Before 2018 midterms, state aims to improve election cybersecurity
HARTFORD — Secretary of the State Denise Merrill gathered federal, state and local officials for a meeting Monday to work on strengthening Connecticut’s election cybersecurity before ballots are cast in November.
The 2018 vote “will be one of the most closely watched elections in our nation’s history,” said Merrill. “We are going to ensure through this task force the people in Connecticut know every vote will be counted, every voice will be heard.”
Representatives from the Department of Homeland Security, the National Guard, several state agencies, legislators and local election officials discussed blocking hackers and improving communications across the 169 towns running Connecticut’s elections.
The task force will issue a report in 90 days, advising Merrill how to invest the more than $5 million of federal funds appropriated for election security at the state and town level.
For security reasons, Monday’s conversations talked about security broadly and left details vague. A need for vigilance in 2018 was a drum beat throughout.
In 2017, Homeland Security reported to Connecticut and 20 other states that Russia-affiliated hackers had attempted to infiltrate their electoral systems. The episode highlighted some of the strengths of the system — like keeping voter rolls and vote counting offline — but also showed the need for more security.
“Today it’s the Russians, but tomorrow it could be others,” said Scott Bates, deputy secretary of the state.
The task force will meet at least once more before issuing its report, Merrill said.