West Virginia

Articles about voting issues in West Virginia.

West Virginia: State Expands Online Voting as Security Worries Grow | Patrick Groves/Government Technology

West Virginia, which has become an early tester of blockchain voting, is expanding Internet voting to include those with physical disabilities. But the move comes just as researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have published a paper asserting that Voatz — the app West Virginia has been using in its pilot tests — has serious flaws, including the ability of bad actors to change votes without voters’ knowledge. Gov. Jim Justice signed SB 94 into law last week giving the secretary of state permission to create a system that allows people with physical disabilities to vote electronically. The Office of the Secretary of State lauded its success with Boston-based vendor Voatz that tallied 144 ballots from uniformed and overseas citizens in 2018. The Secretary of State’s Office may choose the startup again to enact the new law’s mandate for the 2020 primary and general elections. But election security experts and computer scientists have grown increasingly skeptical of the cybersecurity surrounding voting apps, especially after a mobile app used during the Iowa Caucus recorded data accurately but only reported it partially due to a coding error.

Full Article: West Virginia Expands Online Voting as Security Worries Grow.

West Virginia: Security dangers of online voting don’t deter West Virginia | The Fulcrum

West Virginia is looking to become the first state to allow disabled people to vote using their smartphones. Republican Gov. Jim Justice is expected to sign legislation, which breezed through the GOP-controlled Legislature last month, requiring all counties to provide an online balloting option to anyone who cannot use a regular voting machine because of physical disability. The new law puts West Virginia more firmly on one side of the ease-versus-security divide in the debate over modernizing voting systems. In the wake of hacking attempts by Russian operatives during the 2016 election, almost all the experts on ways to prevent such interference are opposed to online voting of any sort. At the same time, advocates are pushing hard for methods making voting plausible for the one in eight Americans with a disability. In 2018 West Virginia became the first state to create a mobile application for voting, but it was only available to members of the military stationed abroad. It was used by 147 West Virginians with homes in 24 countries to cast their midterm ballots for Congress and state offices.

Full Article: Amid security warnings, West Virginia adds online voting - The Fulcrum.

West Virginia: State plans to make smartphone voting available to disabled people for 2020 election | Kevin Collier/NBC

West Virginia is moving to become the first state to allow people with disabilities to use technology that would allow them to vote with their smartphones in the 2020 election. Gov. Jim Justice, a Republican, plans to sign a bill by early next week that will require all counties to provide some form of online ballot-marking device to every voter with physical disabilities, according to West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner. Warner, the state’s chief election official, said that he would most likely provide counties with the smartphone app Voatz or a similar app, making the choice easy for cash-strapped counties. But cybersecurity experts have long railed against apps like Voatz, saying that any kind of online voting unnecessarily increases security risks. “Mobile voting systems completely run counter to the overwhelming consensus of every expert in the field,” said Matt Blaze, a computer scientist at Georgetown University and a seasoned election security researcher. “This is incredibly unwise.”

Full Article: West Virginia plans to make smartphone voting available to disabled people for 2020 election.

West Virginia: Bill To Allow Internet Voting For West Virginians With Disabilities Passes Legislature | West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The West Virginia House of Delegates has passed a bill that would allow voters with certain disabilities to vote electronically in the upcoming election.  Senate Bill 94 will provide West Virginians with disabilities the same electronic voting ability the West Virginia Secretary of State allowed for overseas military members in 2018. It’s the first bill both chambers of the Legislature have voted on this year. The bill now heads to the governor’s desk for final approval. Donald Kersey, general counsel to the Secretary of State’s office, said Thursday qualifying voters will know within a month what kind of electronic voting methods will be available to them, assuming Gov. Jim Justice signs the bill. He said because Tusk-Montgomery Philanthropies, a mobile voting advocacy group, has offered to pay for the associated equipment, implementing the bill won’t cost anything to the state or the counties responsible for offering and collecting the ballots. The same group covered mobile voting costs in the last election.

