Top Voting Machine Vendor Admits It Installed Remote-Access Software on Systems Sold to States
Remote-access software and modems on election equipment ‘is the worst decision for security short of leaving ballot boxes on a Moscow street corner.’
“The company’s machines were used statewide in a number of states, and at least 60 percent of ballots cast in the US in 2006 were tabulated on ES&S election-management systems. It’s not clear why ES&S would have only installed the software on the systems of “a small number of customers” and not all customers, unless other customers objected or had state laws preventing this.
Election-management systems are not the voting terminals that voters use to cast their ballots, but are just as critical: they sit in county election offices and contain software that in some counties is used to program all the voting machines used in the county; the systems also tabulate final results aggregated from voting machines.”
Full article by Kim Zetter:
Boston Globe, Feb. 19th, 2018
WASHINGTON — Hoping to counter waves of Russian Twitter bots, fake social media accounts, and hacking attacks aimed at undermining American democracy, state election officials around the country are seizing on an old-school strategy: paper ballots.
In Virginia, election officials have gone back to a paper ballot system, as a way to prevent any foreign interference. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolfe this month ordered county officials to ensure new election equipment produces a paper record. Georgia lawmakers are considering legislation to replace a touch-screen voting system with paper.
Top election officials around the country are growing increasingly alarmed about this fall’s midterm elections, with a drumbeat of dire warning signs that Russia is determined to influence them. And many are concerned that President Trump has not focused on the potential for more attacks on America’s election system like the one Russia launched in 2016.
With little leadership from the White House or Congress, they are acting locally, trying to outwit potential hackers by upgrading equipment and enhancing the cybersecurity of systems that contain sensitive voter registration rolls. Secretaries of state and other elections officials around the country in recent months also began applying for security clearances so that federal officials can start briefing them on classified information — and potential threats to election integrity.
Election officials are also turning away from fully electronic systems they fear can be hacked. They see paper as reassuring for voters: Physical ballots can be counted again if anything untoward happens to computerized tabulating systems.
About 30 states allow some form of electronic voting, most for overseas absentee voters. A handful prohibit full electronic voting, including Massachusetts, according to data compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
“I’ve always been in favor of paper ballots, even when it was fashionable to use electronic systems,” said Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin. “You take the card, you mark your choices, you take it to the box. You ensure it’s counted. All the cards are retained. If there’s a question you can go in and count the cards.”
Over the past several weeks, the nation’s top intelligence officials have said that Russians are already at work trying to disrupt the midterm elections, building on their efforts in 2016. In some cases, they are attempting to spread misinformation using social media platforms, while in others they are targeting the American election infrastructure.
“Our democracy is under attack,” Jeh Johnson, the former head of the Department of Homeland Security, said in an interview. “I believe that the cyber threat to our nation is going to get worse before it gets better. Those on offense, which include nation states, are increasingly tenacious. And those of us on defense struggle to keep up.
“I believe we have yet to learn the full extent of the Russian influence campaign in 2016,” he added. “And they’ve been given little disincentive to do anything different in 2018.”
The risks came into sharp relief on Friday with a detailed indictment of 13 Russian nationals and three Russian organizations that allegedly worked to help Trump win the 2016 presidential election. They posed as Americans, stole identities, and sowed political discord by planning rallies, paying for political advertisements, and engaging in social media activity.
The indictment alleges that the conspiracy began in 2014 and had a monthly budget of $1.25 million, with the aim of conducting “information warfare against the United States.”
Jeanette Manfra, chief cybersecurity official for the Department of Homeland Security, has also stated that Russian hackers targeted 21 states’ election systems before the 2016 presidential election, breaching a small number of them. She noted that there was no evidence any votes were changed.
While states have been trying to upgrade election infrastructure to prevent such problems as hacking, there is an ongoing debate over how to counter misinformation campaigns.
“We have to be careful about injecting the security apparatus of our government into regulating speech,” Johnson said. “Other governments do that. In this country we have to be careful about calling that a national security matter. Governments like ours do not regulate speech, particularly political speech.”
Instead, he said, it may be up to such service providers as Facebook and Twitter to do more to regulate access to their networks.
