We're working diligently to protect elections
Voting is the bedrock of our democracy. Let’s start by looking back at the moment when the Department of Homeland Security notified us secretaries of state that 21 election systems had been attacked by Russian cyber agents in 2016, and that one state’s voter registration database had been breached. Focus turned to the one breached state, but it’s important to recognize that 20 states defended, and defended well. We were doing our jobs. We were in good shape then, and we’re in even better shape today. Cybersecurity is at the forefront of our minds. While I can’t speak to election practices in every state, we are all working diligently to protect the integrity of our elections. This includes regular cyberhygiene scans, risk and vulnerability assessments, penetration tests, routine communication with the Department of Homeland Security and FBI, and participation in the recently established Election Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council to share vital information on possible threats. An Election Infrastructure Information Sharing and Analysis Center also became operational this year, including all 50 states and more than 1,100 local/ county jurisdictions. Most states and many local governments have put traffic monitors on their election networks to detect anomalies. In Vermont, every vote cast is supported by a voter-marked paper ballot. Since 2006, we’ve conducted a postelection audit after every general election. Our vote tabulators are not connected to each other or the internet by Wi-Fi or hardwire. We back up our voter registration database daily, and same-day registration ensures that no voter will be turned away on Election Day. I consider these best practices. These efforts are only a small part of our comprehensive security plan, but we can always do better. Cybersecurity is like a race without a finish line. To be successful defending from this ever evolving threat, states need ongoing, sustainable resources to protect our democracy into the future. Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos is president of the National Association of Secretaries of State.