After Mueller Report, state and local election officials talk cybersecurity

1 month 3 weeks 5 days ago Sunday, May 19 2019 May 19, 2019 Sunday, May 19, 2019 6:05:00 PM CDT May 19, 2019 in News
By: Daniel Perreault, KOMU 8 Reporter

COLUMBIA - Following the release of the Mueller report, Missouri election officials say keeping the state's elections secure is a top priority. 

"We expect whether or not we see evidence of it or not that outside powers such as Russia and North Korea or China or Iran will try and mess with our elections," Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft said. "We are going to assume they are trying to do that, because we'd rather make that assumption and be wrong than assume, they aren't and be wrong."

Missouri's election system was not targeted as part of the "sweeping and systematic fashion" in which Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, according to Robert Mueller's report. 

While the issue of election security is nothing new, the idea that other countries can interfere is.

"We've always known that people would try to cheat, but the idea of nation states and the resources that they can apply to it, is a change of scale," Ashcroft said. 

It's also a priority for Boone County Clerk Brianna Lennon.

"Cybersecurity is one of the elements that I consider to be most important in making sure that our office is as protected as possible, that our voters are as protected as possible," Lennon said.

In the aftermath of the 2016 election, the federal government has increased funding for election security. In July 2018, Missouri received $7.25 million to improve election security as part of the Help America Vote Act.

"We are going to put as much of that money out to the local election authorities as we can to make sure that their systems are secure," Ashcroft said. "You always have to triage, where do we have the biggest problem or where are we most concerned, where do we see the most bang for our buck."

Ashcroft said his office is still in the process of distributing the funds to different election jurisdictions.

Lennon said it is not just physical security measures that worry her.

"The biggest threat that we have most of the time is voter confidence and making sure that they think that their vote is going to count and that it is going to count accurately," she said. 

Since taking office in 2017, Ashcroft has testified before Congress in Washington. He told members of Congress that in Missouri, election fraud posses a more significant threat than cybersecurity.

"What I was saying there is that we know we have had elections that were changed by voter fraud," he said. "That's not to say that we shouldn't worry about cybersecurity, but what we have to make sure we do is look at every aspect of elections."

Ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, the state hosted a cybersecurity conference with federal, state, and local election officials.

"We got together with election officials from across the country to talk about what we could do and not in kind of academic terms of white papers that people don't understand, but to make sure people actually had lists where they could go back and say, 'are you doing this, make sure you consider this,'" Ashcroft said. "So, it was actionable intelligence and direct guidance that they can use."

Lennon said she feels cooperation between election officials on different levels is critical.

"I think making sure that we have partners in state and federal agencies to make sure that we are getting the resources we need at the local level is important," she said.

In 2017, a study by the Center for American Progress gave Missouri's election system a D grade. Among their main concerns was that Missouri allows some members of the military stationed overseas to vote electronically.

"We had people at forward-deployed bases, we had people out at sea, by the time they got their ballot the election was over," Ashcroft said. "I don't think it is a problem to make sure our military men and women who are protecting our rights across the world have the right to vote."

The study also cited Missouri for not providing information on certain parts of the election process. Something Ashcroft said the state does not do for security reasons.

"When it comes to what we do on a security standpoint, we don't release that and say here, here is how we protect your elections, use this as a path to try to attack them," he said.

As nations increase their attempts to mess with American elections, Ashcroft said it is crucial voters are confident in the election system.

"What we want to make sure is not only are we continuing to make sure that outside powers or registrations change no votes, we also want people to have confidence," he said. "If people lose confidence in the election or that it is well run, then they won't participate, and that loss of wisdom is a loss to all of us."

Ashcroft said he hopes the dialogue on election security continues among election officials. He is hopeful there will be another summit in a different state before the 2020 Presidential election.

