Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Michelle Obama Wades Into Midterms

Former First Lady Michelle Obama will be joined by several other A-list Celebrities, including Actor Tom Hanks, Country Stars Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, Houston Rockets Star Chris Paul, Singer Janelle Monae, and “Hamilton” Creator Lin-Manuel Miranda. They are jumping into the 2018 Campaigns with a Voter Registration Initiative that will be strictly Nonpartisan, Exciting and Frustrating Top Democrats who’d like the Popular Former First Lady to Actively Campaign for Candidates.

The Initiative, scheduled to be launched Thursday, is the Result of Months of quiet Conversations and Planning full of false starts and uncertainty about whether to go forward. It will have the Former First Lady appear in Public Service Announcements and at Live Events throughout the Country into the Fall, according to multiple People informed of the Plans.

The First PSA will go out Thursday, with more in the Process of being lined up, featuring other Prominent Activists and Players. The Group will be Incorporated as a Nonprofit, separate from the Obama Foundation, the Personal Offices of Barack and Michelle Obama, and Citizen 44, the LLC that the Former President himself Pays for to Handle his own Political Involvement.

Named “When We All Vote”, it will be stocked with Prominent Obama Alumni, including Valerie Jarrett as President of the Board and Former First Lady Chief of Staff Tina Tchen as Treasurer. Pete Rouse, an Obama Senior Adviser who Served as Interim White House Chief of Staff, will also be on the Board. The CEO will be Kyle Lierman, a Former Senior Policy Adviser in the White House who founded Civic Advisors, a “social impact strategy” and Consulting Firm home to a Number of Obama White House Alumni.

Money is still being Raised for what People involved with the Planning have told others would be an $8 Million Budget. Organizers Plan to Raise much of it through Corporate Sponsorships and Foundation Grants, all while navigating around Nonprofit Laws and Democratic Donors who already are being hit up Nonstop by Candidates, Committees, and other Groups seeking Cash.

The New Group is Planning a Series of Events building up to a late-September crescendo of Rallies and Trainings. Along the way, there will be several Voter Registration Days of Action, followed by “GOTV days of action” as the Elections approaches.

Organizers intend to send Personal Messages to People urging them to Register. According to One Document describing the Group’s Plans, it will Partner with “outlets that young Americans use most.”

At a Beverly Hills Fundraiser last Month for the Democratic National Committee, the Former President joked that these days his Wife is in even higher demand these days than he is. “You can’t afford Michelle,” he told the High-Dollar Crowd.

Michelle Obama’s Staff has gone back and forth on the Question about whether she’ll try to Weave in a Few Campaign Appearances on behalf of Candidates. “Mrs. Obama is really excited about this voter registration effort, and her fall schedule is still coming together,” said one Person close to her.

Trump’s Election has been a Challenge for Michelle Obama not just because of Policies that so Contradict, and in many cases, Reverse, her Husband’s. His very Victory, along with those of many other Republicans who supported Him, is a Direct Challenge to her “when they go low, we go high” 2016 Convention Message, which had become a Rallying Cry for Democrats sure that Hillary Clinton would easily Dispense with Trump.

To the Former First Lady, though, the Voter Registration Drive is the best way to take on a Prominent Role without Engaging directly in Electoral Politics, which she has little Affinity for. And it fits with a larger Theory about Political Engagement that she shares with her Husband: The more People who Vote, they believe, the better it will be for Democrats overall. Obama will hit the Campaign Trail for Candidates, but he also has been stressing Nonpartisan Engagement through his Foundation.

Then there’s another Motive at Play: Michelle's 400-page Memoir, “Becoming,” is due out Nov. 13th, a Week after Election Day. She’ll be doing a Nationwide Book Tour, and the First Lady and her Staff don’t want that to be Overshadowed by Politics.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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Was GA’s Election System Hacked in 2016?

When the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) notified 21 States in 2017 that they had been targeted by Russian Hackers intent on Interfering with the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election, Georgia, despite having one of the most Vulnerable Voting Systems in the Country, was not among them. Trump Won the State by nearly 6 percentage points over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

This was odd because around the same time the Russians were targeting other States, a Security Researcher in Georgia named Logan Lamb discovered a serious Security Vulnerability in an Election Server in his State. The Vulnerability allowed him to Download the State’s Entire Database of 6.7 Million Registered Voters and would have allowed him or any other Intruder to Alter Versions of the Database Distributed to Counties prior to the Election. Lamb also found PDFs with Instructions and Passwords for Election Workers to Sign-In to a Central Server on Election Day as well as Software Files for the State’s ExpressPoll Pollbooks, the Electronic Devices used by Poll Workers to Verify Voters’ Eligibility to Vote before allowing them to Cast a Ballot.

