Election training includes cyber-security

Mar 9, 2018

Federal Election Assistance Commissioner Matthew Masterson talks to county auditors at an election training event in Bismarck 3/8/18.
Credit Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

A federal Election Assistance Commissioner said voting systems are like most Information Technology systems – they’re subject to attack.

Matthew Masterson talked to County auditors from around North Dakota, who were in Bismarck for election training.

"Election officials already know what to look for," Masterson said in an interview. "They know their processes, their procedures and what steps they need to take. But it's taking the simple 'blocking and tackling' steps  of securing their data."

Those steps could include auditing and evaluating the results on election night, making sure passwords are strong and access is restricted.

"IT security is a part of the reality of elections," Masterson said. "It's been a big topic in public conversation the last few years."

Masterson said for election officials who have electronic voting systems, managing IT is a part of reality.

"Securing those systems is a big part of that work," Masterson said.

Masterson said he wanted to reinforce the point that they have to be aware of malicious actors who will try to hack their IT systems.

"Election systems, like any IT systems, are targets," Masterson said. "The hackers could be nation-states, or others. So taking steps to secure those systems is critically important. Election officials are doing that."

Masterson also said election officials have to tell voters the systems are safe and protected, so the voters can have confidence in fair elections.

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