I. In Focus This Week
Two new cybersecurity tools for elections officials
Security handbook and information sharing now available
By M. Mindy Moretti
While states and localities are awaiting their share of the $380 million allotted by Congress to upgrade elections cybersecurity, there are two, totally free ways that they can start beefing up their security now.
The Center for Internet Security (CIS), a nonprofit that harnesses the power of the global IT community to safeguard private and public organizations against cyber threats recently released A Handbook for Elections Infrastructure Security and also launched the Elections Infrastructure Sharing and Analysis Center (EI-ISAC).
A Handbook for Elections Infrastructure Security is designed to help elections officials and their technical support teams defend the systems and networks used to conduct elections.
“We had two fundamental goals with the handbook: 1) to provide technical recommendations that are practical and actionable for elections officials and 2) to help bridge the communications gap between the technical and non-technical folks that need to work together to secure elections,” explained Dr. Mike Garcia, who has held positions at DHS and NIST and was the chief author of the handbook. “While the best practices include some technical language, the document as a whole is intentionally written to be understood by a non-technical audience.”
A Handbook for Elections Infrastructure Security:
- Includes details on 88 best practices
- Identifies high and medium priority for those best practices
- Addresses the different ways aspects of elections systems are connected to each other and the internet
- Addresses auditing, incident response planning and response, and contracting for services
According to CIS, the handbook reflects the reality that the most significant risks to voting infrastructure affect those components with network connections. Examples include many voting registration systems and election night reporting systems, both of which may carry substantial cybersecurity risks.
While these types of attacks can cause disruptions and undermine public confidence, they are similar to those in other sectors with networked systems where well-known mitigations exist.
The handbook is closely tied to the CIS Controls, which undergo regular revisions. So CIS will update the handbook if it’s warranted by changing conditions and periodically to keep references to the CIS controls tied to the latest version.
“But it’s important to emphasize that the handbook won’t be out of date any time soon,” Garcia said. “The approaches to manage risks will continue to mature and occasionally new risks emerge, but identified best practices don’t really stop being good to do. So implementing a given best practice won’t all of a sudden become a bad idea.”
In addition to the handbook and signing up for EI-ISAC (more info below), Garcia recommended the U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s cybersecurity training for non-IT folks and noted that CIS is always happy to talk people through the most important things they need to know. He added that one of the best ways an election officials can learn highly applicable information is to have an assessment of their systems. Either a self-assessment or one conducted by an independent party.
“We know elections officials have been hard at work securing their systems and managing all kinds of risks,” Garcia said. “We believe that a risk-based approach is the only way to manage in an evolving environment and get the results we all want to see.”
Elections Infrastructure Sharing and Analysis Center
CIS has long been home to the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC), starting this spring is also home to an information sharing center just for elections. The EI-ISAC, which is available to any state/local/county elections official to participate in, will provide early warnings of cyber system threats, security vulnerability and training opportunities.
“The MS-ISAC does very important work, but it’s spread across many areas of need. By creating a specific unit to address the needs of election security, the EI-ISAC can provide more targeted and timely information to election officials,” explained Judd Choate, director of elections for the state of Colorado, immediate past-president of NASED and the first NASED representative to the Executive Committee of the DHS Government Coordinating Council (GCC).
“Further, for those election officials or IT professionals in states and localities around the country that have been less engaged in the national security conversation, the addition of a specific unit dedicated to elections cyber security will clarify who to contact and its importance to the daily work of cyber security,” Choate said.
When the Department of Homeland Security designated elections critical infrastructure, NASED volunteered to help in any way possible, including participating on the GCC, serving as guinea pigs for the new EI-ISAC, and engaging with outside groups like Harvard’s Belfer Center and the MIT Election Data and Science Lab. As for the actual decision to create an election infrastructure ISAC, NASED had seven of the 27 representatives on the GCC when it voted to create the EI-ISAC in February. Each of those members supported its creation.
Although NASED has been leading the charge on the EI-ISAC, Choate encouraged all elections officials to sign up.
“The EI-ISAC isn’t just a good tool for election officials, it’s an absolute necessity,” Choate said. “My office has advised all Colorado counties to join the EI-ISAC. Nearly 50 percent of our counties have done so. I know other states represented on the EI-ISAC Advisory Board are doing the same. Not only do you get the IT security alerts in real time, you also get access to a wide array of specialized intrusion prevention and monitoring. If you are reading this and wondering if you should sign up for the EI-ISAC, the answer is ‘yes.’”
