West Virginia

Articles about voting issues in West Virginia.

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.

West Virginia: House committee passes Supreme Court election runoff bill | WV MetroNews

The House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday approved a bill to mandate a runoff for state Supreme Court elections where no candidate earns a clear majority vote. It also OK’d a bill to ensure people unable to leave their homes to vote can receive an emergency absentee ballot. The Supreme Court bill is HB 2008. It says that if no candidate in a Supreme Court election receives more than 40 percent of the vote in the May election, the two highest vote-getters will face off in a runoff in November. If passed by both chambers, it would take effect in time for the 2020 election. It would also apply to special elections occurring after that date.

Full Article: WV MetroNews – House committee passes Supreme Court election runoff bill.

West Virginia: State Not Planning to Expand Use of Blockchain Voting | Government Technology

This week West Virginia became the first state in the nation to use Internet voting with blockchain technology in a federal general election, piloting the program for military and other voters living overseas. Despite what officials are calling a successful trial for the app, from Boston-based startup Voatz, Secretary of State Mac Warner has no plans to extend the program to domestic civilians, according to The Washington Post. West Virginia used the Voatz app in a similar limited capacity for the primary election in May. The app works by recording votes on a blockchain, a cryptographic concept popularized with cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin.

Full Article: West Virginia Not Planning to Expand Use of Blockchain Voting.

West Virginia: Large-Scale Purge Raises Concerns Among Voters | Truthout

West Virginia’s secretary of state reported last month that more than 100,000 voters — about one in 12 registered voters — had been purged from the rolls prior to the upcoming election. As we documented in a major July report, West Virginia is one of several states that have purged their rolls more aggressively in recent years, raising concerns that eligible voters could be disenfranchised. In order to keep voter rolls accurate, election officials need to periodically remove the names of voters who have died or moved. But purges conducted without sufficient care can lead to the removal of eligible voters. West Virginia’s removals deserve close scrutiny. Some voters in the state have reported problems including being unable to access their records online, and counties reported differing remedies for restoring the registrations of those removed by mistake.

Full Article: West Virginia’s Large-Scale Purge Raises Concerns Among Voters.

West Virginia: The Campaign for Mobile-Phone Voting Is Getting a Midterm Test | The New Yorker

Bradley Tusk has a plan to fix American democracy. A former high-level staffer for Chuck Schumer and Michael Bloomberg, among others, Tusk has recently been using his political wits to help tech companies sidestep red tape and clear regulatory hurdles. As he recounts in his new book, “The Fixer: My Adventures Saving Startups from Death by Politics,” Tusk has—for better or for worse—convinced authorities across the country to let Uber operate in their cities, figured out how to get the San Jose City Council to allow on-demand home delivery for marijuana, and toppled regulations banning the sale of online homeowners and renters’ insurance. When Uber, the first tech client of his fledgling consulting firm, didn’t have enough cash to pay him, Tusk took half his compensation in equity. As a consequence, he said, “I just got more money than I ever expected to have.” …  On its face, voting by phone makes sense. Nearly ninety-five per cent of American adults own mobile phones, and rely on them for all sorts of secure transactions. Using them to cast a ballot would seem to be a natural extension, and one that removes many of the impediments that discourage people from voting, such as inconveniently located polling places, limited hours, and long lines. A survey of 3,649 voting-age Americans in 2016 found that about forty per cent would choose the option of Internet voting if it were offered. (Voting by phone app is a variant of Internet voting, since ballots are transmitted over the Internet.) But implementing a working system is not as simple as it may appear.

Full Article: The Campaign for Mobile-Phone Voting Is Getting a Midterm Test | The New Yorker.

West Virginia: Internet voting experiment stirs security fears | Politico

West Virginia is about to take a leap of faith in voting technology — but it could put people’s ballots at risk. Next month, it will become the first state to deploy a smartphone app in a general election, allowing hundreds of overseas residents and members of the military stationed abroad to cast their ballots remotely. And the app will rely on blockchain, the same buzzy technology that underpins bitcoin, in yet another Election Day first. “Especially for people who are serving the country, I think we should find ways to make it easier for them to vote without compromising on the security,” said Nimit Sawhney, co-founder of Voatz, the company that created the app of the same name that West Virginia is using. “Right now, they send their ballots by email and fax, and — whatever you may think of our security — that’s totally not a secure way to send back a ballot.” But cybersecurity and election integrity advocates say West Virginia is setting an example of all the things states shouldn’t do when it comes to securing their elections, an already fraught topic given fears that Russian operatives are trying again to tamper with U.S. democracy.

Full Article: West Virginia's voting experiment stirs security fears - POLITICO.

West Virginia: Critics call for halt of West Virginia program to vote by app | McClatchy

Four advocacy groups for elections and cybersecurity called Wednesday for the halt of a pilot project in West Virginia that allows military personnel posted overseas and other U.S. citizens living abroad to cast ballots for the 2018 midtersm using a smartphone app. “Military voters … deserve any help the government can give them to participate in democracy equally with all other citizens. However, in this threat environment, online voting endangers the very democracy the U.S. military is charged with protecting,” the groups said. Proponents argued that with voter turnout so low, technology like the app is worth the risk. The report was issued by the New York-based National Election Defense Coalition, the nonpartisan watchdog group Common Cause, the center-right think tank R Street Institute, and the Technology Policy Committee of the Association for Computing Machinery, a group that says it provides neutral input on issues involving computing technology.

Full Article: Critics call for halt of W. Virginia program to vote by app | McClatchy Washington Bureau.

West Virginia: State moves forward with first mobile voting app, despite fears from security experts | TechRepublic

During the 2018 midterms, deployed military personnel from West Virginia will be the first in the nation to vote in a federal election on their smartphones using a blockchain-based app—despite numerous concerns from cybersecurity experts. Concern over voting security in the midterm elections is rising, after the Department of Homeland Security detected Russian hackers targeting voter registration databases in at least 21 states in 2016. While most of the systems were not breached, and there is no evidence that Russian agents were able to manipulate voter data or election results, it’s likely that the cybercriminals were scanning them for vulnerabilities to potentially exploit in the future, the department said. … Cybersecurity experts are less confident in the safety and viability of a system like Voatz. “This is the last thing that people need to be thinking about when it comes to voting right now,” said Joseph Lorenzo Hall, chief technologist at the nonpartisan Center for Democracy and Technology. “There are so many more boring pieces of low-hanging fruit, like two-factor authentication, password management, and defending against phishing attacks. But that’s unfortunately not as exciting to most people as the blockchain voting stuff.”

Full Article: West Virginia moves forward with first mobile voting app, despite fears from security experts - TechRepublic.