Russian President Vladimir Putin is poised once again to meddle in an American election, and there’s little the U.S can do to stop him, an expert says. “The midterm is vulnerable to attack. There’s nothing we can do about it. It’s too late — if Putin wants to attack our midterm, he will.” Barbara Simons, a former IBM researcher and the co-author of “Broken Ballots: Will Your Vote Count?” told Grant Burningham, host of the Yahoo News podcast “Bots & Ballots.” Having spent the last decade trying to warn politicians of the vulnerabilities of computerized voting systems, Simons, who received a PhD in computer science from the University of California, Berkeley, says that states like Georgia, New Jersey, Delaware, Louisiana and South Carolina that have switched to paperless elections are especially ripe targets.
Verified Voting in the News
Black Hat and DEF CON are just around the corner, and one of the biggest headlines from last year’s conferences was the Voting Village where hackers broke into voting machines en masse. This year’s Voting Village at DEF CON will be three times the size of last year’s event to accommodate the massive demand from 2017, event organizer Harri Hursti told Tim. But it wasn’t easy to get to that point: Hursti said voting machine vendors unhappy with the publicity about hacked equipment threw up hurdles that forced them to get creative, like visiting government auctions to buy equipment to probe.
National: States using election security grants for new voting machines that won’t be ready for 2018 | McClatchy
In three Southern states with some of the nation’s most vulnerable election systems, federal grants designed to help thwart cyberattacks may not provide much protection in time for the mid-term elections as Congress intended. The $380 million in grant funding was supposed to help all states bolster their elections security infrastructure ahead of the 2018 elections after the intelligence community had warned that state voting systems could again be targeted by foreign hackers as they were in 2016. States have until 2023 to spend the grant money, said Thomas Hicks, chairman of the Election Assistance Commission, which distributes the grants. But the long procurement process for voting machines makes it hard for states to buy new machines with their grants and get them into service by the 2018 mid-terms, even though “Congress looked at getting this money out quickly to have an effect on the 2018 election,” Hicks said. … With just over four months remaining until the mid-term elections, at least 40 states and the District of Columbia have requested more than $266 million of the $380 million pot, according to the EAC.
For the first time in a dozen years, states are looking at replacing their aging voting machines and related computer systems. But a survey of the early legislative debates surrounding this prospect suggests that some states are not heeding advice from federal officials, academics and other experts saying that ink-marked paper-ballot systems are the wisest foundation for the most secure and verifiable elections. This apparent dichotomy comes as states and the federal government have made an unprecedented effort to ramp up cyber-security precautions and training before 2018’s fall midterms, and as the voting machine industry is offering products that offer striking new options to make vote-counting more transparent and trustable. The open question is whether legislators and election officials are looking to embrace newer technology and verification protocols, or whether they are drawn to more opaque systems that they have grown familiar with—and which are commercially available. As always is the case with 3,069 counties running America’s elections, there is a range of inclinations on voting modernization.
State election officials said they haven’t received as much federal funding as they need to secure their election systems even after U.S. intelligence officials concluded that Russia meddled in the 2016 election and the federal government called on states to step up efforts to prevent hacking. Officials from Minnesota and Vermont asked lawmakers for more money at a hearing Wednesday by the Senate Rules and Administration Committee in Washington. “Our upgrades to equipment and cybersecurity will be an ongoing challenge for many states; the federal funding received will, regrettably, be insufficient to do all we want, or need,” said Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos, who is president-elect of the National Association of Secretaries of State.
Congo: New Voting System Vulnerabilities in Congo | Joseph Lorenzo Hall/Center for Democracy & TechnologyCenter for Democracy & Technology
Reading headlines, it might surprise some that the United States is not the only country with serious voting technology challenges. In fact, recent years have seen issues in India, Africa, and Latin America; technical experts have examined some of those systems and found them lacking. Today, I’m pleased to report that The Sentry – an NGO that works to prevent genocide and mass atrocities in Africa – released a detailed analysis (full report PDF) of the new system slated for use in the upcoming elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The Sentry worked with Argentinian security researchers Javier Smaldone (@mis2centavos) and Alfredo Ortega (@ortegaalfredo) and myself to examine what little public information is available about this system. The verdict is not good.
As the midterm congressional primaries heat up amid fears of Russian hacking, roughly 1 in 5 Americans will cast ballots on machines that do not produce a paper record of their votes. That worries voting and cybersecurity experts, who say lack of a hard copy makes it difficult to double-check results for signs of manipulation. “In the current system, after the election, if people worry it has been hacked, the best officials can do is say, ‘Trust us,’” said Alex Halderman, a voting machine expert who is director of the University of Michigan’s Center for Computer Security and Society.
Pennsylvania: Replacing York County’s outdated voting machines: Looming deadline, big bill | York Dispatch
As the November election approaches, York County’s voting machines reportedly are outdated, vulnerable to hacking and lacking a commonly used safety feature that might reveal meddling or mistakes. In fact, most Pennsylvania counties are in the same boat, according to Department of State, which is giving them until 2020 to upgrade their machines. The switch won’t be cheap, and no one is sure who’s going end up footing the bill, estimated to be about $125 million statewide. York County’s machines are 12 years old and replaced lever-operated voting booths that had been in use for more than half a century. … The risks associated with York County’s machines range in severity — from simple programming errors like the county saw last year, to hacking that can change vote counts, according to Marian Schneider, president of Verified Voting and former deputy secretary for Elections and Voting under the Wolf administration.
All US states should return to a paper ballot system because they were at too much risk from cyberterrorism, former President Bill Clinton has said. While it isn’t yet clear how much of the 2016 presidential election was compromised by cyberattacks, all US citizens should return to pen and paper to vote for now, the 42nd president told the BBC on Monday. “Until we get this straightened out, every state should go to some sort of paper ballot system,” Clinton said. He specifically cited Virginia’s decision last year to return to a paper ballot system, in which manual votes are counted and processed by electronic scanners.
National: Ahead of November election, old voting machines stir concerns among U.S. officials | Reuters
U.S. election officials responsible for managing more than a dozen close races this November share a fear: Outdated voting machines in their districts could undermine confidence in election results that will determine which party controls the U.S. Congress. In 14 of the 40 most competitive races, Americans will cast ballots on voting machines that do not provide a paper trail to audit voters’ intentions if a close election is questioned, according to a Reuters analysis of data from six states and the Verified Voting Foundation, a non-political group concerned about verifiable elections. These include races in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Texas, Florida, Kansas and Kentucky. Nationwide, of 435 congressional seats up for grabs, 144 are in districts where some or all voters will not have access to machines using paper records, the analysis shows. While something could go wrong in any of those districts, it is in the close elections where a miscount or a perception of a miscount matters most.