A bipartisan group of 25 Secretaries of State and other election officials from across the country are in St. Louis today and tomorrow for the National Election Security Summit. Other attendees include U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, DHS officials and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. The summit’s location sponsor is World Wide Technology, which maintains its Global Headquarters in St. Louis County.
Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, a Republican, tells Missourinet officials will discuss steps to curb threats and vulnerabilities, as election officials gear up for the November elections.
The state received about $7.25 million in federal money to boost its protection from cyberattacks. Ashcroft says his office is going to great lengths to secure November’s elections and equipment.
“The people of the state need to know that the systems are secure,” Ashcroft. “But we’re not just assuming they’re secure. We’re not saying that what we did five years ago worked. We are always looking for further ways to secure them.”
He says the state has several security advantages in its election infrastructure.
“Many states, like Missouri, use several different systems across the state. So that makes it more difficult. There isn’t just one point of entry,” Ashcroft says. “The Secretary of State’s networks are separate from the rest of the state’s networks. Our election networks and equipment are wholly segregated from that.”
Ashcroft also says Missouri’s election equipment is not connected to the internet.
“If you were somehow able to get into a machine, you’d have to get into thousands of them and they’d be different types of machines,” Ashcroft says. “They’re spread out geographically across the state. They’re protected not just from cyberattacks but physically.”
He says the machines are stored in secure locations with tamper-proof seals. Public diagnostic checks are performed before an election to ensure the machines are not messed with. When the machines are taken to the polling places, checks are done before the polls open.
Ashcroft goes on to say that every machine creates a paper copy of every vote cast. Other diagnostics and audits and are conducted after the polls closed.
The equipment must also meet certain standards and be certified.
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