A U.S. Department of Homeland Security team is in Maryland this week to evaluate the state’s election systems after officials learned last month about a transaction between a venture fund with Russian ties and a company involved in the state’s election infrastructure, Maryland’s elections administrator said Tuesday. The Hunt and Incident Response Team from the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center is checking to ensure the election systems hosted by ByteGrid remain secure. “They’re evaluating whether or not there’s any issues with ByteGrid,” said Linda Lamone, the state’s elections administrator. Gov. Larry Hogan, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch asked for the technical assistance to evaluate the network last month.
Articles about voting issues in Maryland.
Maryland: A Russian Oligarch Bought Maryland’s Election Vendor. Now These Senators Are Questioning the Rules | Roll Call
Maryland’s Democratic senators want a Senate committee to require disclosures of foreign investments in U.S. election systems, an alarm bell set off by a Russian oligarch’s connection to their state’s voter registration system. The request to the Rules and Administration Committee comes from Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin and Sen. Chris Van Hollen. Van Hollen is also the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. The Maryland senators have been alarmed by a Russian oligarch’s investment connection to ByteGrid LLC, which handles the Old Line State’s voter registration database and candidate management operations. “As the Rules Committee prepares to mark up the Secure Elections Act, we respectfully request that you sponsor an amendment requiring that an election infrastructure vendor submit a report to the Chair of the [Election Assistance Commission] and the Secretary of [the Department of Homeland Security] identifying any foreign national that directly or indirectly owns or controls the vendor, as well as any material change in ownership resulting in ownership or control by a foreign national,” Cardin and Van Hollen wrote Monday.
Maryland: Senators seek election probe to look at Russian’s ties to state contractor | Baltimore Sun
Less than three months before early voting begins, Maryland’s U.S. senators have joined the chorus of elected officials warning that the November elections could be threatened by a Russian oligarch’s stake in a firm that manages some of the state’s most critical electoral systems. Maryland has already endured one major election snag this year. Some 80,000 voters were told just before the June 26 primary to cast provisional ballots because their change-of-address requests were flubbed by a faulty computer program. Then FBI agents revealed last month that a contractor that manages many of Maryland’s election systems has ties to Vladimir Potanin, an oligarch close to Russian President Vladimir Putin. State officials launched a barrage of probes. On Tuesday Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen added to the list of inquiries by asking that a U.S. Treasury Department committee determine whether Potanin’s investment in the state contractor, ByteGrid, poses a national security threat.
Maryland: Following Maryland revelation, bills would ban election vendors from foreign control | Baltimore Sun
Maryland lawmakers have introduced two U.S. House bills seeking to better safeguard election systems following the disclosure that a state election software vendor had ties to a Russian investor. A measure by Democratic Rep. John Delaney and Republican Rep. Andy Harris would mandate that vendors associated with federal elections be owned and controlled by U.S. companies. The legislation follows last week’s disclosure by state legislative leaders in Annapolis that, without the state’s knowledge, a Russian investor had bought a local software vendor that maintains part of the State Board of Elections’ voter registration system.
A vendor that provides key services for Maryland elections has been acquired by a parent company with links to a Russian oligarch, state officials said Friday after a briefing a day earlier from the FBI. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch made the announcement at a news conference in the Maryland State House, a gathering that included staff members of Gov. Larry Hogan. “The FBI conveyed to us that there is no criminal activity that they’ve seen,” Busch said. “They believe that the system that we have has not been breached.” In a letter Friday, Hogan, Busch and Miller asked the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for technical assistance to evaluate the network used by the elections board.
Maryland: Elections board and MVA reach agreement on number of voters whose information wasn’t transferred on time: 83,493 | Baltimore Sun
The State Board of Elections and the Motor Vehicle Administration appear to have reached agreement on the number of voters whose changes of address or party registration weren’t properly recorded in time for the June 26 primary elections. The number is 83,493, according to deputy elections administrator Nikki Charlson. The MVA put out a statement agreeing with the number. That’s fewer than had been reported by the elections board as of June 28, but more than the number used by the MVA. The elections board at one time reported that the information of almost 87,000 voters had been collected by the MVA but not passed on to the elections board. The cause, both agreed, was a computer glitch.
On June 26, Maryland officials counted votes and released results on primary election winners, but the election is far from over: just over 1 percent of all votes cast have yet to be counted. Due to a glitch in the state’s Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) online and kiosk systems, more than 80,000 Marylanders had to cast provisional ballots because the system didn’t update their voter information changes in time for the primary on June 26. One of those voters was Erin Bowman. A Baltimore resident, Erin went to the First English Lutheran Church in Guilford, Maryland, (which was in her congressional district) to vote in the primary. Since first registering to vote over a decade ago, Erin has never missed an election, and has always done her research on ballot questions and candidates, so she went to her polling station well-prepared. Upon arriving, Erin was told by a polling staffer that because of her recent move to the area, she had to vote on a provisional ballot.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said the head of IT for the state’s Motor Vehicle Administration is no longer at the agency following a technical error affecting voter registration records ahead of the June 26 primary. At one point last week, officials said the error — which came to light just days before the primary — may have affected some 80,000 voters who tried to change their addresses or party affiliations online or through an MVA kiosk. Affected voters were informed they would have to cast provisional ballots. When asked during a WTOP interview Tuesday whether anyone should lose his or her job over the error, Hogan replied: “Somebody already has lost their job over it. The person in charge of all IT for the MVA is no longer working there.”
Maryland may be getting a dry run in how to respond to an election cyberattack. State officials say a computer glitch prevented the Board of Elections from updating voter registration data for as many as 80,000 voters. As a result, droves of people will have to cast provisional ballots if they want to vote in Maryland’s primary today. No, it wasn’t the work of hackers. But the technical error simulated what a hack on a state’s voter registration database might look like — and how election administrators might handle it. “Almost everything that a malicious actor might try to do can also happen by accident,” said Lawrence Norden, deputy director of the Brennan Center for Justice’s Democracy Program, which promotes voting rights. The discovery of the flaw offers a valuable lesson for election officials as they work to improve the security of their election systems ahead of the November midterms, which U.S. intelligence chiefs warn are already being targeted by Russian hackers. And the response shows that election administrators are ready to move quickly if something goes awry.
Maryland: Voter registration snafu affects 80,000, four times as many as initially announced | Baltimore Sun
As many as 80,000 voters will have to cast provisional ballots in Tuesday’s primary election because of a computer glitch — four times as many as state officials initially announced. On the eve of the election, Democratic legislative leaders called for the immediate resignation of Motor Vehicle Administrator Christine Nizer, who oversees the agency that failed to forward voter information to the Maryland Board of Elections. Republican Gov. Larry Hogan ordered an audit of what went wrong. The MVA discovered the problem was more widespread after it first announced late Saturday that nearly 19,000 were affected, according to a document obtained by The Baltimore Sun. The computer glitch affected some voters across the state who tried to change their registration address or party affiliation through the MVA since April 2017.