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11/05/2019

Pennsylvania and Federal Officials Are Closely Monitoring Election Day Cybersecurity

Harrisburg, PA – Acting Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar and Christopher C. Krebs, director of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), assured Pennsylvanians that a sophisticated network of federal, state and local partnerships is safeguarding today's municipal election.

The Department of State is monitoring the election from the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) where state election experts, security professionals, department staff, call center volunteers and emergency personnel are coordinating throughout the day.

"Pennsylvanians should all vote today with the confidence that their votes are being accurately counted and their voices heard, thanks to our strong partnerships at the state, federal, and county levels to ensure the security and integrity of our elections," Boockvar said. "We thank PEMA for once again hosting our election-day operations.

"Their state-of-the-art facilities and technology enhance communication and preparedness among all our partners. And we thank Director Krebs and the Department of Homeland Security's team for joining us today and staunchly supporting our election security efforts."

Krebs recognized Pennsylvania for its election security alliances and innovation.

"Election security is a top priority for CISA. Americans should have confidence that they are the ones picking their leaders and deciding elections without concern about foreign interference. Acting Secretary Boockvar and her team have been strong partners in this effort and continue to lead with their move to auditable systems and investment in election systems," Krebs said. "Voters have a role to play too. We know that foreign adversaries seek to influence public sentiment and may seek to spread wrong information during the election. I encourage everyone to ignore the noise and get election information straight from the source—from the Secretary of State's office or their local election office. Armed with this knowledge, Pennsylvanians can go to the polls today with confidence that their vote will be counted as cast."

Joining Boockvar and Krebs were Maj. Gen. Anthony Carrelli, Adjutant General of Pennsylvania and head of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, and Marcus L. Brown, director of the Governor's Office of Homeland Security. The National Guard and Office of Homeland Security are integral partners in ensuring that Pennsylvania's elections are secure.

"The Pennsylvania National Guard is proud of our state partnerships with the Department of State, Homeland Security, and Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency," said Maj. Gen. Anthony Carrelli.  "We fully integrate our operations to ensure the safety, security, and reliability of commonwealth systems."

The Pennsylvania Department of State also works closely with county election officials and Boards of Elections, the Center for Internet Security (CIS), and other key partners to maintain and enhance the security of the election process.

"With the concerns that we have seen nationally surrounding election security, it is imperative that all state agencies are working together here in Pennsylvania," said Marcus Brown, director of the state's Office of Homeland Security.

In April 2018, the Department of State informed counties they had until the end of 2019 to select new voting systems that provide a paper record voters will verify before casting their ballot. These new systems – which will deliver enhanced, state-of-the-art security and more accurate and reliable post-election audits – must be implemented no later than the 2020 primary.

So far, at least 53 counties, or 79 percent, have taken official action toward selecting a new voting system. And 45 counties, or 67 percent, are using their new voting system today.

Every new voting system and paper ballot in Pennsylvania must include plain text that voters can read to confirm their choices. Election officials will also use the plain text to perform pre-election testing and post-election audits and recounts.

Some other election security defenses 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. Further, precinct election results are not submitted through a network. They are physically delivered to county election officials and later certified to the state.
  • Counties strictly secure their voting systems. Every county election board inspects and tests each piece of voting and tabulating equipment before an election and places locks with tamper-evident seals on all voting machine access points.
  • Pennsylvania has partnered with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to conduct multiple comprehensive vulnerability and other cyber assessments of the commonwealth's cybersecurity posture. 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.
  • The Commonwealth utilizes multiple layers of protection, including 24/7 continuous network monitoring, firewalls, encryption, password protection, multi-factor authentication, and continuity of operations (COOP) planning, among other controls to protect our systems. There is no evidence the voter rolls or vote results have ever been hacked   or compromised.
  • Following this election, Pennsylvania will pilot a cutting-edge security measure, the risk-limiting audit in Philadelphia and Mercer counties to check the accuracy of election outcomes.

For more information about election security in Pennsylvania, visit votesPA.com/Election-Security.

The Department of State will have results from today's election as it receives reports from counties after the polls close at 8 p.m. The department's election returns website can be accessed at electionreturns.pa.gov.

For complete information about voting in Pennsylvania, visit votesPA.com or call 1-877-VOTESPA (1-877-868-3772).

NOTE: Photos and video from this event will be available at www.pacast.com


MEDIA CONTACT: Wanda Murren, 717-783-1621

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