3] that you’re getting to 8 p.m., close of polls, and you see a message that says: ‘Your system is locked up and you have no results for this election unless you pay us a ransom.’”

National: Racing the Clock on Election Security | John Breeden II/Nextgov

Believe it or not, there are less than 100 days before the next presidential election. And in addition to picking a president, most of us are also voting for scores of federal, state and local officials as well. In addition to all of that, we have the COVID-19 pandemic which has many voters rightly concerned for the safety of both themselves and election workers. To compensate, many states are modifying the way that people are voting, both in-person and remotely. And this could open states up to new or unexpected cyber threats and physical challenges. A perfect example of a physical challenge occurred during the recent primary election in New York. The New York Daily News reports that one in five absentee ballots cast in New York City were rejected for technical reasons. That’s over 100,000 votes that didn’t get counted. On the cybersecurity side, the Wall Street Journal reports that less than 20% of election officials nationwide have anti-phishing protection on their email, and many are using personal email addresses for official election board business. While there is no direct connection between email and the voting machines themselves, it does present a window that enterprising attackers could use to try and manipulate the election.

National: House Intel Committee votes to give all members access to foreign disinformation evidence | Maggie Miller/The Hill

The House Intelligence Committee voted Wednesday to give all members of the House access to classified information that Democrats say shows evidence of “a concerted foreign interference campaign” against members of Congress ahead of November’s elections. The evidence, compiled in a “classified addendum,” was submitted to the FBI earlier this month by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chair Mark Warner (D-Va.). The Democratic leaders pointed to it in requesting an immediate all-members classified briefing from the FBI on election threats. Schiff said in a statement Wednesday that the evidence, which had previously been available to view only for members of the House Intelligence Committee, was being made public for all House lawmakers in response to multiple requests. “In the absence of an FBI defensive briefing to the Congress, more than two dozen Members have requested access to the classified addendum to our July 13 letter, which addresses the concrete, specific, and alarming reporting that the congressional intelligence committees have seen regarding our elections,” Schiff said.

National: GOP sparks backlash after excluding election funds from COVID-19 bill | Maggie Miller/The Hill

Senate Republicans left out funding for mail-in and early voting during the COVID-19 pandemic in their stimulus bill rolled out Monday, prompting backlash from Democrats, election officials and advocacy groups. With less than 100 days to go before Election Day, these officials are concerned that without a new injection of federal funds, state and local officials facing budget shortfalls may struggle to carry out safe and secure elections that ensure every American can vote. The concerns come as the pandemic has upended the primary process, leading most states to postpone their contests, while results in a handful, including New York, have been delayed by a surge in mailed-in ballots. “This isn’t in anyone’s budget, no one budgeted for a pandemic, and you can see state and local budgets are cratering, they don’t have funding to put into this, and certainly it’s going to be a challenge,” Election Assistance Commission (EAC) Chairman Benjamin Hovland, who was nominated by President Trump, told The Hill Tuesday.

National: Fact checking Barr's claim that it's 'common sense' that foreign countries will counterfeit mail-in ballots | Tara Subramaniam/CNN

As coronavirus continues to spread, bipartisan officials across the country and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have supported mail-in voting as a pandemic-safe option for the upcoming election. Despite having voted by mail himself on previous occasions, President Donald Trump has frequently pushed back on the concept, claiming without evidence that it would lead to widespread voter fraud and a “rigged” election. Asked about the issue in a House Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday, Attorney General William Barr said he had “no reason to think” that the upcoming election will be “rigged.” But he did say he believes that “if you have wholesale mail-in voting, it substantially increases the risk of fraud.” During the hearing, Barr was also asked about comments he made last month regarding potential foreign interference in the presidential election via counterfeit ballots. Barr acknowledged he didn’t have evidence foreign countries could successfully sway US elections with counterfeit ballots but claimed it was “common sense” that they would attempt to do so.  Facts First: More Americans than ever are expected to cast mail-in ballots this year. While that certainly presents its own challenges, historically voting by mail has not led to massive voter fraud. And nonpartisan election experts say the possibility of foreign entities printing millions of fraudulent mail-in ballots this November is highly unlikely.

