The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is offering state and local election officials free access to post-election auditing software ahead of the 2020 elections.
The tool, known as Arlo, is being created by VotingWorks, a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to building secure election technology.
According to Route Fifty:
“Heading into 2020, we’re exploring all possible ways that we can support state and local election officials while also ensuring that Americans across the country can confidently cast their votes,” said CISA Director Christopher Krebs in a statement. “At a time when we know foreign actors are attempting to interfere and cast doubt on our democratic processes, it’s incredibly important elections are secure, resilient, and transparent.”
The software, which is being piloted by some election offices in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Missouri, Virginia, Ohio, and Georgia, is designed to help officials make calculations needed for an audit. Arlo can help elections officials determine how many ballots to audit, randomly select which ballots to audit, and compare audited votes to tabulated votes, according to CISA.
Traditional post-election audits, which usually require manual inspection of paper ballots cast in randomly selected precincts or on randomly selected voting machines, can provide assurance that individual voting machines accurately tabulated votes.
All but eight states will use voting systems that produce an auditable paper trail of results in the upcoming 2020 elections, according to a recent report by the Brennan Center for Justice. But 24 of those states, including Maryland, do not require post-election audits.
Federal officials have warned that Russia remains interested in disrupting elections after a multipronged effort to interfere in 2016. Although the 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.
The Maryland State Board of Elections (SBE) will spend about $7.4 million to improve election security by upgrading its systems and software in time for elections in 2020. 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.
Because 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 methods and data we use to conduct elections.