Verified Voting - Safeguarding Elections in the Digital Age
Advocating for transparent election processes and verifiable voting systems. The Verified Voting Foundation is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization championing accessible, reliable and publicly verifiable elections.
Russian opposition leaders led a rally in Moscow of about 1,000 people Sunday to protest the city election commission’s decision that will keep several opposition candidates off the ballot in a local election. The unsanctioned rally was billed as a meeting between opposition leaders and voters after the Moscow election commission rejected signatures needed to qualify the candidates for the September city parliament election. Demonstrators chanted “We are the authority here!” and “Putin is a thief.” Police made no effort to intervene until later in the evening, after the protest crowd had largely dispersed and opposition leaders called for the remaining participants to stage an overnight sit-in at the election commission. Alexei Navalny, Russia’s most prominent opposition leader, was not seen at the protest. The demonstration was led, in various stages, by opposition figures Dmitry Gudkov, Ilya Yashin and Lyubov Sobol. “We were collecting the signatures under rain and in the heat,” Gudkov said. “And you know what (the election commission) told us yesterday? They told us that our signatures are fake. Many of the people who gave me their signatures are here today. Friends, do you agree?” The crowd responded: “No!”
The potential for tampering in Georgia’s elections last fall prompted the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to warn election officials to be on guard against foreign interference. A recently released DHS memo, titled “A Georgia Perspective on Threats to the 2018 U.S. Elections,” listed concerns about hacking, misinformation spread through social media and disruptions to election infrastructure.The federal advice came as attorneys for state election officials argued in court documents that fears of hacking and vote miscounting were little more than “a theoretical possibility.”Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office said Monday that cybersecurity has been an ongoing priority since well before the 2018 elections.“This memo is standard information sharing and shows what all levels of government are doing to protect our elections,” said spokeswoman Tess Hammock. “DHS prepared a similar memo for every state. There is no evidence of any successful attempts to interfere in Georgia's elections.”The unclassified DHS document became public Wednesday when it was included as an exhibit in an ongoing lawsuit seeking to prevent the continued use of electronic voting machines. “Foreign governments may engage in cyber operations targeting the election infrastructure and political organization in Georgia and engage in influence operations that aim to interfere with the 2018 U.S. elections,” according to the Oct. 2, 2018, document prepared by the DHS Office of Intelligence & Analysis Field Operations Division for the Southeast Region. The two-page memo didn't specify who might have attempted to tamper with Georgia's elections, but it said their goals could have been “to disrupt political processes, sway public opinion, or to undermine certain political organizations.”
County election officials are raising concerns about the new Washington state voting system ahead of the Aug. 6 primary election while state officials say they have confidence in it. The new voting system, VoteWA, is a $9.5 million program that came online last May and is meant to unify all 39 county voting systems in the state into a single entity. This will allow greater security and more easily facilitate same-day voter registration, said Washington’s Secretary of State Kim Wyman, who has advocated for the program. “I want people to know that our system is secure and that our counties are going to be ready for the August primary and the November general elections,” Wyman said. Several issues have made King County Elections officials less confident. The state shut down the old voting system on May 24 and spent several days transferring voter data to VoteWA. Following this, counties double-checked the new data with their previous voter records to ensure accuracy, which meant they were not able to register new voters in the system until June 9. In King County, this led to a backlog of 16,000 voters, said King County Elections director Julie Wise during a July 10 meeting of the county’s Regional Policy Committee. “There was a rush to get this system implemented, and it’s not ready to go,” Wise said. “I know that that’s concerning, and that it causes alarm for people, but I do want to say we are working diligently.”
New documents obtained exclusively by CNN reveal that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange received in-person deliveries, potentially of hacked materials related to the 2016 US election, during a series of suspicious meetings at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. The documents build on the possibility, raised by special counsel Robert Mueller in his report on Russian meddling, that couriers brought hacked files to Assange at the embassy. The surveillance reports also describe how Assange turned the embassy into a command center and orchestrated a series of damaging disclosures that rocked the 2016 presidential campaign in the United States. Despite being confined to the embassy while seeking safe passage to Ecuador, Assange met with Russians and world-class hackers at critical moments, frequently for hours at a time. He also acquired powerful new computing and network hardware to facilitate data transfers just weeks before WikiLeaks received hacked materials from Russian operatives. These stunning details come from hundreds of surveillance reports compiled for the Ecuadorian government by UC Global, a private Spanish security company, and obtained by CNN. They chronicle Assange's movements and provide an unprecedented window into his life at the embassy. They also add a new dimension to the Mueller report, which cataloged how WikiLeaks helped the Russians undermine the US election. An Ecuadorian intelligence official told CNN that the surveillance reports are authentic.
