Oklahoma Voting System Secure, Officials Contend

Mark Gower, the state's chief information security officer at the Oklahoma Cyber Command, said his team regularly conducts security testing on all state networks.

by Dale Denwalt, The Oklahoman / August 28, 2018
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(TNS) — Oklahoma's six-year-old voting system is secure, officials said the day before Tuesday's primary runoff election.

Oklahoma State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax and other officials spoke to reporters and offered reassurances amid national concern over outside interference with elections.

"While there are no specific threats to (the) runoff election, we want the people of Oklahoma to know that your election officials and state emergency and security officials are working day and night to protect the integrity and security of elections in our great state," said Ziriax.

There appears to be no evidence that a foreign power has successfully altered votes after they were cast, but the FBI warned states two years ago to watch out for probing attacks from outside the country.

"Our entire voting system, from beginning to end, has numerous built-in protections to detect and prevent tampering," Ziriax said. "Although we can't get into specifics for obvious security reasons, we can say that in the last 18 months we have significantly strengthened the security of the election system in Oklahoma at both the state election board and our county election boards."

Each U.S. state is allowed to set its own election rules and systems. In Oklahoma, voters mark a paper ballot and feed it into a machine that "reads" it. Data from each machine is then tabulated and sent via a secure, private connection from each county to the State Election Board where it is reported to the public.

At no point does the data travel across the public internet until it's posted on the board's website.

"We have a system that Oklahomans can be very proud of. It is one of the most accurate and reliable voting systems in the entire world," said Ziriax.

Mark Gower, the state's chief information security officer at the Oklahoma Cyber Command, said his team regularly conducts security testing on all state networks.

The runoff election is expected to generate a low turnout compared to the primary election. That's common, although Ziriax noted that every voter in the state can cast a ballot. There are statewide races for each recognized political party, and independent voters are allowed to vote in Democratic Party contests.

"Anecdotally speaking, I think we will see higher than usual turnout for a runoff primary election, but I would not necessarily guess what that percentage will be," he said. "Be informed, be educated about the issues and about the candidates, and by all means, go vote."

©2018 The Oklahoman Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.