The nation’s chief elections officials are pleading for more money from the federal government to shore up the security of crucial voting systems before the presidential contest in 2020, even as such aid appears dead on arrival in the U.S. Senate. Interviews with 10 secretaries of state, conducted by the Hearst Television National Investigative Unit at the annual summer conference of the National Association of Secretaries of State held this year in Santa Fe, New Mexico, found unanimity across party lines. When asked whether their states needed more money for election security, one secretary after another answered in the affirmative. “Absolutely,” responded Pennsylvania Acting Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, a Democrat. “Absolutely,” seconded Laurel Lee, Florida’s Secretary of State, a member of the Republican party. “Look, we absolutely need more money,” Democrat Alex Padilla, California’s secretary of state, said. “We can always use more money for election security,” said Mac Warner, a Republican who serves as secretary of state in Virginia. But despite the landslide of bipartisan requests, $600 million in additional funding is stuck in the Senate after passing the House last month on a nearly party-line vote.Full Article: Secretaries of state plead for more money for election security.
Beware the phishing attempts. An election security official with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday warned top state election officials nationwide to safeguard against fraudulent emails targeting state and local election workers. The emails appear as if they come from a legitimate source and contain links that, if clicked, can open up election data systems to manipulation or attacks. Geoff Hale, director of the department’s Election Security Initiative, told a gathering of secretaries of state that the nation’s decentralized voting systems remain especially vulnerable to emails that can trick unsuspecting workers into providing access to elections databases. “We know that phishing is how a significant number of state and local government networks become exploited,” Hale told scores of secretaries of state gathered in the New Mexico capital city. “Understanding your organization’s susceptibility to phishing is one of the biggest things you can do.”Full Article: US election security official highlights email threat | Boston 25 News.
A voting security advocacy group is trying to force a leader of a state election officials association to release documents on whether she wrongly asserted that U.S. election systems are safe from hacking. The National Election Defense Coalition filed a lawsuit Thursday against Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson alleging she’s violated state law in denying public record requests since September for her communications about election security with the National Association of Secretaries of State. Lawson was the bipartisan association’s 2017-18 president and is currently co-chair of its cybersecurity committee. The coalition argues that Lawson’s public statements have downplayed the vulnerability of election systems. It pointed to her testimony for a 2017 U.S. Senate intelligence committee hearing on Russian interference in the 2016 election during which she said it was “very important to underscore that voting machines are not connected to the internet or networked in any way.”Full Article: Group sues for records on US election hacking vulnerability - The Washington Post.
National: State officials want election security cash. But some don’t like the strings attached. | The Washington Post
State election officials want the latest round of election security money included in a major bill proposed by House Democrats – but they’re divided on whether they want to accept a slew of voting mandates that come along with it. The divide is largely along partisan lines. On one side, there’s Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate (R), the incoming president of the National Association of Secretaries of State, who balked at provisions in H.R. 1 that make it more difficult for states to impose voter ID requirements. Pate said in an email the For the People Act amounts to the federal government seizing authority over elections from states. On the other side are Democrats who largely support those efforts to expand voter access and consider them a fair trade for more election security money. “There’s a tension over H.R. 1 and whether or not it’s a federalization of elections,” one Democratic secretary of state told me at the NASS conference in Washington this weekend. “It is not. And anyone who claims that it is, that’s an overreach.”Full Article: The Cybersecurity 202: State officials want election security cash. But some don't like the strings attached. - The Washington Post.
National: Election Security Advocates Battle the National Association of Secretaries of State over Opposition to Strengthening Voting Systems | Politico
Indiana’s top election official is refusing to release her communications with the National Association of Secretaries of State, limiting the public’s understanding of both her role and the role of NASS in squashing federal legislation to upgrade voting systems, Eric reports. Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson is fighting a public records request that could shed light on both the NASS stance in election security debates and the influence that the small community of voting technology vendors has over the organization.Full Article: Secretary of state, election security advocates square off - POLITICO.
The next president of the NASS has strong words for House Democrats considering a range of election security measures: Butt out. H.R. 1, a Democratic grab-bag bill with election security provisions, “seems to be a huge federal overreach,” Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate told POLITICO. “No matter how well-intentioned, the provisions of the bill give the authority of overseeing and conducting elections and voter registration to the federal government.” (In fact, the bill would not do this.) Pate’s remarks, first reported by National Journal, mirror comments by former Georgia Secretary of State Paul Kemp in August 2016. Pate cited NASS’s long-standing opposition to federal mandates for election procedures — in October, the group warned against tying federal funds to regulations — and said state election offices like his are “better prepared than the federal government to determine what is right for their residents.” Despite Pate’s suggestion that “our country’s legal and historical distinctions in federal and state sovereignty” invest states with the exclusive authority to regulate elections, Article I Section 4 of the Constitution empowers Congress to “at any time by Law make or alter” election processes.Full Article: Incoming NASS leader rejects Democrats’ election security bill - POLITICO.
