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Officials: Feds Found Nothing Suspicious in Investigation of State Elections Systems

A Department of Homeland Security team investigating the security of Maryland’s election systems has found no “adversary presence,” but a final report is weeks away and likely to be delivered after the general election.

A report from the Hunt and Incident Response Team from the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center is expected in five to seven weeks, Deputy Administrator Nikki Charlson said during a meeting of the Maryland State Board of Elections on Thursday.

The team was brought in to ensure the security of election systems hosted by ByteGrid ―which did not disclose to state officials that it was funded by AltPoint Capital Partners, whose largest investor is a Kremlin-linked Russian oligarch.

ByteGrid hosts the statewide voter registration, candidacy and election management system, the online voter registration system, online ballot delivery system, and unofficial election night results website.

State Elections Administrator Linda H. Lamone (left) and Deputy Administrator Nikki Charlson at a hearing earlier this year. File Photo 

“[Homeland Security investigators] have finished collecting all their data. They are still analyzing it,” Charlson said. “…To date, they haven’t found any adversary presence in any of our election systems.”

Outside a court hearing in Baltimore Thursday, Elections Administrator Linda H. Lamone said the initial report from the Department of Homeland Security was short, but reassuring.

“[It was] one sentence. ‘We found nothing suspicious or nothing of concern’ or something like that. And then: ‘Report to follow,’” Lamone said.

The state has asked the Department of Homeland Security to continue expanded monitoring and reporting for the state, and DHS is continuing to run weekly security checks, officials said.

Statewide, elections officials continue to receive ongoing cybersecurity updates and training.

The state board and all county boards are now members of the Multi-State Information Sharing Analysis Center and the Election Infrastructure Information Sharing Analysis Center, which provide technical as well as administrative updates to elections administrators nationwide.

Members of the elections board received a second security briefing Thursday, including information shielded from the public in a closed session.

During the public session, the board also received an update on efforts to process voter registration changes for some residents whose change of address or party affiliation requests were made at the Motor Vehicle Administration but never forwarded to the elections office.

The snafu, which affected more than 71,000 voters, was discovered days before the June 26 primary. About 16,000 records were pulled aside for close review and processing to make sure that good data on file with the elections board was not being overwritten by outdated information from the MVA. Fewer than 2,000 applications are still being reviewed and the records will be processed before the voter registration deadline, officials said.

Finally, a fun fact: About 10.3 million ballot sheets are needed for the Nov. 6 election are expected to complete printing this weekend. The volume is due, in part, to extra-long ballots in some jurisdictions. Montgomery and Prince George’s counties each have three-page ballots this election and seven other jurisdictions have two-page ballots.

Bruce DePuyt contributed to this report.

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Officials: Feds Found Nothing Suspicious in Investigation of State Elections Systems