III. Federal-State Updates
On Friday the 13th, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced the indictment of 12 Russian nationals working on behalf of the Main Intelligence Directorate in a series of hacks targeted at state and local election officials, voter registration databases as well as voting-machine software companies. According to FCW, one charging document says one such attempt yielded voter information on approximately 500,000 Americans, including names, addresses, partial social security numbers, dates of birth and driver’s license numbers. Another attempt resulted in the successful penetration of computers owned by an unnamed U.S. vendor that supplies software used to verify voter registration information the 2016 elections.
Also on Friday the 13th, the U.S. House Administration Committee released a report on 18 states with the “most vulnerable” election systems in the country. According to StateScoop, the states included in the report were faulted for lacking several of the things voting-security advocates frequently call for, including paper records of ballots and post-election audits.
Jeff Tricoli, the senior FBI official overseeing a government task force looking into Russian attempts to meddle in the U.S. elections has left for a job in the private sector.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen Nielsen addressed a joint luncheon of the National Association of Secretaries of State and the National Association of State Election Directors on July 14 in Philadelphia. During her remarks, Nielsen said that there are no signs that the Russians are targeting this year’s midterm election on the same “scale or scope” that they did in 2016. That being said, she did say U.S. intelligence officials are seeing “persistent Russian efforts using social media, sympathetic spokespeople and other fronts to sow discord and divisiveness amongst the American people, though not necessarily focused on specific politicians or political campaigns.”
In non-cybersecurity news, advocates and tribal leaders told an informal meeting senators from the Indian Affairs and Rules committees that tribal voters face a range of challenges from language barriers to restrictions with vote-by-mail and lack of access to voting locations.
This week, Maine’s Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap was notified by the federal government that he will be receiving the documents from the president’s now defunct voter fraud commission. Dunlap sued the commission that he was a part of saying that he was not provided while the commission was in existence.