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Engadget: DefCon event shows how easy it is to hack voting systems

October 10, 2017 - Engadget

engadgetimage.jpegIt's no secret that it's possible to hack voting systems. But how easy is it, really? Entirely too easy, if you ask researchers at this year's DefCon. They've posted a report detailing how voting machines from numerous vendors held up at the security conference, and... it's not good. Every device in DefCon's "Voting Machine Hacking Village" was compromised in some way, whether it was by exploiting network vulnerabilities or simple physical access.

Multiple systems ran on ancient software (the Sequoia AVC Edge uses an operating system from 1989) with few if any checks to make sure they were running legitimate code. 

 

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Yet Another Major Russia Story Falls Apart. Is Skepticism Permissible Yet?

September 28, 2017 - The Intercept

GettyImages-469893730-article-header.jpgLAST FRIDAY, most major media outlets touted a major story about Russian attempts to hack into U.S. voting systems, based exclusively on claims made by the Department of Homeland Security. “Russians attempted to hack elections systems in 21 states in the run-up to last year’s presidential election, officials said Friday,” began the USA Today story, similar to how most other outlets presented this extraordinary claim.

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Calling Out the Kobach Commission for What It Is

September 26, 2017 - Common Dreams

cottoncandy.jpgIn the coverage that followed the recent meeting of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Voter Integrity, the media focused on the testimony of John Lott Jr., a gun researcher who argued that the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco’s background check system should be used to check voter eligibility. And while Lott’s testimony was worthy of the coverage — if not just for its ridiculousness, but also for its inaccuracy — this focus diverted attention from Kris Kobach’s continued underlying goal: to use this commission as an tool to restrict voting across the entire country.

From the very start of this commission, Kris Kobach — Kansas’ Republican Secretary of State and vice chair of the commission — has made voter restriction his main objective. On June 28, as one of the panel’s very first actions, Kobach sent letters to the secretaries of state in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, asking them to compile and send extensive data on their voters. He requested not just names and addresses, but also other deeply personal information, such as dates of birth, Social Security numbers, political party affiliation and every election voted dating back to 2006. While Kobach has not made his intended use for the data fully clear, it is likely that he will use this data to try to implement a national voter roll purge system, similar to his Kansas-run Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program, a program known for removing hundreds of correctly registered voters from the rolls.

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WEC acknowledges machines can miscount, decertifies a voting machine

September 26, 2017 - Wisconsin Election Integrity

EagleGoodbye.jpgThere’s good news and there’s … no-worse-than-usual news.

The good news is that today, the Wisconsin Elections Commission did what no Wisconsin elections agency has done since the introduction of computerized vote tabulation: They decertified a voting machine, the Optech Eagle.

And they did it for the best of reasons: It wasn’t counting our votes reliably. Now that so many ballots are marked in voters' homes, in all sorts of ink, the machine is "no longer meeting voters' and officials' expectations."

This is good. Not perfect, but good. The vote was unanimous. The Commissioners didn't debate whether the machine should be decertified, but how quickly.  They didn’t vote to decertify immediately, but they soberly considered that possibility. And they did adopt some immediate safeguards.

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CNN: For fair elections ... can we get a recount?

September 26, 2017 - CNN

CNNRecount.jpg(CNN)The latest reporting regarding the scope of attempted Russian cyber-interference in the 2016 presidential election suggests election officials made a mistake in ending efforts to recount the contest in key states.

Those recounts offered the best opportunity to identify and resolve issues that are now coming to light. We should study our errors to avoid repeating them -- and to make sure recounts in the future are better at detecting hacking and other threats.

 

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Virginia Decertifies DRE Machines

September 11, 2017 - Election Academy

Last Friday, the Commonwealth of Virginia decertified – with immediate effect – the use of all direct recording electronic (DRE) voting machines. Here’s the press release from the Department of Elections:

The Department of Elections today called for the immediate decertification of Direct Record Electronic (DRE) voting equipment in Virginia, and the State Board of  Elections approved the request in an effort to increase the security and integrity of Virginia’s voting systems ahead of the November election.

