The Voting News

Editorials: Did Russian hackers make 2016 North Carolina voters disappear? Why won’t we stop this for 2020? | Will Bunch/Philadelphia Inquirer

As 2016′s do-or-die presidential election between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton drew near, many students at North Carolina Central University, a historically black institution in the city of Durham, couldn’t wait to cast their ballots, to Soar to the Polls, in the name of an early-voting rally staged by campus activists. “These Millennials are not alienated,” Jarvis Hall, an NCCC poli-sci professor, said when the rally was held late that October. “They are engaged, involved and concerned, and they want to draw attention to and take advantage of the early voting.” But those students who instead waited until the fateful Election Day of November 8, 2016, to vote at a campus polling place didn’t soar, but instead came in for a crash landing. Susan Greenhalgh, the executive director of an alliance called the National Election Defense Coalition, was manning a national voting hotline that morning and her phone was ablaze with calls from all over North Carolina and especially from Durham, a Democratic enclave in a purple battleground state.

Full Article: Did Russian hackers make 2016 NC voters disappear? Why won’t we stop this for 2020? | Will Bunch.

Editorials: Ohioans must act to keep the 2020 elections secure against foreign interference | David Salvo/cleveland.com

In less than 17 months, Ohioans will go to the polls to vote in the 2020 presidential election. An all-important swing state, Ohio will once again be the focus of many presidential candidates, national and international reporters, campaign volunteers and political pundits. But Ohio will likely be a target of more nefarious actors, too. Authoritarian governments are still seeking to undermine Americans’ confidence in our elections. Yet, there are vulnerabilities we have yet to address as a nation, all with consequences for the health of our democracy. Ohioans already have experienced election interference from foreign actors. In 2016, Russian government trolls sought to influence Ohioans’ opinions on presidential candidates and key political and social issues. These trolls used numerous tactics, such as impersonating real Ohio media outlets that looked and sounded legitimate, but were actually fake. These falsified accounts gained thousands of followers on Twitter.

Full Article: Ohioans must act to keep the 2020 elections secure against foreign interference: David Salvo (Opinion) - cleveland.com.

Europe: Election voting problems ‘were evident five years ago’ | Jennifer Rankin/The Guardian

Problems that denied EU citizens their vote in last month’s European elections were evident five years ago, according to a leaked letter from the European commission. Many EU nationals were unable to vote in the European elections on 23 May, through a series of bureaucratic muddles and mistakes that experts decried as a fiasco that a democracy should not tolerate. A letter sent on Friday to the constitution minister, Chloe Smith, shows that some of the chaos at polling stations was foreshadowed in previous European elections in 2014. “The commission notes that the difficulties encountered were largely recurrences of the incidents and deficiencies that had previously arisen during the 2014 elections and which the United Kingdom had undertaken to remedy in time,” states a copy of the letter seen by the Guardian.

Full Article: European election voting problems ‘were evident five years ago’ | Politics | The Guardian.

Australia: Politicians need more public money to thwart election cyber attacks: ASPI | Julian Bajkowski /iTnews

The spectre of state-sponsored cyber interference in democratic elections across the world has been a staple example of why nations like Australia need top-notch digital defences. Especially since the Internet Research Agency’s free-for-all in the 2016 US poll coincided with the delivery of an unexpected Trump Tweetocracy, with the degree of Russia’s influence hotly contested ever since. Now, after a considerable amount of research helped along by the Australian Computer Society, the cyber security boffins at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute reckon they have reasonable solution to boost the defences of our political parties big and small: Give them more taxpayer’s money.

Full Article: Politicians need more public money to thwart election cyber attacks: ASPI - Finance - Security - iTnews.

Canada: National security landscape will get a major overhaul this summer | Catharine Tunney/CBC

Canada’s national security architecture is about to undergo a major demolition and rebuild this summer, now that C-59 has received royal assent. The bill — which, after two years, passed through both houses of Parliament this week — gives Canada’s signals intelligence agency new powers, although most of its new authority will come into force down the road. Once the prime minister and cabinet issue an order, the Communications Security Establishment will be permitted under C-59 to launch cyberattacks (also called “active cyber operations”) for the first time in Canadian history. Such cyberattacks could be used to stop a terrorist’s cellphone from detonating a car bomb, for example, or to impede a terrorist’s ability to communicate with others by obstructing communication infrastructure, according to the Department of Public Safety.

Full Article: Canada's national security landscape will get a major overhaul this summer | CBC News.

