State of security: Virginia

Who's in Charge: Virginia Department of Elections, Chairman of the Board James B. Alcorn 

Virginia officials have “remained vigilant” when it comes to threats to the state’s election infrastructure, According to the state's Department of Elections website.

They’re involved in the MS-ISAC pilot project and Virginia Information Technologies Agency is working with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to provide cybersecurity support for Virginia’s elections with the department promising that “any identified issues will be addressed appropriately.”

Virginia received more than $9.5 million in grant funding under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), which it plans to use to bolster its election infrastructure, including securing data, boosting cybersecurity training and creating “more robust certification standards for voting equipment,” the department said. “Agencies such as the Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA) and the Center for Internet Security (CIS) will assist by providing information about best practices and security standards.”

Going forward, a project team will lay out a security and continuity of operations plan. “Election security is always evolving, so the Department will remain vigilant and flexible with these funds to address new and emerging threats,” the department said.

Virginia got the nod from the Center on American Progress for its quick switch to a paper ballot voting system in preface to the 2017 election for governor.

The state also ran a post-election, risk-limiting audit pilot in the city of Fairfax on ballot scanner machines in an attempt to create a process that can be created in other jurisdictions. Virginia officials concluded that an “RLA can provide significant insight into the procedural aspects of Election Day in the polling place,” noting that during the audit they “found an unaccounted for ballot in a precinct. The ballot was an undervote and we suspect that a voter was accidently given two ballots that were stuck together.”

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