One blow behind closed doors, two blows to open government

Statement from the Connecticut Freedom of Information Council: Restore public access to public hearings

To the surprise of many, the vast majority of transcripts from public hearings held during the recently adjourned 2018 legislative session are not available. Officials from the Office of Legislative Management and the House and Senate say that transcription services have fallen victim to budget cuts, with the elimination of the service expected to save about $100,000 annually. The decision apparently was made without public input and has been condemned by open-government advocates.

This directly effects me, CT Voters Count, and the Citizen Audit. It effects anyone involved in the legislative process or litigation related to Connecticut law. This effects you indirectly, and significantly.

Election Vulnerability: What we can learn from Ed Snowden and the NSA.

Now I have your attention, we can discuss the NSA and Ed Snowden in a bit. Let’s start with an Editorial:

Protecting Against Russian Cyber Risks is Insufficient. The attention on Cybersecurity, election hacking and Russian interference is good. There are cyber risks and Russia is capable. We should improve our cybersecurity across the board, including elections. Every vote should be backed up by a, so called, voter verified paper ballot. Yet that is far from sufficient.

Life on the Internet “Frontier”

Today we all live on the Internet Frontier. Many of us in Connecticut had a reminder yesterday from our major communication provider Frontier Communications Corp.  As reported in the Hartford Courant: Customers Blast Frontier After Internet Outage

Customers of Frontier Communications Corp. in Connecticut complained Tuesday about lost internet service that the telecommunications company said was due to a software update…

What might we learn?

  • We are very dependent on a very risky infrastructure.
  • This is costly.

Testimony to the Connecticut Cybersecurity Task Force – UPDATED

I testified in my capacity as Executive Director of the Connecticut Citizen Election Audit. I was the only member of the public providing testimony.

Why are post-election audits and paper ballots a critical component of protecting our elections?  “[D}data protection involves prevention, detection, and recovery”.  Cybersecurity and other measures protecting voting equipment and voting systems are primarily prevention measures and to a lesser degree detection measures. No matter how much effort we put into cybersecurity, software testing, and hardware maintenance there will always be a significant level of vulnerability.

Paper ballots, sufficient post-election audits, and recounts provide a primary means of detecting cyber, software, human, and hardware failures. They also provide a means of recovery. They provide for, so called, software independent verification of election results, resulting in justified public confidence.

It’s Impossible to Know (how) Your Internet Vote Counted

As West Virginia plans, once again, to allow Internet voting for military voters, it is a good time to remind everyone that Internet voting (web page, web application, email, fax voting etc.) are all unsafe for democracy. And that block-chains cannot solve those problems.

One of those problems is that there is no guarantee that your laptop or smart phone has not been hacked in a way that  alters your vote. Another challenge is the, so called, Secret Ballot.

America is still unprepared for a Russian attack on our elections

Washington Post: America is still unprepared for a Russian attack on our elections

Though these machines are not routinely connected to the Internet, NYU’s Lawrence Norden warns that there are nonetheless ways to infiltrate them…

Having paper-friendly machines is hardly enough.

Officials don’t get risks of election hacking

There is no panacea. As we have been saying all along, nothing can fully protect us from hacking, fraud, and errors.  Maximum election security means Prevention, Detection, and Recovery.  For vote totals that means that we need to protect our paper ballots and then exploit them with sufficient audits and recounts.

New Yorker: America Continues to Ignore the Risks of Election Hacking

How Could CT Spend New Federal Election Security Money?

Connecticut will have available somewhere around $5 million to spend on election security in the new “omnibus” appropriations bill. Woefully inadequate for states that should be replacing touch-screen voting with all paper ballots.  etc., for a state that already has paper ballots, a lot can be accomplished.

Denise Merrill is already thinking about how to spend it: CTMirror: Omnibus has millions to strengthen CT voting system against cyber attacks.

Secretary Merrill asked me for suggestions in a brief conversation a couple of weeks ago. At the time, off the top of my head, I suggested and we briefly discussed three things. After consideration I would suggest some more things. Security is not just cyber security and training officials. It also requires physical protection of ballots, physical protection of voting machines, and understanding the situation before determining the training needed.

NPV Compact – for the 7th or 8th time: It sounds good but has Unintended Consequences

On Monday we testified against the National Popular Vote Compact. We have been testifying against it since it was first proposed in Connecticut in 2007. There are two companion bills, you can link to them from our testimony. We have been saying pretty much the same things for the last several years. Each year we hone our testimony a bit and listen to new and predominant arguments from the proponents and make small adjustments.

As I have said many times, most of the democrats (and my friends) who support the Compact are wrong. And most of the Republicans opposed, are opposed for the wrong reason. Unlike the National “Experts” that fly in each year to testify, I provide complete testimony with facts that they have not successfully disputed since 2007.

Five pieces of testimony on six bills

On Thursday the GAE Committee held testimony on most election bills this year. (There was one last week and a couple more will be on Monday). For once, I was able to support more bills than I opposed!

Opposition and support by the Secretary of the State and Registrars was mixed. In addition to supporting and opposing various bills, I offered several suggestions for improvement. And one suggestion for radical improvement.

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