New Jersey releases ambitious $10.2 million election security plan

Published: August 20, 2018

CybersecurityElectionsGeneral Government ServicesInformation TechnologyInformation TechnologyNEW JERSEY

The state plans new drills, a new official to coordinate cybersecurity between Trenton and counties, and a mobile app for voters as part of what it says could make for "one of the most advanced and secure election systems in the nation."

New Jersey officials recently released a detailed report outlining their plans to improve election security over the coming years. The state intends to spend $10.2 million in federal and state funds, which will address areas including cybersecurity, election infrastructure, and voting equipment. Of this funding, $9.7 million was awarded from federal funding, while the state provided almost $488,000.

The Division of Elections within the Department of State has been working to address several areas of election security, and will continue to do so with the infusion of new funding. New Jersey Secretary of State Tahesha Way has outlined the following areas as spending categories under this new plan:

  • Cybersecurity
  • Physical Security
  • Training
  • Communication
  • Voter Registration System
  • Voting Equipment
  • Election Auditing
  • ADA Compliance

Cybersecurity will be a major focus of this initiative, which will include increased scanning and vulnerability testing efforts, as well as providing the funding for a new employee position dedicated solely to election security. Vulnerability testing will also be conducted for physical assets, with the intent to develop a plan for any deficiencies for voting machines, election material, and devices.

Some analysts have indicated that New Jersey has one of the least secure election set-ups, especially given that New Jersey is one of five states that only use electronic voting machines without paper backups of voter ballots. Replacing voting equipment, however, is a multiyear process, and the same older voting machines will still be in use this November. The state is conducting a pilot program allowing county officials to acquire new voting equipment starting in the 2019 election cycle. This could bring about greater physical security, however if the state is to pursue new voting equipment that produce paper records, New Jersey will also have to develop an audit process. New Jersey is one of 16 states that do not currently require a post-election audit.

Election security is an issue of immense importance, and with the coming 2018 midterm elections in November, state and local government entities have been investing heavily in this area. New Jersey’s ambitious election security plan clearly indicates that the state is also making a large investment in ensuring its elections are run smoothly and safely. A large focus will be on the upcoming November elections, but the report acknowledges some of these initiatives will extend further into the future. For vendors active in this market, it may be worthwhile to monitor New Jersey’s activity in this area as the state continues to implement the various components of this plan over the coming years.

Source: StateScoop