Full Article: Bill To Allow Electronic Voting For West Virginians With Disabilities Passes Legislature | West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

West Virginia: Mobile absentee voting proposed for people with disabilities | Steven Allen Adams/News and Sentinel

A mobile phone app used by deployed military service members to vote overseas could be the answer for helping people with disabilities and the blind to vote absentee, though concerns were raised Monday about potential hacking. Senate Bill 94 was introduced Jan. 8 by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Trump, R-Morgan, at the request of Secretary of State Mac Warner. The bill would provide West Virginians with physical disabilities the ability to vote by an electronic absentee ballot. The bill easily made it through the state Senate eight days later, passing unanimously Jan. 15 as the first bill to cross over from the Senate to the House of Delegates. The House Judiciary Committee took up the bill Monday morning and was still talking about the bill Monday afternoon. The bill was recommended for passage and will be sent to the full House.

Full Article: Mobile absentee voting proposed for people with disabilities | News, Sports, Jobs - News and Sentinel.

West Virginia: Judiciary Committee Will Recommend Electronic Absentee Voting Bill For People With Disabilities | Emily Allen/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Members of the Joint Judiciary Committees voted Monday to recommend a bill to their respective chambers, allowing voters with certain physical disabilities to cast absentee ballots electronically. Currently, West Virginia allows voters with qualifying impairments to cast paper mail-in votes, as long as they’re on a special absentee voting list maintained by the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office. But, according to Jeremiah Underhill, legal director for the group Disability Rights of West Virginia, navigating a piece of paper can be an impediment for someone who has a serious hand or visual impairment. “Voting is a fundamental right that is preserved in the U.S. Constitution,” Underhill told the committee. “Everyone is afforded a legal opportunity to vote.”

Full Article: Judiciary Committee Will Recommend Electronic Absentee Voting Bill For People With Disabilities | West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

West Virginia: ES&S software upgrade allow judicial races to move higher up on ballots | Phil Kabler/Charleston Gazette-Mail

A software upgrade that will allow voting systems used in 33 West Virginia counties to rearrange the ballot order to comply with a new law moving nonpartisan judicial elections higher up on May primary election ballots was approved Tuesday by the State Election Commission. The updated version of the ExpressVote System, produced by Elections Systems and Software, will allow county clerks to customize ballots, necessary under legislation passed by the Legislature in March changing the ballot location for nonpartisan judicial elections. Under the new law, beginning with the May 2020 primary election, judicial elections will appear on the ballot after national, state and legislative races, and ahead of county offices and other nonpartisan races. The change was prompted by concern from some legislators that, on long primary ballots, some voters might be failing to vote in judicial elections, which, in 2016 and 2018, were at the foot of the ballot, and frequently were on the back of a two-sided ballot.

Full Article: Software allow judicial races to move higher up on ballots | Politics | wvgazettemail.com.

West Virginia: The FBI is investigating West Virginia’s blockchain-based midterm elections | Matthew De Silva/Quartz

During the 2018 midterm elections, somebody tried to hack Voatz, the blockchain-based voting system used by West Virginia. The attack was unsuccessful, but is under investigation by the FBI, said Andrew Warner, West Virginia’s secretary of state in an Oct. 1 press conference. “In last year’s election, we detected activity that may have been an attempt to penetrate West Virginia’s mobile voting process,” said Warner. “No penetration occurred and the security protocols to protect our election process worked as designed. The IP addresses from which the attempts were made have been turned over to the FBI for investigation. The investigation will determine if crimes were committed.” The hacking attempt may have stemmed from an election security class at the University of Michigan, CNN reported Friday (Oct. 4). Last November, 144 West Virginian voters—including active members of the US military serving overseas—used Boston-based Voatz, a blockchain-enabled smartphone application, to cast their ballots for the Senate and House of Representatives as well as for state and local offices. That’s a small number, but could be consequential, especially in close races. Four seats in West Virginia’s House of Delegates were decided by less than 150 votes.

Full Article: The FBI is investigating West Virginia's blockchain-based midterm elections — Quartz.