India: Citizens launch campaign against use of electronic voting machines for elections | National Herald

The Election Commission had released several versions of the voter data and several have questioned if the EVMs were switched or manipulated. Jan Andolan in Delhi has launched a campaign, ‘EVM Virodhi Rashtriya Jan Andolan’ against the use of Electronic Voting Machines for elections in India. “We appeal to all political parties to urgently recognise the threats posed by the manipulations of EVM that compromise a free and fair election. We urge you to initiate immediate measures for public awareness regarding possible manipulation by EVM,” read the campaign statement. It asks political parties to recognise the threat to Indian democracy being posed by the use of EVMs. “The depth and scale of BJP victories in the Hindi heartland states and the total elimination of major opponents should raise alarm bells about the real possibility of EVM tampering,” says the campaigners. EVM tampering can manufacture a distorted political narrative, demoralise the opponents and derail united strategies.

Full Article: Citizens launch campaign against use of EVM machines for elections.

Switzerland: Most Swiss expats to lose e-voting access in parliament elections | SWI

Swiss citizens overseas registered for e-voting in the cantons of Geneva, Bern, Aargau and Lucerne will not be able to vote electronically in the national parliament elections in October. The canton of Geneva has decided to accelerate the phasing out of the voting platform used by these cantons until now.  Geneva had earlier announced that it was shelving its CHVote platform (developed in 2003) due to cost reasons. However, it said that it would keep the platform going until February 2020.  But it has now decided to deactivate CHVote earlier than originally anticipated, leaving some users unable to vote electronically in the parliamentary elections in October. This decision was taken in agreement with the cantons of Bern, Aargau and Lucerne, which have been using CHVote since 2010.

Full Article: Most Swiss expats to lose e-voting access in parliament elections - SWI swissinfo.ch.

National: State attorneys general demand that Congress take action on election security | Maggie Miller/The Hill

Twenty-two Democratic state attorneys general demanded Tuesday that Congress take action to secure election systems ahead of the 2020 vote. The group of attorneys general, led by Minnesota’s Keith Ellison, sent a letter to the leaders from each party of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Senate Rules Committee begging them to work together to bolster election security in the states, including passing legislation. “Our state and local election officials are on the front-lines of the fight to protect our election infrastructure, but they lack the resources necessary to combat a sophisticated foreign adversary like Russia,” they wrote. The group of attorneys general asked the senators for “sustained” federal funding to secure election infrastructure against potential interference, for updating the equipment itself and for information technology and cybersecurity training for election officials.

Full Article: State attorneys general demand that Congress take action on election security | TheHill.

National: Senate Democrats target McConnell in election security fight | Joseph Marks/The Washington Post

Senate Democrats launched an all-out assault on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Tuesday in an effort to unstick a slew of election security reforms that he has blocked from coming to a vote. The Democrats are demanding votes on bills that would mandate states use paper ballots that are far tougher to hack than fully electronic ones and conduct security audits of election systems. They’re also using legislative maneuvers to try to force Republicans to pony up election security money during broader budget negotiations, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N. Y) said during a news conference. And they’re training their swords on McConnell, charging him with standing by mutely while Russia tries to repeat the hacking and influence operations that upended the 2016 election. “Things are going to get a lot worse in 2020 and the Republican Senate, Leader McConnell just stands there and twiddles their thumbs and almost says, ‘Come on Putin, let it happen,’” Schumer charged.

Full Article: The Cybersecurity 202: Senate Democrats target McConnell in election security fight - The Washington Post.

National: Senate Democrats prioritize defense amendments to boost election security | Niels Lesniewski/Roll Call

In one of the few chances they have to offer amendments this year, Senate Democrats are trying to prioritize efforts to keep Russia from further meddling in U.S. elections. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer made that clear Tuesday morning, highlighting Democrat-led efforts to amend the fiscal 2020 national defense authorization measure that is in line for floor consideration after several nomination votes. “NDAA, as I said, has always been about protecting national security,” Schumer said. “And if protecting our elections from foreign interference isn’t a national security issue, then what the heck is?” Schumer, a New York Democrat, anticipated the start of the real work on the defense bill could come Wednesday. While a robust amendment process used to be the norm for the annual Pentagon policy bill, that has not been the case in recent years — even though the mammoth packages still ultimately become law.

Full Article: Senate Democrats prioritize defense amendments to boost election security.

