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Poll: Large majority of Americans concerned about election security

October 10, 2018 - The Hill

A wide majority of Americans are concerned about election security in the United States ahead of next month's midterm elections, according to a new poll.

Almost eight in 10 Americans are at least somewhat concerned about the potential hacking of the nation's voting systems, according to a University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey published Wednesday.

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The Crisis of Election Security

September 26, 2018 | New York Times

It was mid-July 2016 when Neil Jenkins learned that someone had hacked the Illinois Board of Elections. Jenkins was a director in the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications at the Department of Homeland Security, the domestic agency with a congressional mandate to protect “critical infrastructure.” Although election systems were not yet formally designated as such — that wouldn’t happen until January 2017 — it was increasingly clear that the presidential election was becoming a national-security issue. Just a month before, Americans had been confronted with the blockbuster revelation that Russian government actors had hacked the Democratic National Committee’s servers and stolen private email and opposition research against Donald Trump, the Republican presidential candidate.

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If you vote by mail in Florida, it’s 10 times more likely that ballot won’t count

September 19 | Miami Herald

A study of Florida’s past two presidential elections finds that mail ballots were 10 times more likely to be rejected than votes cast at early voting sites or on election day.

The study also found that mail ballots cast by youngest voters, blacks and Hispanics were much more likely to be rejected than mail ballots cast by white voters, and that those voters are less likely to cure problems with their ballots when notified by election supervisors than other voters.

The study also shows that rejection rates vary widely across the state.

The report was produced by Daniel Smith, chairman of the political science department at the University of Florida, on behalf of the ACLU of Florida, whose director, Howard Simon, cited the state’s “uncertain history in election administration” in a conference call with reporters.

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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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