Commissioners discuss election security – Sandhills Sentinel

On Tuesday, Moore County officials heard a report on updates to Moore County’s infrastructure and poll security.

“Moore County has a solid cybersecurity system and is on the right track.” That was the report from the North Carolina National Guard, which conducted a security analysis earlier this year.

“There are many malicious actors and ransomware events happening across North Carolina and across the country,” said Chris Butts, Moore County chief of information technology. “A lot of people think the key to safety is spending big, but it’s the procedures and the training of staff.

“Moore County Adopts AI (Artificial Intelligence) to Automate Virus Responses. This speeds up event response by reducing response times from minutes to seconds. There have been instances where malicious emails have been received that were shut down within minutes. However, several users were compromised during this time. Fortunately, we have never had to close an entire department, but rather isolate several workplaces.

“It is important to note that not all Moore County voting machines are connected to the internet. Both the voting machines and the laptops are offline on election day and that is by design.”

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According to Butts, there has never been a successful attack on voting machines in North Carolina. State law requires all North Carolina voting machines to use paper ballots to allow for a paper trail. All voting machines used in North Carolina are certified and tested by federal and state election officials. After each election and before the elections are confirmed, audits are conducted to look for signs of tampering, ballot box stuffing, or other malicious activity.

According to Butts, informed voters are an essential part of safe elections.

“Any voter can help ensure election security by voting, checking their ballot, and reporting any issues or concerns with the voting process to a poll worker,” Butts said. “Furthermore, voters need to be sure they are getting accurate information about the elections from reliable sources and to confirm the information before sharing it on social media.” We’re trying to change the safety culture in the county.”

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Moore County Information Security Officer Kay Ingram proposed the creation of a formal security program. This would help protect the county’s information systems.

The county is taking extreme measures to protect election data. According to Moore County Elections Director Towanna Dixon, the results are tallied after an election is completed. The constituency results are then transferred to a USB stick and taken to the electoral office. At this point it is uploaded to an isolated network.

According to Dixon, even the USB sticks must (by state law) be made in the US. The data is encrypted before uploading. After the election, the USB sticks are kept for archiving purposes. When questioned by Moore County Commissioner Nick Picerno, Dixion confirmed that the county conducts an audit to verify that paper ballots match the voting machine.

At another deal, the commissioners approved the purchase of three Ford F-250 trucks purchased through a government program. Local dealers were allowed to bid on it, but could not match the state prices. The vehicles are replaced due to high mileage. The total cost is $133,000.

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In 2008 the county signed a low interest loan to upgrade Vass’ water and sewerage system. One of the conditions was that 100 people had to sign up for the service and pay the $1,800 connection fee.

Vass surpassed that threshold last year and the county began acquiring the necessary easements.

The orders had to be placed by the end of the current fiscal year (October 30). The county awarded three contracts totaling $7.2 million. The county is also requesting a few grants that could help offset some of the project’s costs.

The next meeting of the commissioners is a special meeting on September 28 at 2:00 p.m. at the Moore County Senior Enrichment Center at 8040 US Highway 15/501. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the positions of the school resource officers.

Sandhills_Sentinel~Written by Sandhills Sentinel Reporter Chris Prentice. Contact him at [email protected].

File photo of the Moore County Board of Commissioners.

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