State of security: Rhode Island


Who’s in charge: Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea

Security in Action: In the run up to the primary Board of Elections Chair Diane Mederos state and federal IT officials and cyber experts to review security protocols for Election Day operations including physical access to the state's voting equipment. Rhode Island spent about $1.5 million of its $3 million in federal Help America Vote Act funding to upgrade its central voter registration system to enhance security and guard against efforts to penetrate the voter database.

The state also conducted an Election Day tabletop exercise that simulated an entire day, albeit only over the course of an hour. During the event state and local election officials were confronted with a variety of potential issues and expected to come up with a solution. These included a poll worker being unable to start up a voting machine; the electronic poll book vendor requests a password in case any issues arise on Election Day; there is a bomb scare at a polling place; bad weather disrupts power at a polling place or a thumb drive being found on the floor of a polling place.

“These types of simulations are common practice in the military and among emergency responders for a reason," Gorbea said. "By facing high-pressure scenarios ahead of time, elections officials will be better prepared to deal with a variety of issues that may arise during an actual election.”

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