Nevada strengthens election security ahead of fall election

July 28, 2018

LAS VEGAS (AP) — In the wake of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, Nevada officials have hired an information security expert, boosted training and begun using voting machines and software to detect and repel any efforts to breach the state’s voting systems.

“We’ve done a lot in the last two years, since the revelations came out about the 2016 election interference,” said Deputy Secretary of State for Elections Wayne Thorley.

The secretary of state’s office received $8 million from the Nevada Legislature last year to help counties purchase updated voting equipment that made its debut during this year’s primary election, the Las Vegas Sun reported .

Employees have also gone through security awareness training to prevent unauthorized access, Thorley said.

“When it comes to security, oftentimes people are your weakest link,” he said. “It’s important to have that ongoing training.”

The new machines come with several security enhancements, such as encryption and access, said Joe Gloria, Clark County registrar of voters.

The secretary of state’s office sees and repels tens of thousands of possible attacks, but Thorley said most aren’t sophisticated.

“You think of a teenager in their parents’ basement just kind of goofing around or whatever,” he said. “It’s all day, every day.”

However, recent federal indictments of a dozen Russians accused of hacking into Democratic email systems in 2016 was “kind of eye-opener to campaigns that they need to spend and focus more of their attention on security,” Thorley said.

The state funding helped counties purchase updated voting equipment that included electronic poll books connected to a network that communicates with county voter registration databases, protected by counties, Thorley said.

If poll books go offline, for whatever reason, systems are in place to verify voters over the phone in cooperation with vote centers.

Thorley said Clark County has been a leader on the issue, with mobile units that can respond if polling places go down.


Information from: Las Vegas Sun, http://www.lasvegassun.com

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