Maryland pounces on federal funding for election cybersecurity

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All nine members of U.S. Congress representing Maryland requested this month that Republican Gov. Larry Hogan bolster the state’s election security and infrastructure before the 2018 midterms. Gov. Hogan agreed.

In a letter to the governor, lawmakers wrote, “With the 2018 midterm elections fast approaching, we hope you will work quickly and collaboratively with the Maryland State Board of Elections to ensure Maryland has access to this critical federal funding.”

Maryland is one of 21 states that was notified by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) last year that Russia attempted to hack their election system. Though the tallying of votes was not thought to have been affected, and many states were only scanned by Russian actors, legislators hope that this new election security funding will prevent future hacks.

Doug Mayer, Gov. Hogan’s spokesperson, said, “The administration will be taking full advantage of new federal funding that all states received.”

Just last month, Congress passed its Omnibus spending package, which includes $380 million to go to the Election Assistance Commission for cybersecurity improvements to state election systems.

The Maryland legislators asked Gov. Hogan to set aside $353,185 to receive the $7 million allocated to Maryland’s election security from that Omnibus bill. The former sum was derived from a federal mandate saying a 5 percent match is necessary to receive the allocated funds.

Each state was guaranteed $3 million, with additional funding based off population size. Under the bill, each state has 90 days to respond to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission about how they plan to improve state election security.

The Maryland lawmakers are hoping allocated funds can create a position for a chief information security officer on the Maryland State Board of Elections. They also hope the funding can help provide security training for election officials, post-election audit and recovery system, and a 2-step security verification for state and local elections.

A partial list of other states that were notified by the Department of Homeland Security that their election systems had been targeted by Russia includes Alabama, Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, Virginia, Wisconsin and Washington. Several of these states have announced similar plans to take advantage of the new federal funding. 

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Cybersecurity, election security, Maryland, omnibus, russia, State & Local News, States, Tech News
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