Hackers have deleted a database of potential California voters with more than 19 million entries, demanding around $3,500 to restore it. Researchers at the security firm MacKeeper's Kromtech research group first noticed the issue, but have not been able to identify the database's owner to notify them. "We decided to go public to let everyone who was affected know," said Bob Diachenko, head of communications for Kromtech. Kromtech primarily searches for misconfigured databases on cloud storage accounts that accidentally reveal private information to the public. In early December, they found a misconfigured database on an Amazon cloud account containing what appeared to be information on 19 million Californian citizens, including contact and mailing information as well as voting precinct information. But while the company was investigating the misconfigured files, they noticed the files were suddenly removed and replaced with a ransom note demanding 0.2 bitcoin, or about $3,500.
A South Florida law professor, running to unseat Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, is calling for a federal investigation into the destruction of all ballots cast in the August 2016 Democratic primary in Broward County. The challenger, Tim Canova, has made repeated public records requests and filed a lawsuit seeking access to paper ballots cast in his unsuccessful race last year against the former Democratic National Committee chair in Florida's 23rd congressional district. A statistical analysis of the primary conducted last year suggested the election results were "potentially implausible." Over the past year, the Broward supervisor of elections, Brenda Snipes, has taken no action on Mr. Canova's requests to examine the ballots, and she has urged a judge to throw Canova's lawsuit out. Despite the pending records requests and the ongoing litigation, Dr. Snipes ordered the ballots and other election documents destroyed, according to papers filed in circuit court here.
House Republicans are pushing a higher education bill that scraps requirements for colleges and universities to alert students to register to vote. As part of legislation rewriting the laws governing colleges and universities, Republicans left out provisions added in 1998 and 2008 to ensure that schools make a good-faith effort to distribute voter registration forms to students enrolled at their institutions. The House Education and the Workforce Committee approved the bill late Tuesday in a 23-17 party-line vote that largely went under the radar. It would nix language requiring that schools request voter registration forms from their state at least 120 days before the voter registration deadline, and send students an "electronic communication" exclusively about voter registration.
On the day that a special election in Alabama captured national attention, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) sent a letter urging National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster to take additional steps to secure the nation's election infrastructure and provide support to state and local governments ahead of next year's mid-term elections. Specifically, Wyden asked McMaster to designate a senior White House election security czar to brief Congress of executive branch election security efforts, direct the National Institute for Standards and Technology and the Department of Homeland Security to grade states on their election infrastructure and designate political campaigns as critical infrastructure. Wyden, who has been one of Congress' most vocal advocates of increased election security, also is asking that the U.S. Secret Service expand its presidential candidate security detail to include cybersecurity. In the Dec. 12 letter, Wyden noted that 14 states still use direct-recording electronic, or DRE, voting machines that don't allow for paper-based election audits and rely on outdated operating systems with known vulnerabilities.