Nationwide 911 outage crashed state of VT email Monday night

Microsoft still doesn’t know what caused E911 to fail

Other news: ex-Colorado Secretary of State says VT vote-by-mail election system not ready

by Guy Page

October 2, 2020 – Microsoft still can’t explain the glitch that crashed E911 service nationwide and stripped Vermont state government employees of email and Microsoft Teams service for about three hours Monday evening, state IT officials say. There is “no indication” of malicious activity, Microsoft claims.

Unlike in many states nationwide, no 911 emergency service was lost in Vermont, Digital Services Administration Secretary and Chief Information Officer John Quinn told Vermont Daily Thursday morning. By way of explanation, he forwarded this note from Barb Neal, executive director of Vermont Enhanced 911 Emergency Response System:

Microsoft Global Outage 

“On September 28’th at roughly 5:35PM Microsoft began to experience a global disruption which impacted all of its partners around the world. The issue prevented user within state government from sending and receiving email, joining MS Teams meetings as well as using Azure Active Directory Services.

“Microsoft identified a “recent change” which it believed to be responsible for the disruption. After rolling back the change Microsoft reported that it was not observing an increase in successful connections. Once the rollback did not result in a fix to the outage Microsoft begin rerouting traffic to “alternative infrastructure”. While Microsoft has to date not released a root cause to the issue it has given the statement : 

“’We’ve fixed the service interruption that some customers may have experienced while performing authentication operations. At this time, we’ve seen no indication that this is the result of malicious activity.’

“As of 9/28/2020 at 10:00 PM EST all services in use by the State of Vermont were restored and functional.” 

Vermont Daily reports this information because while most Vermonters won’t lose much sleep over state employees being unable to exchange emails for a few hours, the potential loss of 911 services for even a few hours – as occurred in many cities nationwide Monday night – is cause for concern. And during a time of crisis, even a few unexpected lost hours of lost emails and cyber-meeting could impede the state’s emergency response capability.

Condos defends election security, but former Colorado secretary of state says Vermont voting-by-mail not ready – As reported in ap-ed point/counterpoint posted Thursday on www.vtwatercooler.com, a report by former Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler highlights several serious flaws in Vermont’s universal mailed ballot system. Unlike more mature vote-by-mail systems in other states, the Vermont plan:

  • does not have signature verification to ensure election integrity. There is no signature “on file” at the town clerk’s office to check against the signature on the mailed ballot.
  • does not have cure procedures that would prevent inadvertent disenfranchisement resulting from voter mistakes. In other words, if a first-time voter-by-mail fails to follow all of the instructions, his/her vote could be nullified.
  • does not have accurate mailing addresses for many voters.

In his op-ed, Condos claims “the consequences of failing to act, high volume turnout at cramped polling locations during cold November weather, or voters electing to stay home, are far too high.” His op-ed does not directly address signature verification or the alleged lack of “cure procedures.”

He downplays expressions of concern about widespread voter fraud as “secondhand anecdotes, baseless claims and rhetoric.” For example, he notes that no-one will be able to vote twice, at least under their own name, because town clerks will cross their name off the voter checklist once the first vote is recorded. It should be noted, however, this procedure does not prevent John Smith from returning a completed ballot mailed to Jane Doe at John Smith’s address.

To read both op-eds side by side, and comment, go to www.vtwatercooler.com.

PHOTO: Chief Information Officer John Quinn said Vermont did not lose E911 service in the national outage Monday night, but state employees lost email service for several hours.

VT Watercooler Comment of the Day:

ZUCKERMAN WOULD HAVE ENFORCED MASK BAN SOONER: “Zuckerman sold his soul to Big Pharma. It’s pretty sad.”

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