Senate Dems look to shore up voting security

The Protecting Americans Votes and Elections Act sponsored by six Senate Democrats looks to digital ballot uncertainty by requiring paper ballots for all federal elections.

election security (Shutterstock.com)
 

The Protecting Americans Votes and Elections Act sponsored by six Senate Democrats looks to limit digital ballot uncertainty by requiring paper ballots for all federal elections.

The bill, introduced by Oregon Democrat Sen. Ron Wyden and five cosponsors, would require states and municipalities to use paper ballots and "risk-limiting" audits in federal elections.

"Leaving the fate of America's democracy up to hackable election machines is like leaving your front door open, unlocked and putting up a sign that says 'out of town,'" Wyden said in a statement. "It's not a question of if bad guys get in, it's just a question of when."

Wyden is a longtime critic of the cybersecurity standards at electronic voting machine vendors. Late last year he quizzed five voting equipment vendors about their security posture and found that three of the five did not employ a chief information security officer.

Separately, the Senate sponsors of the Secure Elections Act, a bipartisan bill that gives the Department of Homeland Security the green light to share threat information with state officials and authorizes security clearances for appropriate state election officials, offered their legislation to the Senate defense bill, currently under consideration.

Because of the perceived need for DHS to work with states and local governments on election security, the $382 million in grant funding initially called for in the Secure Elections Act was enacted in the omnibus spending bill in March.

The disposition of those funds was part of the discussion at a June 12 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

Two weeks ago, at the request of the Elections Government Coordinating Council, the National Protection and Programs Directorate released guidance on what states and localities should do with their share of the funding, said Matt Masterson, NPPD senior cybersecurity advisor, during a June 12 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

"We focused first on common IT vulnerabilities that exist across elections -- things like patching, training for phishing campaigns as well as manpower," Masterson said.

Long-term suggestions included looking into the overall resilience of election systems, ensuring auditability and defensibility through long-term investments and training local officials in cybersecurity.

The NPPD is working directly with state and local officials across the country to help them improve their elections infrastructure. Part of this process involves providing states with free resources such as vulnerability scans and training.

Seventeen states have received the results of such vulnerability scans, Masterson said, and those results showed that the elections sector is no different from others when it comes to cybersecurity.

"With the elections infrastructure, we are seeing the same vulnerabilities across IT systems…maintenance, software updates, updating equipment and hardware and general upgrades that need to take place, as well as configuration management to limit the amount of damage that can be done," he said.

In addition, the NPPD is providing federal security clearances to three election officials in each state so that DHS can keep states more fully updated on election threats.

The Department of Justice is also working to address interference with elections. Adam Hickey, deputy assistant attorney general in the National Security Division, said a report from the Cyber-Digital Task Force on foreign threats to elections is due to the attorney general in June and will be made public in mid-July.

A version of this article originally appeared in FCW's sibling publication GCN.

NEXT STORY: Data behaving badly

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.