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA - The city council is set to hear a report regarding public suggestions for the city's three dog parks... More >>
2 days ago Saturday, July 13 2019 Jul 13, 2019 Saturday, July 13, 2019 8:39:00 AM CDT July 13, 2019 in News
PRAIRIE HOME - Prairie Home Fair organizers say there's an old saying that "once you get a job at the... More >>
2 days ago Friday, July 12 2019 Jul 12, 2019 Friday, July 12, 2019 7:52:00 PM CDT July 12, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA — Camden County deputies seized seven different kinds of drugs while executing a search warrant at a location on... More >>
3 days ago Friday, July 12 2019 Jul 12, 2019 Friday, July 12, 2019 6:56:00 PM CDT July 12, 2019 in News
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The FTC has voted to approve a fine of about $5 billion for Facebook over... More >>
3 days ago Friday, July 12 2019 Jul 12, 2019 Friday, July 12, 2019 5:38:55 PM CDT July 12, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - More than 75 people gathered outside the Boone County Jail on Friday to protest human detention camps. ... More >>
3 days ago Friday, July 12 2019 Jul 12, 2019 Friday, July 12, 2019 2:46:00 PM CDT July 12, 2019 in News
ASHLAND - Administrators in several mid-Missouri school districts had mixed reactions to a new law pushing back school start dates.... More >>
3 days ago Friday, July 12 2019 Jul 12, 2019 Friday, July 12, 2019 2:15:00 PM CDT July 12, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - A new global partnership announced by the UM System on Friday will bring more opportunities to Missouri, according... More >>
3 days ago Friday, July 12 2019 Jul 12, 2019 Friday, July 12, 2019 12:10:00 PM CDT July 12, 2019 in News
FAYETTE - A woman accused of bullying a co-worker and contributing to his suicide pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault Friday.... More >>
3 days ago Friday, July 12 2019 Jul 12, 2019 Friday, July 12, 2019 11:17:04 AM CDT July 12, 2019 in News
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta is stepping down following criticism of his handling of... More >>
3 days ago Friday, July 12 2019 Jul 12, 2019 Friday, July 12, 2019 9:10:00 AM CDT July 12, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - UM System leaders are set to announce a partnership with a major international health company as part of... More >>
3 days ago Friday, July 12 2019 Jul 12, 2019 Friday, July 12, 2019 2:40:00 AM CDT July 12, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - A family who fought for five years finally got their wish as the governor signed "Simon's Law".... More >>
3 days ago Thursday, July 11 2019 Jul 11, 2019 Thursday, July 11, 2019 10:17:00 PM CDT July 11, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA — The Callaway County Sheriff's Office announced Thursday deputies arrested a wanted Boone County fugitive. Deputies arrested Aaron... More >>
3 days ago Thursday, July 11 2019 Jul 11, 2019 Thursday, July 11, 2019 8:29:00 PM CDT July 11, 2019 in News
PORTLAND - A Callaway County man was charged with second degree murder Thursday. Court records show Michael Hatfield called... More >>
4 days ago Thursday, July 11 2019 Jul 11, 2019 Thursday, July 11, 2019 4:19:00 PM CDT July 11, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA — Governor Mike Parson signed legislation changing how early schools can start their fall semester in 2020. The... More >>
4 days ago Thursday, July 11 2019 Jul 11, 2019 Thursday, July 11, 2019 4:17:00 PM CDT July 11, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Police arrested a man after a standoff at a mobile home in Vandiver Place Trailer Park in Columbia... More >>
4 days ago Thursday, July 11 2019 Jul 11, 2019 Thursday, July 11, 2019 2:27:00 PM CDT July 11, 2019 in News
HOWARD COUNTY - A Fayette man who was killed in a head-on collision in Howard County was driving in the... More >>
4 days ago Thursday, July 11 2019 Jul 11, 2019 Thursday, July 11, 2019 2:01:00 PM CDT July 11, 2019 in News
AUDRAIN COUNTY - Two people sustained serious injuries after a car crash in Audrain County on Wednesday, according to a... More >>
4 days ago Thursday, July 11 2019 Jul 11, 2019 Thursday, July 11, 2019 12:03:00 PM CDT July 11, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA- The nationwide search for Columbia's city manager is nearing an end. The two finalists for city manager met with... More >>
4 days ago Thursday, July 11 2019 Jul 11, 2019 Thursday, July 11, 2019 11:34:00 AM CDT July 11, 2019 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 73°
8pm 74°
9pm 73°
10pm 73°
11pm 73°