National: Senate bill to strengthen cybersecurity coordination with state and local governments | John Thomas Flynn/Federal News Network

A new Senate bill aims to strengthen cybersecurity coordination between the Department of Homeland Security, and state and local governments. The State and Local Government Cybersecurity Act would encourage national cybersecurity watchdogs to share information, including threats, vulnerabilities, breaches and resources to prevent and recover from cyber attacks, with states and localities who are increasingly targeted by bad actors. States’ vulnerability to cyber attacks was front and center during the 2016 presidential elections and federal watchdogs have pushed for more precautions, and resources to prevent similar incidents in 2020. “State and local governments are responsible for safeguarding everything from election systems to an increasing amount of sensitive personal data – from social security numbers and credit card information to detailed medical records,” Gary Peters (D-Mich.), ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said in a statement Tuesday. “Despite being targeted by hackers and bad actors, states and local communities don’t always have access to the resources and expertise needed to protect your information from a breach.”

Full Article: Senate bill to strengthen cybersecurity coordination with state and local governments | Federal News Network.

National: Cybersecurity Remains Inadequate Following 2016 Election | Sam Harton/TechDecisions

The Russia investigation has been a point of political contention and controversy as well as a common buzzword in social media posts and mainstream news headlines. Robert Mueller’s investigation was primarily an investigation into the allegations the the president had obstructed justice and colluded with with Russia in order to win the 2016 election. The Special Counsel’s politicized investigation revealed, dissected, and abstracted many things, but the report also revealed that the election did little to raise concerns about the importance of political cybersecurity, according to CNBC. One of the biggest scandals of the election was the Cambridge Analytica incident, in which Facebook’s inadequate cybersecurity and privacy policies that extracted data without people’s consent and allowed Russian operatives to influence the 2016 election in Donald Trump’s favor. Mueller’s report, however, did not dive extensively into this matter, having only said this: “…a private Russian entity engaged in a social media operation where Russian citizens posed as Americans in order to influence an election.”

Full Article: Cybersecurity Remains Inadequate Following 2016 Election - My TechDecisions.

National: Senate Democrats to try to force additional election security votes | Jordain Carney/The Hill

Senate Democrats will try to force votes on additional election security legislation as they aim to pressure Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) into taking action on the issue. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters Tuesday that Democrats will go to the floor to try to bring up the bills by unanimous consent, a move that will force a GOP senator to come to the floor and block the bills or let them pass. “We’re going to hold stand-alone votes on the many bills that already exist on election security,” Schumer told reporters, outlining the Senate Democrats’ strategy. The New York senator added that Democrats would push for additional election security funding in the upcoming budget and appropriations negotiations. House Democrats included $600 million for the Election Assistance Commission in an appropriations bill.

Full Article: Senate Democrats to try to force additional election security votes | TheHill.

National: Voting machine giant lobbies Congress for paper ballots amid election security concerns | Kevin Collier/CNN

The US’s largest election equipment manufacturer has begun quietly lobbying Congress to force all voting equipment to create a paper trail, a sharp departure after years of selling paperless digital machines that can’t be fully audited. The change of stance comes amid concerns over the security of elections following Russia’s interference effort in the 2016 presidential election. “There’s a big recognition today that auditing is important, and to do a proper audit you need a piece of paper,” Kathy Rogers, Election Systems & Software senior vice president of government relations, told CNN. “I’ll tell you it’s a decision that came at a cost. We’ve lost a few sales because of it. But we think it’s the right thing to do,” Rogers said. Voting experts resoundingly agree that while no system is perfect, the only way to reliably audit an election is to compare results with a physical tally of paper ballots.

Full Article: Voting machine giant lobbies Congress for paper ballots amid election security concerns - CNNPolitics.

Editorials: Russia’s election interference is no longer a surprise. It should still infuriate. | The Washington Post

Russia’s meddling with democracy no longer comes as a surprise. It should, nevertheless, continue to provoke anger, outrage and a determination to respond. Observers predicted that last month’s elections for European Parliament would offer a window on a new era of disinformation. Now, European Union officials have rendered a verdict that suggests the Kremlin kept itself busy — engaging not in any grand cross-border campaign but in sustained interference on a smaller scale that may be even harder to root out. Worse, others followed its lead. The E.U. report and concurrent outside research show that the enemy is evolving. Gone are the days when vast networks of false-identity accounts and their automated counterparts worked en masse to spread tales of events that never occurred or malicious lies about public figures. Now, operations are more localized and harder to detect. They feature what experts call narrative warfare, pushing polarizing and distorted variations of otherwise true stories, stripped of context, rather than outright fabrications. The tactic is tougher both for platforms to detect and for governments to legislate against.

