INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Get out and register to vote because the systems are safe from hackers: That’s the message Indiana’s secretary of state is hammering home.
Her office launched a statewide media campaign about election security Monday.
Secretary of State Connie Lawson said, “First, I want to point out that we do voter outreach ads each election cycle. This year, our outreach is based on the current environment. Russian meddling has been a hot topic since 2016. While there is no evidence that any votes were changed and we know the issue was influence, public confidence in our elections has been affected. Our goal is to educate Hoosiers that their vote is safe and secure.”
State leaders said Indiana’s election system can handle hackers, cyberthreats and intruders with some tech you might not expect.
“Our system is safe,” said state Sen. Jon Ford, a Republican from Terre Haute.
Concerns of voters range from Russian meddling to hackers changing your vote or other threats that may cross Hoosiers’ minds before they cast their votes.
State Rep. Earl Harris Jr., a Democrat from East Chicago, said, “Not just on the federal level, but on the state level, people are concerned and want to make sure their elections are secure. People want to make sure their vote counts and their vote counts for the person or people they vote for.”
Lawson said there’s no evidence any votes were changed in 2016, but she knows confidence in the Indiana election process basically took a hit. Lawson added that none of Indiana’s voting equipment is online or connected to the internet.
Ford said, “We’re not in the web. We’re not out there where someone can hack in. We still have a paper-based system.”
Each state had requested federal funds for election security. On Tuesday, the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission, a federal agency, announced how states will use $380 million in grants for election security. Indiana’s share is about $7.5 million.
Indiana’s secretary of state said she wants to use some of that money ahead of midterm election to test voting equipment, including electronic poll books, for vulnerabilities. She also wants to gauge election night reporting systems to figure out where intrusion detection or authentication can be better. The state’s plans are listed with the federal agency.
Indiana has already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on election security.
Lawson said, “Hoosiers should know their vote does make a difference and will be counted. Not casting a vote gives power to those who want to cast doubt on our elections.”
The state representative, Harris, added, “I think people should not be afraid to vote.”
Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody released a statement about the campaign. It said in part:
“Secretary Lawson is ignoring the elephant in the room. Not mentioning the fact that more than half of Indiana counties cannot verify votes with paper backups is like your mechanic failing to mention bad brakes. Omitting key facts won’t make our elections any safer, it’s just wishful thinking.”
Hoosiers have until Oct. 6 to register to vote in the Nov. 6 election.