Choate noted that protecting voter registration databases from remote intrusion, which is the main function of the EI-ISAC is only the first step. He said all election officials should be thinking about the vulnerability of their election systems:
- Am I protecting my voter registration database, including web application firewalls, multi-factor authentication, and database logs to track usage and changes?
- Am I prepared for a denial of service attack – on election day or any other day?
- When I send the personally identifying information (PII) of my voters, am I properly protecting that information against exposure?
- Are all my counties properly protecting the voter registration database through password protocols and a workable security plan?
- Am I providing software for my counties to help them protect against malware, ransomware, etc.?
- Do I need to audit my county or employee security protocols to make sure they are doing what they say they are doing?
- Should I purchase software to improve emergency communications with election officials – just in case?
- Are my local jurisdictions reusing removable media (thumb drives), which exposes those systems to malware?
- Should I purchase encrypted thumb drives for my counties that can be reset after each usage, so malware isn’t transferred to my voting system.
- Have I created a specific training for my counties that helps them understand cyber security vulnerabilities and protect against them?
- Am I considering conducting a table top exercise for my state like the one Harvard’s Belfer Center rolled out last week?
- Does my voting system vendor have appropriate security protocols and partners with me to monitor their security?
“And this is only the visible part of the iceberg,” Choate said. “Schedule a meeting – in fact, schedule a reoccurring meeting – with your IT team to go over every potential vulnerability in your election office, system, and processes. Don’t be the weak link.”
II. Election News This Week
Forty-three years after the municipality of Anchorage was created, the city has had its largest voter turnout ever. This year was also the first year that the city conducted its election entirely by mail and with election-day vote centers. According to KTVA, the office of Municipal Clerk Barbara Jones says so far, 78,602 ballots have been received. That total is higher than any turnout figures dating back to the municipality’s founding in 1975, including the 71,099 people who voted in 2012’s election. Perhaps helping spur turnout was a controversial “bathroom bill.” Only time will tell if it was Proposition 1 that ginned up turnout, or the state’s switch to vote-by-mail.
Utah County, Utah has reversed course on its decision to abandon the county’s new vote-by-mail system after city leaders throughout the county expressed their anger about the decision. According to the Deseret News, commissioners and Clerk Bryan Thompson initially decided against holding an all vote-by-mail election during the county’s budget process in December, hoping to save taxpayer money and put the county’s voting equipment to good use. Although the decision was made in December, it didn’t become common knowledge until late March and that’s when the county was inundated with calls asking them to rethink their decision. “Our responsibility as representatives is to govern, to respond and to listen to constituents, and that’s exactly what we’re doing here,” Utah County Commission Chairman Nathan Ivie told the paper.
Elections This Week: Primaries, special elections and municipal elections were held in several places this week including Alaska, where the city of Anchorage conducted its first-ever vote-by-mail election. At press time, turnout was roughly 28 percent which was higher than the 2015 municipal elections. In a special election in Goose Creek, South Carolina voting machines malfunctioned in the early hours of voting and voters had to switch to back-up paper ballots. Spring elections were held in Wisconsin this week although the weather didn’t feel exactly spring-like. Despite the usual odd questions, things seemed to go relatively smoothly in the Badger state although one Milwaukee polling place was briefly evacuated because of a suspicious package. In Missouri, turnout was slow in Joplin, but there were no reported issues with the state’s new voter ID law. Snow wasn’t the issue in Missouri like it was in Wisconsin, but potential tornadoes were. There were some confused voters in Boone County after Clerk Taylor Burks reduced the number of polling places in anticipation of a low turnout.
Personnel News: Heather McKim has been selected to oversee the office of the state board of election commissioner in Arkansas. Lori Wurtz has been named the Hall County, Georgia elections superintendent. Former Connecticut Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz is running for governor.
In Memoriam: Former Duval County, Florida Supervisor of Elections Tommie Bell Banks died on April 1. She was 91. Although she “only” served as the supervisor of elections for 13 years, Banks worked in the elections office for 48 years and was the first woman to hold an elective countywide office. “She was always smiling,” her son-in-law Tom Papania told the Florida Times-Union. “She said to her staff that we work for the public. They don’t work for us. When you go to the counter, I want you to be courteous and always have a smile on your face.” She started as a temporary clerk typist and became chief deputy in 1964 she was appointed supervisor in July 1986 and won a special election that year. She won her first full term in 1987 and ran unopposed for her second and third terms before retiring in 1999.