Full Article: Russia’s election interference is no longer a surprise. It should still infuriate. - The Washington Post.

Florida: Beefing up Florida’s Battle Against Voter Hacking | Dave Dunwoody/WUWF

Florida’s 67 county elections departments will retain $2.3 million in unspent grant money aimed at stopping cyber-attacks on the state’s voting system in the run up to the state’s presidential primary in March. The unspent money is left over from a $19 million federal grant last year, to combat potential attacks on the state’s voting system. Gov. Ron DeSantis calls election security a “cornerstone” of democracy; and that the money will be used to continue work on the systems targeted by Russian hackers in 2016. “We have 67 different elections that are run,” said the Governor. “Not every county has the same amount of resources, so we want to be there to offer support, so the elections run smoothly.”

Full Article: Beefing up Florida's Battle Against Voter Hacking | WUWF.

Florida: Governor announces statewide plan to secure election systems | Maggie Miller/The Hill

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Tuesday announced a $5.1 million statewide initiative aimed at securing Florida’s voting systems against cyberattacks ahead of the 2020 elections. Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee and all 67 supervisors of elections throughout the state will participate in the program, with the goal of eliminating “any vulnerabilities in our elections infrastructure,” DeSantis said in a statement. The Florida Department of State will distribute $2.3 million to election supervisors to make security improvements, adding to the $2.8 million for election security efforts already approved by the state legislature as part of the fiscal 2020 budget.

Full Article: Florida governor announces statewide plan to secure election systems | TheHill.

Louisiana: Lawmakers drain voting machine replacement fund | Melinda Deslatte/Associated Press

Louisiana never had sizable sums set aside to buy the thousands of new voting machines it needs. But the state has even less now, after the small amount socked away for the expense was shifted elsewhere in an election-year legislative scramble to boost spending on education, public safety and health care. Lawmakers previously had put $2 million in state financing into a voting technology fund, as a down payment on a machine replacement expected to cost tens of millions of dollars. Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin had hoped millions more would be added this year. Instead, lawmakers reshuffled the money to help pay for Ardoin’s office operations as they built the $30 billion state operating budget that starts July 1. That will leave lawmakers in the new term beginning in 2020 to find dollars to pay for machines. “I did warn them. I said, ‘The bill is coming. The bill is coming.’ It was a hugely missed opportunity,” said Ardoin, Louisiana’s chief elections officer. A contract for the new voting machines hasn’t been settled, and the secretary of state’s office hasn’t begun seeking vendors for the work, after a previous solicitation effort was derailed by allegations of improper bid handling.

Full Article: Lawmakers drain Louisiana voting machine replacement fund | Myrtle Beach Sun News.

New York: New Voting Machines Could Impact Need For Poll Translators | Kings County Politics

A new voting machine that has instructions and ballots in multiple languages could make the city’s hiring of translators outside of polling places obsolete in the near future. That after the state board of elections is reportedly looking at giving municipalities the green light to start using the ExpressVote XL machines if they so choose. Given that the city now offers voter the ability to register in 15 different languages, the machine has a touchscreen which allows for any language to be programmed, so that voters whose first language is not English can simply read the ballot in their preferred language without having to navigate a crowded ballot with small print and multiple languages on it. The machine uses touchscreen technology that displays only the language that the voter selects, making the ballot clear and easy to read.  The paper-based ExpressVote XL machines are also fully Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant, produce a verifiable paper record for tabulation.

Full Article: New Voting Machines Could Impact Need For Poll Translators.

North Carolina: Concerns over voting machines underscores importance of election security | Justin Sherman/WRAL.com

Two weeks ago, Politico reported on a Florida-based election software company that may be unwittingly involved in election security problems in North Carolina. The company was targeted by Russian hackers in 2016 and this effort may have given the hackers remote access to a computer in Durham County that managed a voter list management tool. Now, North Carolina officials are delaying approval of new voting machines for use in the 2020 elections—due to uncertainty over the ownership of the machine suppliers in question. This underscores something that’s only recently come to the forefront of American attention: The abysmal state of election security in the United States. Many countries still use paper ballots to count votes. But in the United States, this isn’t required by law. Many states use electronic devices to count votes in elections. And their security is terrible.  At a 2018 conference, security expert Rachel Tobac showed how easily one can gain administrative access to an electronic voting machine, in-person, in under two minutes. Dozens of kids, at the same event, were likewise able to quickly gain illicit access to replica voting websites.

Full Article: JUSTIN SHERMAN: Concerns over N.C. voting machines underscores importance of election security :: WRAL.com.