National: The Trump administration's battle over mail-in voting heads to Congress | Joseph Marks/The Washington Post

Attorney General William P. Barr held fast to claims that a drastic expansion of mail voting in November could undermine the election amid an often combative hearing with House lawmakers. But he provided no concrete evidence for his assertions there’s a “high risk” mail-in voting will lead to massive fraud, which have been roundly dismissed by election security experts. He said “common sense” guides his concern that U.S. adversaries might flood the election with phony ballots submitted by mail, even though election officials say safeguards such as bar codes and signature verification prevent this. It was the first time a congressional committee scrutinized Barr’s claims in person – and Democrats savaged him, contending that he and the president were spreading conspiracy theories and aiding U.S. enemies. “The FBI and our intelligence services have repeatedly warned that [U.S.] adversaries are actively trying to sow mistrust of our election system and by repeating disinformation about mail-in voting, you and the president are helping them,” said Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pa.), vice chair of the committee. Barr did break from the president, however, when asked if he believed the election will be rigged. “I have no reason to believe it will be,” Barr said. The mail-voting fight is playing out amid a broader partisan battle over how to run the general election.

National: As Trump demurs, an unimaginable question forms: Could the president reach for the military in a disputed election? | Missy Ryan and Paul Sonne/The Washington Post

President Trump’s refusal to commit to accepting the results of the November election, paired with his penchant for plunging the military into the partisan fray, has prompted scholars and legal experts to ask a once-unthinkable question: How would the armed forces respond if pulled into a disputed election? Speculation about whether the military could be asked to play a role in events following the 2020 presidential vote has intensified in the wake of the Pentagon’s involvement in the government’s response to demonstrations against racism and police brutality. “If the president is willing to thrust the military leadership into so damaging a set of circumstances during the protests, just imagine what he would be willing to do if he wants to prevent an electoral outcome that would be damaging to him,” said Kori Schake, director of foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute. “So yes, they should be absolutely worried about it.” As the election approaches, the president has once again declined to say he would accept its results. “I have to see,” he said during a Fox News interview this month. “I’m not going to just say yes. I’m not going to say no. And I didn’t last time either.”

National: Treasury agrees to lend Postal Service $10 billion in trade for rivals’ shipping contracts | Jacob Bogage/The Washington Post

The Treasury Department agreed to loan the U.S. Postal Service $10 billion in emergency coronavirus relief funding Wednesday in exchange for proprietary information about the mail service’s most lucrative private-sector contracts. The Postal Service, subject to confidentiality restrictions, will provide Treasury copies of its 10 largest “negotiated service agreements,” or contracts with high-volume third-party shippers such as Amazon, FedEx and UPS, and receive a crucial injection of cash that postal officials say will keep the debt-laden agency solvent for at least another year, according to a copy of the loan’s term sheet obtained by The Washington Post. The Postal Service contracts with private-sector shippers for “last-mile” delivery from distribution centers to consumers’ homes, and it offers those companies small discounts because of the volume of packages they provide. President Trump has derided the agency over those deals, which industry experts say only account for a roughly 5 percent savings. He has called the Postal Service Amazon’s “delivery boy” and falsely claimed the agreements are the reason the agency has struggled financially.