The Unpatched and Misconfigured Server had been Vulnerable since 2014 and was Managed by the Center for Election Systems, a small Training and Testing Center that until recently occupied a former two-story House on the Kennesaw State University Campus. Until last year, the Center was responsible for Programming every Voting Machine across the State, raising concerns that if the Russians or other Adversaries had been able to penetrate the Center’s Servers as Lamb had done, they might have been able to find a way to Subvert Software Distributed by the Center to Voting Machines across the State.

But Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who was the only State Election Official to Refuse Security Assistance from the DHS prior to the Election, has insisted for more than a year that his State’s Voting Systems were never at risk in the 2016 Election, because DHS told him the Russians had not targeted Georgia. This changed on Friday, however, when the Justice Department Unsealed the Indictment against 12 Russian Intelligence Officers who oversaw an Operation that, the Department says, included Targeting County Websites in Georgia.

On or around Oct. 28th, 2016, Anatoliy Sergeyevich Kovalev and Aleksandr Vladimirovich Osadchuk, both Officers in the Russian Military assigned to Unit 74455, allegedly Conspired with others to Hack into Computers involved in U.S. Election Administration, according to the Complaint. This included Scoping out the Websites of Unidentified Counties in Iowa, Florida, and Georgia, to Identify Vulnerabilities they could use to access Back-End Servers. The Indictment doesn’t state directly, but implies, that the Servers were part of Infrastructure for County Election Offices.

Asked about this New Revelation, a Spokeswoman for the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office declined to address it directly, saying only that the Secretary of State’s own Office had never been Breached. “We have never been hacked, and according to President Trump and the Department Of Homeland Security, we have never been targeted,” Candice Broce wrote in an email. “Georgia has secure, accessible, and fair elections because [Secretary of State Brian] Kemp has leveraged private sector solutions for robust cybersecurity, well before any of those options were offered by the federal government.”

In truth, Kemp’s Office would not have been the most likely Target for Russian Hackers, since his Office has had little to do with the Administration of Elections in Georgia since at least 2002, when it Contracted that responsibility to the Center for Election Systems. For 15 years, it was well known that the Center was responsible for Training Election Workers, Programming the State’s Electronic Voting Machines before each Election and distributing the Voter Registration Database to Counties. The Center’s Servers would have been the ideal Target for Russian Hackers, says Marilyn Marks, Executive Director of the Coalition for Good Governance, the Group behind the Lawsuit against the Secretary of State. “These sophisticated agents certainly [would have known] that Georgia’s entire election programming and management system, including private voter data, was on a single central computer managed by Secretary of State Kemp’s contract agent at Kennesaw State University,” she said.

The Unpatched and Insecure Server that Lamb Breached weren’t the Center’s only problem. A Report produced by the University’s IT Department after the Lamb Breach found numerous other Security Problems as well. These Security Problems are all the more alarming, Marks and others say, because Georgia uses a Single Model of Touchscreen Voting Machine Statewide that Security Researchers have shown to be Vulnerable to Hacking. The Machines do not have a Paper Trail and therefore provide No Means of Conducting an Audit of their Election Results, an ideal scenario for anyone who wants to Subvert an Election. Marks and her fellow Plaintiffs in the Lawsuit want the State to Replace these Machines with ones that use Paper Ballots.

As part of their Discovery demands, they want to examine the Center’s Servers to see if anyone other than Lamb had Breached them prior to the 2016 Presidential Election or a Special Congressional Runoff Election that was held on June 20th the following year between Karen Handel, Kemp’s Predecessor as Secretary of State, and Jon Ossoff. With the revelations in Friday’s Indictment, Marks says an Examination of the Center’s Servers is more important than ever. “The indictment’s reference to Russians searching for Georgia vulnerabilities makes it all the more imperative that plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit be promptly granted the right to conduct forensic discovery on the remaining electronic records related to the server,” Marks said.

