Ohio Lawmaker Prepares to Introduce Elections Cybersecurity Bills

State Rep. Kathleen Clyde says she's preparing to introduce a pair of bills designed to safeguard the state's elections against cyberattacks.

by Mary Kilpatrick, Advance Ohio Media / January 11, 2018

(TNS) — COLUMBUS, Ohio — State Rep. Kathleen Clyde, a Democratic candidate for Ohio secretary of state, said Wednesday she's preparing to introduce a pair of bills designed to safeguard the state's elections against cyberattacks.

Clyde spoke about the bills at the Ohio Association of Elections Officials annual conference in Columbus. She was motivated to draft the legislation after it was reported that Russia attempted to interfere in the presidential election in 2016.

"Many believe that this problem will only continue and we need to make sure that we are preparing for any attempts to hack our voting systems," Clyde said in a phone interview prior to the conference.

Unless Clyde is able to get Republican sponsors, her bill is unlikely to get through the GOP-dominated Ohio state legislature.

Clyde was joined at the conference by her likely Republican rival in the Ohio secretary of state race, state Sen. Frank LaRose. He said he would have to see Clyde's legislation before commenting on it.

The federal government revealed that Ohio was one of 21 states whose election system was targeted by unknown hackers in 2016. The hack in Ohio was unsuccessful. Election officials in three states told the AP that the attempts could be linked to Russia.

One of Clyde's bills would establish a cybersecurity director within the Secretary of State's Office. The director would make recommendations on how to keep elections secure in Ohio. The bill also would establish a cybersecurity advisory council, made up of volunteers from the business and technology community, law enforcement, voting advocates and elections officials from both political parties. The council would be selected by the Secretary of State's Office.

The other bill would require that counties conduct elections audits: a hand count of randomly selected ballots, done to verify the accuracy of the results. Counties are currently mandated to conduct these audits because of a directive of the secretary of state. Clyde wants to put the requirement into law.

It would also require all counties to use voting equipment that produces paper ballots that have been marked and doubled-checked by voters.

Voters would mark the ballots by either a touch screen or pencil, and would be able to look over their selections before their ballots are cast.

©2018 Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.