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April 18, 2019 - 10:58am

State may require county to put elections commission on separate network at cost of $20K or more

posted by Howard B. Owens in Elections, news, notify.

There's nothing "cast in concrete" yet, Information Technology Director Steve Zimmer told members of the County Legislature at the Ways and Means Committee meeting on Wednesday but New York State is considering requiring all counties in the state to segregate the computer networks of elections commissions from any other computer network in the county.

It's not clear yet, Zimmer said, exactly what the state will require but in Genesee County, at a minimum, that might mean a new high-speed Internet line going into County Building #1, where the election commission operates, with new switches, and taking the commission's computers off the network currently in that building.

That will cost at least $20,000, Zimmer said.

What he doesn't know is if he will also be required to install a separate fiber optic from County Building #1 to the main data center to further segregate the elections commission from the rest of the county network.

No official directive has been issued yet but Zimmer expects the state will mandate some change in advance of the 2020 election.

"Everyone is scared to death of the Russian hackers or that something is going to happen with the 2020 election, so the state is coming up with a lot of ‘what ifs’ and 'what do we need to do to improve security in local elections offices,' " Zimmer said.

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