The top state election officials from throughout the U.S. are gathering this weekend in Philadelphia amid fresh revelations of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and just before President Donald Trump holds one-on-one talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The annual gathering has typically been a low-key affair highlighting such things as voter registration and balloting devices. This year’s meetings of the National Association of Secretaries of State and the National Association of State Election Directors are generating far greater interest. The conference is sandwiched between Friday’s indictments of 12 Russian military intelligence officers alleged to have hacked into Democratic party and campaign accounts, and Trump’s long-awaited meeting with Putin.Full Article: State election officials in US meet amid security concerns - Business Insider Deutschland.
National: Trump wants new authority over polling places. Top election officials say no | The Boston Globe
President Trump would be able to dispatch Secret Service agents to polling places nationwide during a federal election, a vast expansion of executive authority, if a provision in a Homeland Security reauthorization bill remains intact. The rider has prompted outrage from more than a dozen top elections officials around the country, including Secretary of State William F. Galvin of Massachusetts, a Democrat, who says he is worried that it could be used to intimidate voters and said there is “no basis” for providing Trump with this new authority. “This is worthy of a Third World country,” said Galvin in an interview. “I’m not going to tolerate people showing up to our polling places. I would not want to have federal agents showing up in largely Hispanic areas.” “The potential for mischief here is enormous,” Galvin added. The provision alarming him and others is a rider attached to legislation that would re-authorize the Department of Homeland Security. The legislation already cleared the House of Representatives with bipartisan support.Full Article: Trump wants new authority over polling places. Top election officials say no - The Boston Globe.
Ten months before the United States votes in its first major election since the 2016 presidential contest, U.S. state election officials huddled in Washington this weekend to swap strategies on dealing with an uninvited guest: Russia. A pair of conferences usually devoted to staid topics about election administration were instead packed with sessions dedicated to fending off election cyber attacks from Russia or others, as federal authorities tried to portray confidence while pleading with some states to take the threat more seriously. “Everyone in this room understands that what we are facing from foreign adversaries, particularly Russia, is real,” Chris Krebs, a senior cybersecurity official at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), told an audience of secretaries of state, who in many states oversee elections. Russia, he added, is “using a range of tools against us.”Full Article: Russia looms large as U.S. election officials prep for 2018.
State elections officials said Saturday that they want more information from federal officials to ensure they are protected from cybersecurity threats in light of evidence that foreign operatives plan to try to interfere in the midterm elections. At a conference of state secretaries of state in Washington, several officials said the government was slow to share information about specific threats faced by states during the 2016 election. According to the Department of Homeland Security, Russian government hackers tried to gain access to voter registration files or public election sites in 21 states. Although the hackers are not believed to have manipulated or removed data from state systems, experts worry that the attackers might be more successful this year. And state officials say reticence on the part of Homeland Security to share sensitive information about the incidents could hamper efforts to prepare for the midterms.Full Article: State elections officials fret over cybersecurity threats - The Washington Post.
National: Election Officials Convene in D.C. Amid Continued Friction Over Voting Security, Russian Propaganda Concerns | Washington Free Beacon
Top election officials from around the country will be meeting in Washington, D.C., this weekend amid a flurry of news reports and political debates over the last two weeks about election security. Because administering elections is a function of the states and not the federal government, state and federal officials have appeared in tension as hearings on Capitol Hill continue to suggest the federal government wants a greater role in providing security and oversight. With the intense public scrutiny on Russia’s meddling in the 2016 elections, many of the secretaries of state say they have found themselves in a constant battle of dispelling myths about voting security and rebutting media reports, while walking a delicate balance accepting federal help on issues such as cybersecurity while also preserving the autonomy given to states by the Constitution.Full Article: Election Officials Convene in D.C. Amid Continued Friction Over Voting Security, Russian Propaganda Concerns.
National: Amidst Election Security Worries, Suddenly Paper Ballots Are Making a Comeback | The Intercept
The nations Secretaries of state gathered for a multi-day National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) conference in Washington, D.C., this weekend, with cybersecurity on the mind. Panels and lectures centered around the integrity of America’s election process, with the federal probe into alleged Russian government attempts to penetrate voting systems a frequent topic of discussion. Cybersecurity experts from the federal government and military were in high supply. Every secretary of state was invited to a closed-door briefing at the Department of Homeland Security, while federal experts spoke to a wider audience at the conference. … One way to allay concerns about the integrity of electronic voting machine infrastructure, however, is to simply not use it. Over the past year, a number of states are moving back towards the use of paper ballots or at least requiring a paper trail of votes cast.Full Article: Amidst Election Security Worries, Suddenly Paper Ballots Are Making a Comeback.
The National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) recently joined the Congressional Task Force on Election Security in calling on Congress to direct $396 million in existing funds to modernize aging election systems across the country. Congress authorized nearly $3.9 billion to help states replace and modernize election systems under the Helping America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002. Today, nearly $396 million in HAVA funding remains unused. Citing reports that Russian actors had targeted 21 states voting systems, compromising voting machines and voter registration databases, the Congressional Task Force on Election Security previously called on Congress to apply the HAVA balance to election security.Full Article: National Association of Secretaries of State calls on Congress to modernize state election systems - Homeland Preparedness News.
