State of security: Maryland

Who's in charge: 

Who is in charge: Secretary of State John C. Wobensmith

Maryland was the force behind a recent bill introduced in October by its two Democratic senators, Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin, called Protect Our Elections Act, which prohibits foreign nationals from owning or controlling companies that are involved in the U.S. election process.

The proposed legislation was created after authorities discovered this summer that Russian national Vladimir Potanin, who has on the record described his relationship to Russian President Vladimir Putin as not particularly close, but that his support for the Russian president is on the same level as Putin's personal friends, is heavily invested in ByteGrid, a software vendor that now hosts Maryland's voter registration system through a company it purchased in 2015 called Sidus. This firm has handled candidacy and election management system, online ballot delivery system and unofficial election night results website for the state since 2014, according to the Star Tribune.

The state works closely with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which conducts weekly scans of the state’s websites looking for vulnerabilities. A risk and vulnerability assessment includes penetration testing, web application testing and social engineering exercises. Additionally, DHS has performed a risk assessment on Maryland’s cybersecurity practices on critical systems and how to manage risk with third-party vendors.

The voting system has been tested by a federally certified testing lab and approved by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. The federal testing process includes security reviews as part of the testing process.

In Maryland there are state and local disaster recovery plans in place, data is continuously backed up and if electronic pollbooks can’t be used on Election Day, each voting location has either a back-up electronic or paper list of registered voters.

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