The Maryland State Board of Elections (SBE) will spend about $7.4 million to improve election security. Although there won’t be any substantive changes before November’s gubernatorial election, SBE plans to upgrade its systems and software in time for elections in 2020.
Federal officials warned earlier this year that Russia remains interested in disrupting elections after a multipronged effort to interfere two years ago. Although United States Department of Homeland Security notified Maryland that is was one of 21 states with suspicious online activities before the election, there’s no evidence that Maryland’s election systems or voter data were breached or compromised.
According to the Frederick News-Post:
After questions arose in April about the 2016 election and whether Maryland’s election systems were hacked, the Board of Elections received approximately $7 million in federal funds to make election security improvements. The state was required to match 5 percent of those funds, bringing the total to slightly more than $7.4 million to be spread across categories including voting equipment, election auditing, voter registration and management systems, cyber vulnerabilities, training and communication.
In a report from the Board of Elections to state lawmakers, the board said it has earmarked about $3.5 million, nearly half of the federal funds, to identify and mitigate cyber vulnerabilities. The funds will be used to hire an information security expert, upgrade equipment and software, implement two-factor authentication on workstations and automate the state’s patch management process, according to the report.
SBE has also earmarked $1 million for upgrading voter registration equipment and software and $1.5 million for cybersecurity upgrades and training for election security personnel.
Counties administer and fund elections at the local level, overseeing polling places and coordinating poll workers every two years.
MACo has partnered with the SBE and local boards of elections to maintain the integrity of state and local election systems and data. This collaborative effort will promote best practices and information sharing to protect the systems and data we use to conduct elections.