It’s no secret that there are significant vulnerabilities in our nation’s election system. For the 2020 election, many experts believe that foreign election interference will be more pervasive and sophisticated. These challenges will be further compounded with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as many states continue mitigation efforts and look to avoid a second wave of infections.
In addition to developing the right security strategies in advance of November 3rd election, there are many ways that Boards of Elections can help ensure a safe and secure election day.
This is the key theme of the second episode our three-part podcast series called “Secure and Safe Elections in a Pandemic and Beyond,” where we explore pre-, current-, and post-election security strategies with Al Gietl, Senior Client Executive at Verizon Business Group, and guest Dr. Chase Cunningham, VP, Principal Analyst Serving Security & Risk Professionals at Forrester.
“I think we are in an interesting time, where we are faced with the perfect storm of the COVID-19 virus, new electronic voting means, the possibility for disinformation and social media attacks,” said Dr. Cunningham. “This is a place where democracy is essentially under threat from a number of factors. The election is pivotal and being able to understand what might affect polling stations is critical.”
This is why we need election officials to focus on both security and health and safety, which requires some key best practices to protect citizens and poll workers. “When it comes to election security best practices, it is critical to have trusted partners onsite and/or virtually, as well as continually monitor the networks for vulnerabilities,” said Gietl. “It’s also good to ensure that poll workers arrive early to test the network and minimize the amount of time that voting machines have connectivity.”
When it comes to when the polls close, there are a number of strategies to consider for keeping data secure. “When the polls close, the votes count the most,” said Gietl. “We basically transmit the voting data to a private, wireless gateway, and ensure that the registration data matches the voter data and resolve any provisional ballots with registration data.”
Listen to the full conversation with Cunningham and Gietl below. And stay tuned for the next episode of the “Secure and Safe Elections in a Pandemic and Beyond” podcast series where these thought leaders address post-election day security strategies for state and local government agencies. Listen to part one and part three by clicking here.