National: Democrats push for more transparency about Russian election interference | Joseph Marks/The Washington Post

Top Democrats are slamming the Trump administration for not sharing enough information with the public about Russian efforts to interfere in November’s election. While intelligence officials have warned that U.S. adversaries are trying to hack into political campaigns and election systems – and cited Russia, China and Iran as the biggest threats — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) say that’s not enough to help voters gird themselves against social media disinformation or the sort of hacking and leaking campaign that upended Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016. The top-line announcement that interference exists doesn’t “go nearly far enough in arming the American people with the knowledge they need about how foreign powers are seeking to influence our political process,” Schumer and Pelosi warned in a statement. “The Russians are once again trying to influence the election and divide Americans, and these efforts must be deterred, disrupted and exposed,” they continue. The statement was also signed by House Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

National: With November Approaching, Election Officials Still Face Safety, Security Fears | Pam Fessler/NPR

With about 100 days left before the general election, officials are simultaneously trying to prepare for two very different types of voting, while facing two unprecedented threats to safety and security. It’s a juggling act that has voters, political parties and officials anxious about how smoothly November’s voting will go. “Doubt is our enemy,” U.S. Sen. Angus King, an independent from Maine, said at a Senate hearing Wednesday on what Congress can do to ensure public confidence in this year’s election results. The pandemic has already caused massive disruptions. Most states greatly expanded mail-in voting in the primaries to address voters’ health concerns. Those changes are expected — for the most part — to continue this fall. But many states also want to make in-person voting widely available to avoid overloading the mail-in system in what’s expected to be a high-turnout election. Maryland is a case in point. The state sent mail-in ballots to every registered voter for its June primary and drastically cut the number of in-person polling sites. But that resulted in long lines at the few sites that were open. At the same time, there were delays and mix-ups with mail-in ballots. Gov. Larry Hogan now wants all polling sites open in November while still encouraging Marylanders to vote early or by mail if they can.

National: There’s so much unjustified hype and hope about online voting | Susan Greenhalgh and Michael Fernandez/The Fulcrum

The coronavirus pandemic has upended everyone and everything, creating a new normal: living over the internet. Members of the House who fear the health risks of coming to the Capitol have even been permitted to transmit electronically their votes for legislation. But this shouldn’t be seen as any green light for states to consider online voting in our elections. Unlike Congress, which has insisted that transparency be central to its first-ever foray into proxy voting, the American electoral system relies on the citizens’ choices remaining secret. A ballot cast over the internet could be undetectably manipulated by hackers. House members’ remote votes are public record, delivered in writing and then announced verbally during each roll call, so any attempted hacking would be easily exposed. To keep voters safe during the Covid-19 outbreak, many states are making it easier to vote by mail and thereby avoid close contact at polling places. Their plans must also include adequate accommodations for disabled voters, But any proposal that we move to online voting is contrary to the evidence. Architects of the internet and cybersecurity warn that online voting is still inherently insecure.

National: U.S. Warns Russia, China and Iran Are Trying to Interfere in the Election. Democrats Say It’s Far Worse. | David E. Sanger and Julian E. Barnes/The New York Times

American intelligence officials issued a public warning on Friday that China was “expanding its influence efforts” in the United States ahead of the presidential election, along with Russia and Iran, but Democrats briefed on the matter said the threat was far more urgent than what the administration described. The warning came from William R. Evanina, the director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, in a statement 100 days before Americans go to the polls. “We’re primarily concerned with China, Russia and Iran — although other nation-states and nonstate actors could also do harm to our electoral process,” the statement said. The warning about China came at a moment of extraordinary tension between Beijing and Washington, only days after the United States indicted two Chinese hackers on charges of stealing intellectual property, including for the country’s main intelligence service, and evicted Chinese diplomats from their consulate in Houston. The intelligence warning on Friday did not accuse the Chinese of trying to hack the vote; instead it said they were using their influence “to shape the policy environment in the United States” and to pressure politicians “it views as opposed to China’s interests.” Russia, the warning said, was continuing to “spread disinformation in the U.S. that is designed to undermine confidence in our democratic process,” and it described Iran as an emerging actor in election interference, seeking to spread disinformation and “recirculating anti-U.S. content.” The statement was short on details, reminiscent of the vague warnings that the director of national intelligence turned out starting in October 2016 that, in retrospect, failed to seize the attention of officials and voters before the last presidential election.

