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America Continues to Ignore the Risks of Election Hacking

April 18, 2018 - The New Yorker

Halpern-Voting-Machines.jpgLast month, when Congress authorized three hundred and eighty million dollars to help states protect their voting systems from hacking, it was a public acknowledgement that, seven months out from the midterm elections, those systems remain vulnerable to attack.

America’s voting systems are hackable in all kinds of ways. As a case in point, in 2016, the Election Assistance Commission, the bipartisan federal agency that certifies the integrity of voting machines, and that will now be tasked with administering Congress’s three hundred and eighty million dollars, was itself hacked. The stolen data—log-in credentials of E.A.C. staff members—were discovered, by chance, by employees of the cybersecurity firm Recorded Future, whose computers one night happened upon an informal auction of the stolen passwords. “This guy—we randomly called him Rasputin—was in a high-profile forum in the darkest of the darkest of the darkest corner of the dark Web, where hackers and reverse engineers, ninety-nine per cent of them Russian, hang out,” Christopher Ahlberg, the C.E.O. of Recorded Future, told me. “There was someone from another country in the forum who implied he had a government background, and he wanted to get his hands on this stuff. That’s when we decided we would just buy it. So we did, and took it to the government”—the U.S. government—“and the sale ended up being thwarted.” (Ahlberg wouldn’t identify which government agency his company had turned the data over to. The E.A.C., in a statement, referred questions about “the investigation or information shared with the government by Recorded Future” to the F.B.I. The F.B.I., through a Justice Department spokesperson, declined to comment.)

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Most Pa. voting machines are old, hackable, and will likely be used to count the 2020 votes

May 25, 2018 - Philadelphia Inquirer

One Pennsylvania county official claims his voting machines are unhackable. Another admits hers are old, but the county can’t afford to buy new ones. A third says he’s waiting for the state to tell him which new voting machines are safest for Pennsylvania voters.

At a time of national concern over foreign interference in U.S. elections, 57 percent of the voters in Pennsylvania, including Philadelphia’s, are casting their ballots on machines that are outdated, hackable, and don’t provide a paper record of each vote to safeguard against fraud.

After Texas, Pennsylvania has the most registered voters using machines with no paper trail, according to Verified Voting, a nonpartisan group promoting trustworthy voting systems.

In February, Gov. Wolf and Secretary of State Robert Torres told counties that any voting machines they buy must be able to produce a paper record for each individual vote. The state didn’t include any funding to help counties purchase new equipment and hasn’t yet certified any models.

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New Technology Allows Election Officials to Verify Votes Like Never Before—Will It Be Widely Used in 2018?

May 4, 2018 - Alternet

screen_shot_2018-05-04_at_11.55.04_am.pngTechnology has bestowed a stunning twist of fate in the arcane world of counting how America votes.

A decade ago, activists railed against private companies who made the computer-driven “black boxes” that tabulated election results. That opacity, to protect their trade secrets, fueled sore losers and conspiracy theories and thwarted journalistic investigations of miscounts or tampering.

But today, the voting machine industry’s newest devices are producing digital images of individual paper ballots, accompanied by devices that mark the ballot or its image, and include audit systems that can trace disputed ballots back to their precincts—by using technology that’s akin to how banks allow smartphones to securely deposit checks.

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April 16, 2018 - The Intercept

AP_16322718995132-copy-1523898062.jpgTHE JILL STEIN campaign is refusing to comply fully with a Senate intelligence committee request for documents and other correspondence, made as part of the committee’s probe into Russian activities in the 2016 election, according to a letter to be delivered Thursday to the panel by an attorney for the campaign.

The Green Party campaign will agree to turn over some documents, but raised constitutional objections to the breadth of the inquiry, which was first made in November 2017, arguing that elements of it infringe on basic political rights enshrined in the First Amendment.

In the letter responding to committee chair Richard Burr, R-N.C., and ranking member Mark Warner, D-Va., Stein’s campaign has now said it will refuse some of the requests, calling them “so overbroad in reach as to demand constitutionally protected materials.”

The campaign provided that letter to The Intercept and it is posted below.

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Time has come for Pa. to modernize its voting machines | Opinion

April 19, 2018 - The Inquirer

dixon-475359-f-wp-content-uploads-2018-04-461813_9594a1238440778-1200x800.jpgImagine depending on a 12-year-old cellphone or a 15-year-old computer for your personal or business needs.  No one would fault you for seeking to replace that outdated equipment with newer, technologically superior models.

