Ohio’s new voting security rules: How Butler County is changing to comply

The Butler County Board of Elections office in Hamilton. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
The Butler County Board of Elections office in Hamilton. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

The Butler County Board of Elections is on pace to have the state’s latest security directives in place before January 2020.

The county had many of the mandates by the Ohio Secretary of State in place, but elections office Deputy Director Eric Corbin said the requirements will “make sure we’re all up to best practices.”

“We’re definitely still in the process,” he said of implementing the June 11 Secretary of State directive. “We have a lot to do to get up to the standard the state set. However, there are a lot of practices that we were already doing.

“We just got to get everything up to the standard that they set.”

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Last month, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose issued a directive expanding on requirements set last year, and will help pay for upgrades with Help America Vote Act funds.

LaRose’s office also requires Ohio’s 88 county boards of elections to contract asset management services, which will provide a risk and vulnerability assessment, remote penetration testing and conduct a cyber threat review.

Butler County on Monday approved to contract with AssetTiger, which was recommended by the Ohio Secretary of State and other county boards of elections.

“This will give us a lot more insight into tracking our machines,” Corbin said. “We have to have asset management for all the computers, networks, switches and a list of any device that interacts with the board of elections hardware.”

He said the asset management system will also make it easier to track items for annual audits.

Other upgrades already made, or approved on Monday, includes a secured WiFi system (which there was never an open network), changing the website’s domain to a .US and purchase eight new computers with Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system. The new computers will be for use only on the state fiber network.

Most of the new requirements must be in place by Jan. 31, 2020, according to the state. Corbin said the board’s goal is to have everything in place before January 2020.

“We have a lot to do get up to the standard the state set,” he said.

Also, the old voting machines will be securely destroyed by Cobalt, a division of the Middletown-based Cohen Recycling, said Corbin.

The board approved the destruction of the old machines now elections office has new voting machines that will be used in November's election.

Corbin said about half of the obsolete machines were picked up Monday to be “completely destroyed in a secure way.” The remaining machines will be destroyed at a time yet to be determined, he said.

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