Sunday, September 23, 2018

Ruling on Health Care Subsidies Could Prove Costly for Government

A Federal Court Ruled this month that a Montana insurer is Entitled to Federal Compensation for Subsidy Payments under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that President Trump abruptly Ended last October, a Ruling that could reverberate through Insurance Markets and Cost the Government Hundreds of Millions of Dollars.

At issue are Payments for the Cost-Sharing Reductions, Discounts that enhance the Value of Health Insurance Policies Purchased from the ACA’s Marketplaces by Reducing Deductibles, Co-Payments and other Out-of-Pocket Costs for Low-Income Consumers. President Trump ended the Payments in October, one of a series of Executive Actions intended to undo President Obama’s Signature Domestic Achievement.

But Judge Elaine D. Kaplan of the United States Court of Federal Claims said this Month that Trump’s Actions Violated a Government Promise to Insurance Companies participating in the Health Law. Although Congress never Explicitly Provided Money for the Subsidies, the Court said, the Government had a Legal Obligation to Pay them. “The statutory language clearly and unambiguously imposes an obligation” on the Government to Reimburse Insurers for the Discounts they were Required to Provide to Low- and Middle-Income People, Judge Kaplan said in her Decision.

The Decision could have Broad Ramifications for Health Insurers. Several similar Cases are Pending in the Court of Federal Claims, a Specialized Tribunal that Handles a wide range of Monetary Claims against the Government. In April, another Judge, Margaret M. Sweeney, Certified a Class Action that allows Insurers as a Group to Sue the Government over Trump’s Termination of the Cost-Sharing Payments. Dozens of Insurers of all sizes have joined the Class Action Lawsuit, filed originally by Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative of Wisconsin.

The Case decided by Judge Kaplan was filed by the Montana Health Co-op, which sells Coverage on the Federal Insurance Exchange created under the 2010 Health Law. The Company received Cost-Sharing Reduction Payments from the Government for 45 Straight Months, until Trump ended them last year. Trump was frustrated over the failure of Congress to Repeal the ACA, and he Denounced the Cost-Sharing Payments as a “bailout of insurance companies.”

Montana Health said it was entitled to $5.3 Million for the Final Months of 2017. Judge Kaplan’s Decision allows the Insurer to obtain the Money from a Special Account known as the Judgment Fund, created by Congress to Pay certain Claims against the Government.

Federal Officials defended Trump’s Decision to halt the Subsidy Payments, saying Congress did not intend to Fund them. But the Administration has not said whether it will Appeal the Court Ruling.

Judge Kaplan said that the question of the Government’s Legal Responsibility, or Liability, for the Payments was Separate from the Question of whether Congress had provided Money for them. The ACA, she said, is clear. It says that the Secretary of Health and Human Services “Shall make Periodic and Timely Payments” to Insurers Equal to the Value of the Cost-Sharing Reductions they give Consumers.

In Decisions stretching back more than a Century, She said, Courts have held that the Government may sometimes incur a “Statutory Payment Obligation” even when Congress has Not Specifically provided Money to meet that Commitment. “The government violated a statutory obligation created by Congress in the Affordable Care Act when it failed to provide Montana Health its full cost-sharing reduction payments for 2017,” Judge Kaplan said, and Congress’s Failure to Appropriate Funds does not wipe out that Obligation.

Stephen J. McBrady, a Lawyer for the Insurer, explained the situation this way: “Montana Health, like many other insurers, honored its end of the bargain, but the government has failed to uphold its side.”

John Morrison, a Founder of the Montana Co-Op, said, “The Trump administration’s decision on cost-sharing payments was the latest in a long line of political decisions made in Washington that fell hardest on new entrants to the insurance market.” Some Decisions by Congress and the Obama Administration, He said, were also “detrimental to co-ops”, Nonprofit Health Plans that were supposed to Increase Competition.

