Keeping elections safe, one audit at a time

Ballot box with women hand casting a voteToday marks the beginning of October, a month dedicated to the awareness of cybersecurity—a distinction bestowed to October way back in 2003. Here in 2018, 2003 seems light-years away—a dim and distant past when our cybersecurity concerns centered around malicious actors gaining access to our MySpace accounts or Nigerian princes conning us out of our bank account information from the seemingly secure space of a Yahoo email  account. How quaint those concerns seem against the undermining of American democracy, a target of some of today’s cybercriminals.

What does auditing have to do with all of this? A lot, actually. The Office of the Washington State Auditor has been performing audits of Washington governments’ critical technology infrastructure and systems for several years. Because of the sensitive nature of the work, our published reports don’t include detailed information, but we do provide these governments with a wealth of resources to make improvements and shore up their defenses against actors who seek to take advantage of the types of information governments hold.

A recent op-ed in the Seattle Times highlights the work our Office is doing to ensure the foundational  democratic act of casting a vote is protected for all Washingtonians—this time through our work with King County Elections. We partner with the local and state governments we audit to identify where they need to devote their resources to ensure critical functions aren’t exposed to security breaches, or the manipulation of democracy.

There is a lot of demand for our help from Washington’s governments. If you’d like to know more about our work, or check out some resources we’ve compiled for local governments, visit our Resource Database.