Local races and a handful of legislative special elections are the only things on the ballot in Washington next month, but the state's chief election official is nonetheless warning that hackers are hunting for a way to disrupt the contests. She's also asserting that her agency is up to the cybersecurity task because of lessons learned from Russia's 2016 interference.
"We have attempts every day," says Secretary of State Kim Wyman, a Republican. "Tens of thousands of attempts to get into our system ... right now, we are just blocking all of them."
"Some are just trying to see what they can see, what can we get to and what can we play with," she told KIRO. "And some have bigger chess moves. They are trying to undermine confidence that voters have in our system."
Watch out, America. Russia apparently is planning to try the old bait and switch.
Having stirred worry across the United States with their documented efforts to try to hack the 2016 election, Russian operatives are expected in 2020 to face stronger and more secure election infrastructure — featuring fewer voting systems that can be penetrated and more paper records that can be used to check that vote totals are correct.
But, wait. According to CNN and other news outlets, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security sent a joint warning statement in the past few days to state election officials saying they think Russia may focus instead on voter suppression next November.
It wasn't the kind of test that you hope produces a perfect score. But hackers, technology geeks, academics and others were 100 for 100 this summer in their attempts to infiltrate and compromise an enormous array of voting machines using all sorts of technologies.
Their astonishing results will only boost the widespread anxiety among election security experts that American election systems remain widely vulnerable to hacking and Washington is not doing nearly enough to shrink the risks ahead of next year's presidential contest.
A handful of laws that took effect Tuesday in Maryland are designed to boost voting, political process transparency and civic engagement.
Maryland is a reliably Democratic state, and virtually all its elections won't happen for another year. But its proximity to Washington, and the fact that it's home to so many federal policymakers and advocates, means changes in the name of democracy reform get an outsized degree of attention from both fans and critics.
Like 20 other states plus D.C., Maryland will from now on permit people to both register and cast ballots on Election Day, so long as they can prove residency when they get to their polling location. The move to so-called "same day registration" will cost the local governments conducting elections a combined $2 million upfront and $600,000 each year after 2022, Patch reports.
Maryland is opening the door for increased civic engagement among children, allowing students starting in sixth grade to help out election judges on Election Day. Through what's dubbed the Page Program, younger poll workers will be trained and take an oath before they start service.