At first glance, the Decision in the Montana Case might appear to be at Odds with a 2016 Ruling in a separate Case filed against the Obama Administration by House Republicans. In that Case, Judge Rosemary M. Collyer of the Federal District Court here said the Payment of Billions of Dollars in Cost-Sharing Subsidies, without an Appropriation, “violates the Constitution.”

But the Two Decisions are not necessarily Inconsistent. The Justice Department Acknowledged in 2015 that Insurers had a Right to do exactly what Montana Health has done, seeking Compensation from the Judgment Fund, which has a Permanent Appropriation.

The Obama Administration Appealed Judge Collyer’s Ruling, but the Trump Administration Dropped the Appeal and Agreed recently to a Settlement with House Republicans. The Goal of their Lawsuit was to Stop the Cost-Sharing Payments, and Trump did that himself, Eliminating the need to Litigate the Issue.

Many Insurers increased Premiums for 2018 to make up for the Loss of the Cost-Sharing Reduction Payments. But their Premiums for 2017 were already Set and could not be Changed, so Insurers simply Absorbed the Financial Losses after Trump Stopped the Payments. The Next Open Enrollment Period, when People can Sign Up for Coverage under the ACA or switch Plans, starts in a few Weeks, on Nov. 1st, and continues through Dec. 15th.

Consumers in many States will see Smaller Increases in Premiums than in Prior Years, and in some Cases they will see Rates come Down, as Insurers say they have already Accounted for most of the Disruption to the ACA Marketplace caused by Trump and Republicans in Congress.

Insurers do not like the Changes in Federal Law and Policy, which ended the Cost-Sharing Payments and the Mandate for People to have Insurance. But those Changes Reduced uncertainty about the Government’s Intentions, making it easier for Insurers and Actuaries to predict Costs and Set Rates for 2019.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

Trump to Restrict Green Cards from Those on Food or Housing Assistance

Mar. 12, 1700 Province Laws of Massachusetts, enacted nine years after the two Massachusetts Bay colonies unified into one province, demonstrates their economic concerns. Lame, impotent, or infirm persons were prohibited from entering without providing security that the town into which they settled would not be charged with their support. That first major provincial law was amended in 1722 [Province Laws, Massachusetts, June 29, 1722] to increase the bond to secure that no immigrant would become a public charge and specifying the requirement of masters of ships to submit their list to town selectmen or the town treasurer.

Today, People who Legally use Food Stamps or Housing Vouchers could be Denied Green Cards under New Proposed Rules announced Saturday by the Trump Administration. The Proposal, called “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds,” represents the latest effort by the Administration to Crack Down not only on Illegal Immigration, but Legal Immigration as part of a Strategy to Tighten the Border. The Administration says the Rule would affect about 382,000 People per year.

Proposed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the New Rule would allow Immigration Officials to Refuse Admission and Deny Extensions to those who might become “Public Charges.” People who apply for Green Cards have always had to Prove they would not be a Burden, and a 1999 Rule sought to Prevent People from getting Green Cards if they were considered likely to need Financial Assistance from the Government.

But this would be the First Time that the use of Food Stamps and Section 8 Housing Assistance would be considered Negative Factors in deciding whether someone should be given a Green Card. The late Saturday Announcement drew quick reaction from Democrats and Immigration Activists, who called the proposed move a Baseless Attack on Immigrants.

Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL 4th District) said in a Statement that it showed the Administration is “selling the lie that immigrants weaken the U.S. economy when exactly the opposite is true.” “From the first day of the Trump campaign, the message has been that immigrants are a danger and a drain. Trump wants you to think Latinos and immigrants are rapists and murderers, they vote illegally against him, they are lazy and at the same time are stealing American jobs,” He said.

Among those most affected will be Elderly Immigrants who depend on Medicare Part D for Low-Cost Prescription Drugs, according to The New York Times.

In a News Release, the DHS said the Rule is Designed to ensure Self-Sufficiency from Immigrants. “[The rule will] ensure that those seeking to enter and remain in the United States either temporarily or permanently can support themselves financially and will not be reliant on public benefits,” the Statement read.