III. Legislative Updates
Georgia: Senate Bill 403, which would have moved the state to a paper-ballot system died at midnight on March 30 at the end of the legislative session. The House had approved an amended version of the bill earlier in the day.
Nevada: This week, the Elko County commission voted to put off implementing the use of Spanish-language ballots and election materials until it becomes federally mandated.
New Mexico: Not a legislative change, but Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver has approved new rules this week that clarify the handling of provisional ballots and will make it easier for blind voters to cast an absentee ballot, among other changes.
Pennsylvania: The House is considering a bill that would make it easier for voters with disabilities to cast a ballot in the Commonwealth. According to the Times-Tribune, Currently, with physician certification, disabled and bedridden voters are added to a permanently disabled absentee ballot list. But individuals are required to confirm their health status every four years. The bill, which has been approved by the Senate, would eliminate that provision.
U.S. Virgin Islands: The Legislature has approved Bill 32-0189 which will fund primaries in the U.S. territory after the territorial elections board had voted not to fund primaries.
IV. Legal Updates
Arkansas: Secretary of State Mark Martin has filed a motion asking the state’s Supreme Court to compel Pulaski County Circuit Judge Alice Gray to rule whether she’ll grant a motion to block the enforcement of the state’s voter ID law for the May 22 primary. On Wednesday, the state Supreme Court declined to intervene.
Colorado: The Denver District Attorney’s office has dropped a grand jury probe into the secretary of state’s office. “My office has since received additional documents which the Secretary of State’s Office provided voluntarily and yesterday I met with attorneys representing Secretary Williams and Deputy Secretary Staiert,” DA Beth McCann said in a statement. “I am requesting the Grand Jury withdraw the subpoenas that had previously been issued and my office will close the grand jury investigation at this time.”
Florida: U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom has ruled that Broward Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes has a program in place “that makes a reasonable effort to remove the names of ineligible voters from the official lists of eligible voters by reason of death or change of address.” According to the Sun-Sentinel, Bloom said the American Civil Rights Union, which filed suit against Snipes because of the potential for voter fraud, had not proven that the Broward elections office violated the National Voting Rights Act.
Also in Florida this week, Gov. Rick Scott (R) has filed an appeal to U.S. District Judge Mark Walker’s ruling that would have given Scott and the state’s three cabinet members until April 26 to come up with a plan to restore the voting rights to those previously incarcerated.
Georgia: John Daniel Martin, 35 has been charged with giving an underage man alcohol and tobacco in exchange for his vote. The secretary of state’s office is also investigating the matter.
Maine: Kennebec Superior Court Judge Michaela Murphy has ruled that state election officials should continue to implement ranked choice voting for the June primary elections. “The uncertainty that halting the ranked-choice voting implementation process at this late date would cause is significant. Clarity, stability and public confidence are essential to ensure the legitimacy of Maine elections,” Murphy wrote in her 14-page ruling.
Minnesota: St. Paul City Councilmember Dai Thao formally entered a plea of not guilty to three counts of election misconduct for helping a voter cast her ballot in 2016. A jury trial has been tentatively scheduled for May 29.
North Dakota: U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland has ruled that North Dakota must expand the types of acceptable IDs in order to cast a ballot. Hovland’s ruling prevents the state from mandating that IDs include a “current residential street address” and expands the valid forms of ID to include more tribal documents.
Texas: U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia ruled this week that Texas is in violation of the federal National Voter Registration Act for failing to register residents to vote when they update their drivers’ license information online. According to the Texas Tribune, it wasn’t immediately clear how Garcia will direct the state to comply with the law; Garcia indicated he will provide more details in the next two weeks.
Crystal Mason, 43 has been sentenced to five years in prison for casting a ballot in 2016 while still on supervised release for a 2011 conviction for tax fraud.
Also in Texas, the Public Interest Legal Foundation, a conservative nonprofit, has sued Harris County in an effort to force the county make records available on how it stops non-U.S. citizens from voting. According to the Houston Chronicle, the group said it is seeking to promote the integrity of elections and that previous Harris County Tax Assessor-Collectors, who run voter registration in the county, had indicated that people who are not U.S. citizens do get registered to vote and cast ballots.
V. Tech Thursday
California: A consultant’s report says that it could cost between $11.5 million and $27.8 million for San Francisco to come up with and implement an open-source voting system. Support for the state funding is gaining momentum.
