Ahead of next month’s Primary Election, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes announced a partnership with the Department of Homeland Security to train county election officials across Kentucky on cybersecurity and threats to elections. The trainings are some of the first of their kind in the nation. The announcement came Thursday after a meeting of Kentucky’s Election Integrity Task Force, which Grimes created in 2012.
DHS officials trained Kentucky county clerks on Thursday on cybersecurity and best practices. Grimes announced that over the summer, DHS officials and other partners will conduct statewide cybersecurity briefings and trainings for Kentucky’s 15,000 precinct election officials and media.
The trainings are one piece in a host of security measures Grimes announced Kentucky has in place to protect the integrity of elections.
“Secretaries of State are now on the front lines of national security and protecting America’s democracy,” said Grimes. “Security and integrity has been at the forefront of my approach to elections as Kentucky’s chief elections official. I count our partnerships with the Department of Homeland Security and other federal and state law enforcement agencies as critical to that work. We work every day to monitor and fortify our defenses against any actor – foreign or domestic – that seeks to undermine our democratic process. Today’s trainings are crucial to protecting, defending and increasing confidence in our elections.”
Grimes initiated a partnership with DHS during the 2016 presidential election, shortly before the agency designated America’s elections as critical infrastructure. DHS provides cybersecurity tools and protections of Kentucky’s infrastructure.
“The Department of Homeland Security values our partnership with Secretary of State Grimes as we work together with Kentucky and other states to improve the security of the election process,” said Matt Masterson, senior cybersecurity advisor at DHS. “We appreciate the commitment and dedication that election officials across the state have demonstrated to ensuring secure and resilient elections for Kentucky voters. We look forward to our continued partnership with Secretary Grimes and state and local officials across the nation as we work to maintain the integrity of America’s election infrastructure system.”
Kentucky election officials, led by Grimes, are taking additional steps to protect election integrity.
Following Grimes’ recommendation, the State Board of Elections moved to require all future election equipment purchased in Kentucky to provide a voter-verified paper trail. Kentucky’s Election Integrity Task Force unanimously endorsed the recommendation, which echoes guidance from the Senate Intel Committee’s election security report released last month. Funding recently appropriated by Congress will assist Kentucky in transitioning to a fully paper-backed voting system.
The State Board of Elections is also working with an industry-leading cybersecurity firm, CyberScout, to strengthen the security of Kentucky’s election processes. The Board recently unveiled a new poll worker recruitment tool to assist county clerks in administering our elections with confidence.
“Make no mistake, foreign adversaries seek to do harm by creating doubt that democracy works. I am here today to say that it does, and we are protecting it,” Grimes said.
Details regarding future briefings and trainings with DHS will be forthcoming.