Monday, April 25, 2011

Oak Ridge, spear phishing, and internet voting, Voter Files Altered in New Mexico

AZ: Tucson's mail-in election may violate state law -

Tucson city leaders voted two weeks ago to hold all mail elections. It was a way to save money for a cash starved city and increase voter turnout. But Republicans at the state legislature have different ideas. After the city vote, the lawmakers inserted language in SB 1331 which in essence says Tucson can't do that. Any other city in the state can hold mail in elections, just not Tucson. The reason is Tucson's appeals court victory earlier this week over the state legislature. The appeals court upheld Tucson's charter which calls for partisan elections. Tucson is the only city in Arizona which holds partisan elections. According to SB 1331, as long as Tucson holds partisan elections, they can't hold all mail elections. Tucson is the only city which fits the definition. Read More

CO: Are Denver's elections costing too much? - KWGN

Four candidates are running for Clerk & Recorder in Denver, and one of them, Jacob Werther, is claiming the all-mail ballot election is costing the City too much. “I’m thinking about four dollars a ballot,” said Werther. “When you factor in the paper and the labor involved in handling 290-thousand ballots it’s about 1.2 million dollars.” He says if the city would go to a full Ballot on-demand system, where ballots are printed out when voters show up at the polls, this election could have come in for about $600,000 and that includes 60 polling places with eight judges at each location. Common Cause, a voter watchdog group, has often questioned Denver elections, but this time they are in concert with the Division. Read More

FL: With presidential election looming, Florida election law rewrite moves forward |

With a fast-approaching presidential election expected to bring more than 8.5 million Floridians to the polls, the Legislature is battling over sweeping changes to nearly every aspect of state election law. Supporters tout the changes as fighting fraud. Opponents say they are disenfranchising. And the people charged with counting ballots wonder why lawmakers are trying to reinvent the wheel in the first place. Among the changes proposed are shortening the early-voting period for each election from 14 to six days and forcing groups that conduct voter-registration drives to provide the state with more information, in less time, and electronically. But the biggest rewrite scraps the four-decade-old law allowing address changes at the polls. Voters wanting to do so on election day would have to fill out a provisional ballot, generally used by more mobile populations and which require officials to research voter eligibility. During the 2008 presidential election, 48 percent of the 35,635 provisional ballots cast statewide were rejected, leading opponents to cast the proposed changes as targeting groups like college students and low-income populations. Read More

KS: Kansas law requiring proof of citizenship may be costly in more ways than one -

Voting rights advocates say that Kansas’ new law that requires a photo ID to cast a ballot is bad enough, but what’s worse is its requirement that to register to vote a person, must prove U.S. citizenship. “That part is actually far more troubling,” said Ernestine Krehbiel, president of the League of Women Voters of Kansas. The days of voter registration drives at picnics, nursing homes, grocery stores, county fairs and the Kansas State Fair may be near an end, she said. That’s because, effective Jan. 1, 2013, state law will require voter registration applicant to provide satisfactory evidence of U.S. citizenship. The provision applies only to new voter registration applications in Kansas. Read More

MD: State Approves $3.41M Settlement with Manufacturer Over Voting Machine Security Issues - Southern Maryland Headline News

Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler on Wednesday announced the settlement of a claim against Premier Elections Solutions, formerly known as Diebold. The settlement, negotiated by the Office of Attorney General, will be worth more than $3 million to the State. In 2008, the Attorney General, on behalf of the State Board of Elections, brought a claim against Diebold to recoup costs that the State incurred to remedy security issues that had arisen with the Diebold machines. “The problems with the Diebold machines were clearly evident during the 2006 election,” said Attorney General Gansler. “When I took office, I began to examine ways to hold the company accountable for its shortcomings. Today, I am proud that my office was able to reach this settlement and save the State of Maryland millions of dollars.” Read More

NM: Thousands of voter files altered; Bernalillo County clerk demands SOS restrict database access - Veritas

A few days after New Mexico Secretary of State Dianna Duran notified all 33 county clerks that their biennial voter purge would be canceled this year, Deputy Bernalillo County Clerk Robert Adams made a disturbing discovery — 44,601 county files stored on the state’s voter registration database had been accessed and altered. Accustomed to spending long hours in front of his computer, Adams says he was shocked to learn informational “flags,” which are attached to voter files after mail is returned by the U.S. Postal Service as undeliverable, had simply vanished on Valentine’s Day. After securely logging on to the database, known as PowerProfile, Adam’s heart began beating a little faster as he started considering worst-case scenarios. He needed to know what happened before the Bernalillo County Board of Voter Registrations was convened the third Monday of March, the date required by state statute. Adams worried a criminal might have breached a government intranet connection with the goal of stealing voters’ social security and driver license numbers and other sensitive personal identification information, including voters’ dates of birth and addresses. Later the same chilly February morning, however, Adams determined the flags had been deleted by an unauthorized technician at Nebraska-based Elections Systems and Software (ES&S) without his, or County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver’s written or verbal permission. Read More