The vote to decertify the DRE, or touchscreen, voting equipment is effective immediately and means that DREs may no longer be used for elections in Virginia. DREs are used in 22 localities across the Commonwealth. 

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Green Party’s Jill Stein: Our Voting System is Wide Open for Hacking

August 4, 2017 - Democracy Now!

Screen_Shot_2017-12-14_at_7.33.36_PM.pngExtended web-only interview with former Green Party presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein on voting integrity, the Trump-Russia probe and the need for building third parties.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González, as we continue with Part 2 of our conversation with Jill Stein, the former Green Party presidential candidate of 2016, of 2012. In the first part of our discussion, we talked about her recent trip as part of a peace delegation to South Korea, and we also talked about that famous photo of the former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn in Russia at a dinner with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Also at that dinner, Dr. Jill Stein, who was part of a group of peace activists who had also gone to Moscow because that was part of a peace conference that was taking place at the time.

But we wanted to spend Part 2 talking about where this country stands today, under President Trump, but not only the policies of the Trump administration, but the resistance. Now, interestingly, that discussion or that meeting you had or that dinner you had that—where you weren’t able to speak with President Putin, because there were no translators, was also around the time of the Paris peace—the Paris climate accord. So, talk about the connection between those, why you chose to go to Moscow at the time and what the Paris climate accord and President Trump pulling out of it means.

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New voting machines coming to Michigan: Here's how they're different

August 2, 2017 - Detroit Free Press

636372942800764330-AP-Michigan-New-Voting-Machi.jpgCities across Michigan will be breaking in new voting equipment for Tuesday's primary, following the discovery of irregularities during last year's presidential election recount and as a commission appointed by the president looks into questions of voter integrity across the country. 

Detroit, which experienced numerous problems during the November 2016 election, will be the biggest of the 60 cities that will switch to the new voting machines next week. Some 45 counties will have the equipment on board by the November election. All municipalities in the state will be hooked up by the August 2018 primary election.

“We knew it was time to get new equipment,” Secretary of State Ruth Johnson said during a demonstration Wednesday of the new equipment in Rochester Hills. “Our equipment was at least 10 years old and nearing the end of its life. Elections are too important to rely on old voting machines.”

 

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The Hill: Opinion - Leaked NSA report rings alarm sounded by 2016 election recount

June 16, 2017

hilloped.jpgDo we have a voting system we can trust, that is accurate, secure and just? This question, raised by the 2016 multi-state recount effort, is roaring back at us louder than ever after the Intercept’s publication last week of a leaked National Security Agency report documenting with unprecedented detail a hacking scheme targeting components of the U.S. voting system.

The NSA report shows how the hack first used a spear phishing attack in August on the employees of a company producing voter registration software. Information from that hack was then used in a second phishing email about a week before the election targeting over 100 government employees, presumably local election officials, as the Intercept put it, to “trick [them] into opening Microsoft Word documents invisibly tainted with potent malware that could give hackers full control over the infected computers.”

 

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If Voting Machines Were Hacked, Would Anyone Know?

NPR

gettyimages-620878108_wide-8c43cc033d60d81c11959a6c197f2e10e431442a-s700-c85.jpgAs new reports emerge about Russian-backed attempts to hack state and local election systems, U.S. officials are increasingly worried about how vulnerable American elections really are. While the officials say they see no evidence that any votes were tampered with, no one knows for sure.

Voters were assured repeatedly last year that foreign hackers couldn't manipulate votes because, with few exceptions, voting machines are not connected to the Internet. "So how do you hack something in cyberspace, when it's not in cyberspace?" Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler said shortly before the 2016 election.

But even if most voting machines aren't connected to the Internet, says cybersecurity expert Jeremy Epstein, "they are connected to something that's connected to something that's connected to the Internet."

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