Galvin, the Massachusetts secretary of state, says the misinformation is a problem for all election officials — but it’s also something a bit out of their control.
“Are people questioning? Yes. Is the questioning a concern of people like me? Yes. Because it makes it much more difficult for people like me to say, ‘Come out and vote, your vote will count,’” he said.
State officials say the last several months have involved a flurry of activity to prepare for threats.
“At the state level we’re doing everything we can. All the states, red states or blue states, are diligent and focused about trying to protect their systems,” said Vermont Secretary of State James Condos, a Democrat who is the incoming president of the National Association of Secretaries of State. “But it goes back to the top. If the president is not willing to help us, then we’ve got to fend for ourselves.”
The concern, largely, is of the unknown: that foreign hackers are quicker to discover the holes in American cybersecurity than US officials are at plugging them.
“As I say to others, we’re only as good as today is,” Condos said. “The bad actors are constantly evolving, they’re constantly changing. They’re looking for different ways to get in. We’re trying to stay ahead of them, or at least even with them.”
Election experts say the aim of Russia or other foreign forces during the midterm elections is probably not to help one candidate win or to help Republicans maintain control of the House or Senate. Instead, they say, the effort seems driven more toward simply sowing doubt among Americans about the validity of our voting system.
“It is high risk and questionable reward to actually try and change an outcome of an election in the US,” said David Becker, founder and executive director the Center for Election Innovation and Research. “What you can do is a low-risk, high-reward proposition — which is what the Kremlin has been doing — which is be open about your intent to mess with our elections, be discovered, and then let the American people sow their own doubt about their system.
“This is really about whether the voters have trust in our method of choosing our leaders, which is essential for our democracy,’’ he said. “Russia has been absolutely essential in diminishing that trust.”
President Trump has downplayed Russian meddling in the 2016 elections. Congress last year overwhelmingly passed a sanctions package to punish Russia for meddling, but the Trump administration announced last month that it would not implement those sanctions.
“It is a dereliction of duty that the president has not taken steps to punish Russia for its 2016 actions,” said Liz Kennedy, senior director of Democracy and Government Reform at the left-leaning Center for American Progress and the co-author of a recent report examining election security in all 50 states. “Clearly not imposing the sanctions that Congress ordered . . . is exactly the wrong signal to send to Russia.’’
While election experts have been generally pleased with the amount of work that state election officials have been doing to improve their systems, there is still a wide degree of concern that states are not getting enough help from Washington.
“I really see this as our current Sputnik moment,” Kennedy said. “If they have these tools they’ve developed, we need to outsmart them and develop better tools. . . . Time is short. It needs to be a real priority.”
The shift to a more sustainable political policy will involve:
. . . a shift of emphasis away from means towards ends; away from economic growth towards human development; away from quantitative towards qualitative values and goals; away from the impersonal and organisational towards the personal and interpersonal; and away from the earning and spending of money towards the meeting of real human needs and aspirations. A culture that has been masculine, aggressive and domineering in its outlook will give place to one which is more feminine, cooperative and supportive. A culture that has exalted the uniformly European will give place to one which values the multi-cultural richness and diversity of human experience. An anthropocentric worldview that has licensed the human species to exploit the rest of nature as if from above and outside it, will give place to an ecological worldview. We shall recognize that survival and self-realisation alike require us to act as what we really are—integral parts of an ecosystem much larger, more complex, and more powerful than ourselves.
James Robertson, Beyond the Dependency Culture: People, Power and Responsibility, as cited by Richard Rohr and The Center for Action and Contemplation.
We cannot expect to draw a pattern of this right seeing from he objective world of confusion or our inner thoughts of doubt and fear. We are to look and think independently of the confusion in the moment. I am seeing through confusion to peace, through doubt to certainty, through fear to faith. As I do this everything I look upon shall become transformed and reborn. -Ernest Holmes
Terrible things are hard enough to experience the first time. Beyond their second and third and fourth experience as trauma, ,their impact can easily makes u become terrible if we do not keep our want to love alive. Perhaps the most difficult challenge of being wounded is not turning our deepest loving nature over to the lie and way of the wound. The human heart–no matter how often it is cut–can reassert its impulse to love. -Mark Nepo
Also from Mark:
I see that we’re such fragile, resilient creatures, here for just a long unplanned moment, tumbling and waking in this beautiful, harsh tender existence.
