California election officials are launching a new effort to fight the kind of disinformation campaigns that plagued the 2016 elections — an effort that comes with thorny legal and political questions. The state’s new Office of Election Cybersecurity will focus on social media efforts to discourage or confuse voters into not casting a ballot. During the 2016 election, in addition to hacking email accounts and attacking voting systems, Russian agents used social media also planted disinformation intended to drive down voter turnout.Full Article: California Launches New Effort To Fight Election Disinformation - capradio.org.
Articles about voting issues in California.
California: Can DMV be trusted to register voters after 23,000 botched registrations? | San Jose Mercury News
The California Department of Motor Vehicles’ acknowledgement this week that it botched 23,000 voter registrations is raising new questions about whether it can be trusted to register voters at a time when election integrity is under renewed scrutiny nationwide. The DMV said the errors are being corrected and that new safeguards — put in place after the mistakes surfaced — seem to be working. But the registration mistakes come at a time when the DMV is already under fire over massive backlogs in processing new federally compliant IDs, known as Real IDs. “Waiting in line is one thing, but having your voter registration tampered with without your knowledge or consent is a very disturbing development,” Assemblyman Jim Patterson, R-Fresno, said Thursday. “This touches on the very security and honestly the sacredness of a person’s registration and votes. This calls into question the ability of the DMV to manage voter registration.”Full Article: Can DMV be trusted to register voters after 23,000 botched registrations?.
The California Department of Motor Vehicles on Wednesday said it has discovered it sent the Secretary of State’s Office 23,000 erroneous voter registrations. The agency said the errors occurred within the state’s Motor Voter program — which allows eligible applicants getting a driver license to be automatically registered to vote. The DMV said the errors stem from technicians toggling between multiple screens and registration information being improperly merged. According to the agency, 1,600 residents did not complete a voter registration affidavit and had their information sent to the secretary of state, which maintains the state’s list of registered voters. The DMV said none of the applicants were undocumented immigrants. “We are committed to getting this right and are working closely with the Secretary of State’s office to correct the errors that occurred,” DMV Director Jean Shiomoto said in a statement.Full Article: California DMV processed 23,000 voter registration errors | The Sacramento Bee.
California: Los Angeles County’s new ‘open source’ vote tallying system isn’t open source just yet | Statescoop
Election officials in Los Angeles County are touting the state’s approval of a new system of tallying absentee votes, one they say will allow the county to distribute redesigned mail-in ballots in time for the Nov. 6 general election. The system runs on technology owned by the county, rather than a private vendor, and in what officials say is a first for California, it’s an open source platform. “With security on the minds of elections officials and the public, open source technology has the potential to further modernize election administration, security, and transparency,” California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, who certified the new system on Tuesday, said in a press release. The one catch? The new system might not count as “open source” just yet, as the agency that created it hasn’t shared the underlying code with the wider programming community.Full Article: Los Angeles County's new 'open source' vote tallying system isn't open source just yet.
California: No, You Can’t Vote Through Twitter: California’s Unprecedented Plan to Tackle Fake Election News | Governing
With less than three months to the midterm elections, American voters remain vulnerable to the same type of information warfare that Russia used to interfere with the 2016 presidential race. Election officials say voting systems are better protected against hackers than they were two years ago, but intelligence experts say the federal government hasn’t tackled the threat of foreign-created disinformation on social media. The risk endures after Russian nationals used hundreds of fake social media accounts to stoke political discord in the U.S. in 2016, according to an indictment earlier this year by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. “The spreading of misinformation and disinformation is one of the single greatest threats to our democratic process,” says National Association of Secretaries of State President Jim Condos, a Democrat who is also Vermont’s Secretary of State. “As we saw in 2016, our foreign adversaries used these tactics to sow doubt with voters and weaken voter confidence in the integrity of our elections.” Now the nation’s most populous state is pushing back, launching an unprecedented effort to address the issue.Full Article: No, You Can't Vote Through Twitter: California's Unprecedented Plan to Tackle Fake Election News.
Los Angeles County’s open-source vote tally system was certified by the secretary of state Tuesday, clearing the way for redesigned vote-by-mail ballots to be used in the November election. “With security on the minds of elections officials and the public, open-source technology has the potential to further modernize election administration, security and transparency,” Secretary of State Alex Padilla said. “Los Angeles County’s VSAP vote tally system is now California’s first certified election system to use open-source technology. This publicly-owned technology represents a significant step in the future of elections in California and across the country.”Full Article: State Certifies LA County's New Open-Source Vote Tally System - MyNewsLA.com.
The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating a cyber attack on the congressional campaign of a Democratic candidate in California, according to three people close to the campaign. The hackers successfully infiltrated the election campaign computer of David Min, a Democratic candidate for the House of Representatives who was later defeated in the June primary for California’s 45th Congressional district. The incident, which has not been previously reported, follows an article in Rolling Stone earlier this week that the FBI has also been investigating a cyber attack against Hans Keirstead, a California Democrat. He was defeated in a primary in the 48th Congressional district, neighboring Min’s. Paige Hutchinson, Min’s former campaign manager, declined to comment. An FBI spokeswoman said the bureau cannot confirm or deny an investigation.Full Article: Exclusive: FBI probing cyber attack on congressional campaign in California - sources | Reuters.
