Dallas County set to approve additional security measures on voting system

Dallas County is preparing to beef up its electronic security over the next two and a half weeks for the midterm elections.

There's no specific threat against Dallas County's voting system. The county says the system, right now, is secure. But the commissioners have called a special meeting on Friday to approve additional security services through the Department of Homeland Security.

There was plenty of buzz about interference in the general election two years ago. The government put the blame on Russia and charged China and others of trying to plot to attack our process. The government has now turned to private industry to help protect election integrity and mandated that all states participate.

A.J. Irwin is a retired deputy director of homeland security

“The old days where people were impersonators and voting one by one or ten by ten, that’s old,” he said. “Now, cyber intrusions is the big thing.”

It’s why the Department of Homeland Security connected with the Center for Internet Security to protect midterm elections from virtual villains.

“I think that will help enhance homeland security's ability to look for trends patterns or things like that that have happened throughout the past or that they predict is happening now,” Irwin said.

Judge Clay Jenkins says votes cast electronically in Texas and Dallas County are safe.

“It’s looking at people who try to send suspicious emails, do phishing, penetrate and looking at those and looking at our and just looking at the overall security of the system,” Jenkins said. “I’m not concerned about the security of your vote here in Dallas County because we don’t put our election machines on the internet ever.”

While the tampering threat here may be minimal, officials say it’s another level of security.

Dallas County Commissioner Theresa Daniel says she’s glad for the additional digital defense that will alert the county to suspicious activity in other forms, like attempts to hack voter rolls or tamper with the elections department itself through emails, viruses, or anything that could slow down operations.

“Our goal is to have our elections fair and secure and this is a piece of them being secure,” she said.

“For the most part, it’s gonna give the voter confidence that their vote is going to count and that their personal information is not gonna be stolen,” Irwin said.

Some states do have their voting machines connected to the internet, posing a greater risk of being hacked. Texas does not.

Still, being part of the extra security could close the door on other potential problems.