The move would not affect those who have already received Green Cards, but there is a fear among Immigration Advocates that Legal Residents might feel the need to Stop using Public Benefits to Protect their Status.

There will now be a 60-day Comment Period following the Release of the Proposal during which United States Citizenship and Immigration Services will continue to Apply the Current Public Charge Policy.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Senate E-Filing Launches New Era in Campaign Disclosures

With the Signing of a Spending Bill, Senators and Senate Candidates are now Required to File Campaign Finance Report Information to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) Electronically, making it easier for Reporters, Voters, and Opponents alike, to sift through Donor and Spending Disclosures. The Change was Tucked into a $147.5 Billion Government Spending Bill, which Covers the Tab for the Legislative Branch, the Departments of Energy and Veterans Affairs, Military Construction, and Housing Projects for U.S. Troops.

Advocates On and Off Capitol Hill for Senate E-Filing, including Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), have been Lobbying Congress for Years to make the Change, to no avail, until now. Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT), who Chairs the Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee included the Provision in the Bill.

“This is a down payment on disclosure, and we believe it is a harbinger of more bipartisan work in the future,” said Meredith McGehee, who Runs the Campaign Overhaul Group Issue One. “Today is a long overdue victory for supporters of government transparency and commonsense, bipartisan political reform.”

House and Presidential Campaigns have been Required to File Electronically since 2001, and have been able to do so since the Mid-1990s. Senate Campaigns, however, until Friday were Required to Tender the Actual Paperwork to the Secretary of the Senate, even if they also Voluntarily Filed Electronically with the FEC. The FEC Tabulated that Taxpayers had to spend an Extra $898,000 per Year to Digitize the Hard Copies.

“The Senate has finally joined the 21st century by moving to e-filing system, years after it was implemented in the House,” said Trevor Potter, President of the Campaign Legal Center, and a former GOP Chairman of the FEC. “This will save taxpayers nearly $1 million every year, enhance transparency and help to increase accuracy. Citizens will finally be able to view and search the actual Senate reports online and watchdog organizations will be able to better monitor and analyze campaign activity.”

The Official Switch to E-Filing came the same Week as Advocates for Transparency cheered a Supreme Court Decision Tuesday that kept in place a Lower Court Ruling from Aug. 3rd Requiring 501(c)(4) Nonprofit Organizations to Disclose Donors who Contribute more than $200 toward Campaigns aimed at Influencing Federal Elections.

FEC Commissioner Ellen Weintraub, a Democrat, Tweeted that the Decision was “a real victory for transparency.”

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

Judge Orders Commerce Secretary to Testify About Census Citizenship Question

A Federal Judge has Ordered the Trump Administration to make its Main Official behind the 2020 Census Citizenship Question, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, available to Testify out of Court for the Lawsuits over the hotly contested Question. "Secretary Ross must sit for a deposition because, among other things, his intent and credibility are directly at issue in these cases," U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman Wrote in an Opinion filed Friday with Manhattan Federal Court.

Furman has Limited Questioning of Ross by the Plaintiffs' Attorneys to Four Hours, noting that the Commerce Secretary has already Testified in Congress and the Administration has Released a Record of Internal Documents about His Decision to Add the Citizenship Question to the Census Form.

Ross has said that the Justice Department needs Responses from a Citizenship Question on the Census to better Enforce the Voting Rights Act's Protections against Racial Discrimination. But the Plaintiffs question that reasoning. They point out that the Government has relied on Estimates of Voting-Age Citizens from a Survey now known as the American Community Survey, which the Census Bureau also Conducts, ever since the Voting Rights Act was Enacted in 1965.

"DOJ has no need for a door-to-door inquiry of the citizenship status of every member of every household in America," said Dale Ho, one of the Plaintiffs' Attorneys who Leads the ACLU's Voting Rights Project, in a Written Statement. "We look forward to getting answers under oath about the Trump administration's real agenda: attacking immigrant communities."

