How Indiana’s $10 million investment has improved election security

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — We’re learning more about how Indiana is working to secure elections come 2020.

Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson said her office has been busy non-stop since voter confidence took a hit in 2016. She hopes the state’s $10 million investment makes a difference.

This is the first time the state has invested in election equipment. Typically, counties pay for it. However, Indiana felt it was time to give voters verification they can see with their own eyes.

A little black box attached to electronic election machines allows you to see your electronic vote on paper and then correct it if you find a mistake.

“I can go back, I can void that vote, and I can say, 'Yes, that’s what I want to do,'” said Lawson as she displayed how the paper trail system works.

She said it’s intended to increase voter confidence.

“I know that this machine recorded my vote the way I intended, and I can cast my vote and then that scrolls up so the next voter cannot see how I voted,” said Lawson.

Since 2016, Lawson said voters have been more concerned about election security. Voter registration information was compromised in the last presidential election.

“We don’t know why Illinois, for example, was hacked or Arizona was hacked. We have heard of nothing bad that’s happened to any of those people, but who wants their information out there? Nobody does,” said Lawson.

That’s why she said Indiana has added phishing email training, multi-factor authentication protocols and cyber security systems designed to detect and prevent intrusions. Lawson said the voting machines themselves have always been secure.

“Our voting machines are not connected to the internet, neither are the tabulation machines,” said Lawson.

However, she said Indiana has improved physical security of the machines just in case. Lawson said diversity helps too.

“We’ve got 92 counties, we’ve got over 5,000 precincts in the state of Indiana, we’ve got five different voting systems that are used, and so to change the result of an election is next to impossible,” said Lawson.

The state gave $10 million of its budget to election security. As a result, 10% of the Indiana’s electronic machines will get paper audit trails. Johnson County Clerk Trena McLaughlin is excited about that.

“The county will save thousands of dollars without having to purchase all of those,” said McLaughlin.

Last November, Johnson County suffered through long lines at the polls because of a voter registration system crash. Since then, the county has switched election equipment companies and purchased new machines. McLaughlin is happy security issues are being addressed before 2020.

“We just need to reassure our voters that their vote is safe and it does cast,” said McLaughlin.

It could be a decade before every electronic voting machine gets a paper trail, but Lawson said it’s possible counties will move forward and get them on their own sooner.

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