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National: 6 Ways to Fight Election Hacking and Voter Fraud, According to an Expert Panel | The New York Times

Amid a chorus of warnings that the American election system is ground zero for foreign attackers, a panel of leading scholars and election experts issued a sweeping set of recommendations on Thursday for how to make elections more secure. Several similar reports have been issued lately, but this one is different. It not only carries a blue-ribbon pedigree from the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, but it also suggests ways to address allegations of domestic voter fraud, which Republicans have leveled for years. The report notes the significant challenges of securing elections. In 2016, Americans voted in 178,217 precincts and 116,990 polling places. Under the Constitution, each state controls its own election procedures, and officials jealously guard their authority against federal interference. The rules vary so wildly that uniform standards are almost impossible. Still, many of the report’s proposals can be applied nationwide. Here are six ways the panel says that election security can be improved:

1. Use paper ballots to establish a backup record of each vote. Even if voter databases and other equipment aren’t connected to the internet, experts said, it will be hard to protect computer systems from cyber threats. As a result, they recommend that by 2020, every voting machine nationwide should generate a backup paper record of each vote. Currently, five states — Georgia, South Carolina, Louisiana, Delaware and New Jersey — and portions of several others do not maintain a paper trail.

Full Article: 6 Ways to Fight Election Hacking and Voter Fraud, According to an Expert Panel - The New York Times.

National: The Best Way To Secure US Elections? Paper Ballots | Dark Reading

Voting machines that do not provide a paper trail or cannot be independently audited should immediately be removed, concludes a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine is recommending the use of human-readable paper ballots as the best way to protect the security and integrity of US elections, at least in the immediate future. In fact, the committee behind the report wants election officials to consider ditching voting methods that do not provide a reliable paper-verifiable audit trail as early as the upcoming 2018 midterms and for all local, state, and federal elections by 2020. It also does not want jurisdictions to permit the use of the Internet and Internet-connected systems to return marked ballots until “very robust guarantees” of security and verifiability are developed. Other recommendations include the need for states to mandate risk-limiting audits prior to the certification of election results and routine assessments of the integrity of voter registration systems and databases.

Full Article: The Best Way To Secure US Elections? Paper Ballots.

Verified Voting Blog: Four ways to defend democracy and protect every voter’s ballot | Douglas W. Jones

This article was originally posted at
As voters prepare to cast their ballots in the November midterm elections, it’s clear that U.S. voting is under electronic attack. Russian government hackers probed some states’ computer systems in the runup to the 2016 presidential election and are likely to do so again – as might hackers from other countries or nongovernmental groups interested in sowing discord in American politics.

Fortunately, there are ways to defend elections. Some of them will be new in some places, but these defenses are not particularly difficult nor expensive, especially when judged against the value of public confidence in democracy. I served on the Iowa board that examines voting machines from 1995 to 2004 and on the Technical Guidelines Development Committee of the United States Election Assistance Commission from 2009 to 2012, and Barbara Simons and I coauthored the 2012 book “Broken Ballots.”

Election officials have an important role to play in protecting election integrity. Citizens, too, need to ensure their local voting processes are safe. There are two parts to any voting system: the computerized systems tracking voters’ registrations and the actual process of voting – from preparing ballots through results tallying and reporting.

Full Article: Four ways to defend democracy and protect every voter's ballot.

Wisconsin: Experts discuss vulnerabilities in Wisconsin elections | The Badger Herald

The League of Women Voters of Dane County hosted a forum Wednesday on protecting Wisconsin’s elections amid questions surrounding foreign influence in the 2016 presidential election. Panelists included University of Wisconsin political science professor Barry Burden, the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism managing editor and co-founder Dee Hall and Richard Rydecki from the Wisconsin Elections Commission. While the panelists agreed that Wisconsin elections are vulnerable to security threats, they disagreed on what could cause significant errors.

Full Article: Experts discuss vulnerabilities in Wisconsin elections · The Badger Herald.

Arizona: Maricopa County Approves Funding for Audit on Arizona Election Issues | Associated Press

Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes said he was angry with himself over the issues surrounding last week’s primary election in the first occasion that he’s publicly answered questions from top officials about what went wrong. Fontes spoke before the county board of supervisors on Wednesday. The board approved $200,000 in funding for an independent audit of the recorder’s office and its handling of the Aug. 28 elections, when 62 polling locations failed to open on time. Dozens of people reported showing up to cast a ballot and getting turned away. Fontes made no mention of the troubles during a Facebook Live video he recorded with a voter shortly before polling places opened at 6 a.m., nor did he bring up the issue to any of the supervisors.

