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Election Adminstration Technology

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The Internet and Elections: Clarifying the Conversation

With the report of comments pouring into the U.S. EAC on the next generation of the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines, and all of the coverage of the issue about the role of the Internet, we feel compelled to try to simplify and straighten some things out. Even recent EAC Hearings have left the issue a bit unsettled and unclear. So, below I try to clarify where things stand as of now in hopes of clarifying the conversation about what is or isn’t.

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A 116th Opportunity: New Congress to Offer Ambitious Election Reform Bill to Defend Democracy

We’ve said it many times and it bears worth repeating: foreign interference in U.S. elections is a threat to our democracy.  The security of critical election infrastructure is the focal point of the OSET Institute’s mission.  So, OSET leadership was pleased to learn that on January 3, 2019, the opening day of the 116th session of Congress, the newly elected House Democratic majority, led by Speaker-designate Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-12), will have its first order of legislative business—House Resolution #1 (“H.R.1”), a comprehensive election reform bill.  The question is will H.R.1 become law, and be the change-agent needed to better defend democracy?

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The Race to Secure our Elections: How Far Have we Come?

This article is the 1st of a two-part series on the state of America’s election infrastructure security with less than 4-months left to 2018 midterm election. Here I discuss the current situation and progress, and in the next post I will evaluate preparedness for the upcoming midterm in 110 days…

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Shifting the Conversation from “Shoring-up” to “Re-engineering”

This afternoon a bipartisan group of authorities on election administration and cybersecurity presented a Congressional Briefing on current election security challenges facing federal and state policymakers. While it was a worthy discussion, I keep having this sinking feeling that we’re simply re-arranging furniture on the deck of a large cruise ship steaming toward an icebreaker in the dark…

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Election Vulnerabilities: No Exploit Too Small; No Impact Too Large

The American public is currently in the midst of a rude awakening as increasing numbers of reports diagnose the state of American cybersecurity, especially as it pertains to elections. The nature of attacks isn’t limited to election administration equipment. Lots of havoc can be wreaked just attacking voter services web site…

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Critical Democracy Infrastructure: Our Briefing Launches

We are pleased to announce the release of the OSET Institute’s Critical Democracy Infrastructure (CDI) Briefing.  It’s been over a year in development.  Early review by several in Government, Media, and Advisors tell us this may be the most important publication on the issue of election infrastructure yet.  We humbly hope so. This Briefing provides a thorough review of the technology infrastructure of election administration and operation.  We address its critical nature and what is required for it to be treated as such, and assess the challenges of official designation, as well as the immediate and longer-term challenges to protecting this vital aspect of our democracy...

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Another Look at the CAP Briefing on Solving Election Security

We want to give credit to the great points the Center for American Progress recently made in their Briefing about election integrity. While we have some strategic differences, we generally endorse CAP’s tactical steps for improving election integrity in the near term.  The CAP Briefing was well researched and brought together many points that are widely agreed upon by the election integrity community including the OSET Institute.  Given Greg’s desire to limit the length of his response recently, and focus on the structural issue we’re so concerned about, we decided I would post a list here of the points we agree with and those we differ on...

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The Challenges of iVoting Implementation

When we last left this discussion, I had laid out a basis for our interest in technologies just over the horizon or "ready next" and in particular the growing interest in smartphone voting. I am essentially carving up a technology backgrounder white paper for easy reading here. Today I help us dive in with a survey of the challenge areas to "Pajama Voting" (I love that phrase)...

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With the Election Past; The Clock is Running

With the election behind us, regardless of how you view the results, one irrefutable fact remains... the 2016 general election is absolutely the last election the existing voting infrastructure of this nation can possibly support.  Another fact is that the machinery of America's elections is on its last legs (literally)...

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Response Letter to POLITICO Article on Critical Election Infrastructure

Below is a letter sent to Tim Starks and Cory Bennett of POLITICO, who cover cyber-security issues.  There seems to be some fundamental misunderstandings of the challenges local election officials (LEOs) face, the process by which the equipment is qualified for deployment (albeit decrepit archaic technology by today's standards), what the vulnerabilities are (and are not), and why a designation of "critical infrastructure" is an important consideration.  We attempt to address some of those points in this response to Tim's otherwise really good coverage....

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Voter Services Portal: Open Source Innovation

The Voter Services Portal component of the Open Source Election Technology Framework is a freely available highly extensible online voter registration platform that can cut the cost of States' and jurisdictions' custom development by as much as 75% and reduce the time to develop and deploy from months or more to merely a few weeks.  Why wouldn't any jurisdiction moving to online voter services strongly consider this freely available source code, open for innovation?  That's the whole point of our non-profit technology R&D effort: increase confidence in elections and their outcomes by offering technology innovations that can be easily adopted, adapted, and deployed.  Sure, there are costs associated with adaptation and deployment; after all, open source does not necessarily mean free source.  But the time and taxpayer dollars savings should make this an easy decision...

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Fighting for Democracy Means More Than Bearing Arms

On this 239th anniversary of our Declaration of Independence, we find ourselves reflecting on the causes of democracy and the good and just fight to protect and preserve democracy--not only here in the United States of America, but globally.  The cause of the OSET Foundation, manifest in the TrustTheVote Project, is one important, arguably vital aspect of that good and just fight.  It is likewise important to illustrate that fighting for our democracy means more than bearing arms.

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The Moose Lurking in the Room

To hec with the elephant (regardless of who you think will control Congress after election day), the real beast in the room may be a Moose -- Alaska style.  Our CTO notes an article from yesterday that points out how Alaska's close U.S. senatorial race, combined with their allowing ballots to be digitally returned across the Internet, may pose the greatest threat to a derailed election we've seen yet. 

But the real point John makes is that sadly, Alaskan voters may not even be aware of the risks and who in this case is watching over their ballots -- at least those returned in the inherently insecure manner of the Internet, no matter how "secure" the "experts" are claiming the process to be.  If the ballot return system in Alaska were truly as secure as their vendor claims, then Banks would be using their methods, and the massive amounts of hacked customer personal information at major brands this year might have been alleviated.  Have a look and give us your take.

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OSET Featured on TechCrunch

OSET Foundation Board Member Chris Kelly, a Silicon Valley venture investor and philanthropist, and former Facebook exec, pens an op-ed for TechCrunch on the Election Day 2014.

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Three-Step Test for "Open Source"

To our elections official stakeholders, Chief Technology Officer John Sebes covers a point that seems to be popping up in discussions more and more.  There seems to be some confusion about what "open source" means in the context of software used for election administration or voting. That's understandable, because some election I.T. folks, and some current vendors, may not be familiar with the prior usage of the term "open source" -- especially since it is now used in so many different ways to describe (variously), people, code, legal agreements, etc. So, John hopes to get our Stakeholders back to basics on this.

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