If the security of voting systems in the next election will be a function of the amount of legislation on the topic now pending in Congress, we’ve got nothing to worry about in November 2020. There is a growing pile of bills in both the House and Senate, most featuring several to dozens of cosponsors—sometimes even from both parties—accompanied by press releases with made-to-order endorsements from congressional leaders, advocacy groups and cybersecurity experts. They all call for securing U.S. elections and “protecting our democracy.” But, of course, the number of bills doesn’t matter. It’s about quality, not quantity. The things that do matter are what gets enacted into law and whether its mandates get done or get watered down. And that, as the predictable cliché goes, remains to be seen.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) is demanding answers from the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) as to how the federal agency plans to secure election equipment amid reports that most machines depend on software that will soon be out-of-date and vulnerable to cyber attacks. In a letter dated July 12 that was released on Monday, Wyden asked EAC Chairwoman Christy McCormick how the agency plans to address this “looming cybersecurity crisis.” “Intelligence officials have made it clear that Russian hackers targeted our elections in 2016, and that they expect similar threats in 2020,” Wyden wrote. “The continued use of out-of-date software on voting machines and the computers used to administer elections lays out the red carpet for foreign hackers. This is unacceptable.” The Associated Press recently reported that the majority of U.S. counties use election management systems that run on Windows 7, an outdated operating system that Microsoft will stop updating in January. The systems are responsible for programming voting machines and tallying votes. Wyden focused his questions on whether products created by Election Systems and Software (ES&S), one of the major U.S. voting equipment manufacturers, would be decertified by the EAC prior to the 2020 elections. According to EAC documentation, the equipment uses Windows 7. Wyden gave McCormick a July 26 deadline to respond to his questions.
There’s a big hacking danger facing the 2020 election that's so far been overlooked: software so old that companies aren’t updating it anymore. The “vast majority" of the nation’s 10,000 election jurisdictions rely on Microsoft’s Windows 7 operating system, which was introduced in 2009 and will reach the end of its technological life span in January, according to a report this weekend from the Associated Press’s Tami Abdollah. And some of those jurisdictions are relying on software that’s even older. That means those systems — which are running in numerous swing states’ election systems — won’t get automatically updated to protect against newfound computer bugs, leaving the systems far more vulnerable to hackers who exploit those bugs, Abdollah reports. The report highlights yet another way in which elections remain vulnerable to hacking despite calls for vastly improved election cybersecurity after the 2016 contest was upended by Russian hacking and disinformation operations — and amid warnings from Intelligence officials that Russia and other U.S. adversaries want to similarly compromise the 2020 contest. The vulnerable software is deployed on systems to create ballots, program voting machines, tally votes and report counts, per the AP. It also demonstrates how many election cybersecurity challenges evade easy fixes.
Los Angeles County has too many voters. An estimated 1.6 million, according to the latest calculations – which is roughly the population of Philadelphia. That’s the difference between the number of people on the county’s voter rolls and the actual number of voting age residents. This means that L.A. is in violation of federal law, which seeks to limit fraud by requiring basic voter list maintenance to make sure that people who have died, moved, or are otherwise ineligible to vote aren’t still on the rolls. Los Angeles County has made only minimal efforts to clean up its voter rolls for decades. It began sending notices to those 1.6 million people last month to settle a lawsuit brought by the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch. Los Angeles County may be California’s worst offender, but 10 of the state’s 58 counties also have registration rates exceeding 100% of the voting age population. In fact, the voter registration rate for the entire state of California is 101%. And the Golden State isn’t alone. Eight states, as well as the District of Columbia, have total voter registration tallies exceeding 100%, and in total, 38 states have counties where voter registration rates exceed 100%. Another state that stands out is Kentucky, where the voter registration rate in 48 of its 120 counties exceeded 100% last year. About 15% of America’s counties where there is reliable voter data – that is, over 400 counties out of 2,800 – have voter registration rates over 100%.
A large number of civil rights groups including National Alliance for People's Movement (NAPM) and Nation for Farmers (NFF) along with several political parties have decided to launch a nationwide people's movement on August 9 to reject Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and bring back paper ballot in elections. "We will be starting it on the eve of Quit India movement with the slogan "EVM Bharat Chhodo, Ballot Paper Vapis Lao," said Dr. Sunilam, convenor of NAPM. The two-day meeting participated by representatives of political parties discussed the shocking 2019 elections results that paled even the election results of 1977 when anger was at its height against the Indira Gandhi government.
Should malign actors – foreign, domestic, or indeterminate – mess with Canada’s election this fall, a gathering of five senior federal bureaucrats will decide whether the action constitutes a threat to our otherwise “free and fair” election. If it does, they’ll let us know. There’s nothing wrong with this, unless the process is as cumbersome as the label pinned on it. In that case, the Critical Election Incident Public Protocol, or CEIPP (seep?), would alert us to election skullduggery sometime after the next Parliament is sworn in. The five members of the CEIPP panel are the clerk of the Privy Council, the prime minister’s national security and intelligence adviser, and the deputy ministers of Justice, Public Safety, and Foreign Affairs. This high-powered group will draw information from Canada’s intelligence agencies who are, we’re told, hard at work defending us from unseen malevolence, and spying on environmental activists. Actually, we weren’t told that bit about spying on environmentalists. We learned that this week after a federal court unsealed a raft of documents that showed the Canadian Security Intelligence Service traded intel about environmentalists with oil companies. That has little to do with free and fair elections, but it raises troubling questions about the power imbalance that makes a mockery of democracy itself. But I digress.