Full Article: County Approves Funding for Audit on Arizona Election Issues | Arizona News | US News.

National: New bill would require paper ballots to secure election results | CNET

The Russians can’t hack paper. On Tuesday, nine Senators introduced a bill that would require state and local governments to use paper ballots in an effort to secure elections from hackers. The bill would also require rigorous audits for all federal elections to ensure that results match the votes. “Leaving the fate of America’s democracy up to hackable election machines is like leaving your front door open, unlocked and putting up a sign that says ‘out of town,'” Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, said in a . “Any failure to secure our elections amounts to disenfranchising American voters.”

Full Article: New bill would require paper ballots to secure election results - CNET.

New York: Saratoga Board of Elections say ‘no’ to request for ballots | Albany Times Union

Saratoga County Board of Elections has once again rejected a request for copies of the electronic ballots cast in November’s charter referendum that was defeated by 10 votes. In a May 25, 2018 letter from the county Board of Supervisors, the former chair of the now disbanded Charter Review Commission Bob Turner was informed that the request “is duplicative of your previous request, which (has) been fully settled.” Turner said the move by Board of Election Commissioners Roger Schiera (Republican) and William Fruci (Democrat) “undermines the public’s confidence in the integrity of the electoral process. If the election was run properly, there is nothing to hide,” Turner said. The city’s charter-change advocates submitted a second Freedom of Information Law request after an April 12 ruling of 3-2 in Kosmider vs. Whitney in the Appellate Division of state Supreme Court. A panel of five judges ruled that electronic ballot images in this Essex County case can be accessed through a FOIL request. The Board of Supervisors in Essex County, the Sun Community News reported, has filed a paperwork reserving the right to appeal.

Full Article: Board of Elections say 'no' to request for ballots - Times Union.

National: Paper trails and random audits could secure all elections – don’t save them just for recounts in close races | The Conversation

As states begin to receive millions of federal dollars to secure the 2018 primary and general elections, officials around the country will have to decide how to spend it to best protect the integrity of the democratic process. If voters don’t trust the results, it doesn’t matter whether an election was actually fair or not. Right now, the most visible election integrity effort in the U.S. involves conducting recounts in especially close races. A similar approach could be applied much more broadly. Based on my research into game theory as a way to secure elections, I suggest that the proper first line of defense is auditing results. While an audit can only happen after Election Day, it’s crucial to prepare in advance.

Full Article: Paper trails and random audits could secure all elections – don't save them just for recounts in close races.

Tennessee: Hamilton County election administrator: paper ballots, audits help ensure integrity at the polls

As the start of early voting nears and news of Russian interference continues to make headlines, Hamilton County’s administrator of elections said local citizens can feel secure in the practices that protect the integrity of the ballot box. “Hamilton County takes the safeguarding of both our physical and cyber infrastructure very seriously,” Election Administrator Kerry Steelman said via email. “The rigorous system of checks and balances in both the registration and voting process should instill confidence in voters that Hamilton County’s elections will not be compromised.” In an effort to avoid interference, some state officials recently said they’d move away from the use of touch-screen voting machines. Some experts also recently said that audits can confirm there’s no meddling.

Full Article: Election administrator: paper ballots, audits help ensure integrity at the polls.

National: Inability to audit U.S. elections a ‘national security concern’: Homeland chief | Reuters

Not having a verifiable way to audit election results in some states represents a “national security concern,” the Trump administration’s homeland security chief said on Wednesday, looking ahead to U.S. midterm elections in November.  The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was prioritizing election cyber security above all other critical infrastructure it protects, such as the financial, energy and communications systems, the agency’s chief, Kirstjen Nielsen, told the Senate Intelligence Committee. The hearing to examine the Trump administration’s efforts to improve election security came following U.S. intelligence officials’ repeated warnings that Russia will attempt to meddle in the 2018 contests after doing so during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Full Article: Inability to audit U.S. elections a 'national security concern': Homeland chief.

