State Investigating Russian Oligarch’s Links to Election Software

At a news conference on Friday, Governor Larry Hogan, Senate President Mike Miller, and House Speaker Michael Busch said the FBI informed them that without the state’s knowledge, a Russian Oligarch with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin bought the software vendor that maintains part of the state’s voter registration system. While there is no evidence that state elections were compromised, they’ve asked state Attorney General Brian Frosh to investigate the Maryland Board of Elections’ contract with ByteGrid LLC and that they’d seek federal assistance from the Department of Homeland Security to ensure there are no breaches during the general election in November.

According to NPR:

“We don’t have any idea whether they meddled in the elections at all,” Maryland House Speaker Michael Busch said during a Friday press conference. “We just know that there’s Russian investment into the vendor system that we use to operate our elections.”

Nikki Charlson, the deputy administrator for Maryland’s State Board of Elections, said in a statement that her office will work to confirm that no fraudulent actions have taken place.

Maryland’s Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, in a statement, echoed calls by Miller and Busch, both Democrats, for the state’s board of election to evaluate and address any vulnerabilities within its system.

“While the information relayed to us did not indicate that any wrongdoing or criminal acts have been discovered, we are fast approaching an election in November, and even the appearance of the potential for bad actors to have any influence on our election infrastructure could undermine public trust in the integrity of our election system,” Hogan said.

MACo is actively engaged with the State Board of Elections (SBE) and Local Boards of Elections (LBEs) to maintain the integrity of state and local election systems and data. Counties administer and fund elections at the local level, overseeing polling places and coordinating poll workers every two years.

MACo’s Information Technology Affiliate, SBE, and LBEs have partnered with SBE identify steps that can be taken to enhance security for the upcoming general election. This collaborative effort will promote best practices and information sharing to protect the systems and data we use to conduct elections.

Read the full article for more information.

At MACo’s Summer Conference, attendees will see a demonstration of what can happen to a 9-1-1 Call Center during a cyber attack from the Maryland Air National Guard and Maryland Defense Force. Attendees will also hear from leading cybersecurity firms how counties can work with their employees to keep all data and critical infrastructure safe. The Center for Internet Security will share free tools available to county governments seeking to assess their cyber preparedness. An Israeli-based firm Radiflow will present cyber-security solutions for infrastructure including public water and wastewater systems, transportation and energy systems.

Speakers for the Summer Conference session include:

  • Ryan Spelman, MPA GSLC GCCC, Senior Director, Business Development, Center for Internet Security
  • Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Molina, Maryland Air National Guard and Lieutenant Colonel Charles Kendzierski, Maryland Defense Force
  • Ilan Barda, CEO, Radiflow

The Honorable Edward Reilly, Maryland State Senate will moderate this panel.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

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