Jessica Kirby

Author Articles

Secure and successful elections have always relied on the cooperation and coordination of election officials, poll workers and voters.  The 2016 election elevated the role that State and local government’s information technology department staff play in supporting secure voting experiences.  The U.S. Election Assistance Commission, or the EAC, recently kicked off Cybersecurity Awareness Month by livestreaming a roundtable discussion in their Washington, D.C. office.

Today, September 26, marks the fifth annual observation for National Voter Registration Day (NVRD) which is held on the fourth September of each month since 2012 by resolution of the National Association of Secretaries of State. This national holiday is further supported by the National Association of State Election Directors.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC) convened in Silver Springs, Maryland where they approved the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines 2.0 (VVSG 2.0).

The world of elections tends to get less spotlight during the “off-years” for presidential elections; however, the elections space never really slows down. While the presidential race occurs every four years, the time in between includes midterms, congressional races, state legislature races, as well as countless municipal and county races. This results in state and local election administrators continuously devoting their energy to running efficient and successful elections.

In light of the media storm on election security, Senators Amy Klobuchar (DFL-MN) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) proposed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to address the issue. The proposed bill would provide federal dollars to States for updating their election cybersecurity.

In efforts to better defend the integrity of the election system, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will allow top state election officials – Secretaries of State and Election Directors – to apply for access to “secret” level clearance which would allow them to learn more about past, present and future election security information.

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) announced last week that it will now be accepting submissions for its second-annual national competition best practices in election administration. This year the competition will coincide with the 15th anniversary of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) – the legislation that established the EAC. This year’s categories were chosen specifically to celebrate the progress made since HAVA was passed.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Defense’s Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) released its 2016 Post-Election Report to Congress.

Recently in Las Vegas, the 25th Annual DEF CON took place July 27-30. DEF CON, short for “Defense Condition,” is one of the oldest and largest hacking conferences. To many in the election field, one of DEF CON’s Hacking Villages this year drew their attention – the Voting Machine Hacking Village.

Earlier this month, the state of Colorado announced that it will become the first state to implement risk-limiting audits to ensure votes are counted efficiently and accurately in elections. The unexpected election results in a few of the “swing” states in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election prompted the demand of recounts to be sure the results accurately portrayed how the voters casted their ballots. In the wake of the Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania recounts, digital security specialists and computer scientists argued that recounts could be all together eliminated by implementing risk-limiting audits. Currently only New Mexico and Colorado have the capability of doing so, and Colorado has been launched into the spotlight as an example for other states to follow.

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