National: Senior intelligence official warns Russia, Iran, China targeting U.S. elections | Maggie Miller/The Hill

A senior intelligence official within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) on Friday warned that Russia, Iran and China were attempting to sway the 2020 elections. William Evanina, the director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, noted that the ODNI had been regularly briefing members of Congress, presidential campaigns and political committees on these foreign threats to elections “in recent months.” “Foreign nations continue to use influence measures in social and traditional media in an effort to sway U.S. voters’ preferences and perspectives, to shift U.S. policies, to increase discord and to undermine confidence in our democratic process,” Evanina said in a statement on Friday. “The coronavirus pandemic and recent protests, for instance, continue to serve as fodder for foreign influence and disinformation efforts in America.” He warned that “at this time, we’re primarily concerned with China, Russia and Iran — although other nation states and non-state actors could also do harm to our electoral process. Our insights and judgments will evolve as the election season progresses.” Evanina said that China is using influence efforts to “shape the policy environment” in the United States, and was conscious that these efforts could “affect the presidential race.”

National: Election Officials Are Vulnerable to Email Attacks, Report Shows | Robert McMillan/Wall Street Journal

Many of the thousands of county and local election officials who will be administering November’s presidential election are running email systems that could leave them vulnerable to online attacks, a new report has found. Cybersecurity vendor Area 1 Security Inc. tracked more than 12,000 local officials and determined that over 1,600 used free or nonstandard email software that often lacks the configuration and management protection found with large cloud-service providers. More than half of the officials used email systems with limited protection from phishing attacks, Area 1 said. The findings underscore problems with the country’s diverse, locally administered election system that attracted the attention of state-sponsored hackers four years ago. In 2016, Russian hackers targeted dozens of election systems in the U.S. and breached two counties in Florida. And while security officials and election officials say that much has been done to improve the security of these systems, email could be another avenue of incursion, especially for attackers looking to disrupt or undermine confidence in the November election, according to Oren Falkowitz, Area 1’s chief executive. Often, all it takes for a cyber intrusion is a single software bug or misconfigured system, Mr. Falkowitz said in an interview. “When you run your own service and you don’t partner with someone to professionally manage it, it means you have to be perfect every single day,” he said. “That’s really hard.”

National: Cybersecurity Experts Caution Against Calls to Expand Online Voting | Aila Slisco/Newsweek

Calls for an expansion of online voting are being met with concern from cybersecurity experts who caution that votes could be easily manipulated if the practice is widely adopted. West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner has recently called for states to expand online voting for overseas military members and people with disabilities that prevent them from voting in person without assistance. West Virginia is one of several states that allow online and mobile voting for overseas military and this year expanded the practice to include disabled people, with 180 voting in a pilot program during the June primary, including 25 disabled people. In 2018, the state was the first to offer voting using a mobile app for service members, with 144 using the technology to vote in that year’s general election, according to a report from the Military Times. In Georgia’s DeKalb County, lawmakers last month called for online voting to become available for all voters throughout the state, according to The Champion. Similar calls have been made by officials and advocates in other states, along with prominent figures like former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, who tweeted about the issue last week. However, cybersecurity experts caution that online voting could present major threats to the integrity of elections since ballots transmitted online are especially vulnerable to attacks from hackers. Limited online voting has been experimented with for years in the U.S., and used on a larger scale in a handful of other countries, but experts say that vulnerabilities are inevitably found in systems when they are examined closely.