This might be difficult to do, however. Shortly after the Plaintiffs Filed their Lawsuit in July 2017, Technicians at Kennesaw State University Wiped the Center’s Servers Clean, Destroying any Evidence that might have been on them. Two Backup Servers also were Wiped a Month later, News the Plaintiffs learned only Months later after obtaining Emails that disclosed the Data Destruction. Kemp’s Office initially Distanced itself from the Destruction, accusing the Technicians of “ineptitude” for Wiping Servers that were part of Litigation. Kemp later said, however, that the Wiping had simply been Standard Operating Procedure performed any time Servers were taken out of Service.

The good news is that FBI Agents in Atlanta made a Mirror Image of the Server that Lamb Breached when they were Investigating his Intrusion, and the Plaintiffs are hoping the Judge overseeing their Case will Rule that they can Examine this Image. It’s unclear, however, whether the Image preserved everything that was on the Server and whether the Image still exists.

Marks says it’s astonishing how little Curiosity or Concern Kemp and Georgia’s Election Board have shown toward the Center’s Server. “The Russians would not have had to ‘hack’ or force their way in. The electronic door was wide open ... and KSU’s wiping of the server logs would have likely concealed their tracks. [It] appears that Kemp and the State Board prefer not to know [what may have happened on that server]. Nor do they want plaintiffs to find out, as they are continuing to block all attempts at litigation discovery.”

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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CA Supreme Court Takes Three States Initiative Off November Ballot

The California Supreme Court removed the “Three-California” States Initiative from the November Ballot Wednesday but said it would Decide Later whether the Plan to Break up the State was within the Voters’ Power and to consider it at a Future Election. The Case is Planning and Conservation League vs. Padilla, S249859.

In a Unanimous Order, the Six Justices said that “significant questions regarding the proposition’s validity” and that the “potential harm” of allowing a Public Vote before those Question are Resolved “outweighs the potential harm in delaying the proposition to a future election.” The Court said it would consider Both Sides’ Arguments at a Hearing before Deciding whether to Place the Measure on the 2020 Ballot.

Carlyle Hall, a Lawyer for Opponents who Sued to take the Initiative off the Ballot, said the Court’s Order was Welcome but not Surprising. “This was such an abuse of the initiative process that the court obviously felt it could not allow it to be on the ballot,” he said.

Tim Draper, the Bay Area Billionaire and Venture Capitalist who Qualified the Measure for the Ballot, could not be immediately reached for comment. The Measure, Proposition 9, was drafted as a Change in the Laws that define the State’s Boundaries. But Opponents argued that it amounted to a “Revision” of the California Constitution, which requires Approval from Two-Thirds of Both Houses of the Legislature to be Placed on the Ballot.

The Initiative Qualified for the Ballot after Draper gathered Signatures of 402,000 Registered Voters, he only needed 385,880, and Submitted them in April. Draper contends California has become Ungovernable, its Taxes too High, its Schools and Public Services in Disrepair, its 39 Million-Plus Residents far too Numerous to be Represented Democratically by 120 Elected Legislators.

Prop. 9 proposed creating Three New States: Southern California, running from San Diego and Orange County North Past Fresno to Madero County; California, from Los Angeles along the Coast to Monterey; and Northern California, covering All Areas from Santa Cruz North to the Oregon Border.

If a Majority of Voters Statewide Approved the Measure, the State would forward the Plan to Congress, which would have the Last Word. Establishing Three States in place of One would also Authorize the Election of Four additional U.S. Senators. California’s 55 Electoral Votes for President, reliably Democratic in Recent Decades, would be Divided among the New States, and the Contours of the proposed Southern California State suggest that it could Swing Republican. California Lawmakers, meanwhile, would Apportion Current State Funds and Facilities among the New States.

The Measure was Challenged in a Lawsuit July 9th by Opponents led by the Planning and Conservation League, which said it feared the Environmental consequences of discarding Current State Laws and Constitutional Protections. They contended Prop. 9 was, at the very least, a Constitutional Revision that could not be Enacted by a Voter Initiative. The Lawsuit Challenging Prop. 9 said it “would not simply ‘revise,’ but would abolish the existing state Constitution” and all State Laws.

Draper put it differently. Prop.9, he told the Court in a Filing last Week, would Result in “nullification of the California Constitution, not its ‘revision.’” Legal Groups representing Low-Income Californians also argued that the Three New States, while relatively Equal in Population, would be Financially Unequal, the New Northern California would have far more Revenue available from Income, Sales and Property Taxes, and less need for spending on Public Assistance, than the other Two New States.