VI. Opinions This Week
Indiana: Voter purge
Michigan: Paper ballots
Missouri: Election security
New Jersey: Election reform
Pennsylvania: Election reform
VII. Available Awards/Grants/RFPs
Charles T. Manatt Democracy Awards
The online nomination process for the International Foundation for Electoral Systems’ (IFES) 2018 Charles T. Manatt Democracy Award is now open! The Democracy Award is given annually to three individuals: a Republican, a Democrat, and a member of the international community. Nominations for the international recipient are open to the public and will be accepted through April 6, 2018. The three Democracy Awards are presented in a single ceremony each year. This year’s event will be held on September 24, 2018, at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, D.C. Submit your nomination here.
VIII. Upcoming Events
Election Security War Game: Testing Critical Infrastructure Designation: This year’s Symposium will kick off with a “war game” simulating an appellate argument that takes place in the fictional state of “Flichigan.” The moot tests the interplay of state and federal laws and constitutional provisions when it comes to securing our elections. Participants will then debrief the moot argument and discuss how law impacts state and federal efforts to protect election security. When: April 12. Where: Williamsburg, Virginia.
Standards Board Meeting: The U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s Standards Board will hold its 2018 meeting in Florida on April 18. When: April 18. Where: Coral Gables, Florida.
Election Center Special Workshop — The focus of this workshop will be Preparing for the Unexpected in the Voter Registration and Election Office. In addition, to the topics covered in the special workshop, several core curriculum in election administration and voter registration will be offered. When: April 25-29. Where: Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Election Center Professional Program Special Session — During May’s special session, the following core curriculum in election administration and voter registration will be offered: Enfranchisement, Enhancement & Enforcement – Modern Federal Election Law and Regulation: 1965-Present; Constitutions, Courts and Cases to 1965 – Early America to 1965 with focus on State and U.S. Constitutions; History I: Ancients to 17891; and History II: 1781 to Modern Era. When: May 7-12. Where: Auburn, Alabama.
2018 Election Mail Forum— The National Postal Forum will hold a one-day Election Mail Forum. At the forum, participants will hear from speakers, attend panel discussions on the Intelligent Mail barcode and discover how the USPS can be an election mail partner and how this can help better serve voters. Where: San Antonio, Texas. When: May 8.
NASS 2018 Summer Conference — Mark your calendars now for the National Association of Secretaries of State 2018 summer conference in the City of Brotherly Love. Check back soon for more information about the agenda. When: July 13-16. Where: Philadelphia.
2018 NASED Summer Meeting — Mark your calendars now for the National Association of State Election Directors’ 2018 summer meeting in the City of Brotherly Love. Check back soon for more information about the agenda. When: July 13-16. Where: Philadelphia.
NACo Annual Conference and Exposition — Mark your calendars now for the National Association of Counties Annual Conference and Exposition in Music City. Check back soon for more information about the agenda. When: July 13-16. Where: Nashville, Tennessee.
2018 iGo Annual Conference — Mark your calendars now for the International Association of Government Officials 2018 Annual Conference in The Biggest Little City in the World! Check back soon for more information about the agenda. When: July 16-21. Where: Reno, Nevada.
Election Sciences Reform and Administration (ESRA) — The conference brings together political scientists and other experts in election administration to develop rigorous empirical approaches to the study of how law and administrative procedures affect the quality of elections in the United States. Participants will identify major questions in the field, share new insights, foster collaboration between election administrators and election scientists, and connect senior and junior scholars. When: July 26 and 27. Where: University of Wisconsin-Madison.
IX. Job Postings This Week
electionlineWeekly publishes election administration job postings each week as a free service to our readers. To have your job listed in the newsletter, please send a copy of the job description, including a web link to firstname.lastname@example.org. Job postings must be received by 5pm on Wednesday in order to appear in the Thursday newsletter. Listings will run for three weeks or till the deadline listed in the posting.
Customer Support Consultant, Hart InterCivic — Hart InterCivic is looking to add a Customer Support Consultant to our team. A Hart Customer Support Consultant is a great listener and communicator who responds to requests for assistance from Hart InterCivic customers for all Hart InterCivic products. The primary responsibilities for this position are to answer, resolve and route customer queries (usually by phone or email), work with customers in a professional manner and read and interpret documents such as user guides and training manuals and translate the information to the customer in a manner which they can understand. We are looking for individuals who have technical skills, have been in support roles in the past and, preferably, have elections experience. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Elections and Voter Services Manager, Montana Secretary of State’s Office — this position serves as the Manager of the Elections and Voter Services Division and reports to the Elections and Voter Services Director for the Office of the Secretary of State. This position is responsible for ensuring the integrity of elections, aligning resources with the strategic direction of the Elections and Voter Services Division, interpreting state election laws and ensuring implementation uniformly throughout the state, and interpreting, analyzing, drawing conclusions, identifying trends, and presenting voting data. This position supervises three positions within the Division and is responsible for all aspects of performance management. Salary: $75,000. Deadline: Open until filled: Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Field Sales Director, Hart InterCivic — the Field Sales Director works primarily on the road and from a home office when he/she is not on business travel. The Field Sales Director is responsible for creating news sales with prospects and existing clients in a defined region. Today, this role is a single contributor and does not directly manage people. This position will report to the VP of Sales. Application: For the complete job listing an to apply, click here.
