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KNAU and Arizona News

Arizona Works to Prevent Hackers from Tampering with 2020 Elections

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It seems like a long way off, but state elections officials are already preparing for next year’s presidential election.

Arizona will spend at least $4.5 million to ensure hackers don’t interfere with the 2020 campaigns and balloting. KNAU’s Steve Shadley asked Secretary of State Katie Hobbs what is being done to specifically to protect the voting process…

Shadley: “Hello, Katie. Thanks for joining us. So, let’s talk about what’s happening…what are the measures in place?”

Hobbs: “We have both in our office and with the county elections officials around the state…have implemented monthly security calls to ensure we are staying on top of issues to make sure we are staying on top of any threats that are there.”

Shadley: “And, so as far as cyber security goes what can you tell us about additional security measures, if any, that Arizona is taking at the local and state level that voters should be aware of?”

Hobbs: “Well, one thing in 2018, in March of 2018, the Secretary’s office was given funds, federal funds—Help America Vote Act—funds that are specifically for security enhancement. And, our office has put a plan in place to make sure that we’re getting those funds to the counties for security enhancements. We are making sure that we are working in partnership with the counties to connect them with resources that are available so they can get security enhancements for their own systems. And, to figure out what enhancements might be needed and then we are able to respond with those security grants for some of the needs that they have.”

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Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D).

Shadley: “So do you feel personally that Arizona and other states are getting enough from the federal government to ensure that the elections are carried out in a transparent and safe way in 2020?”

Hobbs: “I think there are requests right now for additional resources specifically for election security. I’m not exactly sure where that is in the process but we certainly have a strong case to be made that those are needed. I just returned from the National Association of Secretaries of State conference and this was one of the biggest topics of conversation at that meeting was additional federal resources for election security. There’s no disagreement among any election around the country that this is a top issue in terms of elections. But, honestly I will tell you that cyber security is a concern absolutely. We need resources to address that. But, one of the bigger threats and its really a threat that’s harder to combat is, and this is coming from national Department of Homeland Security officials, is that those groups that are working to interfere and undermine America voter’s confidence in our election system. And, so they are putting out all kinds of fake information, wrong election dates and there’s an example that came out last week where there was a fake site for Joe Biden for president and it looked real. That’s an example of what I’m talking about and that’s a thing that’s really harder to combat…and I think how we deal with that as a state…so that voters are reporting to us when they see something that doesn’t look right. And, so we can respond to it…so that they’re not just believing everything they see on the internet. ”

Shadley: "That was so interesting. Katie Hobbs thank you for speaking to me today.

Hobbs: “Thank you…”

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs. She says the state plans to hire additional IT workers to prevent email phishing schemes from exploiting state and county elections networks.

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