The state Board of Elections’ plan to administer $19.4 million in federal funds at the state and local levels to ensure the integrity of the fall elections here and in other counties ought to allay fears of security breaches at the polling place.
The nearly $20 million grant will be spent on risk assessments of all county board of elections’ systems and building in intrusion detection systems that perform round-the-clock monitoring of website activity and network traffic.
To hear election officials tell it, the state board has been marshaling its forces over the last two years, since the presidential election was compromised by Russian hackers out to influence the results. “We have a number of key areas to protect and we have not been complacent since the 2016 election,” state Board of Election Co-executive Director Todd Valentine said Tuesday.
The state board applied for the funding in May and expects to sign contracts with cybersecurity vendors to provide security services to localities in time for the November election. Two contracts are prepared and a third will soon be awarded.
We’ve seen recent elections in Columbia and Greene counties run smoothly, save for the occasional voting machine gremlins that strike no matter how many precautions are taken.
Greene County uses a stand-alone vote counting system with machines that are coded internally and not connected to the internet. Columbia County’s vote-tallying process is similar to Greene’s, in that it is insulated as much as possible from the workings of the internet.
If worries over the integrity of our local elections prevail, it’s reassuring to know that cybersecurity is, in the words of Columbia County Election Commissioner Virginia Martin, “a very resource-intensive undertaking,” and that the Twin Counties will use their share of the federal funds to make sure every vote cast in November is legitimate and fair.