Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Secretary of State Hosts Cybersecurity Summit for Local Election Officials

AUGUSTA — Secretary of State Shenna Bellows hosted the Maine Elections Cybersecurity Summit and Training for local election officials on Tuesday. The virtual gathering was attended by more than 100 clerks and featured presentations from elections and cybersecurity staff from the Department of Secretary of State, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, and the Maine Office of Information Technology.

“Over the past few years, and even more so in the last weeks and days with Russia’s escalating war against Ukraine, we’ve seen an increase in the cybersecurity threats faced by our election system,” said Secretary Bellows. “Thankfully, Maine already has a strong system in place to ensure the integrity of our elections, but as new threats emerge we need to prepare ourselves and keep up to date on how best to protect our elections, and that’s what today was all about.”

“Many things have changed in election administration over my career,” said Deputy Secretary of State for Elections Julie Flynn. “But being prepared for the task ahead, the professionalism of our municipal clerks, and our efforts to ensure that Maine continues to be a national leader in election administration are constant.”

Topics covered in the day-long summit included a broad overview of election security; the importance of building trust with Mainers; how to identify and fend off phishing and ransomware attacks; and a look to the future of cybersecurity efforts in Maine.

The state’s Elections Division also hosts an annual two-day training for all municipal clerks on election laws and operating procedures.

“Maine’s local clerks have asked us to expand our training options, and we want to meet their needs,” said Secretary Bellows. “That’s why we’re so excited to see the funding for an Audit and Training Division included in Gov. Mills’ change package for the supplemental budget. This funding will allow us to provide onboarding training for new clerks, and more frequent trainings throughout the year.”