TN: GOP moves to repeal Tennessee paper ballot law - The Tennessean

A plan to require paper ballots in next year’s elections is on the verge of being repealed, the latest in a series of actions taken by Republicans in the state legislature to rewrite Tennessee election laws. State representatives are trying to reverse most of a 2008 law that called for the replacement of electronic voting machines across the state with paper ballots read by computerized scanners. The move would kill off a plan that supporters say would create a verifiable record of votes but opponents say will be costly and open to tampering. The measure is one of several bills moving through the legislature that deal with election laws that would shorten early voting periods, toughen identification requirements and give state election officials greater discretion to investigate fraud at the local level. Democrats say the changes will throw up unnecessary hurdles to voting that could keep voters from the polls and could open new alleys for manipulating election outcomes. Read More

TN: Sumner County leaders oppose possible paper ballot mandate - The Tennessean

Members of the Sumner County Commission recently voted to send a proposal to state legislators to either repeal or fund a bill currently being considered that mandates the use of paper ballots in local elections. "We just purchased new machines that are electronic, and if they mandate paper ballots we’ll have to go to a new system," County Executive Anthony Holt said. "It could be in the range of $300,000 to buy the new required scanning machines and have them stored. That's going to be a huge fiscal impact." The Voter's Confidence Act was originally considered in 2008, but it was postponed to see if the state was willing to support the costs of the project. An amendment calls for the bill to be passed only if the General Assembly agrees to a one-time appropriation of $7.6 million and then $4.1 million every two years after that to reimburse local entities for the costs. Read More

WI: Count on some chaos in state Supreme Court recount - JSOnline

This is what a recount looks like: An indoor sports arena is filled with poll workers from every municipality in Milwaukee County, each in their own area. At each station, poll workers examine and count ballots one by one. And as they count, campaign volunteers, attorneys and journalists watch their every move - with the campaign representatives sometimes challenging the poll workers' decisions - while sheriff's deputies stand guard. It could be the biggest show in Wisconsin. And, with a few variations, it opens next week in every county in the state. Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg sought the statewide recount after final results showed she lost the state Supreme Court race to incumbent Justice David Prosser by more than 7,300 votes. Under a deal reached Thursday in Dane County Circuit Court, ballots will be tallied by hand in all or part of 31 counties and by machine elsewhere. The hand recount was ordered for places where voting machines could not be used for the recount without erasing their election-night data. That includes pieces of some of Wisconsin's largest counties, among them Milwaukee, Dane, Waukesha, Brown, Racine and Outagamie. In Milwaukee County, hand recounts will be used for all of Milwaukee's 312 wards and for every suburb, except Bayside, Greendale, St. Francis and Wauwatosa. Read More


Oak Ridge, spear phishing, and internet voting - Freedom to Tinker

Oak Ridge National Labs (one of the US national energy labs, along with Sandia, Livermore, Los Alamos, etc) had a bunch of people fall for a spear phishing attack (see articles in Computerworld and many other descriptions). For those not familiar with the term, spear phishing is sending targeted emails at specific recipients, designed to have them do an action (e.g., click on a link) that will install some form of software (e.g., to allow stealing information from their computers). This is distinct from spam, where the goal is primarily to get you to purchase pharmaceuticals, or maybe install software, but in any case is widespread and not targeted at particular victims. Spear phishing is the same technique used in the Google Aurora (and related) cases last year, the RSA case earlier this year, Epsilon a few weeks ago, and doubtless many others that we haven't heard about. Targets of spear phishing might be particular people within an organization (e.g., executives, or people on a particular project). Read More


Nigeria: International Election Observer Declares Nigeria Presidential Vote Credible - VOA News

The leader of an observer mission at last weekend’s presidential election in Nigeria says the vote was largely free and fair. It was a significant improvement over the 2007 general elections, said Robin Carnahan of the U.S.-based National Democratic Institute [NDI], and the secretary of state of the U.S. state of Missouri. Most observers described those earlier polls as flawed. “The presidential and National Assembly elections represent a step forward from seriously flawed elections of the past,” said the NDI in a statement. It said they hold the promise of setting a new standard for integrity in Nigeria’s electoral process. “Our observation team went to a couple of hundred [polling stations] and there were other domestic and international observers [there],” said Carnahan. “And all of us, in the main, thought the process ran relatively smoothly. Obviously, there were imperfections in it, but it seems to [have] run smoothly.” Read More

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