Election security in 2020

ExpressVote machine will be used in 2020 Elections in Jackson County. Photo courtesy from Jackson County Board of Elections.

With the alleged Russian interference in the 2016 United States presidential election, people are concerned more than ever about North Carolina’s election security in 2020.

Jackson County Board of Elections Director Lisa Lovedahl relieves these worries.

“As far as security, we use the North Carolina state system,” Lovedahl said. “At the office, we use secure networks.  We also have video surveillance of office and voting equipment storage.”

She also wanted to clarify the security of absentee ballots.

“There will be five absentee meetings where the Board will review, approve and scan ballots,” Lovedahl said. “The Ballots will be secured after each meeting.  All scanned absentee ballots from absentee meetings will be combined and totaled, then released on election day after the polls close.”

President Trump has recently criticized mail-in voting by suggesting that voters attempt to vote in-person even after mailing in their ballot. He wants to ensure their votes are actually counted because there are “dirty politics” at play.

Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the North Carolina State Board of Elections (NCSBE), released a statement condemning the President’s comments.

Regarding NCSBE’s cybersecurity activities, these tasks include penetration testing, threat hunting, physical security reviews, vulnerability scanning, infrastructure system patching, incident response planning, tabletop exercises and awareness training.

NCSBE also released 10 facts about election security in North Carolina:

  1. No evidence of a successful attackNorth Carolina elections officials have no evidence that any election system or voting system in the state has ever been the target of a successful cyberattack.
  2. Partnerships: Elections officials are in regular contact and have strong and growing relationships with partners in federal and state governments, who assist with cyber and physical security, share information, plan for election events and respond to incidents.
  3. Paper ballots: Under state law, all voting systems used in North Carolina must use paper ballots, producing a paper trail that can be recounted and audited. In 2020, all 100 counties will use paper ballots. By federal law, ballot marking devices must be available at every polling place for any voter who needs or wishes to use one to mark a ballot.
  4. Certified voting systems: All voting machines used in North Carolina are certified by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission after testing by certified laboratories. They are also certified by the State Board of Elections after additional testing. All systems certified in North Carolina are certified, used and audited in other states.
  5. No Internet: By state law, voting machines may not be connected to the internet, limiting the possibility of cyber interference.
  6. Logic and accuracy testing: Before every election, county boards of elections conduct logic and accuracy tests on every voting machine that will be used to ensure proper coding of ballots and counting of votes for every contest on the ballot.
  7. Bipartisan, trained officials: Every polling place is staffed with bipartisan, trained officials from the local community who take an oath to uphold state elections laws and work together to ensure election security. Bipartisan State and County Boards of Elections oversee all aspects of elections.
  8. Audits: After every election and before results are certified, the State and County Boards of Elections conduct audits designed to detect irregularities, such as equipment tampering, ballot stuffing and voting machine or tabulation errors.
  9. Investigations Division: North Carolina is one of few states with dedicated Investigations Division, which investigates reports of fraud and other irregularities and refers cases to prosecutors when warranted by the evidence.
  10. Informed voters: Every voter can help promote election security by voting, checking their ballot before casting it, reporting problems with the voting process to poll workers and volunteering to work in elections. Also, voters should get information on elections from trusted sources, particularly elections officials, and verify information about elections before sharing it on social media.

More information on election security in North Carolina and how to vote can be found at ncsbe.gov.