Be­fore 2018 midterms, state aims to im­prove elec­tion cy­ber­se­cu­rity

The Register Citizen (Torrington, CT) - - FRONT PAGE - By Em­i­lie Mun­son emu­n­son@hearst­medi­; Twit­ter: @em­i­liemu­n­son

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.


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