AUGUSTA – The Department of Homeland Security confirmed today that the State of Maine’s election systems were not targeted as part of a string of cyber-intrusion attempts during the 2016 General Election.
Early this summer, DHS officials announced that 21 states’ elections systems were targeted during the 2016 General Election, but did not confirm publicly which states those were. DHS did not directly notify chief election officials of their state’s status until today.
“We are very confident in the security of our elections systems here in Maine,” said Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, “and pleased to finally have confirmation that we were not among the 21 states that were targeted in 2016. I will continue to advocate for immediate notification from DHS in the event of any future attempts on our election systems, so we can respond appropriately to threats as they arise.”
The State of Maine employs several “best practices” for election security. Voters use paper ballots, which are counted by tabulator machines in the larger municipalities. Those machines, as well as the computers used to create Maine ballots, are not connected to the internet, and a strict chain of custody is maintained for all election materials, in concert with pre-election testing. The only aspect of Maine’s election system that is accessible via the internet is the Central Voter Registration database, and it is protected by user passwords, a firewall and regular monitoring by in-house cybersecurity staff. If the CVR system were compromised, Maine’s same-day voter registration law would still ensure that no voter is disenfranchised at the polls.
DHS officials confirmed this week that the 21 instances of scanning and attempted breaches of state election systems are linked to Russian hackers. The majority of the efforts found by DHS were scanning, but not breaches, and DHS officials stressed that there was “no evidence of any impact to voting anywhere.”
The department is working with members of the National Association of Secretaries of State, as well as other chief election officials across the nation, to improve communication protocols regarding voting system security in the future.