Counties meet election security upgrade deadline


By Roger LaPointe - rlapointe@aimmediamidwest.com



COLUMBUS – Utilizing $12.8 million in statewide funding, virtually every Ohio county board of elections has met the requirements of the Security Directive that Secretary of State Frank LaRose issued in June.

“For any county that hasn’t complied with the directive that I gave them, any county that hasn’t completed the security directive, there is going to be some intensive help coming from the Ohio Secretary of State’s office to make sure that they get there,” LaRose said.

Ohio is utilizing $12.8 million in federal Help America Vote Act funds to enhance election security. Ohio is the only state in the nation that made grants available directly to local election officials through the latest round of HAVA funding.

Over the past seven months, the secretary’s office has been working with county boards of elections to help them achieve compliance with the directive, including daily phone updates and dozens of site visits.

“The vigilance we have is an ongoing thing and the resources that we bring to the table are an ongoing matter as well,” LaRose said at an election forum attended by dozens of officials on Tuesday in Columbus.

On June 11, LaRose issued a comprehensive, multi-faceted security strategy for local boards of elections that provides the redundancy required of a strong election system infrastructure. A Jan. 31 deadline was given to complete the requirements within the directive.

The directive included a checklist of 34 separate requirements that must be met in order to be considered compliant. The specifics of this checklist essentially serve as Ohio’s detailed defense plan against adversaries who seek to disrupt elections. These requirements fall under five separate sectors:

County Board of Elections Security Report Card

100% Physical Security Assessments and Improvements

100% Background Checks of Personnel

100% Secure Website and E-mail Domains

99% Cyber-Attack Detection, System Hardening and Network Defense

100% Security Training

“I can tell you that if there is any county that has not taken it as seriously as it should there will be consequences as well. This is not a laughing matter. This is not something that is optional,” LaRose said. “This is an order I issued to all 88 counties almost eight months ago. The vast majority of them have moved with alacrity to get this completed, because they know how important it is. If there are some that have been dragging their feet, there will be consequences for that.”

According to LaRose’s office, Van Wert County is the one county considered non-compliant and requires corrective action. Seven counties have been “good-faith partners” but have “minor” additional action required. All other counties are considered fully compliant.

Hamilton, Ottawa and Warren counties have partnered with the secretary of state’s office in good faith and are expected to finalize the requirements within the week.

Carroll, Clark, Holmes and Trumbull counties have each experienced vendor difficulties and have partnered with the secretary of state’s office to overcome the issues.

By Roger LaPointe

rlapointe@aimmediamidwest.com