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05/21/2019

State Officials Assure Pennsylvanians of Election Security on Primary Day

Harrisburg, PA – Acting Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar and Pennsylvania Director of Homeland Security Marcus Brown joined other state partners at the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) this morning to assure voters of the security and integrity of today's primary election.

"Today marks the first time the Department of State has staged our election-day operations at PEMA," Secretary Boockvar said. "We have the expertise and resources of PEMA close at hand as Pennsylvanians go to the polls. All of us working together, under one roof, improves coordination and communication with other agencies and the counties."

State election experts, security professionals, department staff, call center volunteers and state emergency personnel are closely monitoring developments throughout the day from PEMA.

Joining Boockvar and Brown were PEMA Acting Director Randy Padfield and Col. Frank Montgomery and Maj. Christine Pierce of the PA National Guard. The officials praised the commonwealth's ongoing efforts to maintain and enhance Pennsylvania's election security.

"Your National Guard works every day to ensure that we have multiple layers of security in place to monitor and assess any potential vulnerabilities, to implement the necessary safeguards, to share resources and information, and to practice our response plans," Col. Montgomery said. "We train with our fellow state agencies to prepare for every election held within the state, and are thankful that they include us as part of the common defense."

Bringing all the department's partners together at PEMA on election day is a natural progression of the efforts of the Interagency Workgroup on Election Preparedness and Security, which was created in July. The workgroup's members collaborate on increasing election security resources, training, support, communication and preparation.

Member agencies include the Department of State, Office of Homeland Security, PEMA, Governor's Office, Pennsylvania State Police, Office of Administration, Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and the Office of State Inspector General.

"Today's activation at PEMA will allow all participating state agencies to have situational awareness of what is occurring in each county and will give us immediate access to our local and federal partners to ensure we have a coordinated response to any election-related issue that may arise," Homeland Security Director Brown said.

Pennsylvania's election security measures include:

  • All certified voting systems in Pennsylvania, including the election management system and vote-tallying components, are never connected to or permitted on internet-facing networks, which significantly decreases opportunities to be hacked.
  • The Department of State informed counties in 2018 that they have until the end of 2019 to select new voting systems that provide a paper record voters can verify before casting their ballot, and the new systems must be in use no later than the 2020 primary. Paper records allow for more accurate and reliable post-election audits. The new voting systems also have enhanced security features.
  • Counties strictly secure their voting systems, locking and sealing them when they are not in use. After an election, official results are physically delivered to the state.
  • A layered set of protections are in place to secure voter registration databases.
  • Appropriate use of encryption technology and other tools raise the bar on protecting systems.
  • Continuous monitoring of the commonwealth's technical environment means alerts are reviewed and acted upon quickly.
  • Pennsylvania works with the Center for Internet Security's Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center to gather and share intelligence about cyber threats.
  • Independent vulnerability assessments are frequently performed to verify established protections. There is no evidence that Pennsylvania's voter rolls or vote results have ever been hacked or compromised.

The Department of State has also provided counties with security training, including in-depth tabletop and mock election exercises, anti-phishing protection and many other resources.

For more information on election security in Pennsylvania, visit www.votesPa.com/Election-Security.

NOTE: Video, Audio and Photos of Acting Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar and Pennsylvania Director of Homeland Security Marcus Brown are available to download from the Pennsylvania Internet News Service (PINS). To register for PINS emails, contact cms@pacast.com.

MEDIA CONTACT:   Wanda Murren, 717-783-1621

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