We're work­ing dili­gently to pro­tect elec­tions

USA TODAY International Edition - - OPINION - Jim Con­dos

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.

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