Maryland Is Taking Necessary Steps to Ensure Ballot SecurityHot Buzz

June 11, 2018 10:31
Maryland Is Taking Necessary Steps to Ensure Ballot Security

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After deep investigative reports on data breaches that expose the private information of consumers to reports that foreign governments have attempted to meddle in domestic politics, elections officials across the country have been increasingly aware of the need to ensure that the election process is fair and accurate.

In preparation for the June primary, local boards of elections in Maryland have been testing their ballot scanners, organizing the ballots themselves and training elections judges.

The Montgomery County Board of Elections recently held a briefing in which members of the public got a chance to see - step by step - how the ballots are scanned, the data is collected and the votes are tabulated.

“It’s very difficult to have a 100 percent, totally secure system of any kind,” said Rick Hansen, a professor of cybersecurity at Capitol Technical University in Laurel, Maryland

“I think that Montgomery County has done everything they can do on their end to ensure the voting machines themselves are safe and secure,” he said. “They’ve limited what we call the ‘attack surface’ which is the number of ways that someone can get in the machines and compromise them.”

Hansen explained the voting machines have been used in hackathons as a way to discover their weaknesses and suggest updates to hardware and software.

The ballot scanners in use across Maryland - including those in Montgomery County - were introduced after older machines proved too vulnerable to potential breaches.

“Our machines are not connected to the internet at any point in time,” said Marjorie Roher, the Public Information Officer for the Montgomery County Board of Elections.

Instead, ballot scanners have removable USB memory drives that store the data. An elaborate chain of custody is used to ensure the results are secured for tabulation.

But there is one area of the state’s voting process that alarms people like Rebecca Wilson with SAVE (Secure Accessible Verifiable Elections) our Votes, a group that advocates for a change to the way absentee ballots are handled, specifically when a voter accesses an absentee ballot electronically, like on a home computer.

By Lokesh

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Maryland  Elections  Primary  Ballot  Breaches