Field Support Engineer (Ohio), Clear Ballot — Oversee and perform installation, configuration and maintenance of Ubuntu servers and Windows desktop and laptop machines, local area network, related equipment and devices; become expert at installation and configuration of Clear Ballot Group software; respond to end user reported incidents, create and track incidents in a ticketing system; daily interaction with both local and remote users for needs gathering and problem analysis; provides technical leadership on a variety of highly specialized project-related activities requiring expertise in specific scientific/technical areas for digital voting systems. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Operations Technician, Clear Ballot — the Operations Technician’s primary duty is preparing, installing software, staging, and shipping equipment to customers. Additionally, the position manages an internal IT network and maintains inventory of company equipment. The successful candidate has all or some combination of experience with hands on hardware and software integration, IT, project management, procurement, logistics, and inventory management. This position reports to the Director of Field Operations. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Product Manager, Clear Ballot — the Product Manager position is a member of the Clear Ballot Product team. At Clear Ballot, the Product team is the hub around which all other functions orbit. The team manages the company’s product planning and feedback cycle, interacting and collaborating regularly with Customer Success, Engineering, Business Development, Compliance/Certification, Field Operations, and Executive Management. Clear Ballot Product Managers work on a multi-disciplinary product team which is assigned one of more of Clear Ballot products. As the customer representative on the product team, the Product Manager creates, prioritizes and represents product requirements to the product team. The Product Manager also the product team’s representative to stakeholders inside and outside of the organization. The Product Manager is often working with prospects and clients to gain insight, vet ideas, and present solutions. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Senior Manager, Technical Product Support (Denver, CO) – Dominion Voting Systems — Dominion Voting Systems is seeking a tech-savvy, passionate Senior Manager, Technical Product Support to join our team in Denver, CO! This position is responsible for strategically leading and developing a multi-state team of election technology software and hardware Product Specialists through a number of critical projects throughout the Western United States. Salary: Negotiable base + bonus & benefits. Deadline: Open until filled. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Senior Technical Trainer, Clear Ballot — training courses and learning materials support users whose skills range the technical spectrum and include laypersons (pollworkers), election officials, and system administrators. Our small and growing documentation and training team has an immediate need for a new member with intermediate-to-senior experience in: Instructional design; Development of learning curricula; Production of training materials; Hands-on, customer facing training. Generally, the training department, technical staff, and operations staff provide training at the customer’s site. We need an instructional designer and trainer who can analyze the learners and materials, and establish an appropriately targeted learning program. The opportunity exists to develop computer based training as an enhancement to our learning curriculum. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
State Election Technology Associate, Clear Ballot— our growing team has an immediate need for a new member to manage testing, approval and certification campaigns of election technology in new states. This position works directly with State Government to test and approve voting systems. Certification and approval is key to success in the election systems domain. Diplomacy and empathy alongside professional and tactful communications are key contributors to smooth state certification campaigns of new election technology. All voting system components (ballot layout, in-person voting, absentee voting, results reporting and audit) and their associated documentation are certified by state agencies; evaluation is performed by demanding government laboratories. Requirements vary across the States; and these requirements are found in statute, Rule, by written and oral tradition, and sometimes are ambiguous and even unwritten. Attention to detail is paramount to success. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
Systems Engineer, Clear Ballot — We are looking for a talented Systems Engineer who has both a technical and services/support background which enables them to quickly assess customer needs and offer value to Clear Ballot’s customers. The Systems Engineer will gain a deep understanding of how Clear Ballot’s products operate and their optimal configuration to build a streamlined installation process of the Clear Vote election system. The ideal candidate for this position can prioritize mission critical tasks and coordinate the implementation and expansion of our systems. They will be able to work directly with customers, display innovation, think conceptually and act tactically to build consensus around system installation and enhancement and meet deadlines. Application: For the complete job listing and to apply, click here.
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