As the midterm congressional primaries heat up amid fears of Russian hacking, an estimated 1 in 5 Americans will be casting their ballots on machines that do not produce a paper record of their votes. That worries voting and cybersecurity experts, who say the lack of a hard copy makes it difficult to double-check the results for signs of manipulation. “In the current system, after the election, if people worry it has been hacked, the best officials can do is say ‘Trust us,’” said Alex Halderman, a voting machine expert who is director of the University of Michigan’s Center for Computer Security and Society. Georgia, which holds its primary on Tuesday, and four other states — Delaware, Louisiana, New Jersey and South Carolina — exclusively use touch-screen machines that provide no paper records that allow voters to confirm their choices.
National: Congress is offering millions in election security. States may not use it by November. | The Washington Post
States are now free to claim their shares of the hundreds of millions of dollars Congress set aside to secure election systems across the country. But for many states, getting their hands on the money – and deciding how to spend it – is easier said than done. In Minnesota, Secretary of State Steve Simon (D) told me he wants to use part of the $6.6 million in federal funds his state was awarded to hire three coders to immediately upgrade the state’s aging voter registration system. The clock is ticking: Minnesota was one of the 21 states that had election systems targeted by Russian hackers during the 2016 presidential race. With U.S. intelligence agencies warning the midterm elections are likely to be hit by another wave of cyberattacks, states are scrambling to secure their voting infrastructure by November. But Simon says he might not get the funds he needs in time. Under Minnesota law, only the Republican-controlled legislature can release that money — and local politics have left lawmakers in a stalemate over how to proceed. Right now, language to approve the funds is tucked in a spending bill the Democratic governor has threatened to veto for an array of unrelated issues.
Incorrect translations, hard-to-find details, gibberish, or sometimes no information at all. That’s what many Spanish-speaking American voters encounter when searching for online voting materials in Spanish. In most cities, counties, and states across the nation, there is no federal requirement to present information in anything other than English. But for 263 jurisdictions — the vast majority of which are counties — federal law requires that voter information be presented in a minority language, with Spanish being the most common. California, Texas, and Florida are the only states required to present statewide voter information in Spanish. WhoWhatWhy has examined a number of official government websites across the country, looking at how well English-language voter information is translated into Spanish, how often it’s done, and if there are any major discrepancies between the two. What we discovered is that translated material is often hard to find and sometimes is nonexistent. Also, much of what does exist is poorly translated. In a closely contested election, that could make all the difference. In some instances, certain information just doesn’t get included in Spanish.
With midterm elections looming and primaries already underway in many states, anxiety has been building over the possibility of cyberattacks that could impact voting. Though officials and election security researchers alike are adamant that voters can trust the United States election system, they also acknowledge shortcomings of the current security setup. Little time remains to meaningfully improve election security before the midterms. But Google parent company Alphabet’s experimental incubator Jigsaw announced on Tuesday that it will start offering free protection from distributed denial of service attacks to US political campaigns. DDoS attacks overload a site or service with junk traffic so that legitimate users can’t access it. For the last two years, Jigsaw’s Project Shield has focused on fighting DDoS where it might be used for censorship around the world, offering free defenses to journalists, small publications, human rights groups, and election board sites. Now, those tremendous resources and that technical expertise will extend to political campaigns.
A federal judge is deciding whether to permit a lawsuit to go forward in which Democrats allege that Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Russian government’s cyberattacks on the 2016 presidential election. The parties appeared in federal court in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. The three plaintiffs are represented by Protect Democracy, a watchdog group made up primarily of former Obama administration lawyers. Two of the plaintiffs, Eric Schoenberg and Roy Cockrum, had their Social Security numbers dumped online by WikiLeaks; a third plaintiff, former Democratic National Committee staffer Scott Comer, said that his sexual orientation and personal medical details were publicized due to the leak of private emails.
Special counsel Robert Mueller has provided a federal judge with an unredacted version of the Justice Department memo laying out the scope of his investigation and the potential crimes he’s authorized to pursue. However, the memo — long sought after by President Donald Trump’s allies on Capitol Hill, who regularly accuse Mueller of overstepping his bounds — remains classified and not public, leaving its details hidden. The document was filed as an “unredacted memorandum” under seal with the U.S. District Court’s Eastern District of Virginia, where Mueller is expected to try former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on bank fraud charges.
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has postponed a briefing for members of Congress on the security of U.S. voting systems so that it can be classified. The move comes after Democrats, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), pressed GOP leadership to make the briefing classified so that officials could go into sufficient detail about the scope of the threat and the Trump administration’s efforts to protect digital election systems from hackers. Sources told The Hill that the briefing, originally scheduled for Thursday evening, has been pushed back as a result of logistical issues that prevented it from being classified. GOP leadership is now working to reschedule the briefing.
Former White House senior strategist Steve Bannon and billionaire Robert Mercer sought Cambridge Analytica’s political ad targeting technology as part of an “arsenal of weapons to fight a culture war”, according to whistleblower Christopher Wylie. “Steve Bannon believes that politics is downstream from culture. They were seeking out companies to build an arsenal of weapons to fight a culture war,” Wylie said, when asked why investors thought that the political consultancy’s efforts would work, targeting people based on psychological profiles and assessment of their personality. The pink-haired 28-year-old was appearing to give evidence on Capitol Hill for the first time since his decision to blow the whistle on the use of Facebook data by Cambridge Analytica set off shock waves that are still reverberating through Westminster, Washington DC and Silicon Valley. During his testimony to the Senate judiciary committee, Wylie also confirmed that he believed one of the goals of Steve Bannon while he was vice-president of Cambridge Analytica was voter suppression. “One of the things that provoked me to leave was discussions about ‘voter disengagement’ and the idea of targeting African Americans,” he said, noting he had seen documents referencing this.
National: Top Republican Senator Says ‘No Reason to Dispute’ That Russia Favored Trump | The New York Times
The Republican at the helm of the Senate’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election backed on Wednesday the assessment by American intelligence agencies that Moscow favored Donald J. Trump in the race, contradicting both the president and fellow Republicans in the House. Senator Richard M. Burr of North Carolina, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a statement that he saw “no reason to dispute” the intelligence assessment, which was delivered in the final weeks of the Obama administration. Mr. Burr’s statement, while indirect, offered a clear rebuke to Mr. Trump’s most ardent supporters in the Republican Party and in the right-wing news media, who have sought to cast the assessment as the shoddy work of Obama loyalists bitter over Mr. Trump’s election victory. Russia’s only goal, those supporters have insisted, was to sow chaos, and thus it could not have colluded with a campaign it cared little about.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday unveiled a new national strategy for addressing the growing number of cyber security risks as it works to assess them and reduce vulnerabilities. “The cyber threat landscape is shifting in real-time, and we have reached a historic turning point,” DHS chief Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement. “It is clear that our cyber adversaries can now threaten the very fabric of our republic itself.” The announcement comes amid concerns about the security of the 2018 U.S. midterm congressional elections and numerous high-profile hacking of U.S. companies.