DOJ Lawyers have previously Warned they are gearing up to ask the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to Block Furman's Order. "Plaintiffs' demand for a cabinet secretary's deposition is extraordinary, unnecessary, and unsupported," the Government's Attorneys Wrote in a recent Court Filing, suggesting instead that Ross could provide Written Responses to Questions or have another Commerce Official Testify on Behalf of Him and the Department.

Judge Furman, however, stressed that a Deposition of Ross is in the Public Interest for Transparency. "There is something surprising, if not unsettling, about Defendants' aggressive efforts to shield Secretary Ross from having to answer questions about his conduct in adding the citizenship question to the census questionnaire," the Judge Wrote in His Order.

More than Two Dozen States and Cities, as well as other Groups, are Suing the Census Bureau and the Commerce Department, to get the Citizenship Question Removed. They have filed a Total of Six Lawsuits around the Country that are likely to spill into the Final Months of Preparation for the Census, the Constitutionally Mandated Head Count of Every Person living in the U.S.

Time is Winding Down for the Plaintiffs' Attorneys to gather Evidence to Prove their Claims against Ross, whom they say Misused his Authority over the Census and, by Adding the Question to Forms for the Upcoming National Head Count, Discriminates against Immigrant Communities of Color. The Discovery Process for the Two Lawsuits based in New York is set to End on Oct. 12th, ahead of a potential Trial starting on Nov. 5th.

Ross announced his Decision in March to Add the Question, "Is this person a citizen of the United States?" He Overruled Research by the Census Bureau's Chief Scientist and other Researchers that suggests asking about Citizenship Status at a time of Increased anti-Immigrant Rhetoric and Immigration Enforcement under the Trump Administration could Result in Fewer Households with Noncitizens taking part in the Census.

Population Counts from the Census are directly tied to how States Share Political Power in the U.S. An Undercount of Noncitizens, including Immigrants who are Living in the U.S. Illegally, could Reshape how Congressional Seats and Electoral College Votes are Distributed among the States over the Next Decade.

The Plaintiffs' Attorneys in New York have been urging Furman to Force Ross' Deposition after Multiple Commerce Officials Testified they could not Recall Internal Discussions about the Question that are Documented in Emails and Memos released as part of the Lawsuits.

"The details of Secretary Ross's personal involvement are not available through any other source [sic]," the Attorneys Wrote in a recent Court Filing.

Earlier this Month, DOJ Attorneys were Successful in getting a Federal Circuit Judge to Temporarily Block a Deposition Furman Ordered of John Gore, the Acting Head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. That is the Division that says it needs the Citizenship Question to better Enforce the Voting Rights Act. The Circuit Court has Not yet issued a Final Ruling on whether Gore can be Deposed.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

State Election Security Spending Guidance for 2018

On March 23rd, 2018, the U.S. Congress passed a Comprehensive Spending Bill that includes $380 Million Dollars in much-needed Funding for Improving Election Security in the States. Each State is Guaranteed at least $3 Million in Grant Funding to improve Election Security, with additional Funding available based on a State’s Population.

These States: Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas, must Immediately Replace Paperless Machines with Voting Systems that Produce a Voter Verified Paper Record, preferably a Paper Ballot. But the Grants will not Cover the Cost to purchase New Voting Equipment.

These requirement will provide these States with the ability to perform Recounts and Audits. States are also directed to: Implement Robust Post-Election Audits and make important Cybersecurity and Technical Upgrades to Election Infrastructure. When Receiving a Grant, States must Commit to Match Federal Funding by at least 5% as part of their State Budgets within a Two-Year Period.

Some States are already taking Steps to Fortify Election Infrastructure:

On February 9th, 2018, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s (D) administration, which still uses Paperless Voting Machines in some Jurisdictions, Ordered Counties looking to Replace Voting Systems must Purchase Machines with Paper Records.