West Virginia: Alleged mobile voting app hack linked to University of Michigan | Benjamin Freed/StateScoop

Federal investigators looking into an alleged hacking attempt against the mobile app that West Virginia officials used to collect ballots from overseas voters in the 2018 election are determining if the incident was the result of computer-science students at the University of Michigan testing for vulnerabilities. CNN reported Friday that the FBI is investigating “a person or people” who attempted to access the app — Voatz — as part of a cybersecurity course at University of Michigan, which is one of a handful of universities with a curriculum focused on election security. Mike Stuart, the U.S. attorney for West Virginia, revealed the investigation last Tuesday, saying that during the 2018 election cycle his office was alerted by West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner that there was an “attempted intrusion by an outside party” to access the Voatz app. According to state officials and the app’s developers, Voatz is designed only to grant ballot access to qualified voters who go through multiple layers of biometric identification, including facial-recognition and fingerprint scanning.

Full Article: Alleged mobile voting app hack linked to University of Michigan.

West Virginia: Hackers try to access West Virginia’s mobile voting app | GCN

Someone tried to hack into West Virginia’s blockchain-enabled mobile voting system during the 2018 election cycle. The attack happened during the pilot rollout of West Virginia’s mobile voting pilot that uses a smartphone application developed by Boston-based Voatz to enable eligible overseas voters to receive and return their ballot securely using a mobile device. The app lets military and overseas voters who qualify under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Act verify their identities by providing biometric proof in the form of a photo of their driver’s license, state ID or passport that is matched to a selfie. Once voters’ identities are confirmed, they receive a mobile ballot based on the one that they would receive in their local precinct. A confirmation message is sent to the voter’s smartphone when the vote is uploaded to the blockchain’s series of secure, redundant, geographically dispersed servers , which ensures the votes cannot be tampered with once they’ve been recorded.

Full Article: Hackers try to access West Virginia's mobile voting app -- GCN.

West Virginia: Hacking attempt reported against West Virginia’s mobile voting app | Benjamin Freed/StateScoop

The FBI is investigating an alleged hacking attempt against the mobile app that West Virginia officials used to collect ballots from some overseas voters during the 2018 election cycle, the Justice Department announced Tuesday. Mike Stuart, the U.S. attorney for West Virginia, said that during last year’s election cycle, his office received a report from West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner pertaining to an “attempted intrusion by an outside party” to access the app, Voatz, which Warner’s office has heralded as the future of voting for expat U.S. citizens, especially deployed members of the military. The attempt, Stuart continued, appeared to be unsuccessful, with no actual intrusion or effect on the 144 ballots that were cast in last year’s general election. “No penetration occurred and the security protocols to protect our election process worked as designed,” Warner said at a press conference Tuesday in Charleston, the state capital. Still, Warner said, the attempted intrusion was referred to the FBI for investigation as a “deterrent” against attempts by outside actors to interfere with the state’s election process.

Full Article: Hacking attempt reported against West Virginia's mobile voting app.

West Virginia: Attempted hack of military app investigated | Steve Allen Adams/The Intermountain

Federal and state officials announced this week an FBI investigation into an attempted hack on the new app for overseas deployed military voters and their families and warned others not to make the attempt. Mike Stuart, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia, and Secretary of State Mac Warner held a press conference at the Robert C. Byrd Courthouse in downtown Charleston. According to Warner, there was an attempt to hack the Secure Military Voting Application during the 2018 elections. The mobile app allows deployed military and their families to download an app and vote for candidates after they apply to use the app and are approved. “In last year’s election, we detected activity that may have been an attempt to penetrate West Virginia’s mobile voting process,” Warner said. “No penetration occurred and the security protocols to protect our election process worked as designed.” During the mobile voting process, the virtual ballot is encrypted and secured utilizing blockchain technology, then sent to the voter’s county clerk in West Virginia where their ballot is printed and tabulated. West Virginia was the first state to use mobile voting, first in a pilot project during the 2018 primary election, then a full rollout for any county that wanted to participate in the 2018 general election.

