Axios' Mike Allen (l) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (r). Photo: Axios

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Microsoft President Brad Smith warned of ongoing election interference through technology on Thursday at an Axios virtual event on the Future of Employability.

What they're saying: "It was four years ago at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia that our eyes were first opened to nation-state cyberattacks on candidates and campaigns ... Here we are again four years later ... We have stronger defenses ... but the threats are becoming more sophisticated," Smith said.

  • "We are seeing attacks that are more likely to succeed than they were four years ago precisely because they are more numerous and more sophisticated," he added.

What to watch: "I think we need to be doing more not only to protect candidates and campaigns and journalists and think tanks, but where I think we really need to focus our energy is continuing to fight misinformation and securing our voting systems," Smith urged.

Klobuchar, who earlier in the year sought the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, said: "Last election was a dress rehearsal for what [Russia is] going to try now. There's every reason to believe they're going to do it again."

  • Klobuchar also commented on President Trump's attempts to thwart mail-in voting during the coronavirus pandemic, stating, "I would rather put ballots in the mailbox than voters in the hospital."
  • "...at least the mail-in ballot can't be hacked into," Klobuchar added.

Editor's note: This Axios event was sponsored by Microsoft.

Watch the event.

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Updated Sep 25, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Pennsylvania's "naked ballots" are 2020's hanging chads

A stack of mail-in ballot applications in Pennsylvania. Photo: Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

Pennsylvania's Supreme Court ordered state officials last week to throw out mail-in ballots submitted without a required inner "secrecy" envelope in November's election, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

The state of play: The decision went under the radar alongside the simultaneous decision to extend the time that mail-in ballots could be counted, but Philadelphia's top elections official warned state legislators this week that throwing out so-called "naked ballots" could bring "electoral chaos" to the state and cause "tens of thousands of votes" to be thrown out — potentially tipping the presidential election.

Christopher Wray: FBI has not seen evidence of national voter fraud effort by mail

FBI Director Christopher Wray responded to a question on the security of mail-in voting to the Senate Homeland Security Committee on Thursday by saying that the agency has "not seen, historically, any kind of coordinated national voter fraud effort in a major election, whether it's by mail or otherwise."

Why it matters: President Trump has ramped up his claims, without evidence, that widespread mail-in voting would rig the 2020 election against him. On Wednesday, after declining to say whether he would commit to a peaceful transition of power if he loses the election to Joe Biden, Trump said that "the ballots are out of control."

The apocalypse scenario

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Democratic lawyers are preparing to challenge any effort by President Trump to swap electors chosen by voters with electors selected by Republican-controlled legislatures. One state of particular concern: Pennsylvania, where the GOP controls the state house.

Why it matters: Trump's refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, together with a widely circulated article in The Atlantic about how bad the worst-case scenarios could get, is drawing new attention to the brutal fights that could jeopardize a final outcome.