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Press Release

New Report Advises Election Officials on Protecting Voters and the Vote Despite Covid-19 and Cyberattacks

The report covers the potential strains that cyberattacks or malfunctions could have on systems crucial to voting during the pandemic, with advice for avoiding these difficulties and recovering from them.

June 8, 2020
Contact: Rebecca Autrey, Media Contact, rebecca.autrey@nyu.edu, 202-753-5904

Election security experts at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law have released Preparing for Cyberattacks and Technical Problems During the Pandemic for election officials as they hold primaries and other elections and prepare for the November election. The authors advise election officials on preventing, detecting, and recovering from cyberattacks or other problems that threaten to disrupt the security, accessibility, and accuracy of the vote in the midst of the pandemic.

“Election officials are adapting the way they work, and more voters are exercising their rights from home, in order to stay safe from the coronavirus. It’s a challenge to prepare for cyberattacks while making these changes, but they’ve got a pool of knowledge, experience, and best practices to draw from, as the methods they’re adopting and expanding have been used in various states to varying degrees for years,” said Gowri Ramachandran, counsel in the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program and a co-author of the report. “What election officials need now is the funding to protect the vote. Congress must come through.”

Preparing for Cyberattacks and Technical Problems During the Pandemic addresses the ongoing need for election officials to prevent cyberattacks and have resiliency plans in place so that voting can resume as soon as possible. The authors add to those pre-pandemic concerns the security measures that election officials and their staffs who are working from home should take to protect data and systems.

The report covers the potential strains that cyberattacks or malfunctions could have on systems crucial to voting during the pandemic--vote-by-mail systems, online voter registration, and in-person polling, with advice for avoiding these difficulties and recovering from them.

“The recent primaries show us that demand for absentee ballots is off the charts,” said Ramachandran. “Election officials see what’s ahead. They’re planning for these surges to keep our democracy humming without major glitches. But they must have federal funding to turn those plans into reality.”

Preparing for Cyberattacks and Technical Problems During the Pandemic is available here. It was published on June 5.

To read more about the Brennan Center’s work to protect the 2020 election, click here.

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