On February 27th, 2018, the Kentucky State Board of Elections Voted to Require Voter-Verified Paper Trails for All Future Election Equipment purchases throughout the State.

In March, Michigan announced that 2018 Post-Election Audits will be Performed through Manual Hand-Count, as opposed to Automated retabulation.

In March, Minnesota Secretary of State, Steve Simon (D), announced that Minnesota would begin providing Cybersecurity Training to Election Officials.

On March 1st, 2018, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) issued an Executive Order creating an Arizona Cybersecurity Team, Charged with Improving the State’s Cybersecurity Capabilities through Collaboration and Information Sharing between Experts from the Public and Private Sector on Cybersecurity Best Practices.

On March 7th, 2018, Washington Passed a New Election Security Package to Strengthen the State’s Post-Election Audit Procedures and require Voting System Vendors to Disclose Security Breaches in their Systems, among other efforts.

on March 29th, 2018, A Spokesperson from the Connecticut Secretary of State’s Office said that Staff are already meeting to determine how best to use their State’s Funding.

On March 29th, 2018, Vermont Secretary of State, Jim Condos (D) said, that the federal Grants will allow his State to “invest in additional tools, cybersecurity protections and equipment,” including Penetration Testing on Election Systems, as well as Replacing the State’s “Aging Infrastructure.”

Oregon is Hiring a Cybersecurity Expert to Improve the Overall Security of the State’s Voter Registration Database.

Still, as illustrated in (CAP) Center for American Progress’ Report “Election Security in All 50 States: Defending America’s Elections,” Vulnerabilities in Election Infrastructure remain in all 50 States and the District of Columbia. And while the Bipartisan Funding Allocated by Congress is a good First Step in improving Election Security, Research shows that Additional Funding will be needed in the Future to Shore-Up State systems. Indeed, CAP Estimates that $1.25 Billion over a 10-Year Period is needed to Fortify Elections.

Because Federal Funding is Limited, States must Spend their Grant Monies wisely and pursuant to the Bill’s Language and Directives from the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), which Congress has given the Authority to Distribute these Funds, pursuant to the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002.

States are Required to Provide an Overview and Budget for how they Plan to Spend their Allotted Funds and subsequently must Report their Spending to the EAC, which provides another Measure of Accountability.

Specifics on how States will use their Grant Funds are still being Formulated. However, over the coming Months, Congress, Government Watchdog Groups, the Media, and the Public must closely Monitor State Spending to Ensure State Officials use their Funding Efficiently, Effectively, and Pursuant to Federal Requirements.

In Prioritizing State Spending of Federal Grants, CAP agrees with the March 2018 Guidance provided by the Senate Intelligence Committee and the EAC, and thus, recommends the following:

1. Prioritize Switching to Paper-Based Voting Systems:

Fourteen states still use paperless electronic voting machines in at least some jurisdictions. These states—Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas—must immediately replace paperless machines with voting systems that produce a voter verified paper record, preferably a paper ballot. These states should look to Virginia, which replaced all its paperless electronic voting machines with a statewide paper ballot voting system just weeks before the 2017 elections. Unfortunately, recent analysis by the Brennan Center for Justice and Verified Voting found that the $380 million allocated by Congress is not enough to replace all paperless electronic voting machines in all the states that currently use them. The federal funding does allow states to begin replacing at least some machines, which is an important improvement.

2. Implement Robust Post-Election Audits:

Robust post-election audits, such as risk-limiting audits, confirm and instill confidence in the accuracy of election results. Robust post-election audits can only be carried out with strong voter verified paper trails and cannot be applied to paperless electronic voting machines that do not produce a reliable record of voter intent. Only two states—Colorado and Rhode Island—have audit requirements in place that can reliably detect and remedy incorrect election outcomes if they occur. States that have strong paper voting systems but require significant upgrades to their current auditing procedures include: Alabama, Arizona, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Vermont, and Virginia.