“California’s state government now equalizes these disparities based on need, not geography,” Bob Wolfe, Attorney for Public Counsel and the Western Center on Law and Poverty, told the Court. “Once the state is divided, such a needs-based allocation no longer would be possible.”

The Court’s Order leaves 11 Propositions on the Nov. 6th Ballot.

Proposition 1 - Bonds, Issues $4 billion in bonds for housing programs and veterans' home loans.
Proposition 2 - Bonds, Authorizes state to use revenue from millionaire's tax for $2 billion in bonds for homelessness prevention housing
Proposition 3 - Bonds, Issues $8.877 billion in bonds for water-related infrastructure and environmental projects
Proposition 4 - Bonds, Issues $1.5 billion in bonds for children's hospitals
Proposition 5 - Taxes, Revises Process for Homebuyers who are age 55 or older or severely disabled to transfer their tax assessments
Proposition 6 - Taxes, Repeals 2017's fuel tax and vehicle fee increases and requires public vote on future increases
Proposition 7 - Time, Authorizes legislature to provide for permanent daylight saving time if federal government allows
Proposition 8 - Healthcare, Requires dialysis clinics to issue refunds for revenue above a certain amount
Proposition 9 - Housing, Allows local governments to regulate rent
Proposition 10 - Labor, Allow ambulance providers to require workers to remain on-call during breaks paid
Proposition 11 - Animals, Bans sale of meat from animals confined in spaces below specific sizes

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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NYC Bar Association Election-Reform Related Proposals for Consideration in NYC Charter Revision Process

The New York City Bar Association (“City Bar”) intends to Establish a Task Force on the City Charter for the purpose of commenting upon various Proposals submitted to the Commissions, and, ultimately, Recommended to be placed on the Ballot. The City Bar’s Committee on New York City Affairs Expressed its Immediate and Longstanding Support for Certain Election Reforms.

The Subcommittee was Chaired by John Owens; other Members included Mary Bruch, Michelle Grady, and Laura Wood. A Draft Version was Approved by the Full Committee and Endorsed by the Committee on Government Ethics and State Affairs supported Election Reform, Advocating for:

(1) Enhanced Registration Procedures, with more Flexible Deadlines

(2) “No Excuse” Absentee Voting

(3) Early Voting

(4) Instant Run-Off Voting

(5) Felony Re-Enfranchisement

The State Legislature has Failed or Refused to Enact these Reforms. However, pursuant to the State Constitution, the New York State Municipal Home Rule Law (MHRL) and other Home-Rule Statutory Provisions, the Law Permits Localities to Enact their own Reforms, provided they are neither Preempted by a directly Contradictory State Statute or a State Constitutional Prohibition. Specifically, MHRL permits Local Law-Making as it Relates to:

(1) The Powers, Duties, Qualifications, Number, Mode of Selection and Removal, Terms of Office, Compensation, Hours of Work, Protection, Welfare and Safety of its Officers and Employees....

(2) In the Case of a City, Town, or Village, the Membership and Composition of its Legislative Body.

(3) The Transaction of its Business.…

(12) The Government, Protection, Order, Conduct, Safety, Health, and Well-Being of Persons or Property therein.

Thus, the City of New York has the Authority to “adopt and amend local laws not inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution or not inconsistent with any general law relating to its property, affairs or government.”

Expanded Registration and Enrollment Procedures

A Proposal to Extend a New Voter’s Opportunity to Register until Ten Days before an Election has been Submitted to the Mayoral Commission. Currently, State Law Provides that a New Voter must Register Twenty-Five Days in Advance of the Election. However, the State Constitution requires only that Registrations must be Effected by the Tenth Day Preceding an Election. Thus, similar to New York City’s Enactment of its Own Ballot Access, Campaign Finance and Candidate Eligibility Requirements, it may permit potential Voters to Register to Vote in Municipal Elections as it sees fit, provided, of course, that the Cut-Off Date is consistent with the State Constitution. Extending the Registration Cut-Off to Ten Days Prior to an Election would undoubtedly allow more Potential Voters to Cast a Ballot.

