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As officials express fears over new system, state’s chief elections officer points to critical need

PRESS RELEASE: OLYMPIA — Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman is reminding lawmakers of emerging cybersecurity threats in an open letter to legislators and county election officials sent today. The state’s top election official underscored why modernizing technology this year is imperative.

“As a state, we cannot combat the national cyber threat to our election system with aging technology,” Secretary Wyman wrote. “Washington has launched an important tool to combat cyber threats. All 39 counties have already begun using this tool – the VoteWA system.”

Wyman’s remarks were directed to quell fears expressed in a July 9 hearing regarding deployment of the IT project in 2019.

“Since its launch, VoteWA has enabled us to fortify the cybersecurity of our state and county elections to a level simply not possible with our current systems,” Secretary Wyman stated. “We have added multiple layers of firewalls, monitoring, and threat detection software to protect election servers from intrusion.

“A team of over 80 election and IT professionals from the counties, the state, and our vendor, BPro, created VoteWA. It is a collaborative, innovative solution to a complex and urgent problem.”

For the first time, county election officials will be able to issue and track ballots for processing in real time with the VoteWA statewide voter registration system in the August Primary. VoteWA will provide the access and security necessary to effectively implement the new Same Day Registration, Automatic Voter Registration, and Future Voter Program laws that took effect this year.

VoteWA contains the state’s voter registration database which counties use to manage information for 4.3 million registered voters, providing all 39 counties with real-time information. It creates the first statewide election geographic information system layer for each address, enabling county election officials to send the correct ballot to each voter. Additionally, strengthened system-access protocols have been added with new features, including multi-factor authentication and pre-authorized computers to ensure only approved users gain access to VoteWA.

“The fact is, the collaborative development of the VoteWA system is on-scope, on-time, and on-budget, which facilitates implementation of the bills recently passed by the Legislature,” said Secretary Wyman. “Change is difficult, but I have the utmost confidence in our county partners and the VoteWa solution they have helped design.”

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