3. Provide Cybersecurity Training for Election Officials:

In 2016, hackers waged a series of spear-phishing and other attacks on state and local election officials in an organized effort to steal sensitive information allowing hackers access to voter databases. In addition to serious privacy concerns, breaches to voter databases could prevent eligible voters from casting ballots that count when they show up to the polls on Election Day. Hackers could alter or delete voter registration information, which in turn could result in eligible voters being turned away. In the current threat environment, election officials with access to voter databases must be properly trained on how to identify and properly respond to potential spear-phishing attacks and other suspicious cyber activity. The states that need to begin providing cybersecurity training to election officials include: Connecticut, Idaho, Maine, Missouri, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, and Wyoming.

4. Fortify Election Equipment and System Databases:

Relatedly, states must work alongside cybersecurity experts and computer scientists to fortify election equipment and system databases, implementing cybersecurity best practices. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security already offers cyberhygiene scans, as well as risk and vulnerability assessments of election infrastructure to states at no cost. In addition to implementing cybersecurity best practices, states should dedicate funding to appointing or training experts specializing in the cybersecurity of election infrastructure and should conduct their own regular and vigorous threat assessments on election databases to identify and prevent potential vulnerabilities and attacks in real time.


The $380 Million allocated by Congress represents a kind of Down Payment for Upgrading and Improving the Nation’s Election Infrastructure. Although it is not enough to Fully Upgrade State Election Systems, it demonstrates a Bipartisan recognition by Congress of the Threat posed by Goreign Interference to America’s Elections and a desire to support States in their efforts to Protect against Future Attacks. States should continue acting on their own, where they have Existing Resources, to Switch to Paper Ballot systems; provide Cybersecurity Training to Election Officials; Improve Post-Election Auditing practices; and Dedicate Resources to Upgrading the Cybersecurity and Technological Standards of Election Systems.

Securing U.S. Elections depends on Coordination and Resource Sharing between the States and Federal Government. Congress’ Decision to Act in a Bipartisan way to dedicate some Much Needed Funding to Election Security is a good First Step.

CLICK HERE to view the 2018 HAVA Election Security Funds Distribution Map.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

The Business of Voting Comes Under Scrutiny

Voters cast their Ballots in August among an array of Electronic Voting Machines in a Polling Station at the Noor Islamic Cultural Center in Dublin, Ohio. The Machines were Manufactured by Elections Systems and Software (ES&S), the Largest Manufacturer of Voting Equipment in the Country. Then the State discovered a Russian Oligarch now Finances the Company that Hosts its Voting Data.

Then there's the Company that Manufactures and Services Voter Registration Software in Eight States that found itself Hacked by Russian Operatives leading up to the 2016 Presidential Election.

Then ES&S which Initially Denied and then Admitted it had Installed Software on some of its systems, so they could do Remote Updates, considered by Experts to be extremely Vulnerable to Hacking. It has agreed to Disable the Service, if asked by the State. The Software was provided on Election-management Systems. While these systems are not the Machines that Voters Cast Ballots on, they are used to Program those Voting Machines and to Aggregate and Report Final Results. In an interview with NPR, ES&S Vice President, Kathy Rogers. said around 300 Voting Jurisdictions were provided the Software, which helped the Company provide IT Support.

In New York, which uses ES&S machines in: Albany County, Erie County, Nassau County, New York City, Rockland County, and Schenectady County, had ES&S Remove the Question to Activate the Remote Software Module, during Installation of the System, and Deactivate the Remote Software on Existing systems.

Private Companies play a Crucial Role in Elections, from Printing and Designing Ballots, to Manufacturing Voting Machines, to Hosting Results websites. The Industry exists because the Local and State Governments who Run Elections don't have the Resources or Expertise to Maintain All Aspects of an Election themselves.