Dialogue is a matter of understanding, of peeling away the mind to stand under (our thoughts) in Oneness.
We believe our elected officials are called to public service, not public tyranny, so we must protect the limits, checks, and balances of democracy and encourage humility and civility on the part of elected officials.
We reject any moves toward autocratic political leadership and authoritarian rule. . . . Disrespect for the rule of law, not recognizing the equal importance of our three branches of government, and replacing civility with dehumanizing hostility toward opponents are of great concern to us. Neglecting the ethic of public service and accountability, in favor of personal recognition and gain often characterized by offensive arrogance, are not just political issues for us. They raise deeper concerns about political idolatry, accompanied by false and unconstitutional notions of authority.
DT, next to Putin, refused to say whether he believed US intelligence or Russia on 2016 elections.’ [NYTimes]
Treason: The offense of assisting its enemies, or, adhering to, or giving aid & comfort to its enemies by one who owes it allegiance.
Congress, your move.
The Crisis Facing America, by David Frum
The country can no longer afford to wait to ascertain why President Trump has subordinated himself to Putin—it must deal with the fact that he has. […] At the 1787 convention in Philadelphia, the authors of the Constitution worried a great deal about foreign potentates corrupting the American presidency.
America is a very legalistic society, in which public discussion often deteriorates into lawyers arguing whether any statutes have been violated. But confronting the country in the wake of Helsinki is this question: Can it afford to wait to ascertain why Trump has subordinated himself to Putin after the president has so abjectly demonstrated that he has subordinated himself? Robert Mueller is leading a legal process. The United States faces a national-security emergency.
“If this government ever became a tyranny there would be no place to hide and no way to fight back because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government—no matter how privately it was done is within the reach of the government. We must see to it […] that we never cross over that abyss. That’s the abyss from which there is no return.”
Former Idaho Governor & Senator Frank Church
“I think that it’s a cynical political charade and utter hypocrisy for the Justice Department of Jeff Beauregard Sessions and Donald Trump to feign caring about a black child murdered in 1955 when they’re holding children of color in cages, when they can’t find a moral distinction between the Nazis and those who demonstrate against them, when Jeff Sessions has spent his whole career supporting restrictions on voting rights. And I think it is rich with irony.”
-Timothy Tyson, The Blood of Emmet Till
The Justice Department is reopening its investigation into the 1955 murder of Emmett Till. Till was 14 when he was brutally murdered in Mississippi. Outrage over photographs of his body helped propel the civil rights movement.
NPR report with author Timothy Tyson:
“Mamie Bradley, Emmett’s mother, got his body back to Chicago and had an open-casket funeral. Somewhere between a hundred thousand and 250,000 people viewed the body in the course of several days. She then harnessed the power of black Chicago – the NAACP, The Chicago Defender, the Johnson Publishing Company, which was Jet and Ebony and half a dozen other magazines – all of these institutions with national reach. She inspires a movement that elevated Martin Luther King to world historical status, passed the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights – that national infrastructure was built by the Till case.”
“You tell these stories over and over until they seem true.”
-Carolyn Bryant Donham, the white woman who accused Till of harassing her.
Till was buying candy in August 1955 when he whistled at a white woman, Carolyn Bryant, according to a cousin who witnessed the encounter. Bryant also claimed he grabbed her and made obscene comments, but author Timothy Tyson says she has since retracted that claim, saying, “That part’s not true.” […] Two white men were originally prosecuted on murder charges, but in a closely watched case, an all-white jury found them not guilty. The men later confessed to a journalist that they did, in fact, kill Till, because he refused to stay in his “place” as a black man in the South. They did not express regret.
Dorothy Day (1897-1980) was not afraid to say it strongly: “We need to change the system. We need to overthrow, not the government, but this rotten, decadent, putrid industrial capitalist system which breeds such suffering. “As long as we unquestioningly buy into the egoic system, where the roots of our narcissism often lie hidden, we’re going to have problems. If we think we can say our private prayers and still genuflect before the self-perpetuating, unjust systems of this world, our conversion will not go very deep or aid in the unfolding of history. There is no one more radical than a real person of prayer because they are not beholden to any ideology or economic system; their identity and motivation is found only in God, not in the pay-offs of mammon.”
