Verified Voting in the News

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U.S. election officials responsible for managing more than a dozen close races this November share a fear: Outdated voting machines in their districts could undermine confidence in election results that will determine which party controls the U.S. Congress.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. Read More

National: State Websites Are Hackable — And That Could Compromise Election Security | FiveThirtyEight

Not every election hack is a blockbuster — but even small-scale attacks on states’ cyber infrastructure have the potential for catastrophic effects. After receiving a tip from a small cyber firm called Appsecuri, FiveThirtyEight has confirmed that two states, Alabama and Nevada, had vulnerabilities that left them open to potential compromises of their state web presences. Earlier this month, Appsecuri approached FiveThirtyEight and said it found potential flaws on several states’ websites that would allow for information to be tampered with. It provided a number of vulnerabilities to FiveThirtyEight; FiveThirtyEight is only reporting those it could verify with the states affected. Read More

New Jersey: Lawmakers Consider Switch To Paper Ballot System | WBGO

New Jersey lawmakers are considering whether the voting machines now used in the state should be replaced by a paper ballot system using electronic scanners. Princeton University computer science professor Andrew Appel says the voting machines are vulnerable to hacking. “So we should run our elections in a way that can detect and correct for computer hacking without having to put all our trust in computers. Therefore, we cannot use paperless touchscreen voting computers. They’re a fatally flawed technology.” Read More

National: Remember the Age of Paper Ballots? It’s Back | Wall Street Journal

In an era rife with concerns about cybersecurity, election officials are increasingly turning to a decidedly low-tech solution: paper. While security advocates have long considered use of paper a best practice for election integrity, the pace of its adoption has accelerated in the wake of Russian meddling in the U.S. election in 2016. City and county governments around the country and a handful oif states, so far, have moved to replace electronic voting methods with paper ballots or to adopt electronic voting machines that generate paper receipts. Virginia last year, just two months before its state election, phased out all its old electronic touch-screen machines after a demonstration at a hacking conference spotlighted vulnerabvilities in its electronic voting machines. Voters across the state cast paper ballots on election day. In Kentucky and Pennsylvania, meanwhile, state officials have ordered that all new voting equipment have a paper trail. Read More

Mississippi: State slated to receive some election security money | Jackson Clarion-Ledger

Mississippi can expect to receive nearly $4.5 million from the federal government in the next few months to improve election security, a spokeswoman for the secretary of state’s office said Tuesday. Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann applied for a grant from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, which has about $90 million available to divide among states for election security measures. Spokeswoman Leah Rupp Smith said Tuesday that Mississippi should receive its money before the general election this November. Read More

National: Election hacking puts focus on paperless voting machines | Associated Press

As the midterm congressional primaries heat up amid fears of Russian hacking, an estimated 1 in 5 Americans will be casting their ballots on machines that do not produce a paper record of their votes. That worries voting and cybersecurity experts, who say the lack of a hard copy makes it difficult to double-check the 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. Georgia, which holds its primary on Tuesday, and four other states — Delaware, Louisiana, New Jersey and South Carolina — exclusively use touch-screen machines that provide no paper records that allow voters to confirm their choices. Read More

Tennessee: Hack Shows Election Websites Are Vulnerable | NPR

When a WWE wrestler, especially one known for his demonic antics and a move called the “tombstone piledriver,” runs for mayor of your county, you know your election is going to get more attention than usual. But in Knox County, Tenn., it wasn’t the fact that Glenn Jacobs, also known to wrestling fans as Kane, was running for mayor that gained national attention on the county primary day, May 1. It was that the county’s election website, at the time the site was supposed to begin posting election results, came under attack. Malicious cyber actors shut down the county website and broke into the web server, according to county officials and a report done by the cyber security firm Sword and Shield. …”Any web server by definition, is connected to the internet, so it’s directly vulnerable to attacks from the internet,” said Doug Jones, an elections cyber security expert at the University of Iowa. Read More

National: U.S. Voting System Still Vulnerable To Cyberattacks 6 Months Before Election Day | NPR

As America heads toward the 2018 midterms, there is an 800-pound gorilla in the voting booth. Despite improvements since Russia’s attack on the 2016 presidential race, the U.S. elections infrastructure is vulnerable — and will remain so in November. Cybersecurity expert Bruce Schneier laid out the problem to an overflowing room full of election directors and secretaries of state — people charged with running and securing elections — at a conference at Harvard University this spring. “Computers are basically insecure,” said Schneier. “Voting systems are not magical in any way. They are computers.” Even though most states have moved away from voting equipment that does not produce a paper trail, when experts talk about “voting systems,” that phrase encompasses the entire process of voting: how citizens register, how they find their polling places, how they check in, how they cast their ballots and, ultimately, how they find out who won. Much of that process is digital. Read More

Colorado: How Colorado became the safest state to cast a vote | The Washington Post

As local officials across the country scramble to hack-proof their voting systems ahead of the midterm elections, there’s one state that is paving the way as a leader in election security. Colorado has done virtually everything election experts recommend states do to stave off a repeat of 2016, when Russian hackers targeted 21 states as part of the Russian government’s massive election interference campaign. The state records every vote on a paper ballot. It conducts rigorous post-election audits favored by voting researchers. Nearly every county is equipped with up-to-date voting machines. Election officials take part in security trainings and IT workers test computer networks for weaknesses. Secretary of State Wayne Williams told me the state benefited from having some of those measures in place before 2016. Once the extent of Russia’s digital campaign in the presidential election became clear, he made it a priority to invest more in them, he said. “If people perceive a risk, they’re less likely to participate in voting,” Williams said. “We want to protect people from that threat, and we want to people to perceive that they are protected from that threat.” Read More

Alaska: Election website was hacked on Election Day in 2016: report | CyberScoop

Hackers reportedly breached election systems in a third state, in addition to the already disclosed incidents involving Arizona and Illinois, during the 2016 campaign cycle. On Election Day 2016, a hacker successfully penetrated a server hosting Alaska’s main election website, the Anchorage Daily News reported on Monday night, citing documents obtained through a public records request. The breach is not connected to the previously reported hacking attempt made by Russia-linked hackers to access Alaska’s primary voter registration database. Alaska was one of 21 states that were previously informed by the Department of Homeland Security of similar Russian probing activity on their election systems. Security experts told ADN that, although the newly reported incident was a successful intrusion, the Alaska Division of Elections’ security measures appear to have prevented the attackers from changing content on the server. Read More