Maryland voters cast ballots in the 2016 election. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

The FBI told Maryland officials that ByteGrid LLC — the election system Maryland uses to handle statewide voter registration, online ballot delivery and more — has ties to a Russian oligarch, reports the Washington Post.

The big picture: States are working to secure their election systems in anticipation of cyber attacks by Russia or other foreign actors ahead of this year's midterms, but each state runs its own system — and there remain vulnerabilities across the board.

The details: In 2015, AltPoint Capital Partners, whose fund manager is a Russian and largest investor is a Russian oligarch named Vladimir Potanin, funded ByteGrid LLC, per the Post.

  • ByteGrid LLC has a $7.5 million contract with Maryland that ends in 2019, and the state's attorney general is looking into whether the deal can be terminated.
  • "Even the appearance of the potential for bad actors to have any influence on our election infrastructure could undermine public trust in the integrity of our election system," Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said.
  • Hogan and other top state officials have sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security asking for technical assistance to test the state's election security.

Go deeper: 14 states have requested Congress' election security upgrades funding

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Trump announces normalization of ties between Israel and UAE

Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu, Trump and UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed. Photo: Artur Widak/NurPhoto; Samuel Corum; Odd Andersen/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump announced a "historic" deal Thursday which will see Israel and the UAE open full diplomatic relations and Israel suspend its annexation plans in the West Bank.

Why it matters: This is a major breakthrough for Israel, which does not have diplomatic recognition in many Middle Eastern countries but has been steadily improving relations in the Gulf, largely due to mutual antipathy toward Iran.

Updated 49 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Trump vows to block stimulus funding for mail-in voting and USPS

President Trump on Thursday told Fox Business' Maria Bartiromo that Democratic demands to fund mail-in voting and the U.S. Postal Service in ongoing coronavirus stimulus negotiations were a non-starter.

Why it matters: Trump directly linked Democrats' desired $3.6 billion for mail-in voting and $25 billion for the USPS to his continued baseless claims that increased mail-in voting will lead to widespread voter fraud.

Wind and solar power hit record global market shares in first half of 2020

Reproduced from Ember; Chart: Axios Visuals

A steep decline in coal-fired power combined with rising wind and solar output drove the carbon-free sources to record global market share in the first half of 2020, per a new analysis from the environmental think tank Ember.

Why it matters: The report shows how the coronavirus pandemic is speeding the ongoing shakeup of the global power mix — but also how it's occurring too slowly to reach international climate goals.