“Both church and state are threatened by true mystics. Such enlightened people can’t be bought off or manipulated, because their rewards are always elsewhere.” [Richard Rohr]
However, those politicians and priests who are concerned with their own privilege usually prefer an unaware and superficial populace. The people in the pews are so used to this arrangement that they usually resent any forays into their public morality. “Keep it private and personal, Father,” they say. We can no longer waste time this way in the name of a God “before whom the very nations count as nothingness and emptiness” (Isaiah 40:17).
‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel!
-Forward Day by Day
Psalms 5, 6, 10, 11
Numbers 35: 1-3, 9-15, 30-34
[More from Richard Rohr] Those politicians and priests who are concerned with their own privilege usually prefer an unaware and superficial populace. The people in the pews are so used to this arrangement that they usually resent any forays into their public morality. “Keep it private and personal, Father,” they say. We can no longer waste time this way in the name of a God “before whom the very nations count as nothingness and emptiness” (Isaiah 40:17). We can’t worship it any longer as we were once trained to do.
Face challenges with compassion and kindness and remember that not everyone has the tools that you do to see the bigger picture. It is easy to get swept up into the negative and to react to the injustices and imbalances and reactions of others. Don’t take the bait. Bring love and gratitude into your interactions and actions whenever you can and give others the benefit of the doubt even if you don’t believe they deserve it. On a positive note, this is an incredible time to launch something new, pushing the edge of what you think you can accomplish. Take a risk, make a bid for power, step up and show up with more confidence and maturity. The new moon is a time to set intentions and make commitments to how you will stay your ground and be an example for others. And it is OK to ask for help. Support is everywhere. You just have to accept and receive it.
The New moon with a partial solar eclipse (the first of three) is Thurs., July 12th, at 8:47 pm MST.
Center For Action & Contemplation
People have good reasons to be angry and afraid today. Poverty, racism, climate change, and so many other injustices are causing real suffering for much of the world. Unfortunately, dualistic and oppositional energies cannot bring the change we so desperately need; we cannot fight angry power with more angry power. Only the contemplative mind has the ability to hold the reality of what is and the possibility of what could be. Unless our hearts are transformed, our fears will continue to manipulate our politics, reinforcing a polarized and divided society.
Quaker activist and teacher Parker Palmer has a hopeful, but not Pollyannaish, view. He writes:
Human beings have a well-demonstrated capacity to hold the tension of differences in ways that lead to creative outcomes and advances. It is not an impossible dream to believe we can apply that capacity to politics. In fact, our capacity for creative tension-holding is what made the American experiment possible in the first place. . . . America’s founders—despite the bigotry that limited their conception of who “We the People” were—had the genius to establish [a] form of government in which differences, conflict, and tension were understood not as the enemies of a good social order but as the engines of a better social order.
As “We the People” retreat from the public square and resort to private gripe sessions with those who think like us, we create a vacuum at the center of America’s public life. Politics abhors a vacuum as much as nature does, so nondemocratic powers rush in to fill the void—especially the power called “big money.” . . .
When the Supreme Court gave big money even more power [in the 2010 Citizens United decision], it made many Americans feel even more strongly that their small voices do not count. . . . Wrongly held, our knowledge of the power wielded by big money can accelerate our retreat from politics, discouraging us from being the participants that democracy demands and reducing us to mere spectators of a political game being played exclusively by “them.”
Palmer quotes Bill Moyers: “The antidote, the only antidote, to the power of organized money in Washington is the power of organized people.”
“I realized that the spiritualization of our nation’s corporations is the most important development that can possibly happen for the spiritual growth of the world as a whole. Governments apparently are unable to help. Churches have not fully succeeded; however, the multinational corporations that control the lives of countless millions have the power and financial wherewithal to bring on an incredible transformation of consciousness if–if it comes down from the top.”
Walter Starke, ‘It’s All God’.