Congress could authorize top-secret security clearances for each state’s chief election official to help protect voting systems from cyberattacks and other potential meddling. That provision, which was part of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s 2018 policy bill for U.S. spy agencies, is one of the first concrete steps that lawmakers have taken to try to defend future elections from the sort of foreign interference that plagued the 2016 presidential race. The Senate panel is one of two congressional committees investigating what the American intelligence community says was a Russian government campaign to undermine the U.S. democratic system, discredit Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump win. The Senate Intelligence panel included language that would require Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats to set up the clearances for state leaders in its annual bill setting policy for the intelligence community.Full Article: Could Offering Spy Secrets To State Officials Help Safeguard Future Elections? : NPR.
For all the uncertainty surrounding the Trump campaign’s associations with Russia, one thing remains clear: A foreign power interfered in the US presidential race, with hackers targeting the election systems of 21 states to do so. And yet the government has done precious little to keep it from happening again. The inaction stems not from laziness or ignorance but a deep, possibly unbridgeable divide between state and federal powers. So far this year, a handful of special elections in the US have gone smoothly, but the threat from Russia still looms, especially as the 2018 midterm races approach. France recently saw Kremlin-led meddling in its own presidential contest, and Germany has expressed fears over its upcoming election as well. Alarmism may not be productive, but states do have reason to worry. Local officials, though, have bristled at the Department of Homeland Security’s move to designate election systems as “critical infrastructure,” a move designed to unlock resources for system defense upgrades and improve state–federal communication. Everyone agrees that security matters; how to get there is another matter entirely.Full Article: Election Security Is a Surprisingly Controversial Issue | WIRED.
In recent weeks, our nation and our democracy were attacked by our own government. Donald Trump’s “voter integrity” commission demanded each state hand over the names, addresses, and social security numbers of millions of Americans citizens. Led by state secretaries of State, more than 40 states said “no” in whole or part to Trump’s effort. Just two weeks ago we learned of another unprecedented attack on our nation and our great democracy. Department of Homeland Security officials testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee that Russian agents attempted to hack the election systems of 21 states in advance of the 2016 elections. An earlier report by Bloomberg found that the election systems of up to 39 states were hacked by Russia.Full Article: Secretaries of State: Our democracy's new first responders | TheHill.
The nation’s Secretaries of State sent a clear message to the White House. Members of the National Association of Secretaries of State meeting in Indianapolis unanimously passed a bipartisan resolution underscoring the Constitutional rights of of states to administer local, state and federal elections. The resolution is in response to a letter from the Presidential Commission on Election Integrity, which requested secretaries turn over sensitive information about every voter including including party affiliation, voting history and Social Security numbers.Full Article: Secretaries of State pass resolution supporting state rights to - WDRB 41 Louisville News.
National: A Secretaries of State Meeting Used to Be Friendly. Then the White House Asked for Voter Data. | The New York Times
In the partisan battlefield of elective office, the National Association of Secretaries of State has always been a DMZ of sorts, an alliance of obscure officials who would rather talk charity regulations than politics, a conclave so committed to comity that it alternates its chair between Democrats (“a nonpartisan organization,” said Denise Merrell, the outgoing president) and Republicans (“we stand together,” said Connie Lawson, the incoming one). But as the group held its semiannual meeting here this weekend, a whiff of gunpowder wafted through the air. The secretaries had the bad timing to gather the week after the Presidential Advisory Commission on El ction Integrity asked them for reams of data on the nation’s 200 million registered voters, a request that might as well have been a political call to arms. News reports from Florida and Colorado stated that voters were asking to be removed from the rolls, fearing that their personal data would wind up in the wrong hands.Full Article: A Secretaries of State Meeting Used to Be Friendly. Then the White House Asked for Voter Data. - The New York Times.
National: State election officials complain feds keep them in the dark on possible voting breaches | Associated Press
State election officials gathering this weekend amid an uproar over a White House commission investigating allegations of voter fraud and heightened concern about Russian attempts to interfere in U.S. elections say a lack of information from federal intelligence officials about attempts to breach voting systems across the country is a major concern. Both Republicans and Democrats gathered in Indianapolis for a meeting of the National Association of Secretaries of State say they are frustrated because they have been largely kept in the dark by federal officials. “The chief election official in each state should be told if there are potential breaches of that state’s data or potential intrusions,” said Republican Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams.Full Article: States complain feds keep them in the dark on possible voting breaches – Las Vegas Review-Journal.
State election chiefs said Wednesday that federal homeland security officials haven’t shared enough intelligence information about Russian attempts to access last year’s election — possibly hampering efforts to better protect their systems. “We need this information to defend state elections,” Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson, president-elect of the National Association of Secretaries of State, told members of the Senate Intelligence Committee. The committee held a hearing on Russia’s interference in last year’s elections as part of its ongoing investigation. “We were woefully unprepared to defend and respond (to Russian meddling) and I am hopeful that we will not be caught flat-footed again,” said Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., the committee’s chairman. “I am deeply concerned that, if we do not work in lock step with the states to secure our elections, we could be here in two or four years talking about a much worse crisis.”Full Article: Federal officials say they're stepping up efforts to protect election systems.