In addition, the City Charter may also be Amended to Extend the Time for Voters to Change their Enrollment to Vote in a Primary Election. One proposal would allow a New York City resident who is otherwise eligible to vote in a primary election but is enrolled in a different political party or is unaffiliated with any party to change enrollment and vote in his or her new party’s primary if such change of enrollment is effected no later than thirty days before such primary election. This reform for municipal elections would be a significant liberalization of state law, which requires a change of enrollment to have been effected twenty five days prior to the previous year’s general election. The proposal would obviously permit voters to have greater choice of enrollment, while still protecting political parties from last-minute, wholesale “party raiding.”

Expanded Voter Registration and Enrollment Procedures would allow greater Participation, and have the Potential to Improve Turnout.

No-Excuse Absentee Voting

New York allows Absentee Ballots for Registered Voters who Cannot Make it to the Polls on Election Day because of Occupation, Business, Studies, Travel, Imprisonment of Non-Felons, Illness, Disability, and Hospitalization, or Residency in a Long-Term Care Facility. Although there is a State Law that Addresses this Issue, this fact does Not Prevent the City from “supplementing the general law” in a Reasonable Manner. The Provision on Absentee Voting in the Election Law does Not Bar additional Provisions of Law. A Local Law that “covers the same subject matter as a State law by supplementing the general law with additional reasonable requirements is not void for inconsistency.” Thus, just as New York City has Supplemented State Law Relating to Contribution Limits, Petition Signature Requirements and the Manner by which Vacancies are Filled, it may also Enact its own Version of Absentee Ballot Requirements.

Early Voting

New York’s Election Law does Not Provide for Early Voting, and a Proposal for Early Voting Sites in each of the Fifty One Council Districts and the Borough Boards of Elections has been Submitted. Currently, some Three Dozen States Permit it, and New York’s Election Law is Silent on this Issue. In that “[s]ilence on an issue should not be interpreted as an expression of legislative intent,” the City may Enact its Own Version of the Procedure.

Early Voting in so many States has Proven to Invigorate Campaigns and Increase Voter Turnout. This Reform has the added Benefit of Facilitating Voting on Election Day by Reducing Waiting Time and Generally Improving Voting Procedures in the Polling Place.

Instant Run-Off Voting (IRV) / Ranked-Choice Voting (RCV)

Currently, under State Law, Candidates for New York City City-Wide Office, Mayor, Public Advocate, and Comptroller, must Receive 40% of the Vote in a Primary Election to be Nominated by a Political Party and Advance to the General Election. If No Candidate gets at least 40% of the Vote, the Top-Two Candidates will Participate in a Run-Off Election to determine their Party’s Nominee for the General Election. The Run-Off Election must take place Two Weeks after the Primary Election, except already there has been One Instance when the Run-Off has been Postponed because of Insufficient Time to Administer such Election.

The Legislative History of the Statute contemplates Nomination of a Candidate with Broad Support by Voters in his or her Political Party. Instead of Conducting Run-Off Primaries if No Candidate receives 40%, an IVR/RCV Provision for our Municipal Elections is Designed to show such Support for the Winning Candidate. A Detailed Proposal, Modeled upon Council Member Brad Lander’s Bill in the City Council, has already been Submitted to the Mayoral Commission. This Reform would Eliminate the need for a Separate Run-Off Election, alleviate the Challenges faced by the Board of Elections in Administering a Separate Run-off Election, and Save the City Millions of Dollars.

These Reforms would be Implemented using a Municipal Ballot on which Candidates for Only Municipal Offices appear. Candidates for All Other Public Offices (e.g., District Attorney, Supreme Court Justice) or Party Positions, Members of a Party Committee, Elected at the Primary Elections) would be Listed on a Separate Ballot.

The City’s Board of Elections would, therefore, have to Update its Voter Database to Indicate who is Eligible to Vote at a Specific Election. This Administrative Procedure is No Different from the Board’s Current Practice of Indicating on its Database which Voters must Present an ID, or which Voters have been Challenged. Logging in Additional Information relating to Enhanced Registration or New Party Affiliation seems easily and readily Manageable. Moreover, since the Proposed Reforms are Contemplated as taking Effect in the 2021 Municipal Elections, the Board has at least Two Years to consider and adopt necessary Administrative Procedures to implement these Proposals, a period of time that should be sufficient to effectuate this change.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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NY BOE Investigator Says Donations to Rogue Democrats May Have Been Illegal

The Chief Investigator for the New York Board of Elections (BOE), Counsel Risa Sugarman, is questioning the Legality of Hundreds of Thousands of Donations given to a Group of Former Renegade Democratic State Senators of the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) who until recently were Allied with Republicans.

