Governor Wolf Announces Interagency Workgroup to Strengthen Security of Pennsylvania Votes

July 20, 2018

Harrisburg, PA – To further strengthen election security protections, Governor Tom Wolf today launched a new workgroup of eight state agencies and offices that will ensure Pennsylvania continues to meet the highest standards of election preparedness and integrity, and he urged Congressional Republicans and the White House to take this issue seriously.

“With Congressional Republicans failing to renew funding to help states enhance election security and the White House in denial over foreign aggression, my administration is taking additional action to protect Pennsylvania elections,” said Governor Tom Wolf. “I am directing several state agencies that protect our commonwealth to partner with our Department of State, so Pennsylvanians can continue to have confidence in the integrity of our elections.

“We are proud to partner with federal and local agencies on this effort, but it is time for Republicans in Congress and the White House to make election security a higher priority, including additional funding to update our election infrastructure.”

The Inter-Agency Election Preparedness and Security Workgroup will be led by co-chairs Robert Torres, Acting Secretary of State, and John MacMillan, Deputy Secretary for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer at the Office of Administration.

While the commonwealth and the 67 county boards of elections are already vigilant in assessing potential vulnerabilities in the election system, the workgroup will serve as a central hub to share information and plan the most comprehensive measures to secure elections at all levels.

“Pennsylvania already has numerous protections to secure the integrity of the vote, and this workgroup will enhance those efforts,” said Torres, Pennsylvania’s chief election official. “Voting is one of our most sacred rights. To protect that right, we are bringing together all the extensive security expertise that state law enforcement and other agencies have to offer.”

Member agencies include the Department of State, the Office of Administration, the Governor’s Office, the Office of Homeland Security, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, the Pennsylvania State Police, the Office of State Inspector General and the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

“Cybersecurity works best when we work together. This workgroup builds upon our ongoing efforts to ensure the security of elections through collaboration with local officials, federal agencies and other partners,” MacMillan said. “I am honored to
help lead this distinguished team and advance our goal to continuously improve the election management process in Pennsylvania.”

Over the next few months, the workgroup will collaborate on increasing security resources, training, support, information, and preparation at all levels of election administration. The group will oversee participation in tabletop exercises that help train election personnel on how to prepare for a wide range of potential scenarios. Additionally, the workgroup will hold several community forums around the state on election security.

In September 2017, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) notified Pennsylvania that it was one of 21 states where Russian entities had attempted to hack into the voter registration databases. They were not able to get into the commonwealth’s system. There was then, and still is, no evidence that the Pennsylvania voter rolls have ever been hacked or compromised.

The state also works with the county boards of elections, the Pennsylvania National Guard, the Center for Internet Security and other key partners to maintain and enhance the security of Pennsylvania’s election process.

The commonwealth uses a layered set of defenses, including continuous monitoring of its networks and technical environment, encryption and other tools to protect its voting systems, which are never connected to the internet nor permitted on internet-facing networks.

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