Wednesday, July 17

Government & Groups Work to Promote Election Security for the 2022 Mid-Terms

Stock Photo – 2020 Election Setup (Acme News)

ASHEBORO N.C. – With the challenges, lawsuits, controversy, and conspiracy theories from the 2020 election still lingering, officials and politicians on every level of government, federal law enforcement, intelligence agencies, and bipartisan groups are all working to ensure the upcoming midterms are a smooth and secure election.

At a federal level, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) have published a joint public service announcement seeking to calm fears of hacking and miss-information ahead of the upcoming 2022 midterms. 

The joint statement seeks to make it clear that malicious hackers targeting the election are unlikely to result in either large-scale disruptions or prevent people from voting.

As of the date of this report, the FBI and CISA have no reporting to suggest cyber activity has ever prevented a registered voter from casting a ballot, compromised the integrity of any ballots cast, or affected the accuracy of voter registration information. Any attempts tracked by FBI and CISA have remained localized and were blocked or successfully mitigated with minimal or no disruption to election processes.

FBI & CISA | Joint Public Service Announcement

At the state level, last week the State Board of Elections released detailed guidance in a memo aimed at ensuring all voters can safely and securely cast their ballot and election officials can perform their duties free of harassment, intimidation, and interference.

“The State Board of Elections is committed to ensuring all voters can cast their ballot safely, securely, and free from interference of any kind,” State Board Executive Director Karen Brinson Bell said. “We also must ensure that trained election workers can carry out their duties free from harassment, intimidation, and interference.”

This year, to aid in the enforcement of election laws and the maintenance of order at the polls, the State Board has partnered with the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association and the North Carolina Association of Chiefs of Police to produce the “Elections Reference Guide for North Carolina Law Enforcement.”

Also, in our state, over the last several weeks the North Carolina Network for Fair, Safe, & Secure Elections, a grassroots project initiated by The Carter Center with a mission to create healthy dialogue and build consensus around election security and voting access in our state, has been holding town halls across the state. 

These 90-minute-long meetings featured cybersecurity experts, election officials, and election law attorneys from both sides of the aisle. They aim to address public concerns about electronic voting machines and hacking, explain the secure process for collecting and counting votes, and advise on how challenges, recounts, and fraud allegations are dealt with through proper legal channels. To date the group has held a total of fifteen town halls in cities from Edenton to Asheville.

What we keep hearing this election cycle from both sides is that the push at all levels of government to ensure the trust and security of elections is vital to our continuing democracy and the threats posed not only by misinformation from foreign actors but also for the first time from domestic threats is reaching concerning levels.

What should you do and what are the takeaways from all this? The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued the following recommendations for the public in their joint PSA: 

  • For information about registering to vote, polling locations, voting by mail, provisional ballot process, and final election results, rely on state and local government election officials. 
  • Remain alert to election-related schemes which may attempt to impede election administration. 
  • Be wary of emails or phone calls from unfamiliar email addresses or phone numbers that make suspicious claims about the elections process or of social media posts that appear to spread inconsistent information about election-related incidents or results. 
  • Do not communicate with unsolicited email senders, open attachments from unknown individuals, or provide personal information via email without confirming the requestor’s identity. Be aware that many emails requesting your personal information often appear to be legitimate. 
  • Verify through multiple, reliable sources any reports about compromises of voter information or voting systems and consider searching for other reliable sources before sharing such information via social media or other avenues. 
  • Be cautious with websites not affiliated with local or state governments that solicit voting information, like voter registration information. Websites that end in “.gov” or websites you know are affiliated with your state or local election office are usually trustworthy. Be sure to know what your state and local elections office websites are in advance to avoid inadvertently providing your information to nefarious websites or actors. 
  • Report potential crimes—such as cyber targeting of voting systems—to your local FBI Field Office. 
  • Report cyber-related incidents on election infrastructure to your local election officials and CISA (