As the U.S. grapples with how to make its Elections more Secure, the Voting Industry's Security Practices are under Scrutiny like never before.
"Election officials have been doing a ton around election security, but if that same thing isn't going on at the vendor level, then that creates a really big potential vulnerability for the entire system," said Edgardo Cortéz, an Election Security Adviser for the Brennan Center, and a former Virginia Elections Official.

Maryland had been Contracting with Sidus to hold much of the State's Voting Data, including its Online Voter Registration system and its Election Night Results website. After a Buyout, nothing really changed, according to Maryland Deputy Elections Administrator Nikki Charlson. "The team members were the same," she said. This past July however, Charlson got some surprising News.

The FBI organized Briefings with Elections Officials and Politicians in the State to let them know that ByteGrid is Financed by AltPoint Capitol Partners, whose Fund Manager is Russian and whose largest Investor is a Russian Oligarch, Vladimir Potanin. "Who would've thought? I mean, we were obviously very cyber aware, doing all the best practices for I.T. systems and that, but who would've thought?" said Charlson. "That's out of a Tom Clancy novel, right?"

While there's no evidence any Votes Cast or Registrations in the State were affected, and ByteGrid emphasizes its Investors have No Involvement or Role in its Operations, Maryland is considering whether to End its Contract with the Company. "We're looking at all options," Charlson said, before adding that she would be asking about the Financial Ties of any Companies the State decides to Contract with going forward.

The Florida Breach:

An NSA Document Leaked last year to The Intercept, detailed how Russian Operatives hacked a Florida Election Vendor, VR Systems, that Sells and Maintains Voter Registration Software.

After the Document Surfaced, the Company denied that Russia Gained Access, including in an Interview with NPR. "Some emails came into our email account that we did not open. Even though NSA says it's likely that we opened them, we did not," said Company Executive Ben Martin in a June 2017 Interview. "We know for a fact they were never opened. They did not get into our domain."

But an Indictment filed in July 2018 by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Office says Russian Operatives "hacked into the computers of a U.S. vendor that supplies software used to verify voter registration information for the 2016 U.S. elections."

The Details in the Indictment match up with what was Laid out in the NSA Document. The Hackers used an Email Address Designed to look like a VR Systems Email Address to send over 100 Phishing Emails containing Malware to "organizations and personnel involved in administering elections in numerous Florida counties."

During the 2018 Primary, many Florida Voters claimed their Party Registration was changed or they had been Purged from the Voting Rolls.

National Many Electronic Voting Machines Are Not Secure:

"These companies want to be gatekeepers of our democracy, but they seem completely uninterested in safeguarding it," Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) said at a Senate Rules Committee Hearing this Summer. Since last October, Wyden has gone back and forth with ES&S, about Security Holes in its Equipment.

While Election Officials argue that the Decentralized way the U.S. conducts Elections makes it incredibly Susceptible to Disruption, a Company like ES&S could provide a more appealing Target, because its Equipment is used in 41 States.

Going forward. The Challenge for Public Officials is that they have No Visibility into the Companies' Practices. Like most other Industries, there's currently No Requirement Companies Publicly say if they've had a Security Breach.

The Secure Elections Act is a Bipartisan Bill that establishes Protocols for Cyber Threat Information Sharing between State Election Officials and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The Bill also puts the Onus on Vendors of Voting Technology to Report Possible Hacks to State Officials and for State Officials to Notify DHS.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

Friday, September 21, 2018

Generation Vote Get Out The Vote in NY

This year, Let NY Vote and Generation Vote (GOTV) set out to Increase Turnout among Young Voters in New York.

Millennial Voters, aged 18-34, make up almost a Quarter of New York's Voters, but have notoriously Low Turnout Rates.

Building upon the Success of last Year’s Election Reminder Text Bank Program, 100+ Volunteers reached over 211,000 Young Voters across New York.

Over the course of Four Days, they reached Voters in Seventeen State Senate Districts with a Primary Election.

The Message was simple: can We Count on you to vote?

CLICK HERE to Participate in the GOTV efforts for the General Election.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker