A U.S. Department of Homeland Security team found no evidence of intrusion on Maryland’s election system after the FBI told state officials that a company hosting certain elections systems had been acquired by a firm partly owned by a Russian oligarch. Still, the state’s elections board announced Thursday it will transition to a new data center “out of an abundance of caution.” The Hunt and Incident Response Team from the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center was deployed in August to offices in Annapolis, Maryland, at the request of state officials to examine the state’s election infrastructure network enclave, which is hosted and maintained by Annapolis, Maryland-based ByteGrid. “During the course of the on-site engagement, HIRT did not positively identify any threat actor activity on the MDSBE, ByteGrid, or Enclave networks,” concluded the 15-page report released at the elections board’s meeting Thursday.
Articles about voting issues in Maryland.
Maryland: Election apparitions: These Maryland ‘ghost’ precincts have no polling places or voters | Baltimore Sun
You may or may not believe in ghosts, but if you live in Maryland, chances are you’ve encountered a few without realizing it. At a Baltimore Orioles game, for example. Or while walking in the city’s Wyman Park Dell, or observing the wildlife at the Patuxent Research Refuge in Laurel. Maybe you’ve driven to the “Jones Thicket Ghost,” named for a road in Dorchester County where it can be found. Maryland has 54 “ghosts” — 51 scattered across ten counties, plus three in Baltimore. Ghost precincts, that is — voting precincts that, on Tuesday, will have no polling places, no election judges and will report no results. This is because these are areas where no voters live. Most of Maryland’s ghost precincts were created as a result of the last redistricting, when political boundaries for legislative, congressional and councilmanic districts were redrawn based on population data from the 2010 U.S. Census. After redistricting, voting precinct boundaries were also re-assessed and, if necessary, redrawn.
Amid heightened conversation across the country about voting rights and who has access to the ballot, Maryland voters are deciding whether to amend the state constitution to allow people to register on Election Day. The Democratic-backed initiative, which was opposed by most Republican lawmakers and has not been endorsed by Gov. Larry Hogan (R), is one of two statewide questions on the ballot for the midterm elections. … Maryland already allows residents to register during early voting, which this year ends Thursday, but they cannot do it on Election Day.
Maryland: In Wake of Russian Meddling, Critics Say Maryland’s Online Ballot System Is Potential Target – NBC4
Requests for absentee ballots are on the rise ahead of the November election — the first general contest since learning of Russian efforts to access voting systems, including those right here in the Washington area. But critics, including a host of computer security experts, say a system designed to make voting easier also makes it more of a target for hackers intending to interfere in U.S. elections. Maryland officials, however, argue those concerns are hypothetical and say they’ve put the necessary safeguards in place. At issue is Maryland’s online ballot delivery system, which allows any voter to request and download an absentee ballot from the internet. Maryland doesn’t allow residents to vote online, so users of this system must mail in their ballots.’
Maryland: Gerrymandering case is back in court where judges floated an independent mapping commission as a fix | The Washington Post
Federal judges in Maryland floated the idea Thursday of taking the state’s congressional voting map out of the hands of political leaders and leaving the drawing of electoral lines to an independent, nonpartisan commission. A three-judge panel pressed the attorney general’s office and Republican voters challenging the electoral map about the possibility of settling their long-running case as it arrived back in court for the first time since the Supreme Court declined to immediately review the matter of redrawn maps. The high court in June avoided answering the question of when extreme partisan gerrymandering is unconstitutional in the Maryland case involving a Democratic-drawn map — and in another from Wisconsin involving a Republican-led effort.
Maryland: Court suggests settlement talks in Maryland congressional redistricting case | Baltimore Sun
A federal court on Thursday suggested settlement discussions be pursued in a case in which Republican voters in Maryland’s 6th Congressional District want to toss out a map they say was unfairly crafted to benefit Democrats. The three-judge panel made the recommendation during a hearing on the case in Baltimore, according to the state attorney general’s office, which is defending the current district boundaries. The options for U.S. District Court Chief Judge James Bredar and two other federal judges could include having a nonpartisan redistricting commission redraw the boundaries, asking lawmakers to redo the map, or preserving the current district lines.
With the midterm elections just over a month away, there is heightened concern about the security of America’s voting process, following recent revelations by the FBI that a software company — which runs part of Maryland’s voter registration system — was purchased by Russian oligarch Vladimir Potanin, believed to have close ties to President Vladimir Putin. “So, the fact that one of his friends, one of his business, wealthy friends, is buying up (a) company that does business with our Board of Election(s) is a matter of major security interest here,” said Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md. The company, Bytegrid, is responsible for voter registration, online ballot delivery and unofficial election night results, and while there’s been no evidence of wrongdoing, Cardin says change is needed now.
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.
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.