The state Auditor General is launching a review of Pennsylvania’s voting and registration process, following up on concerns Russians attempted to interfere in the 2016 elections. Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said the review will focus on the security of the Statewide Uniform Registry of Electors–or SURE–system, which tracks registration data on the state and county level. He noted, there’s no evidence foreign hackers successfully breached Pennsylvania’s voting and registration systems. However, he said, “there is zero question that Russians tried to hack it and to interfere in the 2016 election process in Pennsylvania, and at least 20 other states” according to the US Department of Homeland Security.
Articles about voting issues in Pennsylvania.
Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati is throwing his weight behind a few measures that have, of late, been more commonly championed by Democrats. The top Republican official, of Cameron County, said in a wide-ranging speech Monday that he wants to see the redistricting process overhauled, and also switch the commonwealth to open primaries. Scarnati made it clear, his anger over the state Supreme Court’s decision to invalidate and redraw Pennsylvania’s congressional map hasn’t abated. But in the midst of reproaching the justices for having “trampled, shredded, and burned” the constitution, he said he knows the process has to change–though he added, it’ll be a challenge.
The storm that ripped through the region at about 3 p.m. knocked out power at several polling sites, leaving voters in one Northumberland County polling place to vote by flashlight. While generators were used at several polling sites to keep voting machines running, the voting area in Jordan Township had to employ flashlights and paper ballots, said director of elections Alisha Elliott. The storm did not deter voters from coming out, though. Elliott said turnout in primary elections during a non-presidential election is usually between 15 and 17 percent, but Tuesday’s turnout was about 20 percent. Turnout in Union County topped 25 percent, besting the 18 percent prediction director of elections Greg Katherman put forth before any ballots were returned at the county government center.
With the Pennsylvania primary underway, state officials are working with the federal Department of Homeland Security to protect voting systems from hacking. Senior Department of Homeland Security official Chris Krebs visited Harrisburg and spoke at a press briefing on election security. In his current role, Krebs is performing the duties of the undersecretary for DHS’s National Protection and Programs Directorate. Krebs said there’s never been successful election hacking in Pennsylvania, and he’s working with the Pennsylvania Department of State to keep it that way. His agency has been helping to identify and fix weaknesses in Pennsylvania’s voting system.
As midterm votes are being cast in Pennsylvania and across the country, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is playing catch-up. Pennsylvania is one of at least 17 states where election officials have requested on-site risk assessments of their election systems. Nearly half those reviews had not been completed by mid-May, including the one for Pennsylvania, which holds its primary election on Tuesday, May 15. A spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of State told KDKA-TV the security review will not be completed until June at the earliest. A security review by DHS typically takes two weeks to complete.
Pennsylvania: Mailers attempt to ’embarrass people into voting’ by revealing voting history to neighbors | Lancaster Online
An apparent effort to pressure Pennsylvanians into voting in Tuesday’s primary is raising red flags in Lancaster County and across the state as polls prepare to open Tuesday morning. In mailed letters and emails, a group calling itself the “Pennsylvania State Voter Program” is targeting specific voters with publicly available information showing whether they and their neighbors voted in three recent elections — and then indicating it will send an updated list after the May 15 primary. “What if your friends, your neighbors, and your community knew whether you voted?” the letter starts. Titled “Pennsylvania State Voter Report,” the letter does not indicate who specifically is behind the effort. It features a symbol that could lead some people to believe it’s coming from an official government office, though it’s not from any county or state office. The envelopes, marked that they’re from a post office box in Harrisburg, contain a giant red arrow pointing to the line, “Important taxpayer information enclosed.”
A newly formed commission convened to study Pennsylvania’s election cybersecurity aims to reduce vulnerability of the state’s polls in time for the next presidential contest. David Hickton, a former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania and the head of University of Pittsburgh’s Institute for Cyber Law, Policy and Security, and Grove City College President Paul McNulty will lead the Blue Ribbon Commission on Pennsylvania’s Election Security. “Every part of our government and every part of what we stand for is premised upon free and fair elections and the public’s belief and confidence in our electoral system,” Hickton said. “Our systems are vulnerable.” … McNulty said the commission will focus attention on the security of the state’s vote and the recommendations could serve as models for other states.
There’s no doubt there will be howls of discontent when Westmoreland County has to pay for new voting machines. Especially seeing that about one in five eligible adults aren’t registered to vote, and it’s a big turnout when 60 percent of those registered voters show up on Election Day. But it’s a move that,expensive or not, must be done. Ensuring fair elections is the cornerstone of American democracy — something that citizens of many parts of the world yearn for. State election officials have ordered every county to start using voting machines that provide a verifiable paper trail of the votes cast by the 2020 elections.
Pennsylvania: New University of Pittsburgh commission to focus on 2020 election security | Pittsburgh Tribune
A newly formed commission convened to study Pennsylvania’s election cybersecurity aims to reduce vulnerability of the state’s polls in time for the next presidential contest. David Hickton, a former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania and the head of University of Pittsburgh’s Institute for Cyber Law, Policy and Security, and Grove City College President Paul McNulty will lead the Blue Ribbon Commission on Pennsylvania’s Election Security. “Every part of our government and every part of what we stand for is premised upon free and fair elections and the public’s belief and confidence in our electoral system,” Hickton said. “Our systems are vulnerable.” Hickton said there is a sense of urgency in the commission’s work. He said he hopes the commission will wrap up later this year and present its recommendations to policymakers in time to have changes in place for 2020.
For the second time this month, a state House panel has stripped a bill that would have established an independent redistricting commission made up of citizens, and replaced it with language that gives the legislature even more power over the process. GOP House State Government Committee Chair Daryl Metcalfe called the surprise meeting Monday, because the bill’s supporters were trying to circumvent his panel to get the measure to the House floor. A number of lawmakers complained they were only given about ten minutes’ notice of the amendment. Metcalfe’s version of the bill would put six lawmakers in charge of the redistricting process. That’s one more than current law allows. It would also get rid of the governor’s ability to sign or veto the maps, and it would allow the Commonwealth Court to be a final arbiter of disputes, not the state Supreme Court.