California: Documents Reveal Successful Cyberattack in California Congressional Race | Rolling Stone
FBI agents in California and Washington, D.C., have investigated a series of cyberattacks over the past year that targeted a Democratic opponent of Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA). Rohrabacher is a 15-term incumbent who is widely seen as the most pro-Russia and pro-Putin member of Congress and is a staunch supporter of President Trump. The hacking attempts and the FBI’s involvement are described in dozens of emails and forensic records obtained by Rolling Stone. The target of these attacks, Dr. Hans Keirstead, a stem-cell scientist and the CEO of a biomedical research company, finished third in California’s nonpartisan “top-two” primary on June 5th, falling 125 votes short of advancing to the general election in one of the narrowest margins of any congressional primary this year. He has since endorsed Harley Rouda, the Democrat who finished in second place and will face Rohrabacher in the November election.Full Article: Documents Reveal Successful Cyberattack in California Congressional Race – Rolling Stone.
California: Legislature approves new Office of Elections Cybersecurity to repel attacks and combat disinformation | StateScoop
California is poised to officially create an Office of Elections Cybersecurity, a new bureau dedicated to combating cyberattacks directed at the state’s voting systems and correcting disinformation directed at voters. The new agency, which will be housed under the secretary of state’s office, was approved this week by both houses of the state legislature. The Office of Elections Cybersecurity will be responsible for disseminating information on cyberthreats against voting systems to county- and city-level elections officials. It is also designed to be a point of contact for federal officials to coordinate responses and to oversee cybersecurity training for local boards of elections, which are often less equipped than larger government agencies to fend off threats from foreign intelligence agencies. Federal officials have said that Russian hackers attempted to penetrate voter registration systems in at least 21 states — including California — during the 2016 presidential race, and have said this year that Kremlin-backed actors continue to target U.S. election infrastructure.Full Article: California legislature approves new Office of Elections Cybersecurity to repel attacks and combat disinformation.
California: Voting Machines Aren’t the Only Vectors for Attack, California Election Officials Say | Government Technology
California election officials are guarding their voting machines and registration lists against Russian hackers — although no one has spotted any. “I operate under the assumption that hacking is actually happening and California is a target,” Secretary of State Alex Padilla says. “This year, there’s a big focus on several congressional races that could determine the House majority. The stakes in California have national implications.” But would the Russians actually try to change election outcomes? “I have no doubt that if they could, they would,” says Padilla, a Democrat who’s heavily favored to win reelection in November. Hacking into California’s voting system and altering votes, however, is considered by most experts to be practically impossible. That’s because voting machines aren’t hooked up to the internet. State law forbids it. A hacker might attack one machine but couldn’t reach into the entire vote-collecting system.Full Article: Voting Machines Aren’t the Only Vectors for Attack, California Election Officials Say.
California: Software incompatibilities cited in review of missing Los Angeles County voter names | Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles County’s election software was unable to process a formatting change in state voter data, contributing to 118,500 names being omitted from eligible-voter rosters on election day in June, according to an executive summary of an independent review released Wednesday. There was no evidence of a security breach, the summary said. The county paid IBM Security Services $230,000 to investigate the foul-up, which officials said affected roughly 2.3% of registered voters across the county and 35% of voting locations. L.A. County elections chief Dean Logan said in June that the problem had no impact on voter eligibility and that poll workers were instructed on election day to give provisional ballots to people whose names did not appear on rosters. But the omissions prompted elected officials and civil rights groups to demand that the county review its election process.Full Article: Software incompatibilities cited in review of missing L.A. County voter names.
Old code, software problems and server configuration in Marin County, combined with heavy traffic, caused the blooper that made it impossible for the public to view results on election night June 5, county officials said this week. “We determined that it was a combination of three things,” said Liza Lowery Massey, director of Marin County’s Department of Information Services and Technology. The Registrar of Voters website, which had been redesigned to feature more graphs and other visual elements to make the data more accessible to the general public, remained inaccessible most of the night. Specifically, Massey said there was some antiquated legacy software code in some of the county’s Web pages.Full Article: Code, Software, Servers Bedeviled County Election Website.
Santa Monica, Calif., with a “well-being index” to gauge the happiness of its residents and a fleet of city buses powered by natural gas, often lives up to its reputation as a wealthy, liberal enclave on California’s coast. But this month, a trial in a Los Angeles courtroom has put the seaside city on the same side as a conservative legal activist who is challenging the state’s voting-rights law. The fight revolves around the city’s at-large election system for its seven City Council seats. Instead of winning office by capturing the majority in any particular district, council members are elected citywide.Full Article: A Fight Over Voter Rights in California - WSJ.
