A massive voter-tracking program run by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach — which purports to help states keep voter rolls accurate — has halted operations over concerns about its own accuracy and security. The Interstate Crosscheck system, which Kobach’s office promised would be working ahead of the 2018 elections, has been sidelined while the U.S. Department of Homeland Security conducts a security assessment following the unintended release of hundreds of voters’ private information. Each year, the Crosscheck program compares voter registration lists from more than two dozen states, searching for duplicate names. The stated goal is to prevent people from voting in more than one state and eliminate voter fraud — although being registered to vote in two states is not illegal. Crosscheck then sends a list of duplicate names to each participating state, the first step in a long process of voter list maintenance.
The Voting News
State election officials said they haven’t received as much federal funding as they need to secure their election systems even after U.S. intelligence officials concluded that Russia meddled in the 2016 election and the federal government called on states to step up efforts to prevent hacking. Officials from Minnesota and Vermont asked lawmakers for more money at a hearing Wednesday by the Senate Rules and Administration Committee in Washington. “Our upgrades to equipment and cybersecurity will be an ongoing challenge for many states; the federal funding received will, regrettably, be insufficient to do all we want, or need,” said Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos, who is president-elect of the National Association of Secretaries of State.
The initially turbulent relationship between federal agencies and state and local election officials in the wake of the 2016 election season has cleared to some extent as the groups work together ahead of upcoming elections, federal and state government officials told a Senate panel on election security. States are using up a pool of federal money to bolster their election systems, and the Department of Homeland Security is honing its threat sharing data to better fit the needs of states, the officials said at a June 20 Senate Rules and Administration Committee hearing on election cybersecurity. “As of this week, 38 states have requested $250 million” of the $380 million appropriation in the 2018 omnibus spending bill, panel Chairman Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said. He added that $150 million has already been distributed.
National: Obama cybersecurity czar: Russian hackers likely scanned election systems in all 50 states | USA Today
Russian hackers likely scanned the election systems of all 50 states for vulnerabilities in 2016 — not just the 21 states confirmed as targets by homeland security officials last year, the cybersecurity czar for former President Barack Obama told a Senate panel Wednesday. “I think it is highly likely,” Michael Daniel replied in answer to a question from Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, about whether Russian cyber actors at least scanned the election systems of every state. “It is more likely that we hadn’t detected it than that it didn’t occur.” States have been scrambling to improve their cyber security after Homeland Security officials revealed last year that Russian hackers tried to breach election systems in at least 21 states in 2016. Although no actual votes were changed, hackers broke into Illinois’ voter registration database.
National: State Election Officials Didn’t Know About Russian Hacking Threat Until They Read It in the News, Emails Show | HuffPost
Voters across the country were shocked to learn last year, through the disclosure of a top-secret NSA document, details of an intricate plot by Russian military hackers to infiltrate American electoral systems. New emails obtained by The Intercept through public records requests illustrate the disturbing extent to which potential targets of the attack were caught unaware, having apparently remained in the dark alongside the voting public. On June 5, 2017, The Intercept published a top-secret National Security Agency assessment that detailed and diagramed a Russian governmental plot to breach VR Systems, an e-voting vendor that makes poll book software used by several pivotal electoral battleground states, such as North Carolina and Virginia. The report attributed the scheme to the Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate, or GRU. GRU’s plan, the NSA claimed, was to roll any success with VR Systems into a subsequent email attack against state voting officials across the country.
Sen. Sherrod Brown has reacted to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision supporting the Ohio secretary of state’s policy of purging inactive voters from the rolls with a bill aimed at stopping the practice. Brown, D-Ohio, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., announced Wednesday they are introducing a bill to amend the National Voter Registration Act to clarify that a state may not use someone’s failure to vote or respond to a state notice as a reason to remove them from active voter rolls. The bill is a direct reaction the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute case, in which the high court ruled that states may remove registered voters from rolls if they do not vote in multiple federal elections or if they don’t return a mailed address confirmation form. Brown is a former Ohio secretary of state, while Klobuchar is the top Democrat on the Senate Rules Committee, which has oversight jurisdiction over federal elections.
When Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft testified Wednesday in Washington about the security of America’s election systems, he made an astonishing and troubling statement. “The evidence indicates,” he said, “that voter fraud is an exponentially greater threat than hacking of election equipment.” What? Attempts to hack into America’s election systems are well-documented. The fact that they haven’t broadly succeeded, as far as we know, doesn’t mean they aren’t an imminent threat. “It’s disappointing to see this discredited fiction repeated by an election official,” said Lawrence Norden, deputy director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center in New York. Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon, testifying at the same hearing, was clear. “Election security in general, and cybersecurity in particular, is the most significant threat to the integrity of our election system,” he said. He’s right.
Los Angeles County has engaged information technology leader IBM Security Services to conduct an independent review and evaluation of the systems and procedures used in the production and printing of voter rosters for the June 5 Statewide Direct Primary Election. IBM will work with the county’s Chief Information Officer and Auditor-Controller to determine the root cause of the printing error and make recommendations for corrective action. “Our priority is ensuring a thorough and impartial review that is conducted to the highest professional standards,” said Chief Executive Officer Sachi A. Hamai. “Working with IBM Security Services, we are confident we will get the critical information needed to prevent this from happening again.”
Delaware: Delaware may award voting machine contract before releasing bid info | Delaware First Media
The Delaware Office of Management and Budget has requested $10 million for new state voting machines. But the state has not released any bid information on the vendors competing for the contract. OMB previously said it would keep the info private until it awarded the contract. Common Cause Delaware decried the lack in transparency and the Delaware Attorney General sided with them last month, saying OMB has to release the bid rankings.
After two days of confusion — with some but not all county election officials enforcing a Kansas voting restriction struck down by a federal judge Monday — the Kansas Secretary of State’s office instructed local officials Wednesday that proof-of-citizenship was not required to register to vote. The instructions marked the end — or at least a pause — in a years-long saga of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach fighting tooth and nail to keep his signature voter restriction alive, despite multiple court rulings against it. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson issued her order Monday, after a seven-day trial in March, declaring the proof-of-citizenship requirement a violation of both the National Voter Registration Act as well as the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.