Full Article: Attempted hack of military app investigated | News, Sports, Jobs - The Intermountain.

West Virginia: FBI called in to investigate 2018 Mountain State mobile voting system hacking | Shaun Nichols/The Register

The state of West Virginia says someone attempted to hack its citizens’ votes during the 2018 mid-term elections. A statement issued this week by US Attorney Mike Stuart of the Southern District of West Virginia revealed that the FBI has been called in and is actively investigating at least one attempt to tamper with election results. “My office instituted an investigation to determine the facts and whether any federal laws were violated. The FBI has led that investigation,” Stuart said. “That investigation is currently ongoing and no legal conclusions whatsoever have been made regarding the conduct of the activity or whether any federal laws were violated.” According to the US attorney, the unknown hacker, only referred to as an ‘outside party’ tried (and failed) to get access to the mobile voting system the state used for military service members stationed overseas.

Full Article: FBI called in to investigate 2018 Mountain State mobile voting system hacking • The Register.

West Virginia: FBI investigating attempted breach of Voatz mobile voting app | Mark Albert/WTAE

One or more people tried to penetrate West Virginia’s mobile voting system during the Midterm election, the Hearst Television National Investigative Unit has confirmed, leading to new worries about the security of certain election platforms ahead of next year’s general election. The Mountain State was the first to use mobile voting for military and overseas voters. Tuesday’s announcement in the state capital of Charleston by state and federal authorities of the attempted breach came on the first day of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia, Mike Stuart, says the case has now been turned over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for investigation. Sources tell the National Investigative Unit the attempted intrusion of the mobile voting app is believed to have come from inside the U.S., not from overseas. At a news conference Tuesday afternoon at the federal courthouse in Charleston, Stuart delivered a warning to anyone who may attempt to breach an election system. “Don’t do it. Don’t even think about it. We’re serious about maintaining the integrity of our election system and we will prosecute those folks who violate federal law,” Stuart said.

Full Article: FBI investigating attempted breach of mobile voting app.

West Virginia: Cybersecurity, meddling the focus of state election officials conference | WV MetroNews

West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner and his office are getting local officials from all 55 counties in the state in gear for the 2020 elections. The Secretary of State’s office is hosting a 2019 Election Officials Training Conference in Lewis County this week that focuses on local officials knowing their resources, knowing cybersecurity and the threats that Russian meddling may bring. “This is time to get everyone’s head thinking elections,” Warner said on Monday’s MetroNews ‘Talkline’. “Taking care of all the security protocols, what do you do if and when something happens, and making sure everybody is current with the legislative changes. Then allow them to go back to their counties and start implementing.” Warner said the conference Tuesday, at Stonewall Resort, will feature national security and election officials for the 160 state leaders on hand to hear from.

Full Article: WV MetroNews Cybersecurity, meddling the focus of state election officials conference - WV MetroNews.

West Virginia: Internet Voting Experiment Criticized | Public News Service

Security experts are critical of a West Virginia experiment in Internet voting for military and overseas citizens. Last year the Secretary of State’s office allowed 141 West Virginians in 31 counties to vote, using what’s known as blockchain – the same distributed ledger system cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin use. In an article for Slate magazine, tech reporter Yael Grauer criticized the contractor for being secretive. Among other points, Grauer also questioned whether the use of blockchain really helped secure the voting, or if the experiment just used a fad technology as a kind of marketing. And Grauer pointed to a weak link. “Everybody who’s sent email probably knows that they don’t always go through,” she points out. “And after they receive it they’re putting it on the blockchain, but there’s no way for voters to be able to check whether what they voted on is in the blockchain the way that they voted on it.”

Full Article: WV Internet Voting Experiment Criticized / Public News Service.