Many counties in the commonwealth own voting systems that old or even older.

Fortunately, voting machines remain reliable longer than cellphones and laptops. Also, Pennsylvania employs a host of measures – such as comprehensive monitoring and network isolation – to maintain their security.

With the cooperation of law enforcement and cybersecurity partners, we know that our elections will be run in a safe, secure way this year. But as our voting machines approach the end of their usable life, we must think and plan ahead now.

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Q&A: Why replace the Lehigh Valley's voting machines?

April 19, 2018 - Morning Call

mc-1524001624-5emdltcaie-snap-image.jpgGov. Tom Wolf wants Pennsylvania counties to replace and upgrade their voting machines before the 2020 election. Under the plan, counties would use machines that create a paper backup as an added layer of security and accountability.

While key details, including cost, financing and the specific machines counties can choose from still need to be worked out, here are important things to know about the process.

How would the new system work?

A growing national trend is a system in which each voter creates a paper ballot that is then scanned into a statewide collection system. Differences among systems involve when the ballots are printed, who scans them into the system and where the scanning takes place. Once scanned, the votes can be tallied quickly.

The state is reviewing voting machines and plans to release a list of approved devices by autumn. Counties can only buy voting machines on the list.

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Federal Judge Holds Kansas Elections Official In Contempt Of Court

April 18, 2018 - NPR

ap_18072799635740-823fe9f9390bb7b3d295699139bade132c1ff8e6-s700-c85.jpgA federal judge has found Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach in contempt of courtfor disobeying a court order in a case testing that state's controversial proof-of-citizenship voting law.

U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson says Kobach violated her preliminary injunction to allow some potentially ineligible voters to remain eligible to cast a ballot, pending the outcome of the lawsuit.

The judge found that the Kansas secretary of state, who has crusaded against voter fraud, failed to update his office's website informing some new voter applicants that they were still eligible to vote. She also found that Kobach's office did not send postcards to such voters, who had not shown proof-of-citizenship documents when they registered, as the judge required.

Kobach is a Republican who had led President Trump's now-disbanded commission on voter fraud. He is currently running for governor of Kansas.

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Who Will Protect Elections From U.S. Oligarchs?

April 18, 2018 - TruthDig

Citizens-United-850x607.jpgI recently heard on cable news that special counsel Robert Mueller wanted to interview some “Russian oligarchs” about their supposed influence on the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Liberal talking heads at such organizations as MSNBC and CNN keep warning that nothing has been done yet to protect the integrity of our voting process against “Russian interference” as the 2018 midterm elections loom ever closer on the nation’s horizon.

What about the American oligarchs, I wondered, people like businessman Richard Uihlein, who regularly distort U.S. elections at every level—local, state and federal? Who will protect our “democracy” from the plutocratic “wealth primary” power of the American oligarchy?

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Ranked-choice voting will be used for June primaries, Maine supreme court rules

April 17, 2018 - Press Herald

AUGUSTA — The state’s highest court ruled Tuesday that a ballot-box law that moves Maine’s primary elections to a ranked-choice voting system should stand for the pending primary elections in June.

The June 12 vote will be the first in the nation for a statewide use of ranked-choice voting system.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court took up the case based on a complaint from the Maine Senate, which argued that the state’s top election official, Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, did not have the constitutional authority to spend money on a ranked-choice election without specific direction to do so from the Legislature.

Attorneys for the Senate, in essence, had argued that Dunlap would be violating the Maine Constitution’s separation of powers clause by moving to conduct a ranked-choice primary in June, as ordered in March by a Superior Court judge in Kennebec County.

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Despite Cash From Congress, Key Election Security Issue May Not Get Fixed

March 27, 2018 - NPR

The massive spending bill President Trump signed into law on Friday includes enough money to replace voting machines that leave no paper trail, a top priority for many election officials and cybersecurity experts. But according to a new analysis, it seems unlikely that's how the money will be spent.

The analysis, published by New York University's Brennan Center for Justice, says it would cost somewhere between $200-$400 million to replace every electronic voting machine in the U.S. that doesn't create a paper ballot or receipt. More than a dozen states still use these types of machines, despite concerns that they are vulnerable to hacking or manipulation without a trace.

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