A Judge ruled last month that State Sen. Jeff Klein (D-34th District) and the State Independence Party created an Illegal Fundraising Committee that was used to Circumvent Contribution and Spending Limits to Aid Members of the Senate IDC. Klein Headed the Group until is Dissolved this year.

New Campaign Filings Reveal the Senate Independence Campaign Committee, the Joint Independence Party/IDC Fundraising Entity, pumped $700,000 into the Coffers of Seven ex-IDC Members.

The Committee Transferred:

- $200,000 to Klein’s Re-Election Committee
- $160,750 to Marisol Alcantra (D-31st District)
- $113,500 to Sen. Jose Peralta (D-13th District)
- $109,700 to Jesse Hamilton (D-20th District)
- $68,000 to Tony Avella (D-11th District)
- $62,000 to David Carlucci (D-38th District)
- $36,000 to David Valesky (D-53th District)

But Sugarman said a large Portion of those Donations were made before the Senate Independence Campaign Committee (SICC) Reconstituted Itself with New Leadership on April 24th to Comply with the Law, and therefore Violated Contribution Limits of $7,000 to a Candidate for a Primary and $11,000 for a General Election, or a Total of $18,000.

“They are way over the contribution limits,” said Sugarman, who Reviewed the Donations.

Lawrence Mandelker, the Lawyer for Klein and the Independence Party, insisted the SICC is Complying with the Law. He said Independence Party Chairman Frank McKay now Heads the SICC and the Committee’s Treasurer, John Kase, changed his Party Registration from Democrat to Independence Party.

Those Two Moves bring the SICC into Compliance with Last Month’s Ruling by Albany Supreme Court Justice Kimberly O’Connor, he said. “There’s nothing in the decision that stops the SICC from supporting former members of the IDC. This is 100 percent legal,” Mandelker said.

Judge O’Connor’s Ruling said it was Illegal “to allow the Independence Party to turn over a party committee to members of the IDC, enrolled Democrats….”

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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NY to Fund Cyber-Protection of Voting Systems

New York will begin Soliciting Contracts from Companies that will Assess the Cyber-Security Risks of State's Voting Systems and help Improve Internet Firewalls for County Boards of Elections.

The Initiative, part of a $5 Million, $1 Million State Money and the rest from the Federal Government, Earmark in the 2019 Budget, was announced Tuesday by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. The Governor's Announcement tethered the Security Project to the recent Indictment of 12 Russian intelligence Officers who are Charged with Hacking into the Email Accounts and Servers of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) during the 2016 Elections. The Republican National Committee (RNC) was also hacked but the Hackers only got into an Old System that contained Very Old Emails.

Cuomo said the State's "Secure Election Center," Managed by the State Board of Elections, will provide Uniform Cyber-Security Training to State and County Election Officials this year.

"There is nothing more sacred than democracy, and New Yorkers should know that when they cast their ballot that their vote is safe," Cuomo said in a Statement, taking Aim at President Trump. "While the president has abdicated his responsibility to defend this country and left our electoral system open to sabotage by foreign adversaries, New York is fighting back and leading the way."

The Contracts will be Handled by the State Office of General Services on behalf of the State's Board of Elections.

One of the Contracts will also seek a Vendor to provide Enhanced Intrusion-Detection Systems and Managed Security Services for County Boards of Elections.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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NSA and Cyber Command to Coordinate Actions to Counter Election Interference in 2018

The Head of the Nation’s Largest Electronic Spy Agency and the Military’s Cyberwarfare Arm has Directed the Two Organizations to Coordinate Actions to Counter potential Russian Interference in the 2018 Midterm Elections. The move, announced to Staff at the National Security Agency (NSA) last week by NSA Director Paul Nakasone, is an attempt to Maximize the Efforts of the Two Groups and comes as President Trump in Helsinki on Monday said Russian President Vladi­mir Putin was “extremely strong and powerful” in Denying Russian Involvement in the Presidential Election two years ago.

