Connecticut is about to receive funds from the federal government to help keep elections safe.
Connecticut was one of 21 states that were hit by hackers 2016. Secretary of the State Denise Merrill’s office said the hack was unsuccessful and the state’s firewalls caught the attack in progress, but there was cause for alarm. Now the federal government is stepping up to help states prevent that from happening again.
Voting results and machines were not impacted by the attempted hack as no voting tabulation system is connected to the internet in Connecticut.
The attempted hack was made public in September 2017 and Secretary Merrill said at the time, “This successful defense of the integrity of our online voter registration system is good news for Connecticut, but it underlines the threat posed by foreign agents seeking to disrupt U.S. elections and sow the seeds of doubt in the integrity of our electoral process.” Merrill also called on Congress to investigate Russian attempts at election meddling.
“Really, the system in question is the voter registry itself. It’s the names, it’s the data. It’s not the voting process itself,” Merrill said on Monday.
With that in mind, the state has been awarded $5 million to be used for election security. At a meeting Monday, state officials met with security experts, the National Guard and the Department of Homeland Security to discuss election safeguards.
Local election managers said the moves are needed to renew the public’s trust.
“We want to make sure that the public feels our elections are safe and secure and if they start getting the impression that they’re not then democracy is in trouble,” Sue Larsen (D), the South Windsor registrar of voters, said.
Merrill said voter information has become the most popular topic in messages to her office.
“I’ve had hundreds of emails, phone calls. Everyone’s concerned,” she said.
Preparations for the November election have been underway since the 2016 election, with state officials exploring beefing up the state’s firewalls to prevent future cyberattacks.