National: Bipartisan support grows for inclusion of election funding in Senate stimulus package | Maggie Miller/The Hill

Bipartisan federal, state, and local officials on Wednesday threw support behind Congress sending states more funds to address election challenges, such as increased mail-in voting, during the COVID-19 pandemic. During a Senate Rules Committee hearing on 2020 election preparations, committee Chairman Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), a key player in securing the funds, said he was open to looking into giving states more election funding with low levels of required state matches. “I think we ought to go back and look at the money you currently have available to you, and maybe make that money more consistent in terms and times it has to be spent and give you more access to the money you’ve already got in addition to trying to identify the right amount of new money,” Blunt said while addressing state officials at the hearing. Pressure on the Senate to approve further election funding has increased in the wake of the primary elections, during which many local and state officials ran through much of their portions of the $400 million in election funds included in the CARES Act stimulus package signed into law by President Trump in March. These funds came with a requirement that states provide a 20 percent match, which has become a stumbling block in states reeling from a drop in revenue due to the pandemic. A further $3.6 billion for elections was included in the House-passed HEROES Act stimulus package passed in May, the amount experts have pointed to as necessary to ensure states can hold safe and secure elections during the pandemic.

National: A bipartisan group secretly gathered to game out a contested Trump-Biden election. It wasn’t pretty | Jess Bidgood/The Boston Globe

On the second Friday in June, a group of political operatives, former government and military officials, and academics quietly convened online for what became a disturbing exercise in the fragility of American democracy. The group, which included Democrats and Republicans, gathered to game out possible results of the November election, grappling with questions that seem less far-fetched by the day: What if President Trump refuses to concede a loss, as he publicly hinted recently he might do? How far could he go to preserve his power? And what if Democrats refuse to give in? “All of our scenarios ended in both street-level violence and political impasse,” said Rosa Brooks, a Georgetown law professor and former Defense Department official who co-organized the group known as the Transition Integrity Project. She described what they found in bleak terms: “The law is essentially … it’s almost helpless against a president who’s willing to ignore it.” Using a role-playing game that is a fixture of military and national security planning, the group envisioned a dark 11 weeks between Election Day and Inauguration Day, one in which Trump and his Republican allies used every apparatus of government — the Postal Service, state lawmakers, the Justice Department, federal agents, and the military — to hold onto power, and Democrats took to the courts and the streets to try to stop it.

National: Democrats say Trump election czar isn’t telling the whole story about Russian interference | Ken Dilanian/NBC

The Trump administration’s election security czar issued a rare statement describing foreign efforts to interfere in the 2020 election Friday. Democrats labeled it misleading, saying it failed to convey the scope of Russia’s interference and how its messaging matches that of President Donald Trump. With just over 100 days until the November election, the statement came from Bill Evanina, a career FBI agent who serves as the top counterintelligence official in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Evanina has been given the task of coordinating what to tell Congress and the public about foreign political interference. American adversaries are “seeking to compromise the private communications of U.S. political campaigns, candidates and other political targets,” Evanina said in Friday’s statement, and they “also seek to compromise our election infrastructure, and we continue to monitor malicious cyber actors trying to gain access to U.S. state and federal networks, including those responsible for managing elections.” “In addition, foreign nations continue to use influence measures in social and traditional media in an effort to sway U.S. voters’ preferences and perspectives, to shift U.S. policies, to increase discord and to undermine confidence in our democratic process,” Evanina said. “The coronavirus pandemic and recent protests, for instance, continue to serve as fodder for foreign influence and disinformation efforts in America.”

National: Microsoft Makes Azure Compatible with Election Security Sensors | Phil Goldstein/StateTech Magazine

With a little more than 100 days before the general election on Nov. 3, state governments, nonprofits and technology companies are increasing their efforts to enhance election cybersecurity. In late June, Microsoft announced a partnership with the nonprofit Center for Internet Security, which runs the Elections Infrastructure Information Sharing and Analysis Center. Microsoft has made its Azure cloud platform compatible with election network security sensors from CIS. Separately, CIS launched a pilot program with several states to test and verify voter registration databases, election night reporting systems and other systems. Taken together, they represent increased election security efforts. However, time is running out before Election Day, making it urgent for state and local governments to put new enhancements in place sooner rather than later.