Homeland Security Monitoring Election Agencies for Foreign Intruders

Two weeks before Maryland’s primary elections, federal Homeland Security investigators are monitoring state and local elections agencies to prevent foreign intruders from compromising the vote.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security began reviewing computer systems at the Maryland State Board of Elections and Montgomery County after the 2016 elections, amid reports Russian cyberattacks attempted to breach state election systems.

With just days remaining until a high-stakes series of primary elections, federal inspectors are conducting weekly scans of the state board of elections website. They’re also issuing reports to state officials about the security of the Maryland elections system on Monday mornings, News4 learned.

A Maryland State Board of Elections memo said officials noticed suspicious activity in its online voting registration and ballot request systems in August 2016. The agency notified the FBI and determined someone attempted to probe into the system, attempting unsuccessfully to enter the state elections system.

U.S. Homeland Security inspectors have since monitored the state elections computers system and visited the agency’s offices in late 2017 to assess the risk of future attempted breaches, News4 learned. No evidence of unusual activity was found, according to a state official.

The federal inspectors have also finished an onsite review at the board of elections headquarters in Montgomery County, checking computer systems and the facility’s physical layout. County officials told News4 the risk of a breach is reduced because the county’s voting system is not connected online.

Other Maryland counties are also being monitored, according to an April report from the state board of elections.

“DHS is working with the local boards of elections to review local election facilities and make recommendations to improve the physical security of the buildings,” the report said.

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