Clark State, election board team up to protect ballots

Dan Heighton with Clark State Community College looks at the Clark County Board of Elections website. The Clark County Board of Elections and Clark State Community College will work together to assess the Boards technology equipment, procedures and policies before the upcoming elections. JEFF GUERINI/STAFF
Dan Heighton with Clark State Community College looks at the Clark County Board of Elections website. The Clark County Board of Elections and Clark State Community College will work together to assess the Boards technology equipment, procedures and policies before the upcoming elections. JEFF GUERINI/STAFF

The Clark County Election Board and Clark State Community College have formed a partnership to make sure voting ballots are secured.

Clark State Cybersecurity Professor Dan Heighton said the community college will go through the office’s equipment and electronic connections.

“We will assist them with a cybersecurity audit of their equipment, software and their election equipment to ensure proper security standards,” he said. “We are auditing their currently existing equipment to make sure they meet industry standards.”

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The auditors will be looking at desktop machines, server machines, network infrastructure and their connection to the public network, Heighton said.

“There is always concern no matter what when you have things that are automated and computerized,” he said. “That there could be some type of attack from a cyber perspective and information can be compromised. We want to make that is secure and that people are comfortable with the level of security and protection.”

The partnership will be funded by a state grant up to $30,000.00, a press release from the office says.

“In the directive issued last month, the Secretary of State’s Office instructed county boards of elections to utilize the Center for Internet Security’s Elections Infrastructure Playbook to identify areas that IT and security improvements can be made,” a release says. “The directive also calls on boards to consult the Election Infrastructure Information Sharing and Analysis Center and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for phishing campaign assessment and vulnerability scanning.”

The Clark County Board of Elections also announced last week a change that aims to make it easier for some residents to vote.

On Tuesday, the board agreed to spend more than $16,000 to purchase a remote ballot marking device that allows a disabled voter to cast a ballot.

“A remote ballot marking system allows a disabled voter to participate in Ohio’s absentee voting process independently and privately,” the election board said in a release. “A remote ballot marking system enables a voter to receive an accessible ballot securely and privately at their home.”

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The system will be in place in time for the November election and was mandated by the Secretary of State.

“The voter can access, read, and mark his or her ballot using the remote ballot marking system and any necessary assistive technology,” the release says. “Once the voter marks his or her absentee ballot, the voter must print and return it to the board of elections in order for the ballot to be processed and tabulated.”

For a voter to participate, he or she must complete an application and submit it to the election board. The system will be provided by TRIAD Governmental Systems Inc.

Meanwhile, some South Charleston voters will cast ballots at a new polling location in November.

Voters in Precinct CHAS 1 and precinct CHAS TWP. will now go to the Madison Township Offices, 228 West Columbus Road to vote.

“CHAS 1 and CHAS TWP voters usually vote at the First Presbyterian Church,” a release from the Clark County Board of Elections says. “An informational mailing will be sent to all voters in these precincts”

Voters in these precincts will also receive an aerial showing parking and entrance locations.

The board is also reminding voters that they can vote by absentee ballot by mail or in the elections board office during early voting hours.

For more information, voters are encouraged to contact the Clark County Board of Elections offices.