By Joseph Marks
People line up to vote at a polling station on Super Tuesday in Santa Monica, California, U.S., March 3, 2020. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
The scenario election officials feared – Russians
Voting machines shut down in Los Angeles. Network problems also forced California officials to hand out provisional ballots. In Minnesota and Texas, tools voters use to look up their polling locations were not functioning due to heavy web traffic. And there were
The problems underscored how such issues can sow as much distrust and chaos as a hacking campaign — especially if
“To the extent we can put more information in the hands of voters to be more informed, resilient voters, we’ll have better outcomes,” a top official at the Department of Homeland Security’s
The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk candidly with reporters, praised election officials for getting information about the tech problems rapidly to voters. “We’ll continue to shout that message up to November and afterward.”
Acting DHS secretary Chad Wolf earlier urged voters to steer clear of Internet rumors and look
Here’s a rundown of the issues voters faced in the 14 states where they cast primary ballots:
Machine shutdowns hobbled large swaths of Los Angeles County voting locations:
At one point, about 20 percent of the county’s voting systems were not operational, a spokesman for the county clerk’s office told my colleague Isaac Stanley-Becker.
That produced lengthy waits time at polling
The problems, which officials insisted were not caused by hacking or any security issues, nevertheless produced a rough first major outing for the county’s new custom-built electronic voting machines, which have been dogged by security and accessibility concerns as my colleague Neena Satija and I reported. As Isaac notes, “It was yet another indictment of the use of technology in elections, following the spectacular failure of a mobile app used in Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucuses.”
Network problems with electronic poll books in California:
This made it far more complicated for poll workers to look up voters – and the provisional
Elsewhere in California, digital problems with the electronic poll books forced 15 counties to manually look up voters and print their ballots, the Sacramento Bee reported.
“This should not [have] prevented any voters from casting a ballot, as counties have contingency procedures in place to check-in voters,” Sam Mahood, press secretary for Secretary of State Alex Padilla, said in a statement.
A wave of mysterious
“The calls have raised red flags with state election officials, who warned the public about them Tuesday, and prompted frustration among area Democratic leaders, who said the barrage could be a form of voter suppression,” Tony reported. While the suspect calls appeared to come from at least two numbers with a San Antonio area code, "the numbers themselves may be spoofed, meaning the real person or organization behind the unsolicited messages are masquerading their efforts to make it appear as if they are calling from valid numbers nearby,” Tony reports.
The calls were referred to law enforcement for investigation, the CISA official said.
Tool to help voters find their polling locations went offline Texas and Minnesota:
In Texas, heavy web traffic temporarily took offline a state-run website that voters use to determine which polling location to head to, the secretary of state’s office said on Twitter.
The same problem plagued Minnesota, sparking concerns about election interference. “Minnesota DFL Party Chairman Ken Martin said the pattern has fueled suspicion of malicious efforts to overwhelm the websites — or worse," the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported. “I think there is a larger issue around what's happening around the country with attempts by some
But matters got even worse when a staffer in the secretary of state's office tried to fix the issue by temporarily redirecting visitors to a site called BoldProgressives.org that has backed Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, the Star Tribune reported.
Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon called the staffer’s move “a serious lapse of judgment” but noted the link was active only for about 17 minutes.
Some states and counties saw an increase in digital probing of their computer networks:
Chris Wlaschin, vice president of systems security at the voting machine company Election Systems and Software, said there was a spike of reports of
None of those probes resulted in any networks being penetrated, though, and it’s not clear if the probing came from U.S.
Russian hackers probed election systems in numerous states prior to the 2016 election and penetrated a voter database in Illinois, but there's no evidence they changed any votes. DHS has outfitted election offices with
And yet, despite all those technical issues, federal officials remained confident late into the night that no voters were affected by hacking operations and that there was no spike in foreign disinformation, which CISA Director Chris Krebs described as steady since 2016.
“The Russians never left in 2016. They continue to engage in this broad, large scale disinformation influence operations,” he said.
It’s not clear why Russia or another adversary didn’t make a greater effort to disrupt the Super Tuesday contest, but one reason could be new protections put in place since 2016, acting DHS secretary Wolf said.
In addition to the DHS
“It's because of the hardened systems
PINGED, PATCHED, PWNED
Attorney General William P. Barr.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey O. Graham (R-S
Facebook is already expressing concerns about the bill, called the “EARN IT Act” “We’re concerned the EARN IT Act may be used to roll back encryption, which protects everyone’s safety from hackers and criminals, and may limit the ability of American companies to provide the private and secure services that people expect,” Facebook spokesman Thomas Richards said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Justice Department officials are set to unveil a set of 11 “voluntary principles” tomorrow that target child sexual exploitation, Tony reports.
Separately, a bipartisan group of lawmakers led by Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N
A sign advertising the Qihoo 360 Technology Co Ltd is hung with the U.S.
The CIA hackers also targeted China’s energy sector, scientific research organizations, internet companies and government agencies -- possibly for the purpose of tracking important figures’ travel itineraries, the
The report also points to CIA hacking tools exposed by former CIA coder Joshua Schulte, who’s on trial for allegedly leaking classified information. A jury is currently deliberating in that case.
But NSO says it wasn't given a proper chance to respond to the suit. “
NSO denies allegations by Facebook that it created phony WhatsApp accounts to help customers hack into the mobile phones of about 1,400 people, including numerous journalists and dissidents.