It is the latest Initiative by National Security Agencies (NSA) to push back against Russian Aggression in the Absence of Direct Guidance from the White House on the Issue. “Nakasone, and the heads of the other three-letter agencies, are doing what they can in their own lanes, absent an overall approach directed by the president,” said Michael V. Hayden, who has headed the NSA and the CIA. “As good as it is, it’s not good enough. This is not a narrowly defined cyberthreat. This is one of the most significant strategic national security threats facing the United States since 9/11.”

Nakasone, an Army General who became the Chief of both NSA and U.S. Cyber Command in April, told Congress in his Confirmation Hearings earlier this year: “The most important thing is we want the [Russians’] behavior to change. . . . We want them to pay a price.” He added that one of the most Disturbing Facts is that the United States’ Adversaries, including Russia, “don’t fear us.” Nakasone wants to better Coordinate NSA Intelligence-gathering on Russian Cyber-Activities and CyberCom’s Plans to thwart Kremlin Operations.

Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Daniel Coats issued a New Alert on Russia. “The warning lights are blinking red again,” he said, also likening them to the danger signs that presaged the Sept. 11th, 2001, attacks. “Today, the digital infrastructure that serves this country is literally under attack,” he said, adding that if Russia continues to Assault the United States in Cyberspace, the Government should “throw everything we have got into it.”

On Monday, after Trump’s Remarks, Coats felt compelled to Issue a Statement reiterating the Intelligence Community’s January 2017 Assessment that Russia Interfered in the Presidential Election and noted its “ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy.” A Spokesman for the National Security Council, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said, “The NSC has regular and continuous meetings to coordinate a whole-of-government approach to foreign malign influence and election security. There continue to be briefings with the President, engagement at all levels of government, and coordination with state and local governments.”

When Directed by the President or Defense Secretary, the Military Unit, located at Fort Meade with the NSA, may also take Offensive Action such as Disrupting an Adversary’s Computer Networks. “This is just Paul Nakasone being a good leader, and under the theory of ‘never let a good crisis go to waste,’ using that to bring the two teams closer together,” said Richard Ledgett, who Retired last year as NSA Deputy Director.

The Joint CyberCom-NSA Russia Group is working with the FBI, the CIA, and Department of Homeland Security (DHS), each of which has its own Initiative to Detect and Deter Russian Influence Operations. FBI Director Christopher A. Wray last year set up the Foreign-Influence Task Force to Counter such attempts. It works closely with DHS, which has its own Task Force focused on Election Security, with an eye to the Midterms, and has worked with State and Local Authorities on the Issue.

The Agencies are working within their own Authorities, but “the lack of presidential guidance to address this as a national problem impedes the ability” to carry out a more Robust and Effective Effort, one that Aligns Resources and Results, said a Former Senior U.S. Intelligence Official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to be Candid.

At a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing last month, Victoria Nuland, Former Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, said that, “While the Trump administration has taken some important sanction steps to punish Russia for past actions, strengthen Cyber Command, and harden our electoral infrastructure, it has not launched the kind of presidentially led, whole-of-government effort that’s needed to protect our democracy and security for malign state actors who are intent on weaponizing information and the Internet.” She called for the Establishment of a Multiagency Fusion Center Modeled after the National Counterterrorism Center to Pool Information and Resources, to Identify, Expose, and Respond to Foreign Government attempts to Undermine U.S. Democracy through Disinformation and Cyberattack.

Repeatedly pressed last year and this year by Sen. Jack Reed (RI), the Ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, on whether they had been given any Direction by the President to Counter Russian Interference, a Number of Senior Administration Officials, including then-NSA Director Michael S. Rogers, acknowledged they had not.

Current and Former Senior Administration Officials have suggested that the Intelligence Community is conducting Covert Operations to Deter Russia.
Friday’s Indictment reflected “an astonishing amount of information” gathered on Senior Officers in the Russian Military, including Search Terms used by the Hackers on Servers in Moscow, which indicates an Ability to get into their Digital Systems, according to Michael Carpenter, a Former Senior Pentagon and White House Official who worked on Russia Policy. “If I were the Russians I’d be very nervous about that.” But, he said, “it doesn’t mean we have taken action.”

Congress, meanwhile, is considering a Measure allowing the President to Authorize Cyber Command to Disrupt any Russian Election Interference and Social Media Manipulation Operations outside the United States, a Form of Political Pressure as the President does not need the Authority to Act. The Senate has passed the Provision, contained in the National Defense Authorization Act, and is Negotiating it with the House.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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