Editorials: Election audits should be the rule, not the exception in Wisconsin | Karen McKim/WiscNews

We use many computers in our daily business — ATMs, grocery scanners and more. Government uses computers to track our drivers’ licenses, calculate our property tax bills and more. But concerns about hacking focus only on the computers that count our votes. Ever wonder why that is? Voting machines are no riskier than any other computer. We insert a deposit into an ATM and expect the computer to credit the dollars to the right account. We insert a ballot into a voting machine and expect the computer to credit the votes to the right candidates. Before each election, Wisconsin’s clerks practice the same sort of safeguards that are routine elsewhere. Like bankers with their ATMs, they practice the best security they can. They test the equipment before putting it into use.

Full Article: McKim column: Election audits should be the rule, not the exception | Opinion |

Illinois: Lawsuit challenging Chicago election audit loses in landslide | Cook County Record

A lawsuit challenging the way Chicago’s elections board audits election results has been shredded by a federal judge. The complaint, filed in the U.S. District for the Northern District of Illinois, was brought by several election monitors. It claimed the methods used by the Chicago Board of Elections (BOE) to audit the 2016 state primary elections violated their right to vote as well as their right to association and to petition the government. They sought declaratory and injunctive relief. The plaintiffs took particular issue with the so-called “5 percent test” used in the audit. The 5 percent test refers to the sample size of voting machines included in the post-election audit analysis. The Board of Elections argued the audit had no effect on election outcomes, so it could not have violated voting rights or rights to association or to petition the government. U.S. District Judge John Robert Blakey agreed.

Full Article: Lawsuit challenging Chicago election audit loses in landslide | Cook County Record.

Editorials: Allowing ballot audits preserves integrity far better than disenfranchising voters | The Keene Sentinel

E arlier this year, the GOP-led Legislature was quick to jump on the notion that our state’s elections are a fragile, vulnerable thing in need of shoring up. Their answer, backed by Gov. Chris Sununu, was to make it harder for new voters to cast their ballots. It was a transparent attempt to limit voting by those who might be more likely to vote Democrat — the poor; new Massachusetts transplants; and, most of all, college students. And their effort — Senate Bill 3 — is being challenged in the courts. At the same time, lawmakers made clear they don’t really value the integrity of our state’s elections, by killing in committee a bill to authorize local moderators to conduct verification recounts of machine-counted ballots. Senate Bill 109 couldn’t have been any simpler. It would have added a paragraph of language to existing election law saying local moderators have the discretion to conduct recounts to verify machine results.

Full Article: Election protection: Allowing ballot audits preserves integrity far better than disenfranchising voters | Editorial |

National: States Start Using Statistical Methods to Check Voter Count Accuracy | eWeek

In the face of overwhelming evidence that the Russians meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, states are adopting auditing measure to detect any possible direct ballot fraud and give voters confidence in the results. After clear evidence emerged that Russia attempted to influence the results of the 2016 U.S. presidential election by social media, and more directly by hacking election systems, state governments are embarking on a variety of efforts to use statistical auditing to verify election results. On Nov. 15, Colorado kicked off its first statewide statistical audit of its most recent election by using a statistical technique known as risk-limiting audits to establish the integrity of the vote. Because of mail-in ballots from voters serving in the military, the state had to wait eight days to receive all votes and initiate the audit. Risk-limiting audits, or RLAs, allow election officials to verify the outcome of an election by sampling a much smaller subset of ballots compared to a full recount. Verifying the results of presidential elections in each state from 1992 to 2008, for example, only requires an average of 307 ballots per state. The number of ballots required to verify the vote, however, increases as the contests become closer and eventually defaults to a full recount, in the case of an extremely close race. Colorado’s legislature voted to adopt an election-wide audit in 2010, and election officials began piloting RLA in 2013.

Full Article: States Start Using Statistical Methods to Check Voter Count Accuracy.

California: New California Law Strikes Blow to Election Audits | WhoWhatWhy

As the most populous state in the country by far — and a leader in innovations — California is always worth watching. In no situation is that more true than in its attempts to fix its voting system. Sometimes, however, those efforts prove to be entirely counterproductive. In response to reports from US intelligence that Russia interfered with the 2016 election, election officials across the country are striving to fortify their security procedures. In light of all this, many experts were shaking their heads in disappointment after California recently passed a law that election activists are calling “an open invitation to large-scale election fraud.” Earlier this month, a seemingly innocuous bill reached the desk of Governor Jerry Brown (D) after passing the State Assembly and Senate unopposed. Given its ostensible purpose — to allow mail-in voters to re-submit overlooked signatures via email — the lack of scrutiny might have been understandable. However, when the bill was amended before its final Senate vote, its purpose took an unforeseen shift. The altered bill “dramatically reduc[es] the number of ballots counties must include in the [post-election hand count] performed to verify the accuracy of software vote counts,” said the nonpartisan California Voter Foundation in a letter calling for the bill’s veto.