California: Marin County officials detail glitches behind election-night web foulup | Marin Independent Journal
Old code, software problems and server configuration combined with heavy traffic caused the blooper that made it impossible for the public to view results on election night June 5, county officials said this week. “We determined that it was a combination of three things,” said Liza Lowery Massey, director of Marin County’s Department of Information Services and Technology. The Registrar of Voters’ website, which had been redesigned to feature more graphs and other visual elements to make the data more accessible to the general public, remained inaccessible most of the night.Full Article: Marin officials detail glitches behind election-night web foulup.
A potential new voting system may not guarantee San Franciscans night-of election results, but agonizing, eight-day waits for a new mayor are likely behind us. That scenario unfolded in June, mostly thanks to the sheer amount of mail-in ballots that streamed in days after the polls had closed. But this past week, voters and the San Francisco Department of Elections had the chance to engineer a smoother, less tedious process on several fronts. For future elections, Dominion Voting Systems has an alternative that will allow voters to select their choices on a huge Android tablet complete with ADA-friendly accessibility options, a language bar, a review page, and companion printer to track their choices on paper. To extend the ranked-choice voting confusion, voters can rank up to 10 candidates on the screen. “This system is much more versatile than the existing system,” says Larry Korb, a sales engineer for Dominion.Full Article: Prepare to Vote on Android Tablets - August 2, 2018 - SF Weekly.
California: Incompatible file formats led Los Angeles County to drop 118,000 voters in California primary | StateScoop
Multiple factors contributed to Los Angeles County eliminating more than 118,000 registered voters from the rolls during the June 5 California primary election, according to a report published Wednesday. The document, prepared by IBM Security Services, explains that software incompatibilities and clashing file formats between the state’s official voter list and the county’s system led to the voters being dropped from the roster. At the time, county officials attributed the cut names to a printing error. The affected voters accounted for about 2.3 percent of the county’s registered voters, and were spread across about one-third of the sprawling county’s precincts. The most populous in the United States, the county spans from the city of Los Angeles to the edge of the Mojave Desert, and boasts more than 5.1 million registered voters, more than one-quarter of California’s statewide total. People who showed up to vote but were told their names were not on the rolls were still allowed to cast provisional ballots.Full Article: Incompatible file formats led Los Angeles County to drop 118,000 voters in California primary.
A pilot program in San Francisco aims to make the voting process easier both on casting a vote and how that vote is counted. San Francisco residents have until Tuesday to test the pilot program out, which includes electronic voting on large tablets. “It’s absolutely amazing,” voter Charles Esler said of trying out the pilot. “It’s a lot more user friendly.” San Francisco’s Department of Elections is hoping voters will offer plenty of opinions after they come test them out. The machines being used in the new voting process are built by Dominion Voting Systems.Full Article: San Francisco Tests New Election Voting System - NBC Bay Area.
A business that for years provided key election services to San Luis Obispo County is barred from doing business in California and has a federal tax lien of $270,000, records show. Now, San Luis Obispo County and five other California counties have contracted for the same election services with what business executives assert is a new company. But there’s evidence the two are related — if not the same business. The new business, Integrated Voting Systems, shares a working name, address and other details with the original business: Integrated Voting Solutions. And for nearly two years, Integrated Voting Systems has done business as Integrated Voting Solutions. In June, that company caused a critical ballot error that required a recount in a Colorado county, leading to news stories that linked the company to the one in “hot water” in California.Full Article: Elections business serving SLO County CA has legal issues | The Tribune.
California: Could Russia hack California’s elections? It would be hard, but not impossible | San Francisco Chronicle
Although California has received an “all-clear” from government agencies looking into Russian attempts to hack into voting data for states across the nation, safe today doesn’t mean safe tomorrow, a leading computer security expert warned. “The bottom line is, be nervous,” said Matt Bishop, a UC Davis computer science professor who specializes in computer security. California has been pushing hard to make its voting systems more secure and more efficient since Florida’s famous “hanging chad” election of 2000. … San Francisco’s system is typical, said John Arntz, the city’s elections chief. There’s an “air gap” in the electronic voting machines and the equipment that tallies the votes, he said.Full Article: Could Russia hack California’s elections? It would be hard, but not impossible - SFChronicle.com.
California will be staying in one piece, at least for now, after the state’s supreme court ruled that a proposal to divide California into three cannot be placed on the ballot in November. Tim Draper, a wealthy venture capitalist, has spent years arguing that the Golden State would be better off as several smaller states. He says California is too large to be governed effectively and that splitting up would result in “better decision making and real solutions closer to home.” This year, he got enough signatures to put it before voters — although experts said that even if the proposal passed, it would face a range of daunting legal and political hurdles. Then the Planning and Conservation League (PCL), a nonprofit environmental group in California, filed a lawsuit to block the measure from getting to a vote.Full Article: California Supreme Court Squashes Bid To Split State Into Three : NPR.