Critical Infrastructure Security, Critical Infrastructure Security, Network Security

State of security: North Carolina

Who's in charge: Executive director, Board of Elections Kim Westbrook Strach

North Carolina this year received about $10.4 million in federal funding, which it has allocated chiefly toward modernizing its Statewide Elections Information Management System and migrating it to the cloud. This system reportedly manages voter registration, candidate filing, voting site management, election night reporting and more.

The state is also using the money to upgrade its infrastructure and software, enhance its auditing program through the hiring of two business analysts, hiring a CISO positon, providing sub grants to county elections boards, forming a Cyber Advisory Panel and more.

Unfortunately, there were no available funds left over for replacing outdated voting machines in 2018. But the good news is that 71 of the Tarheel State’s 100 counties already use paper ballots, while 23 use direct-recording electronic voting machines with voter-verified paper audit trails and the remaining six use a mix of paper and DREs with VVPATs. (Overseas voters use paper ballots, but can image and return them electronically, which security experts say is not ideal.

North Carolina does plan to eliminate all DRE machines by 2019 – it currently uses ES&S’s iVotronic touchscreen solution – and adopt an entirely paper-based voting system. Such improvements could cost anywhere from $4.9 million to $7.7 million, according to The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School.

In the meantime, North Carolina works to keep its elections infrastructure secure reportedly through access control, logging, intrusion detection, equipment testing, and adherence to EAC Voluntary Voting System Guidelines. Election officials also get basic cybersecurity training, although the curriculum is not specifically tailored to elections.

Last month, federal prosecutors issued subpoenas calling for millions of N.C voter records after charges were filed against 19 noncitizens in the state for allegedly voting illegally in the 2016 election. However, a wide array of experts assert that voter fraud is a virtually non-existent problem with a nominal impact on election integrity. Therefore, the subpoenas have reportedly been eyed with suspicion as a possible case voter suppression and federal overreach in what’s known to be an election swing state.

Bradley Barth

As director of community content at CyberRisk Alliance, Bradley Barth develops content for SC Media online conferences and events, as well as video/multimedia projects. For nearly six years, he wrote and reported for SC Media as deputy editor and, before that, senior reporter. He was previously a program executive with the tech-focused PR firm Voxus. Past journalistic experience includes stints as business editor at Executive Technology, a staff writer at New York Sportscene and a freelance journalist covering travel and entertainment. In his spare time, Bradley also writes screenplays.

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