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Michigan charges GOP operatives over anti-vote-by-mail robocall

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel on Thursday announced felony charges against a pair of right-wing scam artists over a robocall aimed at discouraging voters in Detroit and cities in at least four other states from voting by mail. Nessel accused Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl of planting a call in which a woman’s voice suggests, falsely, that people who cast ballots through the mail will have their personally identifiable information added to police and debt-collection databases, and that the Centers for Disease Control will use mailed ballots to “track people for mandatory vaccines.” Burkman, 54, and Wohl, 22, are facing four felony counts, including intimidating voters, which carries a penalty of five years in prison, and using a computer to commit a violation of election law, which can get up to seven years behind bars in Michigan. Benjamin Freed reports.

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Pandemic has boosted cybersecurity awareness

Speaking during a Scoop News Group event about post-pandemic IT, Colorado CISO Deborah Blyth said that her team, even with everyone working remotely, has become more engaged with other state agencies, especially those involved in rolling out new digital government services. “We’re constantly trying to shift left, to get the security team engaged a lot sooner in projects,” said Colorado Chief Information Security Officer Deborah Blyth. “Making sure all those innovative products they’re creating have security.” Benjamin has more.

Iowa gets a VDP for election sites

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate announced Thursday that his office is launching a new program allowing outside security experts to find and patch weaknesses in its websites, including those related to elections. Pate’s office is working with Bugcrowd, an ethical-hacking firm that crowdsources cybersecurity professionals to look for flaws in its clients’ systems. This makes Iowa the second state, following Ohio, to give legal liability protections to researchers hunting for bugs that could leave its networks susceptible to attacks if left unaddressed. “We already have a strong infrastructure in place, but election cybersecurity is a race without a finish line,” Pate said. “We are bolstering our cyber maturity by allowing responsible testing and reporting of our systems to the private sector.” Ben has this one.

LA needs a long-term digital services strategy, says city controller

The City of Los Angeles should develop a long-term plan to create more digital services for residents and make teleworking even easier for city employees in a post-pandemic world, Controller Ron Galperin argued in a report published this week. Despite its adverse effects on the city’s economy and workforce, COVID-19 has forced Los Angeles officials to innovate quickly. But Galperin said there’s “substantial room” for improvement in expanding the array of digital services that the city offers, with the first step being the need to form a concrete plan. “As the City gradually re-opens, it should continue reassessing its processes and deliver the digital services that Angelenos expect and deserve. The City has a long way to go – many services, payment options, and internal processes still rely heavily on paper or in-person service delivery,” Galperin wrote. Ryan Johnston has more.

Indianapolis has a new chief information officer

The IT board for the City of Indianapolis and Marion County, Indiana, has named Elliott Patrick, formerly the regional IT agency’s chief operating officer, as its new chief information officer. Patrick, who’s spent the past six years in various roles at the unified city-county government’s Information Services Agency, was appointed in August, filling a vacancy left by Ken Clark, who stepped down in January to serve as city controller. Colin Wood has the details.

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