Full Article: New California Law Strikes Blow to Election Audits - WhoWhatWhy.

Editorials: States Take On Election Hacking. Washington Ignores It. | The New York Times

As Washington ignores the danger, state election officials have finally begun facing up to the threat of Russian hackers and other troublemakers infiltrating the American voting process in the midterm and presidential elections. There have been months of apparent indifference in many state election offices, despite stern warnings from federal security experts that hackers will be back for more after their 2016 meddling. But now state election officials have begun trying to tighten the security of outdated, vulnerable balloting systems. These systems were last updated after the hanging-chad debacle of the 2000 election, before internet hackers were a powerful threat.

Full Article: States Take On Election Hacking. Washington Ignores It. - The New York Times.

California: Cyber Security Experts Say California Vote Audit Has Exploitable Problems –

Federal officials told California Friday that Russians probed the state’s election system for vulnerabilities before the 2016 election. That’s raising new questions over a bill on Governor Jerry Brown’s desk. Cyber security experts say the measure could weaken California’s voting systems. California relies on machines to tabulate the millions of ballots cast during an election, but counties also do a manual audit of one percent of precincts. A bill on Brown’s desk clarifies the audits only have to include ballots cast on or before election night—not provisional or late-arriving vote-by-mail ballots.

Full Article: Cyber Security Experts Say California Vote Audit Has Exploitable Problems -

Kansas: Judges question challenge to voting machines, but case could change state law | The Wichita Eagle

Appeals judges strongly questioned Tuesday whether there’s a legitimate legal question for them to decide in Wichita statistician Beth Clarkson’s quest to use audit tapes to test the accuracy of voting machines. But the case could lead to an effort to change state law to make it easier for citizens to do accuracy tests on election equipment. Clarkson, a statistician at Wichita State University, is asking the judges to order a recount of votes on ballot questions in the 2014 election, using the paper tapes generated by voting machines as voters cast their ballots. At a Court of Appeals hearing Tuesday in Wichita, the lead judge on the three-judge panel repeatedly pressed Clarkson’s lawyer, former U.S. Attorney Randy Rathbun, about whether a recount would have any effect, since the election was settled years ago.

Full Article: Judges question challenge to voting machines, but case could change state law | The Wichita Eagle.

Rhode Island: Bill approved to establish post-election audit program | The Westerly Sun

The General Assembly has approved a bill to establish post-election audits to ensure that equipment and procedures used to count votes are working properly. “This will go a long way toward ensuring public confidence in election results,” said Sen. James C. Sheehan, D-North Kingstown, who introduced the legislation at the urging of Common Cause. “Without the constant scrutiny and examination of election procedures, the democratic system could be called into doubt.” The bill was sponsored in the House by Rep. Edith H. Ajello, D-Providence. The audit would be a partial recount to verify the accuracy of the voting system.

Editorials: How the Kansas Legislature can take up where statistician has been stopped | The Wichita Eagle

Much good can come from Beth Clarkson’s 2 1/2-year quest to solve an unexplained pattern of voting results, but only if the Kansas Legislature can see the bipartisan importance. Clarkson, chief statistician for Wichita State University’s National Institute for Aviation Research with a Ph.D. in statistics, has tried since April 2015 to examine paper results from the 2014 general election. She wanted to answer why results tended to increase Republican votes in large precincts. Polling didn’t reflect the tally, which Clarkson reasoned could be caused by unseen demographic trends or fraud within the vote count. She sued Sedgwick County elections commissioner Tabitha Lehman and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach for paper results. Representing herself, Clarkson lost when her case was framed more as an open-records filing than a recount request. Her new lawyer called her “a brilliant statistician but a horrible lawyer” in a Kansas Court of Appeals hearing Tuesday.

Full Article: Wichita Eagle editorial on voting results, Sept. 20, 2017 | The Wichita Eagle.