Secretary Merrill launches $5 million dollar cybersecurity plan

On Monday, Sept. 24, Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill briefed Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy on her plans to strengthen Connecticut’s election cybersecurity structure.

“Every potential voter should know that we are taking steps to ensure that our election infrastructure cannot be affected by foreign actors,” said Merrill in a press release. “In Connecticut, every vote cast will be a vote counted.”

Merrill’s plan allocates the $5 million in election cybersecurity funding from the Election Assistance Commission Gabe Rosenberg, Communications Director for Merrill, said.

This funding includes the advancement of voter registration systems and management by procuring additional voting equipment and local hardware security upgrades, enhancing training for local election officials, supporting the University of Connecticut Center for Voting Technology Research as well as hiring a full time election cybersecurity consultant, according to the press release.

After warnings of cyberattacks on both the U.S. and U.K. in April 2018, Merrill’s task force was created and took a firm stance ensuring secure elections. The task force maintains its original mission of making it easier for Connecticut citizens to register and vote, while focusing on cybersecurity.

“The rights of the voter are our highest priority,” Merrill said in an April press release.

Voter lists and other information can be accessed, even though voting machines aren’t connected to the internet themselves, Merrill said.

“In Connecticut, our voting machines are never connected to the internet. This is not about the way your vote is tabulated, our machines cannot be hacked in that way,” Merrill said to WFSB earlier this week.

Merrill’s agenda to increase voter security is among many precautionary measures to increase voter security, Murphy said.

In the spring, the federal government passed a budget that includes over $380 million for individual states to beef up election protection, Murphy said.

“Voting is one of the most important things you can do as an American, and securing our elections from foreign interference should be non-negotiable,” Murphy said in the press release. “I will continue to work with Secretary Merrill and do all I can at the federal level to make sure Connecticut continues to have a strong election cybersecurity infrastructure in place.”

Blumenthal joined Murphy in supporting Merrill's plan. He said strong state and federal partnerships are vital to fight cyber attacks on American elections.

“Russia and other hostile foreign countries have sought to undermine our democracy,” Blumenthal said. “And now more than ever, stronger state and federal partnerships are needed to fight against cyber attacks on our elections.”


Grace Burns is campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at grace.burns@uconn.edu.