Secretary Merrill, Federal, State, and Local Officials Participate in Tabletop the Vote
Connecticut officials and The U.S. Department of Homeland Security conduct tabletop election cybersecurity exercises
HARTFORD, CT – Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the University of Connecticut Center for Voting Technology Research (VoTeR Center), and Connecticut state and local election and public safety officials came together this week to participate in Tabletop the Vote, DHS’s national election cybersecurity tabletop exercise. During Tabletop the Vote, federal officials and state and local election officials from across the country shared cybersecurity best practices and trained on simulations related to information sharing, incident identification, and incident response.
“There is no longer any question that foreign governments have sought and will continue to seek to interfere in our elections and cybersecurity has moved to the top of every election official’s priority list,” said Secretary Merrill. “Our partnership with the federal government, as well as with other state agencies and local election officials, will help prepare our cyberdefenses and ensure that Connecticut’s elections remain free, fair, and worthy of the trust of Connecticut’s voters.”
“Exercises, like the one performed this week, are crucial in strengthening our preparedness for the wide variety of cyberthreats that may arise during an election,” said UConn Engineering Professor Alexander Russell, Director of UConn’s VoTeR Center.
“The Connecticut Town Clerk’s Association is committed to working collaboratively with the Secretary of the State’s office and our local Registrars of Voters to ensure the integrity of the election process for the voters of Connecticut.,” said Anna M. Posniak, President of the Connecticut Town Clerks Association. “We are all at the front line of democracy to ensure that elections are open, transparent, fair, and accurate. The cybersecurity tabletop exercise offered us a mutual opportunity to practice responding to tough Election Day scenarios in an effort to develop concrete contingency plans.”
“The Registrars of Voters were pleased to participate in the Tabletop Discussions and are looking forward to coordinated efforts to insure the integrity of elections,” said Sue Larson, President of the Registrars of Voters Association of Connecticut (ROVAC).
“It was an extremely useful workshop. Being able to network with Homeland Security and game out scenarios was very helpful,” said Michael Brandi, Executive Director of the State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC). “It was also good to talk to people from other jurisdictions who are all working on the same problems.”
Tabletop the Vote is DHS’s national election cybersecurity exercise. It provides an opportunity for DHS to work with federal partners, state and local election officials, and private vendors in identifying best practices and areas for improvement in election cybersecurity incident planning, identification, response, and recovery. Through simulation of realistic scenarios, participations discuss potential impacts to voter confidence, voting operations, and the integrity of elections. The National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center’s National Cyber Exercise and Planning Program develops and supports integrated cyber-focused exercises and guidance for federal departments and agencies, state, local, tribal, and territorial governments, critical infrastructure sectors, international partners, and special events. Secretary Merrill, Deputy Secretary Scott Bates, and representatives from the Office of the Secretary of the State, the UConn VoTeR Center, CTCA, ROVAC, SEEC, the Connecticut National Guard, the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, and the Department of Administrative Services Bureau of Enterprise Services and Technology joined DHS and representatives from other federal agencies for Tabletop the Vote.