See No Evil, Find No Monkey Business, ePollbook Edition

NPR All Things Considered Russian Cyberattack Targeted Elections Vendor Tied To Voting Day Disruptions  <read>

When people in several North Carolina precincts showed up to vote last November, weird things started to happen with the electronic systems used to check them in.

“Voters were going in and being told that they had already voted — and they hadn’t,” recalls Allison Riggs, an attorney with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice.

The electronic systems — known as poll books — also indicated that some voters had to show identification, even though they did not.

Timeline: Foreign Efforts To Hack State Election Systems And How Officials Responded
Investigators later discovered the company that provided those poll books had been the target of a Russian cyberattack…

“I became really concerned that this might be a cyberattack, some sort of cyber event,” says [Susan] Greenhalgh.

Despite NSA Claim, Elections Vendor Denies System Was Compromised In Hack Attempt
But she had trouble getting anyone’s attention. Greenhalgh says a contact she had at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was concerned but said there was little federal officials could do unless the state requested help…

“States were very adamant about declaring their independence from the federal government with respect to the 2016 election and, of course, we respected that,” says Ferrante. “However, we wanted to make sure we were prepared and assets were available in the event that states did call us for assistance.”

North Carolina didn’t call for aid. Instead, officials assured federal authorities that things were under control and that they had switched to the paper poll books.

The problem was, on Election Day, the state was operating with limited information. It was unaware that Russian hackers had tried to break into VR Systems, which provided the poll books for 21 North Carolina counties.

It appears from the article that officials may finally be giving more scrutiny, yet the simple case is that we now have no reason to trust the claim that it was all a simple software error, that the Federal and State Governments were actually protecting us.  And it is the very type of ePollbooks the Russians may have hacked.  That is not all.

The investigation was triggered by the leak made public by the Intercept, allegedly from Reality Winner:  Report from North Carolina Makes Reality Winner Leak Far More Important  <read>

Because of the publicity surrounding the VR targeting — thanks to the document leaked by Winner — NC has now launched an investigation…

So this may be the first concrete proof that Russian hackers affected the election. But we’ll only find out of that’s true thanks to Winner’s leak.

Except she can’t raise that at trial.

Last week, Magistrate Judge Brian Epps imposed a protection order in her case that prohibits her or her team from raising any information from a document the government deems to be classified, even if that document has been in the public record. That includes the document she leaked.

The protective order is typical for leak cases. Except in this case, it covers information akin to information that appeared in other outlets without eliciting a criminal prosecution. And more importantly, Winner could now point to an important benefit of her leak, if only she could point to the tie between her leak and this investigation in North Carolina.


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