Virginia Battens Down the Hatches Against Election Threats

Jun 11, 2018

Empty chairs are seen at a polling place during the 2017 election in Alexandria, Va.
Credit (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

 

Tuesday is Election Day in Virginia. Voters will be selecting candidates for November’s Congressional midterms. Officials have been prepping to make sure voting systems are secured against cyber attacks.


Top intelligence officials have warned states that the upcoming midterm elections could be under cyber threat.

“So we remain vigilant all year long, concerning potential threats against our election infrastructure,” says Christopher Piper, Commissioner of Virginia’s Department of Elections. “Now we can never be 100-percent sure, or 100-percent secure in everything, but we have taken every possible step to ensure that security. And we feel very confidently going into the June primary.”

After the 2016 presidential election, federal officials notified 21 states that their systems had been targeted by Russian hackers. Virginia was one of them. Since then, Piper says the commonwealth has been on the frontlines of election security.

“We were one of the first to work closely with the department of homeland security. We’ve also worked with the Virginia National Guard and of course with VITA on a regular basis to ensure the security of our systems,” says Piper, referencing Virginia’s IT agency.

There’s also been a push to make sure state election officials have federal security clearance. That way they can get classified information from the Department of Homeland Security.

Piper, who came on board in February, is still working on his clearance. But he says one other person in the Department has already been approved.

 

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.