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Washington preparing to fend off midterm election hackers

(AP)

Secretary of State Kim Wyman and Governor Jay Inslee addressed concerns over voter security, outlining a handful of precautions that will be in place come November.

RELATED: Poll finds partisan divide in concerns for election security

Wyman and Inslee held a join press conference Tuesday to assure voters who registered online that increased firewall security and sensors have been employed in all 39 counties to block and detect any kind of outside attack from hackers.

“People need to know that we have been forewarned, and therefore we are fore-armed,” said Inslee.

Inslee goes on to tout Washington as having “the best laws in United States to make it practical to vote,” and “at least one of the best ways to make sure those votes are counted.”

This comes in the wake of a 2016 election cycle, where Washington found itself under attack from hackers.

“We saw during the presidential election activity on our servers that wasn’t normal,” Wyman said. “We knew it was something, we reported it to the FBI in July of 2016, and that’s where we really began our partnership with Homeland Security and the FBI.”

It’s not just strong firewalls and cyber-security that gives Washington an edge against hacking, though.

“Vote-by-mail probably gives us one of the strongest systems in the country because we have paper ballots,” Wyman noted.

Earlier in 2018, experts convened by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine compiled a report that recommended “all local, state, and federal elections be conducted using human-readable paper ballots by the 2020 presidential election.”

The report goes on to argue that “no current technology can guarantee secrecy, security, and verifiability” of any ballot transmitted over an Internet network. In Washington, machines that tabulate paper ballots operate on independent servers not connected to the Internet.

Simply by the grace of utilizing paper ballots, Washington finds itself a leader in voter security, along with a handful of other states that do the same.

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