West Virginia: Warner Calls Cyberattack a Warning for Election Cybersecurity | Steven Allen Adams/The Intelligencer

A recent ransomware attack on government computer systems in Harrison County did not affect voter registration systems or other counties, and the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office is preparing counties for other cyber-attacks leading to the 2020 election. Secretary of State Mac Warner was joined by his staff and county clerks from the region Wednesday at the secretary’s North Central Business Hub in Clarksburg. On June 13, county databases were victims of a ransomware attack, whereby computer services are locked out until a ransom is paid. Offices affected included the prosecuting attorney, the county assessor and the clerk’s office. Ransomware attacks can often happen when someone clicks a phishing link, which allows bad actors access to the computer system. “Everyone is susceptible to this individually, in businesses, in government, and so on,” Warner said. “It’s important to know what we’re doing in West Virginia to stay ahead of this trend and what we’re doing to train folks.” Harrison County Clerk Susan Thomas said the cyber-attack only affected the office’s online access to vital records, estate and probate documents, and tax records. The records are still available for view at the clerk’s office, though re-creating the online database could take years. The FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of West Virginia are investigating the attack.

Full Article: Warner Calls Cyberattack a Warning for Election Cybersecurity | News, Sports, Jobs - The Intelligencer.

West Virginia: What happened with West Virginia’s blockchain voting experiment? | Yael Grauer/Slate

Last year, West Virginia did something no other U.S. state had done in a federal election before: It allowed overseas voters the option to cast absentee ballots for the midterm election via a blockchain-enabled mobile app. According to Voatz, the company West Virginia worked with, 144 individuals from 31 countries successfully submitted ballots via the app for the November election. Before that, there was a smaller pilot of the system in two West Virginia counties that May. West Virginia billed the experiment as a success and says it plans to use the technology again in 2020. Voatz has already made deals with other local governments in the U.S., most recently for Denver’s May municipal election. But how secure and accurate was the 2018 vote? It’s impossible to tell because the state and the company aren’t sharing the basic information experts say is necessary to properly evaluate whether the blockchain voting pilot was actually a resounding success. With 2020 looming, that’s troubling, given what we now know about the extent of Russian incursions into our election systems in 2016.

Full Article: What happened with West Virginia’s blockchain voting experiment?.

West Virginia: Clarksburg courthouse cyber attack concerns local residents, business owners | Jonathan Weaver/The Exponent Telegram

Nearly a month after a cyberattack at the Harrison County Courthouse led to commissioners paying a ransom and several county officials losing access to their files, local residents have mixed feelings on whether the attack is a sign that more are forthcoming — either against themselves or local, state and national governments. “It’s going to get worse everywhere you go. It’s just a way of life,” Doddridge County’s Lynn Bennett said. “Everything’s getting sophisticated on your phone and I think it’s just inevitable. “You have to be careful with what you do and what you put on it.” The McClellan District resident heard about the Harrison County Courthouse cyberattack, but did not foresee cyberattacks during upcoming local elections or during the 2020 U.S. Presidential election.

Full Article: Clarksburg, WV, courthouse cyber attack concerns local residents, business owners | News | wvnews.com.

West Virginia: Division of Motor Vehicles is losing voter registrations | Register-Herald

State officials say the West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles is losing voter registrations, but they don’t know how many and for how long. Donald Kersey, general counsel for Secretary of State Mac Warner’s office, said the DMV sends the Secretary of State’s office a daily list of voter registrations, but the secretary’s office estimate several registrations are lost per day because of technical problems at the DMV – “a systematic error,” he said. The problem, Kersey said, has been ongoing at least since the 2018 general election. During a five-day test period in January, 37 people, who were flagged as registering at the DMV, did not have their registration received by the Secretary of State. Kersey, who was previously elections director for the Secretary of State, noted that West Virginia law says the DMV should forward voter registrations to the Secretary of State’s office, which transfers it to county clerks. But he said that during early voting before the 2018 general election, dozens of people said they had registered at local DMVs to vote, but the Secretary of State’s office had no record of it.

Full Article: WV Division of Motor Vehicles is losing voter registrations | State & Region | register-herald.com.